Playmakers

Posted: December 31st, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 85 Comments »

One of the big differences in the Eagles win on Sunday night is that they made plays while the Cowboys didn’t. Think about all the plays the Eagles made.

* Brent Celek made a huge catch down the left sideline. That led to a TD.

* Jason Avant made a key catch down the right sideline. That led to a TD.

* Mychal Kendricks had a FF and an INT.

* Connor Barwin batted down a 4th down pass.

* 3 of Alex Henery’s KOs were for touchbacks. And he hit a 47-yard FG.

* Donnie Jones nailed a 56-yard punt late in the game to back Dallas up.

* DeSean Jackson had a 23-yard PR that gave the Eagles very good field position.

* Cary Williams broke up the 2-point conversion attempt.

* Brandon Boykin broke up a deep pass to Bryant and then picked off the pass at the end.

* Chris Polk caught a 3rd down pass and turned it into a gain of 34. That set up the FG.

* LeSean McCoy converted a pair of 3rd/1 runs on the TD drive in the 4th quarter.

* James Casey had a crucial block on Bryce Brown’s TD run. That took out 2 defenders.

The Cowboys won the battle on the LOS. They didn’t dominate the Eagles, but they did win the overall battle. Dallas out-gained the Eagles, 417 to 366. The Eagles were better on 3rd downs. They were better in the Red Zone. Dallas kicked 3 FGs. You aren’t going to win a big game kicking FGs. You must score TDs.

The Eagles simply made more key plays.

This feels kinda weird. In the past, the Eagles were the team that didn’t make the plays. Remember Jeremy Maclin dropping the key pass against the Falcons in 2011 and then fumbling late against SF? There was the Ronnie Brown disaster vs SF. Jason Avant made critical mistakes in a loss at Buffalo and then Juqua Parker jumped offside to seal the game. There was the loss to the Cardinals when Asante Samuel decided to jump an underneath route and left Kurt Coleman 1-on-1 with Larry Fitzgerald. Go back to 2010. There was the playoff loss to the Packers. David Akers missed 2 FGs. Michael Vick forced a downfield throw to Riley Cooper, who then compounded the problem by not breaking up the pass. There was a midseason game against the Titans that was filled with little moments that cost the Eagles the game. And on and on and on.

The 2013 Eagles have started to make the key plays. Celek has made some really tough catches. Same for Riley Cooper. Nick Foles is a good Red Zone QB. Brandon Boykin has 2 Red Zone INTs and a FF down there. He’s sealed 2 wins with INTs. Shady McCoy has dominated the 4th quarter in wins over TB, GB, DET and DAL. Donnie Jones has hit some clutch punts that have been crucial in wins.

We need to see if this continues into the future, but it is a great sign for now. It will be even better if the Eagles can find a Safety who can be a consistent playmaker.

* * * * *

The other day I wrote about the fact the Eagles are now a running team.

LeSean McCoy not only led the NFL in rushing yards, but he also led in rushing attempts. Did you ever think an Eagles RB would lead the NFL in carries? Duce Staley was 4th in 1999, Andy Reid’s first year. The difference is that Reid wanted to throw, but didn’t have the QB or weapons. Kelly wanted to run and took advantage of his stud RB.

The Eagles led the NFL in rushing. They were 2nd in TDs, 4th in team rushing attempts and 1st in yards per carry.

Conversely, the Eagles finished 10th in rushing defense. They were 4th in the league in yards per carry.

So…how weird is it to know the Eagles can run the ball and stop the ball? This is what you always wanted, Eagles fans. Enjoy it.

_


  • Sean

    It’s not one of the more common misconceptions about this team, but the idea that they struggle with run defense is out there. I guess some just see the poor overall defensive ranking and assume the Eagles can’t stop anything. During the week leading up to the game, the refrain was that the Cowboys had to pound the ball with Murray, but that’s a less than ideal gameplan against the Eagles.

    • sprawl

      This is why I might argue that the bogus delay of game penalty on Dallas actually hurt the Eagles by forcing the longer pass attempts to convert instead of just running Murray into a wall.

      • TheRogerPodacter

        well we’ve all been saying for weeks that our defense is better on third and short than they are at third and long haha. the penalty was the best thing for them!

        • Tumtum

          It really is. I wonder what the % is of 3rd and 8+ or 9+ for this team. I don’t feel like its really a lock the other team is going to get it unless its like 3rd and 19+, though!

        • Matthew Verhoog

          We looked at each other and said ( on fourth and 9). “They have us right where they want us”

    • Corry

      There’s also the theory that controlling the game clock would keep the Eagles from scoring. Nevermind we’re at the bottom of the league in TOP with the 2nd highest points/game.

  • Ashley Fox

    Chip Kelly Takes Failure to the Next Level, the Post-Season
    by Ashley Fox, ESPN

    When Chip Kelly took over the Eagles last January, he promised that his offense would revolutionize the NFL. However, in the win against the Cowboys on Sunday night, Kelly’s offense was completely figured out for the 12th time this season. Just one week after scoring 54 points against the Chicago Bears, chip’s offense was only able to put 24 points on the board against the Cowboys. The Eagles are now on pace to score -6 points in their next game. That kind of performance isn’t going to get it done against Drew Brees and the Saints.

    The win over the Cowboys continued Kelly’s greatest blunder of the season, squandering the opportunity to earn a high draft pick. As a college coach, Chip Kelly clearly doesn’t understand how the NFL draft works. By foolishly electing to win games, Kelly lost the chance to acquire the one thing his offense needs in order to win games, a mobile quarterback. In college Chip may have been able to recruit two or three 5-star quarterbacks each year, but this is the NFL! With that lack of foresight, it won’t be long before Kelly learns the true meaning of the words Not For Long.

    Chip does deserve credit for one aspect of Sunday’s win. By keeping the Cowboys in the game until the end, the Eagles setup the opportunity for Kyle Orton to throw a Cowboys patented fourth-quarter Romoception right into the arms of Brandon Boykin. The look of disappointment and despair on Jerry Jones’ face was something the entire nation could enjoy. A true holiday miracle…

    • OregonDucker

      Bravo! Well done.

    • jackpotsdad

      I was wrong” – Ashley Fox

      I’m sure that crow tastes delicious

      • Ashley Fox

        I Wasn’t Wrong
        by Ashley Fox, ESPN

        Ha! I’m not sure who that imposter is, but that clearly wasn’t written by me.

        The only thing I was wrong about was how quickly NFL defensive coordinators would react to Kelly’s system. Obviously if they had read my columns, they would have known that as a college coach, Chip’s offense relies on the read-option and having a mobile quarterback. As soon as NFL defenses study that, it’s over for Chip.

        Kelly jumped to the NFL because his offense had been figured out at the collegiate level, so it’s only a matter of time before the same happens here. And when it does, I’ll be here to tell you that I Told You So.

        • jshort

          Wasn’t sure we’d be seeing this anymore…..perfect!!! shows you can’t wash the stripes off the cat.

    • Andy124

      This made my morning.

    • Tumtum

      If she were truly a good sport she would tweet out pics in a Eagles Cheerleader outfit.

    • mtn_green

      Get this woman a weekly column.

    • eagleyankfan

      38 likes on this? I hope it’s a joke…otherwise … I call garbage.

      • Cliff

        Comment of the Day

  • Vick or Nick

    Running the ball and stopping the run are keys to a post season run.

    It would be great to turn the Saints into a one dimensional team by stopping their run game.

    The KEY against the Saints is our Pass Rush. It has to be A LOT better than it was against Dallas.

    • BlindChow

      Yeah, somehow I don’t think our biggest fear against the Saints is their run game. I’d actually rather force them to win it on the ground.

      • Corry

        That’s not as crazy as it seems. The Saints don’t run it particularly well, but they still commit to it and then turn that into big plays off of play action.

        If you can force Brees into known passing situations, i think they can take advantage of their tackles on the pass rush especially given Brees’ deep drops.

        …But beware the screen pass with Darren Sproles.

      • bill

        I’m probably one of the few that thought the Saints were the worst possible draw (with the Rodgers-led Packers a close second). The way to torch this defense is to “invert” your offense and throw on first and second downs. In the end, this means a lot of pass attempts for your QB. I don’t think Kap, Wilson, or Newton execute that gameplan very well, and at the very least, you’re making those offenses play away from their strengths. The Saints, on the other hand, probably prefer that style of game, and should have few problems executing an upside down offense (it only feels normal because we suffered through so much Air MorningReid).

        Obviously, the Saints don’t have the defense of any of those three teams, but I feel better about the strength v. strength, weakness v. weakness matchups.

        • Tumtum

          That is exactly what went so horrible for the Bears against us though…

        • fran35

          I agree with you on the saints. I would rather play any of the other NFC teams than the saints. And maybe GB. Elite QBs rip us up. The newtons and kaps of the NFL don’t scare me as much

  • GermanEagle

    * Cary Williams broke up the 2-point conversion attempt.

    This.

    I can watch this play over and over again. What a great pass defense by Mr. Sconce!

    • ACViking

      In the ESPN post-game, Dilfer talked about how the back-shoulder fade ideally is shoulder height or above — because when DBs turn, they became their downward swipe at about chest level.

      Regardless, Williams’ defense of Bryant on that play was a textbook example of how you defend a WR at the goal line.

      Since Minnesota, Williams and Fletcher have dialed their games up a notch. Or Davis’s scheming is more CB-centric.

      The good thing about the Dallas game is everyone had the chance to see how a good TE could exploit this defense. Now, Davis has a chance to make some adjustments based on *actual* results as opposed to projecting possible problems.

    • eagleyankfan

      Yes he did. As Witten stayed wide open. S*cked to be Witten :).

  • GaEagle1023 – Tom

    If you want proof this ain’t the same old Eagles team….watch Merrill Hodge. That’s not a typo, I sad Merrill Hodge. He is analyzing the Eagles and reviewing tape and is excited and speaking positively about our team. Wow.

    • ICDogg

      If it’s not a typo, why did you misspell Hoge’s name?

      • GaEagle1023 – Tom

        Ok u got me dogg…but u get my point

    • Cliff

      “That’s not a typo, I said Merrill Hodge.” LOL

  • Mitchell

    Mychal Kendricks tho, isn’t that the type of performes we were looking for? He was attacking and makin plays. Sure the coverage was a bit off but it’s Jason Witten and Kendricks does give up some height. Kendricks is a jacked, crazy, fiendish player onthe field. I think he has finally figured something out and will continue to get better from here on out.

    Could you imagine if he was 3-4 inches taller? I could but he would have been gone before we picked :(

    • mtn_green

      This scheme makes him extremely important, he is really doing the small stuff and benefitting from others doing the small stuff. On that ff the Dline kept him clean, Allen set the edge so Murray would cut inside towards Kenricks. The whole scheme funnels the play to Kendricks and he has to make that play and generally has.

    • Eagles_Fan_in_San_Fran

      Kendricks is the shark that Ernie Sims never was.

      • Mitchell

        The Landshark.

  • Mitchell

    Remember in training camp, when it was mentioned a couple times that, The Boy King was always around the ball but he didn’t seem to have the hands to get the int? He found his hands.

    • Tumtum

      Boy King… haha I dunno about that one.

    • TheRogerPodacter

      yep. he did pushups every time he got a hand on the ball but didn’t come down with the interception. i don’t know if that was something he brought on his own or a coaches decision, but he did a lot of pushups back then, and its paying off this year.

  • Tumtum

    Great points. It is pretty amazing how clutch this team has been. We used to talk about how guys were waiting for someone else to make the play that ended a drive or got the game clinching first down. Its starting to become a regular occurrence. On the Cowboys last drive on Sunday, the pessimistic (realistic considering the last 5 years) side of me knew that Dallas was going to score. Orton had been playing fairly out of his mind, and they really didn’t have trouble getting into FG range most of the day. The New Age Eagle Fan way back in the back of my head sort of expected someone to make a play though.

    Save the SD game, this Eagles team just makes the plays required when its close at the end and the game is on the line. It is pretty freaking awesome. Lets hope that is a trait of all Chip Kelly teams. We have all been saying it for weeks now, but even if they get ousted this week… what a freakin season.

  • TheRogerPodacter

    in case you all don’t sift through the comments on BGN, here is this gem:

    [warning - loud audio, in spanish]
    https://soundcloud.com/briansludgehaddad/rickie-ricardo-boykin

    • Dragon_Eagle

      That was awesome.

      • ICDogg

        I think I’d prefer to listen to that guy than Al Michaels and Collinsworth

        • TheRogerPodacter

          hell yea. that would be amazing. lol

    • mtn_green

      In-ter-ception! In-ter-ception! In-ter-ception de Brandon Boykin!!

  • ACViking

    T-Lawlor:

    The Eagles made a ton of plays individually. But they won by only 2 points.

    Any concerns?

    • Breezy

      Always concerns, but this is another great team win. Dallas did win the overall battle, but we made the biggest plays in the most crucial moments. This wasn’t quite the shootout everyone wanted to see. The score was too low. Regardless, a lot of people have said before they pass judgement on Foles they would need to see him handle a tough game. Have the ability to take some sacks, maybe quite a few, remain calm, and get us the victory. He did just that. This may never become a true mark of his career, but Nick absolutely refuses to throw an interception. With the way he is playing (even in clinkers like Dal 1 or 2, Min) that is not the worst problem to have

    • JJ_Cake

      We should’ve converted on the 4th and 1 on the goal line. Nick shouldn’t have fumbled the ball when sacked in our area.

      Those are my only concerns. In all games we won by “only 2 points”, we kneeled at the end, but could have put more on the board.

      I also wonder about the refs in Dallas. The holding call on lane seemed bogus. Also seemed like Dallas cb’s were mugging our wr’s.

      I think the refs will do a better job in Philly.

      Wrt NO, I’m concerned about the Brees to Grahamconnection.

    • Eagles_Fan_in_San_Fran

      Line play, especially the D-line.
      Absolutely no pressure on the Bledsoe-like statute that is Kyle Orton – no sacks and only 2 hits (and I can’t even remember those). The pocket was cleaner than a Spic-n-Span floor for Mr. Orton.
      We need the ghost of JJ to come in and straighten that out scheme-wise for Billy Davis going into next week with Mr. Brees coming into town (snow or no snow).

  • ACViking

    Re: Saints in Cold Weather

    Since the dawn of the Drew Brees era in New Orleans in 2006, the Saints have played 7 road games when the temperature at kick-off was 39 degrees or less and Brees started the game. The last time that happpened was 3 seasons ago, in 2010.

    Game-time temperature on Saturday night for the Eagles-Saints Wild Card game is expected to be in the high 20′s.

    In those 7 games, the Saints are 2-5:

    2006: 27 degrees – Saints 14 at Chicago 39 (NFC Title Game) . . . Saints defense was 13th in Points Allowed, 11th in Total Yardage

    2007: 26 degrees – Saints 25 at Chicago 33 . . . Saints defense – 25th in Points, 26th in yards

    2008: 24 degrees – Saints 24 at Chicago 27 (OT)
    2008: 39 degrees – Saints 30 at KC 20 . . . Saints defense – 26th in Points, 23th in yards

    2009: 34 degrees – Saints 33 at Washington 30 (OT) . . . Saints defense – 20th in Points, 25th in yards

    2010: 34 degrees – Saints 24 at Baltimore 30
    2010: 32 degrees – Saints 30 at Cincinnati 34 . . . Saints defense – 7th in Points, 4th in yards

    Since that first cold-weather game for the NFC Championship in 2006, putting up points in cold weather was not a problem for the Brees-led Saints

    • Andy124

      Looks like their D was more affected than the O.

      • ACViking

        A124:

        Saints had weak defenses in most of those seasons.

        I’ve added some defensive stat-info, based on your comment.

    • BlindChow

      Brees’ hardening nipples affect his throwing motion.

      • ACViking

        Provocative.

        Is it the pain of hardened nipples? Or is size the problem?

        • Andy124

          I think it’s the pain as they begin chaffing against the shoulder pads.

        • BlindChow

          It’s hard to follow through with two large dinner plates strapped to your chest.

      • ACViking

        What about blitzing Brees? Smart?

        • BlindChow

          I’d say do whatever it was that the Jets, Seahawks and Panthers did.

          I’m guessing a lot of soft zones weren’t involved.

          • ACViking

            BC:

            Great if it works. Shrink the time to throw. Limit the passing windows.

            Personnel-wise, can this Eagles defense effectively pull off what Rex Ryan would do? Or Quinn? Or McD?

            Conversely, what do expect from Rob Ryan?

          • ICDogg

            IMO it probably will come down to being able to break through the interior of that line and disrupt timing.

          • Neil

            I think I’d take our defensive talent over the Jets. The Jets probably have a better defensive line right now, but I have no idea what they have behind it. We have good LBs and aren’t playing Jaiquan Jarrett at S. OK, Chung is comparable. Hopefully Wolff comes back.

        • ICDogg

          Brees will eat them alive if they do it often. I think this is more about pushing the pocket, getting hands up in his face, blocking passing lanes, etc. than about sending extra guys.

      • TheRogerPodacter

        those things are like pencil erasers. possibly able to cut diamond. not sure.

      • Eagles_Fan_in_San_Fran

        Is it just a nipples problem, or might it involve some embarrassing “shrinkage” as well?

    • ICDogg

      Unless there’s a lot of wind I doubt that weather will have much effect on the game.

      • ACViking

        I agree with you. And the wind is expected to be about 8 mph.

    • jshort

      So they’re 1-1 at 34f and 0-4 at 32 and below, on the road. Should be mid twenties at kickoff. This should be in our favor.

    • shah8

      Most of the defenses the Saints offense faced were very strong in their losses.

    • Cliff

      I refuse to give any merit to the “Saints playing outdoors” argument because not too long ago – OK, a long time ago – the Tampa Bay Bucs came in with an 0-for-eternity record playing at temperatures below 30-something and smoked our asses in the Playoffs.

      • theycallmerob

        this

  • ACViking

    Re: McCoy – Rushing Attempts Leader

    LeSean McCoy led the NFL in 2013 with 314 rushing attempts — the lowest figure in almost 25 years.

    In 1990, Earnest Byner of Washington led the NFL with 297.

    Excepting 1990, you have to go all the way back to 1976 — when the NFL played a 14-game schedule — to find a rushing-attempts leader with fewer carries in a non-strike season than McCoy. The ’76 leader? Walter Payton at 311.

    • mtn_green

      Thanks was worried that McCoy gets too many touches.

      • ICDogg

        Seems sharp and fresh to me, not run down at all.

  • theycallmerob

    It will be even better if the Eagles can find a Safety who can be a consistent playmaker.

    The same is true of OLB!! keyword- consistent. I know Cole had a great run towards the end, but there have been games where the OLBs are held completely in check. That has to improve going forward.
    A good rush, plus a S who can allow our CBs to press more (rather than play it safe and avoid big play), will bring back shades of the mid-00′s steeler defenses that Davis adores so much

  • Tumtum

    Changing gears slightly.

    MK is a a playmaker and def. on the rise. Love him, could not agree more. He was also primarily responsible for Jason Witten Sunday who went off for 135. I can’t fault the game plan. Dez Bryant and Murray are the biggest ticket lock down items for Dallas. Asking your most athletic linebacker to take on the TE is acceptable.

    The first 3 big ticket items for NO are Graham Graham and Graham. MK and the safties will not be able to check him. How do they do it?? I say Bradley Fletcher and follow the NE blue print. Will it work as well as Aquip Talib? Heck no. It just has to be enough to make sure our offense scores 1 more point than theirs.

    Thoughts?

    • Neil

      Fletcher is an interesting idea for Graham, but I have to ask is their WR corps so depleted that it would be possible? Didn’t they use to have a bunch of solid options?

      • iceberg584

        Colston actually had a pretty down year, and doesn’t appear to be what he once was. They still have Meacham and Moore, but Kenny Stills actually scares me the most out of their WRs. He averages 20.0 YPC and seems like he gets matched up on safeties a lot.

        Obviously, Graham is the primary threat. I actually kind of feel like Cary Williams matches up better with him than Fletcher. Cary seems to play up to his competition, and he brings a toughness that I think will help. I’d expect Boykin to see the field a lot this week.

        Hopefully Earl Wolff (my next door neighbor!!) can go. I think this is the type of game for him.

        • jshort

          is EW practicing?

        • TheRogerPodacter

          yea, stills is the big threat to me. we need to keep him lined up against our fastest DBs.
          assuming double coverage on Graham, thats going to leave a lot of single coverage on the rest of the receivers.

  • Eagles_Fan_in_San_Fran

    “So…how weird is it to know the Eagles can run the ball and stop the ball? This is what you always wanted, Eagles fans. Enjoy it.”
    We always could run the ball – it’s just that we had Mr. “Dial-The-Passing-Game-Up-To-Level-11-No-Matter-What” running the show (with that loss to Oakland in 2009 being a prime example of that stubborn/stupid mentality at work).

  • eagleyankfan

    We all new the defense lacks talent. Give this team a year or two.
    Can poke fun at all the numbers and blunders(not to mention Shady not following his blockers on a play) but the bottom line — there are a LOT of teams that would love to be in a playoff game. How’s that veteran team Pitt doing? Or that team in Detroit?
    Of course I’d want a win this weekend but this year is already a huge success.
    Fly Eagles.

    • jshort

      Don’t want to give a year or two. Made it to the tournament, now win it!!! A pretty good Atlanta team got in last year, there home watching this weekend. Dream teams never even came close. Don’t care about flaws, just win out.

  • shah8

    Yeah…I think the way I do, about Foles, quarterbacking, and football in general, specifically because I value playmaking ability above all. That, in the end, is what separates the teams that can win it all, vs teams that can’t. Boykin and Kendricks are making plays. They have plenty of knucklehead moments, but they can make *plays*, in a way that Ernie Sims can’t. You can refine them, and address the limitations based on their small size, but there is that base of dominance.

    What I saw in the last game was that Foles simply doesn’t have the ability to rescue any broken plays, especially if he’s not allowed to roll out to buy time for someone to get open. It didn’t matter too much, because Kyle Orton was only able to make one plus play himself. Remember, Matt Cassel attempted some aggressive throws as well as picking up the easy yards, the Ford catch being a good example. The other issue is that, yeah, the Kelly offense really, really, does require a good rushing threat at QB (or being very aggressive about throwing into coverage). There were a number of situations in the Dallas game where Foles more or less had to eat the ball and go down. He did the smart thing late in the game, but earlier he played some very risky ball trying to weave in what was a hopeless situation.

    New Orleans is about the only team I can see us beating. I watched Atlanta’s penultimate series against Carolina (after watching Jets-Miami), and that DL was simply beyond terrifying, doing two or three straight sacks. The Falcons have a crappy OL, but still… Anyways, this will be a tough game if the defense doesn’t handle the offense. Rob Ryan is almost certain to have some pretty interesting ideas to attack the offense. Of course, he doesn’t really have the defensive pieces, much as Cam Newton showed in his last drive.

    • mtn_green

      Vick showed us that the tradeoff for fancy rescued plays was fumbles and interceptions. I’d rather have a QB throw the ball away or take a sack. Foles doesn’t lack the desire and drive to keep a play alive, see last year, he is smart enough to know when nothing good will come of it.

      • shah8

        It’s not about fancy plays, and Foles is fumbling under similar circumstances. Remember GB?

        It’s about the fact that run or pass, the QB in this system is the primary man coverage beater in passing situations. Either run out of the passing situation (not zone read QB keeper), or make very sharp passes that give only your guy a chance, some of those will fall ( and much safer than the underthrow tactic that was used earlier in the season) and some will succeed.

        • BlindChow

          In his best games this year, Foles has made plenty of plays downfield after scrambling when the pocket breaks down or WR’s are covered. He’s also been very good at keeping his eyes up when moving around the pocket, despite the ridiculous assertions of Cris Collinsworth.

          He hasn’t been consistent with it yet, though (which is true of his play in general). For people who don’t like Foles, confirmation bias will tend to make them remember only the times he’s struggled (as against Dallas) and not the times he’s succeeded. Ideally though, since he’s so young, the consistency will improve as he gains experience.

    • TheRogerPodacter

      i’m confused.
      you say it is a bad thing that Foles does not have the ability to rescue a broken play (“…Foles simply doesn’t have the ability to rescue any broken plays…”), but then you go and say that he was not smart for trying to do just that (“…but earlier he played some very risky ball trying to weave in what was a hopeless situation.”)

      • shah8

        Know your place, marginally talented QB!