Sunday the Eagles showed how to lose as a team. All 3 units had a hand in the poor performance.
The focus is on defense. Giving up 48 points like that is simply unacceptable. The Vikings were missing their 2 top RBs. The Eagles did shut down the ground game. Matt Asiata had 30 carries for 51 yards. He did run for 3 TDs.
The secondary had a horrible day. I have yet to study the game, but it sure looked like the Eagles played a lot of zone. Let’s talk about zone defense for a minute. The goal of a zone defense is to keep everything in front of you. Defenders are to close to the ball quickly and tackle the receiver. Ideally, you’d like players that can break on the ball and then play the ball, either breaking up the pass or picking it off.
The Eagles have slow DBs. They don’t break on the ball well. They also can be sloppy tacklers. That means receivers are getting open and they aren’t always being tackled immediately.
When the Eagles did play man, they got burned there as well. Think about the pass to Jarius Wright along the sideline. Bradley Fletcher was all over him, but Wright still made the grab. There was the pass play over the middle where Mychal Kendricks was beaten by Chase Ford on 3rd and long.
Minnesota kept the guys up front blocked. Cassel generally had good protection. He did take some big hits here and there, but not consistently enough.
The defense struggled in 2 main areas – Red Zone defense and 3rd down defense. They couldn’t get the Vikings off the field and when the Vikings did get into scoring territory, they couldn’t hold them to FGs. This was utterly infuriating.
Nick Foles and the Eagles offense might have put up a ton of yards and 30 points, but they didn’t have a good game. They made too many mistakes. The Eagles struggled early and late, when it was critical to score points.
Foles had an odd day. He didn’t have a good game, but it was encouraging to see him play sloppy and not have a repeat of the Dallas game. Foles finished with a rating over 100 and he threw for 428 yards. That’s pretty good for a subpar showing.
Foles either wasn’t reading the defense well or was slow to make decisions. The TV announcers talked about the Vikings playing a lot of zone. We’ll see what the All-22 shows, but Nick should have been able to find guys regardless of the coverage.
He did make slow reads on some plays. The INT to DeSean was a late throw and a poor one. DeSean was wide open early. Nick held the ball too long and then threw to a spot where a DB was waiting to play the ball. DeSean could have helped him out by making a play on the ball, but was too passive and did nothing.
Chip Kelly got away from running the ball more than he should have. Shady McCoy finished with just 8 carries. Kelly kept trying to throw the ball to get it back to a one possession game. The offense would score and the defense would let the Vikings go score on the next series. Right back to the big deficit. Shady getting underused is an anomaly. Kelly has fed him the ball throughout the year.
STs was a mess as well. Kelly feared kicking the ball deep to Cordarelle Patterson, the NFL’s leading KOR. The problem is that Patterson will catch the ball 9 yards deep and still bring it out. You literally have to kick the ball out of the end zone for it to be a touchback. Kelly didn’t want to risk that so he and Dave Fipp came up with the strategy of squib kicks and pooch kicks.
That idea apparently worked well in practice. It didn’t work well in the game. The Vikings started 4 drives after kickoffs at least at the 34-yard line. A couple were up by midfield.
Giving Minnesota good field position certainly hurt, but let’s not forget that they scored their first TD on a 91-yard drive. They later had a 75-yard TD drive. STs certainly didn’t do the defense any favors, but it wasn’t like the defense was getting stops even when they did have a long field.
The Eagles psyche was off yesterday, but maybe not in the direction so many expected. The Eagles might have been too fired up. DeSean Jackson had a sideline blow-up, apparently with WRs coach Bob Bicknell. Jackson was jawing with Vikings players throughout the game. CB Bradley Fletcher got away with shoving a Vikings player after a play. In fact, they called a taunting penalty on the player. Roc Carmichael drew a flag for taunting later in the game. And Cary Williams was his usual vocal self. He got benched late in the game after a taunting penalty. The coaches wanted him to “cool off”.
Chip Kelly didn’t like the penalties and emotional stuff. He’s going to address this on Tuesday when he meets with the team.
Kelly has never been in an NFL playoff chase. December football is different than the other months. The intensity picks up. He’ll have to figure out how he can best control the players emotions so they don’t become a distraction and hurt the team.
There are a lot of things for the coaches to talk about and get fixed. Maybe the loss will end up being a good thing. A little humble pie can go a long way. The Eagles sure got plenty of it yesterday.