I wasn’t able to study the game and take notes the way I usually do. I did re-watch it, but not as thoroughly as I like to when trying to evaluate the players in great detail.
Nick Foles – Awful performance. 11-29-80. There were plenty of mistakes by players in the game, but this loss falls predominantly on the shoulders of Foles. That was the worst game of his NFL career. He struggled with field vision, decision-making and accuracy. Watch the tape and you’ll see open receivers that Foles didn’t notice. You’ll see other plays where he made poor decisions. Sometimes that was throwing the ball into coverage. Other times that was waiting too long to pull the trigger and then wasting a good opportunity.
Foles accuracy issues were affected by the first two problems. He wasn’t standing in the pocket, making his reads and getting the ball out on time. Foles wasn’t seeing the field well and he was indecisive, a deadly combo. That affected his mechanics. He wasn’t throwing the ball confidently. He didn’t set his feet consistently. Throws were high, low, out front and behind guys. Foles was a mess.
Is it possible the pressure of the situation (a 1st place showdown) got to him? I guess so. I hope that’s not the case since it was just a mid-October game. If you can’t handle that, you’ve got no business as a starting QB. I’m hoping it was just one of those days when everything goes wrong and there is no rhyme or reason.
Foles suffered a concussion in the 4th Qtr. Someone asked if he possibly took a big hit earlier and that caused the erratic play. No hit stuck out to me. It would be great if we had that excuse for such a bad performance. Instead, we’re left scratching our heads.
Matt Barkley – 11-20-129. Had 3 INTs. I liked what I saw. Some people fixated on the INTS. You have to understand the situation. Barkley came into the game with 9:25 left and the Eagles losing 17-3. Barkley didn’t have the luxury of a balanced offense or being able to play it safe. He need yards and points in a hurry.
The INTs all came as a result of being an inexperienced QB. Barkley saw open receivers, but he didn’t anticipate underneath defenders making plays on the ball. That was for 2 of the picks. Another one was an odd play where he seemed to be throwing the ball away, but did a poor job.
The reason I liked what I saw from Barkley is that he showed good QB skills. First, pocket presence. Barkley was dropping back on virtually every play. He focused on his receivers and not the rushers around him. Many young QBs struggle to keep their eyes downfield. Barkley did a good job of this.
Barkley threw the ball better than he did in the summer. His passes had some zip. He was able to throw the ball to the sidelines effectively. We didn’t get to see any downfield thr0ws.
Some young QBs come into a game and throw short pass after short pass. Barkley spread the ball around. He threw to multiple WRs and TEs. He threw outside and over the middle. Barkley threw some short passes, but also made some good intermediate throws. He wasn’t fixated on one player or spot on the field. Barkley dropped back and found the open guy. He did show good field vision.
Barkley led 3 drives. 2 of them crossed midfield. Both of those drives got inside the Dallas 40. Foles never got the Eagles that far on his own. And Barkley wasn’t given any help. All 3 of his drives started at the 20 or worse.
Don’t read anything into these comments. I’m not suddenly projecting Barkley as the starter in 2014. I simply thought he did some good things and showed potential.
LeSean McCoy – Rough day. 18-55 on the ground. I wasn’t real happy with the way Shady ran. He tried to turn a lot of runs into big plays. That wasn’t working and he never adjusted. Dallas has a fast, athletic defense that was able to deal with his cutback attempts. Shady would have been more successful if he kept going upfield and concentrated on getting the yards in front of him instead of looking for big plays.
OL – Todd Herremans had some issues with Jason Hatcher. I thought Lane Johnson played pretty well. I heard some criticism of him, but I thought he mostly did a good job. He did give up some pressure in the 4th Qtr when the game got into pass mode. The line gave Foles good protection most of the time. There were some plays where Foles had a ton of time. That made the poor performance all the more frustrating.
Riley Cooper – 6-88. Has now had 2 good games in a row. Made a tough catch down the left side. Tried to get the ball in the air, but then fell to the ground and caught the ball when it fell to him. There was a play earlier in the game when Cooper caught a short pass on a crossing route and got hit by a DB. Cooper kept his balance and shrugged off the hit. He then got up the field for the 1st down.
Cedric Thornton – Another strong game. Credited with 5 solo stops. Seemed to play more NT in this game.
Fletcher Cox – Disruptive, but wasn’t able to finish plays. Got into the backfield a few times, but just couldn’t get to the RB/QB. Only credited with 1 tackle.
Vinny Curry – Had a sack, but wasn’t regularly disruptive. The sack came when a blocker let him go so the blocker could get Cole. Curry did a good job with power rushes a couple of times. I thought the Dallas OGs did a good job on him for the most part.
Trent Cole – I wasn’t impressed with him when watching the game live. I was wrong. Stat line shows 5 tackles, but that’s not the whole story. Looped to the inside and drew the attention of an OL. That freed up Curry to get his sack. Cole is the one who pressured Romo on the play where he was picked off. Cole did a solid job vs the run on plays that came to his side. Also chased down a play on the other side of the field. Covered Witten on a play down the seam. Never thought I’d say that about Trent Cole. Chip Kelly also mentioned a play where Cole covered the RB in the flat and forced Romo to throw the ball away. The stats don’t show it, but Cole was disruptive.
Brandon Graham – Maybe his best game as an OLB. Had 2 tackles. Did a good job vs the run. Took on blockers and set the edge. Made a good play in space when he chased down a receiver after the catch. Came free on a blitz and got a big hit on Romo. Got okay pressure on pass plays. Didn’t stand out as a pass rusher. I just was impressed with him as an overall OLB. Showing progress.
DeMeco Ryans – Good game. Had 6 solo tackles, an INT and a sack. Showed good range as he made plays all over the field. Had one of my favorite hidden moments of the game. Dez Bryant was running a crossing route. Ryans knocked him to the ground. That’s legal inside of 5 yds. Ryans did it a lot last year. Haven’t seen it as much this season.
Mychal Kendricks – Didn’t make a lot of standout plays. Had 3 tackles. Had very good coverage of Witten at times. Team limited Witten for the most part and Kendricks was a big part of that. Bill Davis got creative and used Kendricks as an OLB at times in certain packages. This let him rush off the edge. Didn’t have much impact, but I liked the creativity and the fact it gave Dallas a new look.
Earl Wolff – Continues to show progress. Had 5 solo tackles and his first INT. The pick was a good/bad thing. Happened on the final play of the 1st half. Williams and Wolff had coverage on Bryant, but Williams slipped. The ball came down and Wolff picked it off. I’d have preferred that he knock it down to make sure Bryant had no chance to make the play. Got hurt in the 2nd half and had to come out of the game.
Nate Allen – Solid showing. Had 3 solo tackles. Blitzed well. Came free on a couple of plays and forced Romo to get rid of the ball. Tackled well and played with confidence.
Cary Williams – Davis decided to play more aggressively in this game and that put pressure on Williams and Fletcher. Williams faced Dez Bryant quite a lot. Williams didn’t shut him down, but kept Bryant under control. The officials let Williams play very hands-on and that helped. Had a different crew worked the game, Williams would have had a much more difficult game.
Bradley Fletcher – Had 3 tackles and broke up a pass. Mostly a solid game, but had a couple of bad moments. Gave up a TD to Terrance Williams. The worst moment was when Fletcher was called for PI in the endzone on a 3rd down pass play. Fletcher just panicked on the play and put his arms around the receiver. Without that penalty, Dallas would have only led 6-0. The game would have felt very different.
STs – The coverage units did a fantastic job on Dwayne Harris. He broke loose for a 39-yd KOR, but that’s it. He was kept under control for the rest of the game. Donnie Jones used directional punts to help pin Harris to one side of the field. Henery was 1 of 2 on FGs. His miss was from 60 yards out. More on that.
Coaching – The decision that got the most heat came late in the 1st half when Chip Kelly had Henery try a 60-yd FG. That happened on 4th/1 with :14 left. The Eagles also had a timeout. I didn’t like the decision, but I do understand where Kelly is coming from. Dave Fipp told him that Henery could hit from that far, especially since the wind was at their back. Kelly wanted points and felt the risk was worth it. If you run up the middle for a couple of yards and then burn your timeout, is that going to make a major difference? The kick had the distance to be good, but was wide.
It is tough to judge the offensive gameplan since Foles played so poorly. The fact that that there were a lot of open receivers leads me to think the coaches did a good job. I was disappointed in the run game. Sure seemed like there were a lot of runs designed to go outside. Against a fast team I think you run at them.
Davis did a fantastic job with the defensive gameplan. He was aggressive. He was creative.
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Sheil Kapadia did an All-22 post on the struggles of Nick Foles. Prepare to be highly frustrated.
Great work by all.