Game Review: Eagles Offense Vs. Dallas
Here’s a position-by-position review of the Eagles’ offensive performance against Dallas.
* It was a tale of two halves for Nick Foles. For most of the first half (12-for-16 for 197 yards), he was comfortable, decisive and on-target. In the second half (5-for-10 for 66 yards), the pressure seemed to affect him.
* Early on, Foles found Chris Polk on a wheel route for 34 yards. He put some extra zip on the ball, squeezing a pass in to Riley Cooper in between defenders for a 16-yard pickup. He stepped up, avoided pressure and found Zach Ertz for 17. Again in the face of pressure, he showed patience and hit Ertz for 12 yards on 3rd-and-7. Still in the first, Foles slid away from pressure and found DeSean Jackson for 20. In the second, his receivers helped him out with a couple of great catches, and Foles took advantage of a blown coverage on the 14-yard TD to Brent Celek. He beat the blitz with a 17-yard completion to Avant and was 8-for-9 overall against the blitz for 128 yards, per Pro Football Focus.
* But in the second half, the Eagles gave up some hits on Foles. We’ll find out when the All-22 is released whether he was missing open receivers, but there were certainly instances where it felt like Foles was holding on to the ball too long. That was the case on one third-down play where he eventually threw it away. Later, it looked like he got some happy feet and rolled out of the pocket before completing a ball to Ertz. On another play, instead of stepping up in the pocket, Foles scrambled to his right and threw the ball away. And in the red zone, he had Jackson in the flat, but fired incomplete towards Ertz.
* Overall, it was a bit of an uneven performance, which might seem overly critical, considering he went 17-for-26 for 263 yards and a pair of touchdowns. But the offense only scored seven points after halftime. Not all of that was on Foles, but he had some issues.
* LeSean McCoy was a true workhorse with 27 carries for 131 yards. He was his usual self throughout, reeling off runs of 20, 16, 16, 13 and 10. On the Eagles’ lone TD drive of the second half, McCoy picked up a couple 3rd-and-1s. He finishes the regular season with the NFL’s rushing title and also set a franchise record, passing Wilbert Montgomery.
* Bryce Brown had runs of 5 and 6 yards (including a TD) on the Eagles’ lone scoring drive of the second half. Polk had the 34-yard reception early.
* The Cowboys did their homework on the Eagles’ screen game, which was non-existent Sunday night. Dallas blew up a couple screens early by just going after McCoy before he even turned to receive the ball.
* A somewhat quiet day for this group. Jackson had three catches for 28 yards, including a nice 20-yard catch and run in the first. He got the offense inside the Dallas 1, but couldn’t cross the goal line. In the third, he was targeted deep down the sideline, but the play had no shot. Jackson wanted an illegal contact penalty.
* Cooper caught a 16-yard dig in the first to set up a field goal. And he had a big 19-yard grab on the TD drive in the fourth.
* Avant had one of his better games of the season with three catches for 45 yards. He made a tremendous leaping grab for 22 yards in the second. Avant was one-on-one with the safety, and Foles just threw it up for grabs. Avant was also used as a pseudo-tight end in the run game, being asked to go across the formation and block backside defenders.
* Brad Smith’s pass attempt in the red zone was off-target, but he actually had Ertz open.
* Overall, Chip Kelly indicated this group had some issues getting open on the plays where Foles held the ball.
* Celek was fantastic with three catches for 71 yards. Really nice adjustment on the 35-yard catch where Foles put the ball up for grabs. Celek got open for a 14-yard TD on the very next play. In the third, Celek picked up 22 yards on a drag route. Really nice job as a blocker in the run game throughout.
* James Casey played 27 snaps, and on 23 of those, he was used as a run blocker (per PFF). Nice job by Casey taking out two defenders on Brown’s 6-yard TD. He was charged with blocking a defensive end one-on-one in the second and gave up a sack. But overall, nice contributions.
* Ertz had a nice 17-yard grab near the sideline in the first, and he beat the safety for 12 on 3rd-and-7 later in the quarter. Ertz was open in the end zone in the third, but Smith was off-target with his throw.
* It was an up-and-down game for this group. The Cowboys were able to pressure Foles and get him out of rhythm in the second half specifically.
* Jason Peters was really good in the run game. He was crushing defenders on the Eagles’ 11-play, 60-yard drive in the fourth quarter. He had a couple issues in protection. In the third, Peters gave up some pressure to DeMarcus Ware. And he was beat by Jason Hatcher on the sack/forced fumble in the third, even though Hatcher was not the first defender to get to Foles. The Eagles used quite a few unbalanced looks with Peters next to Lane Johnson.
* Evan Mathis was also very good in the run game. He got to the linebacker on McCoy’s 20-yard run in the first and did a nice job on McCoy’s 16-yard run in the third. In protection, Mathis had a few issues. He and Peters let Hatcher get through on a stunt in the first. Mathis gave up some pressure in the third and probably could have been called for holding. On the play where Foles chucked it up for Avant, Mathis was driven back into the quarterback.
* Jason Kelce continues to play well. I didn’t notice any issues in protection, and he was excellent in the run game.
* Todd Herremans and Johnson had trouble with a stunt in the third, but otherwise Herremans played a pretty clean game. Nice job in the run game – specifically on McCoy’s 7-yard run in the first and McCoy’s 16-yarder in the third.
* Johnson had some issues in protection. He allowed pressure in the second, which turned into an eventual sack (even though Foles held the ball for awhile). He got beat to the inside by George Selvie on the play where Foles fumbled in the third. Johnson had a lot of good moments in the run game, but he was called for holding after getting beat on a first-half play.