It’s not every week in the NFL you see a performance like Nick Foles’ seven-touchdown magnum opus in the Philadelphia Eagles' 49-20 rout over the Oakland Raiders on Sunday. When it happens, you don’t critique, you simply admire.
As incredible as Foles was in a game for the ages, we’ve also got to hand it to the rest of the Birds squad. Every unit on the field made a positive contribution to the victory, which has seldom been the case so far this season.
Usually the Eagles get a quality effort from the offense, but their defense gets torched. Or as we’ve seen lately, the defense takes care of business, but the offense can’t hold up its end of the bargain. Some weeks, barely anybody gets the job done. This explains why Philly is saddled with a 4-5 record.
But this was a complete effort on both sides of the ball unlike any we’ve seen from the Eagles since their Week 5 win over the New York Giants. There’s only been one other game where the whole team seemed to be firing on all cylinders, going all the way back to the season opener in Washington—another W.
In our weekly report card grades, we score each individual position on some fairly simple criteria. “A” is virtually mistake-free, “B” is good, “C” is average, “D” is passable and “F” is a complete failure to carry out basic tasks. We won’t be needing a few of those letters this week.
It should go without saying that if head coach Chip Kelly can get every unit on the same page like this on a weekly basis, the Eagles are going to win a lot more football games going forward.
What more can we say? Foles was nothing short of flawless on Sunday. The 24-year-old became the seventh quarterback in NFL history to throw seven touchdowns in a game, tying the league record, but he was the first to do it with a perfect 158.3 passer rating.
Foles was accurate, completing 78.6 percent of his pass attempts. The sophomore QB showed off his arm strength on touchdown passes of 63 yards to Riley Cooper and 59 yards to DeSean Jackson. He proved to be functionally mobile in the pocket and even took off with the football a few times.
We’ve seen him play at virtually the highest level possible on any given Sunday now. The only question about Foles at this point is whether he can string together multiple impressive outings in a row.
Even when LeSean McCoy isn’t getting it done on the ground, he’s still a weapon in the passing attack. Shady hauled a beautifully thrown pass from Foles in the flat in the third quarter and raced 25 yards down the sideline for a touchdown.
It was an otherwise quiet day for McCoy, who carried just 12 times for 44 yards. Obviously Foles was rolling, lessening the need to hand off a ton. The All-Pro back is still doing a bit too much dancing for my taste, though, which was partially to blame for his 3.7 average.
The ball-carriers got a nice boost from Bryce Brown, who enjoyed his best game of the season thus far. Brown rushed seven times for 54 yards, including a gain of 32 that was the longest run by an Eagles back since Week 3.
The biggest positive from Brown’s performance was he went north-south when the rock was in his hands. Too often the second-year back tries to bounce the play outside.
Foles wasn’t the only player who enjoyed a career day. Riley Cooper set new personal bests this week with 139 yards receiving and three touchdowns, including a 63-yard catch-and-run. Coop abused 12th overall draft pick D.J. Hayden for some huge plays.
DeSean Jackson got into the act as well with five catches for 150 yards and a score. The Eagles are now 4-1 this season when Jackson gets into the end zone, as he quietly puts together a Pro Bowl season with 50 receptions, 823 yards and six TDs.
Jeff Maehl had the only other catch for this group, but it was a big one. Maehl’s 19-yard reception on 3rd-and-13 kept the Birds’ first drive alive, eventually resulting in a touchdown.
Jason Avant was held without a catch and only targeted once, but when two guys go for roughly 150 and the quarterback is essentially perfect on the afternoon, you tend to overlook an absence like that.
The much-maligned tight ends for the Eagles are finally taking home a good report card grade. Their parents must be so relieved that they won’t be receiving a phone call from me this week.
Brent Celek finished with three catches for 27 yards and a touchdown. He didn’t drop any passes for a change, and you had to appreciate the way he finished off the run on a tight end screen, bowling over a Raiders defensive back.
Zach Ertz added five receptions for 42 yards and a score in what was arguably his most impactful game as a pro. The second-round pick managed to get himself wide open in the end zone for his six.
Overall, this wasn’t anything that would make Philly fans forget about Keith Jackson, but two touchdowns in one game is nothing to sneeze at. At least it was progress.
Another group that has received its share of criticism this season, you could not have asked the offensive line to play much better. Oakland’s pass rush was nonexistent for much of the contest, which had a lot to do with the fact that Foles was able to dissect the Raiders defense with relative ease.
Foles did wind up getting taken down in the backfield twice, but mostly his protection kept would-be sackers at bay. More often than not, the quarterback had all the time in the world, allowing him to keep his eyes down the field instead of on pressure in front of him. There was also plenty of room to navigate the pocket, which Foles did often to buy an extra second or two.
There seemed to be an improvement in the running game, too. McCoy and Brown combined for 98 yards on 19 carries, a solid 5.2 yards per attempt. Overall, this was one of the better showings for this unit in a while.
This wasn’t a big numbers game for the Birds defensive line, but this wasn’t a typical opponent either. Rather than penetrate into the backfield and chase quarterback Terrelle Pryor around in the backfield all day, the Eagles seemed content to stay in their gaps if the initial rush wasn’t going to get there.
The end result was only Vinny Curry recorded a sack (his third) or even so much as a hit on the QB among the linemen, but they also kept Pryor caged more than he would’ve liked. Hard to find any qualms with that strategy, as it appeared to work.
Continuing in a nearly team-wide trend, Week 9 might’ve been the best all-around game from the linebackers this season. The Eagles got a little something out of everybody this week.
Trent Cole finally lodged his first sack in 2013, and finished with five tackles. At the opposite outside spot, Connor Barwin broke up two passes and pulled down an interception. As always, those two were very active in every phase of the game, but notably they did a good job keeping contain on the edges when Raiders quarterback Terrelle Pryor would break the pocket.
The interior is where the Birds have experienced the most improvement in recent weeks, though. Both DeMeco Ryans and Mychal Kendricks were into the double digits in tackles, and they weren’t all coming down the field like earlier in the season.
Ryans has been very strong in run support in recent weeks, and he came up big again here even if the final numbers (33 ATT, 210 YDS) don’t indicate that.
This was the second good game in a row for Kendricks as well. He came up with a sack and did a fantastic job of spying Pryor, who extends plays like nobody else in the NFL today. Kendricks left the game with an ankle injury at one point as well but gutted through to finish the game.
Oftentimes, Pryor would drop back for the Raiders, look at his first receiver and the play would break down. Part of that is Pryor is still underdeveloped for an NFL quarterback, but you have to give the Eagles corners some credit for taking away those wide receivers.
Cary Williams had a strong game. He was only called on to make two tackles, but he very nearly went up and grabbed an interception on a well-thrown deep ball, the pass just glancing off his outstretched fingertips.
Bradley Fletcher continued to take away the other side of the field and was rewarded for those efforts with his second interception of the season. He was also credited with six tackles.
Slot corner Brandon Boykin had the only true lapse among the trio. Rod Streater eluded the second-year defensive back on a shallow crossing route which he turned up the field for a 66-yard gain. Boykin was a member of the search party, though, and ultimately hauled Streater down short of the end zone to save a touchdown. Great hustle, so all is forgiven.
Despite Patrick Chung being activated for only the second time since suffering a deep shoulder contusion in Week 3, rookie Earl Wolff got the start at safety. The fifth-round pick out of NC State did not disappoint.
Wolff was very active from the outset, breaking up two passes early in the game. He should’ve been credited with a sack as well, as Pryor desperately heaved the ball away for an intentional grounding penalty while being taken thrown to the turf. Wolff finished with five tackles.
Quiet game for Nate Allen, but that’s probably a good thing. He did help save a touchdown by tracking down Streater on a 66-yard catch-and-run, hanging on to the wide receiver’s jersey for dear life until help arrived.
Once again, the Eagles safeties weren’t beaten for any deep passes over the top. They also helped contain Pryor when the quarterback would extend plays with his scrambling.
There really wasn’t much to speak of as far as special teams are concerned. Alex Henery did not attempt a field goal, but all seven extra points were true!
Donnie Jones was called on to punt six times, pinning the Raiders inside their own 20 twice with zero touchbacks.
There was a slight improvement in the return game with Damaris Johnson not playing much. Brandon Boykin had a 41-yard kick return that he nearly broke for a touchdown, but he fell down as he was about to get into the open field. DeSean Jackson returned a punt 32 yards as well, although he took a dumb facemask penalty at the end that negated half of the gain.
The Eagles also had a running-into-the-punter penalty that gave the Raiders a free first down. They didn’t give up any big returns, though, so overall it was a win for the special teams.