Game Review: Eagles Offense Vs. Texans


NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Houston Texans

Here’s a player-by-player breakdown of the Eagles’ offensive performance against the Houston Texans, after having re-watched the game:

QUARTERBACKS

Nick Foles – He got injured on the last play of the first quarter. Before that, Foles looked a lot like he did in the first seven games. He made some really nice throws. He sometimes reacted poorly to pressure. And he turned the ball over. Foles went 10-for-13 for 124 yards, a touchdown and an interception. He was sacked twice.

The good… he made a nice throw to Jeremy Maclin for an 11-yard gain near the sidelines on third down. He connected with Darren Sproles on another third-down conversion. The throw to Maclin on the 59-yard bomb was perfect, and Foles’ play-fake to Sproles took J.J. Watt out of the play. He hit Riley Cooper for a couple 13-yard gains on a later drive.

The bad… Foles was under pressure early. He got hit on two of his first three dropbacks. On the pick-six, he got hit by Watt on his right side and threw from an awkward platform. Foles was looking for Cooper on the deep post, but couldn’t get anything on the throw.

Whitney Mercilus sacked him and injured Foles’ clavicle. He’ll now miss six to eight weeks, and depending on how Mark Sanchez performs, Foles might have played his last snap of the year.

Mark Sanchez – He also had some good and some bad. Sanchez went 15-for-22 for 202 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.

On his first play, Sanchez hit Maclin for 52 yards on a deep post. The ball was underthrown, and Maclin had to slow down, but it was good enough to net a completion. Sanchez threw a beautiful ball to Jordan Matthews down the seam for an 11-yard touchdown. He was great on those throws during the preseason. Later, he found Matthews wide open for 24 yards off a play-fake. Sanchez had a few instances where he pulled the ball and chucked it to the perimeter. Based off of TV copy, it looked like he made good decisions on those plays and picked up positive yardage. The touchdown to Maclin was a fantastic throw – low and to the outside where only the receiver would have a chance at it.

There were obviously some shaky moments as well. The first interception was not his fault as it bounced off of Josh Huff’s hands. On the second pick, Cooper got jammed at the line of scrimmage. Kelly said it was a timing throw, and because Sanchez was under pressure on the play, the coach didn’t seem to blame the QB. Sanchez misfired to Zach Ertz in the red zone. He stared down Cooper in the third and was nearly picked off. Later on the drive, he and Matthews were not on the same page, and the Texans dropped another potential interception.

Sanchez will help or hurt his stock in the coming weeks. If he plays well, he could remain the starter the rest of the season. If he plays poorly, he’ll cost himself some money in free agency.

RUNNING BACKS

LeSean McCoy – Excellent game. He ran 23 times for 117 yards, averaging 5.1 yards per carry. McCoy weaved through traffic and picked up 7 in the first. Later, he gained 8 on a sweep. The Eagles ran more “power” than they had all season. Those are the plays where one guard pulls and the back follows. McCoy picked up 9 on a power run in the second. He converted a 4th-and-1 with Sanchez under center in the second. McCoy took a sweep 14 yards in the third. He followed that up with a 26-yarder. McCoy switched sides at the last second on that run and ran away from Watt. He picked up 9 on another power run in the fourth. In pass pro, the only issue I saw came early when he had trouble picking up the LB and gave up a hit on Foles.

Chris Polk – Great game. He has a completely different running style and aims to punish defenders. Polk picked up 22 on a sweep in the third, lowering the boom on a defensive back instead of going out of bounds. He scored on a split zone run up the middle from 8 yards out. Polk had another run of 6 yards and moved the chains on a 3rd-and-1 carry. Overall, eight carries for 50 yards. He should be involved more going forward.

Darren Sproles – He made tremendous contributions with three carries for 17 yards and four catches for 46. Sproles made a third-down catch in the first and absorbed a big hit from the cornerback. On 3rd-and-8 in the third, he took a short pass, broke a tackle, ran away from defenders and picked up 24. Later, he lined up in the slot and took a screen 11 yards on 3rd-and-10, breaking another tackle to get past the marker. Sproles also had a couple nice runs.

WIDE RECEIVERS

Jeremy Maclin – He’s having a monster season. Six grabs on seven targets for 158 yards and two touchdowns on this one. He did an excellent job of keeping his feet in bounds on a 3rd-and-10 catch that gained 11 near the sideline in the first. Maclin burned the backup CB for 59 yards on a deep post for a touchdown in the first. Maclin later came down with a 52-yard catch on another post from Sanchez in the second. It should have been a touchdown, but the ball was underthrown. Maclin picked up an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty after the play. In the fourth, he gained 21 yards on a screen. And Maclin did a great job of getting his hands underneath the ball on the 8-yard touchdown in the fourth.

Riley Cooper – Quiet game. Two catches for 26 yards. They came on back-to-back gains of 13 in the first half. Cooper was inconsistent as a blocker. He didn’t block his guy or run him off downfield on the screen to Matthews in the first. It looked like he missed his block on a swing pass to McCoy in the first that was stopped for no gain. Cooper drew a tough matchup, but got tossed to the ground by an LB on his block attempt on a screen to Sproles in the second. But he did a good job on Sproles’ 7-yard run in the second.

Jordan Matthews – Three catches for 40 yards and a TD on four targets. Matthews beat his man, got his head turned around and kept his feet in bounds on the 11-yard touchdown in the second. He got wide open off a play-fake for 24 yards later in the quarter. Matthews and Sanchez weren’t on the same page in the third. Matthews drifted to his left away from the defender, and Sanchez was nearly picked off.

Josh Huff – Ups and downs. He got a little more involved with three catches for 26 yard son four targets. Huff had a 7-yard grab for a first down in the first. Great job breaking tackles and picking up 10 on a 3rd-and-8 play in the second. Good job taking on contact and picking up 9 yards on a quick screen in the fourth. The offense was rolling when the ball bounced off his hands on the interception in the second.

Jeff Maehl – Two catches for 13 yards on three targets.

TIGHT ENDS

Brent Celek – He was great as a blocker. Nice seal on McCoy’s 9-yard run in the second. Good block on the third-down screen to Sproles in the third. Good down block on Watt on McCoy’s 14-yard sweep in the third. Nice block on the edge defender on McCoy’s 5-yard run in the fourth. Nice block on McCoy’s 9-yard run in the fourth. Celek only had two catches for 7 yards, but he did a good job getting his hands underneath the ball on a 3rd-and-4 play that picked up 3 in the fourth.

Zach Ertz – Quiet game. One catch for 4 yards. Sanchez missed him downfield late in the second. On the play where Foles got injured, Ertz stayed in to block and essentially had Mercilus one on one. Ertz did a good job initially, but did not stick with his block to the whistle, and Mercilus eventually sacked Foles.

James Casey – No targets. Not a lot of impact plays as a blocker.

OFFENSIVE LINE

Jason Peters – Not his best game, but it looked like he might have gotten nicked up in the first half. Peters tried to help on Watt before getting to Mercilus late off the edge on the first series, and he gave up a hit on Foles. He was beaten badly off the edge by Mercilus for a sack in the first. It looked like he was dealing with a foot or ankle injury in the second, and he gave up a sack in the red zone. Peters lined up as tackle over in the second, but couldn’t control Watt on a 3-yard McCoy run. He gave up a sack against Watt off the edge in the third, but Houston was called for a penalty in the secondary.

Of course, there were plenty of good moments. Good kick-out block on the edge defender on McCoy’s 26-yard run in the third. Great block manhandling the defensive lineman on Polk’s touchdown run in the third. Good seal on McCoy’s 9-yard run in the fourth. Drove his man off the ball on Polk’s 6-yard run in the fourth. And he threw the key block on Polk’s fourth-down run in the fourth.

Matt Tobin – This was one of his more encouraging performances of the season. Tobin did a good job of getting to the LB on McCoy’s 8-yard sweep in the second. He did a good job pulling on a power run in the second that picked up 9. Nice job on McCoy’s 26-yard inside zone run in the third. Nice job getting to the linebacker on Polk’s TD run in the third. The negatives: He was beaten by Watt on a McCoy run that lost a yard in the second. And Tobin couldn’t finish his block on a McCoy outside zone run in the fourth that was stopped for no gain. If Herremans is injured, Tobin would likely slide over to play right guard.

Jason Kelce – It feels like a different offense when he’s in there. Kelce had moments of rust and was not perfect, but he gave this unit a boost. Excellent job helping on Watt in pass pro in the first on a play where the Eagles drew an illegal contact. Nice job on Sproles’ 5-yard run in the second. He got out in front on a sweep and took out the linebacker on McCoy’s 14-yard run in the third. Nice job getting out in front of the 21-yard screen to Maclin and knocking the defensive back to the ground. Excellent job on the LB on Polk’s 6-yard run in the fourth. Kelce whiffed on his block on a screen to Sproles in the second. And he was off-target with several snaps. All things considered, he played well.

Todd Herremans – You have to admire his toughness, but playing with one arm, he had a rough go. Herremans was beaten by Watt on the first play and gave up a hit on Foles. Herremans was beaten by Watt for a sack in the first. He got beaten inside on a third-quarter sack, but the Texans were called for a penalty in the secondary. Herremans gave up pressure again in the third, and Sanchez took a hit. He was beaten badly by Watt and gave up a hit on Sanchez in the third. The Texans attacked him inside a lot, taking advantage of his injured left biceps. Herremans injured his ankle in the second half. We’ll see what his status is the rest of the way.

Andrew Gardner – He filled in for Herremans and was beaten cleanly by Watt in the third on Sanchez’s interception. In the run game, he did a nice job pulling on a power play in the fourth as McCoy picked up 9.

Lane Johnson – Ups and downs. He let the DB slip inside on a screen to Maehl in the first. Johnson handled a stunt poorly and got beaten to the inside on the play where Foles was sacked and injured. I don’t know what his assignment was, but he let Watt go through untouched for a sack in the red zone in the second. Johnson was called for a pair of false starts. He let Watt go unblocked for a sack on third down late in the second. On the bright side, Johnson kicked out the edge defender on McCoy’s sweep that picked up 8 in the second. And he threw a nice block on the third-down screen to Sproles in the third.