Eagles Film Review: Going back to same play with Nick Foles


Eagles Film Review: Going back to same play with Nick Foles

Arguably the best and worst play in the Eagles' 43-35 win Sunday over the Rams came on the same call from Doug Pederson. 

The interception in the first quarter and the key 3rd-and-8 conversion late in the fourth were nearly identical. Carson Wentz was the quarterback for the first one, Nick Foles ran the second. 

Give credit to Pederson. The play clearly didn't work the first time, but he went back to it at a pivotal moment in the game. That's trusting the play and trusting the backup quarterback. 

Let's first take a look at that early interception: 


It's 3rd-and-5 from the Eagles' 30-yard line. Wentz is in shotgun with LeGarrette Blount flanking him. One tight end on the same side. Alshon Jeffery at the top of the screen, Torrey Smith at the bottom. Nelson Agholor (circled) is being given a cushion by Rams cornerback Nickell Roby-Coleman. The aptly named cornerback is the Rams' slot corner in their nickel package. 

The running back and tight end stay in to block, which creates a lot of room in the middle of the field for Agholor vs. Roby-Coleman. Wentz is locked in. The Eagles need to get to the 35-yard line for a first down, so Agholor reaches the top of his route at the 39, before cutting back. 

You can see there's not much of a window here, but this is a back shoulder throw that has to be perfect. 

It's a tight window, and although Wentz hits Agholor in the hands, Roby-Coleman is able to get a paw in there to deflect it to Kayvon Webster, who broke toward the play. Webster picked off the ball on the deflection and the Rams took over in Eagles' territory and scored a few plays later. 

So the play didn't work the first time. Had the throw been absolutely perfect and if Agholor could have made a great catch, it would have. But this is a play that has to be perfect to work. 

The next time, it was. 

This probably looks pretty familiar. It's 3rd-and-8 from the Eagles' 23-yard line. With 1:52 left in a two-point game, they know if they pick up this first down, they can pretty much run down the clock and escape Los Angeles with a win. This is huge. 

Same play. This time, Foles is in shotgun with Blount next to him. The tight end on the same side; both will block again. Jeffery and Smith are the wideouts. But we'll focus on Agholor (circled). He's against Roby-Coleman again and has that cushion. 

Foles is locked on Agholor, just like Wentz was in the first quarter, but there's just not much separation. Really, there's no separation. Roby-Coleman plays this really well. 

Foles needs his pass to be absolutely perfect. He needs to put it in a spot where only Agholor can catch it. 

How's this for perfect? 

On this particular play, Foles actually threw a better pass than Wentz did in the first quarter. Now, Foles obviously isn't going to be Wentz, but this pass should at least give fans some confidence. 

And confidence isn't lacking. At an absolutely pivotal moment of the game, Pederson went back to a play that produced an interception the first time. And he went back to it with his backup quarterback who hasn't really played much all season. It was gutsy, it worked out and it shows the head coach's confidence in his new QB.

On Wednesday, Pederson pointed out Foles and Agholor were able to complete this pass after not working together all week or all season. All those reps have been going to Wentz. Now, Foles will get the chance to work with Agholor and the other starters the rest of the way. 

Nick Foles vs. Carson Wentz? Stop fighting about it!

Nick Foles vs. Carson Wentz? Stop fighting about it!

They’ve been fighting nonstop on my Twitter timeline. Nick vs. Carson. Carson vs. Nick.

“Nick won a Super Bowl! What’s Carson ever won?!?!”

“Carson’s so much better when he’s healthy!!!”

“Nick gets the ball deep! Carson only dumps it off to Ertz!!!”

“Carson threw deep all the time last year when he was healthy, what are you talking about?!?!”

“Nick knows how to win big games. Carson’s never won a big game in his life!!!”

“Nick is so inconsistent. He didn’t even throw a touchdown against the Rams and had a bad interception, and everybody’s saying how great he played!”

“All Nick does is win. When’s the last time he lost a big game?”

“Carson was the league MVP through 13 games! If it wasn’t for him going 11-2, Nick never would have even been in the playoffs!!!”

“Trade Carson!!!” … “See ya, Nick!!!” … “Carson sucks!!!” … “Nick sucks!!!” … “You SUCK!!!” … “No, YOU Suck!!!”

Enough already.

It’s never been about Nick Foles vs. Carson Wentz and it never should be. They’re different quarterbacks with different strengths and weaknesses, and without both of them the Eagles wouldn’t have won a Super Bowl last year, and without both of them the Eagles wouldn’t be where they are now, with a small chance to get back to the playoffs.

We’ve had so many bad quarterbacks around here.

We lived through Brad Goebel, Ken O’Brien and Pat Ryan.

We survived Bobby Hoying, Koy Detmer and Doug Pederson.

We endured Vince Young, Mike McMahon and Sam Bradford.

We tried to believe in Kevin Kolb, Matt Barkley and Mike Kafka.

Now we have two quarterbacks who are both pretty flippin’ great, and instead of bickering about which one of them is better or some nonsense, we should be celebrating them.

They’re both homegrown Howie Roseman draft picks. They’re both winners. They both love being Eagles. They’re both genuinely good, down-to-earth dudes.

You don’t have to pick a side here. You don’t have to be a Nick guy or a Carson guy. It shouldn’t be about that.

It should be clear to anybody that’s paying attention that they’re both elite quarterbacks when healthy. I’d be thrilled to have either one of them quarterbacking my team.

When Wentz's wins take the Eagles on a nine-game winning streak, like he did last year, it doesn’t mean Foles stinks.

And when Foles leads them on a historic playoff run that culminates in a Super Bowl title, like he did last year, it doesn’t mean Wentz stinks.

The reality is that the Eagles can only move forward with one of them, and Doug Pederson hasn’t wavered since Day 1 that Wentz is that guy.

And that’s the right call. Wentz is four years younger and, when he’s healthy, he’s as good as anybody.

The injuries can be a concern, but it’s not like Foles has never gotten hurt. He missed the second half of 2014 with a broken collarbone and then drifted to the Rams and Chiefs before returning here last year.

An Eagles fan at LAX Monday morning asked me if I had one game I absolutely had to win, who would I rather have at quarterback, Foles or Wentz?

I thought about it for a second. We’ve seen Foles win a Super Bowl with an otherworldly performance, but we’ve also seen him struggle through a lot of really shaky games. We’ve seen Wentz play at a consistently high level for most of his career, but he hasn’t played in the postseason yet.

Tough call. Tough choice. 

But then the correct answer hit me: Either one.

They’re both phenomenal quarterbacks. They’re both tremendous leaders. They’re both winners.

I like my chances with either one.

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Updated Eagles playoff chances after Panthers' loss on Monday Night Football

Updated Eagles playoff chances after Panthers' loss on Monday Night Football

The Eagles took care of their business Sunday night and then they got a little help Monday night. 

After the Eagles beat the Rams, 30-23, at the LA Coliseum, the Panthers lost to the Saints, 12-9, on MNF. And it has slightly improved the Eagles’ chances to make the playoffs. 

The Eagles’ chances to make the playoffs moved up from 37 percent to 39 percent after the Panthers’ loss, according to FiveThirtyEight. 

Let’s take a look at the NFC playoff picture: 

Division leaders 

xSaints: 12-2
xRams: 11-3
xBears: 10-4
Cowboys: 8-6

x-Clinched division

Wild card

Seahawks: 8-6
Vikings: 7-6-1 

In the hunt

Eagles: 7-7
Redskins: 7-7
Panthers: 6-8

• Basically, the Panthers’ loss last night put them a game behind the Eagles and Redskins, who are still trailing the Vikings because of that tie between the Vikings and Packers earlier this season. The Panthers’ loss is big because they had the head-to-head tiebreaker with the Eagles. 

• According to FiveThirtyEight, if the Eagles beat Houston, their playoff chances improve to 53 percent. If they win the next two weeks, their playoff chances are up to 74 percent, but that’s independent of everything else. There’s no guarantee they’d make the playoffs if that happens. 

• The Eagles’ best chance to make it to the playoffs is to take care of their business and beat the Texans and Redskins in these last two games and hope Minnesota loses a game. If that happens, the Eagles would be in the playoffs, because they will have beaten the Redskins too. 

• The Vikings’ last two games are at Detroit and then vs. Chicago in the season finale. If the Eagles win the next two and the Vikings lose one, then the Eagles are in the playoffs. Heck, if the Eagles win this weekend and the Vikings lose to the Lions, the Eagles' playoff odds would already be at 75 percent and it would likely come down to that season finale in Washington. 

• There’s still a very outside chance (five percent) the Eagles can win the NFC East. For that to happen, the Cowboys would need to lose their last two (vs. TAM, @NYG) and the Eagles would need to win their last two. 

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