Foles has said if it takes hunker-down comebacks to win games, then that's what the Eagles will do. Chip Kelly conceded that you can't go down by 17 points in the NFL and expect to win, and Foles knows this. However, it's a good feeling to have in your young quarterback that he can lead a pair of fourth-quarter comebacks to start a season, leaping out of the 0-2 fire with sudden precision.
Foles' accuracy's been dicey early this season. A big part of that are drops from the likes of Riley Cooper, Jordan Matthews, and Brent Celek. Even LeSean McCoy bobbled a few tosses in the flat on Monday night, which seems to be a slight mechanical issue on Foles' part. It seems like something that can be worked out, especially given Kelly's minute attention to detail.
Foles has found a friend in Darren Sproles, completing two throws of 50+ yards on Monday night, including a 51-yard gasher that set up Jeremy Maclin's late tying touchdown. After observing the Jaguars and Colts collapse in the second halves, it's possible that the Eagles' commitment to building individual endurance is really paying off. A player like Sproles is deadly enough in the flat under normal circumstances; an up-tempo offense against a gasping defense is only more nightmarish.
Most impressive from Monday night's win: no sacks allowed. With Dennis Kelly and Andrew Gardner pressed in for an important stretch, the Eagles line gave Foles time to make his throws, and held up for the entire game.
That will be tested against a Redskins defense that racked up a franchise record-tying ten sacks on Sunday, whipping Chad Henne around like an F5 tornado. Ryan Kerrigan led the charge with four sacks, while Perry Riley and Jason Hatcher (the middle presence Washington has needed) each added 1.5 drops to the cause.
It's hard to gauge the effectiveness of Jim Haslett's defense, since they had zero sacks in Week One against the Texans. From zero to ten to...what exactly? You can't really say 'the Redskins average five sacks a game', even if it's mathematically accurate. The Eagles' cobbled-together line held up a Colts pass rush that's mostly non-existent, so the match-up up front this week will be telling.
The secondary will be an interesting test. Foles had his struggles with Vontae Davis and Greg Toler on Monday night, at least in the early going, and the Redskins present a curious duo: DeAngelo Hall and David Amerson.
Amerson, a 2013 second-round pick, was one of the deep standouts of the win over the Jaguars. Pro Football Focus says that Henne's rating when targeting Amerson was a mere 70.8. Amerson did allow six completions in his direction, but for a mere 45 yards. Given that Foles can stretch the field with flings to McCoy and Sproles, Amerson's tight coverage can prove irrelevant. After all, Cooper and Matthews have combined for a mere eight catches, and yet the running backs are the ones pumping up the pass.
Game-planning for the running backs in the screen game will alleviate pressure on the receivers downfield, but will the Redskins think that far ahead this week? That's not to mention Zach Ertz (23.3 yards per catch, 163 yards on seven completions), who no linebacker or safety seems able to cover. Can an aging Ryan Clark solve him?
LeSean McCoy, Darren Sproles vs. Redskins Run Defense
Gaining 4.5 yards a run is pretty impressive, but the Eagles merely rank 14th in the category. That's degrees off of their 5.1 YPA average a year ago, which was tops in the league. Despite second-half brilliance from McCoy and Sproles slicing up the edges (particularly with the unsung Jason Kelce out in front), the total game from the backs has yet to prove truly dominant.
So far, the Eagles have five rushes of 15+ yards in two games: three from McCoy (peaking with 21 on Monday night) and two from Sproles (the 49 and 19-yard touchdowns). For what it's worth, two of those runs came on third-and-beyond ten, while one was the fourth-and-one Sproles dash for daylight.
The Redskins, to their credit, have not allowed any runs of 15+ yards yet this season. Henne scrambled for 12 yards against them, while Arian Foster is the lone running back to hit ten yards on Washington, hitting the mark once.
The run-stopping unit did have issues against the Texans, with Bacarri Rambo (since released) and Ryan Clark missing tackles. The front line of Jarvis Jenkins and Hatcher stand up strongly against the run, but linebacker Riley has struggled against the run, as well as pass coverage. If he ends up trying to cover Ertz, that's quite bad for the Redskins, and worse if he has to chase after a streaking Sproles.
Riley's taken 46 snaps on run plays, more than any other linebacker other than Keenan Robinson. Given the amount of runs and screens in the Eagles' playbook, it's going to be hard for the Redskins to keep up in the speed game.
Statistics from Pro Football Focus were used to write this story.
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