Wake-Up Call: Eagles In Good Spot After Six
Jason Kelce hung out in the corner of the Eagles’ locker room Sunday night, checking his phone and congratulating his teammates.
The Birds’ center would have loved to have been in uniform competing against the Giants. But after undergoing surgery for a sports hernia injury, Kelce instead spent the game on the sideline next to his buddy Evan Mathis, his offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland and others.
This wasn’t how most observers envisioned the first six games going. Kelce went down in Week 3. Evan Mathis suffered a knee injury in Week 1. And Mychal Kendricks went down in Week 2. Quarterback Nick Foles has 10 turnovers (seven interceptions, three fumbles). LeSean McCoy (Sunday notwithstanding) has come nowhere close to matching last year’s production. And while the defense looks improved, it’s still an inconsistent unit.
Yet here the Eagles are at the bye tied for the best record in the NFL at 5-1. Their plus-51 point differential is tops in the NFC.
The team has warts; no one would deny that. But there’s also a sense that the Eagles have survived a rough patch and are set up to make some noise in their second year under Chip Kelly.
On the offensive side of the ball, Foles needs to do a better job of taking care of the football. But the run game looked great against the Giants, and barring setbacks, Kelce and Mathis are expected to return in Week 10.
“I think David [Molk] has done a good job, but David just hasn’t been Jason,” said Kelly. “Jason is truly the quarterback up there. It’s like when you lose a DeMeco [Ryans] on the defensive side of the ball. You’ve got a guy who has a really high football IQ in Jason, and David is just getting a little bit more comfortable in it.”
Mathis will provide a massive upgrade over his backup, Matt Tobin. And while Darren Sproles could miss some time with an MCL sprain, he too is expected to be healthy for the stretch run.
The defense, meanwhile, should get Kendricks back after the bye, although no exact date has been set.
You obviously won’t find Kelly looking ahead. He and the coaching staff will self-scout during the bye week and start to get ready for the Eagles’ Week 8 matchup against the Arizona Cardinals.
“We felt this bye week, for where it fit, it’s exactly at the halfway point,” Kelly said. “We played four preseason games and six regular season games, that’s 10. We’ve got 10 to go. We’re halfway through the season.”
There will no doubt be new obstacles along the way in the second half. But with the best special teams in the NFL and key pieces scheduled to return in the coming weeks, the arrow appears to be pointing up. A 5-5 finish would produce a 10-6 season. A 7-3 finish would put the Eagles at 12-4.
“We’re happy where we are,” said Kelly after Sunday’s game. “I guess the best way to say it is we’re pleased. We’re not satisfied. There are still a lot of things we can do better, but we’re pleased with the performance tonight.”
WHAT YOU MISSED
Eagles-Giants, the Day After: How the run game got on track, game balls, five thoughts, snap counts and more.
Darren Sproles suffered an MCL sprain and could be sidelined for a few weeks.
“I have nothing to explain to anybody.” Highlights from Kelly’s Monday press conference, courtesy of T-Mac.
The Giants stomped on the Eagles’ logo. And then the Eagles stomped on the Giants.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Tommy Lawlor of Iggles Blitz writes about the Birds’ defense playing a complete game:
I’ve waited a long time and I have to say it feels great to finally get one. The defense played 60 good minutes. Bill Davis put together a terrific plan and the players executed it brilliantly. The Eagles played their base defense early on even when the Giants had 3 WRs on the field. This basically dared the Giants to throw the ball. They did and the pass rush was able to get home.
I wrote in my preview that Eli had a very clean pocket last week and that the Eagles wouldn’t let that happen. I didn’t expect the defense to deliver 8 sacks and a pair of FFs. Eli never got into a comfort zone. And this wasn’t all about the rush. Some of those were coverage sacks. We have to give credit to Bradley Fletcher and Cary Williams for doing their part.
Les Bowen of the Daily News on the Eagles’ offense:
That missing Eagles running game? Pretty sure they found it. With Nick Foles frequently operating from under center, LeSean McCoy had 149 yards on 22 carries. Center David Molk said putting Foles under center foiled the “nut stunt” with the nose guard that the Giants used so effectively against the Eagles a year ago – made it harder to read the positioning of the running back.
The only two clouds visible in the all-black sky were Foles’ two foolish interceptions, and the left knee injury that took Darren Sproles out of the game late in the third quarter, after he’d gained 39 yards on 7 carries, including the crisp 15-yard touchdown that gave the Birds a 27-0 lead. Obviously, a serious injury to Sproles, the Eagles’ early season catalyst, would take quite a bit of shine off last night’s result.
You are probably aware that Birds 24/7 doesn’t do bye weeks. We’ll have game reviews and more later today.