The defense really stood out in Sunday’s win over Chicago, but the offense had more than its share of highlights as well.
Let’s start with quarterback Nick Foles, who made his share of big throws in a game against the top defense on the schedule this season. Foles showed impressive poise and, outside of his second interception, good decision-making throughout the game. Both of those traits result in Foles getting the ball out extremely quickly.
ALL OF THE VIDEO CLIPS FEATURE AUDIO ANALYSIS FROM FRAN DUFFY
When you get the ball out as quickly as Foles did in this game, you may get fewer big plays down the field, but you also take fewer sacks and create opportunities for your receivers to create yards after the catch. I thought it was one of the best things about how Foles played in the win.
Foles hooked up with Alshon Jeffery multiple times, and he was a huge focus on Sunday as the X-receiver, lining up isolated on the back side of the formation. The veteran receiver’s ability to win one-on-one makes him effective in that role.
Jeffery can obviously go up and win at the catch point, using his size and ability to play the ball in the air to outmuscle corners consistently. That skill set will absolutely come in handy this weekend against Saints star corner Marshon Lattimore, who could be matched up on him one-on-one throughout the night.
On that last play to Jeffery above, where he caught the crossing route on the three-level stretch, I had to point out a block made by rookie tight end Dallas Goedert. I thought it was worthy of its own video.
On this play, Goedert is trying to sell that he’s a run blocker, crossing the formation to block the pass rusher on the back side of the run. In reality, he’s a pass protector, responsible for blocking the linebacker, No. 59 Danny Trevathan, who looped to the opposite side on a blitz. Goedert had to abandon his responsibility, retrace his steps, and shove the blitzer out of the way just before he delivered a shot on Foles. That play doesn’t happen without this block, and the rookie is the one to thank for it.
The tight ends continued to be a big part of the Eagles' offense. They didn’t play quite as many snaps in two-tight end sets as we’ve come to expect over the last month, but Goedert and Zach Ertz were both a big part of the game plan.
Foles’ touchdown to Goedert came with the Bears only having 10 defenders on the field. It was still a good route from the rookie and a smart throw from Foles, who knew he didn’t have to fire the throw in since there was no safety in the middle of the field. Ertz continues to show his ability to win against man and zone coverage, and he came up with some HUGE catches in this game in the latter stages of the victory.
To set up the Goedert touchdown, Pederson called a couple of vertical passes to attack the Bears’ coverage schemes. Both hit ... kind of.
Both of these plays resulted in penalty flags favoring the Eagles. They don’t show up in the stat sheet, but you have to give credit to the staff for having a couple of plays dialed up to attack a defense that hadn’t allowed many big plays all season.
Before we get to the final drive, I feel like we need to look at the run game for the Eagles. They didn’t generate a ton of yardage on the ground, but Pederson stayed committed to it, led by Wendell Smallwood and Darren Sproles.
Foles was 6-of-10 off play-action and he was 5-of-5 on screens, both of which play off the run game with the use of both Smallwood and Sproles. The Saints present another challenge with one of the top run defenses in the league.
Now let’s get to the final sequence on offense, a 12-play drive led by Foles that culminated in the touchdown pass to Golden Tate. This was Foles' second career fourth-quarter playoff comeback. His first was in Super Bowl LII.
There were a handful of big plays on that final drive from the Eagles' offense. Some of them were perfectly drawn up by the coaches (like that middle screen play to Goedert). Some were big-time catches (like that first down by Ertz). Others were great throws from Foles (like the final touchdown to Tate). Either way, the offensive success in this game was a result of a total team effort, and it helped the Eagles come out on top.
Fran Duffy is the producer of the Emmy-nominated Eagles Game Plan show which can be seen every gameday during the season on NBC10 in Philadelphia. He is also the host of two Eagles-related podcasts, Eagle Eye in the Sky, which examines the team from an X's and O's angle each and every week as well as the Journey to the Draft podcast, which covers college football and the NFL Draft all year round. Fran also authors the Eagle Eye in the Sky column, which runs four times a week during the football season to serve as a recap for the previous game and to preview the upcoming matchup. 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.