Eagles' performance 'unacceptable'
Nick Foles completed 42.9 percent of his throws -- his lowest completion percentage in eight career starts -- before leaving with a head injury in the Eagles' 17-3 loss to the Cowboys. (USA Today Images)
There was the awkward overthrow of Brent Celek on the left side.
And the pass across the middle that twisted up Jason Avant.
And the odd 3rd-and-1 sideline bomb to DeSean Jackson that floated out of bounds.
Then the whammy -- an easy toss to a wide open Avant in the end zone that somehow, inexplicably, never made it into the receiver’s reliable hands.
What in the world happened to Nick Foles?
What happened to the guy who went into Tampa last Sunday and slayed the NFL’s eighth-ranked scoring defense for 31 points, the guy who single-handedly made the Eagles’ fluid starting quarterback situation the hottest topic on sports radio in the past week?
“He was off,” head coach Chip Kelly deadpanned after the game, a 17-3 loss to Dallas at the Linc that extended the NFL’s longest home losing streak to nine games (see story) and abruptly halted the team’s ascent to first place in the NFC East (see Instant Replay).
“I guess that’s what I would say. At times, we had guys open and we didn’t put the ball on him. But there were other times we didn’t help him either.”
Foles, who passed for 296 yards and completed 70 percent of his passes against Tampa one week after he passed for 197 yards and completed 64 percent of his passes in about a half against the Giants, just bombed in his encore.
Passes were wobbly. Decisions were made late. He looked completely out of rhythm against a statistically average-at-best Dallas defense.
Before leaving late in the third quarter with an apparent concussion (see story), Foles had passed for just 80 total yards and completed just 42.9 percent of his throws, compiling a passer rating of 46.2. It was the lowest completion percentage of his eight career starts and third-lowest passer rating.
Because of the injury, Foles wasn’t available after the game to explain what went wrong. Not that anyone else offered an explanation that made sense.
“I don’t have an answer for it,” said Kelly, who spread the blame to the entire offense along with his play-calling. “It’s not just one guy.”
But only one guy can start at the game’s most important position, and that’s the big question moving forward (see story), with another division game lined up next Sunday against the Giants. The availability of both Foles and Mike Vick is uncertain, with Vick inactive against Dallas as he remained less than 100 percent in his comeback from a hamstring pull and Foles needing to pass through concussion exams to get back onto the field.
Matt Barkley replaced Foles and looked like a rookie fourth-rounder making his NFL debut (see story). He completed 11 of 20 passes for 129 yards -- 49 more yards than Foles -- but telegraphed three throws that fell into Dallas hands.
Kelly said he’s “hopeful that Mike will be back” this week but said his decision on a starter wouldn’t be made until he knows everyone’s status.
After Foles’ effort against Dallas, it would be a shock if Kelly went back to him in the event each starter is ready to go for Sunday’s division game against the Giants.
"I don't think that we gave him a chance,” said LeSean McCoy, the NFL rushing leader who managed just 55 yards (see story). "There are plays that we should have made, there are plays that I should have made, to kind of help him out. If you look down the line, I'm sure guys will tell you the same for themselves. Just give him a shot. I think he's a heck of a player. We just let him down."
Critics will say -- and have said already -- that Foles revealed his true colors, that games like these are more indicative of the second-year pro's future and that he never seriously posed a threat to Vick for the starting job, even after Kelly didn’t slam the door on the idea following the Tampa game.
But this was clearly the worst performance that Foles has turned in, and nobody on the Eagles saw it coming. Kelly said the Eagles “practiced really well this week” and center Jason Kelce said Foles’ huddle command didn’t seem shaky as the misfires and third-down incompletions piled up.
Avant admitted that he thought Foles may have pressed in the third as the game went on.
“Yeah. There comes a time when a game is going to be decided and when the game is in the balance and you feel like you’re losing,” Avant said. “It makes you make some throws and you try to be perfect a lot of times. It didn’t work out in this situation.”
Without consistent play from the quarterback, and with McCoy stuffed on one run after the other (see story), the offense hit the skids like never before under first-year coach Kelly.
The Eagles entered the game as the first team in league history to have at least 425 yards in each of their first six games but managed just 278 on Sunday. They converted 22 percent of third downs (4 of 18) -- their worst since a 2011 game against the Cardinals -- against the NFL’s third-worst pass defense and seventh-worst third-down team.
It won’t be an easy week for Foles, dealing with a head injury and the avalanche of fan backlash coming at him.
“Fans are always going to do that,” Jason Peters said. “Only thing that matters is that we believe in Foles. If he plays next week, we’re gonna block for him and protect him as well as we can always do.”