Kelly: Eagles' performance was 'unacceptable'
LeSean McCoy had just 81 yards from scrimmage Sunday, his lowest total this year. (USA Today Images)
Nick Foles had a chance to show everyone he’s real. He was real something Sunday against the Cowboys, but not really good.
With the spotlight on him, Foles passed for just 80 yards and left to be examined for a concussion before the end of the third quarter as the Eagles scored their fewest points under first-year coach Chip Kelly, falling 17-3 at the Linc.
Here’s a breakdown of Foles and the rest of the Eagles’ offense, including weekly “stud” and “dud” awards (here's the defense).
Normally, we start with studs. But since there weren’t many, we’ll begin with duds.
Maybe the moment overwhelmed Foles. Kelly didn’t think so, but what else would be the most rational explanation for such a clunker? The TV crew mentioned Foles’ groin injury but Kelly said there were no problems there. Foles appeared to hobble at the end of a five-yard keeper that took the Eagles into the two-minute warning, but there were plenty of throws before when he set his feet and still made inaccurate passes.
Foles’ first really bad heave came on the second drive of the first quarter when he overthrew Zach Ertz on a crossing route. He had time in the pocket, but his throw led Ertz too much and bounced off the tight end’s outstretched left hand.
In the second, Foles missed an open DeSean Jackson across the middle and checked down to LeSean McCoy for a four-yard gain. On the next snap, Dallas played an umbrella zone and Jeff Maehl came across the middle at the first-down line, but Foles threw behind him.
For whatever reason, Foles seemed to have his worst accuracy on short and intermediate throws than deep ones. He also had trouble seeing checkdowns, which had been a strength. On 3rd-and-7 in the second, he forced a pass between linebackers Sean Lee and Bruce Carter that never had a chance even with McCoy open in the left flat and Brent Celek free on the right side. (Not that it mattered, because Todd Herremans was flagged for illegal use of his hands).
Dallas brought pressure, but Foles made a lot of bad throws from a clean pocket. The most logical explanation could only be that he got caught up in the moment.
McCoy didn’t have his usual wide lanes to run through, but that’s because the Cowboys committed to stopping him, frequently bringing a safety into the box. Although the offensive line didn’t finish its blocks very well, it wasn’t manhandled by Dallas’ front seven. Several times McCoy was his own worst enemy, cutting back too quickly or not showing the patience to follow his blocking.
Late in the first, on 2nd-and-11, McCoy had a chance to pick up big yards on a well-executed screen. Jason Kelce and Todd Herremans had pulled to the right and sealed off Dallas’ linebackers. McCoy caught the ball but for some reason cut to his left, where he was smothered for a seven-yard loss by the two defensive linemen who were allowed a free ride into the backfield when Kelce and Herremans pulled.
McCoy’s patience improved after halftime in the third quarter, but he reverted back to his impatient self on a big first-down run in the third, starting at the Dallas 10. With an unbalanced line that featured Jason Peters alongside right tackle Lane Johnson and Herremans pulling to the right, McCoy hesitated for a split second and gave the Cowboys too much time to converge for no gain, setting up second-and-long for the offense.
In the fourth, with the offense at its own 3 on first down, McCoy had inside blocking but bounced to the outside and gained only two. On the next drive, on the first play, he released into the flat and let Matt Barkley’s pass sail through his hands for an incompletion.
Just not a very good all-around game for the team’s best offensive player.
Brown had linebacker Bruce Carter beaten by a step along the left sideline 20 yards downfield on a wheel route but couldn’t catch the Foles pass. A few plays earlier, he had a huge hole to run through in the first quarter but slipped and gained just two. On the next drive, he showed his familiar routine by bouncing outside despite decent inside blocking and picking up two. He didn’t see another carry after that. Brown played eight snaps, his fewest of the season. What happened to this guy?
Studs were few and far between, but no shutout for this category.
Cooper, who led all Eagles receivers with six catches and 88 yards, had his second straight good game. Once again, he showed the ability to get open against zone and also made some plays against tight coverage. Although he missed a block on a screen to DeSean Jackson that lost a yard, his downfield blocking was pretty good. His seal of cornerback Morris Claiborne on a left-side screen helped McCoy pick up 11 yards on the Eagles’ first play from scrimmage.
As a receiver, he’s finally starting to use his big body to make downfield plays. His best play came in the second, when he picked up nine yards on 3rd-and-7 on a crossing route despite catching the ball short of the first down. He ran through a tackle by J.J. Wilcox to get the extra yardage.
Now for the rest of the offense:
On his 11 completions, Barkley displayed better-than-expected arm strength and good precision. He hit receivers on the numbers and several times found checkdowns quickly enough to make positive gains. His turnovers, though, were typical of a rookie making his NFL debut. He telegraphed his first pick, a pass over the middle intended for Zach Ertz, and was lucky to have a penalty negate it. On his second pick, by linebacker Sean Lee, he targeted Jason Avant across the middle but never looked off the coverage and didn’t throw the ball quickly enough. Lee read the play from the snap and positioned himself to jump in front of Avant and make the catch. Rookie stuff.
Barkey had a nice drive going on his last drive, marching the Eagles from their 43 to the Dallas 12 but killed the momentum when he forced a pass to Avant in the end zone that was picked by Brandon Carr. Barkley had Ertz wide open near the 10 with enough space to make a legit run to the end zone but never looked at him.
It’s not his fault that Foles seemed reluctant to pull the trigger across the middle on several crossing routes involving Jackson, but Jackson didn’t do an excellent job beating Dallas’ man coverage. You can blame Foles, but it’s not like he and Barkley had any better of a rhythm. Jackson had a bad drop on the right side on a Barkley pass in the fourth.
He was open several times but Foles either didn’t see him or couldn’t get him the ball, and that’s not even counting the most glaring example, in the end zone in the third quarter. He caught three balls for 32 yards. Avant’s 12 targets were the most among Eagles receivers, but he can’t throw the ball to himself.
Played 15 snaps and was targeted four times. Dropped a screen pass on the left side even though Foles hit him in the chest.
Coming off a good game against Tampa, mainly for his run blocking, Celek was quiet. He played 55 snaps but was targeted just four times. Several times he got open but Foles couldn’t get the ball to him. He had a bad drop on a Barkley pass in the fourth on 2nd-and-6. Barkley was picked off on his next pass.
The rookie played 23 snaps, most of any backup not named Barkley, and was targeted five times. He finished with three catches for 33 yards. He was open on a crossing route in the first, but Foles overthrew him.
Surprisingly, he allowed some outside pressures to defensive end Kyle Wilber, but Peters didn’t have any egregious breakdowns.
Mathis didn’t seem to get his usual push up front and was flagged for a questionable holding on Jason Hatcher in the third. Overall, he played OK.
Kelce had his typical game. When he got into the second level, he got his helmet on linebackers and created space for McCoy. But there were times he couldn’t get past the defensive line. Hatcher gave him trouble up front.
Like Kelce, Herremans had some nice lead blocks, but as a whole, he struggled to finish blocks and help the running game get extra yards. He allowed inside penetration to Hatcher in the second that led to Hatcher sacking Foles for a six-yard loss.
His up-and-down rookie season continued. He allowed a sack to defensive end George Selvie on second play of the game. Two plays later, he again got beat by Selvie, who flushed Foles out of the pocket and into an intentional grounding. Johnson seemed to get better as the game progressed but didn’t finish his blocks as well as he could have.
For some reason, he returned the opening kick from five yards deep into end zone and then made it to just the 23. Dallas punted five times, but he returned just one for five yards.