NFL Wire News

Big plays and turnovers doom Eagles season


PHILADELPHIA — The two biggest reasons the Philadelphia Eagles failed to make the playoffs this season were turnovers by the offense and big pass plays given up by the defense.

The Eagles had a league-worst 36 giveaways just a year after having 19. Twenty-one of those giveaways were interceptions — 11 by Mark Sanchez and 10 by Nick Foles.

Their defense had problems all year giving up big pass plays. The Eagles gave up a league-high 28 pass plays of 30 yards or more.

“I think ‘X’ plays defensively were a big factor in (not making the playoffs),” head coach Chip Kelly said, referring to big pass plays. “If you look at two specific (reasons), it was turnovers on offense and ‘X’ plays on defense.”

Last year, Foles had the third-lowest interception percentage in league history, throwing just two in 317 attempts. But this year, he had 10 in 311 attempts before fracturing his collarbone in the Eagles’ eighth game of the season. He was replaced by Sanchez, who threw at least one interception in seven of nine games.

The big pass plays given up on defense were the result of a shaky secondary that likely will see three of its four starters replaced in the offseason.

“Like the interceptions, you’ve got to look at them individually,” Kelly said. “Did the quarterback have too much time? Or was it a blown coverage? Were we close in coverage, but didn’t make the play? There’s a lot involved.

“Last year, if there were two things we were really good at, we were good in the turnover category and we were good at not giving up ‘X’ plays. We weren’t good at either of those this year.”

–LeSean McCoy has rushed for nearly 3,000 yards the last two seasons. Won the league rushing title last season. He’s only 26. You would think there’d be little doubt that he would be back with the Eagles next season. And he probably will be. But with his salary-cap number scheduled to jump from $9.7 million to $11.9 million, anything is possible. But McCoy made it clear Monday that he wants to be back.

“I’m an Eagle. I love it here,” he said. “My six years here have been excellent. I’ve been very, very productive here. I have a great relationship with my coaches and with the owner, Mr. (Jeff) Lurie. We’ll see what happens. Anything can happen. I know that. But I’m sure we can work something out, and hopefully, everything will work out.”


PASSING OFFENSE: B — Mark Sanchez threw his obligatory weekly interception and had a few others that should’ve been picked off. But he completed 63.8 percent of his attempts and had TD throws to Jordan Matthews and Brent Celek. Matthews, who had just five catches for 81 yards in the previous three games, notched his third 100-yard receiving performance.

RUSHING OFFENSE: B-plus — After averaging just 3.7 yards per carry in the Eagles’ three straight losses to Seattle, Dallas and Washington, LeSean McCoy ended the season on somewhat of a high note, rushing for 99 yards on 17 carries (5.8 per carry) against the Giants. He had a 23-yard run on his first carry and 33 yards on four fourth-quarter carries. Chris Polk rushed for 38 yards and put the Eagles up by 11 with a 1-yard TD run early in the fourth quarter.

PASS DEFENSE: B-minus — Yes, they gave up 425 passing yards to Eli Manning, and yes, rookie Odell Beckham and Rueben Randle became the 500th and 501st guys to put up 100 receiving yards against them this season, and yes, they failed to register a sack for only the second time in the last 13 games. But their DBs battled, particularly rookie Jaylen Watkins, and they gave up just one TD pass, and Nate Allen came up with a clutch interception late in the game.

RUSH DEFENSE: A — The Eagles, who entered the game ranked sixth in the league in yards allowed per carry (3.8), held the Giants to 76 yards on 25 carries. The Giants had just four rushing first downs and only one in the final three quarters. The Giants had just one double-digit-yard run, and only nine of their 25 rushing attempts gained more than three yards.

SPECIAL TEAMS: A-plus — The Eagles became the first NFL team in 27 years to score on three punt blocks in the same season when Trey Burton scored on James Casey’s third-quarter block of a Steve Weatherford punt. Donnie Jones put four of his seven punts inside the 20 and didn’t have any returned. Cody Parkey hit 39- and 32-yard field goals.

COACHING: B-plus — After being eliminated from playoff consideration the week before, it would not have been surprising if the Eagles turned in a half-hearted effort against the Giants. But Chip Kelly approached the game like it meant something and his players followed suit. Bill Davis’ defense gave up 429 passing yards to Eli Manning, but gave up just one touchdown pass.

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