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The Three Biggest Things: Questioning the Eagles with Zach Berman of the Philadelphia Inquirer

December 5th, 2013 at 2:34 PM
By Max DeMara

At one point early on, the Detroit Lions' match up with the Philadelphia Eagles looked as if it could be a snoozer. The Lions were an average team, and the Eagles had lost three straight games while looking largely unimpressive adjusting to Chip Kelly's new style. Since then, a rapid adjustment has taken place, and Sunday's game pits a pair of teams in first place in their respective divisions.

'Trent Edwards & Nick Foles' photo (c) 2012, Matthew Straubmuller - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Philadelphia's comeback has been fueled in part by Nick Foles, who's been on fire since becoming the Eagles' full-time signal caller. What has made Foles so impressive? How might Philadelphia keep him upright against Detroit's dominating defensive line, which collected seven sacks the last time on the field? Zach Berman of the Philadelphia Inquirer stopped by to talk about that, and offered his opinions on Chip Kelly's system.

(1) Lions 101: What's made Nick Foles so impressive since he took over under center? Do you believe the Eagles have a distinct advantage over Detroit's suspect secondary on Sunday?

ZB: The most impressive part of what Foles has done has been avoiding turnovers. The Eagles are plus-13 in games they've won this season, and Foles has played in most of those games. He has not yet thrown an interception, although he lost one fumble. But the way he takes care of the ball has been critical for the offense, and has helped the defense because teams aren't playing with short fields.

One thing I should note about your question, you won't see the Eagles under center. They'll be in the shotgun most of the game, if not all of the game.

I do think the Eagles have an advantage over Detroit's secondary, as long as Foles has time. Detroit obviously has a strong defensive line. But if Foles can set his feet and throw the ball, he can have another impressive outing.

(2) Lions 101: The Lions' defensive line was particularly active against Green Bay last week and caused plenty of havoc. What can Chip Kelly do to limit their impact against Foles and his offensive line?

ZB: Besides one-on-one blocking, there's only so much they can do. The Eagles need to be able to run the ball so they can sell the play-action and get the defensive line thinking LeSean McCoy has the ball. That is one way they can help.

But it comes down to individual matchups. That's specifically the case on the interior. Evan Mathis, Jason Kelce, and Todd Herremans need to play well against Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley. 

(3) Lions 101: Speaking of Chip Kelly, he came from Oregon to the NFL last year, and has done well enough transitioning at 7-5. Do you believe the Eagles can win a Super Bowl in his system?
 
ZB: I don't think the system will win the Super Bowl for them, and it won't keep them from reaching the Super Bowl. It comes down to personnel. If they have a franchise quarterback–and they're going to hope it's Foles –then Kelly is smart enough and innovative enough to maximize that quarterback. But they need to continue developing skill position players, which is so key for Kelly's system.
 
And then on the defense side, they need more play makers. They have stable and solid players, but they need one or two more difference-makers on the defensive side. So yes, the team can win a Super Bowl in his system, but it will be because of the players he coaches, and not the schemes that he runs, if that makes sense.
 
Max DeMara is the managing editor of Lions 101. You can find him on this site's Twitter @detroitlions101

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Tags: Chip Kelly, Detroit, Detroit Lions, Football, LeSean McCoy, NFL, Nick Foles

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