Eagles

Enough blame to go around for Eagles' last 2 games

usa-torrey-smith-eagles.jpg
USA Today Images

Enough blame to go around for Eagles' last 2 games

It's not just the quarterback. It might be mainly the quarterback, but the last two weeks have been disastrous for the entire offense, not just one person.

The Eagles' offense scored just 10 points the last two weeks of the regular season, an ugly win over the Raiders that locked up the No. 1 seed and an uglier 6-0 loss to the Cowboys in a game that had no impact on the standings.

In the process, they netted fewer than 220 yards of offense in consecutive games for the first time since 2005, went 3-for-25 on third down and recorded 12 or fewer first downs in consecutive games for the first time since late in the 2001 season.

They became the first 13-win team in NFL history shut out in its final game.

“I think that obviously we aren’t happy with the way we’ve performed the last two weeks," Jason Kelce said.

"We don’t really have time to worry. We’re just trying to focus on getting better and improving what’s going wrong, why it’s happening and correct it. You’re always just trying to improve what you did wrong and not do it again. It’s just been a frustrating last couple of weeks.”

Through the Giants game, Foles' first start in place of Carson Wentz, the Eagles led the NFL with 31.3 points per game, and were third with 387 yards per game.

Since then … disaster.

No team in NFL history has ever scored 20 or fewer points the last two weeks of a season and gone on to win a playoff game.

The Eagles scored 19 the last two weeks of this season — only 13 of them courtesy of the offense.

Thanks to their 13-3 record, the Eagles are the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoff bracket. They'll be at home at 4:35 p.m. a week from Saturday against the winner of the Saints-Panthers game unless the Falcons beat the Rams, in which case they'd face the Falcons.

“I’m excited about what we’ve earned," Torrey Smith said. "Because of the way we played early in the year we have the opportunity to take a step back with the bye week and start to prepare for the next team.

"It’s almost like we get to hit the reset button. Everybody does. It doesn’t matter if we’re 13-3 if we go out there and blow it the first game. We need to go out and handle our business, continue to get better this week, pay attention to the fundamentals and play like the Eagles we are."

Foles has been horrible, but he's not the Eagles' only concern on offense. Although everything is clearly related.

After averaging 148 rushing yards per game and 4.7 per carry the first 11 weeks, they were at 99 and 4.0 the last five games.

And big plays have been disappeared. After recording 22 plays of 30 yards or more the first 12 weeks of the season, the offense produced just two the last four games.

They didn't have an offensive touchdown longer than 32 yards the last seven weeks of the season after recording eight the first nine weeks.

“It’s not rocket science," said Smith, who had a costly drop on the Eagles' first drive Sunday. "You just gotta do it.

"The coaches can’t do anything about me trying to take off without the ball. That’s me. I catch that ball, I'm scoring. That's me. I didn’t get it done. So it's execution. We just can’t shoot ourselves in the foot.

"It's always execution. We've been in a lot of third and longs and that's never a good thing. We have to stay in third and manageable and make the plays when they're there."

None of the Eagles' wide receivers were here when Foles was the Eagles' quarterback from 2012 through 2014, and their lack of chemistry shows.

Foles' longest completions since Wentz got hurt were a 32-yard catch-and-run by Jay Ajayi and a 25-yarder to Zach Ertz. A running back and a tight end.

Foles hasn't hit a pass longer than 19 yards to a wide receiver over these last 2 ½ games.

“Obviously any time you kind of go to a new person at the position it’s going to take some time to build that chemistry and I think the next week is going to be almost like training camp, getting on the same page with Nick," Ertz said. "That’s going to be the focus."

How Eagles could shut down Vikings' receiving duo

usa-stefon-diggs-adam-thielen.jpg
USA Today Images

How Eagles could shut down Vikings' receiving duo

When you think about the best wide receivers in the NFL today, names like Antonio Brown, Julio Jones, and DeAndre Hopkins come to mind and rightfully so, but the Minnesota Vikings have a pair of wideouts who have given opposing secondaries fits.

This season, Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs have been the perfect complement to each other. Thielen finished the regular season with 91 receptions (eighth-best in the league), 1276 yards (fifth-best) and his 20 catches for 20 or more yards tied for fifth-best overall. As for Diggs, he finished with 64 receptions for 849 yards.

Together, Thielen and Diggs accounted for 54 percent of the Vikings' receiving yards this season. They also combined for 12 touchdowns. In the Vikes' miraculous playoff win over the New Orleans Saints, they accounted for 66 percent of the passing game. They have been the safety valves for Case Keenum all season long.

Minnesota offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur has the rare luxury of lining up either one of them on the inside or outside on any given play. Both are excellent route runners — whether it's doing deep or intermediate routes or crossing routes, and both are excellent blockers.

So how should Jim Schwartz defend against these two? Some believe help over the top on Thielen and playing single coverage on Diggs is the way to go. We may see that concept occasionally in the NFC Championship Game but I have a feeling Schwartz will come up with some variation we have not seen before. The Eagles are not going to completely shut these two down, but their damage can be minimized. Ronald Darby, Jalen Mills, Patrick Robinson and the other DBs will put in a full day’s work shadowing these two.

Howie Roseman honored for his tremendous offseason

ap-howie-roseman-eagles.jpg
AP Images

Howie Roseman honored for his tremendous offseason

As the Eagles practiced on Thursday afternoon, just a few days before hosting the NFC Championship Game at Lincoln Financial Field, vice president of football operations Howie Roseman stood next to owner Jeff Lurie and watched the team he created. 

Of the 53 members on the Eagles' roster heading into this championship game, 25 weren't on the active roster last season. Roseman had a very busy offseason, molding the Eagles into a Super Bowl contender. 

For his efforts, the 42-year-old Roseman, who began with the Eagles as an intern in 2000, has been named the NFL Executive of the Year by the Pro Football Writers of America. 

Roseman helped turn over a roster that went 7-9 last season into a team that went 13-3, earning the first-overall seed in the NFC. He built the team with enough depth to survive major injuries to Carson Wentz, Jason Peters, Darren Sproles, Jordan Hicks, Chris Maragos and Caleb Sturgis. 

Never afraid to make a trade, Roseman came back from his time away from football operations more aggressive than ever. He claims his year away from GM duties while Chip Kelly took over was both humbling and eye-opening. 

For this season, Roseman traded 25 spots in the third round to bring in veteran defensive tackle Tim Jernigan, traded away Jordan Matthews and a pick to bring in cornerback Ronald Darby and pulled the trigger on a midseason move to bring in Pro Bowl running back Jay Ajayi. 

In free agency, he signed Alshon Jeffery, Chris Long, LeGarrette Blount, Nick Foles, Patrick Robinson and Chance Warmack. He brought in several of those players on one-year prove-it deals, and for the most part, the team has gotten more than their money's worth out of them. 

He also helped hire VP of player personnel Joe Douglas to revamp the scouting department. That hire of a top personnel man was one of the conditions when Lurie reinstated Roseman to power following Kelly's dismissal. 

Roseman and Douglas spearheaded drafting a class that included Derek Barnett in the first round, an injured Sidney Jones in the second and some other contributors in the next five rounds. 

Aside from just bringing players in, Roseman has been able to manipulate the salary cap better than anyone in the league. It's been a strength of his since his arrival in Philly, so that should be no surprise. 

You could actually argue that Roseman's 2016 was more impressive. That's when he laid the groundwork for this playoff season by moving up and drafting Carson Wentz. But 2017 is when it all came together.