There are positive and negative angles to all NFL games. Since the Eagles lost on Sunday, let’s start with the bad stuff.
* Blocking – Notice I didn’t just single out the OL. Zach Ertz was called for holding on a run play. Shady McCoy got run over once by a blitzer. On another play late in the game, he failed to get outside quick enough and let the blitzer hurry Foles. Bradley Fletcher had a terrible “block” on the final punt return of the game. He got his hands on the back of the gunner and drew a flag. There was barely any contact, but the point is there should have been NONE. When you see the guy’s name on his jersey…do not touch. Nothing good will come of that. The Eagles should have been close to midfield, but that backed them up to the 30.
The OL did have a rough day. Jason Peters got beat right after Fletcher’s mistake and that put the offense back even farther. Ugh. Todd Herremans was once badly beaten to the inside. This isn’t all about Tobin and Molk. The whole Eagles team did a poor job of blocking on Sunday.
* Physicality – This ties into blocking, but then goes beyond it. Anquan Boldin caught a pass short of the sticks on 3rd down. He didn’t hesitate, instead running right at Nate Allen and bowling him over. The Niners have some “grown ass men” on their team and you aren’t going to block or tackle them unless you are a strong, rugged individual. Frank Gore and Carlos Hyde got way too many yards after contact. Receivers too. The Eagles didn’t match the Niners level of physicality.
* The passing game – This is more than Nick Foles. Riley Cooper had the go-ahead TD go through his hands. You simply have to make that catch. Foles did have a poor game. He made questionable decisions and then was off-target way too much. I thought the Eagles focused on downfield plays too much. I’m not sure how much of that was Foles and how much Chip Kelly. The blocking for the passing game was obviously a factor.
The Eagles got very little in the way of RAC yards. They did get fumbles from Cooper and Ertz, but limited yards. Receivers have to make something happen when they get the ball on quick throws.
* The run game – Many of you wanted Chip Kelly to run on 3rd/goal from the 2. No way. The Niners were in a goal line defense at that point. The Eagles weren’t getting any push against their base. How on Earth do you expect them to get push against the GL defense?
The run game is a mess right now. The plays Kelly is calling are not working. Shady has no room to run. He sometimes makes things worse by trying to go outside and get the big play. Better to get upfield for 2 or 3 yards than go wide for 0. The biggest problem is the blocking. Most of that goes on the OL, but the TEs and WRs are not helping matters.
It is crucial to get the run game fixed. You must stick with it to balance out the playbook and make the defense honest. We’ve all see what happens when they focus on just the pass and that isn’t pretty.
* Run defense – If you take away Kaep’s 58 yards on the ground, SF still ran for 160. Unacceptable. My biggest issue is that the Eagles gave up the edge too often. Setting the edge is a huge priority for the Eagles defense. SF got the D in some creative looks and then ran to the outside. It wasn’t always easy to tell which player was at fault.
This isn’t about an individual. The Eagles defense must do a better job fo funneling runs to the middle. OLBs, DEs and DBs all had a hand in the sloppy defense.
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And now for some good.
* Special Teams – The Eagles have won the STs battle in 3 of 4 games this year. They are getting impact plays. I would guess you have to go back to 2001 or 2002 to see this kind of play, and I’m not sure even those units were this good.
– Blocked FG
– Blocked punt for a TD
– 2 FGs of more than 50 yards
– Game-winning FG
– KOR for a TD
– PR for a TD
That seems like a season’s worth of big plays. And we just finished Week 4. Great job by Dave Fipp and his players.
Darren Sproles has been an amazing addition. He has more PR yards after 4 weeks (200) than the Eagles had all of last year. That stat just blows me away.
* Pass rush – The Eagles hadn’t sacked the QB in 2 games. Yesterday they got 4. Actually 5, but they took one off the board when accepting a penalty. The Eagles pass rush was outstanding on Sunday. They regularly got pressure on Kaepernick and forced him to move. He burned them a time or two, but that’s just part of his game.
Sacks really are a complicated stat. Kirk Cousins got rid of the ball quickly. The Eagles got some pressure on him, but no sacks. Kaep tends to hold onto the ball and look for big plays. The Eagles were able to get to him. If the QB focused on getting the ball out quickly, there just isn’t much you’re going to do about it. The Eagles were able to take advantage of a QB who doesn’t do that.
* Coverage – I haven’t re-watched the game, but I felt like the DBs did a good job. You have to give credit to the Niners receivers for making some incredible catches. And Kaep made some amazing throws. Anquan Boldin might be slow and 200 years old, but he can still come up big on 3rd downs. The Eagles saw that yesterday.
* Toughness – Last year the Eagles had 2 awful offensive games. They lost 17-3 to Dallas and 15-7 to the Giants. Yesterday the Eagles went on the road to SF and lost 26-21. And they had a chance to win at the end. Good teams find a way to stay in games even when things are going very wrong for them. We’ve seen this from Eagles opponents plenty of times over the years.
There is no question that the current Eagles team is having some issues. But the team is still finding ways to stay in games. That shows a kind of mental and emotional toughness, something that can often pay off in big games late in the year. Anyone can win with their A-game. How do you do when things aren’t going your way? Can you stay in games? Can you still find a way to win?