The Philadelphia Eagles were as close to perfect as most NFL teams will ever get in their 54-11 romp over the Chicago Bears on Sunday night. It was a total team effort from top to bottom, leaving very little negative you could say about anybody.
In fact, you might say the Eagles earned straight A’s.
In my weekly report card grades, I 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.
But honestly, it was next to impossible to find anything to deduct points for in the Eagles’ performance. Nick Foles quarterbacked the game flawlessly. Philadelphia’s offense doubled up Chicago in total yards 514-257. The Birds dominated the action in practically every way imaginable.
So here is a first for the 2013 season: A clean report card, one that head coach Chip Kelly will be proud to post on the refrigerator.
Foles has had more prolific games. I’m not certain he’s ever played better, though.
This performance was a masterpiece. Foles completed 21 of 25 passes, setting a franchise record with an 84.0 completion percentage. Here’s the thing, though: three of those incompletes were throwaways. He didn’t really miss anybody.
Adding to the expertly managed game, the second-year passer did not commit a turnover and lost just five yards via two sacks—both situations where Foles essentially opted to eat the football.
Foles threw for 230 yards with a 9.2 average and two touchdowns, good for a 131.7 rating. It just goes to show the quarterback doesn’t always have to throw for 400 yards or seven touchdowns to have an incredible game.
Shady averaged 7.4 yards per carry and scored twice. His second foray into the end zone involved a nasty spin move that left All-Pro defensive end Julius Peppers grasping for air in the backfield. It’s so unfair to compare any back to Detroit Lions legend Barry Sanders, but with moves like that, No. 25 for the Eagles comes the closest.
McCoy added six receptions for 29 yards. He was very active in the screen game and would’ve put up a better receiving line except one of those plays was sniffed out by the defense.
Bryce Brown also went over 100 yards (9 ATT, 115 YDS) thanks to a 65-yard scamper to the end zone, and Chris Polk punched one in from 10 as well. All three backs had touchdowns and secured the football.
That being said, a quarterback can’t have near-perfect numbers for precision without a few sets of good hands. The trio of Cooper, Jackson and Jason Avant did not drop a single ball thrown their way. There were no huge bombs, but those plays consistently kept the chains moving.
Plus, as always, the wide receivers did a fantastic job of blocking downfield for Shady McCoy and Co. There simply isn’t as much work to do in the passing game when the offense is able to run for 289 yards.
There were times when Foles couldn’t find anybody open, which is about the only knock you could come up with.
Ordinarily, I will not award an "A" to any position that commits a turnover. Maybe it’s the holidays, but I’m in a giving mood today.
Brent Celek’s fumble occurred on a bang-bang play, so it’s kind of hard to fault the tight end exactly. He was hit pretty much immediately after completing the catch, so there was little time to brace for impact. It was only the second fumble of his seven-year career.
Celek led all Eagles in receiving yards with 58 anyway and scored a touchdown. Zach Ertz had just one catch, but it was a good one, working back to the quarterback during a scramble drill for a nice 27-yard gain.
And once again, the blocking was phenomenal. Shout-out to James Casey, for while he may only have three receptions this year, he’s a beast in the running game.
Where to begin? How about with the tidbit that the Eagles ran for 289 yards behind this offensive line on Sunday, averaging 8.0 yards per attempt. To put that in perspective, passing plays were 9.0 per dropback.
Speaking of passing, Foles routinely had all the time in the world to sit back in the pocket and go through his reads. The two sacks were both a result of good coverage.
Credit this offensive line for being able to play at Coach Kelly’s breakneck pace. The Bears front, like so many before, was clearly winded by the second quarter from the Eagles’ no-huddle attack. It’s a lot easier to push people out of the way when they’re too tired to fight back.
Bears head coach Marc Trestman is likely drawing some criticism in Chicago this week for, among other things, only handing the ball off to Matt Forte nine times. To be fair, Forte was getting the ball early before the score got out of hand, but he wasn’t really going anywhere.
Forte finished the game with 29 yards and a 3.2 average, but a sizable chunk of that production came during garbage time. In the first half and early in the third quarter, the Eagles shut him down.
That started up front, and in particular with Cedric Thornton, who continues to be deserving of a Pro Bowl nod this season. Thornton blew up a couple of runs, including one for a safety at Chicago’s 2-yard line. He got decent pressure on the quarterback a few times, too.
Vinny Curry led the unit with four tackles. Both Curry and Bennie Logan were credited with a tackle for loss.
The Eagles had five sacks of Bears quarterback Jay Cutler. Trent Cole and Mychal Kendricks had…five of them.
This was easily Cole’s best game as a pass-rusher since converting to outside linebacker in the offseason. Cole absolutely terrorized left tackle Jermon Bushrod to the tune of three sacks, setting the tone early for the Birds defense. That gives him eight for the season, all of them in the past seven games, so it’s safe to say the 31-year-old is finally feeling completely comfortable in his new role.
Kendricks picked up a pair as well. He can be sneaky-good at blitzing up the A-gap, which is one of the ways defensive coordinator Bill Davis likes to dial up the pressure. The other sack was a result of relentless effort, though, as Kendricks wound up working all the way around the offensive line to finally get to Cutler.
DeMeco Ryans was credited with one pass breakup officially, but he had decent coverage on a couple of others. Just a great game all-around out of this unit.
As it turns out, the physical styles of Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher matched up very well against the “New monsters of the Midway.” Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery are both enjoying Pro Bowl seasons, but on Sunday, they were contained.
Marshall and Jeffery combined for 10 receptions, 112 yards and a touchdown, which would be a good day for one receiver, not necessarily two. That was with Cutler putting the ball up 35 times, so they had plenty of opportunities. Williams’ and Fletcher’s coverage was usually tight.
Williams did give up a six-yard touchdown to Marshall, but the receiver clearly pushed off. Hard to fault the corner when the refs are keeping the flags in their pockets, and it’s hard to blame the refs because the game was a blowout.
Brandon Boykin added the exclamation point on the unit’s performance, jumping a route in the fourth quarter and taking Cutler’s pass 54 yards to the house. Boykin leads the Eagles in interceptions this season with five.
Williams and Boykin each has two pass breakups, while Fletcher led the charge for the entire defense with nine tackles.
Well, Patrick Chung didn’t give up any 40-yard touchdowns, so that’s a great place to start. Chung started the game and was scheduled to rotate in and out of the lineup, but he wound up playing most of the game when Earl Wolff aggravated a knee injury.
Before Wolff exited permanently, he did break up a pass intended for Marshall, extending Chicago’s first-quarter futility.
Didn’t really see much of Nate Allen, who finished with one tackle. Chung only had four actually. With Forte only averaging 3.2 yards per carry, there wasn’t much need for their help in run support.
This group wasn’t getting beat deep or for big plays, which as always is the most important part. They did their jobs on Sunday night.
The play that swung the momentum in Philadelphia’s favor permanently may have occurred early in the first quarter. Devin Hester was about to break off a big return after the Birds’ first touchdown, when Fletcher reached in and ripped the ball away. Williams jumped on the football, and the rout was on.
Two starting cornerbacks coming up big on special teams just goes to show how together this team is.
Speaking of kick coverage, last week the Eagles were afraid to kick it deep. This week, against perhaps the greatest returnman of all time, they used a combination of directional and mortar kicks to hold Chicago to a meager 21.1 yards per return.
Alex Henery also nailed a 49-yard field goal.
Donnie Jones was only called on to punt twice, but both times he did a great job. Both punts were downed inside the opponents’ 20-yard line, giving him 32 for the season. According to Reuben Frank for CSNPhilly.com, that’s a new franchise record.