Where the 2014 Eagles Stand After Week 8

eagles-week8I’ve been calling the Eagles an enigma for weeks. Why? Because I just can’t figure out if they are actually good. Sure, the record is 5-2, tied for second best in the league. Sure, they’ve lost two games by a combined 9 points with chances to win each game as time expired. Sure, they’ve endured despite significant injuries to the offensive line and linebacking corps.

But…

This team ranks dead last in red zone offense, 29th in turnover ratio at -7, and 26th in passer rating differential. In other words, they are swimming in the same sewer as the Jaguars, Raiders, Jets, and Bucs when it comes to advanced stats. It doesn’t take a big-brained pundit to discern that being associated with that horrific quartet is bad, really bad. Speaking of bad, let’s talk about Nick Foles.

Foles has coughed it up 12 times in seven starts and has only one game without a turnover — Week 3 versus Washington. He can spew all the platitudes he wants at his pressers, but he is holding this offense hostage right now with all his egregious blunders. At least he admitted his words mean jack shit until he proves it on the field.

The alarming thing about Foles’ play is we are seeing the same mechanical breakdowns every single week. Chip and Pat and Bill and are obviously pointing these out to Nick in film study, and yet he isn’t making corrections on Sundays. This is frustrating because Foles is fully capable of setting his feet properly and delivering strikes. Like this bomb to Maclin versus Arizona:

We’re not talking about Blaine Gabbert or Christian Ponder here. Foles has talent, but lapsing into Kevin Kolb territory once too often won’t convince Chip and Howie that he’s the answer under center for years to come.

The constant backpedaling and improper foot alignment is amateur hour garbage. Is the makeshift offensive line contributing to his struggles? Yes, but even when he has a clean pocket, he’s not stepping into his throws consistently. He’s panicking when he sees multiple blitzers crowding the A gap. The red zone woes are partly due to curious playcalling, but are mostly due to Foles’ inability to plant his feet and fire into tight windows without the benefit of open space.

Throwing more to McCoy and Sproles might help, but Foles has been inaccurate on short tosses as well. That said, Shady is on pace to set a career low in receptions, which is puzzling. Defenses are keenly aware of Chip’s propensity to use runners on screens, although I find it hard to believe that he can’t scheme to get either back open on slants and wheel routes.

Perhaps the return of Jason Kelce this week and Evan Mathis next Monday night will alleviate some of these pressing issues. Then again, Todd Herremans playing with a torn left biceps is another setback for the beleaguered line. How is he going to successfully drive block or pass protect with one arm? I admire Todd’s toughness, but J.J. Watt will destroy him on Sunday.

Defense:

Nate Allen gives up a backbreaking 75-yard touchdown and now he’s suddenly hurt. Hmm… In all seriousness, Earl Wolff probably isn’t much of an upgrade, but he deserves a shot to prove otherwise until he limps off the field holding his knee, which will inevitably happen at some point.

I still love the front seven, especially once Mychal Kendricks’ calf is fully healed. I just hope he doesn’t aggravate it by playing before he’s all the way back. No sacks against Arizona isn’t a big deal. Give Carson Palmer credit for getting rid of the ball early; I mean, he was 20-42, so it’s not as if he carved up the secondary, save for a pair of huge touchdowns.

Uh, where is Brandon Boykin?

Special Teams:

Again, no game-changing plays, but Cody Parkey nailed another 50-plus yarder and Donnie Jones pinned a pair of punts inside the 20. Coverage units also did a solid job on Ted Ginn.

Turnovers/Penalties:

I’ve slammed Foles enough. Let’s just say the awful interceptions need to stop ASAP. Josh Huff is a rookie so I’ll excuse him for fumbling while trying to score. This time. 11 penalties for 103 yards. Yuck. The officiating crew effed up the rhythm of the game early by tossing flags on seemingly every other snap. Arizona had 1o infractions of their own, so they were equally victimized. I despise refs who insinuate themselves into the action. This was an example of how not to call a game between a pair of 5-1 teams.

Looking Ahead:

On the road again versus a sneaky good Texans team being held back by their quarterback. Sound familiar? Houston has a dynamic dual-threat back and a pair of legit wide receivers. They also have Ryan Fiztpatrick. It would be nice if someone besides Malcolm Jenkins could notch an interception. I think the Eagles can pressure Fitzy into mistakes and do a reasonably good job shutting down Arian Foster on stretch runs. However, I can’t trust Foles to play a clean game, so this is going to be another toss-up:

Shady scored two touchdowns and totaled 130 yards the last time these teams met. Maybe this is the week he blows up. Or not.

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