Where the 2014 Eagles Stand After One Week

eagles-week1It wouldn’t be the Philadelphia Eagles if they didn’t make the bleeding green faithful nervous as hell. Geesh guys, you could’ve waited until Week 3 before shaking our confidence. Oh, well. A 34-17 win is a 34-17 win, no matter how the final score was reached or how butt ugly they looked getting there.

Before I begin roasting and praising the Birds, let me throw some adulation to Gus Bradley’s Jaguars. They will scare a lot of opponents this season and spring a couple of upsets, hopefully starting this Sunday in D.C. Chris Clemons and Red Bryant were shrewd signings and safety Johnathan Cyprien is legit (who knows what might have happened if he didn’t leave with an injury in the first half). Moving on.

What’s the deal with Nick Foles? It took exactly one atrocious half of football for a lot of fans and much of the national media to abandon the Foles Express. Conjuring images of Bobby Hoying and Kevin Kolb will do that. Just how bad was Foles last Sunday? Eh, kinda sorta bad.

The Offense:

I rewatched the game twice (thank you NFL rewind) and was aghast at how many yards and points were left on the field. The offensive line was partly to blame and that was before Evan Mathis and Alan Barbre exited. However, most of the fault falls on Foles’ shoulders. He wasn’t seeing the field or trusting what he saw on several plays. Here’s one glaring example:

http://insidetheeagles.files.wordpress.com/2014/09/02-foles-fumble-maclin-open.gif?w=584
Via: Inside The Eagles

Notice how clean the pocket was when Maclin split the coverage and flashed open. Not only did Foles miss him, but he sensed pressure that wasn’t there (ala Kolb), held the ball too long (hello McNabb), and bailed out into a terrible sack (vintage Vick), which resulted in a costly fumble.

When Foles did see open receivers, he was wildly inaccurate, especially on this botched toss to rookie Jordan Matthews:

04 foles misses matthews
Via: Inside The Eagles

See how he pumped before releasing? If he pulled the trigger that’s probably six. At the very least Matthews gets close to the endzone. By the way, Matthews played 57 snaps and was excellent all day long. It’s only a matter of time before he blows up. Of course Foles and the rest of the offense overcame turnovers and injuries to steamroll the young Jaguars in the second half.

Chipper noted the Jags played more zone than they anticipated and it took time to adjust. Basically, Bradley mirrored a lot of what the Saints did in the playoff loss. Stop the run up front and play zone on the back end. If I recall correctly, Foles wasn’t sharp in the first half of that one either.

Bottom line: If defenses are going to show more zone looks, the entire offense needs to react accordingly. Obviously running the ball more effectively will help those efforts. Shady had his share of awesome jukes ‘n’ jives, but no game-changing runs. The loss of Evan Mathis hurts. Alan Barbre? Meh. I say Andrew Gardner can’t be much worse.

Defense:

The communication breakdowns in the secondary need to stop. Nate Allen, Cary Williams, and Malcolm Jenkins all played a part in Alan Hurns being turned into a first quarter legend. Pull that crap against Andrew Luck and the Colts will hang up 40 points on Monday night.

I have nothing critical to say about the front seven. Fletcher Cox is an unblockable beast. Connor Barwin is a better shot-blocker than Nerlens Noel. Mychal Kendricks is on the cusp of being a Pro Bowler. Brandon Graham has been living in the backfield for weeks. DeMeco Ryans remains the definition of steady.

I’m not thrilled about the prospect of Casey Matthews seeing the field more now that Najee Goode is done for the year. Unfortunately, Billy Davis is running thin on options at ILB. Maybe Emmanuel Acho is a diamond in the rough.

Special Teams:

Cody Parkey can’t lose! The specter of Alex Henery has evaporated. Not only does Parkey boom 50-yarders on the regular, dude is money on kickoffs. If you wondered why the Eagles signed Chris Maragos, wonder no more. He was in on at least two coverage tackles and played with his hair on fire. Dave Fipp has plenty of tools to work with in 2014.

Turnovers/Penalties:

Two fumbles and a horrific end zone pick by Nick. 6 penalties for 50 yards. The horse-collar call on Cox was accidental but deserved. Only one defensive holding call is promising. Surprise, surprise, it was on Bradley Fletcher.

Looking Ahead:

Road game against Andrew Luck on Monday night. It’s a start ’em if you got ’em game for fantasy enthusiasts. If Foles and the running game rebound, 31-38 points is possible. Luck is 14-3 in Lucas Oil Stadium and that includes wins over Seattle and Denver last season. Methinks he will pick apart the secondary and we’ll see a lot of this:

Cross your fingers I’m wrong.

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