Wake-Up Call: ‘We Got Whupped Up Front’

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at San Francisco 49ers
SANTA CLARA, CA.. — LeSean McCoy
had 17 yards on 10 carries. The running game managed 22 yards in all. Nick Foles (21-of-43, 195 yards, 2 INTs) completed less than 50 percent of his balls and finished with a 42.3 quarterback rating. The offense — this Chip Kelly offense — got shut out. The head coach wasn’t shy about naming the root of the problem immediately following the Eagles’ 26-21 loss to the Niners.

“We got whupped up front,” he said.“We’re not a very good up front right now. We have a lot of guys banged up. That’s not an excuse, that’s just the reality of it. Jason Peters was the only guy playing the position that he started the season at. Todd [Herremans] moved out, we have three new guys inside. When you play against a front like that — Justin Smith, one of the best players on the game; Patrick Willis; Ian Williams, Ray McDonald — we got beat.”

The front, from left to right, looked like this: Peters, Matt Tobin, David Molk, Dennis Kelly, Herremans. It was Tobin’s first action of the season after sitting out with an ankle injury, and Molk was making his first start ever. They’re in for Evan Mathis (MCL) and Jason Kelce (sports hernia), who are not returning any time soon.

Lane Johnson is able to rejoin the team Monday, his four-game suspension now behind him, though it’s tough to say how long it will take for him to get re-acclimated. Reinforcements are on the way, as Kelly said afterwards, but on this afternoon they were significantly undermanned and it cost them.

McCoy had another quiet outing. The reigning rushing champ has managed just 192 yards on 70 carries (2.74 YPC) through four games, and just 39 rushing yards total in the last two. How much of it falls on him?

“We couldn’t get anything going up front. It was very tough sledding for anybody in there,” said Kelly. “It’s not like if you put Darren [Sproles] in there Darren is running up and down the field. Running the football is a cooperative deal. It’s got to be everybody and we just didn’t get it done.”

Molk suggested that the “communication was great” up front despite the absence of Kelce. So what was it? Part of the issue, as Tobin explained, was that the Niners’ front often had a beat on what the Eagles were doing and were able to torpedo some plays before they had a chance to develop.

“If we tried to run outside zone they wouldn’t even run with us, they would just sit there and run straight upfield,” said Tobin. “The ‘backers just like their spot. Say we were running [outside zone] and a guy was right over me and I wanted to reach him, I didn’t even have to go right, I could just run straight at him. And the d-line would just sit in their spot, too. And then the outside linebackers were pinning the play in so there was no room to run the ball.

“They’re a smart front. A lot of them have been doing it for a long time, and they just know how to attack certain kinds of offenses and certain kinds of plays. Like Justin Smith, on one of those [outside zones] he almost looked like he knew the play, he just took off and J.P. [Peters] couldn’t cut him off because he was running before J.P. was.”

The Niners were credited with five quarterback hits and one sack. They were able to generate pretty good pressure with three-and-four man fronts, allowing the rest of the defense to sit back and play zone. That limited Foles’ opportunities down the field. Put it all together, and you have the Eagles’ worst offensive performance under Kelly.


A look at what went wrong down on the goal line.

“He didn’t fight the penalty. Usually if he’s unhappy with it, you’ll know.” Cary Williams’ penalty costly. 

Read Sheil’s instant observations from the Eagles’ loss to San Fran.


Domo gives the Eagles a ‘C’ for their  overall performance.

They were outgained 407 yards to 213. Their defense was on the field for 42-plus minutes. Nick Foles had just 103 passing yards and the Eagles had just five first downs in the first three quarters. And yet, and yet, they were in this game to the bitter end and lost on the road to the 49ers by just five points. That has to count for something.

And the passing offense a D-minus:

Nick Foles finished with a 42.3 passer rating, completing just 48.8 percent of his passes and throwing two interceptions. In the first three quarters, he averaged just 4.1 yards per attempt. Jeremy Maclin was targeted 16 times, but had just five receptions.

Reuben Frank on the performance of Foles and the defense.

2. Not sure what to say about Foles. He was just awful. This was like the Dallas game last year. He held onto the ball too long again, which you just can’t do playing behind this offensive line, he missed open guys, he made poor decisions, he just looked out of sorts all afternoon. Foles has really only played one complete game so far, last week against the Skins. He did get going on that last drive, but then he missed wildly on 4th-and-goal from the 1. I still believe in the kid, but the Eagles really need some consistency from him.

3. Then there’s the defense. It wasn’t awful Sunday. Allowed just two touchdowns, one of which came on a very short field after a Zach Ertz fumble. Played tough in the red zone. Held the 49ers to field goals four times when the 49ers got deep down in Eagles territory. Played over 41 minutes and faced 72 snaps in an opposing stadium against a high-powered offense after flying across the country and getting awakened all night by fire alarms. But still. You can’t give up 219 rushing yards and expect to beat anybody. Run defense was solid the first few weeks, but too many missed tackles and too many giant holes Sunday allowed the 49ers to get back in the game by hammering the Eagles on the ground. The Eagles really miss Mychal Kendricks, but no excuses. They have to be a lot better against the run.


Plenty to dissect. We’ll talk with Kelly at 1 p.m.