December 30, 2018
The Eagles took care of business on their side of things, absolutely dominating the Redskins in a 24-0 win in D.C. to close out ther regular season. It hasn't been confirmed yet, but with Chicago leading by two scores late, the Birds appear to be playoff bound.
Here's what I saw in the closeout win that should push Philadelphia into the postseason.
• Add this to the list of achievements for Nick Foles in Eagles green — with his 19th-straight completion early in the third quarter, Foles broke Donovan McNabb's single-game record for most consecutive completions in franchise history. He kept building from there, and all but ended the game with a long, time-churning drive in the third quarter, which helped him tie the NFL's single-game record of 25 consecutive completions.
I don't care what kind of shape Washington is in at this point of the season, that's a great accomplishment for Foles and another example of the truly weird career he has had so far. You've heard it a million times — from 27-2 to almost out of the league to Super Bowl winner, the man has done and seen it all, basically.
So it's pretty perfect that he now owns another major record for a quarterback. When he's at his best, Foles can completely control games, and you do have to wade through some tough times to get there. He did that once again on Sunday, shaking off the early interception to make history and put the Eagles into the playoffs.
And when he missed Nelson Agholor for the throw that would have broken the record, Foles signaled to Agholor that it was his fault for throwing behind him. If you want a snapshot of who Foles is, that's it.
Some credit probably goes to the coaching staff on this one, too. After Foles' interception early on, the Eagles kept things simple and short for a lot of his throws, knowing the offense for Washington wasn't going to be able to offer much in response. It was the right call, and it certainly helped Foles get into a rhythm and shake off some early jitters.
• Doug Pederson was absolutely justified in challenging the play that eventually turned into an Agholor touchdown. We often crush him for the ones he gets wrong, but you have to acknowledge when he gets them right, too. With six points on the line, there was never going to be a better time to use a challenge.
The only bad thing about this play was Pederson having to challenge it in the first place. Agholor clearly got his feet set, made a football move for the end zone and then broke the plane. Clear in real time, hilariously obvious upon further review.
• I have no idea how they'll hold up in a playoff setting against a legitimate opponent, but this has been a heck of a run for Philadelphia's defense to close out the year. With the available members of the secondary changing each week, they somehow found a way to rally with an army of backups leading the charge.
That's a testament to the various guys who have filled in (we've spotlighted Rasul Douglas already), but also the big boys up front for their part in the resurgence. Fletcher Cox has been dominant at the point of attack this year, Michael Bennett has proven a huge addition, and that front seven made mincemeat out of Josh Johnson on Sunday. Jim Schwartz's group has settled into a groove, with well-timed blitzes helping out the cause.
(He's not always at the center of it all, but I just wanted to make sure we mentioned Malcolm Jenkins here. He has been the rock of this secondary for some time now, and they've needed his versatility more than ever with things collapsing around him. A truly great Eagle.)
• Fletcher Cox, with little help next to him for most of the year, just came up with double-digit sacks for the first time in his career. A tremendous year for the big man, point blank period.
• How about Nate Sudfeld coming in and throwing his first career touchdown on his first drive of the game? Is it time to offload Foles and Wentz and build around Sudfeld? MY COLUMN:
But seriously, good job from Sudfeld to take advantage of his opportunity. And who knows, he may ultimately be forced into action next week if things don't get better. That's a scary thought, but at this point, I'm pretty much done writing off backup quarterbacks until proven otherwise.
• The Chicago Bears very easily could have laid down and rested their starters in Week 17. Instead, they came out and played to win against their division rival, and the Eagles were the beneficiary of their approach.
I don't know if the Bears will regret that decision later on, because they effectively decided who their opponent would be with the win, but I do respect lining up and burying a hated rival with little else to play for. Chicago's starters played deep into the game to finish it off, and it's always nice to see sorry ass Kirk Cousins get sent packing for the year.
It looks like the Eagles will be playing in the playoffs next week. It took some help to get there, but everyone is back on level territory, and the Eagles are rolling right now. Crazier things have happened, right?
(Big shout out to the Eagles fans in D.C. for their loud ovation when they saw the score change in the Chicago game.)
• Inexcusable to take a delay of game penalty on a fourth-and-inches that the Eagles were prepared to go for (unless, and I don't think this was the case, it was an intentional move to create more space to punt into). I don't know why the Eagles were lined up in the shotgun there either — a simple QB sneak seemed like a no-brainer.
• Haven't we dealt with enough quarterback health nonsense? Watching Nick Foles slink back to the locker room was depressing given all that he has done to put the Eagles in position to make the playoffs. It was a huge bummer to see him put it all on the line and then not finish the job off himself. Here's hoping it's not a serious injury and that chest issue is a minor one.
I'll say this — as someone who faded Foles as hard as anybody out there over the years right up until he won a Super Bowl, I would be bummed if this was the way his Eagles tenure ends. He deserves to go out on his own terms after the heroic performance he has offered over the last two years, and I think he will be remembered fondly for quite some time in Philadelphia.
But if it's the end for Foles, I hear there's a star quarterback on the sideline who might be able to help these guys out.
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