The Patriots return home after their first loss of the season to face the Philadelphia Eagles at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro.
The Eagles (4-7), lost on Thanksgiving Day 45-14 to the Detroit Lions marking the second consecutive game the Eagles defense gave up 45 points. Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson had big days in handing the Eagles a big loss in terms of divisional placement.
The Patriots (10-1), lost to the Broncos in overtime 30-24 as C.J. Anderson ran 49 yards for the walk-off touchdown to cap a big fourth quarter comeback by Denver. Rob Gronkowski was injured in that game and is expected to miss this contest. Tom Brady did throw for 280 yards and 3 touchdowns in the game.
The game is scheduled for 4:25 p.m. and will be televised by Fox and will be available locally on Fox 25 TV. It will also be carried by the Patriots flagship radio station 98.5 FM the SportsHub with Bob Socci and Scott Zolak.
Here are our five first impressions of the Eagles:
Chip Kelly Under Fire? Denies USC Rumor: With the Eagles record being what it is thus far in 2015, Philly will not match their record from the first two years under Chip Kelly and the coach is hearing doubters for the first time.
Kelly’s name has been bandied about in the college ranks every year but this week it was reported that he met with USC officials in Philadelphia the day after the Thanksgiving Day loss against the Lions about taking over the school.
Kelly denied the report stating he was in New Hampshire on Friday and blasted the report. “I’ve never discussed a college job since I came here,” he said.
“It’s kind of sad,” Kelly said. “Everybody can just write whatever they want or say whatever they want, and everybody just takes it as the truth. It’s the world we live in. If you have to sit there and combat everything that comes out, I think you’re wasting time.”
Kelly did say that he was concerned that this constant talk about his job status can affect his players. But for a team that many picked to be an NFC contender and having dropped three in a row, those things tend to occur.
Eagles Have to Get Defense Fixed… Now: The Eagles defense was the backbone of this team in the early season but now having given up 45 points in successive weeks puts the job of defensive coordinator Bill Davis in the crosshairs.
Eagles coach Chip Kelly was asked directly if Davis’ job was in jeopardy after the Thursday loss in Detroit. And he said yes that Davis will continue and the he (Kelly), has faith in the players in the room to get things turned around. It is never a good sign for a head coach to be asked if he’s going to replace a coordinator. And with seven losses in the first eleven games, this Eagles team is far from where people had them pegged to be early in the season.
“We gotta get it fixed. There’s not a whole lot to say today,” defensive coordinator Bill Davis said to Comcast Sports Net Philly. “It’s two weeks in a row. I do believe in the group of men we have. I do believe we’ll … I said it last week, get it corrected. And we will. But the guys are fighting. I have to put them in better positions. It’s going to take all of us to get out of the hole. All of us got us into the hole. All of us have to get us out of it.”
They have their work cut out for them, Philly is just the first team since 1970 (Chicago) to give up five passing touchdowns in back-to-back weeks. And just the fifth team in the modern era to give up 45 points and 430+ yards in successive games.
In facing Tom Brady and the Patriots however, they won’t be facing the offensive juggernaut that rolled thru the early season. With the loss of Gronkowski on Sunday, Brady was missing 74 percent of his pass production with all of the receivers injuries at the end of the game against Denver.
Davis believes they can get it done this week. “They don’t stop fighting and they won’t stop fighting. We will get it fixed. We’ve got a helluva challenge against New England. Of all the people we have to go up there and try to stop, we’ve got Brady and the Patriots coming at you. And this group will bow up and we’ll get it done.”
Eagles Fast Paced Offense, Wearing Out Own Defense: Everyone knows how the Eagles have the fastest, most break-neck pace of any offense in the NFL. And when it is working, it can wear down opponents and tire them out to the point that they’ll be out of gas in the second half.
The thought process is that the offense will wear down opponents, and keep his own defense off the field, keeping them fresher late in games. But the flip side of this is that even when the offense is working well, the defense is getting back on the field too soon and it is wearing them down.
Thru eleven games in 2015 the Philadelphia defense has been on the field for 83 minutes more than the offense. That huge time of possession deficit may have something to do with the struggles the defense has been going thru the past few games.
Running a break-neck paced offense can work in the college ranks with so many more players but with only 46 players allowed to dress on Sunday’s in the NFL? That isn’t going to work and the proof is there to see.
Marcus Hayes, one of the Eagles beat writers wrote that in the past four games the Eagles defense has been on the field for 36 minutes more than the defense. And the Eagles are 1-3 in those games with only an OT win against a Tony Romo-less Cowboys team to show for it. This is something to watch for on Sunday. If the Patriots get ahead, look for more running with LaGarrette Blount to further wear down an already overworked unit.
Bradford Will Test Arm Tuesday: With quarterback Sam Bradford being out the last two weeks with a left (non-throwing) shoulder injury, the Eagles have dropped both games in bad fashion to the Bucs and Lions. At Tuesday’s practice, they’ll find out if Bradford is far enough along in his rehab to allow him to start Sunday in New England.
Bradford was a full participant in Wednesday’s short one-hour practice before the game against Detroit. The Eagles coaches want to see if he has any issues with soreness after a full practice load on Tuesday. If he’s ok, then he’ll be on track to start against the Patriots Sunday afternoon.
The non-throwing shoulder provides stability when passing the football and Kelly said the issues the Eagles have is if Bradford can sustain a hit there during a game. Kelly also said that after a slow start, Bradford turned things around with a very strong November before being hurt in the Dolphins game.
“There’s a comfort level with him. . . . When he’s around it and in it and practicing every day and playing every day, you can see him grow,” Kelly said to Philly.com.
“You could see him grow in the last couple of games (44-61 531 yards 2 TD 0 INT in Nov.). I thought he played really well in Dallas. And he was on track against Miami and then he got hurt.”
Eagles Sign Jones, Release Vandervelde: The Eagles signed offensive lineman Barrett Jones off of the Bears practice squad this week. The former fourth round draft pick of the Rams in the 2013 season from Alabama was released by St. Louis and was on the Bears practice squad before Kelly snapped him up.
With injuries to the offensive line with Jason Peters and Jason Kelce, Jones will provide some depth moving forward if either one of them is unable to go. Plus Jones played with Bradford and offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland at Alabama so there is a level of comfort there between the players and coach.
The Eagles have their own version of “RustyBenson35” Ross Ventrone in Julian Vandervelde. In making room for Jones, the Eagles released Vandervelde for the eighth time, all in the Chip Kelly era. An interesting stat from Philly.com has Vandervelde being involved in 73.5 percent of all transactions of the Eagles under Kelly.
Ross Ventrone is nodding knowingly over that one…
Posted Under: Patriots Commentary
Tags: 2015 NFL Season Barrett Jones Bill Belichick Brandon LaFell Chandler Jones Chip Kelly Danny Amendola Julian Edelman LaGarrette Blount Mark Sanchez New England Patriots NFL Patriots Philadelphia Eagles Rob Gronkowski Sam Bradford Tom Brady