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Fan-Demonium: No Quit In This Team

Posted Dec 27, 2012

Fan-Demonium

The holiday break is over and that means it is time to get back to business. Let's start by talking about the Eagles’ loss to the Redskins on Sunday. The final score of the game was 27-20 and the Eagles had a chance to tie it at the end, but the Redskins were in control for much of the game.

This group of Eagles, with so many rookies, backups and new faces, just doesn't play good football on a consistent basis. You could see this on Sunday. The Eagles scored the first and last touchdowns of the game. In between, the Redskins outscored them 27-6.

The Eagles marched right down the field on the opening drive and went up 7-0. I was pumped. You could see the spark that the return of LeSean McCoy brought the team. Nick Foles threw a terrific pass to Jeremy Maclin for the score. The Redskins got some yards on their drive, but the Eagles defense came up with a big fourth-down stop. The offense marched right down to the 20-yard line again and looked poised to go up by two scores.

On a second-down pass play, LeSean McCoy failed to pick up a blitzer. McCoy went low and the blitzer went over him and got Foles down for a big loss. On third down, the coaches called for a screen pass. The Redskins were all over the play and Foles started to run. He had the ball knocked away by linebacker Ryan Kerrigan and the Redskins recovered.

The one simple mistake of the missed pass block by McCoy was the turning point in the game. Instead of being up 10-0, the Eagles were only up 7-3. Then it was 7-6. Washington eventually jumped in front 13-7 and never looked back.

Go back to the Bengals game. There was a time when the Eagles were in control, but they couldn't build much of a lead. They were up 13-7, but probably should have been up 17-7 at the least. The Eagles were up 10-0 on Tampa Bay when Damaris Johnson muffed the punt and allowed them to jump right back into things.

Good teams get a lead and then are able to build on it and/or sustain it. The Eagles can play a quarter or even a half of good football and get that lead, but they cannot play a complete game. The lack of experience and cohesion is showing. There is a turning point in each game and the Eagles can't seem to overcome it. They did in Tampa Bay, but in other recent games the team didn't handle adversity well.

This will change. Young teams must learn how to play well, how to win. Just look at the Redskins. They were 6-10 in 2010. They were 5-11 in 2011. This year they started off 3-6 before the light went on and the team got hot. They've now won six games in a row to get to 9-6. The Eagles are learning lessons right now that hopefully will pay off in the future.

The key player to talk about is still Foles. He was 32-of-48 for 345 yards with a touchdown, an interception and a fumble. We found out on Monday that Foles actually played half of the game with a broken hand. You like the fact that he was tough enough to play through an injury. The Eagles were losing when he got hurt. It would have been easy for him to ask out and let Trent Edwards go finish up. Instead, Foles stayed out there and led the team on a comeback.

Foles had some impressive moments. His touchdown to Maclin was a good throw on a corner route. That play covered 27 yards. The pass was right on the money. Foles hit Maclin for a gain of 38 on a broken play. Foles was under pressure and started to move when Maclin got free downfield. Foles was able to find him and get the ball out to him for a big gain. There were a total of nine pass plays that covered 15 or more yards.

Foles had a couple of good throws to new tight end Evan Moore. The first was a play in the opening half. Moore got open in the end zone on third-and-long. Foles put the ball up high and gave him a chance. The ball might have been a foot too much to the outside. Moore made the catch, but couldn't get his feet down inbounds. At the end of the game, Foles hit Moore with a quick slant that would have resulted in a touchdown, but Moore could not hang onto the ball.

Not everything was sunshine and lollipops. Foles’ fumble on the second drive was a costly mistake. He should have simply thrown the ball at McCoy's feet and lived with the incompletion. The team was already in field goal range. The game ended on an intentional grounding penalty. Foles was under pressure and did what he could, but at a key moment, you must do better. He had to throw the ball away quicker or make sure to throw it up so someone had a chance. Foles was indecisive and it cost him. Foles had two passes deflected, one of which was picked off.

The biggest mistake came on the final drive. Maclin again ran a corner route and was open for a touchdown. Foles was late in making his read, by a second, if that much. He then made a poor throw. Maclin came out of his break, expecting the ball to be there. Instead, the pass was late and short. Maclin tried to get to it, but the ball fell incomplete. When an offense has the right call against a certain defense and the receiver is open in the end zone, you must make the play. Foles needed to anticipate that route and have the ball there on time.

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.

I forgot how much fun it is to watch McCoy play. He had missed the last four games due to a concussion. Bryce Brown had some great games with McCoy out, but had struggled in the last two. McCoy made his presence felt on the opening drive as he eluded defenders and got upfield. McCoy didn't post great rushing numbers (13 carries for 45 yards), but he caught nine passes for 77 yards and made some key plays. The biggest might have come on the final drive when he caught a pass, got down to the 5-yard line and got out of bounds to stop the clock. That "only" gained 12 yards, but came on fourth down and with just 18 seconds left in the game. Any mistake by McCoy and the game might be over.

While the game was a disappointment, the offense gained 411 yards and scored 20 points. They were in scoring range two other times. If Moore just holds on to Foles’ slant pass, the game is tied at 27 and heads into overtime.

The defense had a rough day. The Redskins "only" gained 313 yards, but they scored 27 points, were 5-of-10 on third downs and were perfect in the red zone. They didn't punt the ball in the first half and only had two in the game. This was a very efficient offensive attack.

The biggest disappointment for me was the defensive line. They had six sacks and played terrific against the Bengals. The defensive line failed to come up with a sack of Robert Griffin III. They didn't harass him on a regular basis, nor did they control the Redskins running game.

Washington ran for 128 yards. There were no big plays that skewed the stats. The long runs of the day covered 14 and 12 yards. They simply moved the ball 3 to 5 yards at a time on a consistent basis. I do give the Washington coaches credit for calling a great game. They were very creative with running the ball from a variety of formations. They attacked outside and inside. They had four different players carry the ball and all of them had at least a 7-yard run.

Defensive end Brandon Graham had some good moments. He didn't fall for the fake and was all over Griffin III on the fourth-down stop early in the game. Graham broke up a shovel pass later in the first half. Graham had five tackles in the game. Defensive tackle Fletcher Cox had a couple of standout plays. I think his best moment came on a play where Griffin III was running for his life in the backfield. Defensive end Trent Cole and Graham had forced Griffin III to head for the sideline. Cox was over there and got a pretty decent shot on him. Getting that far into the backfield and being able to hit an elusive quarterback was impressive.

The linebackers had a rough game. Even middle linebacker DeMeco Ryans had some struggles. He missed a tackle of running back Evan Royster. There was another play where Ryans couldn't find the ball and was spinning around while trying to avoid a block and see where the ball was. That's never a good look for your middle linebacker. Strongside linebacker Jamar Chaney and weakside linebacker Mychal Kendricks both were lost at times. To his credit, Kendricks was in on seven solo tackles.

The secondary, and even linebackers to some extent, may have looked bad in coverage. The Eagles played a lot of zone from what I could tell. You do this against a running quarterback so that if he takes off, defenders don't have their back to him. The Redskins were able to exploit the zone coverage and get some chunk plays through the air. They had four pass plays gain at least 21 yards. Only one of them featured much in the way of run after the catch yards.

Colt Anderson had a pretty good game, but also showed areas where he could grow. He had five solo tackles, a tackle-for-loss, a pass break-up and an interception. On those plays, Anderson was fun to watch and he got the job done. He also missed some key tackles. He had a chance to get Josh Morgan on an end around that was blown up by defensive end Trent Cole, but Anderson went low and Morgan went right over him. There was a play along the sideline where flew over to make a stop, but was out of control and the runner made a quick move and went right by him. Anderson also got burned for a touchdown pass. He had solid coverage, but Santana Moss was too fast and Griffin III made a perfect pass.

Sunday's loss dropped the Eagles record to 4-11. I was encouraged that when the team was down 27-13 they didn't give up. There is no quit in this team. They make way too many mistakes and that's what costs them games, but I love the fact that such a young group doesn't stay down. We all get frustrated at times in a game. The key is to quit worrying/whining and do something about it. The Eagles did that on Sunday and came oh-so-close to tying the game.

Moral victories don't mean a whole lot, but in 2012, that's what we have. One more game and we can look ahead to 2013.

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