Zone Read: Eagles-Vikings, the Day After
THAT’S WHAT HE SAID
“No I don’t, and it shouldn’t.” – CHIP KELLY
The head coach was asked if playing a 3-9-1 team that was without its best player in Adrian Peterson might have affected his team.
Kelly coaches by the Win The Day mantra. Publicly, he did everything he could last week to guard against a letdown. He talked about how the team still made plenty of mistakes in its win against the Lions. He praised the Vikings for their effort on tape, despite the losing record. And the Eagles went about their day-in/day-out routines the way they’ve done all year.
Sometimes I think the whole letdown game/overlooked the opponent angle is more for sportswriters than actual coaches and athletes. But this seemed like the first time all year the Eagles have come out flat. It’s difficult not to think that they took the Peterson-less Vikings lightly.
FIVE RANDOM THOUGHTS
1. I thought the game turned on two fourth-quarter possessions. The Eagles’ offense got the ball with 12:52 left, down 34-22. They went three-and-out with Jason Peters getting beat by Jared Allen for a sack on third down.
On their next possession, the Eagles went three-and-out again. This time, Foles missed Zach Ertz on a corner route. On third down, the Vikings brought a blitz, and Evan Mathis and Lane Johnson gave up hits on Foles, who appeared to have a miscommunication with Jackson on the play.
Two possessions, six plays – all called passes, one sack and two more QB hits. Given the hole the Eagles dug for themselves, and considering how poorly the defense was playing, that was a disastrous stretch.
Also: If you want to point to a specific time when the Eagles should have tried feeding McCoy, this was it.
2. Overall, Fletcher has played better than anticipated this season. But Sunday had to be his roughest outing of the season. In addition to the big plays, he got called for a (albeit questionable) pass interference penalty in the end zone on third down to set up a Vikings touchdown. Then with under five minutes left, he gave up an 11-yard completion on third-and-10, allowing Minnesota to extend its drive, kill clock and eventually score.
In St. Louis, Fletcher was reportedly benched and lost his starting job after a horrible game against the Patriots. That’s not going to happen this time around. Instead, he’ll have to rebound quickly against one of the most dangerous wide receiver pairings in the NFL.
3. One item we forgot to mention from last week. There were a lot of questions about why NBC would go with Eagles-Bears over Patriots-Ravens for the Sunday night matchup. Apparently, the decision had less to do with the game’s appeal and more to do with flexibility for Week 17.
According to John Ourand of SportsBusiness Daily, a rule in the broadcast contracts states that the difference in games taken from FOX and CBS can be no more than three at any given time. Had NBC taken Patriots-Ravens, the count would have been 25 from CBS and 22 from FOX. In that case, NBC would have been forced to take a FOX game (however unappealing) in Week 17.
With Eagles-Bears, the count is now 24-23, meaning NBC can take its pick from either network in Week 17.
4. As we pointed out in our playoff scenarios post, there’s a chance that the Eagles-Bears game will mean nothing in terms of deciding the division.
If the Cowboys beat the Redskins (1 p.m. kickoff), it doesn’t matter what happens in the night game. The Eagles will still have to beat Dallas in Week 17 to secure the NFC East.
The one factor that could come in to play is seeding. By sitting their starters and potentially conceding a victory, the Eagles’ chances of being a four-seed instead of a three-seed would increase. That would mean playing the five-seed instead of the six-seed in the first round of the playoffs. There’s also the very slim chance that the four and five seeds face off in the NFC title game, with the four-seed getting homefield advantage.
How would Kelly weigh keeping guys healthy vs. getting them back on track after Sunday’s performance?
The guess here is that Kelly will publicly refuse to acknowledge this scenario. He’ll say the Eagles are worrying only about what they can control and not thinking about what happens in the Redskins-Cowboys game. But privately, there’s no doubt that Kelly will have to formulate a plan, and it could include sitting some of his key starters vs. Chicago.
5. Leftovers in no particular order: I still have to re-watch, but it seemed like the offensive line struggled throughout. …Is there a reason we can’t install a GPS tracking device in the football to determine where it should be spotted? The whole “ref looking into a crowded pile and guessing” thing seems a bit outdated for 2013. …I will never understand QBs running out of bounds short of the line of scrimmage. Just throw the ball away at that point. …Brian Robison has to have the worst sack celebration in the league. That whole reel in the fish thing looks ridiculous. …Even though the Eagles didn’t recover it, nice onside kick by Henery in the fourth. …And finally, what was going on with the FOX broadcast right before the second-half kickoff?
Not sure if Daryl Johnston was standing up to get ready to make the call or if he thought he had time to leave the booth before kickoff. Kenny Albert’s face though is pretty hilarious.