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Eagles Evaluation: A Win To Move Into Playoffs

By Gia Lanci, Sports Talk Philly Staff

Even though many games this season have been “must wins”, this game is an absolute must win. This is the last regular season game. They will take on divisional rivals, the Washington Redskins. The Washington Redskins have had so many injuries on their offense this year, which is a big factor for this game. If the Eagles win this game, they have a chance to make it to the playoffs. However, the Minnesota Vikings have to lose to the Chicago Bears in order for the Eagles to get the wild card spot.

Below are my drive by drive analyses:

First Quarter

Drive One (Defense)

  • The returner was tackled by Grugier-Hill, who stopped him at the 23-yard line.
  • The pressure was coming onto the quarterback, so he decided to move around. On the run, he threw the ball down field. Rasul Douglas came in front of the intended receiver and intercepted the ball. The quarterback underthrew the ball. It was a definite mistake by the QB. Great turnover by Douglas. He had great hands.

Drive Two (Offense)

  • The defense stopped a run by Josh Adams but only after he was able to gain eight yards. They then contrasted a run to the right by Josh Adams with a carry up the middle with Darren Sproles. Sproles is very good at finding the gaps and moving through defenders. The run game overall has improved immensely from the beginning of the season.
  • A penalty was called on the defense that gave the Eagles a better position. The Eagles need to take advantage of the silly mistakes by the injured Redskins.
  • An incomplete pass was thrown, intended for Sproles. The pressure was coming onto Foles, so it was overthrown over Sproles’ head. This one was a timing issue for Foles. Sometimes it takes Foles a little while to get in the swing of things.
  • The pressure was brought onto Foles because the offensive line was unable to hold the defense back. He was still able to get the ball away to Dallas Goedert. Dallas caught the ball and gained 25 yards. It was a nice play design. Zach Ertz came in and drew all the attention to him to allow Goedert to get open. Goedert does an excellent job of catching the ball, turning around and gaining more yards.
  • After the snap, Foles fumbled the ball. He was able to regain possession of it and throw a pass to Golden Tate for six yards. Foles is a very relaxed player, especially in situations like that. He is able to make quick decisions and make a play out of it instead of getting nervous and allowing something negative to occur.
  • Foles threw a pass. The pocket was closing, but he still had enough time to throw a thought-out ball. He threw the ball close to the endzone and it was intercepted by a defender. It was intended for Zach Ertz, who was well covered. He threw to the middle of the field, which was very congested. It was a definite mistake by Foles.

Drive Three (Defense)

  • After the interception, the defender brought the ball back to the 31-yard line. Adrian Peterson carried the ball, but was stopped by Corey Graham and Nigel Bradham. On this play, there was a penalty called for offensive holding that pushed the Skins back 10 yards.
  • A pass was thrown and there was very coverage by Douglas and Hicks, who were prepared for the throw to the receiver. They need to stay on the receivers the whole game. Another throw was thrown to a receiver, and he caught it but only got one foot in because of the coverage by Douglas. This forced a punt for the Redskins.
  • The pressure coming on by the defensive line is taking too long to get there. The offensive line is so bare right now that they should have already gotten two sacks on Josh Johnson.

Drive Four (Offense)

  • The ball was brought to the 16-yard line. Josh Adams had the first carry and found a big gap but then slipped and fell.
  • Foles was trying to throw the ball, but he was reading the field and could not decide quick enough. He did not move his feet. Since he took too long, he got sacked.
  • A pass was thrown to Golden Tate, and it was right into his hands. Tate dropped the ball because he hears footsteps behind him. He should’ve had the catch. It was a really accurate pass by Foles after just getting hit hard when he was sacked. This was a three and out for the Eagles.

 

Drive Five (Defense)

  • Adrian Peterson carried the ball again, but Brandon Graham used his strength to push him back for a loss of four yards. Adrian Peterson is their best running back and they cannot get any extended use out of him with the Eagles defense continuously stopping him.
  • A pass was attempted but batted out by Bradham. It could’ve been an interception, but it was still a nice defensive move by Bradham.
  • There was so much pressure coming onto the quarterback that he got nervous and just threw it down. This forced the punt.

Drive Six (Offense)

  • A pass over the top was thrown to Sproles that gained 12 yards. It was a nice run by Sproles to gain some good yardage. Another run was completed by Wendell Smallwood, who ran really physically, breaking a lot of tackles.
  • Josh Adams carried the ball and was pushed back quickly. They should’ve called a different play because they were ready for the run.
  • The ball was flipped to Agholor, who had a huge gap in right field. He ran easily and got a first down, but was stopped just there.
  • Dallas Goedert caught a pass in the air and was pushed out of bounds quickly. He is very physical and was able to stay in bounds even though the defender was very strong.
  • Jeffrey had a 16-yard catch. He was covered but was able to get away from his defender. He really stretched to reach for the ball and was able to get two feet in. I am not sure if he had possession of the ball, but they ran a quick play after that, so they did not allow anyone to challenge the play.
  • On third down, Golden Tate caught the ball for six yards. They really struggle the closer they get to the endzone early on in the game. They cannot seem to get a touchdown in the first quarter.
  • They were close enough, so Pederson decided to attempt a field-goal. It was made by Jake Elliott. This gave the Eagles some points and the lead. It was definitely the safe choice by Pederson, very unlike his coaching decisions last season.

Drive Seven (Defense)

  • Peterson attempted a run up the middle, but Fletcher Cox pushed him back for a loss of one yard.

Second Quarter

  • A pass was thrown downfield and it was caught by the receiver for a gain of 20 yards. Corey Graham was not able to stay on his man, so Rasul Douglas got the tackle on him.
  • Peterson ran the ball again and only gained one yard. Ngata and Douglas got a conjoined tackle. Their run game is unsuccessful against the Eagles defense.
  • Johnson is actually a very mobile QB. He gained six yards up the middle when he could not find anyone to throw to. He was then tackled by Malcolm Jenkins, who was the only one fast enough to catch him. There were some missed tackles as he was scrambling by Bennett and Ngata.
  • He scrambled again and ran to the left sideline. He was pushed out of bounds and was five yards behind the line of scrimmage. Douglas was the defender responsible for pushing him back and out of bounds. This proved how the defense started making some good adjustments by responding to the mobility of the quarterback. This defensive play by Douglas forced the punt.

Drive Eight (Offense)

  • Smallwood carried the ball and gained nine yards. He ran the ball again and was hit hard but still got the first down.
  • Jeffrey caught a pass from Foles but was tackled right away by the defender, Norman. He still gained good yardage, and it was a good connection between Foles and Jeffrey. Jeffrey is one of the receivers that Foles feels the most comfortable with.
  • Two runs were attempted with Sproles. The first, Sproles went up the middle and there was no gain because he hesitated and then the gap that he was going to go through was no longer there. They attempted a run with him again and it was a little more successful with him gaining four yards.
  • Foles was looking to throw. He knew he had to get it away quickly because of the pressure that was coming onto him from the blitz. He threw it away to Jeffrey. He was able to throw it accurately with a defender coming onto him quickly. It was a 14-yard gain for Jeffrey.
  • Another short pass was completed with heavy pressure coming onto Foles by the same defender, McPhee. This time Foles tried to throw the ball over the head of the defenders for a short pass to Goedert. The pass was complete, but when he turned around to gain more yards, he got pushed back and lost yardage.
  • On second down with 11 yards to go, a short pass was thrown to Adams. He was able to gain nine yards but was pushed out of bounds. He is a very good running back who is able to make different plays unlike his normal hand-offs.
  • With two yards to go, a short pass was thrown to Agholor, who gained five yards and a first down. After the ball was snapped on the next play, the pocket closed immediately and Foles got sacked. He was trying to scramble but there was nowhere to go with only defenders in the paths in front of him. Not only was he unable to get rid of the ball, but he lost five yards.
  • The run game for the Eagles has seriously improved so much. They could barely do anything in the beginning of the season. Smallwood carried the ball for the next two plays gaining a total of 16 yards. Then Sproles came in and carried the ball again and gained five yards. They made it look easy. When Sproles ran again, however, the defense was prepared for it so he was shut down quickly. Since they know how reliable the run game is, the coaches need to figure out when the best time to use those plays are.
  • After the runs, Foles threw a short pass to Ertz. The pass was four yards, but he did not gain anymore than that. He is always able to get open, but is not always able to gain more yards after the catch.
  • Then it was fourth down with one yard to go. They went for it. Good call by Pederson. They ran a QB sneak, which worked in their favor because they made the first down.
  • They were at the Redskins 15-yard line. The ball was handed off to Sproles who ran the ball for 11 yards. They have so many reliable veterans on this team, so it was a great play to call in this situation to use them.
  • A two-yard pass was thrown to Alshon Jeffery in the endzone. Foles threw the pass on the run. It was a fantastic catch by Jeffrey, who had heavy coverage on him. He was still able to bring it in, and it was ruled a touchdown.

Drive Nine (Defense)

  • The quarterback was being thrown forward and Brandon Graham got his arm on the quarterback to cause an incomplete pass. It was originally called a fumble, but then it was decided it was only incomplete. Still a nice defensive play by Graham.
  • Thompson carried the ball for nine yards, and LeBlanc got some action with the tackle. They cannot get weaker just because the clock does not have a lot of time on it. They still have to defend.
  • Pressure was being put on the quarterback, so he threw a short pass over the head of a receive., Then Michael Bennett came up and pushed the receiver back. He forced a loss of three yards. The clock ran out and that ended the first half.

Third Quarter

Drive 10 (Offense)

  • It was so important that the Eagles demolished their opening drive with the first interception because they get the ball to start the second half, too.
  • Adams ran the ball right up the middle completely untouched. He was able to get the first down because of the stellar run.
  • A short pass was thrown to Adams, who gained 13 yards. This short pass worked really well with Adams. Adams carried the ball twice and then a short pass was thrown to him and it was successful. That is good play calling to switch it up.
  • A pass was thrown to Ertz because of the blitz coming onto Foles. Ertz could not get to the first down marker. Smallwood then ran the ball and was also short.
  • The Eagles planned to go for it on fourth and short, but a delay of game made it fourth and long, which forced the punt. Some silly mistakes by the offense here that were easily avoidable. The punt was good by Johnston. It put them on their nine-yard line.

Drive 11 (Defense)

  • They attempted a run, but it was shut down quickly by the front four. They have not been successful with any runs today besides with their quarterback, Josh Johnson.
  • Johnson scrambled and should’ve been sacked because he took so long. He has yet to be sacked even though his o-line is so bad. There was a holding penalty called on the offense. It was already third down, so they declined it and made the Skins punted the ball on fourth down.

Drive 12 (Offense)

  • Golden Tate got a pass for 14 yards. He was immediately pushed out of bounds. He is having trouble doing what he used to do on the Lions: catching the ball and gaining yards after the catch. The coverage on him is good and he hasn’t been able to beat out his man.
  • Agholor got a shovel pass from Foles and was pushed back behind the line of scrimmage and lost three yards. He needs to make bigger plays in these situations.
  • A pass was thrown to the wide-open Jeffrey. He got open with some defenders not even realizing he was open.
  • The pocket closed very fast, and Foles saw that he could not hold onto the ball any longer because the offensive line could not handle it. Josh Adams was open and he threw it to him. Adams was able to gain a first down after the catch. Great job by Adams to not only catch the ball but keep it moving.
  • Adams reached for a catch that was a little high for him but brought it in. He jumped back from a tackle, made him miss and kept running. Due to the good move, he got a first down.
  • On third and one, they ran a quarterback sneak for the second time today. They made the first down with this play.
  • A pass was thrown to Agholor in the endzone, who put his hand out but could not bring it in. If he could’ve, it would’ve been a touchdown.
  • Foles threw a pass to Agholor with pressure coming onto Foles. He had possession of the ball and fell into the endzone, but then the ball was knocked out of his hands. It was ruled incomplete, however it was challenged. It was overturned and ruled a touchdown because he had the ball for a long enough time and was considered a runner. The extra point was good by Jake Elliott.

Drive 13(Defense)

  • After a touchback, a pass was thrown, but Douglas was on him right away and jumped over top to get the tackle.
  • Thompson attempted to run the ball but could not get anywhere. The Eagles front line was not letting anyone through.
  • They went right for Josh Johnson. Chris Long and Treyveon Hester closed the gap for Johnson, and Hester was able to sack him. It was a great sack, but this should’ve happened a lot of times before this.
  • They went to punt the ball but used a trick play, which was successful. They definitely tricked the defenders and were able to get a first down. Maddox played well on his feet and got the tackle after the catch. The Redskins have nothing to lose right now, so they are going to try whatever.

Fourth Quarter

Drive 14 (Continued)

  • A huge pass was thrown all the way down field but was incomplete. Johnson then threw two more incomplete deep passes. The coverage was good by Jenkins and Graham to assist in making those passes incomplete.

Drive 15 (Offense)

  • After a touchback, Smallwood carried the ball and gained just a few yards.
  • Nick Foles was in the shotgun and got sacked quickly and lost four yards. The offensive line could not hold the defense. They need to step it up because if they move into the playoffs. Nick Foles needs to be protected to do his job, just like he was last season.
  • Because Foles was shook up, he threw an incomplete pass, intended for Golden Tate. This forced the punt.

Drive 16 (Defense)

  • Brandon Graham went to put the pressure on Johnson, but as the pressure was coming onto him, he threw the ball away. He got it away for a 13-yard pass. Maddox was on the receiver and tackled him. However, that's not how this play should’ve worked out. Both defenders were in the right positions but could not execute. Graham should’ve gotten the sack or Maddox should’ve prevented the pass from being completed.
  • Johnson was sacked, with a loss of four yards, by Hester again. Hester does a great job of getting to Johnson. He is very fast for his position.
  • Michael Bennett got a penalty for being offsides which pushed the Redskins into better positioning.
  • A quick pass was thrown to the receiver, and Nigel Bradham was promptly on the tackle. He is very good at reading the plays and acting on them quickly.
  • In the pocket, Michael Bennett came up and sacked Johnson. He moved like a truck to get there. No one was going to stop him. He forced a loss of 10 yards. On the next play, Johnson was sacked again by Fletcher Cox, who has been quiet today. Not only did he force a loss of yards, but he forced a fumble. It was then recovered by Washington. That ended the Redskins drive with a turnover on downs.

Drive 17 (Offense)

  • Josh Adams carried the ball up the middle, but Ha Ha Clinton-Dix was there to stop him instantly.
  • Since Nick Foles went into the locker room to get checked out, Nate Sudfeld came in. They ran the ball. Adams carried the ball twice more and was successful.
  • A pass was thrown by Nate Sudfeld for 22 yards to Nelson Agholor. He ran it into the endzone. This was Sudfield’s first career touchdown. This also gave the Eagles a significant lead.

Drive 18 (Defense)

  • They were attempting easy plays that gained short yardage. Perine carried the ball twice and gained a few yards.
  • Johnson scrambled and threw the ball for 14 yards. Jenkins got the tackle but had to reach for it.
  • Brandon Graham pushed back the ball carrier when he ran up the middle. Graham pushed him back behind the line of scrimmage four yards.
  • Fletcher Cox came through and sacked Johnson again and made him lose another yard.
  • They were testing the secondary. Some short passes were thrown and Maddox, LeBlanc and Douglas were all involved. Just like all season, they were stopping the runner from going anywhere, but they cannot prevent the pass. Against this offense, it is alright, but against a team in the playoffs, it will be an issue.
  • An incomplete pass was thrown by Johnson, intended for Crowder. On fourth down, Johnson was sacked, for a loss of eight yards, by Fletcher Cox. He was really hit too many times and was definitely exhausted. This forced the punt.

Drive 19 (Offense)

  • Smallwood carried the ball twice for a total of eight yards. He is a very physical player, able to get through the defenders easily.
  • They were just trying to run out the clock. Then they knelt, which ended the game.

Game Notes

  • The win against the Redskins and the Vikings losing to the Bears means the Eagles will advance to the playoffs in the wild card spot.
  • They played a good game against the Redskins. It takes a while for the team to get settled and comfortable. Once they feel comfortable, then they start to make big plays. It cannot take that long to score. They have the least amount of points in the first half in the entire NFL. That is unacceptabl and will be a huge challenge to tackle in the playoffs.
  • The defense took too long to put pressure on the quarterback in the beginning of the game. Once they felt comfortable, then they started getting sacks. The Redskins offensive line is so depleted it should not have taken them that long.
  • Nick Foles got hit too many times. The offensive line needs to hold back the defense and protect their quarterback. Especially since he got hit hard against the Redskins and has a bruised rib. They need to ensure that he is protected.

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