Prior to Sunday’s matchup against the Tennessee Titans the Eagles had never won against them. This time it was different as the Eagles were facing a Titans team that came into Philly with a rookie QB and a roster that was in transition. Clearly the Titans are a franchise that is in a rebuilding mode right now and the Eagles needed an opponent like this in order to bounce back from the beating they took against Green Bay. The Eagles were able to take care of business on Sunday in a game they were favored to win as they now move to 8-3.
The Eagles stormed out to a quick lead in this one as rookie WR Josh Huff took the opening kickoff to the house for a 107 yard kickoff return. The return by Huff was the longest kickoff return in Eagles franchise history. It was great to see Huff with a positive play after being a key contributor in allowing the Packers to score a punt return last week in Green Bay.
The Eagles kept it going as the defense came out with a ferocious opening stand as they constantly pressured Titans rookie QB Zack Mettenberger. All day the defense was bringing the pressure and it was great to see after last weeks showing against Aaron Rodgers. This defense needed a pick me up and the Titans were the perfect remedy. As great as the pressure was to see, the defense still has some things to clean up on prior to Thursday. They still let up 24 points to a rookie QB and they can’t afford to slip up like that against Tony Romo. Also Titans tight end Delanie Walker had himself a career high 155 yards on 5 receptions with his longest catch of the day being a 68 yarder which was his longest ever career catch. Walker is a solid tight end but the Eagles defense will need to make sure they keep an eye on the tight end position on Thursday as Dallas has one of the best tight ends in the NFL in Jason Witten.
The running game was the story of this contest for the Eagles. Coming into this week fans and media all over the Delaware Valley questioned LeSean McCoy and his ability to be the same player he was last season when he led the NFL in rushing. McCoy was so peeved throughout the week as reporters peppered him with questions about his dismal performance so far this season even getting to a point where he walked out of his own press conference. The Titans came into the game with the worst run defense in the league and everyone knew if McCoy didn’t get it going against this defense he wouldn’t have a shot against anyone else. It was clear Chip Kelly wanted to establish the run early in this game and McCoy and Darren Sproles answered the call.
Darren Sproles had a 4 yard touchdown run to open the scoring for the offense. Sproles finished the game with 25 yards on 6 carries and a touchdown with his longest run being a 13 yarder. Sproles also contributed with 3 receptions for 14 yards with his longest being a 10 yard catch. It was good to see Sproles getting involved in the offense more this week as he was very limited in the past few games since returning from his injury.
Sproles day against Tennessee paled in comparison to LeSean McCoy. Shady had a season long 53 yard run at one point of the game. McCoy finished with 130 yards rushing on 21 carries which equated to a 6.2 average. McCoy also punched in a touchdown which was good to see for fans. I believe for the Eagles to have a shot at any post-season success they’ll need McCoy and the running game in January and now is the perfect time to get them going and build up their confidence.
Receiving wise it was rookie Jordan Matthews leading the way on Sunday with 6 receptions for 77 yards. Matthews once again is showing what a valuable asset he is to this offense. His longest catch of the day was a 24 yarder over the middle. It was good to see some contributions from everyone as far as receiving goes. Jeremy Maclin had 6 receptions for 59 yards with his longest being an 18 yarder. Riley Cooper finally made some noise making 3 catches for 49 yards including a game high 21 yarder for him. Also the tight ends got in on the action as Brent Celek finished with 5 receptions for 48 yards and Zack Ertz who’s been pretty much invisible since the bye week showed up with 4 receptions for 30 yards and a 10 yarder as his longest of the game.
Cody Parkey contributed in the special teams aspect of the game going 5 for 6 with field goals including a 50 yarder as his longest. Parkey missed his first field goal in 17 tries when he hit one off the left post. Parkey has been solid all season though and will be relied upon to stay consistent down the stretch.
Mark Sanchez had an up and down afternoon against Tennessee. I wasn’t impressed with what I saw but I wasn’t flat out disappointed either. Sanchez finished 30 of 43 for 307 yards passing and a touchdown but he threw 2 interceptions. The interceptions are what’s eating away at me when I review the performance by Sanchez. The turnovers are really getting disturbing and I’m noticing a trend with him much like what we saw when he was with the Jets. Combined with the turnovers is a lack of accuracy. A few passes Sanchez made during the game weren’t even close to the intended receiver. The fact is Sanchez didn’t look sharp against a bad defense like the Titans. I fear for what will happen Thursday against Dallas if Sanchez turns the ball over multiple times again. I was really high on Sanchez after his performance against Houston and Carolina but now in successive weeks against a good pass defense and a poor pass defense we’re seeing Sanchez turn the ball over. If this continues no doubt in my mind Chip Kelly will put Nick Foles back in as the starter once healthy.
So here we are now heading into the biggest game of the season to date on Thanksgiving Day. Usually it’s always a huge game when it’s Eagles/Cowboys but it’ll be especially huge this week as both teams will battle for first place in the NFC East. I believe for the Eagles to win they’ll need to limit the turnovers and also need another huge LeSean McCoy game just as good if not better than what he did this week against the Titans. The next 3 games will pretty much decide the fate of the Eagles season as they face Dallas, then Seattle, then Dallas again. They’ll need to win at least two of the next 3 in order to cement a playoff spot. They certainly have the talent to win all 3 but we’ve also seen them come up flat against a solid team like Green Bay. For all of you Eagle fans out there if you haven’t already done so make sure you make your arrangements to be in front of the TV Thursday at 4:30pm. If you need to beg and plea with your relatives for an early Thanksgiving dinner or late dinner do it because you’re not going to want to miss this.