Oakland Raiders

How Eagles' run D can make history Sunday

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How Eagles' run D can make history Sunday

Some good, some bad in this week's Roob's Stats. Don't worry … it's mostly good!

• The Eagles haven't allowed a rushing touchdown in their last nine home games. That's the 10th-longest streak in NFL history and five shy of the NFL record of 14, set by the 1995 and 1996 Steelers. Only four teams have gone an entire season without allowing a rushing TD at home — the 1942 Chicago Cards, 1977 Bills, 1985 Saints and 2005 Arizona Cardinals. 

• The Eagles' one third-down conversion Monday night was their fewest in 13 years since they went 0-for-8 in a loss to the Steelers in 2004 — their only loss that year with the starters in the lineup. This was the first game the Eagles won with just one third-down conversion since Nov. 18, 1990, when they beat the Falcons 24-23 despite going 1 for 9 on third down. Their one conversion in that game came on their first third down. They had a 3rd-and-5 on their first drive and Randall Cunningham converted it with a 10-yard pass to Keith Byars.

• With one TD pass and one INT, Nick Foles extended the Eagles' streak of games with one or more touchdown pass and one or fewer interception to 17, dating back to the end of last year. That's the third-longest streak in NFL history, behind the Falcons' 21-game stretch from 2015 through earlier this year and an 18-game streak by the 49ers over the 1994 and 1995 seasons.

• Zach Ertz's nine-catch game was his 12th career game with eight or more receptions. That's 12th-most in NFL history by a tight end and most in Eagles history by any player.

• Ertz locked up his third straight season with 70 or more catches and 800 or more yards. He and Travis Kelce are the only tight ends to do that in each of the last three seasons, and he's the first player in Eagles history to do it three straight years. Only seven tight ends in NFL history have had longer streaks with 70 catches and 800 yards.

• The Eagles have seven players with two or more interceptions — Patrick Robinson (four), Rodney McLeod, Jalen Mills and Ronald Darby (three each) and Corey Graham, Rasul Douglas and Malcolm Jenkins (two each). This is the first time since 1991 they’ve had seven players with two or more interceptions. In 1991, it was Eric Allen (five), Wes Hopkins (five), Seth Joyner (three), Rich Miano (three), Byron Evans (two), Ben Smith (two) and Otis Smith (two).

• Derek Barnett's touchdown as the game ended Monday night was the first by an Eagles' rookie defensive lineman in 36 years, since Greg Brown recovered a Joe Theismann fumble and returned it four yards for a touchdown against the Redskins at the Vet on Sept. 27, 1981.

• The Eagles won despite netting just 219 yards of offense. That's their fewest yards in a win in 12 years, since they had 201 in a 17-16 win over the Rams in 2005 with Mike McMahon at quarterback at the Edward Jones Dome.

• Monday's game was the first in which the Eagles forced five turnovers in a half since the last day of the 1999 season, when they forced six in the second half of a win against the eventual Super Bowl-champion Rams at the Vet. Those six turnovers were a Mike Mamula interception of Kurt Warner, a Robert Holcombe fumble forced by Tim Hauck (now an Eagles assistant coach) and recovered by Barry Gardner, a Rashard Cook strip-sack of Joe Germaine recovered by Mamula, a Cook interception of Germaine, a Watson fumble forced by Gardner and recovered by Hauck and a pick-six off Germaine by Al Harris.

• If the Eagles gain 55 or more rushing yards and allow 61 or fewer rushing yards Sunday, they will become the fifth team in NFL history to gain 2,100 or more rushing yards and allow 1,200 or fewer rushing yards. 

Don't forget Nick Foles' stunning comeback last time he bottomed out

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Don't forget Nick Foles' stunning comeback last time he bottomed out

Nick Foles’ performance on Christmas Day wasn’t the worst game of his NFL career. Not even close.

Foles completed 50.0 percent of his passes for 4.3 yards per attempt with a touchdown and an interception in the Eagles’ 19-10 win Monday over the Raiders — and the quarterback’s performance was even more brutal than that line would indicate. Inaccurate. Holding the ball too long. Throwing off of his back foot. Risky decision making.

Doesn’t exactly inspire confidence for the Eagles’ upcoming playoff run. But it wasn’t Foles’ worst.

There are several games that could objectively qualify as Foles’ worst, though one comes to mind for its relevance. The sixth-year veteran once completed 37.9 percent for a 2.3 average in a 17-3 loss to the Cowboys, experiencing many of the same issues we witnessed against Oakland. Inaccurate. Holding the ball too long. Throwing off of his back foot. Risky decision making.

Yet, whatever similarities may exist between those two contests is not what brought Foles’ dreadful Cowboys performance to mind. It’s what happened afterward.

It turned out Foles sustained a concussion at some point during that 2013 outing against the Cowboys and would miss the next game against the Giants. Then upon returning one week later, he was suddenly unstoppable.

Foles immediately followed perhaps the worst game of his career with his best, completing 78.6 percent of his passes for a 14.5 average and tying the NFL record with seven touchdowns against the Raiders. That was only the beginning. He threw 23 touchdowns to only two interceptions over a span of nine games, including the playoffs, leading the Eagles on a 7-2 run during that span.

That’s Foles. One week, he can do no wrong, throwing for over 400 yards and multiple touchdowns. The next, he could struggle to lead a scoring drive or so much as complete a pass, and all his worst habits will rear their ugly heads at once.

To borrow a term from The Athletic's Sheil Kapadia, Foles is a “high-variance” quarterback. And while that may not be ideal for an Eagles team with Super Bowl aspirations, what it means is his bad game Monday isn’t necessarily reason to panic, either.

The book is out on Foles. Give him time in the pocket and weapons, and he can pick you apart. Get him thinking too much and make him move his feet, and he’s prone to slumping.

But the nice thing about Foles coming off a bad game is he typically doesn’t let that carry over into the next one.

Almost every time Foles has played what could objectively be considered one of the worst games of his career, he’s bounced back with a solid performance. Ten times Foles has posted a passer rating below 70.0 in a start — seven times, he responded with a rating of 85.0 or better the following week.

All three exceptions were right in a row, leading to Foles losing his starting job with the Rams. Of course, Foles didn't have time in the pocket or the weapons he does with the Eagles, and until Christmas, he had played well in starts or relief appearances since.

There's still no telling whether Foles is good enough to lead the Eagles deep into the playoffs. However, basing that opinion on how he performed in one game seems faulty, when he's shown an ability to correct mistakes and adapt throughout his career.

In other words, don't be surprised if Foles comes through with a much stronger performance when the playoffs open in January. Time will tell whether it will be enough to take the Eagles anywhere, but don't count Foles out just yet.

What Nick Foles learned from Monday night nightmare

What Nick Foles learned from Monday night nightmare

Nick Foles has been taking first-team reps in the Eagles' walkthroughs this week so it appears he's going to at least start in Sunday's meaningless regular-season finale. 

That's good. 

Because he and the rest of the offense have plenty to work on. 

The offense had a lackluster showing against the Raiders on Christmas night and the Eagles needed five takeaways on defense to pull out a close win. When asked what he learned from rewatching the tape, Foles mentioned staying "inside the chains" and keeping themselves out of 2nd- and 3rd-and-long situations. 

The Eagles went into last weekend as the NFL's top third-down offense but went just 1 for 14 on third downs against the Raiders. 

What can Foles do to improve in those situations?

"If stuff's not open downfield, get it to the back right away," Foles said. "If we get three yards, we get three yards. And then it's 2nd-and-7. That's better than 2nd-and-10. It's little things like that, where it's all correctable that I see on film, taking the completions. Obviously, be aggressive downfield, but if it's not there, get to the checkdown right away." 

The thought of Foles opting to check down more than he already does might make some Eagles fans nauseous, but Foles doesn't have Carson Wentz's escapability and his penchant for turning nothing into something. 

And Foles and the Eagles have a point about the bad situations they put themselves in on Monday. They had a total of 16 third-down situations (two were converted by penalty) and faced an average of 7.4 yards to go. Four of 16 were from 10 yards or more! That's not a recipe for success. 

"So whether it's me being smart with the football, keeping the ball in play, giving our guys the opportunity to make plays," Foles said, "that will help us a lot." 

Another thing Foles learned from Monday's game is that he needs to find a way to get Alshon Jeffery more involved. Monday was, statistically speaking, the worst game of Jeffery's six-year career. He had zero catches and was targeted just twice. It was his second-career two-target game and second-career zero-catch game. The others came in his rookie season in 2012. 

Chemistry between quarterback and receiver is especially important for a player like Jeffery, who is known for timing routes and 50-50 balls. Jeffery said he isn't worried about their chemistry (see story), but it takes a certain level of trust for a quarterback to throw the ball to a receiver who is covered. It's hard to build that trust in two games and a few practices.

And it's one thing for Foles to realize during the week that he should give Jeffery a chance at those 50-50 balls. It's another during a game, when bodies are flying and he's going through his progressions, to see Jeffery with a man on him and still pull the trigger. 

"It's hard to cover Alshon and even when he's covered, he's not covered," Foles said. "That's definitely something I took from the last game and I'll move forward with."