In no way would I consider that a pretty game. In fact, it was ugly until about the fourth quarter. It was extremely worrisome as an Eagles fan and a big advocate of their chances to do well this year. I honestly think they’ll be one of the best teams in the league. Can they do that if they play like this? Not at all. In fact, if they play like this against any other team, it’s a guaranteed loss. But it was only the first game of the season so there’s still a lot of chances to improve.
Nick Foles had what was probably his worst game since 2012, his rookie year. He was absolutely terrible in the first half, failing to put up a single point on the board for his team. It was certainly a tale of two halves. After going into the half down 17-0, the Eagles put up 34 points in the second half and didn’t give up any, which gave them the 34-17 victory. Foles ended the first two offensive drives by fumbling it away to the Jaguars on sacks, mainly because he was just holding onto the ball too long. It was one thing to be down Lane Johnson on the right side (and Evan Mathis and Allen Barbre got hurt later, but not until after these fumbles happened). Foles was sitting in that pocket like he was a freshman in high school and didn’t know what to do. It was ugly.
Unsurprisingly, this triggered tons of boos at Lincoln Financial Field, including calls to bring in Mark Sanchez. It’s one thing to boo your own team, which every fan has to admit they’ve done at some point, but it’s another thing to give up on the guy you were declaring the next franchise QB after one quarter of the 2014 season. That’s just ridiculous. The only reason Sanchez should’ve even been considered to come in was when Foles was a little shaken up after a hit he took. But he fought through it and the Sanchize stayed on the bench, which is exactly where he belongs.
Remember Eagles fans, Foles is human, he has struggled before. Last year against the Cowboys he struggled in both games, but especially the first game in which the Eagles only scored 3 points on a pitiful defense. Foles recovered in the second half and looked a little bit better, finishing with 322 yards, 2 TDs, and an INT, which actually came in the end zone. The bottom line though was that Foles had a bad game. Does that mean he’s not fit to be a franchise QB? How about you look at Aaron Rodgers’ performance this week. Sure, he played the Seahawks, but even the best QBs have bad games sometimes. Suck it up and cheer for him to do better, don’t write him off after one bad game.
LeSean McCoy didn’t exactly have his best game either even though he totaled 115 all-purpose yards. His 21 carries for 74 yards is not a typical game for him, as well as his lack of TD. Darren Sproles picked up a TD on a 49-yard burst right through the middle, which was actually their first score of the game. But other than that run, he only had 10 carries for 22 yards, a pitiful average. I wouldn’t say the Jacksonville run defense is elite, so I don’t know what was going on. I think they were mentally beaten for a while and had to deal with a lack of momentum.
One thing I’m curious of is how they’re going to divvy up the touches in the future for RBs. Since they only kept three RBs including Chris Polk, who’s still hurt, they’re really only limited to the two guys right now. McCoy had 21 carries and 6 receptions and Sproles had 11 carries and 4 receptions. Giving your top two RBs 42 touches is a ton, especially when one of them is more of a receiving back/specialist. Sproles had flashes of his usual self, but he’s not meant to take double digit carries up the middle, that’s just not his style. As long as Polk as out, I don’t think they have an effective way of limiting McCoy’s carries if they want to run the ball as much as they do. I have a feeling Polk is going to get a solid amount of carries per game once he comes back.
Jeremy Maclin made a big statement by leading the team in receiving and scoring a TD after missing all of last year with a torn ACL. So many people thought the Eagles’ pass game took a hit with the loss of DeSean Jackson, but adding Maclin and Jordan Matthews was honestly an upgrade because it gives them so many different guys to which they can pass. Riley Cooper was targeted 7 times, which was the second most on the team, but he was basically a non-factor after only getting 4 catches for 29 yards. Zach Ertz also had a big game, getting 77 yards and a TD. Him and Maclin should have big roles this year.
Defensively, they were so-so. Their pass coverage in the first half was pitiful after being unable to stop an undrafted rookie, Allen Hurns. Hurns had two TDs within the first half of the first quarter…that’s not acceptable at all. It took a while for the defense to get the hang of things, but they finally did. Mychal Kendricks, Trent Cole, and Nate Allen all had sacks on the day, and Fletcher Cox had a scoop-6 in the fourth quarter to put the nail in the coffin. They stopped Toby Gerhart to just 42 yards on 18 carries and limited the team as a whole to just 2.0 YPC…that’s awesome. But the pass defense took a while to get going, which they can’t do every game.
It is really impossible to talk about this game as a whole because of how different the halves were. One was a 17-0 victory for the awful Jaguars, and another was a 34-0 spanking by the Eagles. Which side should we expect from the Eagles next week? Well, considering it’s a Monday Night Football matchup with the Colts, who just challenged the Broncos pretty well, I’d say it better be more of the second half performance or they’re screwed. It’s okay Eagles fans, we can now have one collective exhale because we’re lucky they pulled out a win.