Beating the Dallas Cowboys was obviously a big deal for the Philadelphia Eagles. Winning at any cost was essential to keeping the Birds' playoff hopes alive. It was an added bonus, though, that the Eagles got a win in a game where starting quarterback Sam Bradford actually played well. Eagles head coach Chip Kelly said he's seeing improvement in Bradford's performance as the season progresses.
"I think everything in Sam's game has gotten better," Kelly explained. "As I've said before, I've seen Sam improve on a weekly basis here. We're in game eight. He's better in game eight than he was in game one. I think he's more comfortable in terms of what we're doing."
"In terms of where we are as an offense with a lot of these guys, it's kind of like there was a movie being shown and he showed up halfway through it. And then he's supposed to figure out what's going on and what happened in the first half of the movie because he hasn't been with us for the amount of time that Brent [Celek] has been here and some of the other guys, like [Jason] Kelce, have been here. It's something you have to get through reps; it's not something that can be forced. He works extremely hard at it. He's in this building all the time, watching film, studying, working at it. We've seen constant improvement out of Sam. I hope it continues and he'll continue to play even better as we move forward."
It's no secret that Bradford has struggled this season. His stats aren't very pretty. But at the very least, he's passed the eye test in recent weeks. Against Dallas, Bradford showed some great accuracy and actually looked like the impressive quarterback he was during training camp and preseason. It feels like Bradford is slowly trending upward, which comes at a good time. In order to contend for the playoffs, the Eagles will need Bradford to continue to progress.
Here are some more topics Kelly touched on during his Monday press conference.
Eagles' win over Cowboys isn't necessarily a turning point
I never look at things like that. It's always about the next challenge. We talk about that all the time. The next thing for us is to have a real good day on Tuesday. Maybe as you write a story at the end of the season, [you think] what point was it at when you go back? But I'll just take you back to a year ago at Thanksgiving; we beat these guys to go 9-3. Then what happened? We go 1-3 down the stretch, so that wasn't a turning point game for us.
It's always what you do next, and that's why I try to make that reference for. I'm not deflecting it when people say, "Was that a big game for you?" Every game is a big game. If we don't do something after this victory after Dallas, then this game wasn't a turning point in the season. We can't just say, "Hey, we played a good game last night, that's our turning point; let's go kick our feet up."
We need to go back to work. What we realized is we had a really good week of training last week. If we have a good week of training, there's a carryover in the game. That's what we're trying to get accomplished.
Breaking down the game-winning TD by Jordan Matthews
Yeah, it was a play-action pass off of our run game, which obviously when we get our run game going, you know, the play-action pass off of it is a big part of it.
[TE] Brent [Celek] was responsible for the backside edge, and ended up getting matched up one-on-one with [DE Greg] Hardy. [He] gave a great effort in terms of giving [QB] Sam [Bradford] enough time to throw in the pocket. The rest of the guys kept Sam clean in the pocket. [WR] Jordan [Matthews] ran a great route. Then the run after the catch was huge because I think the [Cowboys] DB covering him kind of slipped, so there was some separation there.
Jordan, with his speed, kind of beat the free safety and then as he turns upfield, the last guy left was the corner. [WR] Josh [Huff] had transitioned really well because Josh had run a post route on the play; he's really the first look on the play. But a lot of guys give up after the ball's not thrown to them, then they become spectators. Those are not the type of receivers we have. They know that once the ball is not thrown to you, you can still be a viable option in terms of blocking to spring us. Josh threw a great block at the goal line, and Jordan made the free safety miss, turned the corner and got the ball in the end zone.
Lane Johnson's leadership and performance at LT
Yeah, I mean, what I see in Lane is the same. I think the first thing about being a good leader is being consistent in terms of your work ethic and your approach. It's very difficult for you to say, "Do as I say, not as I do." But I think he leads because of his preparation; he leads because of his work ethic. I think that's what that group of guys can kind of look to.
When a guy talks about doing things the right way: how he approaches the weight room, how he approaches the classroom, how he approaches on the field, is the most important thing. It's not really what you speak; it's about what you do from an action standpoint. He's always been that type of guy. Has a tremendous work ethic.
I thought Lane played really well, too. For not being in that position since he's gotten in the league, he had played left tackle in college, but since he has been in the league, he has been primarily a right tackle for us.
We didn't really move him until Wednesday. He started to get some snaps over there depending on if [T] Jason [Peters] was going to go or not.
So to make that transition -- and it's a difficult transition to do in just a couple of days, the footwork's entirely different. It is a lot of different things. Obviously assignment-wise, he knows what he's doing. He knows when a play's called what that tackle's supposed to do, but from a footwork standpoint, it was very different for him. I thought, considering the situation, he did a really nice job.
The Eagles had a great week of practice
Well, I think all of them -- and this has been our best week of training since I've been here, to be honest with you. I think the whole group practiced well, but I think Jordan, in particular -- the one thing is if you're in a slump, it takes someone with a great work ethic to get out of the slump, and that's what Jordan has. He worked extremely hard [and] did a lot of work actually after our reps on offense were done, mimicking [Cowboys WR] Dez Bryant for our defense and did a really good job at that, too.
The kid's tireless in terms of his ability to work and what he can do and it showed; that's what we talk about. You sink to your level of training, and he trained at a really high level last week and played at a really high level last night.
Donnie Jones: Unsung Hero
Huge. I mean, that's really an unsung guy for us right now in terms of how he's punting the football. I think we had four or five inside the 20. Whenever you can flip the field in a positive manner that way, and making people have to go the distance, so to speak; it's been huge.
I think our punting game this year has been really, really good, with the exception of the block we had in the first Dallas game. Not only is it Donnie punting it, but I think our coverage has been outstanding also.
Ryan Mathews still not 100%
I still think he's a little sore. He did not practice really later in the week. I think he went out Tuesday and didn't feel very good the rest of the week. I don't know, there may have been a rep or two there. [We] really didn't get a lot out of him during the week. We weren't sure if we were going to have him.
The same thing with him is that we kind of had to limit what he did. I think he ended up with 11 carries and DeMarco ended up with 18, but he was really limited going in. We were happy that we had him. We used Sprolesy [Darren Sproles] a little bit more wide out because of some of the injuries. That's kind of the great thing about having Darren. But, if Darren is going out and spending a lot of time out wide, then really you're one a two-rotation running back spot.
Nelson Agholor injury update
If you ask Nelson two minutes after his injury [he said], "I'm going the next day." I mean, that's just the type of kid that Nelson is, but we're not going to put him in harm's way. He has worked extremely hard at his rehab, but it's not an injury that's going to take two seconds and [he’s] going to come back.There's a certain amount of time you have to work. He practiced every day last week, and I just felt that he needed a little bit more time, and I wasn't going to rush him back from it.
It also speaks to the type of guy Nelly is. Nelly thought he could go when he first hurt himself [and said], "I'm fine." And then you hear from the doctors [that] it may be a little bit of time here.
But, he's back practicing, training. We'll monitor him again this week, and hopefully we can get him back for Miami.
Throwing short of the sticks on third down
Taking what the defense was giving. When you run a third-down play, not every route is at the sticks because you might be high-lowing a linebacker. Not everybody is going to be at 12 yards on third-and-12 because you have to have someone over the backer and under the backer. If the backer takes away the deep throw, then sometimes you have to throw it down and let that guy try to run for it.
Dennis Kelly evaluation
I thought Dennis played really well. He first started [at] tackle for us. [He] did a really good job in protection; [he] did a great job on combination blocks with [G/T] Matt Tobin. I thought both those guys on the right side played really well.
I was excited for him. He has worked extremely hard since I've gotten here and put himself in that situation, but I thought Dennis played really well for us.
On the Byron Maxwell pass interference penalties late in the game
Teaching point is the referee threw the flag, so it is a penalty.