This isn’t a standard review. Traveling for Christmas cut into my DGR time. Rather than focus on this game I figured you would prefer me to keep an eye on coaches, the draft, and hot topics. I did want to write some kind of review so we can reference it in a year or two if there is something noteworthy at that time…like maybe Evan Moore catches the winning TD pass in the Super Bowl.
So here goes…
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The Eagles won the 1st and 4th quarters. The Skins won the 2nd and 3rd quarters. The difference? The Eagles won 14-0. The Skins won 27-6. Add all that up and you get a 27-20 Washington victory.
This was light years better than the first Eagles-Skins game. Washington won that 31-6. Nick Foles struggled mightily. The defense was burned in a variety of ways. That was a long, miserable day. Sunday wasn’t exactly a 3-hour sunshine, puppies, and smiles festival, but it was a major improvement. The game started great. Foles and Shady went right down the field for a TD. The Skins moved the ball, but were stopped on a 4th down play and the offense got the ball back. They went right down to the WAS 20. On 2nd down, Shady went low to pick up a blitzer. He missed and Foles was sacked back at the 34. That one play changed the game. The Eagles tried for a screen on 3rd down, but the Skins sniffed it out and Foles got hit and fumbled. The Skins recovered and spent the rest of the 1st half taking control of the game.
It is amazing how the Eagles seem to have one of those moments in each game. The team just comes unhinged. This isn’t a Foles thing either. Go back to Week 3. The game in Arizona was tight until Damaris Johnson muffed a punt. The Cards scored a TD and the route was on. There was the RZ INT in the Saints game. There was the PR in the first Dallas game. And so on.
It was encouraging that Foles and the Eagles made the 4th quarter comeback in this game and were right there to tie it at the end. You love to see that effort and resiliency. Evan Moore should have caught the pass that Foles threw him. The game should have gone to OT (apparently Reid said he would have kicked the PAT).
The biggest downside of the game for me was the defense in the 3rd quarter. The Skins had TD drives of 72 and 50 yards. They ran the ball well. Tackling was sloppy. Washington controlled the LOS and put the game out of reach. I don’t know why the defense had such a lull at that point, but they did. This Eagles team isn’t good enough to overcome lulls like that and the sloppy play that has plagued the team all year. It was fitting that the team drove down to the 5-yard line only to lose on a dropped pass and offensive penalty.
Reid made one debatable decision. The score was 20-13 in the 3rd Qtr. The Eagles had driven down and kicked a FG on the previous drive, then gotten a 3 & out on defense. They had the ball at midfield, facing 4th & 2. Reid went for it. Foles was sacked. The Skins went down and scored a TD to go up 27-13. I liked the decision to go for it. The Eagles had momentum. The team needed just 20 yards to get in FG range. Cutting the lead to 4 or tying the game would have put pressure on the Skins. Plus, you’ve got nothing to lose. Give Foles a chance to learn. The Skins covered the playside receivers well. Shady was open on the backside, but Foles didn’t have time to look that way.
I had no major qualms with the defensive gameplan. You can argue that with RG3 so banged up the Eagles didn’t need to play zone defense. By playing zone, they let the Skins have some wide open guys. The point of playing zone is to keep all 11 guys looking into the backfield so that they can see if RG3 ever takes off running. If they played more man, RG3 might have run more, even with his leg being less than 100 percent.
The offensive gameplan was highly frustrating. With Shady and Bryce healthy, I wanted each guy to get 10 carries and for us to see a balanced attack. The Skins have a good run defense (5th), but part of that is because they’re so easy to pass against that people don’t stick with the run. Reid and Marty decided to put the game on Foles instead of the 1-2 punch at RB. Shady had 13 carries, Brown 4, and Dion Lewis 1. 18 rushing attempts. 56 called passing plays. I am so, so ready for Marty and Andy to run their offense elsewhere.
* 5-15 on 3rd downs
* 3-4 on 4th downs
* Only 1-4 in the RZ. Ugh.
* 2 turnovers
Nick Foles was 32-of-48 for 345 yards with a touchdown, an interception and a fumble. We found out on Monday that Foles actually played half of the game with a broken hand. You like the fact that he was tough enough to play through an injury. The Eagles were losing when he got hurt. It would have been easy for him to ask out and let Trent Edwards go finish up. Instead, Foles stayed out there and led the team on a comeback.
Foles had some impressive moments. His touchdown to Maclin was a good throw on a corner route. That play covered 27 yards. The pass was right on the money. Foles hit Maclin for a gain of 38 on a broken play. Foles was under pressure and started to move when Maclin got free downfield. Foles was able to find him and get the ball out to him for a big gain. There were a total of nine pass plays that covered 15 or more yards.
Foles had a couple of good throws to new tight end Evan Moore. The first was a play in the opening half. Moore got open in the end zone on third-and-long. Foles put the ball up high and gave him a chance. The ball might have been a foot too much to the outside. Moore made the catch, but couldn’t get his feet down inbounds. At the end of the game, Foles hit Moore with a quick slant that would have resulted in a touchdown, but Moore could not hang onto the ball.
Not everything was quite so good. Foles’ fumble on the second drive was a costly mistake. He should have simply thrown the ball at McCoy’s feet and lived with the incompletion. The team was already in field goal range. The game ended on an intentional grounding penalty. Foles was under pressure and did what he could, but at a key moment, you must do better. He had to throw the ball away quicker or make sure to throw it up so someone had a chance. Foles was indecisive and it cost him. Foles had two passes deflected, one of which was picked off.
The biggest mistake came on the final drive. Maclin again ran a corner route and was open for a touchdown. Foles was late in making his read, by a second, if that much. He then made a poor throw. Maclin came out of his break, expecting the ball to be there. Instead, the pass was late and short. Maclin tried to get to it, but the ball fell incomplete. When an offense has the right call against a certain defense and the receiver is open in the end zone, you must make the play. Foles needed to anticipate that route and have the ball there on time.
Welcome back, Shady. Rushing numbers weren’t great (13-45), but he was 9-77 as a receiver. Made some key plays as both a runner and receiver. Broke a few ankles on Sunday with his explosive lateral cuts. Best moment came on the final drive when he caught a pass, got down to the 5-yard line and got out of bounds to stop the clock. That “only” gained 12 yards, but came on 4th/2 and with just 18 seconds left in the game. Any mistake by McCoy and the game might be over. Caught a pass over the middle on the previous drive and raced upfield for 21 yards. That set up Dion’s TD run. The Eagles ran Flip 90 early in the game and Shady was one block away from springing that for a big gain. Still got 6 yards. Did miss the one huge pass block that led to Foles being sacked in the 1st Qtr.
Bryce was 4-18. Best play was a 9-yd run. Also got a chance at Flip 90 (to the right side) and had a nice gain. Lewis had a beautiful 17-yd TD run in the 4th Qtr.
Igwenagu played some FB. No real highlights.
Maclin had a good day, going 8-116-1. Would have been even better if Foles hit him for the late TD. Mac still must work on his blocking. Limited a couple of runs to his side with poor effort. Avant was 8-70. He must be loving Foles as QB. Suddenly the slot receiver is back to being a key part of the offense. Cooper had a really quiet day. Had 2 passes thrown his way. 1-18. Other pass was out of bounds, but close to being a nice play. Cooper did have a couple of very good blocks. Damaris Johnson was 3-25. Highlight was a short play where he ran out of the tackle and got the 1st down. Really like what he’s shown in terms of RAC skills this year.
Brent Celek was 3-39 as a pass catcher. Did a solid job as a blocker. Best moment came on 4th/1 when he caved in Ryan Kerrigan and let Foles spin wide on the QB sneak and get the 1st down. It did help that Kerrigan started inside, but Celek made sure he was pinned. Helped in pass pro as well.
Igwenagu played some TE as well. One memorable play was 3rd/1 run to his side. LB Rob Jackson stuffed him and that gave Brown nowhere to go. Questionable decision to run to Iggy’s side. He’s still raw and lacks size for a TE. Moore played, but was mainly a receiver. Showed some athletic ability, but that drop on the slant was a killer.
King Dunlap had one holding penalty. Looked like a member of the Secret Service taking down an assassin. If only he could run block like that. Evan Mathis had a good game. He just missed a LB on Shady’s Flip 90 run. Wasn’t Evan’s fault. The LB read the play and flew out wide. Evan got up to the 2nd level as fast as possible, but wasn’t in front of the guy. There was one zone run where Evan just exploded off the ball. Sometimes you forget how athletic he is. Dallas Reynolds had a couple of sloppy moments. The worst came on a Shady run. The DL slanted inside. The OL was flowing outside. Dallas watched the guy cross his face, but didn’t get hold of him. The guy stuffed Shady for a 4-yd loss. Jake Scott had a solid game. Had a good block on a screen to his side.
Dennis Kelly was very erratic. There were times when he really impressed me. He moved his feet well. He took good angles and limited Kerrigan. Unfortunately there were some other plays when Kerrigan ate him up. The biggest problem was anchoring vs the bull rush. Kelly got walked back to Foles a few times. Dennis must get stronger in the offseason. He must learn to re-set after he’s been moved back initially. The good news is that these are correctable issues.
The Eagles did give up 5 sacks.
* WAS was 5-10 on 3rd down
* WAS was 2-2 in the RZ.
* The Skins only had to punt twice in the game.
* Eagles did get their first INT since the DET game.
Trent Cole was in on 5 tackles and got into the backfield a few times. He was disruptive, but didn’t get any sacks or major shots on RG3. Brandon Graham led the team with 6 solo tackles. He had a couple of highlight moments. On the early 4th down stop, Graham didn’t bite on the fake and stayed wide. He pressured RG3 into making a quick throw. Graham also shot into the backfield and knocked down a shovel pass. Late in the game he was very active as a run defender. Graham did get burned on an End Around early in the game. He actually tried to keep contain, but the play was well executed and he couldn’t get wide enough fast enough.
Phillip Hunt and Vinny Curry each played just over 10 snaps. Hunt was the better of the two, but neither did anything that really stood out. Hunt just missed a sack on one play for his lone highlight.
Fletcher Cox was the best of the DTs again. He one his share of one-on-one battles. His highlight moment came on a play where Cole and Graham chased RG3 all over Hell’s creation. Cox hustled upfield and got a good shot on RG3 just after the ball was away. Cedric Thornton had a couple of solo tackles. Cullen Jenkins and Derek Landri were too quiet.
Rough game. Even middle linebacker DeMeco Ryans had some struggles. He missed a tackle of running back Evan Royster, which drove me nuts. Royster couldn’t make Big Ten guys miss. Ryans? Ugh. There was another play where Ryans couldn’t find the ball and was spinning around while trying to avoid a block and see where the ball was. That’s never a good look for your middle linebacker. Strongside linebacker Jamar Chaney and weakside linebacker Mychal Kendricksboth were lost at times. To his credit, Kendricks was in on seven solo tackles. Kendricks shows such good flashes. It is frustrating to see the mistakes. The biggest thing for me is that he must attack OL and be more aggressive vs the run. There are times in space when he’ll fly to the ball and make a great tackle. Put him in traffic and he’s much more erratic.
Kurt Coleman was in on 7 tackles. He had a couple of good stops late in the game. The lowlight was when he flew upfield to tackle a RB and got knocked back a yard. Kurt sort of got on the RB. Should have run through the guy. Colt Anderson had a pretty good game, but also showed his limitations. He had 5 solo tackles, a tackle-for-loss, a pass break-up and an interception. On those plays, Anderson was fun to watch and he got the job done. He also missed some key tackles. He had a chance to get Josh Morgan on an end around that was blown up by defensive end Trent Cole, but Anderson went low and Morgan went right over him. There was a play along the sideline where flew over to make a stop, but was out of control and the runner made a quick move and went right by him. Anderson also got burned for a touchdown pass. He had solid coverage, but Santana Moss was too fast and Griffin III made a perfect pass. You don’t fault Anderson on that, but a bigger or more athletic DB might have a chance to make a play.
Quiet game for the CBs. We played a lot of zone. DRC and Nnamdi combined for 4 tackles. No coverage highlights or lowlights. DRC did foolishly launch himself when blocking after Colt’s INT. DRC has done this a few times this year. Stupid. That’s supposed to be a penalty. Don’t launch.
Brandon Boykin had the highlight play. He blitzed off the edge and got to RG3 in a hurry. RG3 threw a backward pass to avoid the sack. The receiver fell on the ball, but for a 17-yd loss. That was credited as a sack for Boykin, our only sack of the game.
Henery was 2 for 2 on FGs. 2 of 5 KOs were touchbacks.
McBriar only had 2 punts, 50 & 37. The long one was returned 20 yards.
No returns of note for the Eagles.