The Eagles got back on track on Sunday with a win over the Giants, moving to 2-3 on the year and moving them to the top of the NFC East. Yes, they are actually tied for the lead of their division with a losing record. While this will likely change, they can at least feel like they are winners for a little while.
They actually did play a pretty good game though. They had a nice offensive outing of 36 points, and they managed to only give up 21, both of which are pretty solid. What was most surprising was the fact that they played a great 4th quarter, which is something that they’ve struggled to do in the past few years. Instead, they waited to peak till the end of the game where it mattered most, and they got the job done.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Eagles were very efficient in rushing the ball (as usual) and got a little help from the passing game. In fact, they managed to win the game with backup QB Nick Foles in the entire second half. To be honest though, Foles played better than Vick, completing 16/25 for 197 yards, 2 TDs, and no interceptions. Those solid statistics led him to a passer rating of 114.9, much higher than Vick’s 69.0. DeSean Jackson also exploded again, bringing in 7 catches for 132 yards and a TD. McCoy had 26 touches for 92 yards and a rushing TD, and even Brent Celek contributed with a TD. In addition to these guys, Vick actually led the team in rushing with 79 yards on 7 carries after looking like his old self out there. But along with his “old self” comes his inefficient passing that hindered their offense. Luckily that only lasted for a half after Vick hurt his hamstring at the end of the second quarter on a run. Foles was very efficient and poised and took down the Giants secondary with ease.
And surprisingly, the Eagles defense was actually not terrible during the game. 21 was the least amount of points that the team has given up all season. Is this a move in the right direction? Maybe. The Giants run offense is the worst in their league, but their passing attack actually ranks 10th. So I’d say that the Eagles did a job well done on Sunday on defense. They also forced 4 turnovers and a sack; and two of those interceptions came late in the game when they needed them most. It was refreshing to see that the Eagles defense actually stepped up in the fourth quarter in order to finish out a game. That’s certainly something that they haven’t been used to doing.
In addition, the Eagles actually beat the Giants in time of possession, something that they haven’t done all season. It seems like Chip Kelly’s supersonic speed offense was only in effect for the first couple weeks. Now it looks back to normal and more efficient with the clock. While this has had no correlation with wins and losses, I think in the long run, more drawn out drives will be more effective. And special teams looked a lot better; Alex Henery made all 5 of his FGs, Damaris Johnson did a solid job returning punts, and Donnie Jones had a great day punting, getting half of his 6 punts to pin the Giants at the 20 or closer.
There are still problems for the Eagles though. They committed 8 penalties for 88 yards, something that was completely unacceptable, and was probably only overlooked because the Giants had even more penalty yards. In addition, they were just 2/5 for scoring TDs inside the red zone while the Giants were 2/2. Red zone offense and defense has been terrible for the Eagles the past few years, and they really need to start fixing it soon or it will kill them.
With the winless Buccaneers coming up, the Eagles season is looking a tiny bit brighter. Even though they have a losing record, their division is pitiful and they have an easy schedule coming up. The Buccs have enough problems to deal with from the Josh Freeman incident, so they may be distracted. I’d be very happy to see Jackson be able to tear up Darrelle Revis on Sunday, but that’s just wishful thinking. If he has a good game then I can see him being considered a top 5 WR this year.