Zone Read: Eagles-Bears, the Day After
THAT’S WHAT HE SAID
“Usually he’s pretty calm. I know when we played Detroit, Coach [Bill] Lazor was going up to him telling him he was babying the ball, and they got into kind of an altercation because you couldn’t throw the ball too hard because it was so hard to see, so hard to catch and throw. So that’s probably one time.” – LANE JOHNSON
I asked several Eagles, including Johnson, what the most frustrated was that they had ever seen Foles. The rookie offered a pretty good anecdote from the Detroit game in the snow. In case you couldn’t tell from last week’s Matchup column, Lazor coaches Foles hard.
Other Eagles had trouble coming up with an answer.
“I got nothing,” said Mathis. “I can’t think of it. If it’s anything, you can see that if he ever feels like lets down his teammates, you might see that. But you don’t see him getting frustrated. You don’t see him getting real upset. He can learn from it. He can move on. He can bury a problem and go. And that’s a quality that a true pro has to have.”
FIVE RANDOM THOUGHTS
1. Cedric Thornton deserves some love. He came up with the big safety in the third quarter and was key in limiting Forte to 29 yards on nine carries. Thornton also pressured Cutler on a play where Cole ended up getting the sack.
“Cedric has been one of those guys who has been really consistent right from the jump,” Kelly said. “We talked a lot about him early. As Bennie [Logan] and Fletcher [Cox] started to emerge too, sometimes you forget about… it’s not because Cedric wasn’t productive. But we had some other guys that were starting to contribute. And he had a huge play for us at a point in time where we needed a little bit of a jump. Not only do we score and get the two there, but they kick it, and we get an opportunity to go down on that drive and score a touchdown, so it’s a nine-point swing.”
Thornton has been perhaps the Eagles’ most consistent defender this season. He’s young, plays with great effort and figures to be a great complement to Cox for years to come.
2. Credit where credit is due: Special teams came up big. The Eagles tried to pin Devin Hester in a corner on kickoffs and were very successful. Alex Henery kicked off nine times. On one of those, Bradley Fletcher forced a fumble. On the other eight, Chicago started on average at its own 22.6 yard line.
The Bears’ best starting field position on kickoffs was their own 33. And remember, the Eagles were playing without core special-teamers Colt Anderson and Kurt Coleman, who were out with injuries.
Henery, meanwhile, connected on a 49-yard field goal in the second quarter. Overall, excellent performance from special teams.
3. Speaking of which, Brandon Boykin deserves some praise too. He has been an outstanding gunner on the punt coverage team all season. In the third, Boykin saved the ball from going into the end zone, and Roc Carmichael downed it at the 2. That coverage led directly to the safety by Thornton.
Boykin also picked off Cutler in the fourth and returned it 54 yards for a touchdown. The second-year player now has five interceptions, tied for fourth-most in the league.
Not bad at all, considering he had only played 52 percent of the Eagles’ defensive snaps going into Sunday.
4. While we’re praising the 2012 draft class, Mychal Kendricks came up with a pair of sacks. In the last two games, he has three sacks and an interception.
In the second quarter, he blitzed up the middle, beat Forte (one of the best blocking backs in the league) and brought Cutler down.
And in the third, he used his speed off the edge to turn the corner, hit Cutler and force a fumble.
The coaches still believe Kendricks can improve in coverage, but he’s been a versatile playmaker for this defense down the stretch.
5. I probably haven’t said enough in this space about how good McCoy was. He torched the league’s worst run defense for 133 yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries. Since Kelly made adjustments to the run game during the Eagles’ bye week, McCoy has run 74 times for 467 yards and averaged 6.3 YPC.
He is the NFL’s leading rusher with 1,476 yards, leading Jamaal Charles by 189 yards. McCoy needs 37 yards against Dallas to break Wilbert Montgomery’s record for must rushing yards in a season (1,512).