A Christmas miracle just wasn’t to be for the Philadelphia Eagles. The team may have scraped to a 19-10 win over the Oakland Raiders, but the victory was not reminiscent of an Eagles team that has defined dominance, at least offensively. Nick Foles waivered against the Raiders, throwing for just 163 yards on 38 passing attempts, completing just 19. Sloppy throughout the evening Foles made a flurry of mistakes that chained the Eagles back…especially in moments when the team needed a swing in momentum.
“I didn’t play good enough.” Foles admitted after the game. “I have to play cleaner and, obviously, play better. Third down is a big thing with a quarterback; pin-point accuracy, making good decisions. I’ll look at the film, I’ll improve. These wins are tough; wins in the NFL are tough. This was a crazy, sloppy game. I thought our defense played wonderful – giving us an opportunity – I believe it was five turnovers. That’s huge, that was big.”
Foles is correct. Third down is a huge part of any NFL offense. An ability to move the sticks on third down sustains drives and for a West-Coast offense built on pounding the rock without a franchise quarterback, it’s more important than ever. The Birds led the NFL in third down percentage just a few weeks ago and are completing 46.72% away from home. Last night, the Eagles completed a dismal 7.14% of third down attempts. This directly correlates with the horrific total of 11 offense yards gained by the Eagles in the second half of the clash with Oakland prior to the two minute warning.
“These are the games where they’re difficult.” Foles opened up after the matchup. “You have to grind through them, but you learn a lot. That’s the great thing; we watch film of everything and we’ll improve on it and that’s the exciting thing. I know the group we have and I know the coaches. I can’t wait to look at the film to see how we can improve in these areas, because there are so many areas we can improve.”
A surprising sense of confidence exuded the quarterback who struggled mightily on Monday night. The team’s leading receiver, Alshon Jeffery went without a single reception in the win over the Raiders. This team is not one built on individual success, but having no production whatsoever from a receiver who has stretched the field consistently all year and came into the game with 7 touchdowns in his last eight games, certainly stings.
“Sometimes it’s just the flow of the game.” A humbled and serene Torrey Smith explained in the locker room. “I know personally for myself, there are times when I might not see the ball at all in a game, and then there are times when the ball comes my way a lot. That’s just how it goes sometimes. I know for sure he’s definitely thinking outside at times, especially in certain situations where we have opportunities. It’s just all about execution. We weren’t good enough today, but our defense did their part and we were able to move the ball when it mattered the most.”
The last thing the Eagles can afford to do however is lose confidence in their quarterback. The Eagles have secured everything they set out to do this season. Nick Foles is not Carson Wentz. But with a home field advantage throughout the playoffs and a bye-week in their favor, the Birds are in a position of which fans were dreaming of at the start of the year. It was clear last night that the things that only a franchise quarterback could do may simply not be on the table with Foles at the helm…but that doesn’t mean all the hard work is undone.
“I can’t really speak that much on the passing game – I have to do a better job with some of the snaps, I think I had some low snaps. It’s not fair to [QB] Nick [Foles].” Jason Kelce would tell reporters after the game. “I think sometimes you’re trying to block the guy in front of you and you lose track, then he’s got two steps instead of just catching the ball and going down field, he’s bobbling it, but he’s got to find it. It takes time for him.”
The Eagles have come too far and achieved too much to second-guess themselves or their ceiling now. Nick Foles tossed 4 touchdowns against the Giants one week ago, he’s certainly capable. But the Eagles, as sloppy and as inconsistent as they were, cannot afford to let this fall on the shoulders of a signal caller who may control their destiny.
“We’re confident in Nick.” Smith went on to say. “We just have to play better as an offense altogether. It doesn’t fall solely on Nick. He’s the quarterback so he’s going to get the highest of highs and lowest of lows from the outside people, but we’re just focused on playing our best football right now. I didn’t have a perfect game by any means. It was a good game, not a great game. We can improve in a lot of areas. The leaders of the team have to play better on offense and that is what we are going to focus on.”
Mandatory Credit: James Lang-USA TODAY Sports