Zone Read: Eagles-Rams, the Day After


I reserve the right to change this after I re-watch the game, but watching live, it felt like he handled defensive end Robert Quinn. The game plan early was to run the ball and have Foles get rid of it quickly early on, so that certainly helped. But the box score shows no sacks and no QB hurries for Quinn, one of the game’s premiere pass-rushers.

By the way, after the game some players said the performance almost felt like a loss. There wasn’t a lot of excitement or celebrating in the Eagles’ locker room.

Peters was the slight exception.

“We’re 4-1,” he said. “Take it how you want to take it. I’ve done seen teams get into the playoffs at 8-8 and go win the Super Bowl. We’re just gonna keep fighting – one down, one to go. And at the end of the year, we’ll see where we’re at.”

You don’t seem concerned.

“Why should I be concerned? I’m gonna go to practice on Tuesday and fix my mistakes. So why be concerned? We won. I’m gonna fix what I did wrong, and the guy besides me is gonna fix what he did wrong. And we’re gonna go into the game Sunday night and play the Giants. You can’t worry about the stuff we messed up. All we can do is fix it. So why worry? We’re 4-1. Stay positive. One down, one to go.”

Peters wants badly to be part of a team that makes a postseason run. He’s never been on a squad that won a playoff game. And he knows how difficult it is to win on any given Sunday. So no apologies from the big man on the ugly victory.


He played 26 snaps (35 percent) and was very active. I had him down for two hurries, a tackle for loss and a forced fumble. The Eagles were up 27-7 at the time, but the Rams had driven to the Philadelphia 30. Graham punched the ball out of Zac Stacy’s hands, and Thornton recovered.

It was a good day all around for the outside linebackers. Connor Barwin had a pair of sacks, and Cole’s forced fumble led directly to a touchdown.



“It felt weird. This is probably the weirdest game I’ve ever been a part of – just coming in off the street, you have one week of practice and then going out there and playing. I think I did some things well. There’s obviously some things I need to work on, but I think we ran the ball a little bit more effectively than we did last week.” – LANE JOHNSON

Again, have to re-watch, but it seemed like he held his own at right tackle. There were times when Johnson had issues, but that’s to be expected when a guy misses a month. Overall, he looked to be an upgrade, and perhaps most impressively, he played every single snap.

“I think he’s done both. I’ve seen Nick do both. He played last year and we ran the clock out on the Redskins game and some of those games and he’s done both, diving forward, diving there. I mean, obviously diving forward, if he slides, he gives himself up so there’s not a fumble when you contact the ground. But when you dive forward, all you have to do is protect the football. We’ll talk about it. We’ll correct it.” – CHIP KELLY

That was Kelly’s response when I asked about whether Foles slides feet-first in practice. If you’re wondering how we could possibly still be having this conversation with Michael Vick no longer in town, I’m with you.

Kelly doesn’t seem to mind the head-first slide if it’s what a quarterback is most comfortable with. But if that’s the preferred option, the QB has to make a concerted effort to take care of the football. Remember, if the QB slides feet-first, he’s down automatically. Losing control of the football is a non-issue.

If I’m Russell Wilson, I’m holding an offseason weekend sliding camp for QBs. Everyone pays $10,000, and the money goes to charity. Have it at some exotic location, and invite your NFL brethren. Wilson is a master of sliding and getting out of bounds to avoid hits when he takes off. It’s a skill others need to master.



1. Want the positive spin on this game? The Eagles have gotten erratic quarterback play. Their offensive line is banged-up. The running game has not been prolific. And the defense has been inconsistent. Yet this team is tied for the best record in the NFL.

To that end, Jenkins offered some perspective.

“We were the angriest 10-0 team there was,” he said, when asked about the Super Bowl Saints team he was on. “We might have went 13-0 at one point, and you might have walked into our facility and thought we went 0-13. So, to be upset after going 4-1 is a good thing.”

Eagles fans are likely feeling one of two ways on this day after. Either they have an uneasy feeling with how Sunday played out and are seeing a lot of issues with this team. Or they are pointing to the fact that the team is 4-1. In an ideal scenario, the team only has to go three more games without Kelce and Mathis. Even if the Eagles lose two of three, they’re at 5-3 when they get healthy. If things fall their way against the Giants, Houston and Arizona, maybe they’re 6-2 or even 7-1.

I’ll let you tell me which side of the fence you’re on.

2. We zeroed in on the Foles fumble at the top, but there two other turnovers – a McCoy fumble and a Foles interception. On the McCoy fumble, he danced around trying to make a play and was completely careless with the football. Kelly had the same thought I did during the play.

“The ball was swinging on the first McCoy fumble, and I thought it was going out before that,” Kelly said. “It was really far away from his body. We need to correct that. We’ve talked to him about it and he knows that.”

McCoy has held the ball away from his body for his entire career, and he has not been a big fumbler. Sunday’s turnover was on another level, though. It was almost as if he was begging the Rams to punch it out. Not a good play.

As for the Foles interception…

“We just kind of threw the long interception trying to take a shot over the top but threw the ball kind of low and inside when we needed it to be high and outside,” Kelly said.

It wasn’t the worst throw Foles has made this season, but inaccurate ball placement on the deep throws continues to hurt him.

3. The biggest surprise on this team has been special teams. Last year, Football Outsiders had this unit ranked 25th. This year, it was No. 1 going into the weekend, and that’s not going to change after Sunday’s performance.

James Casey had the big punt block that Chris Maragos scooped up and scored on. Cody Parkey is now 10-for-11 on field goals, including a couple makes from 50+. And Darren Sproles’ 23-yard punt return in the first quarter gave the offense a short field on a drive that resulted in a field goal.

Plain and simple: special teams are carrying this team to victories.

4. As for the defense, other than the individual misplays, there was a feeling that Davis got less aggressive down the stretch.

“I think our front seven got pressure early,” Jenkins said. “A lot of that was due to the fact that we took away their first reads. So it goes hand in hand. The calls were a lot different in the second half. We sat back more and played a lot of zone. We had a lot more four-man rushes where we had a lead and were just trying to protect it.”

The defense was on the field a lot once again – 76 snaps. Part of that was due to their ineffectiveness (the Rams were 7-for-14 on third down). But part of that was due to the ineffectiveness of the offense.

“I think in this specific game, it was probably a bit of a factor,” Jenkins said. “I think you talk about putting your defense back on the field or just giving an opposing offense that many attempts, they’re gonna make some plays. I think that’s kind of what you saw. I think from a defensive standpoint, we probably could have stayed a little bit more aggressive knowing that our offense, they’re gonna try to put up points, and they’re gonna try to move the ball. We don’t really have a four-minute offense. So to close a game out, we’ve gotta go hard from start to finish.

“Obviously, we’re on the field a lot but we’re always gonna be on the field a lot. And that’s something that everybody needs to get used to. I think where you help with that is long sustained drives, and you don’t turn the ball over offensively. That’s one way to keep us off the field. And then from our standpoint, we’ve gotta get off the field on third down and cut some of those drives down and give ourselves a break. But that’s all about team football.”

5. Leftovers… Where would this team be without Sproles? With the Eagles facing a 3rd-and-3 with 3:42 left, he broke a 25-yard run on an inside zone play. The Rams had to use a timeout and didn’t get the ball back until there was 1:47 remaining. Sproles has made several big plays for this team through the first five games. …It seemed like Brad Smith did a pretty good acting job on the unnecessary roughness call in the first. After the play, a Rams defender shoved Smith, and the veteran fell to the ground as if he had been shot. That was enough to get the flag. … Cooper did an excellent job of using his size and fighting for the football on the 9-yard TD grab against Janoris Jenkins. …Not all teams are defending the Eagles the same. The 49ers showed fewer men in the box than some of the others and played a lot of zone. The Rams stacked the box and played man coverage with a single high safety for most of the game.

“It’s not that they’re doing something different,” said Molk. “It’s that they’re doing everything possible. Everyone has their ways. Everyone plays a certain way. What they’re doing is they’re taking every situation and they’re exploiting that. They understand that our run game can be lethal, so they’re gonna take it away. Why wouldn’t you?”