Well, that was fun. Sorry for the late entry this week as I was in Tampa Bay for the Eagles' 31-20 win over the Buccaneers. Since the trip was a personal visit for the weekend, I was not close enough to a computer on Sunday to type up my report card. After thinking about the glory of a game during a five-hour car trip home to South Florida, I have a ton to say about the quarterback position, the defense and the coaching staff.
The Week 6 matchup between the Buccaneers and Eagles featured many highlights, the least of which was the best collectively coached game by Chip Kelly and his staff. The Eagles attacked the Bucs with timely deep throws and abused the slower Tampa Bay defense with screens. The defense looked to be in the right spot for the most part with pass breakups, holding up against the run and keeping Tampa Bay to just 20 points.
This was a team win. Frankly, I was impressed by how fluid and multipurpose the offense was for most of the game. Cornerback Bradley Fletcher was terrific in coverage and defensive end Cedric Thornton is continuing to prove he was a tremendous diamond in the rough. Oh, and then there was Nick Foles...
- Nick Foles: Listen, I am not going to dwell on the quarterback contraversy or Michael Vick, because honestly, neither matter when discussing this game. This was a win by a quarterback and his team...our team (let's remember that). Foles led the Eagles on five scoring drives and had a hand in four of those five scores on Sunday. One of those scores happened to be a four-yard touchdown run on the Eagles opening possession. The guy did everything critics said he can't: productively ran the ball on a called-run, he threw two long touchdown passes (47, 36 yards) and didn't turn the ball over while only taking one sack.
Here are some stats from Foles' performance on Sunday:
*Nick Foles against TB (2013): 22-of-31 (71%), 296 passing yards, 3 PASS TDs, 1 RUSH TD
Tom Brady against TB (2013): 25-of-36 (69%), 225 passing yards, 2 PASS TDs, 1 INT
Drew Brees against TB (2013): 26-of-46 (57%), 322 passing yards, 1 PASS TD, 2 INTs
*Foles connected with Riley Cooper for 120 yards and a touchdown, that is four more yards than wide receiver had in his entire rookie season.
*Foles is the first Eagles quarterback to throw multiple touchdowns in one game to former Pro Bowl wide receiver DeSean Jackson. The quarterbacks that Jackson has played with are Donovan McNabb, Kevin Kolb, Michael Vick, Vince Young and Foles over six seasons.
*An Eagles quarterback has not thrown for three passing and a rushing touchdown since Week 10 of the 2010 NFL season against the Redskins. Update: Thanks to our friend ghillfootball for the correction, Vick went 20-of-28 (71%) for 333 yards, four passing touchdowns and two rushing touchdown in that contest. #lolskins
*Foles was the quarterback during one of LeSean McCoy's most well-rounded performances of his career. For the first time in his five-year career, McCoy had more than a 100-yards rushing (116) and 50-yards receiving (55) in a game.
- LeSean McCoy: While his fumble allowed for the Buccaneers to get a cheap three points, his performance was still terrific. With no reason to actively fear the run with Michael Vick out of the game, McCoy still put up 116 rushing yards. As previously mentioned, this was one of the more balanced performances that he has ever had.
- DeSean Jackson: He didn't put up major yardage but his ability to get open against zone coverage was so fun to watch. He had 64 receiving yards and had his first game with a pair of touchdowns through the air. All of that notably came while running routes for a quarterback that few believed he could develop chemistry with. He now has three touchdowns off the arm of Foles in just a game and a half.
- The Eagles Offensive Line: Well done job by the line as a whole. Jason Peters seemed to have a tough time early but left the game with a shoulder injury. His replacement, Allen Barbre, did fairly well. Todd Herremans continues to look more comfortable at right guard and ditto for Lane Johnson at right tackle. Jason Kelce bounced back from an awful performance against the Giants.
- Bryce Brown: The former seventh-round pick has been extraordinarily underwhelming this season but had his best game running the ball on Sunday. He had five carries for a 20 yards. Yeah...that was his best job this year.
- Connor Barwin: He got a sack and was really able to be disruptive on Sunday. He has been up-and-down this season but has played well as of late.
- Brent Celek: Very solid blocking by Celek, but I would love to see more 12 personnel usage with Zach Ertz.
- Nate Allen: The USF alum has now put together three pretty solid games in a row. This trip home was likely his best performance.
- Fletcher Cox: The former first-round pick was disruptive all day and allowed others to benefit from it.
- Bradley Fletcher: Only allowed two passes on six targets and had two early-game pass deflections. His interception on the first possession of the second half was absolutely huge for momentum after the special teams allowed a large return.
- Cedric Thornton: This guy continues to plug the run like no one else. He among the league leaders in tackles at the 3-4 DE position.
- Riley Cooper: Lastly, Cooper continued to prove that all I have to do is write something to get the opposite impact. He had a career-high 120 yards along with a touchdown on four catches following my look at his numbers last week.
- Coaching Staff: Kelly and Co. called a fantastic game. They moved the ball with ease on a top passing defense and a solid run defense. On the other side, they were able to hold the Bucs to 20 points while only allowing passing game to beat them. The defense neutralized Doug Martin and made Mike Glennon take the burnt of the game. It seems simple but we know by now that Kelly and Davis don't do simple.
- Special Teams Coverage: This looked like a great unit in the preseason but I have yet to be impressed in the regular season. Allowing 40 yards on a punt return after allowing big returns over the two weeks prior to Week 6 is just not a good sign.
- Pat Chung: He is just not very good and while he made one solid tackle early on loss for Doug Martin, there is almost no difference between starting him and rookie Earl Wolff, who by the way got positive remarks by PFF for this game.
- QB Controversies: Guys, we won this game and clearly have two starting-caliber passers...life can be worse.
- Damaris Johnson's return judgement: Call me pessimistic but I am in the party that believes Johnson is a JAG. Part of that is because he doesn't seem to understand the basic practices of the league. He frequently returns kicks and punts when he shouldn't. That tendencies gave Foles and the offense horrible positioning on a few drives on Sunday.
- Pass Rush: While Barwin and rookie Bennie Logan were both able to get sacks and there was plenty of pressure, this team should have finished more against a rookie quarterback, who held onto the ball way too long.
- Foles connected with eight receivers on Sunday, and two of those were Damaris Johnson and Jeff Maehl. Glad to see Kelly allow those two to play.
- Ertz and Celek seemingly had the same amount of snaps on Sunday. SouthernPhilly and I got into a discussion over beers at Ybor City on Saturday about whether or not Celek stays next year. I think he takes a pay-cut.
- Anyone else thrilled that Dashon Goldson didn't hurt an Eagles play-maker on Sunday?
- Here is a picture of Nick Foles' rushing touchdown aftermath from my seat (sorry about the arms):
- The trip to Tampa was great. We were in section 131 and it was all Eagles fans pretty much. Thanks to my section for allowing me to be obnoxious and thanks for the free beer other Mike! Also got to go an interesting adventure with former BGN scribe Dan Klausner and had a great time with him, SouthernPhilly, and our girlfriends on Saturday night in Ybor City. BGN is truly a family of riches.
- Note to fans that go on road trips to games and figure out where the players are staying: Be respectful. These guys are not getting paid to sign your 15 football cards or to sign their name on a plastic strip so you can make money of their signature.