McLane's Game Review: Eagles vs. the Packers
McLane's Game Review: Eagles vs. the Packers
Position-by-position grading of the Eagles following their 27-13 win over the Packers on Sunday, spotlighting one player at each spot:
Quarterback -- B
Nick Foles had an odd game. He dropped to throw on 23 of 58 plays, tossed only 18 passes and ran eight times for 38 yards. Foles threw only six passes in the second half and all were completed for 113 yards and two touchdowns. There weren’t any standout throws and he got help on a few questionable decisions, but he effectively managed the game and avoided major mistakes.
The passes Foles got “lucky” on varied. He under threw DeSean Jackson on a 55-yard touchdown. He tossed a ball into the wind off his back foot in the second quarter that mercifully fell to the ground. Foles said he purposely threw short to Riley Cooper on a 45-yard touchdown, but his receiver bailed him out with a diving grab. And he could have been picked off in the third, but Jason Avant plucked the ball out of the air.
Foles had a few strong throws and Cooper did drop a gimme. He hit Jackson for 21 yards on a comeback route in the second. And he rolled out of the pocket and connected with Cooper for 25 yards. Foles was smart with the ball, three times scrambling for first downs. He was sacked three times, fumbling in the fourth.
Running back – A
LeSean McCoy had arguably his best game of the season, rushing for 155 yards on 25 carries. There wasn’t a clear example of when he failed to miss a hole or danced too much in the backfield. And he, of course, picked up extra yards on his own. In the first, Todd Herremans had trouble with a block and McCoy cut outside for nine yards. Later, he ran into a wall in the middle and went around the corner for 20 yards.
He opened up the second half with 9- and 30-yard carries. On the final drive, he ran eight times for 50 yards. The Eagles used a lot of inside zone read with the line blocking to the right and McCoy cutting back through a hole up the middle.
Wide receiver – A-
There was little passing, but the receivers made the best of their opportunities. Riley Cooper stood out once again. He’s caught 15 passes for 393 yards (26.2 avg.) and six touchdowns with Foles.
Tight end – B
Foles threw to his tight ends only three times, but Brent Celek did fine work as a blocker, specifically in the second half. He sealed Nick Perry on a McCoy 9-yard run in the third, blocked Clay Matthews when bolted McCoy 18 yards in the third and drove Perry back on consecutive long rushes on the final drive.
Offensive line – B
Center Jason Kelce had some breakdowns in pass protection and right tackle Lane Johnson had a few issues in the run game, but overall the line had a solid effort. Credit goes to left tackle Allen Barbre, who jumped in for the injured Jason Peters without missing a beat. On his first play, he ran the linebacker upfield and Foles stepped up to hit Jackson for a touchdown. Later in the first, he ran 30 yards downfield ahead of McCoy on his 20-yard tote. He was pushed back by Matthews a few times in the run game, but jacked the linebacker up and hurled him to the turf when Foles scrambled for nine yards. He was called for holding once, negating a long Brown run. Barbre held up well in pass protection and didn’t allow any pressure.
Defensive line – B
Chip Kelly lauded the entire line, which was partly responsible for slowing the Packers run game. Running back Eddie Lacy was held to 56 yards on 22 carries after he ran for 17 yards on his first two rushes. Kelly said that rookie nose tackle Bennie Logan had his best game. He was also complimentary of Vinny Curry, who played his highest percentage of snaps this season (43 pct.). The end continues to improve against the run and was in on stops during a second quarter series. His best moments, naturally, were as a pass rusher. He got penetration and batted a pass down in the second and recorded a sack in the fourth after he beat the right tackle.
Outside linebackers – C+
The lack of a consistent pass rush continues to be a problem. Connor Barwin got into the backfield a few times. Trent Cole, though, generated little pressure and the Eagles didn’t credit him with any hurries. He did assist against the run and earned eight tackles from the coaches.
Inside linebackers –A-
DeMeco Ryans had another great game, but Najee Goode was put in a difficult spot when Mychael Kendricks left with a knee injury. He delivered. Against the run, Goode busted into the backfield and Lacy had to change course and was dropped behind the line. He got penetration later in the first, spun Lacy, who was gang tackled. In coverage, Goode had to opportunity to undercut and defend a pass, but missed. He had good coverage on the tight end in the second and could have had a pick six, but he dropped the ball. He lost the tight end in the second and missed the ensuing tackle on a 20-yard pickup in the second. And he was penalized for roughing the passer.
Cornerbacks – B-
Cary Williams had a rough game. Brandon Boykin made a game changing interception. But Roc Carmichael deserved special mention for filling in for Bradley Fletcher and holding his own. He was targeted eight times and allowed five catches for 59 yards. Carmichael had coverage on incomplete throw to a Jarrett Boykin in the second. And he broke up two fourth down passes, one a third down throw near the goal line. He did miss a tackle on a screen.
Safeties – C-
Patrick Chung was pressed to play more snaps when Earl Wolff left with a knee injury. He broke up a third down pass in the second, but slipped in coverage when he dropped and Brandon Bostick caught a 22-yard touchdown over the top.
SPECIAL TEAMS – C
Alex Henery missed a 39-yard field goal. The snap was high, but the hold was good and he hooked it wide left. Kelly said the wind played a factor.
REWIND THE TAPE
On this 32-yard touchdown pass to Cooper in the third quarter, the Eagles were moving after the Packers trimmed their lead to 20-10 on the previous drive. Kelly likes to call play-action with his quarterback under center as his offense nears the red zone. He did so on this second down play after McCoy ran for a yard.
But it was the successes the Eagles were having on the ground prior that Kelly said set up this play-action pass. “When you run the ball like we were running the ball and the safeties are being a factor in stopping the run game, you got to be able to throw the ball over the top,” Kelly said.
Foles faked the handoff to McCoy. Cooper and Jeff Maehl criss-crossed each other, but Cooper ran a flag route. Morgan Burnett was not pinching enough to stop the run and didn’t bite on the fake, but when Cooper went into his perfectly-executed break, the safety’s knees buckled and he slipped. Cooper ran free and Foles floated a strike to his wide open receiver.
-- The Eagles have two of the NFL’s top four deep threats (catches over 40 yards): A.J. Green 8; Jackson 7; Cooper and Torrey Smith 5.
-- Foles entered Sunday’s game with a 132.6 passer rating in the red zone, completing 12 of 15 passes for 95 yards and seven touchdowns. The Eagles converted 8 of 9 possessions inside the 20 with Foles at quarterback. But the offense struggled in the red zone against the Packers, failing to read the end zone on all four possessions.
-- Williams was targeted 13 times and allowed nine catches for 113 yards. He also missed two tackles. He did tip a pass that Ryans intercepted.
-- Eagles coaches awarded Ryans 16 total tackles, 13 of them solo, after the Packers game. He is on pace to finish the season with 200 stops. Defensive coordinator Bill Davis was effusive in his praise of the linebacker.
“He’s having a Pro Bowl year and I hope he continues to have that Pro Bowl year and get’s recognized for it,” Davis said on Sunday. “He’s our leader.”
Fellow linebacker Barwin said that everyone on the defense looks up to Ryans because he’s stable. “He just has that leadership aura about him,” Barwin said.
Ryans set the tone with several stops against the run, but it was his early shot on running back Eddie Lacy that got jump started the defense. The unit is allowing 17.7 points per over the last six games.
“I feel like guys are confident in what we’re doing,” Ryans said. “Guys aren’t surprised that we’re playing good or we won in Green Bay. Guys are feeling like we’re supposed to come out and win these games. And that’s the type of mentality that winning teams have.”
-- Cooper has caught 20 passes for 462 yards and six touchdowns in the last five games. In the first five, when he caught just eight for 93 yards and one score some wondered if he could get open. Kelly said he was free, he just wasn’t seeing many targets.
Cooper said he doesn’t feel as if he’s proven something to his doubters.
“I’m playing the same football I’ve played the last couple years,” he said. “Nothing’s changed at all. I’m just going out there trying to play hard like the game’s supposed to be played.”
Cooper, of course, was embroiled in controversy when he was caught on video using a racial slur. Kelly said at the time that he thought it would take time some time for players to get over what their teammate had said. He clarified his comment on Monday.
“I don’t think the issue will ever go away because I think we all have valuable lessons that we can learn from it,” Kelly said. “Riley, obviously, because he was at the forefront of it, but I also think the guys understanding what he was about and what he was like as a human being in the locker room.”
There were two plays Sunday in which it appeared officials missed a call the Eagles could have challenged and had overturned.
The most egregious was a 36-yard sideline catch by Boykin in which the receiver’s arm clearly landed out of bounds before his second foot hit the ground. Kelly relies on his assistants up in the coach’s booth, primarily offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur, to help with close calls.
“I talked to all those guys,” Kelly said Monday. “They said they got one clip up in the box. They saw both feet down. Couldn’t really tell where the elbow was. Then they were snapping the ball and going.”
Because there was also a penalty there was a full minute in between plays. Kelly said he didn’t know what feed the Packers give their opponents in the coach’s box, but he said it wasn’t the television broadcast. Still, it was clear in every replay shown that Boykin’s catch wasn’t good.
On the second dubious call, tight end Ryan Taylor caught a short pass on third down for two yards. When he reached out, he fumbled and recovered the ball. The officials spotted the ball at the recovery spot.
It appeared as if Taylor picked up the first down with the catch, but was down before the fumble.
“We felt like he had the first down,” Kelly said, explaining why there was no challenge.
Kelly didn’t seem nonplussed about the missed challenges, but it will be interesting to see if he changes his system or assigns the responsibility to one coach. He has been successful on only 1 of 4 challenges this season.