Well, the Eagles no longer have a losing record. They’re back to .500 with a record of 3-3. Does this make them a good team now? Eh, I can’t exactly say that. The teams they’ve beaten have a combined record of 1-14, so it’s not all that special. The Eagles have seemingly played only bad defenses this year (except Kansas City), but Tampa Bay was supposed to be a challenge on defense and they handled them, scoring 31 points. So are the Eagles improving? Absolutely.
Now the first two words that are going to come out of this week’s game are these: quarterback controversy. The media just loves to hype up every single situation they can get in which there is question over who the starting quarterback should be. This was Nick Foles’ second start of the season, and he’s won both of them. He’s played great in these two games, especially this one, in which he went 22/31 for 296 yards, 3 TDs, and 0 INTs. Oh, and he also had a rushing TD on the first drive of the game. Four TDs and no turnovers is a great outing. In fact, I don’t think a single other quarterback played better than him this week. He was finding open guys and connecting with his top two wide receivers all day, DeSean Jackson and Riley Cooper. The two of those guys combined for 184 yards and 3 TDs, the majority of Foles’ passing statistics. It was by far Cooper’s best day; he never had more than 30 yards in any game this season, but he quadrupled that number in this game.
LeSean McCoy also had another terrific game with 27 touches for 171 yards (and over 100 yards rushing). McCoy will continue to lead the league in rushing yards with 630 in 6 games…this means he’s on pace for 1680 yards on the season, an outstanding number. In addition, Jackson will stay in the top 5 in receiving yards in the league after surpassing Julio Jones and Torrey Smith today. Only Victor Cruz and Jimmy Graham have more than him, and they’re only barely ahead.
The defense looked slightly better, giving up less than 400 yards, a feat for this defense. They also only gave up 20 points, another season-best for the team. While a huge part of the Eagles’ defensive success may have been due to the fact that Mike Glennon was the QB, a guy who’s only made 1 NFL start before yesterday. And, according to Darrelle Revis, the MRSA was a big distraction to the team. Yeah, ok. Good excuse Revis. But the fact that they still stopped them to 20 points is good enough.
The Eagles are finally starting to do the little things right and it’s paying off. They were penalized a lot less, improving from last week. They only got 31 penalty yards and were able to take advantage of Tampa Bay’s 72. Kicking and punting was solid once again, with Donnie Jones getting three punts inside the 20 and Henery making his only FG. They’ve been able to minimize the turnovers and other mistakes and use their high-powered offense to get into the endzone. It’s already been established that they’re defense isn’t going to make many stops, so it’ll be up to their offense the rest of the season to outscore the other teams (sounds familiar, huh? Oh yeah, just like Oregon…)
But speaking of the Eagles’ explosive offense, it’s not as fast-paced as one would think. They may have over 400 yards on offense in all 6 games so far, something only two other teams in NFL history have done, but they’re not running any more plays than usual. In fact, they’re running slightly less plays than last year. They came out firing in Week 1 with the hurry up on every play for most of the first half against the Redskins and they started blowing them out of the water. Every game after that though they used less and less of the unneeded hurry up and they moved towards a more traditional style offense, and I think it has helped them. Sure, scoring fast can have its advantages, but it severely hurts the team when they never have the ball and lose in time of possession by such a great margin. While Tampa Bay did have the ball a lot more than the Eagles yesterday, it wasn’t a factor because the Eagles were able to play solid defense.
Now going back to the QB controversy, I might as well speculate. Of course Chip Kelly has already been asked who the starter is for next week, but he’s said he hasn’t decided yet. And of course he hasn’t, because he doesn’t know how healthy Vick is. Vick was clearly too banged up to play today (even though he was active), so the fact that Foles started shouldn’t play too much into it. But the fact that Foles played phenomenally should have some play in it. Foles played better today than he has in most of his starts, but does that mean he should be the starter? Not necessarily. Vick has already shown that he can play well, and he’s minimized his turnovers tremendously this year. The most logical forward-looking decision would be to just bench Vick and see how Foles does for the rest of the season, but it’s highly unlikely that they’d do this. It seems more likely that they’ll start Vick next week if he’s healthy and keep Foles as the close backup. But, if Vick starts to perform poorly, I wouldn’t be surprised if Foles would get the nod in the middle of the season even if Vick is still healthy.
It’s going to come down to when Vick screws up when he’s healthy. No matter how good Foles plays, he’s not going to just win the starting job. It’ll take a bad game from Vick to get the coaches to realize that Foles is the guy they have to go with. But if both are playing great, then why not use both? Just kidding, that won’t happen. But still, while it’s too early to tell who Kelly will start next week, I have a feeling it’ll be Vick if he’s healthy.