The Eagles returned from the bye week to find themselves in the desert of Arizona for a battle between two 5-1 teams. Both the Eagles and Cardinals have been able to find early season success to put them in position for a playoff run in the second half of the season. The game itself had many peaks and valleys for both teams and in the end it wasn’t in the cards for the Eagles to dismantle Arizona.
Leading up to the game all week there was speculation surrounding the health status of Michael Kendricks and Darren Sproles. About an hour prior to game-time when the official injury list was released it was revealed that Kendricks would be a go while Sproles would sit. Sproles could have been a difference maker on Sunday but in the end even without his presence on the field the Eagles had opportunities to put up points and couldn’t. The game was marred by penalty flags all afternoon as the refs were very much a part of the game. Bottom line though, the Eagles had opportunities inside the redzone and couldn’t convert. No matter how many penalties and who is in or out of the lineup when you’re in the redzone you need to convert touchdowns not field goals and certainly not turnovers which was the case on Sunday.
It was an excruciating way to lose a game. On the defining drive for Arizona all the Eagles needed to do was not let the Cardinals beat them deep so what did they do. They let rookie John Brown beat them deep for a 75 yard touchdown pass. I felt comfortable with the defense on the field giving the Eagles a chance to win but that play was flat out inexcusable. As bad as that play was though the defense shouldn’t have been in that position to begin with.
The Eagles committed 11 penalties for 103 yards. The easy way out would be to blame the refs and yes there were some awful calls on Sunday by them but at the end of the day 11 penalties equates to a lack of discipline. I don’t care how bad the refs are you need to stay disciplined and learn from your mistakes.
Nick Foles once again played inconsistently. He threw two interceptions one of them being in the endzone. Foles has to clean it up in the redzone because that turnover killed momentum the Eagles had going. He finished with 411 yards passing going 36 of 62 which tied the franchise mark for most attempts in a game. Yes you read that correctly Nick Foles attempted 62 passes on Sunday which is absolutely ridiculous.
That leads me to LeSean McCoy and the running game as well as the play-calling of Chip Kelly. McCoy finished with 83 yards on 21 carries averaging 4 yards per carry. I actually thought McCoy looked decent running the ball on Sunday especially given the fact the Cardinals came into the game with the number one rushing defense in the league. On the drive inside the redzone which gave the Eagles a 3 point lead McCoy was moving the ball nicely when given the ball. The play call which really got under my skin was putting Nick Foles in shotgun from the 1 yard line. McCoy has let it be known that he prefers to get the ball with Foles under center rather than in shotgun. For whatever reason McCoy has advised that he can see the field better when receiving the ball from under center instead of in shotgun. Knowing that information and seeing how well McCoy was moving the ball with Foles under center it made no sense for Chip Kelly to call a run play out of the shotgun from the one yard line. McCoy obviously didn’t get into the endzone and the Eagles were forced to kick a field goal which eventually set up the game winning drive by Arizona and the dreadful 75 yard bomb which clinched the victory. The play-calling was atrocious and not balanced at all. McCoy is one of the best running backs in the league to give him the ball only 21 times in a game that he was actually effective in and to make your QB throw the ball 62 times is insane. Chip Kelly has to find a way to call a more balanced game going forward for this offense to find success.
Lost throughout all the analysis of the agonizing defeat was the stellar play of Eagles wide receiver Jeremy Maclin. He had himself quite a game on Sunday finishing with 12 receptions for 187 yards and 2 touchdowns with his longest being a 54 yard strike. Maclin at one point left the game after taking a huge hit to the head and even had a bleeding ear. He returned though and even caught a pass on his first offensive play back from injury. It’s a shame because such a great, gutsy performance was wasted in the loss. Maclin has clearly shown all season he’s back from his ACL tear last season and he’s more than able to carry the workload at receiver.
The other wide out that made attention Sunday and not in a good way was rookie Josh Huff. During the second quarter the Eagles were driving in the redzone when Huff lost a fumble which took away another scoring opportunity for the birds. He ended up finishing the game with one pass for 12 yards. I know Huff is a rookie and has missed a fair amount of time with an injury but that fumble could have been the difference between winning and losing. The Eagles were moving the ball nicely on that drive and would have taken a nice lead if they could have gotten into the endzone.
Between the turnovers, the penalties, the defensive miscues late in the game, and the unbalanced play-calling it was a recipe for disaster on Sunday. Yet, the Eagles still held a 3 pt lead with under 2 minutes to go in the game. As bad as things appear when you look back on the game the Eagles are still 5-2 after 7 games. They still are very much in the mix to not only make the playoffs but win the division and possibly even earn a first round bye in the playoffs. When you stop and look back on the season so far the Eagles could easily be 7-0. They were a yard away from taking the lead late in their first loss against the 49ers and today they were a defensive stop away from holding on to beat Arizona. In both losses the Eagles had a ton more negatives than positives yet they still were right there with a chance to win at the end of each loss. I don’t like to think there is ever a good loss but as annoyed as I was after this one this is a game the team can learn from going forward and I think they will.
Chip Kelly will have this team ready to go next week when they travel to Houston to take on the Texans. They should also get Darren Sproles back in the lineup which will be a huge boost to Nick Foles and the offense. They also still have Jason Kelce and Evan Mathis waiting in the wings to return to the offensive line. LeSean McCoy actually looked decent today against a very talented rush defense in the Cardinals and I think he’ll continue to improve as the offensive line continues to get healthy. Sure, this is a tough loss and one you would have liked to have but as Aaron Rodgers QB of the Green Bay Packers recently said… R-E-L-A-X. It’s not time to worry or panic, this team hasn’t been blown out of any games yet this season and I believe they’ll get back on the winning side next week.