Good morning. The NFL is now shifting into Week 2. The Eagles are three-point favorites on the road against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz and offensive coordinator Mike Groh have news conferences beginning at noon today. I'll be hosting an online chat on Philly.com at 11 a.m., so come along with any and all Eagles questions.
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— Zach Berman
The win-loss record is not a quarterback stat. A quarterback can sometimes play an exceptional game and lose, or a poor game and win. But quarterbacks are judged by their team's success and have more of an effect on the result than any other player on the field. And when looking at Nick Foles' career – especially his time with the Eagles — he wins far more than he loses.
He is 6-1 as an Eagles starter since returning to Philadelphia last year, and he played only the first quarter in a Week 17 loss to Dallas. He was 6-2 as a starter in 2014. He went 8-3 as a starter in 2013, including the playoffs. So since 2013, the Eagles are 20-6 in games he has started. (He also went 1-5 as a starter in 2012. The lone win came in Tampa Bay, where he'll likely start this weekend.)
What's interesting about this is the Eagles don't often win these games because of Foles. As has been documented, he has had his share of ugly outings. And it's not a matter of performing in the clutch, even if he has done that at times. Only eight of those wins were decided by seven points or fewer. But Foles' teams just seem to win. So is there anything to it? Here's what Foles said after the game Thursday:
"It's just the people I work with. I've always said this team, the people that work at the NovaCare [Complex], the character of everyone there. It doesn't matter who you are; [it's] not just the football players. It's a special place to work. It's camaraderie. It's a family, and it's not just about X's and O's in this game. We always try and make it X's and O's, but it's not. It's not turning on one another. It's going to work every day and enjoying where you work. I've been fortunate in my stints in Philly to work in a great environment at a great facility with great people. I really pay tribute to them for us being able to pull out these tough wins."
Although the Bucs had a big game last weekend, I'd expect Foles to improve his record if he starts Sunday.
Zach Ertz is in line for a big season, but the debut did not go as he would hoped. Ertz, who has a well-earned reputation as a sure-handed receiver, struggled with drops. He was also flagged for an offensive pass interference that negated a third-down conversion. Ertz finished with five catches for 48 yards.
"I didn't have a great game," Ertz said. "I had drops that just don't happen. I don't think I've ever dropped that many balls in a game in my life. Contested or not, whatever it was, it just can't happen. Penalties killed us. It's tough when it's first and 10 from the 5, not ideal, but we have to play better. The most important thing was that we found a way to win. I'm not too worried about our offense. The most important thing is we found a way to win and football is a team game. Your offense can put up 50, but if your defense gives up 51, it doesn't matter. We're just focused on winning."
Bottom line: Ertz is not a player fans should worry about. He has enough of a track record that one game with drops will be quickly forgotten. If Ertz keeps getting 10 targets a game, his numbers will impress by the end of the year.
Jason Peters did not take the final snap of Thursday's game because of fatigue, but the 36-year-old started and played 71 snaps just 10-plus months after suffering a torn ACL. And he played at an exceedingly high level, keeping Foles clean and paving the way for the running game on the left side.
"Really good," coach Doug Pederson said of Peters' performance. "He obviously prepared himself for that day and for opening day and did some really nice things. It was hot and it was humid out there, and for him to battle like he did, he did some — he was quick off the ball. He was right on track there. Pass protection was good. Run game was good. … It was good to get him back out there and get him going with the offense again and get him in the mix."
The praise for Peters is in its second decade, so there's little that can be said that hasn't been said before. But to play at that level at his age after his injury is especially noteworthy.
Great question, and it's one I've thought about often this offseason — even talking to Nelson Agholor about it back in February. As long as Alshon Jeffery is out, I think Agholor will see some work on the outside. But then who plays the slot? Last week, it was DeAndre Carter. That's likely the path they would go, unless they played more two-tight-end sets. The problem is it's not the way to maximize their skill-position players. (It could explain why the Eagles worked out wide receivers Monday.)
The wide receivers weren't effective enough last week. So there's an argument to be made that the Eagles should put Agholor where he's best and figure out the rest. I think Thursday was evidence of just how valuable Jeffery is to the team. He makes the other receivers better because they can naturally fall into their best roles — including Agholor in the slot.