Where the 2014 Eagles Stand After Week 5

eagles-week5The glass half-full assessment of the 2014 Eagles is this team is 4-1, tied for the lead in the NFC East, own the league’s best special teams unit, has an imposing defensive line, and is far from a finished product. The glass half-empty analysis is this team can’t run the ball, can’t stop the pass, sucks in the red zone, can’t stretch the field, is riddled with injuries, and is led by a marginal at best starting quarterback.

So, which of those two descriptions is accurate? Not to be wishy-washy, but both. I agree that these Eagles look entirely different from the 2013 version that stayed healthy, didn’t commit costly turnovers, ran the ball down opponents’ throats on a weekly basis, and were led by an ascending quarterback who thrived under pressure.

I wish I could explain why Nick Foles is struggling in all phases. Sure, the offensive line is a mess, and LeSean McCoy is stuck in neutral, and the receivers not named Jeremy Maclin aren’t getting open or catching the ball, and defenses are anticipating Chip Kelly’s tendencies, and the list goes on an on…

But Foles is light years away from the guy who tore it up a season ago. A bruised non-throwing shoulder might be contributing to his inaccuracy. DeSean Jackson’s absence could be causing him to distrust his downfield targets. Perhaps the lack of a potent run attack is making him press too much.

Regardless, it’s not difficult to discern that Foles is mired in a horrific funk that has resulted in 8 turnovers and a quarterback rating in the same neighborhood as E.J. Manuel and Ryan Tannehill. Yuck. And what the #$%& was this all about?

Inexcusable. If we wanted to see these types of boneheaded blunders, we’d watch tape of Michael Vick from 2012. Until Foles pulls his head out of his ass and starts playing smart, efficient football, the offense will remain a shadow of the one that killed it in 2013.

Offense:

I’m officially concerned about Shady. He just doesn’t look right. I find it hard to believe that Kelce and Mathis are that important to the running game. They matter, but great backs are capable of overcoming line deficiencies, and it’s not as if McCoy hasn’t made a career of using his superior athleticism to create something from nothing. He looked better against the Rams, but that’s not saying much considering how atrocious he was the previous two games.

Hey, Riley Cooper caught a pass in the end zone. Good for him. What the hell happened to Zach Ertz? When’s he’s not totally invisible, he’s fumbling. Huge disappointment thus far. Darren Sproles needs to be on the field more, especially on passing downs. Besides Maclin, he’s Chip’s best weapon at this point.

Defense:

For three quarters everything looked hunky dory. The front seven was punishing the Rams’ line and quarterback Austin Davis, sacking him four times and forcing two fumbles, plus a third from Zac Stacy. This image will never get old:

03a cole attack ball

Let’s hope a fourth quarter collapse doesn’t become the norm if and when the Eagles have a sizable lead. I have to believe Billy Davis won’t call off the dogs in the future, particularly when his blitzes are working. If they had won by 30 like they should have, the negative chatter surrounding this team wouldn’t be nearly as loud.

I’m done ranting about Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher. In basketball, defenders are taught from an early age to “see ball, see man.” The same theory applies to playing cornerback. If you can’t see the ball, you can’t knock it down. That’s Williams’ biggest problem — he never turns around. Fletcher is the opposite; he can locate the ball, but his hand-eye coordination is for shit. The touchdown he allowed to Kenny Britt was laughable.

Fletcher Cox, Ced Thornton, and Bennie Logan continue to get it done. Besides Malcolm Jenkins and Jeremy Maclin, this trio is by far the brightest spot on this team. And with the linebacking corps decimated, their importance going forward is magnified.

Special Teams:

Short and simple: phenomenal.

Turnovers/Penalties:

Ugh. The fumbles by Nick and Shady were maddening. Both were preventable if the former knew how to slide and the latter wasn’t auditioning for Dancing with the Stars. The interception was on a severely underthrown ball, which is par for the course with Foles in 2014. 4 penalties for 39 yards. An improvement. Shocking, but the PI on Fletcher was the first one called on the defense all season.

Looking Ahead:

Giants. Sunday night. Black on black. Before the bye week. Doesn’t get any bigger than this one. Sadly, the G-Men are balling right now. Eli Manning has quickly acclimated to the West Coast scheme and has a quality arsenal of pass catchers at his disposal. If DeMeco can’t go, the run defense could be abused by rookie Andre Williams, who is a freaking wrecking ball. Pressuring Eli is critical, or things will get ugly. Shady has owned Sunday nights in the past, but he’s impossible to trust right now. Birds are favored, but most of the talk is about the Giants, which is probably a good thing. This is the face I want to see on Sunday night:

Eagles are too erratic and beat-up to win this one. The bye week is coming at the right time.

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