By Kevin McGuire
In a meaningless game for both teams, the Philadelphia Eagles were merely hoping to see some good play out of starters like Nick Foles before giving them a rest. That didn’t exactly pan out as hoped. The Dallas Cowboys won a low-scoring regular-season finale in Lincoln Financial Field, 6-0. The good news is the playoffs are about to begin, but the bad news is the Eagles offense has some serious work to do in the next two weeks.
It is difficult to be too critical of the Eagles offense when so many key players were given the day off or taken out early to prepare for the playoffs. But Nick Foles was far from comforting with 4-of-11 for 39 yards with an interception before getting the rest of the game off. Nate Sudfeld made his NFL debut and was effective with 18-of-22 for 128 yards, but the rookie never managed to get the Eagles into scoring position. Jay Ajayi did not play, and LeGarrette Blount had nine carries for 37 yards, but the running game was never a factor against the Cowboys with just 70 rushing yards as a team, 22 of which were picked up by Sudfeld.
While the Eagles were playing with backups and third stringers for the majority of the afternoon, they still managed to hold Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott to just one touchdown that didn’t come until the fourth quarter. Dallas was held to 301 yards of offense as well, and Dez Bryant was held to just three receptions for 24 yards on eight targets his way. Elliott racked up 103 rushing yards, but the Eagles defense had plenty of reason to feel good about their defensive players in the regular season finale.
Special Teams: B
The Eagles never got into position to score, so kicker Jake Elliott was only needed for one kickoff all day long. Punter Donnie Jones had a busy afternoon with seven punts averaging 42.7 yards per punt. Kenjon Barner returned just one kick for 18 yards and three punt returns netted just 11 yards as making a big play on special teams returns continues to be a struggle.
What exactly are the Eagles coaches supposed to do? A lackluster performance from Nick Foles was difficult to stomach, but the Eagles were already playing in severe cold with some key players sitting out and resting, and most of the game was played with a third-string quarterback making his NFL debut. It’s unwise to rip Doug Pederson much for this result, especially since the defensive backups played as well as they did. The challenge will be what Pederson does with the offense in the next two weeks when the playoffs begin with home-field advantage.
Up Next: The Philadelphia Eagles are heading to the NFL playoffs as the top seed in the NFC—that was locked in before the game even started. But it remains to be seen who the Eagles will face in two weeks after getting a bye during the NFC Wild Card round next week. The Minnesota Vikings clinched the No. 2 seed in the NFC with a win early on Sunday. The Eagles will face the lowest seed advancing out of the NFC Wild Card round, which could be any team from the Carolina Panthers, Atlanta Falcons, New Orleans Saints or even the Los Angeles Rams. Doug Pederson and the Eagles have plenty of work to do to make sure Nick Foles is in sync with the offensive starters, and having the extra week of practice could help.