The defense was the catalyst for the Eagles' victory over the Oakland Raiders on Christmas night, but obviously, a lot of people want to know about quarterback Nick Foles' performance. The veteran was making his second start in place of Carson Wentz and, frankly, he wasn’t good against Oakland. He’ll be the first one to tell you that. He wasn’t accurate, rarely seemed to be in rhythm in the pocket, and struggled to keep the Eagles' offense on schedule throughout most of the night. Were the mistakes correctable? Of course.
If you’re an Eagles fan, it’s not time to jump off the Ben Franklin Bridge. Foles played great in New York in Week 15, and he didn’t last week. He doesn’t need to play as well as he did against the Giants on a weekly basis in the postseason (though that’d be nice), but getting somewhere in between would be an ideal scenario for this Eagles offense. Let’s look at what went right, and what went wrong, for Foles against the Raiders.
Shot 1 - Two of the biggest missed throws from Nick Foles in this game happened down in the red zone to Zach Ertz, but we've seen him make these throws before... #Eagles pic.twitter.com/YonoCCqVB6 — Fran Duffy (@fduffy3) December 27, 2017
Two of the worst misses for Foles against the Raiders were down in the red zone to tight end Zach Ertz. It’s a route we’ve seen Ertz run all season long - and as you can see Foles hit him for a touchdown on it just last week - with a ton of success for the Eagles. Red zone efficiency was not as sharp for the Eagles this week against Oakland as compared to the week before.
Shot 2 - One common theme also was the mishandled snaps. Some on Foles, some on Kelce, but they threw off the timing of a number of pass plays and got the QB off schedule early in the down #Eagles pic.twitter.com/cVEekNb7IO — Fran Duffy (@fduffy3) December 27, 2017
The Eagles' missed opportunities in the passing game were partly due to some mishandled snaps from Foles in the shotgun. It was a cold night on Monday, the ball was slick, but the ball was mishandled too many times and it threw Foles off of his rhythm to wreck a handful of plays.
It wasn’t all bad for Foles and the offense in the passing game, however, because there were a couple of concepts that worked well repeatedly against the Raiders. Two effective concepts were the "Naked" pass plays and the "Levels" high-low pass combination.
Shot 3 - One concept that worked for the #Eagles in the passing game were the quick throws in the 'Naked' play-action game. Couple of plays moved the sticks, one resulted in the lone INT pic.twitter.com/ObGyX1bLSc — Fran Duffy (@fduffy3) December 27, 2017
Shot 4 - The lone concept where I saw Foles look in-rhythm in the pocket on a couple of different instances was the 'Levels' or 'Flanker Drive' concept. Opened up two big chunks of yardage for Ertz in the MOF #Eagles pic.twitter.com/CUZBXyoSTo — Fran Duffy (@fduffy3) December 27, 2017
On their lone offensive touchdown drive early in the game, the Eagles were outstanding on the ground. Head coach Doug Pederson worked in a number of different running plays and they were executed at an extremely high level. This was a really fun sequence of plays to watch, with more than a handful of players standing out.
Shot 5 - On the #Eagles lone offensive TD drive, the run game was humming. Great variety of schemes and awesome execution up front. Really fun sequence of plays to watch that led to a TD #FlyEaglesFly pic.twitter.com/5EHuSmBHXg — Fran Duffy (@fduffy3) December 27, 2017
How about Mack Hollins blocking Khalil Mack on fourth-and-1?! You get to see Jason Kelce’s athleticism out in space, some great double teams, and all three running backs worked into the rotation on that drive which helped set up this touchdown pass from Foles to running back Jay Ajayi.
Shot 6 - #Eagles finished the drive with a screen pass to Jay Ajayi. Great athleticism from Kelce / Warmack to get out in front and create this lane for a score #FlyEaglesFly pic.twitter.com/WxsJdis0eM — Fran Duffy (@fduffy3) December 27, 2017
The athleticism from Kelce stands out here and Ajayi’s burst in the open field helps erase some good angles for the Oakland secondary. I believe the screen game will be extremely important for this team moving forward.
Shot 7 - #Eagles got chunk plays on the ground throughout the game...just had some taken away due to self-inflicted wounds. Running the ball will be paramount in the playoffs. #FlyEaglesFly pic.twitter.com/iUEjuMEh8w — Fran Duffy (@fduffy3) December 27, 2017
There were multiple run plays taken off the board for this team as it tried to keep the ground attack going against Oakland. A mistake here and a mistake there helped take the team out of position to put more points on the board, and it could’ve come back to bite them in the end. Thankfully, the defense stepped up the way it did, and the Eagles came out with the win, which is the most important thing. At the end of the day, this team needs to win three games in the postseason and, personally ... I don’t care if they win 7-6 or 47-46. Just go get the W.
Fran Duffy is the producer of “Eagles Game Plan” which can be seen on Saturdays during the season. Be sure to also check out the "Eagle Eye In The Sky" podcast on the Philadelphia Eagles podcast channel on iTunes. Prior to joining the Eagles in 2011, Duffy was the head video coordinator for the Temple University Football team under former head coach Al Golden. In that role, he spent thousands of hours shooting, logging and assisting with the breakdown of the All-22 film from the team’s games, practices and opponents.