Improved Eagles back in first-place tie
By ROB MAADDI
The Associated Press | November 12,2013
Philadelphia’s Bryce Brown runs past Green Bay’s Brad Jones during Sunday’s game in Green Bay, Wis.
PHILADELPHIA — Nick Foles has the offense back on track. Billy Davis has the defense improving every week. Chip Kelly has the whole team in playoff contention.
Thanks to a mediocre NFC East, the Philadelphia Eagles (5-5) have a chance to go worst-to-first in what was supposed to be a rebuilding year.
A convincing 27-13 victory at Green Bay over the Packers minus Aaron Rodgers on Sunday, coupled with Dallas (5-5) getting routed in New Orleans, put the Eagles back into a first-place tie.
If they beat Washington (3-6) this week to snap a 10-game home losing streak, the Eagles will have sole possession of first because the Cowboys are on a bye. The final game of the regular season in Dallas might settle the division.
But that’s down the road. For now, the Eagles have to worry about their next opponent.
“Our mindset is to win every single game we play,” Kelly said Monday. “It’s a consistent group in their approach. `’
Foles has rejuvenated the offense after it didn’t score a touchdown in consecutive home losses to the Cowboys and Giants.
He tied an NFL record by racking up seven touchdown passes in a 49-20 win at Oakland last Sunday, and followed with three more TD passes against the Packers.
Foles now has 16 TD passes and no interceptions this season. That ties him with Milt Plum, who did it in 1960, for the second-highest total ever to start a season behind Peyton Manning’s 20 this year.
“Nick’s really, really smart with the football,” Kelly said. “Very rarely do you see Nick throw a ball where all of a sudden it’s tipped, you know, when it’s almost intercepted. I think he has a really good understanding of what we’re doing. He doesn’t really ever put the ball in harm’s way. Most of the time, to his credit, he’s going to the right spot where it should be. He does a good job of protecting the football, especially when the pocket breaks down. A lot of times that’s where plays occur where all of a sudden it’s turning a bad play into a worse play.”
Despite the numbers, Kelly still won’t give Foles the starting job. He doesn’t have to make a decision until Michael Vick is ready to return from a hamstring injury that’s forced him to miss four full games and most of two others.
“I think what we’ve done for the last two weeks has worked for us pretty good, so we’re going to stick with that formula. It’s got us 16 touchdowns, no interceptions and two wins, so why would we change?” Kelly said Monday.
He later clarified that statement when asked if that was a commitment to Foles.
“I was being sarcastic,” he said. “We don’t have to make any decisions on anything because Mike’s not going right now.”
While Foles has been outstanding, the most dramatic improvement for Philadelphia has been the performance of the defense after a terrible first month. Davis switched to a 3-4 alignment when he was hired as the coordinator and needed a while to get players acclimated to a new system.
The defense has held opponents to 17.7 points and 397.2 yards per game over the last six weeks, compared to 27.5 and 446.8 over the first four games.
“I think that we are getting better each and every week,” cornerback Brandon Boykin said. “You can tell by the way that the linebackers played with being able to drop into coverage, and the secondary being able to play things top down. We felt like we gave up too many yards in the passing game, but we were still able to keep them out of the end zone for the most part.”
NOTES: Kelly didn’t provide any updates on injuries to LT Jason Peters (quad), LB Mychal Kendricks (knee) and S Earl Wolff (knee). All three starters left in the first half against Green Bay. Kelly said Peters told him he expects to play vs. the Redskins. Kelly also said Kendricks and Wolff didn’t think their injuries were serious and ruled out ACL tears. “They feel like they’re pretty good and they’re ready to go,” Kelly said. “I always defer to the doctors and training staff to tell us how long they’re in, how long they’re out. Sometimes they look a little bit worse than they are.”