Philadelphia Eagles News

News, Notes And Tasty Leftovers

Coaches worked on Friday at the NovaCare Complex and will have some time to catch their breath the rest of the weekend. The players aren't back until Tuesday. Thursday's win at Dallas continues to resonate. Here are some Thanksgiving leftovers to digest …

  • Dallas tight end Jason Witten was targeted twice and caught one pass for 8 yards. Given his history against the Eagles, and his credentials as a future inductee into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, this is remarkable stuff. Look back at some of the games Witten has had in his 12-year career against the Eagles – as recently as the regular season finale last year Witten caught 12 passes for 135 yards and earlier in the season he had 4 catches and 48 yards in the Dallas win at Lincoln Financial Field -- and you understand just how significant the defense's effort was. "We just played really good team defense," linebacker Connor Barwin said. "We know he's a huge part of their offense and we had some ideas on what we wanted to do, but really the entire defensive effort made it happen."
  • Speaking of tight ends, remember when the defense couldn't stop 'em? That's not the case this season, not this defense. Washington's Niles Paul had 6 catches and 68 yards. Carolina's Greg Olsen had 4 receptions and 119 yards, most of that in garbage time of a blowout Eagles victory. Andrew Quarless had a pair of early receptions for 35 yards in Green Bay's win over Philadelphia. Only Tennessee's Delanie Walker, with 5 catches for 155 yards (again, most when the Eagles had a big lead) really has gashed this defense.
  • Darren Sproles had one carry for 13 yards and 3 receptions for 19 yards – maybe the most effective 4 touches he's ever had. Sproles attracted so much attention from the Dallas defense that it opened up opportunities for others. The 58-yard Mark Sanchez-to-Jeremy Maclin pass early in the game happened, for example, when Sproles ran out of the formation to the right wing, ran an underneath pass route, and drew two Dallas defenders. One of those defenders, cornerback Brandon Carr, abandoned coverage on Maclin and allowed him to come free and make the easy catch and turn up the field for the huge gain.
  • An indication of just how explosive he is, wide receiver Josh Huff had a carry from the backfield lined up in the backfield and gained 7 yards. He's coming, people. Huff hasn't had as smooth a rookie season as Jordan Matthews, but Huff is showing signs of what he can be. Will head coach Chip Kelly find a way down the stretch to incorporate Huff to get the football in his hands?
  • It was interesting to see the Eagles kick away from Dallas kickoff return man Dwayne Harris, who still averaged 30.3 yards on four returns. The Eagles played it smart as Dallas' starting point after kickoffs was the 24-yard line. Overall, the Eagles' average starting point on their 12 drives was the Philadelphia 31-yard line, while Dallas started at its 24 on average for its 12 offensive possessions.
  • Safety Nate Allen had a nice game in Arlington, Tx. with an interception and a fumble recovery just before halftime that led to three points. Allen had two tackles and was part of a terrific performance by the secondary.
  • Running back LeSean McCoy isn't alone in his quest to be great and to get the running game cranked up. The offensive line takes an enormous amount of pride in McCoy's numbers. "We've been able to get McCoy rolling the last couple of weeks," left tackle Jason Peters said. "We intend to keep him rolling. It means a lot to Shady. He was the rushing champ last year. He has a chip on his shoulder all the time. When he doesn't get the yards he's supposed to get, he gets down. I'm just happy for the guy to get him back on track."
  • A key statistic that bodes well for the offense: The Eagles converted 10 of 19 third downs in the win over Tennessee and then converted 8 of 15 on Thursday at Dallas. "It's huge. We're keeping drives alive," tight end Brent Celek said. "That helps us get into our tempo and it keeps defenses on the field."
  • There isn't a number that has much less meaning than the gross punting average of Donnie Jones. Not sure how much the net average means, either. The Eagles gave up the punt return for a touchdown against Green Bay, and that's a blemish. Otherwise, the punt team has been pretty great. Jones dumped two of his five punts on Thursday inside the Dallas 20-yard line and now has put 25 of his 58 kicks inside opponents' 20-yard lines. He's only had six touchbacks. That's really, really good.
  • Glad to see that defensive lineman Fletcher Cox is gaining some recognition for his outstanding season. The former No. 1 draft pick showed great promise as a rookie playing in a 4-3 front and last year took a few games to become acclimated to two-gapping as a 3-4 lineman. Now he's just kicking butt and taking names. Cox had a sack against Dallas and now has three, and Barwin, who has benefitted from Cox's ability to occupy blockers and free up pass-rushing lanes, appreciates just how good Cox has been. "He should be in the Pro Bowl," Barwin said. "That's how good he's been. Every game. He disrupts so many things up front. He's having a great season."
  • Finally, the Eagles played it smart as they low-keyed the win over Dallas. They know how difficult it will be to beat the Cowboys in two weeks. No sense saying something foolish and getting the Cowboys all riled up for that rematch. A lot can happen between now and then, of course. The Eagles host the defending Super Bowl champions when Seattle comes to town, and Dallas travels to struggling Chicago.
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