Nick Foles struggles in first start
ABOVE PHOTO: Rookie Nick Foles had a tough day in his first start for the Eagles against the Washington Redskins.
By Chris Murray
LANDOVER, Md.–The Nick Foles era as the Philadelphia Eagles starting quarterback began with the same old story for the Birds. A pair of interceptions on the first two drives, drive-killing penalties and a defensive secondary that can’t cover anybody deep.
And for the sixth straight week, the Birds shortcomings resulted in a loss as the Washington Redskins came away with a 31-6 victory over the hapless Eagles in front of a sellout crowd of 79,327 fans at Fed-Ex Field.
“You can’t put your finger on one thing,” said strong safety Nate Allen. “It’s not any area in particular. I don’t know, we just have to keep working.”
The Eagles can change quarterbacks, coordinators and bring in journeyman offensive lineman and they still can’t win. The 2012 season has spiraled into an abyss from which it will not recover from anytime soon. Like the little old lady in that emergency phone-call commercial, the Eagles have fallen down and they can’t get up.
“I just feel like it’s just a lack of execution, whether you want to call it mental or physical, we have not been able to get our jobs done,” said a visibly despondent wide receiver Jeremy Maclin.
Redskins rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III lit up the Eagles secondary by throwing a career-high four touchdown passes. He completed 14-of-his-15 passes for 200 yards. The 2011 Heisman Trophy winner also ran through the Eagles defense for 84 yards on the ground on 11 carries. He finished with a perfect passer rating of 158.3.
“He put his team in position to win the game,” said Eagles cornerback Dominique Rogers Cromartie. “He made it with feet. On a couple of first downs, he kept the play alive. We got to him a lot, but he made a lot of plays with his feet.”
Meanwhile, Foles, the other rookie quarterback starting today, threw a pair of interceptions on the Eagles first two possessions. The first one set up a score and the second ended a promising drive. For the game, the former Arizona star completed 21-of-46 passes for 204 yards, two picks no touchdowns and he was sacked four times.
“He made a few young guy mistakes that he’ll learn from,” said Eagle head coach Andy Reid during a short, terse post-game press conference. “He is being given the opportunity to correct those.”
And no one was more down about his performance than Foles whose two interceptions set the tone for what turned about to be an otherwise bad day for both him and his Eagles teammates.
“I took it one play at a time; I guess you could say I never got into a rhythm,” Foles said. “It comes down to execution and I made too many mistakes.”
Since the firing of former defensive coordinator Juan Castillo, the Eagles defense, the secondary in particular, has gotten progressively worse under Todd Bowles. Against the Redskins, it got burned early and often.
Eagles cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha was badly beaten on a Griffin 49-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Aldrick Robinson that gave the Redskins a 14-3 lead early in the second quarter. In Asomugha’s defense, he had no safety help on the play.
“What happened was on the other side of the field, there was a route that made us jump instead of staying high,” Asomugha said. “It was a play that we had run in practice all the time this week, so it was just weird that that happened at that time. There definitely should have been a high guy on the other side of the field.”
The Redskins pretty much put the game away in the third quarter on a 61-yard touchdown pass from Griffin to Santana Moss. On that play, Griffin escaped the Eagles pass rush and found Moss at the goal line between two Eagles defenders-cornerback Brandon Boykin and free safety Kurt Coleman.
“I was in perfect position to make the play and I fell backwards all of sudden,” Coleman said. “I got to be able to make the play. I know I can make that play. It’s not like I had Andre Johnson (Houston Texans) on top of me.”
With their playoff hopes somewhere between slim and are-you-kidding-me, the Eagles simply have to find a way just to get a win.
“At the end of the day, you’ve got to look at yourself individually and when you watch the film, be critical of yourself,” Rogers-Cromartie said. “In your heart, you know if you can do better or you know if you’re given your all. You look at the problem and fix the problem within yourself and bring it together collectively.”
Notes–Eagles running back LeSean McCoy left the game with 1:44 left in the fourth quarter with a concussion after a helmet-to-helmet hit.