Well, I guess the winning streak had to come to an end at some point. This game had every feeling of a trap game, and unfortunately for us Eagles fans, it turned out to be exactly that. In this post, I’ll examine some of the key plays, good and bad, that brought about a loss for the Eagles this week.
First up is Matt Cassel’s 57 yard touchdown pass to Greg Jennings. Cassel may be a backup at this point in his career, but you can’t sleep on him. He has shown the ability to play at a high level, and he can play the position like a true pro. Throws like this are perfect examples of that. Nate Allen is playing deep, but Cassel looks him off to his left, thus opening up space for Jennings on the deep right part of the field. He then works the pocket, stepping up to prevent Trent Cole and Fletcher Cox from getting to him before delivering a perfect strike for the touchdown.
Here’s the view from the endzone so you can see how Cassel works the pocket on this play.
The Eagles’ ensuing drive stalled in the redzone when on 3rd down, Nick Foles was sacked by Jared Allen. Foles was looking in Riley Cooper’s direction after the snap. Cooper runs a square in on this play, but is covered tightly. I’m not sure if there was some mis-communication there, it almost looked like he was about to run a fade route but ended up running the square in. What was missed is that on the right side of the field, Zach Ertz got open on a corner route (which they connected on later in the game)
On the next Eagles’ drive which resulted in a field goal (we’ll get to that later), Foles made a clutch throw on 3rd and 9, delivering a 17 yard strike to Desean Jackson as Minnesota linebacker Audie Cole came in unblocked on a blitz. Check out the job of Foles does of standing in the pocket to deliver this ball, taking a few steps to his right to by an extra split second of time before setting his feet to throw, knowing full well he’s about to get creamed.
And now we get to why that drive ended in a field goal. Chip Kelly made a gutsy call to go for it on 4th down, and makes an even gutsier call to run a double reverse which ends up scoring a touchdown, only to get called by due to an illegal block by Nick Foles. Even though the play ended up not counting, I’m going to show it anyway because it really was a great call that caught the Vikings completely by surprise, so here it is.
With the Eagles trailing 24-9 early in the 3rd quarter, their second drive of the half ended with a Nick Foles interception. This was just a bad read and decision by Foles on this play. The Vikings have the deep pass sniffed out as defensive back Shaun Prater initially starts off on Riley Cooper, but then releases him to the safety and goes to cover Jackson. If Foles was going to throw to Jackson on this play, he needed to hit him on his first cut to the sideline immediately after the playaction fake. By the time Foles threw to Jackson, it was too late. At that point, he should have just hit his checkdown to Chris Polk to his left for the safe gain.
The Eagles began to mount a comeback late in the third quarter when Nick Foles connected with Desean Jackson on a 30 yard touchdown pass on a corner route. Foles does a great job on this play of looking off the safety, preventing him from being in position to make a play on this pass.
And finally we come to the play that in my opinion put the dagger in the Eagles’ hopes of a comeback and completely deflated their sails. After scoring 2 straight touchdowns to make it a 5 point game, the Eagles’ defense had the Vikings in a 3rd down situation with 14 yards to go on the Eagles 42 yard line. But they give up a 37 yard pass to tight end Chase Ford which lead to a touchdown and shifted the momentum back in the Vikings’ favor. Eagles’ linebacker Mychal Kendricks has Ford in man coverage on this play, but Ford ends up winning this battle to make the catch just beyond Kendricks’ outstretched fingers. Colt Anderson then makes things worse with a missed tackle that allows Ford to pick up an additional 25 yards after the catch. Here is the play
Well that’s it for this week’s All-22 review. The Eagles face the Chicago Bears Sunday night in Philadelphia, which potentially could decide the NFC East division championship if Dallas loses to Washington earlier in the day.