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Fan-Demonium: Games With Meaning

Posted Nov 12, 2013

The Eagles are now 5-5 and tied for first place in the NFC East. On one hand, you don't want to make too much of this. It isn't a great record. The NFC East is the worst division in the league this year. This isn't a big deal right now.

On the other hand, the Eagles were 4-12 last year. Being 5-5 means there will be meaningful football games in November. That is something to get excited about. Last year, the Eagles were just 3-7 after 10 games. Nick Foles had just made his first start and he struggled mightily in a loss at Washington. We could all see the season slipping away. The final six games weren't a lot of fun.

I can't tell you how this season will turn out. The Eagles could go into a slump and finish just 6-10 or something like that, but it just feels good to know that the next few weeks matter. Every win keeps the Eagles in playoff contention. I know some fans would prefer the team to get a high draft pick, but I don't think like that. You have to focus on winning.

Chip Kelly has the Eagles playing good football. They went to Lambeau Field, fought through some injuries and beat the Packers by 14 points. Granted, Green Bay didn't have Aaron Rodgers, but we've seen the Packers win without him in the past. That is a good team with plenty of talent outside of Rodgers.

The man of the hour is still Foles. He is continuing to play at a high level and is putting up some crazy numbers. Foles is four passing attempts from being eligible to be on the leaderboard among NFL quarterbacks. Foles would lead the league in quarterback rating and yards per pass attempt. He is third in the league in pass completions of 40 or more yards. Against Green Bay, he was was 12-of-18 for 228 yards. Three of the completions were touchdowns and all of them covered at least 32 yards. Foles now has back-to-back games with a rating of 149 or more. He's the first quarterback to do that since 1960. To put that in further perspective, Michael Vick has two such games in his entire career.

The Eagles didn't throw a lot, but got great impact from the passing game. Foles didn't have any great throws. He had a solid game and made good throws. In a way, that's what we needed to see. Foles has to show that he can be a consistent, reliable passer. His showing against the Packers is the kind of game you could expect from a quarterback on a regular basis. 

Maybe the most impressive thing was the way Foles ran the ball. If you take out his three kneel-downs, Foles had five carries for 41 yards. There weren't any Vick-like spectacular runs. Foles took off when there was an opening and got what he could. He converted a third-and-one on the opening drive. He scrambled for 16 yards on third-and-six which resulted in a touchdown drive in the third quarter. Foles also ran for 9 yards to secure the final first down of the game and to allow the Eagles to run out the clock. He isn't a fast or elusive runner, but Foles is a smart runner and that's what Chip Kelly's offense needs.

The star of the game was LeSean McCoy. He ran 25 times for 155 yards. Every now and then McCoy just has one of those games when he is virtually impossible to tackle. Sunday was one of those days. He made Packers miss in the backfield, on the edge and out in space. You almost feel bad for the guys trying to tackle him. My favorite run was a play to the left side. A defensive back was there on the end of the line. His job was to contain McCoy and keep him in the backfield. McCoy used an explosive lateral move and then pushed off the guy with his arm and just went flying to the outside. I don't know if Packers coaches will yell at the guy or just shake their heads after watching the film of that play. Incredible move.

Riley Cooper also came up big. He only had three catches, but two of them went for touchdowns. He hauled in a 45-yard score and had to make a nice adjustment on that play. Cooper ran a post route. Foles wanted to keep the ball away from the safety so he threw the pass farther across the field than you would on a normal post route. Cooper was able to locate the ball and get into position to make the grab. He then did that while falling to the ground. That extended the lead to 17-3 and really opened up the game.

Lawlor

Tommy Lawlor, goeagles99 on the Discussion Boards, is an amateur football scout and devoted Eagles fan. He is the Editor of IgglesBlitz.com and was a contributor to the Eagles Almanac.

The Eagles offensive line had a strong performance. They made Clay Matthews a non-factor. They opened holes for McCoy. They also gave Foles plenty of time to throw the ball. He was sacked three times, but two of those were coverage sacks. Allen Barbre took over for Jason Peters at left tackle early in the game and did a solid job. The line was terrific late in the game. The Eagles were able to run off the final 9:32 of the game with a long, methodical drive. I can't remember the last time I enjoyed a non-scoring drive so much. The Eagles took over the ball at their 8-yard line and drove all the way down to Green Bay's 19-yard line. McCoy, Foles and Bryce Brown all ran the ball and moved the chains. The big guys up front controlled the line of scrimmage and made that a thing of beauty.

The defense held the Packers to 13 points. That is the lowest total the Eagles have allowed all year and continues their recent hot streak. No opponent has scored more than 21 points since September's debacle in Denver. The defense still gave up too many yards on Sunday, but you can live with yards if you keep the other team off the scoreboard. There were two missed field goals and a pair of red zone stops. Some of that is luck, some of it is skill.

Bennie Logan played his second game as the starting nose tackle. He looks right at home. Logan was a solid backup, but he has raised his game a level since taking over as the starter. I'm blown away by how he's stepped up. Logan is playing better than Isaac Sopoaga did. Logan isn't at the same level as Cedric Thornton and Fletcher Cox, but the Eagles now have arguably the best young defensive line in the NFL.

With Rodgers out, the Eagles knew Green Bay would lean on the running game. Eddie Lacy had 24 carries, but only gained 73 yards. His long run was just 11 yards. The Eagles made Green Bay move the ball methodically on the ground. Last week, the Packers had a 32-yard touchdown run and a 56-yard run that set up a touchdown. Without those big plays, the run game was kept under control. Running backs finished with 29 carries for 80 yards. By comparison, the Eagles ran for 204 yards.

Bill Davis used line stunts and run blitzes to try and confuse the Green Bay blockers. Linebacker Najee Goode took over for Mychal Kendricks very early in the game. Davis had Goode blitz at the snap on a lot of run plays. Goode would attack the guard in front of him and just try to disrupt the play. His goal was to get penetration and affect Lacy. Goode didn't need to make the tackle. He just needed to drive the blocker backward or get by the blocker and into the backfield. Lacy is a north-south runner. If you can get him to run east-west, he becomes a mediocre player. If you can get Lacy to stop moving his feet, he becomes easy to tackle.

There was one run play where Lacy did have to freeze in the backfield and DeMeco Ryans made him pay. Ryans hit him square and knocked Lacy to the ground for a loss. That was what you want from an inside linebacker. Ryans punished as many people as he could. He had 13 solo tackles on the day and was all over the field. He had a big hit on a receiver near the sideline. Ryans also picked off a deflected pass. That pick set up a short field goal drive.

The Eagles pass defense was a bit too generous. You do have to give the Packers some credit. After Seneca Wallace left the game with an injury, Scott Tolzien took over at quarterback. He played well at times. Tolzien has a stronger arm than Wallace and I'm sure that changed some of the plays that Green Bay ran. Tolzien made some really good throws down the sideline. The Packers had five pass plays that covered 20 yards or more. I don't think that would have been the case with Wallace.

Earl Wolff got hurt and missed most of the game. Patrick Chung replaced him. Bradley Fletcher was inactive for the game and Roc Carmichael replaced him. Timing and chemistry can be important to members of the secondary, but both Chung and Carmichael seemed to play fairly well so I'm not sure how much the injuries affected the defense.

Vinny Curry got the team's only sack. It's good to see him stay hot, but the pass rush was disappointing overall. The defensive highlight of the game was Brandon Boykin's end zone interception. Tolzien threw a pass behind Jordy Nelson and Boykin picked it off in the end zone. Boykin took off up the field. I thought he might have a pick-six, but he ran out of steam after 76 yards.

Nothing too dramatic happened on special teams. Alex Henery did miss a field goal, but the Packers' Mason Crosby missed a pair. Kelly said the wind was an issue for both kickers.

This was a good win for the Eagles. They didn't have their A-game, but still played well enough to win by two touchdowns on the road. Kelly has the Eagles playing good football. It feels great to see the team improving and now getting ready to play some meaningful games down the stretch.

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