Despite the Cardinals’ late comeback, the Eagles were able to get their seventh win of the season in a game that could easily have playoff ramifications later in the season. While the game was still close, the Eagles managed to dominate most of the game. Nick Foles passed for another 3 TDs while throwing no interceptions, although he did have one terrible pass that was picked off that got called back because of a penalty. But either way, Foles is looking like the QB of the future here in Philadelphia. And according to Chip Kelly, he officially is, “as long as he stays healthy.”
While the Eagles actually had less yards than the Cardinals (and only 307 on the day), they put up another great defensive effort that was just enough to get them the win. While Foles’ QBR was lower than normal, his passer rating was still well over 100 and is still leading the league by a fair margin. LeSean McCoy, who has actually had a lower YPC with Foles under center, still gained 114 total yards on 24 touches. The fact that the team ran the ball 34 times is great because it shows that they’re sticking to the run no matter what. But, it was unsurprisingly less efficient considering the Cardinals defense is one of the best in the league. Foles should probably not be running 9 times a game, but at least he’s making smarter decisions and has a slightly less cringe-worthy slide than Vick.
And if I may, I’d like to have a slight interjection. How the heck are Sean McDermott and Todd Bowles, two total failures of defensive coordinators for the Eagles, leading top 10 overall defenses all of a sudden?? The Panthers and Cardinals, McDermott and Bowles’ teams respectively, were among the worst teams in the NFC last year, but now their defenses are the ones leading them to victory. Was it the personnel change? Was it just the change in team? Were they purposely trying to screw over the Eagles? Ok, so maybe it wasn’t that last one, but it still makes me angry. And oh yeah, remember Juan Castillo? The other “failed” defensive coordinator in the time after Jim Johnson? He already has a Super Bowl ring after joining the staff of the Ravens last year in the playoffs. Doesn’t look like any of those three guys are unhappy with their spots away from Philadelphia…
Anyway, going back to the actual game, the most surprising result was the amount that the Eagles used their TEs. Rookie TE Zach Ertz exploded for 5 catches for 68 yards and 2 TDs, clearly his best game of his career. Brent Celek also added 4 catches for 29 yards and a TD, showing what I believe to be the true side of his skills. Both of these guys are very talented and should be used more often, but if the Eagles are running the ball so much, there’s no way that every receiver can get tons of targets every game. Starting wide receivers DeSean Jackson and Riley Cooper were relatively quiet, gaining 36 and 48 yards respectively. That was likely due to the talented secondary of the Cardinals though and should not cause any worry.
The one bright spot on the Cardinals offense though is Larry Fitzgerald, who has an infamous history of torching the Eagles every time he faces them. Unsurprisingly, he did score a TD, but they kept him relatively in check by giving up only 72 yards to Arizona’s best WR. The Eagles defense also did a good job of getting to Carson Palmer, sacking him 5 times and getting 2 INTs. Trent Cole and Brandon Graham each had 2 sacks while Nate Allen and Cary Williams had the picks. It was mainly a good, all-around effort for the Eagles D.
While I am still very impressed with the Eagles defense, there is one thing that is concerning me: the amount of yards they give up. Sure, they are giving up less yards now than the beginning of the season, but they still rank 31st overall in yards against in the league, meaning they’re not getting much better. They may be giving up less points, but I’m worried that the large volume of yards they’re giving up is going to come back to haunt them when they start playing real offenses, unlike the Cardinals.
Regardless, this win puts them in a great situation. They’re the first team out of the playoffs and would move up to the fourth seed if they can surpass the Cowboys for the lead in the NFC East. And they have the same record as the Lions (current 3rd seed), their next opponent. That will be a pivotal matchup in determining more playoff stipulations, and a win would give the Eagles another huge advantage.