Part of a new campaign the SB Nation NFL blogs will be participating in this 2014 season involves answering questions posed by Hall of Fame running back Marshall Faulk. Faulk, who is also an analyst at NFL Network, asked his latest question in the video above: "Which players have the discipline to carry Washington or Philadelphia to victory?"
As I see it, there are a quite a few areas where discipline needs to be emphasized. Let's take a look.
This position first comes to mind. The Eagles' wide receivers have underperformed, plain and simple.
Jeremy Maclin has only caught 8 passes on 21 targets (38.1%) for 142 yards. That 17.8 average yards per reception has been boosted by the long touchdown catch Maclin had against a blown coverage in Jacksonville's secondary. According to Pro Football Focus, Maclin hasn't been responsible for any drops, but I feel like he's had at least one or two.
Riley Cooper, meanwhile, has caught 5 passes on 11 targets (45.5%) for a total of 37 yards. Only 9 of those yards have come after the catch. Cooper dropped a touchdown pass against the Colts.
Rookie Jordan Matthews has 3 receptions on 8 targets (37.5%) for 54 yards. PFF only has him down for one dropped pass but, once again, it feels like he's dropped more than that.
Perhaps Matthews should get somewhat of a break because he's a rookie, but the same can't be said for veterans like Maclin and Cooper. They need to step up and turn things around, especially because quarterback has been shaky. Which leads us to our next position...
Last week I highlighted how Nick Foles is leaving too many easy plays on the field. That happened once again against the Indianapolis Colts, although perhaps to a somewhat lesser extent. In any event, Foles needs to be better. It's true that his wide receivers haven't helped him out, but that always works both ways. Foles needs to do a better job of finding his open play-makers and delivering a crisp, on-target ball to them.
If Eagles cornerback Cary Williams is going to be matched up on Washington wide receiver DeSean Jackson, it's probably going to get chippy at some point. Williams and Jackson got into a scrap back in 2012 when Williams was on the Baltimore Ravens. Williams doesn't need to be a choir boy against Jackson but he needs to be disciplined enough to not give up stupid penalties that give Washington's offense free yards.
It looks like starting inside linebacker Mychal Kendricks might not play. If that's the case and Emmanuel Acho or Casey Matthews have to start on the inside, things won't be pretty. They lack the ideal size and talent to be effective starters so the most you can ask is that they stay disciplined and do their best to cut down on mental mistakes.
The Eagles were tricked too often last week by Andrew Luck's hard-count. At least twice did the Eagles jump early and give the Colts an easy first down. Philadelphia's front seven will need to be more disciplined than they were against Indianapolis.