Just like the last time the Philadelphia Eagles defeated the Washington Redskins, pay no attention to the final score. The Birds took it to Washington, the only real flaw in their performance being perhaps they took their foot off the gas pedal just a little too early.
The Eagles cruised to a 24-16 victory, but not without making it interesting. They took a shutout into the fourth quarter, but back-to-back touchdowns and two-point conversions made it a one-possession game before Washington’s final drive came up short. Will it show up as a negative in the report card grades?
Don’t count on it. A couple of late scores aided by some good fortune do not erase the previous 45 minutes of stellar play. What matters is the Eagles picked up the W, and they made Washington look ugly in the process.
It’s not the first time this season Philadelphia might’ve been guilty of letting up too quickly under Chip Kelly. The former collegiate head coach would do well to remember almost all NFL games last 60 minutes, or a better opponent may one day live to make his team regret it.
Just not this week. By virtue of their victory, the Eagles moved into sole possession of first place in the NFC East. The pressure will be on the Dallas Cowboys to respond next week while Philly rests up on a bye.
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. Everything the Birds did in this one was above average, with the lone exception being how they finished.
Nick Foles’ numbers against Washington might not seem all that impressive compared to what he’s done in recent weeks, tossing 10 touchdown passes over the previous two games. Going 17 of 26 for 298 yards is still good for 11.5 yards per attempt, which is tough to beat in any league.
And while Foles didn’t throw any touchdown passes, he still managed to get into the end zone, part of a nine-carry afternoon for 47 yards. Who says the kid isn’t mobile?
Most importantly, though, Foles still has yet to hurl an interception this season, as the second-year passer went yet another game without committing a turnover. It won’t win him any Offensive Player of the Week awards, but this was another extremely efficient outing for Foles any way you slice it.
On one hand, LeSean McCoy totaled 150 yards from scrimmage and scored two touchdowns. On the other, five of his 20 carries went for negative yards. That’s a sign Shady is still using way too many dance moves in the backfield.
Yes, there were times when there simply wasn’t much room for McCoy. Yes, there were times when the extra move created the space he needed to make something out of nothing. There are also times when he should’ve just put his head down and taken what the defense was giving him.
You’ll always take the good with the bad with McCoy, though, who gets bonus points this week for coming back from an ugly-looking hamstring injury. Bryce Brown added two yards on four rushes to go with 28 yards on two receptions, so solid day overall for the backs.
Foles only targeted DeSean Jackson four times, but DeSean made the most of his opportunities. The two-time Pro Bowler caught all four attempts for 82 yards receiving. It is the first time the Eagles won this season when Jackson didn’t score a touchdown.
Riley Cooper and Jason Avant were less efficient. The two of them combined for four receptions for 42 yards on 10 targets, the longest play going to Cooper for 23 yards.
Cooper did have some opportunities to get into the end zone. Officials ruled he was stopped just short of the goal line on one reception, while Foles overthrew him on another pass to the back of the end zone. Guess they can’t all blow up every week.
Who knew Brent Celek could still run? The seventh-year veteran took a tight-end screen 42 yards, racing all the way down the goal line before defenders finally caught up to him. It was Celek’s longest reception of the year, and he showed more giddy-up than we’ve seen out of him in a while.
Zach Ertz got back into the mix after going without a target last week in Green Bay, finishing with two receptions for 31 yards. Ertz did drop one pass, but Foles went right back to him on the very next play, which the rookie held on to for a third-down conversion. Nice resilience by the youngster.
Left tackle Jason Peters told reporters back in August that McCoy would reach 1,000 yards rushing by Week 10 per Geoff Mosher of CSNPhilly.com. Peters was off by one game, as Shady finally eclipsed the milestone against Washington in Week 11.
That said, the run blocking left something to be desired at times on Sunday. Too often McCoy had a defender in his face before he could even get back to the line of scrimmage, as the All-Pro rusher was tackled for a loss on five of his 20 carries while averaging just 3.8 yards per carry.
On the flip side, the pass protection wasn’t bad. Foles was sacked three times, two of which were at least partially due to breakdowns up front. Overall, though, the quarterback typically had time to scan the field and room to operate in the pocket.
Another week, another dominant effort up front by the Birds defensive line.
The player who’s benefited most from the Isaac Sopoaga trade is rookie Bennie Logan. Logan has taken over Sopoaga’s spot at nose tackle, where he was making a real impression on Sunday, getting loads of penetration throughout the contest. The third-round pick out of LSU finished with three tackles, one for loss.
Meanwhile, Cedric Thornton and Fletcher Cox just keep on doing their thing, both linemen ending up with five tackles. Thornton had two tackles for a loss, while Cox had a batted pass and a fumble recovery. Cox nearly wound up with his first career interception as well, but replay overturned the call on the field.
Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III was under duress all 60 minutes, while running back Alfred Morris was limited to 93 yards on 22 carries. Solid performances against a pair of budding superstars, and it all starts up front.
It looks like Trent Cole is beginning to hit his stride in the transition from defensive end to outside linebacker. He appears to have the coverage part down and has been stout against the run. Now he’s finding his way to the quarterback again. Cole picked up two sacks of Griffin, bringing his total to three on the year.
On the opposite end, Connor Barwin continues to make his impact felt as well. His strip-sack of Griffin went for an Eagles turnover, while he also batted yet another pass down at the line of scrimmage, which has become a weekly occurrence for the free-agent pickup.
Somewhat of a quiet game for DeMeco Ryans up the middle with seven tackles, but you know he was in on the solid effort to hold Morris to 4.2 yards per carry. Making his first NFL start in place of the injured Mychal Kendricks, Najee Goode impressed with five tackles and a sack.
Anybody who saw his back-to-the-quarterback coverage technique in Green Bay knew it was only a matter of time before Roc Carmichael got burned by it. Making his second career start in place of the injured Bradley Fletcher, Carmichael surrendered a 41-yard touchdown on an underthrown pass that he likely would’ve picked had he turned around.
Carmichael’s lapse in coverage wasn’t the end of the world. Brandon Boykin continued his stellar season with a pair of pass deflections, and he came up with the interception to seal the victory.
Cary Williams gave wide receiver Pierre Garcon fits as well. Garcon came into the week ranked seventh in receiving yards but was contained to 68 yards on six receptions. Coverage must’ve been tight overall, because Griffin seemed to be afraid to throw the football most of the afternoon.
Making his first start since Week 6 against Tampa Bay, Patrick Chung was responsible for a little friendly fire out on the field. He took out Trent Cole on Washington fullback Darrel Young’s 62-yard catch-and-run, the collision being what broke the play open in the first place.
Chung was OK otherwise, coming up with six tackles in relief of rookie Earl Wolff, who was inactive with a knee injury. Nate Allen also had a tackle in what was an otherwise quiet day for the safeties.
Then again, quiet days for the Eagles safeties aren’t a bad thing these days. It would be nice if the secondary had a playmaker on the back end, but it’s a positive sign that the defense has been able to get by just fine without.
In what was quite possibly both the play of the game on Sunday and the special teams play of the year for the Eagles, Donnie Jones punted a ball 70 yards down to the Washington 4-yard line late in the fourth quarter. That boot left the Skins a 96-yard field for a chance to tie the game, which proved too long.
For Jones, it was one of four kicks on six tries that were downed inside the opponent’s 20, another of which was downed at the 2-yard line by Brandon Boykin. Jones finished with an impressive 50.7 yards per punt for the afternoon.
Not much else of note special teams-wise. Alex Henery made his lone 24-yard field-goal try and boomed most of his kickoffs into the end zone. No big returns to speak of for Philly, but none surrendered either.