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Westbrook on how Foles commanded the Eagles' offense
Nick Foles and Riley Cooper hooked up four times for 120 yards in Sunday's win. (USA Today Images)
Tampa Bay will have nightmares about Nick Foles. The second-year pro, who beat the Bucs at the buzzer last year in a 381-yard passing effort, carved up the Tampa secondary for the second time on Sunday, tossing three touchdowns and running for another.
Foles had some help from a resurgent supporting cast of receivers, especially Riley Cooper. Here’s a breakdown of the Eagles’ studs and duds on offense from Sunday’s 31-20 win over the Bucs at Raymond James Stadium, along with an analysis of the entire offensive personnel.
(To read the film review of the defense, click here.)
We’ll start with the studs.
Yeah, seems kind of obvious, but Foles caused fits for Tampa’s eighth-ranked scoring defense. He played a smart game, going with shorter stuff throughout the first half as the run game got going, then hit the long balls in the second when Tampa brought an extra safety into the box.
Foles faced steady pressure but didn’t throw a pick or have a turnover, which is especially vital on the road. His completion percentage against pressure this year is 85.7, according to Pro Football Focus, which leads all NFL quarterbacks.
Was he perfect? Nope. He made some risky tosses, twice trying to complete low-risk passes while he being hit or dragged down. He also overthrew some receivers. But those were really his only negatives and now I’m getting nitpicky.
Riley Cooper and DeSean Jackson
For whatever reason, the Bucs thought zone was the way choice of attack against the Eagles offense. It wasn’t. Cooper, who struggles against man were well documented, was more effective when he didn’t have to fight through jams at scrimmage. He broke out for 120 yards on four catches. He made a nice adjustment to catch a 47-yard touchdown bomb from Foles after beating rookie corner Johnthan Banks on a fly pattern. Jackson made good on his promise to be faster than Darrelle Revis, whom he beat badly on a 12-yard TD catch, and proved to be faster than the Bucs’ whole secondary on his 36-yard TD.
Strange to call Celek a “stud” when he caught just one pass for 10 yards and played just 48 of 68 snaps, but the guy was an absolute beast in run blocking, especially in the fourth quarter. It’s almost as if he was possessed.
Celek had a couple of seal blocks on Daniel Te’o-Nesheim to spring the run game, one that helped LeSean McCoy pick up 12 yards and one that enabled Bryce Brown to get five. His one catch, a 10-yard screen, ended up being a big play on a touchdown drive.
Yeah, I’m giving the head coach some props for his offensive adjustments. First, he made some tinkers with the blocking schemes to prevent Tampa from blowing up the rushing attack the way the Giants did.
Second, he capitalized on the perception that Foles can’t run to fool the Tampa defense on the opening drive. On the touchdown, a four-yard Foles keeper up the middle, the Bucs came out in nickel against the Eagles' four-wide offense.
With just two linebackers on the field, the formation called for Celek and LeSean McCoy to be decoys, whose routes took the linebackers away from the middle of the field. All Foles needed was his offensive line to block Tampa’s four up front, which it did, creating a gulf wide enough for him to plunge through for the touchdown.
There weren’t many duds, but two stood out.
He was atrocious in the return game, and that’s being kind. For reasons beyond comprehension, he returned the opening kickoff from nine yards deep in the end zone and only made it to the 15. It didn’t even look like there was good enough blocking to make something happen there. He also let a first-quarter punt bounce at the Eagles’ 36-yard-line instead of fair-catching it. The ball bounced back to the 26. No surprise, Jackson came out for the next punt return.
He actually had his second-best game, rushing for 20 yards on four carries, but he doesn’t look like the same guy from last year. He’s bouncing his runs to the outside on almost every carry, perhaps fearful that his fumbling problems will resurface if he runs between the tackles. Right now, he just doesn’t have the same explosion that he showed last year, when he rushed for a record 347 yards in his first two starts.
The others ...
He easily could have been another stud, going over 100 yards for the third straight time. Not sure why he kept leaving his feet in the first quarter, but he almost got himself killed. One led to his first fumble of the season.
He still doesn’t seem like the real Jason Peters, but he was good enough to keep Te’o-Nesheim off Foles’ back. He also had Te’o pushed back about five yards on an eight-yard run by McCoy that set up Foles’ keeper touchdown. After leaving with a shoulder injury, he came back in as an extra tight end and played a big role on the 11-play drive in the fourth that swallowed up more than five minutes.
He allowed some inside penetration on a few snaps but he was going up against Gerald McCoy frequently and was flagged once for holding. Still, Herremans was very good in run blocking, as he usually is.
He bodyslammed safety Mark Barron 25 yards downfield to provide the lead block for McCoy’s 44-yard screen on the opening drive. He also had the lead block on McCoy’s 19-yard run in the third, smothering linebacker Lavonte David, the person who had a chance to get to McCoy near scrimmage. Kelce stood his ground better in man blocking against defensive linemen after a nightmare against the Giants.
Most of McCoy’s best runs came over the right guard. Mathis sealed off Mason Foster on a McCoy 12-yard run in first and held back Gerald McCoy on a six-yard connection between Foles and Avant against tight coverage. McCoy got him on the last drive of the first half and Mathis probably got away with a hold on the play, since he jumped on McCoy’s back. He got away with a block in the back on Mason Foster on Celek’s 10-yard screen.
Making steady progress since a rough three-game stretch but still occasionally gets beat on a veteran move.
The rookie played 42 snaps, his most this year, and caught three passes for 13 yards. He was open more but had some passes to him overthrown. His blocking is still a work in progress. He got no push on the lead screen block against nickelback Leonard Johnson and Jackson had to bounce outside instead of heading upfield. Jackson gained just two.
Caught only four passes for 21 yards but was excellent in downfield blocking. He blocked out Revis on a McCoy screen that gained 11 yards in the second quarter on a touchdown drive. Three plays later, his cutblock on Barron on the left side sprung Jeff Maehl for a five-yard gain.
He played 12 snaps and caught one pass although he was involved in some crossing patterns that freed up other receivers.
Came in for an injured Jason Peters in the third and blocked defensive end Adrian Clayborn on Foles’ 47-yard touchdown to Cooper. In total, he played nine snaps.