Bye week watch: Cowboys move up, Kelly’s culture

For the first time in roughly two months, the Eagles didn’t take the field for a game this week.

That doesn’t mean there wasn’t plenty of action around the NFL during Philadelphia’s bye week.

In the Eagles’ own NFC East, the red-hot rival Dallas Cowboys moved up to first place in the division with a 31-21 victory over the New York Giants. Dallas had been tied with Philadelphia at 5-1, but now – at least temporarily – sits atop the East.

Speaking of 5-1, the Arizona Cardinals improved to that record Sunday with a win over the Oakland Raiders. The Eagles resume play Oct. 26 when they travel to Glendale to take on the Cards, their third NFC West opponent of the year.

While there are still many questions surrounding the Eagles, one thing that’s become clearer as the season’s gone on is head coach Chip Kelly’s emphasis on maintaining good team culture. Conveniently for Eagles fans during the bye week, NFL Network made available its “Inside the NFL” feature on Philadelphia’s Week 6 win over the Giants, and among Kelly’s many mic’d-up moments are comments about how culture always beats talent.

Kelly himself exemplified good culture during the bye week, too. The second-year coach paid a hospital visit to injured Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz, according to NJ.com’s Jordan Raanan via Twitter. Cruz suffered a torn patellar tendon in New York’s shutout loss to Philadelphia.

Kelly’s admiration of culture was also represented by quarterback Nick Foles. More mic’d action of the Eagles-Giants contest showed Foles getting vocal with referees after teammate Darren Sproles was injured on an apparently illegal hit. As BleedingGreenNation.com fan “ProtoTyler” commented on an Oct. 17 article, the jury might still be out on Foles as a long-term answer at QB, but there seems to be little doubt about Foles’ character.

10 one-liners: ‘Black hole’ Eagles engulf Giants, 27-0

The Eagles picked a good time to put together what was arguably their most complete performance of the year. Under the lights of prime time Sunday night, Philadelphia embraced its all-black look like something out of a disaster space movie, engulfing the New York Giants in a historic 27-0 rout.

Here are 10 one-liners that sum up the Eagles’ fifth win of the season:

After weeks of the defense and special teams picking up the slack for a struggling Eagles offense, Philadelphia got big contributions from quarterback Nick Foles and running back LeSean McCoy, scoring early and giving Philadelphia an obvious edge in momentum against the Giants.

That’s not to say the Eagles defense didn’t stand out Sunday, for the unit helped Philadelphia capture its first shutout since 1996, recording a season-high eight sacks and forcing 10 New York punts in its most productive outing of the season.

Outside linebacker Connor Barwin, one of five Eagles who recorded a sack against New York, headlined the team’s dominant defensive performance, doubling his sack total on the year with three of Giants QB Eli Manning.

Aside from the pass rushing performance, the Eagles were also stout against the run despite missing injured linebacker Mychal Kendricks for a fourth straight week, limiting Giants starter Andre Williams to 58 yards on 16 carries.

Foles connected early and often with his tight ends to give the Eagles a hefty first-half lead, putting Philadelphia up 10-0 with a 15-yard touchdown to a diving Zach Ertz and later extending the team’s lead to 17 with a 25-yard strike to a wide-open James Casey.

Foles also had two interceptions despite opportunities to throw the ball away, but improved blocking up front and the reemergence of McCoy, who was uncharacteristically flat in weeks prior but racked up 149 yards on the ground, kept the Eagles well ahead of the Giants.

The special teams unit didn’t score any points as it’s regularly done as of late, but it was no less effective for the Eagles against the Giants, with rookie kicker Cody Parkey going two-for-two on field goals and punter Donnie Jones dropping five of six kicks inside New York’s own 20-yard line.

A week after struggling mightily in pass coverage, especially on deep balls, Eagles cornerbacks Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher took advantage of the team’s pressure up front, limiting Manning to just 151 yards through the air.

The Eagles’ third and final touchdown of the night was courtesy of McCoy’s shifty complement, Darren Sproles, who took an outside hand-off 15 yards for a score but was later taken to the locker room because of a suspected knee injury.

Speaking of injuries, the Giants lost one of their own premier players when wide receiver Victor Cruz was carted off the field with a torn patellar tendon, a likely season-ending injury suffered after a third-quarter fourth-and-goal pass slipped through the veteran’s hands.

Now 5-1 on the season and still tied with the Dallas Cowboys atop the NFC East, the Eagles will have some time to rest on their bye week before hitting the road for an Oct. 26 matchup with the Arizona Cardinals (4-1).

Black Sunday: 3 questions for Eagles vs. Giants

It hasn’t been the prettiest of 4-1 starts for the Eagles, but Philadelphia still finds itself in prime position to solidify its early-season lead in the NFC East.

After splitting a two-game stretch against NFC West foes, Philadelphia debuts its all-black uniforms Sunday night for an anticipated prime time clash with the rival New York Giants.

Here are three questions to consider as the Eagles look to end a week of back-and-forth trash-talking with a win against the Giants (3-2):

Can the Eagles limit Eli Manning and the Giants’ improving offense?

At the start of the season, the Giants and their polarizing quarterback looked helpless in offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo’s new scheme. That hasn’t been the case in recent weeks, however, as New York has drastically turned things around. In the last three games, Manning has completed 70 percent of his passes and thrown eight touchdowns as opposed to just one interception. Applying pressure and forcing turnovers could be crucial for an Eagles defense that’s both created and surrendered big plays.

Will LeSean McCoy finally show signs of life behind the Eagles’ O-line?

The Eagles have had an array of issues on the offensive side of the ball. Each problem, whether it be injuries to several starters up front or inconsistencies of quarterback Nick Foles, has seemed to accentuate the others. Perhaps the most notable flaw has been the lack of production from McCoy, who is widely regarded as one of the NFL’s best running backs. He did gain 81 yards on the ground vs. St. Louis but has still been devoid of big plays, which could be hard to come by against New York’s top-10 run “D.”

Can the Eagles overcome their depth shortage in the middle of the defense?

The Giants unleashed a potential secret weapon in tight end Larry Donnell two weeks ago, but perhaps more than the threat of Manning completing passes over the middle, the Eagles could be concerned with their shortage of depth. Inside linebacker Mychal Kendricks is slated to miss his fourth straight game with a calf injury, and fellow starter DeMeco Ryans is listed as questionable for Sunday with a groin injury. Philadelphia could be forced to start two reserves at LB: Casey Matthews and Emmanuel Acho.

Other Eagles notes: On Friday, per National Football Post, Philadelphia hosted a visit for free agent RB Kenjon Barner, a final roster cut victim who was acquired in a preseason trade with the Carolina Panthers; the team announced via NBC that former middle school fullback and Eagles fan Colin Delaney, who is battling leukemia, will wear a No. 1 jersey on the Eagles sideline Sunday night under a ceremonial one-game contract.

War of words: Eagles vs. Giants

It’s rivalry week in Philadelphia, and both the Eagles and Giants are making that very clear before they square off with each other on the field Sunday night.

The Eagles (4-1) and Giants (3-2) certainly have a long history matching up against each other in the NFC East, but the divisional foes are no strangers to pregame trash-talking, either.

That’s especially been the case in this week’s war of words between the two sides. Here’s how it played out:

New York safety Antrel Rolle seemed to kick off the talking match. According to NJ.com, Rolle refused to label the Eagles the team to beat in the NFC East, suggesting the division competition was “weak” in 2013.

Eagles wide receiver Jeremy Maclin responded to Rolle’s comments shortly afterward.

“He talks too much,” Maclin said, per CSN Philly’s Geoff Mosher.

Two more members of the Giants secondary, cornerbacks Prince Amukamara and ex-Eagle Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, added fuel to the fire when they appeared in a New York fan’s Twitter photo, making zeros with their hands to mock Philadelphia’s Super Bowl win total.

The Eagles fired back in a not-so-subtle way, teaming up with actor and Philadelphia fan Bradley Cooper for a promotional video released via their website. Previewing this week’s game, the video featured Cooper’s thoughts on the Giants’ bragging.

“You want to know the best way to shut a loudmouth up?” Cooper said. “It’s to shut it for them.”

Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul got into the mix, too, acknowledging the prominence of the Eagles’ NFC East-leading 4-1 record but saying Philadelphia could have just as easily started 0-4.

Pierre-Paul’s exclusion of a fifth game–intentional or not–drew a response from Eagles linebacker Emmanuel Acho, who questioned Pierre-Paul’s math on Twitter, and center Jason Kelce.

“I don’t think Jason Pierre-Paul is smart enough to come up with that statement on his own,” Kelce told WIP’s Angelo Cataldi, per the New York Daily News. “I think he’s the type of guy that just reiterates what his coaches have been telling him. So, I’m a little worried about (Giants coach) Tom Coughlin’s math because I feel like maybe that’s where it was screwed up. Maybe it was just relayed to him.”

This season isn’t the first time the Eagles and Giants have engaged in pregame verbal scuffles. In 2012, Philadelphia running back LeSean McCoy and former New York defensive end Osi Umenyiora exchanged jabs over Twitter, with names like “soft,” “ballerina,” and “little girl” among the insults delivered.

10 one-liners: Eagles hang on for 34-28 win vs. Rams

For about a quarter of Sunday’s game at Lincoln Financial Field, it looked like the Eagles were on their way to letting a big lead slip away, but by the end of the day, it was Philadelphia who came out on top, hanging on for a 34-28 win over the St. Louis Rams.

Here are 10 one-liners that sum up Philadelphia’s fourth win of the season:

The Eagles offense, responsible for 352 yards and 20 points, wasn’t nearly as poor as it was against San Francisco last week, but the team’s other units once again paved the way for Philadelphia on the scoreboard.

Headlining the efforts of the defense and special teams were defensive end Cedric Thornton, who recovered a Rams fumble in the end zone, and safety Chris Maragos, whose 10-yard touchdown return of a blocked punt came just 23 seconds into the game and marked the Eagles’ 28th straight non-offensive point.

Despite the Eagles’ big plays early on, Philadelphia allowed St. Louis to overcome a 34-7 deficit and claw its way back into the game, surrendering two fourth-quarter TD passes and turning the ball over three times via LeSean McCoy (fumble) and Nick Foles (fumble and interception).

Despite his fumble, McCoy did find some running lanes for what seemed like the first time in weeks, finishing the day with 81 yards on 24 carries alongside Darren Sproles, who gained 51 yards of his own on seven touches.

Foles, on the other hand, continued to struggle with turnovers, but finished with a respectable stat line (24-of-37, 207 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT) considering the Eagles’ inconsistencies on the ground as well as injuries along the offensive line.

Starting wide receivers Jeremy Maclin and Riley Cooper both came up big for the Eagles early on; the former boosted his team-leading numbers with 76 yards and a score, while the latter hauled in a jump-ball pass in the end zone in the second quarter.

Although the Eagles defense as a whole was responsible for some of the team’s biggest plays, including a late-game stand that prevented St. Louis from taking the lead, its secondary struggled to locate the ball on several deep passes from quarterback Austin Davis, who threw for 375 yards in just his third career start for the Rams.

One of the bright spots on the defensive side of the ball was the pass rushing unit, which showed some promise against San Francisco but emerged more evidently against St. Louis with four sacks and three forced fumbles from the likes of Trent Cole, Connor Barwin, Brandon Graham and Vinny Curry.

Rookie kicker Cody Parkey converted both of his field goal attempts on the afternoon, helping to extend the Eagles’ lead to 13-0 at the end of the first quarter.

The Eagles got plenty of production from inside linebacker DeMeco Ryans (eight tackles), but the veteran was forced to leave the game late in the contest because of an injury, forcing backups Casey Matthews and Emmanuel Acho into extended action.

Now 4-1 on the season and still tied atop the NFC East, the Eagles will host a second consecutive game on Oct. 12, when the rival New York Giants (3-2) come to town for a prime time Sunday Night Football battle.

3 questions for Eagles vs. Rams

The Eagles haven’t been devoid of problems this season, but they remain well in control of their fate atop the NFC East heading into Week Five.

After suffering its first loss of the year against the San Francisco 49ers, Philadelphia returns home Sunday for a chance to rebound in a game against the St. Louis Rams, its second consecutive NFC West foe.

Here are three questions to consider as the Eagles look to get back in the win column against the Rams (1-2):

Can LeSean McCoy take advantage of the Rams’ struggling run defense?

McCoy remains one of the league’s most feared running backs, but he’s struggled mightily in recent weeks. With a banged-up offensive line partially to blame, the Eagles Pro-Bowler has managed just 39 yards on 29 carries the last two weeks. Fortunately for him, the Rams have allowed an average of 155 rushing yards per game this year, so Sunday’s matchup with St. Louis could be a prime opportunity to reverse course on the ground and give the Eagles a much-needed offensive boost.

Will the Eagles hold up in pass protection against St. Louis’ defensive line?

Although the Rams’ front seven has struggled to contain the run, it still serves as the home of Robert Quinn, one of the NFL’s most productive pass rushers of late. Quinn, who led the conference with 19 sacks in 2013, figures to be an all-day challenge for Eagles left tackle Jason Peters. Philadelphia will have the benefit of starting right tackle Lane Johnson returning to the lineup after a four-game suspension, but the Eagles’ makeshift O-line will still be without a pair of injured starters, so execution could be key.

Can the Eagles apply pressure to Austin Davis and the Rams?

With both Sam Bradford and Shaun Hill hurt, Davis has been forced into action as the Rams quarterback this season, but the third-year reserve has quietly led an efficient offense by completing 72.3 percent of his passes. The Eagles defense has had a knack for making plays, but it’s also surrendered plenty of them. Applying pressure on Davis up front could go a long way for Philadelphia, which has a clear advantage over St. Louis on paper but needs to be productive nonetheless.

Other Eagles notes: Starting inside linebacker Mychal Kendricks (calf injury) will be inactive for a third consecutive game, the team announced; Johnson returning to the active roster paved the way for several roster moves (LB Brandon Hepburn and OT/OG Tyler Hoover were released from the practice squad and OT Kevin Graf was released from the active roster and re-signed to the practice squad); linebacker Jake Knott, a victim of final roster cuts who opened the season with a four-game suspension, was signed to the practice squad before being waived with an injury settlement.