Eagles-Bucs Postgame: Nick Should Stick
As an Eagles season ticket holder for over 20 years, I hope Michael Vick never takes another snap for the Philadelphia Eagles. I know some fans think Vick is great, but those people just remember the Vick who made highlight reel runs in his younger days. The Eagles' version of Vick can still run around, but he still isn't much of an actual passer.
Nick Foles, on the other hand, looked like a polished NFL passer in the Eagles' 31-20 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday. Foles threw for three touchdowns and even ran for another score against one of the NFL's best defenses. Now the quarterback controversy can go into overdrive in Philadelphia.
Foles (22-for-31, 296 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INTs, 133.3 QB Rating) led the Eagles to their first touchdown on an opening drive this season and even finished it off with a 4-yard QB sneak. It was a methodical drive that lasted 8 plays and covered 85 yards in 3:44. Foles completed 4 of his 5 passes on the drive that set the tone for the game.
Even when LeSean McCoy fumbled after catching a screen pass and the Bucs had to settle for a Rian Lindell field goal to cut the lead to 7-3, Foles remained calm under pressure. And the Eagles line was allowing way too much pressure on their young quarterback all game. While Foles was only sacked once, he was constantly being hurried and knocked down.
Nick Foles: 22-31-296-3 TDs-0 INTs
LeSean McCoy: 25-116
DeSean Jackson: 6-62-2 TDs
Riley Cooper: 4-120-1 TD
Mike Glennon: 26-43-273-2 TDs-1 INT
Doug Martin: 16-67
Vincent Jackson: 9-114-2 TDs
Bucs' rookie QB Mike Glennon was making only his second start in the NFL, but the Eagles porous pass defense made him look like a seasoned pro. Glennon (26-for-43, 275 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT) found a wide open Vincent Jackson ( 9 catches for 114 yards and 2 TDs) at the Eagles 10-yard line and he dove into the end zone to give the Bucs a 10-7 lead. It was Jackson's first TD of the season.
Foles answered with a perfect strike to DeSean Jackson streaking across the back of the end zone. Bucs' CB Darrelle Revis was trailing Jackson (6 catches for 64 yards and 2 TDs) on the play, but it appeared that he was expecting help from the safety over the middle and didn't get it.
Unfortunately, the Eagles defense struck (stunk?) again and allowed a rookie quarterback to engineer a 10-play, 79 yard drive that ended with Vincent Jackson's second TD reception of the year. That made the score 17-10 in favor of the Bucs at halftime.
Glennon looked great in the first half, but then again, the Eagles defense makes even the most mediocre quarterbacks look good. The second half was a different story though.
Glennon began by throwing a horrible pass right to Bradley Fletcher, who happily accepted the gift interception. Foles responded to that with a perfectly thrown bomb that Riley Cooper caught for a 47-yard touchdown. Yes, Riley Cooper. Cooper actually had the best day of his career with 4 receptions for 120 yards and that TD. It's amazing how good receivers can look when their quarterback hits them in stride, isn't it?
Foles then took control of the game by throwing yet another perfect pass to DeSean Jackson for a 36 yard TD. And as strange as this may sound, this was apparently the first game in Jackson's entire career where he had multiple receiving touchdowns. Jackson didn't beat Revis this time though, as the Bucs were in their "Tampa 2" zone. After that, it was all about the Eagles running as much time off the clock as possible. Foles waited until the play clock was nearly expired on each snap as Chip Kelly called all running plays and LeSean McCoy churned out the yardage. The NFL's leading rusher finished with 116 yards on 25 carries and was the first running back to gain over 100 yards against Tampa in the last 13 games.
It got so bad for Tampa at the end that when Kelly left Foles and the offense out for a 4th-and-1 at the Bucs' 16 yard line, the Bucs jumped offsides due to a hard count by Foles. That gave the Eagles a first down and they simply ran more time off the clock before adding an Alex Henery field goal to make it a two score game at 31-20.
The Bucs defense actually played pretty well in this game, but Nick Foles made enough good throws to lead his team to the victory. And even Tampa's offense played decent considering they were starting a rookie QB. Or maybe it was just the Eagles 31st ranked pass defense that made him seem better than he really is. In any event, the Eagles did a nice job of holding Pro Bowl running back Doug Martin to only 67 yards on 16 carries. Martin only had one long run all day and the Eagles kept him out of the end zone. See, I can say nice things about the Eagles. They just didn't give me any reason to do so in the last few years of the Andy Reid error......I mean era.
Who Should be the Eagles Starting QB?
The win was the second in a row for the Eagles and brings their record to .500 (3-3). It also assures them of at least a tie for first place in the pathetic NFC East, pending the result of the 2-3 Dallas Cowboys game against the Washington Redskins. The Eagles and Cowboys meet in Philly next week.
The Eagles will have to play better defensively if they hope to stop the Cowboys high-powered offense, but the way the offense looked with Nick Foles at the controls, they could compete with anybody. But that's a story for next week.
Today, it's all about Foles and the Eagles offense producing touchdowns against one of the NFL's best red zone defenses. It's about Chip Kelly contouring his offensive game plan to flourish with the lead-footed Foles at QB. It's about the Eagles looking like they have offensive weapons besides McCoy and Jackson, when the quarterback doesn't run at the first sign of pressure. It's about a win and a .500 record that will leave the Eagles at least tied atop the NFC East. It's about still having a pulse in a season that most assumed would be a rebuilding year.
I don't think the Eagles can beat the elite teams in the NFL, but apparently, they are good enough to beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Today, that's good enough.