Eagles' pace of play high, but not points

The Eagles proved last week they can score in a hurry. Consistency, however, is an issue.

The Philadelphia Eagles are known for their fast-paced offense, and their fourth quarter against the Lions last Sunday proved it. The Eagles were held to just six points through the first three quarters of the game, then erupted for 28 points in the fourth quarter.

But it wasn't their passing game that did most of the damage. RB LeSean McCoy bolted for 57- and 40-yard touchdowns and Chris Polk added a 38-yard touchdown run. The Eagles were the first team in NFL history to have three touchdown runs of 30 yards or more in one quarter, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

To date, the Eagles aren't overwhelming in points per game. They currently rank ninth in the NFL with 334 points scored. But it's their pace of play that has tested opponents.

"We've seen a little bit of it obviously sprinkled in, but I think if they're going to do it consistently – that's what I think Baltimore would've done, maybe not quite as up tempo, obviously barring the conditions. You've got to prepare for it," LB Chad Greenway said. "You've got to definitely change the way you're calling defenses and just try to help yourself as much as you can."

All across the NFL last week, scoring was up, setting a record.

NFL teams combined to score 104 touchdowns in Week 14, the most in a single week in NFL history. Ninety of those touchdowns were scored on Sunday, the most in a single day in NFL history.

The Week 14 total brought the season total to 1,096 touchdowns scored, the most at this point in NFL history (1,055 in 2012). Of the 1,096 touchdowns, 662 have been passes, the most through the first 14 weeks of any season. The previous high was 620 in 2012.

The Eagles were noted for putting up four touchdowns in one quarter, but, like the Vikings and Ravens, the Eagles were playing on a snow-covered field. Will the faster track of the Metrodome help the Eagles offense even more?

"I wonder. They put up some numbers on snow," Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said. "For a back (LeSean McCoy) to be able to run like that, I think Detroit has a pretty good front, it's pretty impressive. So now you get them on a fast track, you wonder, is that a good thing or a bad thing? But we'll have to find a way to slow them down."

The Eagles also didn't kick a field goal or extra point in their 34 points scored against on Sunday. Neither did their opponent, the Lions, who scored 20 points. It was the highest scoring game in NFL history with no points scored on kicks.

On Sunday, they bring that to the Metrodome.

"We're getting ready for fast-break football coming in town," Vikings defensive coordinator Alan Williams said. "The guys are excited about playing a good team. They've heard about it all year long with Chip Kelly's offense in town and looking forward to a big test in how to defend it in all phases; backed up, middle of the field, red zone, they do an excellent job of keeping you on your heels, pressing you mentally and physically. The guys are looking forward to the challenge to see how they respond."

The Eagles offense is unconventional in many ways.

Kelly's frenetic pace, a component he instilled as head coach at Oregon, has led to a third-place ranking for the Eagles in the number of offensive plays run. They are third in yards per game (409.3), second in yards per play (6.2) and sixth in first downs per game (21.6).

But veteran defensive end Jared Allen said the Vikings can't get too caught up in the pre-snap hype.

"I compare it kind of to a Peyton Manning. Peyton's doing all this stuff with his hands. He's at the line, checking plays here and there. Eventually the ball has to be snapped," Allen said. "You have to run a play. The blocking's not going to change. From the defensive line's standpoint, we're going to get one of four blocks, right? So where it gets to people I think is people start rushing. They try to get out of their call.

"They get you into a rhythm and then they break your rhythm, either with a hard count or a play action or something like that. When the ball's snapped, it's still gap responsibilities. A belly is still a belly. A slash is still a slash. A pass is a pass. So, you know, at some point try not to outthink it. Just line up and play football and whoop the man in front of you and try to make a tackle."

But, for all the accolades the Eagles offense receives for pace and excitement, they are only ninth in the NFL in scoring. The Eagles stop soaring in the red zone, where they rank 29th in the NFL by scoring touchdowns only 46.5 percent of the time they get inside the opponent's 20-yard line.

Worse yet, they are dead last in the NFL in time of possession, averaging 26 minutes, 4 seconds of possession per game.

They can create a frenzy, but can that frenzy lead to dominance?

"Like always, we want to make sure that we're worried about ourselves. You don't want to self-destruct," Williams said. "You want to get lined up. You want to make sure everyone's communicating. It's no secret if you have to call out the coverage and the front that you're playing. … You want your guys to be able to play as fast and to match their tempo mentally and physically to be able to be successful."

Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.

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