It killed me to sit through another loss to Dallas on Sunday night, but there was reason for optimism. The Eagles played well for much of the game, especially the young players. There is a lot of reason for optimism, even in this miserable season. You never want to lose games, but you at least want to have some benefit from them. Seeing the rookies and young players in action is important. We need to know who can be part of the bounce-back in 2013.
Last week, I wrote about how good
Once again it was Brown's combination of size and speed that was so impressive. Cowboys safety Danny McCray came up quickly on a run play and expected to tackle Brown for a short gain. Oops. He didn't take the correct angle and Brown got by him for a gain of 39 yards. Brown impressed in other ways. He once again showed good vision, finding holes and cutback lanes. He ran through initial contact, which is exactly what you want from a bigger back. Those guys need to play big. The one huge (and I do mean huge) negative was another fumble. Brown fumbled late and Dallas ran it back for a score. That put the game out of reach. He must work on this problem. Brown is extremely talented. He needs the ball, but the coaches must be able to trust him.
Brown got some good blocking. His first touchdown featured an impressive seal block from
The offensive line has really improved in recent weeks. Free agent
Reynolds has come a long way this season. He struggled mightily early on. The Arizona game was brutal. He's a much better player now. Reynolds might have played his way into a job next year. You don't project him ideally as a starter, but he could be a good backup and role player. Reynolds had a real good block on a run late in the half. He snapped the ball at the 17-yard line. He went and blocked a linebacker at the 25-yard line and sustained the block beyond the 30-yard line. That's good mobility and excellent effort. Brown gained 20 yards on the run and jump-started a field goal drive.
This far in and no
The Eagles scored 27 offensive points. The offense was three-for-three in the red zone. Third downs had been a problem in recent weeks, but the Eagles were 6-of-10 on Sunday night. Foles also led a scoring drive late in the half. Good quarterbacks usually come up with points late in the half and/or late in the game.
Stats aside, Foles passed the eye test. He just flat out looked better. He played with more confidence. His footwork was much better, as NBC highlighted. Why can't networks do more of that stuff, which really can enhance a game? Foles made good decisions for the most part. The coaches mixed in some good play-action passes and Foles executed them well. Those were quick throws to
Tommy Lawlor, goeagles99 on the Discussion Boards, is an amateur football scout and devoted Eagles fan. He is the Editor of IgglesBlitz.com and was a contributor to the Eagles Almanac.
There were two highlight throws. The first was a pass to Avant that set up the field goal late in the half. That pass required downfield accuracy and touch. Foles had to put the ball over the intermediate defenders and in front of the deep cover guys. The pass needed loft, but not too much or the deep defenders would be able to break on the ball. Foles also had to get the ball out on time so Avant could catch it before getting to the sideline. Foles’ other standout pass was a touchdown to
It was good to see the wide receivers making plays. They had 161 yards and a touchdown. Last week, the wide receivers only totaled 84 yards. Getting Avant back helped, but the real key was Foles playing better. Cooper caught a slant pass early in the game on a third down and turned that into a gain of 16 yards.
I guess I've put off talking about the defense long enough. They played reasonably well in the first half, but were nearly invisible in the second half. That was very discouraging. Foles and the offense built a 14-3 lead. Dallas would cut into it and the offense would then respond. That showed great character. Unfortunately, the defense could not come up with a second-half stop until late in the game when Dallas went conservative to work on the clock. You cannot win like that.
I was encouraged by the play of
The big problem with the defense was blown coverages. Dallas lined Jason Witten up on the right a few times and then had him run a deep crossing pattern. This confused the defensive backs. They weren't sure who was supposed to cover him because of the deep crossing action. This led to a couple of big gains. Tony Romo was solid in the first half, but lights out after that. He was 10-for-10 in the second half, with three touchdowns. It is driving me nuts to see quarterbacks shred the secondary, week after week. I know Andy Reid and Todd Bowles have to be incredibly frustrated by all the mental mistakes.
Johnson delivered a huge special teams play late in the game. He ran a punt back 98 yards for a touchdown. This is good and bad. You almost never want the returner fielding the ball that deep. It was okay in this situation since the Eagles were trailing by 11 points with less than a minute to go. That's the time to take a risk and see if you can make a play. Johnson got some good blocks and did an excellent job of getting upfield and into the open.
Losing to Dallas is always painful, but it does help to know so many young players made plays and did their part to try and win the game. If the offense can quit turning the ball over and the defense can come up with a takeaway, the team might actually win a game and stop this miserable losing streak. The young guys do have this team headed in the right direction. Hopefully, they'll get a win soon.