PLAYOFFS here we come! The only thing to work out now is how long our playoff ride will last. During the course of this game, the Injury Bug paid our team yet another unwelcome visit, and claimed our Quarterback. For how long, has yet to be confirmed.
EAGLES 43 – Rams 35
On the play before leaving the the game, QB Carson Wentz (23/41 – 56.0% – 291 – 4 – 1) hit WR Alshon Jeffrey (5 – 52 – 10.4 – 1) with a 2 yard scoring strike, which put us ahead of the Rams 31 – 28. WR Torrey Smith (6 – 100 – 16.7 – 0) only the second Eagles receiver this season to have a 100 yard day, had his best game as an Eagle so far. TE Trey Burton (5 – 71 -14.2 – 2) took up the slack for TE Zach Ertz who was inactive with a concussion from last week.
OLB Nigel Bradham (6 – 0 – 0 – 1) may have failed to snag either of his two chances at an interception, but he did manage to cause one of our two turnovers with a forced fumble. The biggest forced fumble of the game however, belongs to DE Chris Long (2 – 1 – 0 – 1). His key strip/sack in the 4th quarter gave the Eagles good field position to notch the go-ahead field goal by K Jake Elliott (4/4x, 3/3f – 41L), who was perfect on the day. DE Brandon Graham (0 – 0 – 0 – 1) put the nail in the coffin with the interception of a lateral (recorded as a fumble recovery), which he returned for a 16 yard touchdown as regulation expired.
I hear you asking, “What about all the stuff that stats don’t reveal?” Well, that’s the reason for these “Four Things” articles. We introduce an idea of what needs addressing BEFORE the game, so that fans have to honestly answer questions about those things, AFTER the game. This helps to get us, and keep us, all on the same page.
So, of the Four Things we were looking for in this last game, what exactly did we see?
1) RUN. THE. BALL: Our play selection was 51 passes to 32 runs. Keep in mind that 4 of those runs were by a QB. The first half featured 23 passes and 13 runs, in a half that we spent most of the time leading. It is no wonder that Wentz was injured. If this is how we’re going to play now, we need to keepQB Nate Sudfeld warm. (NOT DONE)
2) Man Coverage underneath: It looked as if we spent more time in loose zone coverage to take away most of the easy, quick decisions as options. While it did help slow down the Rams passing somewhat, it led to us being gashed repeatedly by the run. If we see this team in the playoffs, we cannot approach them that way again. (NOT DONE)
3) Get some help: TE Brent Celek (1 – 5 – 5.0 – 1) did spend sometime lined-up alongside LT Halapoulivaati Vaitai, and he did provide some chipping upon his releases. That was nice to finally see out there. In all truth, LG seemed to be more of a problem than LT did in this game. (DONE)
4) Use brute force: One of my favorite moments of this game was seeing DT Fletcher Cox (4 – 0 – 0 – 0) explode through the “A” gap and hit the Rams QB hard enough to knock his helmet off. Also, when the team went back to doing this in the 4th quarter, we were able to get the Rams off the field and rob their RB of a 100 yard day, by taking yardage away from him. Attacking the Rams “A” gaps is the real reason we were able to hang on and win this game. (DONE)
This week’s Four Things score is 2 out of 4, and 39 of 52 (75%) on the season. A score of 2 of 4 explains why we had a teeter-totter of a game. 50/50 going in, is 50/50 coming out. If we play like this next week, the giants may very well embarrass us.
On The Whole:
This is a conceptually sound Offense. It has clearly defined things that it asks a player to do, in a given role. That’s why no matter who goes down, someone else is able to step in and perform adequately. This is the epitome of Next Man Up. Rest assured, the Eagles are not a team in the sense that, our starting players are reliable. The Eagles are a team in the sense that, everybody on the roster is a starter waiting to relied on.
On Offense, we moved the ball pretty well all day. We scored a touchdown in each of the first three quarters. Wentz even managed to throw a score with a bad knee, after having been injured while diving into the end zone, on a score called back due to penalty.
Regardless, even after Wentz went out and QB Nick Foles (6/10 – 60.0% – 42 – 0 – 0) came in, we still moved the ball and got a key first down when needed, on a 9 yard dart from Foles to WR Nelson Agholor (8 – 64 – 8.0 – 0). Eagles RB’s provided 114 yards on 28 carries for a solid 4.0 average. So Offense was hardly an issue.
Defense, on the other hand… For about ¾ of this game it seemed like the Eagles had completely forgotten how to tackle, stack blockers, or set an edge. To be totally honest, at some points, it looked like some our DB’s were making “business decisions” out there vs the run. (Don’t worry Ronald Darby, and Patrick Robinson, I won’t name any names.)
Seeing Wentz go down, seemed to snap the Defense out of the funk it’s been in for the last two weeks. Foles came in, the stakes were made clear, and our guys turned it on and went hunting.