Zone Read: Eagles-Cardinals, the Day After



This was an easy one. Maclin finished with 12 catches for 187 yards and two touchdowns. He was easily the Eagles’ best offensive player (and best player overall). Early on, Maclin took a screen 21 yards to the house. Later, he got loose for a 54-yard touchdown on Foles’ best throw of the day.

Maclin was targeted 16 times, and only four of those resulted in incompletions.

On the season, Maclin how has 39 catches for 632 yards and six touchdowns. That puts him on an 89-catch, 1,445-yard pace with over 13 TDs. Coming off an ACL injury, Maclin is having the best year of his career.


There weren’t a ton of great individual defensive performances in this one. The Eagles didn’t have a sack. Allen forced the lone turnover, but given how the game ended, there’s no way he can get the game ball.

So I’m going to give it to Carroll. I can’t say I have a great reason, but he just seemed to be very active, making tackles and breaking up passes as essentially a dime linebacker.

I spoke to Carroll last week about his role. In Miami, he was an outside corner playing a lot of man coverage. Here, here often plays inside the numbers and is tasked with covering slot receivers and tight ends. Carroll seems to be growing in his role, and watching live, it seemed like he had his best game of the season against the Cardinals.



“I probably just got scraped in my helmet. Not a big deal.” — JEREMY MACLIN

The wide receiver was asked what happened that caused his ear to bleed, and that was his response.

Not a big deal? YOUR EAR WAS BLEEDING!

There are various times throughout the season when I’m reminded that I have a strange job. For example, when I’m waiting for 300-pound men to put pants on in the locker room so I can approach them and ask them questions about two-gapping… yeah, that’s pretty weird.

But hearing a 26-year-old man describe ear bleeding as no big deal is pretty weird as well. Maclin got popped by Bucannon on a helmet to helmet hit in the first half. He left the game, was evaluated for a concussion, passed the testing and returned to the field. Had Maclin been sidelined, the Eagles would have almost certainly been looking at a significantly more lopsided loss.



1. There will undoubtedly be a lot of talk this week about the run/pass imbalance. We probably shouldn’t have waited this long to address it, but better late than never.

The Eagles handed the ball off on 24 of 88 total plays; that means they passed it 72.7 percent of the time.

“No, I don’t want a balance between run and pass,” said Kelly. “I want to move the football and win the football game. I don’t want to look at that and say, ‘We had a pass and we had a run, so let’s balance things up.’ We felt like we could throw the ball on them, and I thought we did. But you have to have the game plan each week, so we don’t prescribe to that [balance] at all to be honest with you.”

There haven’t been many (any?) instances under Kelly where the Eagles have run the ball effectively, but still gotten away from it. In this game, however, McCoy and Polk carried 24 times for 96 yards (4.0 YPC).

Asked if he was expecting the imbalance, McCoy said: “No, no, no. I was not expecting that. But every week’s different.”

He made it clear that he felt the Eagles could have been successful keeping it on the ground more.

“I definitely didn’t think they were ranked as high on defense as the way they played,” said McCoy. “Just from the beginning, the couple of runs we did get, I felt like we were successful. Then at the end, we ran so easy on them.”

Should you have run it more?

“That’s not really my call,” McCoy said. “Whatever plays are drawn up, I just execute them as best as possible.

2. When you take a step back, the numbers surrounding Foles’ 2014 season are rather alarming. He’s completing 59.2 percent of his passes (27th), averaging 6.82 yards per attempt (26th) and has a passer rating of 80.7 (28th). I keep hearing the argument, “You can’t compare his numbers to last year’s!”

No reasonable person is doing that. But when you compare Foles to his peers, he ranks near the bottom right now. There’s no sugarcoating it. Against Arizona, I thought he started out playing well, but he ended up getting picked off twice. Among quarterbacks who have attempted at least 100 passes, here are the ones with a worse INT% than Foles: Blake Bortles, Kirk Cousins, Geno Smith, Jake Locker, Teddy Bridgewater and Ryan Fitzpatrick.

Here are qualifying QBs with a worse passer rating: EJ Manuel, Locker, Bridgewater, Bortles, Smith. Two of those five are rookies, and the other three have been benched.

Foles is not the only problem, but there’s no denying that he is a problem right now for the Eagles.

3. Even though they put up 521 yards, Eagles offensive players seemed pretty impressed with the Cardinals’ defense. Todd Bowles dialed up blitz after blitz and was constantly switching up his looks.

“Sometimes they came out and they did what San Fran wanted to do,” said Molk. “They threw ‘em all in the box, so that’s tough. But then the next series they came out in nickel, which was a nice defense for us [to run the ball]. So it all depends. They were in and out depending on what we were doing.”

Added Lane Johnson: “They blitzed a lot. They were coming. They did a good job of that, trying to disguise some things. But they blitzed the most of any team we’ve faced this year.”

The Eagles moved the football, but in the end, Arizona limited them to 20 points. That’s a win for the defense.

4. The Eagles are not getting much from their rookies right now. Marcus Smith did not play a defensive snap Sunday and is on a short list of first-round picks league-wide who are not contributing at all. Matthews contributed (six catches for 47 yards), as did Beau Allen. Huff had one catch for 12 (to go along with the fumble). Fourth-rounder Jaylen Watkins and fifth-rounder Taylor Hart were both inactive.

The draft is a long-term investment, but when you’re a playoff-caliber team, getting rookies who contribute right away can provide a significant boost.

For the Cardinals, Brown (drafted five spots after Huff) came down with the 75-yard grab and had five catches for 119 yards. Bucannon (taken one spot after Smith) broke up a potential game-winning TD to Ertz in the end zone on the Eagles’ final drive.

5. Leftover thoughts… I can’t figure out why Kelly punted the ball with six seconds left in the first half. The Eagles had a 4th-and-10 at the Arizona 44. Why not try for a Hail Mary there? … Great play by DeMeco Ryans in the fourth quarter, breaking up a pass in the end zone for the tight end and forcing a Cardinals field goal. … If you’re wondering why I didn’t talk more about the Brown touchdown, it’s because T-Mac’s already got it covered. …Where would the eagles be without Cody Parkey? After Alex Henery’s struggles, they lucked into the rookie kicker during the summer, and he’s been fantastic. Against the Cardinals, Parkey booted a 54-yarder through the uprights. … This was my first time at University Of Phoenix Stadium. Nice venue, but I can’t sign off on the “Nest-i-bel Meter.” That’s what they called the on-screen, in-stadium gauge of how loud it was. Just think, somebody sat in a meeting, blurted that out, and others decided: “That’s perfect! Nest-i-bel Meter it is!”