This has been an incredibly difficult offense to defend since Nick Foles took over the controls for Michael Vick. Foles has been deadly accurate and despite not having the running or athletic skills of Vick, he still keeps the principles of what Chip Kelly would like to do with this scheme.
That said, Foles did have his worst game of the season against Monte Kiffin and these Dallas Cowboys.
The entire Eagles offense was off that day, with Foles missing passes, getting knocked around and not looking anything like the quarterback we see today. On that day, the Cowboys did an exceptional job of not only defending the run but controlling and playing on the Eagles' side of the line of scrimmage. In going back and studying the game, Kiffin and his group were very physical with this Eagles front and in my view that was the difference in the game.
Kiffin is going to need a similar type of plan and attack again in this meeting. Foles is not going to make the mistakes we saw him make in this first meeting unless there is pressure, but even if that is the case, he has done a much better job of making throws on the move and not turning the ball over.
On tape, there is nothing fluid about Nick Foles and the way he plays, but he does know where he needs to go with the ball and if things do break down, he does manage to keep his poise and deliver the ball to the open man.
With no disrespect to DeSean Jackson and the way he plays in this scheme, LeSean McCoy is their biggest offensive threat.
This offense likes to spread you out, and then attack you with their running game, taking advantage of the space they are creating. McCoy is the perfect runner for this offense because of his ability to make explosive cuts with the ball in his hands.
Depending which side he lines up next to the quarterback, he can take the ball in the direction of the blocking or he will just allow the flow to go one way, then he will attack the area where the defenders have left.
He can get the ball quickly to the second level and into the secondary. He is dangerous catching the ball in space off the screen and Kelly is not afraid to get it to him in this manor at any point on the field. If the Eagles feel like you are going to blitz them, Kelly will set up the screen to McCoy and just gash the defense with it.
The key to playing any great back is to get bodies to the ball. What I have noticed over the years about McCoy, is that if you can get to him before he makes his cut or has a chance to get rolling, he tends to give up on the play. This is where the Cowboys had their best success with him in the last meeting.
Bryce Brown is McCoy's backup and there are traits that he has that are similar to McCoy but his style is that of a downhill runner more than a slasher.
These defensive players are well aware of what DeSean Jackson brings to this matchup on the outside. Jackson is back to his old tricks as a vertical player in this offense, but with Kelly now at the controls, he has brought back that college element to his game with the quick screens to maximize his ability to get the ball in space.
Kelly likes to move Jackson all over the formation and try to get him the ball quickly. Against the Vikings and Bears, he lined up in the backfield and ran routes from there. On fourth and one against the Vikings, Kelly called a double reverse that went out the gate for a touchdown, but it was called back for an illegal block by Foles.
If I were these Cowboys defensive coaches, I would consider putting Orlando Scandrick on him the entire game and seeing how that matchup plays out. Scandrick is the only defensive back that has the traits that could handle a steady diet of Jackson. You need to find ways to match his speed and quickness.
Riley Cooper is the starter opposite Jackson and he is just as much of a weapon as Jackson, but he does it more down the field. There is a great deal of toughness to his game -- he is what the secondary has faced in Eric Decker and Jordy Nelson. No matter where the ball is thrown, he is going to find a way to come down with it.
He can run vertical routes, he can work underneath, he blocks, there are several things on the field that he does well. He is sneaky fast and his size makes him tough to fight for those contested balls. Would like to see a physical matchup between he and Brandon Carr, but I need the Carr that played in that final drive against the Redskins last Sunday.
I believe you are going to have to press these Eagles receivers and make it tough for them to fight off the line. If they are going to have any success, they are going to have to make it a physical game.
It will be another difficult matchup for the Cowboys linebackers and safeties in regards of having to figure out a way to handle these Eagles tight ends.
Veteran Brent Celek has always been a thorn in the side of Dallas since he came into the league in 2007. He still has the ability to get down the field, find a soft spot in the defense and make a clutch catch. I have always liked him in the red zone and running those option routes inside.
Zach Ertz is a rookie out of Stanford, and some of those traits he had in college like outstanding hands and route running he has carried with him. What has been really impressive about Ertz has been his ability to adjust to the ball that is less than perfect.
He will put himself in some strange positions to make sure he secures the ball. Ertz has become a go-to guy for Foles in this offense. He wasn't very good against the Cowboys last time out, but don't expect the same.
In 2012, the Philadelphia Eagles had one of the worst offensive lines in the league, largely due to injuries. But there were some questions about the skill level as well.
The front office went out and addressed those issues by drafting Lane Johnson in the first round out of Oklahoma. Johnson is very athletic but doesn't have a great deal of strength at this point, and you can see it in his play. His technique and his effort are very good, but you do see him give ground both blocking for the run and pass. [embedded_ad]
Johnson has played both as a guard and a tackle this season. You will see that if the Eagles don't feel he can handle a matchup -- the coaches will give him help. I think this is a guy that you could beat up on this offensive line and have some success.
Jason Peters is the starter on the left side at tackle and has been steady there. In watching Peters, the one thing I have noticed is the longer he has to block, the harder it is for him to sustain it.
Evan Mathis is next to him at guard and like Peters has been good. Mathis is not the most powerful player but it's rare you see him on the ground. He is a much better pass blocker than run. Their best offensive lineman, in my view, is center Jason Kelce. When the Eagles are really running the ball with McCoy, it is usually Kelce that is either making a nice reach block or getting to the second level to handle a linebacker.
Like Mathis, he does a really nice job of playing on his feet and sustaining his block. He's the type of player that, if I were starting to build an offensive line, he would be the first piece that I would try to get. He's a very impressive player.
Todd Herremans plays at the right guard and for years I have tried to replace him, but he keeps hanging in there. Better than what the Cowboys tackles faced last week in Chris Chester but need to take advantage of how overextended he plays at times.