“c1″>It was a frightening afternoon at Lincoln Financial Field in the season opener. Expectations are high for the local football team, probably the highest expectations I’ve seen since a guy named T.O came to town in 2004. Ten years ago the Eagles thumped the NY Giants to open that memorable campaign by the same score as the 2014 version 34-17. The style of how we ended up at that score was much different ten years later in the 2014 season opener.
“c1″>The first half of the game saw Eagles fans showering the team with boo’s and rightfully so. Nick Foles, who couldn’t turn over the ball if his life depended on it last season, all of a sudden turned into a QB that couldn’t stop giving the ball to the other team. Foles lost fumbles on the first two Eagle offensive possessions which were converted into touchdowns by the Jaguars. Later in the half Jacksonville notched a field goal to go up 17-0. The first half ended with the city of Philadelphia on suicide watch as fans all over the Delaware Valley began heading for the bridges to jump.
“c1″>I’m not an NFL coach but something tells me when you have one of the best running backs in the league in LeSean McCoy and a backfield that also includes the elusive Darren Sproles it might be wise to get them the ball more, especially when your third year QB is struggling. When the Eagles finally started moving the ball in the first half they had the ball down inside the 10 yard line and instead of putting the ball in one of your running backs hand you let a struggling QB throw a fade into the endzone which resulted in another interception. The play calling selection at that point of the first half took me back to memories of Andy Reid and for an instance I thought maybe Reid snuck into the Linc dressed as Eagles coach Chip Kelly.
“c1″>Luckily for Eagle fans the team was able to re-group during halftime and turn the tide in the second half. The Eagles came out in the second half and were awoken and finally began showing signs of life. Chip Kelly finally ditched the Andy Reid play calling act and started giving the ball to his two legit running backs. The 4th and 1 play to Darren Sproles was a thing of beauty as the offense got back to the line of scrimmage and got the play off within 19 seconds of the previous play. Sproles ran a career long 49 yarder in for a TD and got the Eagles started.
“c1″>Nick Foles bounced back nicely in the 2nd half to complete a 25 yard TD pass to TE Zach Ertz and a 68 yard TD to Jeremy Maclin which was the longest TD pass in Foles career to date. Foles was downright terrible during the first half and I have major concerns about him going forward, especially with the offensive line getting hit with injuries which will carry into the next few games at the minimum. Foles held on to the ball WAY to long during the first half. For anyone who watched him last season it was evident part of his success was his ability to release the ball quickly and be a quick decision maker. I’m not sure what got into Foles yesterday but he continued to second guess himself and pump fake for what seemed like an eternity before finally throwing the ball. Foles finished the opener completing 27-45 passes for 322 yards and two touchdowns while being picked off once and compiling at 87.5 passer rating.
“c1″>I thought the Eagles defense looked decent in the opener and better than I anticipated. During the off-season I was quite critical of the lack of attention the front office gave to the defense in trying to improve that unit but they came to play on Sunday. Aside from Carry Williams who was clearly burned twice on the two TD passes the Jaguars completed the rest of the unit looked poised. Fletcher Cox scooped up a key fumble late in the game and ran it in for a touchdown. Brandon Graham even came up with a huge play tackling a Jags running back in the backfield during the hand off from the QB. That burst of speed from Graham is something we’ve rarely seen so far in his career but any contribution you get from him is icing on the cake for the defense. I’m looking forward to seeing how the defense progresses as the season continues, especially against some of the better QB’s in the league which are on the schedule starting in week two with Andrew Luck.
“c1″>The unit that impressed me the most was the special teams unit. What a difference a kicker makes as unsigned rookie free agent Cody Parky nailed a 51 yard field goal attempt on his first ever regular season attempt. He later went on to add a 28 yarder as well. During kick offs he kicked every kick to the endzone as well instead of kicking everything short similar to former kicker Alex Henry. Darren Sproles also came up huge on punt returns. For the first time in a long time we saw a special teams unit that had the ability to make a big play on any opportunity they had on the field. Even the special teams defense looked fantastic as the Eagles came up with a key field goal block in the first half to keep the score at 17-0.
“c1″>Going into the season I probably would have said the offense would be the most reliable unit on the team but now I’m not so sure about that after seeing what Parky and company were able to accomplish in the opener and how the defense played. Bottom line the Eagles are 1-0 and as awful as Nick Foles was in the first half he did show that he’s able to lead the team to a comeback which has me somewhat encouraged but not much. During the first half I probably had about 10-15 texts messages from friends asking if I wanted the Eagles to substitute Mark Sanchez for Foles. I like Sanchez as a backup but we can’t, as a fan base, continue to ask for the backup QB every time the starter has an awful game. Foles was pathetic in the first half and he still came out of the game with a victory which leads me to believe he can only go up from the opening act of the 2014 season.
“c1″>Next up is a trip to Indianapolis to face off against Andrew Luck and the Colts on Monday Night Football. I expect this game to be a wild shootout type of game from start to finish. Hopefully the opening day second half version of Nick Foles shows up otherwise it’ll be a long night.