What a game. The Eagles had put up 3 offensive points over the last 2 games. The media was eagerly embracing the notion that Chip Kelly’s offense needed to be changed. He had to expand the playbook. He had to go get a QB that could run. He had to do this, that or the other. Something had to be done.
Kelly did none of that. He focused on fundamentals. The plays weren’t the problem. Execution was.
Nick Foles came back from his concussion and Kelly had a simple message for him: “Grip it and rip it.” Kelly wanted his young QB to think less and just go out and play. Find the open guy, get him the ball. Simple as that.
Foles listened to Kelly and the result was a record-tying 7 TD passes. The Eagles scored 49 points and gained 542 yards. All of that happened on only 57 plays. The offense was efficient and explosive. The Eagles were 4 for 5 on 3rd downs in the 1st half. The one that didn’t get converted? Jason Avant dropped a pass. The offense had 6 plays of 25 or more yards.
Big plays and offensive efficiency aren’t new. Going 4 for 4 in the Red Zone is. Scoring TDs instead of settling for FGs is huge, both on the scoreboard and in terms of momentum. The Raiders were able to move the ball, but they struggled to get into the endzone. It reminded me of the old joke that they brought a knife to a gunfight.
The Eagles were 31st in RZ efficiency going into the game, but they are now up to 26th. It will be interesting to see if Foles can continue to play well in the RZ. That is critical to winning games.
The real good news for me is that Foles didn’t do anything today that he can’t replicate. There were no miracle passes or runs. Foles just went out and ran the offense. He made the right decisions. He made accurate throws. He moved around and used his mobility to help on those plays when he did get pressure or needed to be on the move.
No Eagles player did anything today that made your jaw hit the floor. There were no circus catches or highlight runs. Players got open. Foles got them the ball. Good things happened.
Foles can replicate the performance in terms of making good decisions and accurate throws. The offense can move the ball and score points. Next time it will problably be 27 or 31 or 34 instead of 49. You can’t count on going 4 for 4 in the Red Zone and having no turnovers on a regular basis.
When the offense executes well and you play a clean game, great things can happen.
* 3rd/13. Opening drive. This play got me excited. Foles had good protection. Pump-faked to his left and then hit Jeff Maehl over the middle for a gain of 19. That pass had some zip on it. Foles sat in the pocket and looked like a stud QB on that play. That was a sign that the Dallas Foles was gone.
* 3rd/3. Eagles were in 3 x 1 set. Shady went in motion prior to the snap. Foles looked right at him after getting the snap and 2 LBs hustled outside. That left Ertz wide open over the middle. Easy pitch and catch for the 1st down.
* 3rd/5. Ball at 18-yd line. Raiders were in Cover 1 with heavy blitz look. Foles took the snap and looked to his right. That froze Woodson, the FS. Foles then threw left, where Riley Cooper got past rookie CB DJ Hayden. Cooper stretched out and hauled in the pass for a TD. I thought Foles might have overthown Cooper on the play, but turned out to be a good throw.
* 1st/10. Ball at own 37. 2 x 2 set, with a pair of WRs right and Cooper/Celek on the left side. Celek took off upfield. Foles faked a handoff on the outside zone to Shady. That brought the SS streaking down into the box. Foles then looked to his right. He came back to the left, where Cooper was running a post route with only single coverage. The FS had gotten lost on the play due to the fakes. Cooper caught the ball at the 15 and jogged into the endzone. Real good throw. Excellent pass protection from the OL.
* 2nd/10. Ball at OAK 25. Had a 3 x 1 set to the right. Then Shady went in motion that way, making it 4 x 1. Oakland blitzed. The 3 DBs on the front side had 4 guys to cover. They left Shady open so Nick hit him on the move. Shady motored down the sideline for a TD.
* 1st/10. Foles hit DeSean for a gain of 59. The ball traveled 60 yards in the air. The play looked like a variation of the play action pass that the Eagles have run from under Center. Celek crossed behind the formation to block the backside DE. Cooper ran a deep crossing route. DeSean went deep. Foles faked to Shady and then hit DJax with a bomb.
* 2nd/GL. Had a 2 x 1 set with DeSean and Shady in the backfield. Foles faked to Shady heading to the left. DJax then went to the right. Foles rolled that way. The Raiders covered DJax well, but left Riley Cooper, running a drag route behind them, open. Foles pump-faked, then hit Cooper on the move. TD.
* 4 for 4 in the Red Zone. Huge part of the game.
* 4 of 10 on 3rd downs, but were 4 of 6 prior to the 7th TD.
* Had Shady go in motion out wide on several plays. Mostly he was a decoy, but did end up catching a TD on that play eventually. When players focused on him, Foles went elsewhere. The one time the defense ignored him, Foles and Shady made them pay.
* Used an unbalanced line twice on the opening series. One was a run, the other a WR screen.
FOLES - Great game. Tied an NFL record with 7 TD throws. 22-28-406. No INTs or fumbles. Ran 3 times for 14 yards. Had more TDs than incompletions. That is crazy.
There were no signs of the guy we saw in the Dallas game. That Nick was hesitant and indecisive. His passes were off target and thrown with no confidence. Thankfully, all that was gone. Foles was a changed man.
I thought Foles threw the ball better than I’ve ever seen. His intermediate passes had good velocity. His deep balls were accurate. Receivers didn’t have to wait for the ball. Foles threw on the move and even those passes had zip. In the past, he’s been a guy that needed to plant his feet to get anything on the ball. That wasn’t the case on Sunday.
- First play Foles ran. Had Shady open in the flat, but didn’t see him and took off. Liked the fact he was decisive.
- Hit Cooper on WR screen for a gain of 42. That energized the offense. Missed Ertz on a throw to the right side. Couldn’t tell if the ball was deflected or just a bad throw. DE leapt and had his arms up, but couldn’t see definitive contact.
- Hit Maehl over the middle on 3rd/13. Huge play. Looked very good on that.
- Hit Shady with a screen pass. Actually pump-faked on that. Might have delayed the LBs by half a second. Play went for 13 yds.
- Ran for 9 yds on 2nd/4 late in the 1st Qtr. Was read-option play and Foles was going to throw outside, but noticed a DB going for the WR. Foles pulled the ball down and just ran himself. Nothing great, but moved the chains with a safe, simple play.
- Did a good job on 3rd/16. Raiders only rushed 3. Nick dropped back and looked around. Had time so he gave his guys a chance to get open. Looked hard left and then came all the way back to DJax on the right side. Got 17 on the play.
- Had a very nice play in the mid-2nd Qtr. Got some pressure up the middle. Moved up in the pocket and then slid to the right. Looked at Shady in the flat, then saw DJax downfield. Threw the ball 23 yards in the air, on a rope and without having his feet set. That was an arm throw, and a good one.
- The TD to Ertz was another play where Foles showed the ability to move around and throw on the run. He dropped back and looked left. He pump-faked. Foles then moved to his right and up the field. He focused on the middle of the field and at the last minute saw Ertz wide open. Foles didn’t stop to set his feet. Threw a strike while on the move. TD. LBs and DBs were influenced by his eyes and the fake.
- Opened the 3rd Qtr by running to his left and then throwing a lateral to Cooper who was out wide. Foles was credited with a 1-yd run and Cooper with an 18-yd run. Refs through a pair of flags (illegal forward pass and OPI), but both were waived off when it was ruled a run and not a pass.
- Used a good shoulder fake and looking to the left to get DeSean wide open for a 46-yd TD in the early 3rd. The Raiders had Woodson in the deep middle. He followed the fake and Foles eyes. DJax got by his CB and was wide open. There was even a flag on the CB for holding, but it didn’t affect DJax.
- Hit Cooper for 12 yds on 3rd/15. Didn’t mean much in this game, but a play like that might matter in a defensive struggle down the line where field position is critical.
1 – off target to Ertz
2 – downfield ball to Celek…almost a throwaway, but ended up pretty close
3 – overthrew Cooper on a corner route…tight coverage and the ball was too high
4 – drop by Avant on 3rd down late in the 1st half
5 – bounced a quick screen to DeSean in the 3rd Qtr
6 – threw the ball away…very good coverage by Raiders
BARKLEY - Came into the game in the 4th Qtr. 2-3-13. The one miss was a chance for a good gain. Casey came wide open on a corner route. Completed a couple of short passes to Ertz. No turnovers, which is new for Matt.
SHADY - 12-44 on the ground. 4-36-1 as a receiver. Highlight play was a 25-yd TD catch. Got the ball in the right flat and had open space ahead of him. Just flew down the sideline for the TD. Caught a screen on the opening drive and got upfield for 13 yds. Made a terrible blitz pickup late in the half. Either didn’t see the guy or just had a weird moment. Almost blocked him sideways and the LB got off the block instantly. Best run of the day came in the early 3rd. Started up the middle, then bounced a run wide to the left. Got wide and turned upfield for 17 yds. Called for holding on pass play in the early 3rd. Tackled a blitzer. Penalty wiped out 2 penalties on the defense. Receiving stats would be better, but Shady lost 7 yards on a screen in the early 3rd Qtr. Terrific play by Burnett.
B BROWN - Easily his best game of the year. 7-54. Finally delivered a big play. Ran for 32 yards on play at the end of the 1st Qtr. There were 6 in the box. Foles gave BB the ball on a simple inside run. He broke a tackle by Woodson and then got wide. Excellent size/speed play. My only complaint is that he went out of bounds at the end. Had 2 defenders to deal with, but I’d prefer the big backup RB punish those guys instead of just going out of bounds. First run of the game came on a pin & pull toss play. Got 9 yds. Broke a tackle at the LOS. Showed good power and speed on that play. Kept his shoulders square to the LOS. Ran to the wide left on a pin & pull sweep. Squared his shoulders and got upfield for 7 yds. Finished that run well. Lowered his shoulders and got everything he could.
POLK - Didn’t play on offense.
CELEK - 3-27. Highlight play was a 24-yd catch and run. Came on screen pass. Cut back over the middle and got good yardage on the play. Showed good speed as he ran away from a LB and then good power as he ran over a DB. Fun play. Caught a short TD on a crossing route. His DB got lost in coverage and Brent was wide open for an easy throw. Also helped that Riley nudged the DB as he was chasing Brent. Had a good block on Foles 9-yd run. Got enough of the DB to keep Nick clean til he was upfield. Most impressive play of the game was a gain of 0. Caught TE screen and defender hit him in the backfield. Brent would not go down until he got back to the LOS. May have even gained a foot. Great effort. Had a very good block of DE Houston on sweep. Sealed him cleanly.
ERTZ - 5-42, including his first NFL TD. 5 catches was career high. Previously it was just 3. Caught pass on 3rd/3 in the RZ and fought his way down to the 2-yd line. Caught a 15-yd TD in the late 2nd Qtr. Ran a simple corner route and was wide open. Stuck up his arm to get Foles attention. Had lined up in the slot on that play. Did one subtle thing. Stopped moving when he was open and stayed away from the sideline. Some players will keep drifting and create a tough situation. Ertz left himself room to work with. Smart. Caught a short pass on a crossing route late in the half. The ball came loose, but it was clearly after he hit the ground. Had a good block on Cooper’s long gain to open the 2nd half. Caught a pair of passes from Barkley late in the game.
CASEY - Played a decent amount, but only had one pass come his way and that was later in the game.
D JACKSON - 5-150-1. Hauled in a 59-yd bomb and scored on a 46-yd catch and run. First catch was WR screen. Got 8 yds on that play. Found a hole in the zone on 3rd/16 and caught a pass for 17 yds. Made an impressive grab on the 59-yd gain. Had the CB right on him as the ball came down, but stayed focused on the ball. Got slung to the ground, but held on. The TD was easy. CB tried to hold him, but DeSean ran by him and kept his balance. Caught the ball on the move and was able to glide into the endzone.
AVANT - The Eagles used more 2 TE stuff and less 3 WR sets so that limited Avant’s snaps. Dropped a 3rd down pass late in the half. Would have been a tough catch, but the kind you expect Jason to make. That was the only pass that came his way. Blocked well, as usual.
COOPER - Best game of his career. 5-139-3. Got started early. Caught WR screen on the 3rd play and was able to get out wide and up the field. Went for 42 yds. Executed a pick play on the first TD of the game. Came across the middle and put a shoulder into the DB covering Celek. Did it in a kinda subtle way. At least sold the notion that he was running a route. Some WRs will run right into the DB and block them. Officials have to call that. Did a good job on his 18-yd TD catch. Adjusted to the ball when it was in the air. Was strong enough to not be affected by contact from the CB. Did a little bit of his own pushing on the play. Also stretched out for the ball. Riley needed to be a bigger/longer WR to make that catch. Used his size on the long TD as well. CB played off. Riley ate up ground with his long stride and got even. The CB tripped, possibly on Riley’s feet, but Cooper never broke stride. TD. Had a good block on Shady’s 17-yd run in the 3rd Qtr. Got 12 yds on 3rd/15 in the mid-3rd.
D JOHNSON - Played more than I realized, but didn’t have any passes thrown his way. Even got to go deep on one play, but failed to get any separation.
MAEHL - Caught pass over the middle on 3rd/13. Got 19 yds on the play. Was in traffic and had to go up for the ball, but took a hit and held on. Big play.
The line had a very good day. They consistently gave Foles good time in the pocket. When a player did lose, he didn’t let the defender get by him cleanly. The OL gave Foles a chance to see the rusher and move. There was only one play where Foles took a really hard hit. That came when Shady tackled a blitzer and some other rusher got free.
PETERS - Good game. Picked up a stunt on 3rd/13 and gave Foles a clean pocket. Good block on first TD pass. Hit DE, then pushed him inside to Mathis. Then Peters blocked blitzing DB. Got away with a false start in the mid-3rd Qtr. Was 3rd/long and Peters started a fraction of a second before the snap. Funny, Peters was on the Eagles when they lost to OAK in 2009. Peters left the game with a minor injury. There were some rumblings that he should be tougher and stay on the field. How times have changed. Now a very highly thought of Eagle.
MATHIS - Good block of DT on Brown’s long run. DT read the flow of the play and moved with the action. Mathis engaged him and used the guy’s momentum to keep him out of the play. Good sustain. Got driven back by a DT on the long TD to Cooper, but was able to re-set and keep the guy from affecting Foles. Called for holding in the mid-2nd Qtr on a broken play, but the Raiders actually declined the penalty. On the very next snap, had a false start. Good game with a couple of blemishes.
KELCE - Another strong performance. Tried to pull on early toss play, but Peters moved back and got into Kelce’s way, which disrupted the whole run. Wasn’t able to block Burnett on run. He got Shady for TFL. Looked like Burnett’s alignment made that a very tough block for Kelce. Real good block on Burnett on early Brown run. Pulled and drove Burnett down the field. Good block of Roach (MLB) on Brown’s long run. Had a good block of the MLB on a 9-yd run up the middle by Shady. Very effective at pulling and getting wide on outside runs.
HERREMANS - Called for holding on the 2nd play. Questionable call. Good block on Brown outside run. Pulled and squashed DB that was in the alley. Gave Bryce room to run. Gave up some pressure on pass play in the mid-2nd, but kept the guy from getting to Foles. Had some issues with Pat Sims. Sims was able to get under Todd’s pads and get him off balance in pass pro. Good job in the run game.
JOHNSON - Good down block of DT on run where Shady got upfield for 6 yds. Was actually more aggressive in some of his pass sets. Came off the ball and engaged rushers rather than always waiting for them to come to him. Had a strong game.
BARBRE - Came into the game in the late 3rd to play LT. Not as good a run blocker as Peters.
VANDERVELDE - Got to play C late in the game.