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Looking For Eagles Silver Linings: This Week In Bleeding Green Nation

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Despite the first-half troubles of Nick Foles, the Eagles scored 34 second-half points to start the season 1-0. This week they'll head to Indianapolis with plenty of questions.

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Get open! Wait, you're saying you ARE open?
Get open! Wait, you're saying you ARE open?
Mitchell Leff

Weird game last week, huh?

I don't know about you, but I can't remember the last time I felt this disconcerted after a win. As former BGNer Eliot Shorr-Parks said on Twitter last week, the Eagles were in something of a no-win position in their game against the Jags. If they came out and dominated, it was to be expected. If they played poorly or lost, it would create pandemonium.

Well, the Eagles won, but Eagles Nation went kind of crazy anyway.

In a week filled with so many negatives (both for the Birds and the NFL,) let's try and find some silver linings to talk about. So for this week's This Week, let's all take some Pepto and try to digest what we watched on Sunday. And more importantly, let's look ahead to the Eagles' second AFC South opponent in as many weeks - The Indianapolis Colts.

Walking With The Wounded

Last Sunday's game was ugly in many ways, but perhaps none of that ugliness will have as long-term an effect as the injuries suffered along the offensive line. In case you missed it, here's the breakdown: left guard and Twitter expert Evan Mathis has a sprained MCL and has been placed on injured reserve with a designation to return. This means that he'll be eligible to return to practice by Week 10.

Losing your All-Pro left guard (and, if Pro Football Focus is to be believed, the best player in the history of organized football,) is obviously tough. As you have no doubt heard, the Eagles were one of the league's healthiest teams last season, and the offensive line played all 16 games together. Lane Johnson's suspension killed that possibility during the summer, but this is another story entirely. Mathis remains one of the league's best guards, and helped anchor arguably the best left side in football.

But perhaps the silver lining in all of this is that Evan will spend more time on Twitter and give us gems like this:

As if losing Mathis weren't bad enough, the Eagles also lost two players for the season in reserve o-lineman Allen Barbre and linebacker Najee Goode. Both losses hurt,and for different reasons.

With right tackle Johnson suspended four games, Barbre was expected to fill in for the first month of the season. Head coach Chip Kelly has been tight-lipped (which is an impressive feat for Chip) about who will start on the line this week, and it's tough to tell where the team is leaning. Early indications were that Dennis Kelly will play at left guard, with Andrew Gardner filling in for Barbre and Johnson at right tackle. But on Friday, Chip seemed to hint that newcomer Wade Smith could start at left guard instead.

Read more: New NFL drug policy wouldn't affect Lane Johnson suspension by Brandon Lee Gowton

The Eagles' o-line was perhaps the team's biggest strength last year, and was a major reason LeSean McCoy was able to dominate. And while we were all quick to praise the team's backup line in the preseason, this combination of starters is going to take some time to gel.

Want some more silver lining? Here you go: the Colts aren't exactly known for their pass rush. In fact, the Colts are missing their best pass rusher in Robert Mathis, who was suspended for four games anyway, but is now out for the season with an Achilles injury. The Colts were able to get to Peyton Manning on the ground once last week, but also forced two fumbles. The Eagles' patchwork of offensive linemen will certainly hope that this game is a less-challenging way to get used to working with one another.

Read more: Eagles vs. Colts: Wade Smith to start for Philadelphia? by Brandon Lee Gowton
Read more: Evan Mathis injury: Eagles place All-Pro lineman on injured reserve, designated to return by Mike Kaye
Read more: Eagles injury update: Allen Barbre, Najee Goode placed on injured reserve; Kevin Graf, Emmanuel Acho signed from practice squad by Mike Kaye

Not-So-Great Nick

According to the very smart Smart Football (aka Chris Brown), Nick Foles could have thrown for 2,000 yards and a zillion touchdowns last week against the Jaguars.

Okay, so not really. But that's also not too far off, either.

Oy.

Foles' box score numbers weren't too shabby: 27-of-45 (60% completion percentage) for 322 yards, two touchdowns and a pick. But those numbers don't tell the whole story. Foles looked uncomfortable in the pocket, took way too long to deliver his throws, and was generally indecisive and inaccurate. I won't subject you to all the All-22 screenshots, because they'll make you sad and I don't want to make you sad.

What's that? You say you do want to see 'em? Well, don't say I didn't warn you:

Ouch.

Okay, Uncle. I'm tapping out.

This game was Cowboys-at-home-last-year bad for Nick, with the silver lining that he didn't get concussed and won't miss the team's first primetime game of the year. There has been fierce debate as to whether Nick can a) bounce back from a game like this, and b) be a good enough quarterback to take this team where it wants to go. Both sides have merit, and honestly there may be more proof on the side of the anti-Foles crowd. But regardless we're talking about a tiny sample size here, and a good performance Monday night will go a long way towards calming down the fanbase.

Maybe the best part about Foles' performance last weekend was the fact that making the adjustments won't be a matter of asking Foles to do more than he's capable. The accuracy part is worrisome, but we spent the entire offseason finishing sentences with "Well, at least he's a good decision maker."

Foles takes way too much time to make those decisions in the pocket, yes, and that's got to change. Unfortunately, that's been the part of Foles' game that's shown the least improvement. Against Jacksonville Foles held the ball for 2.74 seconds per play, good for third-worst among passers in Week 1. Foles might have time to sit in the pocket this week, but it doesn't mean he should.

Read more: Nick Foles is still leaving too many easy plays on the field by Brandon Lee Gowton

Some Really Witty Andrew Luck Pun

Unlike Week 1, where discussion of the Jaguars' team seemed to focus on them as a team, any conversation this week has started and ended with Colts quarterback Andrew Luck. Part of that is because Luck is a pretty gosh darn good quarterback. But the other part is because the Colts don't have a ton outside of talent outside of their franchise quarterback.

As we've discussed, the Colts will be without Robert Mathis, their best defensive player. Cornerback Vontae Davis is a gamer, and wide receivers T.Y. Hilton and Reggie Wayne are reliable. But really, this game will come down to the Eagles' ability to stop Luck.

On defense, Colts head coach Chuck Pagano apparently wants the ball for 40 minutes against the Eagles. Chip Kelly has hammered home the idea that time of possession means nothing to him, and unless Pagano plans to dink and dunk for 40 minutes, his plan means giving the ball to Trent Richardson, who rushed for 2.9 yards per carry with the Colts last season.

Pagano's philosophy isn't anything new. The idea is that, in order to slow down the Eagles' offense, keep 'em off the field. Makes sense. But when the running back for whom you gave up a first round pick is being supplanted by Ahmad Bradshaw? Good luck.

More likely, the Colts will have a few short drives and remember that they have Andrew Luck. But if the Colts do insist on starting the game on the ground (and assuming this isn't misdirection on Pagano's part), the Eagles better make sure they score points before the Colts realize just how big a mistake their making.

Read More: Colts vs. Eagles: Comparing Andrew Luck and Nick Foles by Brandon Lee Gowton
Read More: Colts vs. Eagles History: Expect a good game in Indianapolis by Brandon Lee Gowton

It's Like My Official's Stuck On Replay

On Thursday, Tim McManus of Birds 24/7 reported that the Eagles had hired Frank Kosman, a former replay official and current resident of the Great Northeast, to help Chip and the Gang with replays. For all his wisdom and science, the Eagles were not great on challenges last season. As McManus reported, the Eagles were 3-of-7 last year, good for 17th in the league.

Another interesting note from Friday's press conference was that, when on the road, the Eagles are often not given the replays in the booth. Here's what Chip had to say about it:

"There have been some games when I've asked, 'Should we challenge?' and our guys in the box said, 'We haven't seen a replay yet.' It always seems like it happens when we're on the road. I don't know how that happens ... It's very, very interesting that we never get an opportunity sometimes. It's happened in two cities specifically (last) year when I've wanted to challenge it, but we didn't get a replay. "

While Kosman won't be able to prevent collusion against the Eagles when on the road, he should be able to help give the coaches a better idea of what's worth challenging. This move is classic Chip - he's looking for a way to improve his decision-making, and brought in an expert to help.

Read more: Eagles hire replay official Frank Kosman to help out with challenge flag decisions by Brandon Lee Gowton

***

Of all the weeks to have the Eagles play on Monday night, a week after the supposed franchise quarterback has one of the worst game of his career is... not ideal. But for our last silver lining of the day, consider this - maybe Foles will turn into the wonderful, accurate, quick-decision-making player we all want him to be. Maybe after a week of watching his passes go to the wrong guy, he's ready to come out and kick some ass. After all, We were ready with the pitchforks after the Dallas game last year. And instead, Foles got the start the next week... in Oakland.

Read more: Eagles - Colts Odds: Monday Night Underdogs by Brent Cohen