Eagles. Bucs. Rookie QB. Comeback win. 23-21 final. Back in 2006 it was the Bucs who pulled off the miracle when Matt Bryant hit a 62-yard FG at the end of the game to win. This time around the Eagles came up with the W. Both times rookie QBs beat veterans.
The 2006 Eagles overcame the loss and still won the NFC East. The 2012 Eagles overcame the victory to maintain the #4 position in the NFL Draft. How times have changed, huh?
It was fun to see the team win. Watching Jeremy Maclin jump up and then sprint down the field after his score was cool. Seeing Andy Reid hug Duce Staley and Howard Mudd was weird but cool. There is a lot of beef in that trio. Mudd actually got Reid off the ground. That definitely is the top feat of strength in the upcoming Festivus celebration.
Re-watching games is interesting. Your perspective on players and the game can change. Some losses aren’t as bad. Some wins aren’t as good. I came away confused by this game. The Eagles were lucky to win. There was the dropped INT by the DB on Foles 3rd down pass at the end of the game. There was Maclin’s non-fumble that sure looked like a fumble. It took Avant making a miracle catch to jump start the first FG drive. The Eagles actually benefited from Foles missing Cooper and Avant when both were wide open for long TDs on the go-ahead drive. Had Foles hit either guy for the score, there would have been about 90 seconds left and the Bucs would have only needed a FG to either win or tie (depends on Eagles and the 2-pt conversion).
Before you think I’m totally down on the Eagles, that’s not the case. Nick Foles was every bit as impressive the second time around. I loved the way the offense clicked on those final 2 drives. That was fun to watch. Everybody did their part. That was good team football. I’m very curious to see if the team can build off that or if it will disappear since the Bucs dreadful secondary won’t be on the field. I thought the Eagles had coverage issues. Wow. The Bucs make us look like the 2002 Bucs.
The one thing that stuck out to me while re-watching the game as how much more aggressive and physical the Bucs were. Ronde Barber shed a King Dunlap block to tackle Maclin on a WR screen. The Bucs WRs blocked our LBs. Our defenders struggled with getting off blocks. Their DL won more individual battles with our OL. Trent Cole got blocked by a TE on multiple plays.
Not too much to say. No crucial decisions. I didn’t like the fact we kept trying to run outside, but the Bucs have the #1 run D so I don’t know that going up the middle would have made a big difference. Also, we played mostly from the shotgun. That can have an impact on what run plays are called, especially against a defense that shoots gaps and attacks as much as Tampa.
* Dick Stockton was awful. He said that Foles is “6-6 and weighs 243 yards”.
* The refs reviewed the final play for ever. It was clearly a TD. I’m a paranoid Eagles fan and I know it, but it almost felt like they were looking for a way to overrule it. “The receiver did catch the ball, but failed to establish…Prima Nocta. Yeah, Prima Nocta. So the ruling on the field is overturned and the heroic Bucs are winners over the lesser Eagles, who will serve as their love-slaves in the afterworld.”
* I really got confused when I couldn’t make out the ref’s ruling and heard all the cheers. Didn’t realize just how many Eagles fans were down there. Impressive.
* How beautiful was it to beat the Bucs on the day they celebrated the 10th anniversary of their SB win? Stockton and John Lynch kept talking about the 2002 Bucs. Simeon Rice and Derrick Brooks were up in the booth with them, but not mic’d up. That was worthless. And what was Rice wearing? He had a white T-shirt and these ultra-thin suspenders. Weird, just weird.
FOLES - First win. First comeback. Good game. 32-51-381. 2 TDs, no INTs. Ran 3-27. Had one TD and 2 first downs. That’s being efficient as a runner.
Maybe the biggest thing for Foles was pocket presence. He was sacked 6 times. He was hit quite a few others. That didn’t take a toll on him. Foles stayed focused on his receivers, keeping his vision downfield rather than shifting it to the rushers. He moved really well in the pocket. He was able to slide left and right, and to step up in the pocket. He bought time, but never panicked. This showed excellent toughness and discipline, both key traits in a good QB.
The comeback was great. Foles led the team on 64 and 72-yard TD drives in the final 7:21. I think Foles did this with style points. There were no fluke plays. There wasn’t a pass to Maclin that went for a 50-yard TD. No defender fell down for him. Foles moved the team down the field methodically. The game-winning play was all about execution. Jason Avant said after the game that Tampa had the right defense for that play. It wasn’t favorable to us, but Maclin got open and made a terrific catch. Nick threw a perfect pass. Great execution.
Nick’s decision-making has really improved. He still has his rookie moments where you shake your head and wonder what he was thinking, but they are becoming fewer and fewer. His decisions on when to run were excellent, except for one play when he was hesitant and got sacked for minimal loss. Couldn’t make up his mind on that play.
The other players seem to respond well to Nick. He replaced a popular veteran in Mike Vick. There can be some awkward moments when that happens and not everyone buys in, but I’ve seen none of that. Foles adjusted the 4th down play where Avant caught the pass and set up the TD. Reid let Foles pick the final play to run. Foles did a good job of getting the team to the line so he could spike the ball and we could even get the final play off. Foles isn’t just playing the position of QB, he’s acting the part. He’s become a team leader.
* Hit Avant on 3rd/17 along the sideline. Jason made a spectacular catch. Foles was getting hit and still got the ball off. He put it up in the air where Jason had a chance to make a play on it. This was a stab in the dark, but a smart one. And it paid off.
* Deep balls remain an issue. Missed Cooper going down the left sideline by about a foot, maybe 18 inches. That was a pretty good throw. There was a play late in the game when Nick correctly read a blitz. He had Mac and Coop running deep and open. Foles went for Coop and the ball was too far out in front. He did have to get rid of that prior to getting hit. There was a play where Avant was wide open down the right side. Nick put the ball right on the sideline and Avant had to make a tightrope catch. If that ball is 5 feet more to the inside, Avant had a chance to catch and run. He might have scored.
* Nick ran for the Eagles first TD. It was supposed to be a screen to the left. The whole Tampa defense went that way. Nick waited for a minute and then took off since there was only one defender to the right side. Nick got a good block by Mac and scored easily. It was an incredibly s-l-o-w run. I couldn’t believe no defender chased him down.
* The next TD came in the 4th Qtr. Nick moved up in the pocket. He leveled off and moved at an angle rather than just forward. This kept him from going beyond the LOS. Nick was straddling the line when he found Harbor open at the back of the end zone. Nick made a good throw. Mac was open on the play, but Ronde Barber was kind of between Nick and Mac. While Mac was more open, the better throwing lane was to Harbor. Good decision.
* That play required Nick to throw off balance and to lead his receiver, while throwing the ball into traffic. It wasn’t easy. Nick did a similar thing on the final drive and the pass was almost picked off. Initially I thought that was a terrible decision, but it really was a bad throw. He didn’t lead the receiver and that allowed the CB to play the ball. If Nick leads the receiver, it might have been caught. There was an earlier play where Nick tried to hit Avant on the right side on a 3rd down. Avant was wide open. Nick was getting hit as he threw and couldn’t get much on the ball. The DB broke the pass up. The 2-point conversion attempt was another play where someone was open and Nick couldn’t get him the ball. Nick was going to the ground and tried to hit Dion right by the pylon. The ball short-hopped.
If Nick can improve on speeding up his delivery and getting more velocity on these off-balance throws, he can start to complete more oddball passes. Not all passes in the NFL are thrown from a clean pocket with proper mechanics. The QBs who can hit these tough throws drive defenses mad. Rodgers is very good at them. Romo can be. Eli too. Favre was masterful at them.
* I like the fact Nick isn’t doing the same thing over and over. He threw some quick passes in the 2nd Qtr when the coaches were trying to jump start the offense. Nick isn’t afraid to throw short to his first read and only get 4 or 5 yards. He also will throw deep. He is good with WR screens. Vick somewhat fell in love with the deep ball. Kevin Kolb had the one game vs WAS when he completed 15 or so checkdown throws.
* I want to go back to mental toughness for a second. Final drive. Foles makes a bad throw on 3rd down that should have been picked off. The DB can’t make the grab so the Eagles are still alive. Foles doesn’t panic. In the huddle he makes an adjustment and has Avant run a seam route. The outside WRs push the CBs and Safeties deep, leaving a huge void in the middle of the field. Avant is wide open. Nick anticipated this after just almost costing his team the game with a bad throw. That’s focus. That’s mental toughness. Then he executed the pass to Avant for the 1st down. Then he got the team set up and spiked it. Foles then chose the final play and hit Mac for the winning score. That is amazing focus.
We’re still learning about Nick, but he sure seems to have what it takes between the ears and that is a huge part of being a good NFL QB.
LEWIS - 1 carry for -4 yards. Had no chance on the play. Caught a pass late in the 1st half and went up the sideline for 28 yards. That set up a long FG attempt. Dion played a fair amount in the 4th Qtr when we were passing a lot. Did a good job in pass pro.
B BROWN – 12 carries for 6 yards. Not his fault. Tampa played swarming run D. Bryce had one good run when he got loose to the left side for 11 yards. 2-6 as a receiver. Did have some good pass blocks in the game.
HAVILI - Only played 11 snaps. Quiet game.
CELEK - Got hurt on the first play of the game. Caught a short pass. Took on one defender and was then hit from the side by a LB and that gave Brent a concussion.
HARBOR - Good game. Was the only TE after Celek went out. Clay was targeted 6 times and caught all 6 passes. Gained 52 yards and had a TD. Looked good. I’ve always wondered why he’s not more a part of the passing game. Had some good blocks in the game. Was good on WR screens. Clay would go to the outside and seal the CB. Did this well several times. Non-factor as a run blocker. Helped in pass pro.
MACLIN - Good game. 9-104-1. Did a good job of keeping the chains moving. Got RAC yards on the WR screens. Possibly had a TD on one, but Foles threw an errant pass and Mac couldn’t make the grab. The catch on the final play was very impressive. Mac ran a good route to get open. Made a quick cut that created just enough separation and gave Nick a good passing angle. Mac made the sliding catch and never came close to letting go of the ball. I was most impressed by him as a blocker. Mac put a DB on the ground on Nick’s TD run. He had a good block on Dion’s long catch and run. Very encouraging to see him doing the little things and playing like a stud WR.
AVANT - Great game. 7-133. His catch on the left sideline was one of the best grabs I’ve ever seen. He went up, extended his arm and secured the ball. In the air. With one arm. He then came down and got an elbow on the ground before going out of bounds. This netted 20 yards on 3rd/17 and set up the first points of the game. Prior to that play we had 31 yards of offense. Avant did a great job on his 4th down catch late in the game. The catch itself was simple (but did have to be made). Avant fought to get into the endzone, but when he realized that wasn’t going to happen, he went down. He jumped up and got the ball to the correct official so it could be spotted quickly. Jason said he didn’t want to put it on the ground where Tampa could mess with it. Love the fact he was thinking like that. Smart football. Avant caught a 39-yard pass down the right sideline when the DBs lost sight of him and he got wide open. Sloppy throw from Nick made that catch really tough. Turned it into a tightrope act. Avant caught a short throw and added 10+ RAC yards to get the 1st down and move the chains. Excellent job of blocking, as always. Was used to chip on DEs at times.
COOPER - Good game. 4-37. Also blocked well. Had the key block on Dion’s catch and run.
D JOHNSON – 2-20. Long play was 14. Got good RAC yards on that.
* Foles was sacked 6 times. Could have been 10 if he wasn’t moving so well in the pocket.
* Eagles rushed for a total of 29 yards. Foles had 27 of them.
* Not a good day for the O-line.
* The Eagles did seem to do a pretty good job against the blitz. 4-man rushes were the big problem. Stunts were somewhat effective. This was more about individuals losing 1-on-1 battles than anything else.
DUNLAP - Struggled in pass pro. Did a good job at times, but not consistently. Hustled outside on the WR screens. Effective on those. Had a good run block on the one positive run that came to his side. Generally struggled with Tampa’s attacking style. Most discouraging moment was when Te’o-Nesheim beat him cleanly with an inside move and hit Foles hard.
MATHIS – Had the best game up front. Didn’t have any highlight blocks like he did against Dallas.
REYNOLDS - Rough game. Gerald McCoy got the best of him a couple of times.
SCOTT - Rough game. Gerald McCoy also got to him. Jake is a solid athlete, but Tampa’s lateral quickness gave him fits. Would set hard to block, only to see the DL cross his face and attack the inside. Won his share of battles, but easily his worst game as an Eagle.
KELLY - Rough game. Struggled a lot. Had problems with speed rushers off the edge. I do give Dennis credit that even when he was beat, he rode them as wide as possible. A few times this allowed Nick to step up in the pocket. Had problems with power moves as well. Michael Bennett gave him fits early on. Kelly gave up a sack on the final drive. Didn’t fare much better as a run blocker.
COLE - Bad game. 1 assisted tackle. Was single-blocked by the TE on multiple plays. Maybe the most discouraging play was when Trent got into the backfield and flushed Freeman. Trent was there to chase him, but Freeman started to pull away. Josh isn’t a statue by any means, but I’d hope Trent would win that race most of the time. Trent did get pressure a few times. He did have some good moments. I was just disappointed with his overall performance. There were multiple plays when he was sealed easily on run plays and Martin went to that spot.
JENKINS - Had a sack, but wasn’t regularly disruptive. No other tackles in the game.
GRAHAM - Okay game. Had a couple of tackles, including a TFL. Partially responsible for Jenkins’ sack. Graham got free to the inside and made Freeman move. Jenkins was then able to get to him. Brandon wasn’t getting consistent pressure, but did move the OT backward more than a few times.
COX - Best DL in the game. Got penetration multiple times. Wasn’t always able to make the play, but did have a sack and TFL. Credited with 4 solo stops. Stuffed Martin on the Bucs final play of the game. That got the ball back for Foles and the offense. TFL was odd. Read a screen and was right there by Martin. Freeman threw him the ball anyway and Cox made the tackle easily.
LANDRI - Too quiet. Had 1 tackle.
TAPP - Only played a few snaps. Saw time at both LDE and RDE.
HUNT - Played both sides. Showed good speed off the ball, but didn’t make any plays.
THORNTON - Had some good moments, but not enough. Credited with 2 tackles. Called for facemask penalty when tackling Martin. Got away with hands to the face penalty on another play.
CURRY - Quiet game. Made 1 impressive play. LB disrupted a run and Vinny was there to hit Martin from behind for the TFL. Tampa took advantage of that pursuit hustle. They ran Flip 90 to his side and Martin got by him easily. Vinny was a non-factor as a pass rusher. Still needs work in that area.
KENDRICKS - Moved to WLB for the first time this year. Good game. In on 7 tackles. Had a TFL. Created a TFL for Curry with good penetration. Had 3 PDs. Had a chance to pick off all 3, but couldn’t do it. None were easy plays, but the defense needs someone to step up and make a big play to come up with a takeaway. I thought Kendricks was good in coverage. Run defense was very up and down. Too often struggled to get off blocks.
RYANS - Led the team with 7 tackles, but I didn’t think he had a strong game. Too often he was making tackles downfield. Part of that is that blockers were getting too him easily, but a veteran LB like Ryans should win more battles than he did.
CHANEY - Good game. Was in on 4 tackles. Had a PD. Played up on the LOS at times. Off the ball at others. Did a good job of covering TEs. Didn’t look like his first start since the PIT game. Seemed comfortable out there. Benefited the most of anyone from the schematic changes.
ALLEN - Typical Nate. Mixture of good and bad. In on 5 tackles. Had some good moments in coverage. Downside is that he was sloppy as a tackler on some plays where WRs were on the move. Seemed okay in run support.
ANDERSON - Good game. Honestly, I had serious doubts about him getting the start. Colt played on defense back in 2010 and you loved his effort, but his limitations were obvious. He played some vs DET this year and struggled. I’m glad the coaches didn’t listen to me. Colt played well. He had 5 solo tackles and was excellent in run support. A couple of the tackles were right at the LOS. He flew up quickly and decisively took out the legs of the RB. I was just as impressed that he seemed to be in the right spots in coverage. There were a couple of deep balls where he was right there to make the tackle if the pass was completed. Late in the game Colt was held by an OL and that helped get the ball back for the winning drive. Colt had a chance to make a diving INT, but was unable to hold onto the ball. I assume he was just trying to fit in with his teammates.
NNAMDI - I don’t know what the heck to say. I thought he was awful when I watched the game live. Seemed less bad when I re-watched, but that might have only been since my expectations were so low. No matter how you slice it, got beaten too much. Gave up TD on 3rd/GL. Was in good position, but was slow to react and play the ball. Had 6 solo tackles. Did play harder than recent games. Made a leaping attempt to get a pass and took a really hard fall that kept him out for a while.
DRC - Good game. He broke up three passes and had two solo tackles. He laid a big hit on tight end Dallas Clark. That shocked me. Rodgers-Cromartie just doesn’t do stuff like that. A couple of plays later he made a clean tackle of Martin in the open field. That was even more of a shocker. Rodgers-Cromartie was very good on downfield coverage. That covered several plays. Tampa likes to throw deep. Broke up one of them. Had a chance for a possible INT in the 2nd half on a short throw to his side. Instead hit the guy and broke up the pass. I’d like to see a guy with DRC’s athleticism go for the ball on plays like that when he can see it and attack it. My biggest complaint was his effort on a catch and run that resulted in a touchdown. Chaney was covering the WR initially (I think we were in zone). DRC was back at the GL. His job was to attack wherever the ball went. Instead, he waited for the receiver to come to him. Easy TD. Bad effort.
BOYKIN - Quiet game. Tampa didn’t throw his way much.
MARSH - Played in place of Nnamdi for a while. Had one highlight play where he went up and broke up a downfield pass in the air. Watching the game live, I was impressed with Marsh. The re-watch wasn’t so good. Looked slow. His receiver had a step on him several times. Would really like to see him in action to know if he’s worth keeping or not.
MCBRIAR - 7-343 (49 per punt). Long was 66.
HENERY - The dream is over. Had hit 578 straight FGs, dating all the way back to 1962 (numbers/dates are not exactly exact). Went 1 for 3. Was ready to kick 53-yd’er late in the half when a blocker was called for false start. Moved it back to 58. Henery hit the left upright. Close, but no cigar. The ball did hit near the top of the upright. That would have been good from 65 or more. Missed a chip shot in the 2nd half. The laces were pointing in, a big no-no. I don’t know if that is why he missed, but it didn’t help. Really pulled the kick so the laces may not have made a huge difference.
PR – Damaris had an 18-yd return that helped spark a FG drive. He also muffed a punt that set up Tampa for a TD drive. Not good. That is 2 critical ball handling mistakes for him this year. Both led to TDs. The frustrating part is that I thought he made good decisions about when to field the ball. Just got careless on that one play.
KOR – Boykin had one good return of 32 yards. Other was not so impressive…just 23 yds.
* Roscoe Parrish had a 30-yd PR.
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