Brace yourselves, I’m about to say something ridiculous…
That was just about the best performance in a 34-13 loss possible, and Eagles fans should be relatively encouraged by much of what they saw. Ignore the bullshit and remember that since the Eagles aren’t in the playoff hunt, the scoreboard doesn’t matter.
Is anyone really worried about Cedric Thornton’s ability to field a kick? Didn’t think so.
I was at the game, so in essence I got to see the All-22 live (though seeing which players are in on tackles is difficult without the TV and replays.) Following is a list of what does matter coming out of the game:
– Nick Foles. Not a good game. However, I warned you that this was likely going to be much worse than his last game. Foles made one obviously bad throw which is a bit puzzling (and worrisome), but he also did a good job of moving in the pocket and not making high-risk throws. If it hadn’t been for the turnovers by the rest of the team, Foles would be praised for his ability to “manage the game”. He was accurate again, though he did not appear to have the same precision as last week.
The interception was interesting because it came on a play that is ostensibly a strength of his. Every scouting report on Foles mentions a lack of mobility and a strong arm. In reality, what we’ve seen in play is almost the reverse. He’s definitely slow, but moves very well in the pocket and uses his head to account for his slow speed. The arm strength, however, has not been shown as clearly. We have seen flashes of it, but accuracy appears to be a problem when he is forced to drop a pass deep downfield over-top a WR. This throw was a clear under-throw. There is a chance that he under-threw it on purpose, assuming the WR would see it and be able to adjust while the DB wouldn’t. It’s very unlikely, but a possibility for reconciling it with his supposed arm strength. Regardless, this is something to keep a close eye on for the rest of the season.
– The Defense. The defense played a fantastic game, which is remarkable in the face of 34 points allowed. Let’s look at some stats:
249 total offensive yards for the Bengals.
Andy Dalton was 13 of 27 for just 127 yards (and two fumbles).
The Law Firm ran for 106 yards on 25 carries. 29 of those yards came on one rush. Outside of that play the Eagles held him to 3.2 yards per carry.
The Eagles registered 6 sacks and 7 passes deflected.
As we can see from the box score (and from watching it if you were able to ignore the score), the defense played a great game.
– Cox/Graham. I mentioned in the pre-game thoughts that this was a big opportunity for both of these players. I think they got the message. Though I’ll have to confirm it on the tape, this was clearly either the best game or close to it for Cox and Graham. Both consistently drove their blockers backwards and repeatedly disrupted the Cincinnati offense.
Graham finished with 2.5 sacks, 3 QB hits, and a forced fumble.
Cox finished with 1.5 sacks and 2 QB hits. His game was actually a lot stronger than those numbers suggest, as he was able to collapse the pocket and force Dalton to scramble, contributing heavily to the overall defensive numbers.
– Colt Anderson. Didn’t see too much of him (positive or negative), but because of how much I’ve talked about his poor coverage skills, I felt I had to give him props for breaking up what would have been a 1st half touchdown pass to A.J. Green. That’s exactly what a safety should do, so I’m kind of congratulating him for doing his job, but it was nice to see nonetheless.
– Don’t jump off the Bryce Brown train just yet. The last two games have taken some of the luster off Brown, but don’t get too down on him. The fumbles are a big problem, but one that can be fixed. From what I’ve seen, the poor yardage is a result of terrible run-blocking rather than poor performances by Brown. Jake Scott in particular looked like he had an awful game, but we’ll wait to confirm on the game rewind.