If the playoffs started today, the Eagles would be the fourth seed in the NFC. Well, I certainly didn’t see that coming. While the season still has many games left, it would be crazy if they were able to make it into the playoffs after such a terrible start to the season. They got another key division win in this one after defeating the Redskins for the second time this season and moving up into first place in the NFC East. The main reason they were able to do this is because the Cowboys were on a bye week, but still, it counts.
Nick Foles turned out another very solid performance, just over one year after making his first career start against this team and getting completely blown out. He played much better this time, going 17/26 for 298 yards. While he failed to throw a TD pass for the second time this season, he also did not throw an INT. In fact, nobody on the Eagles committed a turnover in the game, a stat that shows why they were able to do so well on offense. While McCoy wasn’t as effective on the ground in this game, he still combined for 150 total yards and 2 TDs, clearly another very good performance. Foles also decided to run a little more, getting in 9 carries for 47 yards and a TD.
And even though there were no receiving TDs in the game, DeSean Jackson still had a nice day, grabbing 4 catches for 82 yards. Brent Celek also had a very nice catch that involved him running through and right past defenders for 42 yards. But, this was still his only catch of the game, proving his sparse use in the offense. Riley Cooper also cooled down in this one, getting only 3 catches for 37 yards, a more reasonable game from the starting WR.
The defense also came up big again for most of the game, giving up 20 or less points for the 6th straight time. Connor Barwin had a nice game with 6 tackles, a sack, and a pass defensed. Trent Cole played really well too, picking up 2 sacks and three TFLs on the day. Poor Fletcher Cox had multiple opportunities to get his first career interception but failed to do so on both of them. The first one he caught in the air after it was stripped from Robert Griffin III’s hands, but it was recorded as a fumble recovery and not an INT. The second chance came after one of RG3’s passes was deflected at the line, and it bounced into Cox’s hands, but the ball partly hit the ground on the way down and was ruled incomplete. Backups Roc Carmichael, Najee Goode, and Patrick Chung all put up good games as well, combining for 16 tackles and a sack.
And while I gave him a lot of criticism earlier in the year, Donnie Jones is starting to look like an All-Pro punter once again. Four of his six punts went inside the 20 yard line, and they had an average of 50.7 yards per punt, an outstanding average. I’m very pleased with the way him and kicker Alex Henery have been playing as of late.
One thing that scared me though was their lack of ability to maintain a large lead. While they went into the fourth quarter up 24-0, the Eagles quickly gave that up. The Redskins started coming back and scored two TDs, getting the 2-point conversion on both of them to make it an 8 point game. Then they let them drive down the field and almost score again, but luckily RG3’s poor accuracy on the day caused one of his passes to go haywire and into the hands of Brandon Boykin in the endzone for a touchback. While the defense played well for 3 quarters, it was disheartening to see them almost blow a 24 point lead in one quarter after dominating 75% of the game. If they were playing a better offense, that could’ve gone a totally different way.
But, that didn’t happen, and that means the Eagles won. With a winning record and the 4th spot in the NFC at the moment, they’re looking like a totally different team going into the bye week. Michael Vick should be back after the bye week is over, but the fact that Chip Kelly said he’s going to evaluate it the way he did at the beginning of the preseason is disturbing. What else does Foles need to do to prove he’s the future QB of the franchise? With the way the rest of the NFC East looks, the Eagles actually have a chance now at making the playoffs, but that could totally change if Vick gets back in at QB.