Breaking down Sunday’s 17-3 loss to the Cowboys while wondering how many quarterbacks will be drafted in the first round next May and which one the Eagles will be taking:
NICK’S BAD-AWFUL DAY
The numbers speak for themselves. 11-for-29. 80 passing yards. Nick Foles’ 46.2 passer rating was the second worst of his young career. Only his 40.5 rating in his first start last season against the Redskins was worse. His 11 completions were the fewest in eight career starts. So was his 2.76 yards-per-attempt average.
A breakdown of his 18 incompletions:
What is the main reason the Eagles have lost nine straight games at home?
--1Q, 3-10, E29: An omen of things to come. Flushed from the pocket, he tried to throw the ball away and failed to reach the line of scrimmage with his throw, drawing an intentional grounding penalty.
--1Q, 1-10, E40: Tried to hit Zach Ertz on a short cross. Ertz was open. The pass was out of his reach.
--1Q, 3-8, E42: RB Bryce Brown came out of the backfield and ran a wheel route down the sideline against Cowboys LB Bruce Carter. Carter had good coverage. Not much Foles could do. He did throw it to the outside so the safety couldn’t intercept it.
--1Q, 1-10, E22: Flushed from the pocket, Foles threw a high sideline pass toward Jason Avant that almost got Avant killed. DeSean Jackson was open, but was running away from Foles, which would’ve meant an across-the-body throw and a likely interception.
--1Q, 2-10, E22: A screen pass to Jeff Maehl. Maehl dropped it
--2Q, 3-6, E46: Foles had Maehl open in the middle of the field, but threw the ball behind him.
--2Q, 3-7, E29: Under pressure, Foles forced a throw to a tightly covered Avant.
-2Q, 2-8, E22: Overthrew a wide-open Brent Celek. A completion would’ve given the Eagles a first down near midfield.
--2Q, 1-10, E27: Foles’ pass was so badly overthrown that after seven replay looks, I still have no idea who the intended receiver was.
--2Q, 3-5, E32: Threw the ball behind an open Avant on a slant.
--2Q, 2-1, C42: Riley Cooper ran an 8-yard comeback route. Foles’ pass was on the mark. Cooper dropped it.
--2Q, 3-1, C 42: A deep pass to DeSean Jackson who was covered by Cowboys cornerback Brandon Carr. Foles threw the ball too far outside and never gave Jackson a chance to make a play on the ball.
--3Q, 3-10, E20: Nobody open. Foles scrambled, then threw an up-for-grabs pass in the direction of Avant.
--3Q, 1-10, E16: Foles was flushed out of the pocket, but had time to throw. He had Jeff Maehl open 10 yards in front of him, but threw it behind him.
--3Q, 3-4, E22: Tried to hit Jackson on a crossing route. Never saw safety J.J. Wilcox who knocked the pass away and almost intercepted it.
--3Q, 1-10, C30: The same play to Jackson that went for a touchdown against Tampa Bay. He lined up in the right slot and ran a deep right-to-left route into the end zone. But Wilcox knocked it away. Not much Foles could have done other than throw it a little earlier.
--3Q, 1-10, C20: Had Avant wide, wide open in the end zone. Shouldve been an easy touchdown. But Foles underthrew it. Initially ruled an interception, the call was reversed and changed to an incompletion.
--3Q, 2-Goal, C9: Held on to the ball too long. Made an awkward throw in the direction of Celek, but it was basically a throwaway.
SPOTLIGHT ON. . . DeMeco Ryans
Ryans had a very good game against the Cowboys, as did the whole defense. He led the team in tackles and notched his second sack and first interception of the season. It was just the third time in his career that he had a sack and interception in the same game.
Both Ryans and the Eagles’ other inside ‘backer, Mychal Kendricks, blitzed a lot Sunday. Kendricks blitzed 11 times, Ryans 12.
On a second-and-7 on the Cowboys’ second possession, Kendricks and Ryans both came on a blitz. Kendricks came through first and was picked up by tight end Jason Witten. Ryans circled around him, came through unblocked and dumped Tony Romo for a 13-yard loss.
Ryans was solid against the run most of the game, as the Eagles held the Cowboys to 74 rushing yards on 26 carries. He set the tone early on when he stopped running back Phillip Tanner for no gain on a third-and-1 play on Dallas’ first possession.
On the Cowboys’ second possession, he was in zone coverage and got fooled by Tony Romo, who looked him off in one direction as tight end Jason Witten cut the other way and caught a pass for 26 yards. On that same possession, he also failed to get off a block by Cowboys left guard Ronald Leary on a 12-yard run by Joseph Randle.
In the second quarter, he stopped Randle for a one-yard gain on a second-and-7 play. He also had the first contact on Randle on a three-yard gain.
On a first-down play at the Philadelphia 23 in the second quarter, Ryans faked a blitz and dropped into coverage, foiling a quick slant by wide receiver Miles Austin.
In the third quarter, Ryans knocked Dez Bryant off his route as he came across the middle on a short cross, forcing an incompletion. Ryans did a good job much of the day of making his presence felt to Cowboys receivers in the middle of the field. He did the same thing to rookie tight end Gavin Escobar once when he was coming across the field on a route. Romo’s pass to him also was incomplete.
With the Cowboys driving for another score in the third period, Ryans fake a blitz, picked up running back Phillip Tanner as he came out of the backfield, then picked off a Romo pass for Tanner and returned it 36 yards to give the Eagles a first down at the Dallas 30. The pass was thrown behind Tanner, but Ryans still made an excellent play on the ball.
On a first down play on the Cowboys’ final touchdown drive, they ran a bubble screen to Randle. But Ryans beat the block and forced an incompletion.
BY THE NUMBERS
--Foles was 0-for-6 on throws of 20 yards or more against the Cowboys. He was 5-for-7 for 148 yards and 4 touchdowns on throws from that distance against the Giants and Bucs.
--Nine of LeSean McCoy’s 18 carries gained two yards or less Sunday. After averaging 6.0 yards per carry in the first four games, McCoy is averaging just 3.4 in the last three. He has just 11 rushing first downs in the last three games after collecting 25 in the first four. Had 13 double-digit-yard runs in the first four games, just five in the last three. All that said, he still leads the NFL in rushing with 685 yards. The Seahawks’ Marshawn Lynch trails him by 107 yards.
--In six quarters against the Giants and Bucs, Foles completed 11 of 13 third-down passes for 92 yards. Against the Cowboys, he was 2-for-10 for 16 yards with one first down. Throw in Matt Barkley’s 2-for-4, 2 interception third-down performance and Eagles quarterbacks were a collective 4-for-14 for 52 yards with two interceptions, one sacks and just three first downs on third down.
--The Eagles blitzed Romo on 19 of his 50 drop backs Sunday. Romo was 10-for-18 for 101 yards, no TDs, no interceptions and one sack when the Eagles blitzed.
--Defensive coordinator Bill Davis mainly used Ryans and Kendricks on blitzes rather than his either of his safeties or slot corner Brandon Boykin. Ryans and Kendricks blitzed a collective 21 times. Nate Allen and Earl Wolff only blitzed a total of five times. Boykin didn’t blitz at all Sunday.
--The Cowboys had just two rushing first downs against the Eagles. In their last three games, the Eagles have given up just eight rushing first downs. They gave up 31 in their first four games.
To referee John Parry, who realized right away that Nick Foles might have a concussion after having his head slammed to the ground by Cowboys defensive linemen George Selvie and Jarius Wynn on the final play of the third quarter and alerting the Eagles’ bench. The Eagles’ medical and training staff may have already suspected as much, but it’s good to know that everybody’s on the alert for possible concussions.
To Chip Kelly’s decision to have Alex Henery try a 60-yard field goal on fourth-and-1 with 14 seconds left in the first half Sunday. Kelly said Henery had the wind at his back, had made it from that far in pre-game warmups, yada, yada, yada. But it’s still a low-percentage kick. With a timeout in their pocket, the Eagles had the wherewithal to run two, maybe even three, more plays and then have Henery try a much more makeable field goal. Kelly said that if they didn’t get the first down, they wouldn’t have had any chance for a field goal, which is true. But he’s got a running back, LeSean McCoy, who had converted 15 of 18 situations of two yards or less into first downs going into the game. I like his chances of picking up a yard on fourth-and-1 a lot better than I do Henery’s chances of hitting a 60-yard field goal.
THIS AND THAT
--The Eagles lined up in a two-back set three times Sunday. It was the first time this season they’ve used a two-back set. Nick Foles completed an 11-yard pass to LeSean McCoy the first time they used it. On the second, Bryce Brown ran for two yards. On the third, Foles kept the ball and gained eight yards.
--For the first time this season, the Eagles also showed some four-wide receiver sets. By my unofficial count, they used four wides three times – twice in the first half and again on the first play of their final possession.
--The Eagles tried to run a screen to Jackson late in the first quarter. He lined up in the slot on the same side as Cooper and Avant. But Cooper missed his block on cornerback Orlando Scandrick, who decked Jackson for a one-yard loss. On the very next play, the Eagles tried to run another screen, this time to McCoy. But it was badly executed by McCoy who lost seven yards on the play.
--Linebacker Connor Barwin had a missed tackle on Dez Bryant early in the second quarter that turned what should have been a five-yard gain into a 19-yarder. Kendricks also had a missed tackle on wide receiver Cole Beasley in the second quarter. That one should have gained just five yards, but resulted in a 14-yard pickup.
--Vinny Curry played a season-high 26 snaps Sunday. He recorded his second sack in the second quarter. Trent Cole ran a stunt around Curry, who was lined up inside. Left guard Ronald Leary, who was blocking Curry, left him to pick up Cole, giving Curry a free path to Tony Romo, who he dropped for a nine-yard loss. Running back Phillip Tanner should have picked up either Curry or Cole, but didn’t.
--On the play in which he suffered the concussion that knocked him out of the game, Foles had the ball for 5.51 seconds before he felt any pressure and was flushed from the pocket. Why he didn’t throw the ball away before he got hit is a question only he can answer.
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