Chip: ‘I booed myself’
It was truly a tale of first halves. The first half was a nightmare; the second, a revelation. Seriously, weren’t they playing Jacksonville? Why were the Philadelphia Eagles such a mess?
In the opening quarters of the game, Foles was unsteady, holding the ball too long. The confidence of last season seemed to elude him. His first half achievements included throwing a red-zone interception and fumbling the ball twice. Much of the offseason chatter revolved around whether Foles could continue his consistent performances. The opening minutes of the 2014 season appeared to tell us that, perhaps, it wouldn’t be as certain as we anticipated.
But not so fast. It’s a 60-minute game, and in case we had forgotten, things change in an instant in the NFL.
Was it, somehow, the way Chip Kelly had drawn up the game plan? “Oh, God no,” said Kelly.
Whatever occurred in the locker room at halftime to right the many, many wrongs of the first half in Sunday’s game worked. Suddenly, the 17-0 shutout became a 34-point run by the Eagles for which the Jaguars had no answer, with Philadelphia securing a convincing 34-17 win.
Thank goodness for special teams, who kept the opening half carnage less than it would have been otherwise. Jacksonville kicker Josh Scobee did the Eagles a solid by missing a 50-yard field goal attempt. Then, when the Jags had an opportunity to extend their lead to 21-0, special teams did the damn thing and DE Brandon Bair blocked the kick 36-yard attempt.
After an awful opening quarter, the defense came back to put in a solid performance. Safety Malcolm Jenkins thought the Eagles being tested early was ideal.
“A team that hasn’t been tested can’t be trusted,” Jenkins said. “This was our opportunity to show what we’re made of, to show what we’re going to do when we face some adversity. I think we responded well.”
Part of the impressive response came at the end of the game to sign, seal and deliver an Eagles win, with big man Fletcher Cox recovering a fumble and taking it in for a 17-yard TD.
The turnaround began with a 49-yard touchdown run by Darren Sproles in the third quarter. Can you say, great offseason pickup? The run was the longest of his career, and helped ignite an Eagles offense in desperate need of a spark.
Jeremy Maclin was in fine form for his regular season return, with Foles hitting the wide open receiver for a 68-yard TD in the fourth. He finished the day with 97 yards on four catches.
Even on a bad day, Foles threw for 322 yards and two touchdowns. Foles recovery from a bad performance in many ways may have given us more confidence in him than a perfect outing with no issues. You need to know that, even when rattled, your QB can still come back and win the game.
Unfortunately, the second-half comeback couldn’t right all of the wrongs that occurred in the first two quarters of the game. Left guard Evan Mathis was carted off the field with an injury to his left leg. An MRI on Monday to shed light on the extent of his injury, thought to be a sprained MCL. One play after the injury to Mathis, right tackle Allen Barbre, filling in for the suspended Lane Johnson, left the field with an apparent injury to his right leg.
The way this Eagles team was able to settle down and regain focus at the half, then come back to put together a 34-point streak shows what you want to see in a football team. They kept their cool and worked together to dig out of a deficit. Then, once they regained balance, they showed what they can do to get and retain the lead.
What more could you ask for from a Philadelphia season opener? There were boos, then wild cheers, and all while we gave our hearts an amazing workout as it all unfolded.
It’s great to have you back, Eagles football.