The Eagles survived a late rally from the St. Louis Rams Sunday to avoid what would have been a catastrophic meltdown in South Philly. It was an ugly ending down at the Linc but the team did enough to hold on and improve to 4-1 on the season. Critics all over local TV and the radio airwaves aren’t really sure how to feel about the 4-1 start including myself.
I could preach all day about how ugly the team played (and I will) but the bottom line is the team is 4-1 and tied for first in the division. Chip Kelly said it best after the game when he stated “tough 4-1, soft 4-1, you’re still at 4-1.” Kelly is absolutely correct with a statement like that. The Eagles are right now a very lucky/fortunate bunch to be where they are in the standings. This season easily could have spiraled out of control by now and we could be looking at a 1-4 start or even 0-5. We still haven’t seen a very convincing win out of this bunch yet. Through 3 quarters of Sunday’s game against the Rams we finally almost saw that first Eagles beat down of the season but the beauty of football is you play 4 quarters not 3.
With that said let’s start with some positives I took from Sunday. The special teams once again came up huge. Our fellow Greek Chris Maragos recovered a blocked punt and ran it in for the first touchdown of the game. Maragos was one of the under the radar signings the Eagles made this offseason to boost the special teams unit and he’s been nothing short of spectacular so far. Cody Parkey once again proved to be reliable kicking another successful field goal. Darren Sproles once again provided a special threat in the punt return game. I don’t think I’ve ever said this before but the special teams unit right now is the best unit on this team. Who knows where this team would be without them.
The defense looked spectacular through 3 quarters of play. The pass rush has been amazing the last two weeks. The defensive line was a unit that I questioned going into the season but the last two games against San Fran and St. Louis they have held their own. It’s great to see the dlineman getting pressure on the QB. The defense recorded 4 sacks, forced 3 fumbles, and scored a TD for the second straight week on a fumble recovery in the endzone by Cedric Thornton, who almost had a second TD when he returned another fumble recovery down near the Ram 20 yard line. The Eagles linebackers applied the pressure all afternoon as well. Connor Barwin had 2 sacks and batted down a pass while Trent Cole picked up a sack and had some hurries and Brandon Graham forced a fumble and added some hurries.
It’s pretty clear though as good as the defense played in the first 3 quarters it completely fell apart in the last quarter because of the awful play of the secondary. Malcolm Jenkins right now is the only reliable player in the secondary everyone else is not cutting it at the moment. The Eagles starting cornerbacks Bradley Fletcher and Carrie Williams are killing the defense. Not sure how this issue gets fixed because both cornerbacks are so dreadful right now. It appears they can’t even turn around to look for the ball ever which confirms a lack of concentration in my opinion. Nate Allen will always have his issues but if you have solid play from at least one of your safeties in Jenkins and both the cornerbacks you can mask Allen’s inefficiencies. But right now that’s impossible with such poor play from the starting cornerback duo. If they turn in another lackluster performance next week against the Giants it might be time to consider using backups Brandon Boykin and Nolan Carroll in the cornerback spots.
Over to the offense where LeSean McCoy improved on Sunday. I wouldn’t say it was a classic Shady performance but there was improvement. McCoy finished the day with 81 yards on the ground on 24 rushing attempts and a fumble which is an improvement but still mediocre at best. The good thing is the holes were open for McCoy so that indicated there is improvement along the offensive line especially with the presence of former 1st round pick Lane Johnson now back in the lineup. I would have liked to see McCoy out there at the end of the game when it was time to run out the clock on the Rams but instead Chip Kelly told the media he checked himself out of the game for Darren Sproles. Not sure why that would be the case but stay tuned on any further developments from that situation.
Speaking of Sproles he finished the afternoon with 51 yards on the ground and no passing yards. Not sure why Chip Kelly didn’t get Sproles involved in the passing game but I was there at the game Sunday sitting in the endzone and I saw plenty of opportunity for Sproles to get the ball in wide open space. Surely Sproles had the opportunity for a big day in the passing game if Foles would have thrown his way.
Finally, lets get to Mr. Foles who has been taking the brunt of some serious criticism from the local media over the last few weeks. Foles didn’t make a case for himself on Sunday either with another inconsistent performance against what was considered a subpar St.Louis defense. I’m not sure what it is right now but Nick Foles just looks careless and confused out on the field right now. He coughed up a key fumble late in the game which contributed to the comeback by the Rams. Foles clearly doesn’t know how to slide and instead went headfirst and lost the ball which was recovered by the Rams. If St. Louis would have been able to pull off the comeback that fumble would have been magnified even more. Foles finished the day 24 of 37 for 207 yards and 2 touchdowns and an interception. Not a great day but not awful either. It’s just very apparent right now Foles is struggling throwing the ball and he’s missing guys left and right. Not only that but when he is completing passes the receivers need to make up for the poor spot on the throw. He can’t seem to hit anyone in stride at the moment which is a concern going forward.
Bottom line is the Eagles are 4-1 and have one of the best records in the NFL. After this game the naysayers are out in full force and I also have my doubts. With that said though I still believe Chip Kelly will find a way to get Nick Foles and this offense on track as they still have a bye week looming after next week. They’ll also continue to get healthier along the offensive line as Evan Mathis and Jason Kelce are set to return in November. If the Eagles can continue to weather the storm and get the offense on track they can be a legit contender. Up next the birds will host a huge NFC East showdown on Sunday night against the NY Giants. The Giants will come in at 3-2 and will be looking to take down the birds and move into a tie with them. Anytime it’s an Eagles/Giants game the stakes are high but this will be a huge early season battle that could have division implications come late December. Rest up this week as we’ll all be in for a late night on Sunday night when NY/Philly do battle.