The Eagles finished Sunday with 21 points against the 49ers. However, none of them came from the offense. So what did the 49ers do to slow them down?
It Starts Up Front:
Due to injuries and a suspension, the Eagles offensive line had just two of its regular starters playing on Sunday; left tackle Jason Peters and right tackle Todd Herremans (normally the right guard). The 49ers constantly attacked the Eagles’ interior line with stunts as a result. To defend stunts, there has to be good communication and chemistry between offensive linemen, something that comes from playing together regularly. The unit Philadelphia put on the field Sunday had not had the opportunity to play together often. Ultimately, the O-line wasn’t necessarily terrible against the 49ers, but the pressure they allowed was enough to disrupt Nick Foles and get him off his game.
The offensive line certainly played a role in the Eagles’ inability to run the ball against defensive tackle Justin Smith and company. 49er linebackers also did a good job of staying in running lanes, and Antoine Bethea was tremendous at coming up to fill gaps right after the snap. He was all over the field on Sunday, also adding a forced fumble and an interception.
LeSean McCoy didn’t generate anything on the ground all day. A large part of this was due to the 49ers, but McCoy also did not stick with the design of the running plays. Instead, he tried to bounce it to the outside and hit a huge play every time, which didn’t work at all. Had he stayed with the design of the runs, he wouldn’t have necessarily eaten up huge chunks of yards. The 49ers were playing the run too well. However, He would have helped keep the Eagles offense in more manageable situations.
Foles Not Sharp:
Foles has been anything but sharp to start the 2014 season. He has left tons of big plays on the field by not reading the coverage and spotting open receivers. He’s also miss-fired on far too many throws. Take this play below. Had Foles led wide receiver Jeremy Maclin across the field on his post route, Maclin could have created more separation from his defender and caught what would have been an 85-yard touchdown pass. The white arrow shows Maclin’s initial path and where the ball should have been thrown – right into the 49ers logo.
Foles threw the ball over top of Maclin, making it a more difficult catch and allowing his defender to make a play on the ball. This could have been a game-changing touchdown but was an incompletion instead.
Ultimately, the Eagles offense didn’t play well, but they also didn’t have a lot of time on the field to get in rhythm due to their defense and special teams scoring touchdowns. They still do have a ton of room for improvement, but don’t expect them to be shut out too often moving forward.