How Eagles must protect Nick Foles from Raiders' force of nature

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How Eagles must protect Nick Foles from Raiders' force of nature

The Eagles faithful had a reason to relax a little bit with the way QB Nick Foles played last week. He is a very capable leader in this offense and showed the ability to transition the game plan to suit his style of play. There was not much difference in the play-calling and head coach Doug Pederson was comfortable opening up the offense and pushing the ball down the field. The reason for the offensive success was the O-line protected him and allowed the passing plays to progress to the second and third reads. 

An upright Foles is a talented player when he is afforded the time in the pocket. We all know he is not as fleet of foot as a Carson Wentz or Big Ben, but Foles has a very strong arm. He throws catchable balls to his receivers, whereas playing with a QB like Wentz or Ben changes your mentality and the dynamics of the launch point of where the ball is being thrown. They can be anywhere evading and escaping the pass rush, looking downfield for the big play.

Blocking for Nick Foles is a bit different. He will be where he is expected to be: in the pocket. The O-line knows that Foles will be three, five or seven steps back inside the pocket, which at times makes it easier to block for him. The only thing is that the defense also knows this. He will be standing back in the pocket like a sitting duck. 

The Eagles' O-line changed up the blocking schemes a little bit. They were able to protect the left side of the line with blocking and aggressive pass sets. You can do that against the Giants, who are at this point ranked 32nd — last in the NFL — in total defense.

This week's defense, the Oakland Raiders, are not much better, ranked 21st in total defense. But they do have last year's Defensive Player of the Year, Khalil Mack. Mack has recorded a sack in each of the last five games, with two against Dallas last week. He will mix things up for the Eagles because he plays on both sides of the defensive line. Mack beat All-Pro Cowboys left tackle Tyron Smith for a sack with an inside pass rush last week, then beat former All-Pro tight end Jason Witten for a sack on the right side.

The Eagles must run protections that slide to the left, protecting the left tackle's side from Mack's pass rush on the inside move. The perfect protection to help both sides is called 2 Jet, Fox 2 or Hound 2 protections. This would mean sliding the protection to the left side if Mack lines up over the left tackle, but it also sends a running back to the right tackle as a chip blocker, helping the All-Pro right side.

I loved this protection because it's a six-man protection, meaning the five O-linemen and an RB frontside to chip. Slide protection should be a major staple in this week's play-calling — protect Foles' front side with a chipper and his backside with the O-line sliding to help the left tackle.

Major props and congratulations to the right side of the Eagles' line. Lane Johnson and Brandon Brooks both made their first Pro Bowl and it is well-deserved.

Nick Foles leads entire NFL in player sales merchandise this offseason

Nick Foles leads entire NFL in player sales merchandise this offseason

Everyone knows the plan is for Nick Foles to eventually head back to the bench in favor of Carson Wentz.

Apparently, Eagles fans just didn’t care.

Because when the NFLPA Top 50 Player Sales list for the first quarter of 2018 was released on Thursday, Foles was right at the top for all officially licensed merchandise from March 1-May 31.

Here’s the top 10:

1. Nick Foles
2. Tom Brady 
3. Carson Wentz
4. Saquon Barkley
5. Dak Prescott
6. Aaron Rodgers
7. Ezekiel Elliott
8. Jimmy Garoppolo
9. Odell Beckham Jr. 
10. Derek Carr

That means the NFC East took six of the top 10 spots, which is pretty wild.

But it’s even crazier to think that Foles went from starting last season as a backup to having more products with his likeness sold this offseason than any other player in the league, including the guy whose job he took and who is expected to take it back. He also beat that guy who didn’t catch a pass in the Super Bowl.

We definitely saw a Super Bowl spike in this list, starting with Foles, who led all players in photography products sold. I guess everyone wanted an image of him catching the football on the "Philly Special" or perhaps something with the now famous photo of Foles with his infant daughter. On the previous list from last year (from March 1, 2017-Feb. 28), Foles was at No. 22, so we should have seen this coming. Wentz held steady at No. 3, despite the injury and missing the Super Bowl.

Here’s every Eagle on the new list with their ranking on the last in parenthesis:

1. Nick Foles (22)
3. Carson Wentz (3) 
13. Zach Ertz (17)
33. Alshon Jeffery (43)
34. Brandon Graham (N/A)
46. Fletcher Cox (N/A)

The only Eagles player to drop out of the top 50 is Jay Ajayi (45), who is entering the final year of his current contract.

It’ll be interesting to see how long Foles can stay at or near the top of the list, especially if he starts the season on the bench. But based on the way most Eagles fans have celebrated the win in Super Bowl LII, Foles merchandise isn’t going out of fashion anytime soon.

More on the Eagles

Roob Knows: Reminding you how good Carson Wentz is

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Roob Knows: Reminding you how good Carson Wentz is

On the latest edition of Roob Knows, Reuben Frank reminds fans of how good Carson Wentz is; despite the magical run from Nick Foles, don't forget about Wentz. Alshon Jeffery's impact goes well beyond his statistics. An unbelievable stat on Zach Ertz. And why Brian Dawkins is a truly unique athlete in Philadelphia sports history.

2:00 - Don't forget how good Carson Wentz is.
4:30 - Alshon Jeffery's value.
9:30 - Unbelievable Zach Ertz stat.
13:00 - Brian Dawkins' route to the Hall of Fame.
18:00 - Dawkins is a unique Philly sports figure because everyone adores him.

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