The Eagles are 4-1. Fans dealing with the perplexing developments surrounding a 34-28 win over St. Louis on Sunday need to keep reminding themselves that their team has won 80 percent of the games so far.
And yet it is, because Nick Foles looks nothing like the quarterback he was last season, and because LeSean McCoy is neither playing nor acting like the franchise running back he has been for the past five years. As for the defensive secondary, well, the less said about that horrific fourth quarter, the better.
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Coach Chip Kelly acknowledged yesterday on my WIP radio show that even he is “conflicted” by his team’s first five starts – pleased by the overall record, but worried about the way they have achieved their 4-1 record. And no one right now is a bigger puzzle than McCoy, who ended the game with some serious new questions to answer.
The biggest is why he pulled himself out of the pivotal series of the contest after two short runs, with the Eagles clinging to a six-point lead. There were still two minutes left when the team’s best runner jogged to the sideline. He never got back onto the field. Darren Sproles burst into the open for a 25-yard gain to preserve the drive, and ran three more times before a punt.
McCoy said he had already carried the ball 24 times in the game – for a ho-hum 3.4 yards per attempt – and Sproles was fresher at that point. In other words, McCoy was tired, though it is not clear whether he was tired of running into walls, or just plain winded. Neither excuse absolves him from a curious decision.
The story of Foles’ day was no more encouraging, as the quarterback continued to bumble through his third NFL season. Foles had some big moments – touchdown passes to Riley Cooper and Jeremy Maclin, for example – but also a terrible interception and an even worse fumble. Where is the quarterback with the 119 rating? Is he ever coming back?
The Eagles would have won easily on Sunday if Foles had simply held onto the ball after his ill-fated scramble, but still there is no logical explanation for what happened after that. Cornerbacks Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher were an embarrassment in the final quarter, lunging at balls beyond their grasp while always at least a step behind the receiver.
Defensive coordinator Billy Davis called the performance of his defense in the fourth quarter “awful,” and he was actually being kind. If not for a couple of late dropped passes, the defense would have blown one of the biggest fourth-quarter leads in NFL history.
And yet, the Eagles are 4-1 this season, not to mention 11-2 in their last 13 regular-season games. They are tied for first place. They are good. Unfortunately, a new concern is creeping in now, thanks to a 34-28 win that felt more like a loss. Maybe good is not going to be good enough.