Eagles Offense vs. Cardinals Defense

A battle of two heel-digging sides: the offense that moves at will, and the defense that shuts down with sheer might.


The phrase, "How did Nick Foles not see Antrel Rolle?" isn't enough to dampen the sweet taste the 27-0 Sunday night shellacking left in Eagles fans' mouths. Foles threw two virtually-inexcusable interceptions, but didn't otherwise pay for his mistakes. In fact, the second interception led to a Giants drive that ended on a blown fourth-and-goal, that fact secondary to Victor Cruz tearing his knee out in a freak occurrence.

Foles' two errant passes took a backseat to the running-game rejuvenation, which is far more than LeSean McCoy simply straightening up and flying right. Foles took a number of snaps from under center, less from shotgun, in the shut-out win. This created better running lanes for McCoy, and allowed Foles a better opportunity to communicate with less-experienced center David Molk.

Nick Foles

Wee bit daunting that five of Foles' seven picks on the year have come over the last three weeks, and yet the offense generally seems to rub dirt on those wounds quickly enough (save for the 49ers game). A year ago, Foles handled the Cardinals expertly, throwing three touchdowns and no picks on 62 percent completions. Nine of Foles' 21 completions in that win were split among tight ends Zach Ertz (five, two for TDs) and Brent Celek (four, one TD).

KEY STAT: Foles has been content hitting shorter targets lately; over the first three games, Foles averaged 8.01 yards per attempt. In the last three, Foles averages 5.80

LeSean McCoy

Shady's back; tell a friend. A helluva performance from Molk at center, and improved handoff technique, both played a part in getting McCoy to where he could juke, cut, and dash to his heart's content. More than his natural abilities, McCoy simply looked comfortable, striding around edges with no hesitation, all burst. Against a rock-solid Cardinals run defense, an encore of those 149 yards may be a tall order, though.

KEY STAT: In one game, McCoy went from averaging 2.90 YPA rushing on the season to 3.64.

Zach Ertz

In that victory vs. the Cardinals last season, Foles leaned on his tight ends to great early success. I theorized that this year's Giants, who play just as similarly with a tough pass rush and pressing corners, can be beaten by making the most of the tight ends. Ertz continues to look better game after game, catching his second touchdown of the year in that Sunday nighter, hauling in a fluttering out-pass with a corner (Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie) on him.

KEY STAT: Ertz has averaged 13 yards ore more per completion in four of the Eagles five wins, and is on pace for 816 yards for the year.

Jason Peters

One of the unsung stars in that shutout, Peters bullied Jason Pierre-Paul, making the defensive end sorry that he ever made a mathematically-incorrect taunt publicly. Allowing just two hurries in the game, Peters boxed out 'JPP' so well in the first half, Tom Coughlin and Perry Fewell had to move Pierre-Paul to the other side of the line after halftime in the hopes of generating more pressure. That's some respect for Peters' abilities.

KEY STAT: In six games, All-Pro Peters has allowed only eight pressures: a sack (in Week 1), a hit (in Week 3), and six hurries.


The 3.15 yards-per-rush allowed by Todd Bowles' defense are the lowest in the NFL, hemming in the likes of Rashad Jennings, Alfred Morris, and Ryan Mathews below four yards a pop. Just as McCoy finds traction and makes tracks on long runs, it's possible that he's running into a buzzsaw out in the desert.

Not a single Cardinals opponent this season has hit 100 rushing yards as a team, with the 49ers peaking at 92. It's a defense that implores you to try and throw on them, daunting you with their eight interceptions. Only Peyton Manning has been able to upend this defense, to the tune of 41 points. That the final 17 had to come in the fourth quarter projects how hard that D will make you work.

Tommy Kelly

33-year-old Kelly was having himself a pedestrian season after being plucked from the Patriots scrap heap, but he got himself up for the showdown with another old team, the Raiders. Kelly accumulated three hurries and a run stop on Sunday, playing on nearly 80 percent of the defense's snaps. Even as the girthy Kelly gets older, he's an instinctive defender who can work the edges and create pressure. At any age, he can give Jason Peters and Lane Johnson a challenge.

KEY STAT: Kelly's 12 quarterback hurries are the most on the team, and nine more than the next non-injured defensive lineman (Kareem Martin and Frostee Rucker).

Kevin Minter

It's the LSU player on Arizona's defense that you *don't* often hear of. Linebacker Minter is a second-rounder out of last year's draft that brings consistently-solid coverage against the run. Minter ran a respectable 4.67 in the 40 at least year's Combine, and hauls his near 250 pounds to the line to stop the run, and to prevent long gains on the outside. Being serviceable is a trait of the lesser-spoken name, but Minter would probably take being reliable any day.

KEY STAT: Minter may be a liability in pass coverage, giving up four catches on five targets for 41 yards.

Patrick Peterson

There was a time when Peterson's name took its place among modern-day elite NFL corners like Richard Sherman, Darrelle Revis, and Joe Haden. 2014's been far less kind to Peterson, who has struggled mightily in pass coverage throughout the season. Not only does Peterson have no interceptions and a single pass-deflection to his credit this year, he's been regularly toasted over the top. There has hardly been a game this year where a fan of Arizona's opponent has gone, "Geez, that Peterson is something else." That's a hefty drop-off.

KEY STAT: NFL quarterbacks possess a 124.9 QB rating when throwing Peterson's way, with four touchdowns, no picks, and 126 yards after the catch.

Statistics from Pro Football Focus were used to write this story.

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