Eagles have plenty to fix during bye week
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The Philadelphia Eagles have plenty to fix during their bye week.
A slumping offense missing NFL MVP candidate Carson Wentz scored only 13 points in the last five quarters with Nick Foles and the starters playing.
That won’t cut it when the Eagles (13-3) host the Saints (11-5), Panthers (11-5) or Falcons (10-6) to kick off the divisional round of playoff games on Jan. 13.
Fans are panicking and many media members are predicting an early exit, but the team is confident the offense will get back on track.
“There’s no reason not to be confident,” Foles said. “We have an amazing group of guys, an amazing group of athletes that you know we can do some special stuff.”
It was only two weeks ago Foles tossed four touchdown passes and led Philadelphia to a 34-29 win at the Giants. Since then, he’s 23 for 49 for 202 yards with one TD and two interceptions against the Raiders and Cowboys.
“I think there is a lot of positive because you can build off the Giants game and some of the success we have had in the last couple weeks and find that continuity again,” coach Doug Pederson said. “We just have to get back to the same rhythm.”
The mood surrounding the Eagles could be different if Torrey Smith hadn’t dropped a pass on the opening drive in Sunday’s 6-0 loss to Dallas.
Foles hit Smith in stride going across the middle on third-and-7 from the Cowboys 39. Smith had a chance to outrun the defenders into the end zone, but let the ball slip through his hands.
“If I caught it, I probably would have housed it,” Smith said. “That messed our momentum up and then we only played a short time after that and we kept getting penalties and shooting ourselves in the foot.
“I’m confident that if we stayed in the game we would have gotten it back on track, but we have two weeks of practice and I’m very confident we’ll be ready to roll.”
Pederson went for it on fourth down after Smith’s drop and Foles had to rush an incomplete pass . The next three drives included two three-and-outs and one interception.
“I know who I am as a player and I also know that throughout my career and my life, I haven’t always played great games,” Foles said.
“I’ve been in games where execution hasn’t gone like we wanted it to. And the key is you remain confident because you know who you are. You know that you’re going to prepare every day to do everything to the best of your ability. I’m confident in myself and I’m confident in my teammates because I know what we’re capable of doing and that’s great things.”
Nate Sudfeld played the final three quarters against the Cowboys and was 19 of 23 for 134 yards in his first career game. But Sudfeld isn’t replacing Foles unless he gets hurt.
Pederson might want to rely on the NFL’s third-ranked rushing attack in the playoffs. Jay Ajayi (408 yards), LeGarrette Blount (766 yards) and Corey Clement (321) had a lot of success running behind an offensive line that features two Pro Bowl picks on the right side: tackle Lane Johnson and guard Brandon Brooks.
“You get into the postseason and have to play great defense and be able to run the football,” Pederson said.
“That’s been our formula pretty much all season long. We have to get back to that, and I’ve got a lot of confidence moving forward.”
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