MIKE O'HARA

OPPONENT BREAKDOWN: The Eagles have played their way into playoff contention

Posted Dec 5, 2013

The Eagles have a four-game win streak entering Sunday's game against the Lions

The statistics might say otherwise, but the offense Chip Kelly ran with the Oregon Ducks did not migrate east when he left college for the NFL to become head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles.

Bird references can abound regarding Kelly's offense – how it laid an egg early but has been flying high of late – but the bottom line is that the Eagles have played their way into playoff contention.

The Eagles have a four-game winning streak going into Sunday's home game against the Lions at Lincoln Financial Field. They are tied with Dallas for first place in the NFC East. Both are 7-5.

While the results remind people of what Kelly's offenses accomplished at Oregon, he insists that the Eagles aren't running Oregon's old schemes.

"I don't think it's similar," Kelly said Wednesday in a conference-call interview with the Detroit media.

"When we got here, I hired a lot of different guys. I don't have anybody on the offensive side of the ball that was with me at Oregon. This is the Philadelphia Eagles offense, not the Oregon offense."

Andy Reid, who was fired after 14 seasons as the Eagles' head coach and hired by the Chiefs, left behind playmakers whose skills fit the up-tempo system Kelly likes.

LeSean "Shady" McCoy is second in the NFL in rushing with 1,088 yards and first in yards from scrimmage with 1,523.

DeSean Jackson is eighth in the league in receiving yards with 1,021.

Second-year quarterback Nick Foles has compiled Hall of Fame stats since being promoted to the starting job ahead of Michael Vick after Game 5. The Eagles had a 2-3 record at the time. Vick had taken a physical beating, and turnovers were hurting the offense.

Foles has 19 touchdown passes without an interception and a 5-1 record as a starter. Foles has allowed the Eagles' playmakers do what they do best -- make plays.

Foles was not an unknown quantity to Kelly when he went to him as the starter. As a rookie in 2012, Foles played in nine games with six starts. He completed 161 of 265 passes for 1,699 yards, six touchdwons and five interceptions.

There was speculation in the offseason and in training camp that Foles would win the starting job.

"It's just unfortunate that it's the one position in the NFL that you're not going to rotate guys," Kelly said. "Coming out of camp, we had to settle on one. Mike played extremely well. I still believe Mike can be a very, very good quarterback in this League. It's just, you can't have two starting quarterbacks."

Chip KellyHead coach Chip Kelly (Photo: AP Images)

The way Foles has played, one is plenty.

Here is a breakdown of some key players and areas that have led the Eagles' drive to first in the East:

Stats comparison:

Kelly's 2012 season at Oregon was a typically high-powered year for the Ducks. They were No. 1 in the FBS division with 89 touchdowns and ranked fifth in yards per game with 537.38.

Through 12 games, the Eagles are third overall in total offense with 403.6 yards per game and second in rushing with 146.8 yards per game. The passing game is ninth, with 256.8 yards per game.

In points scored, the Eagles are eighth with 25 per game with an average of 31 in the last four games.

Tempo-control:

Oregon was known for a fast-paced attack and the volume of plays it ran in Kelly's tenure. It is part of the Eagles' attack, but they're only 12th in offensive plays from scrimmage with 792. Denver leads with 869 with the Patriots (853) and Lions (841) close behind in second and third.

"It's just a tool in the toolbox," Kelly said. "We don't do it all the time. It's a matter of something I think helps. It can exploit some things on the defense that you're facing that week. We don't use it all the time. We just use it as a changeup."

Defense:

The best thing the Eagles have done is win the turnover ratio – they're plus seven with 22 takeaways. The only significant statistic they rank in the top 15 in is percentage of passes intercepted. They're 12th with a total of 15.

They're last in pass defense, giving up 296.8 yards per game, but the opponent passer rating of 83.6 puts them in the middle of the pack.

How the Eagles got to 7-5:

Quarterback play was only one of the reasons they started out 3-5. They couldn't win at home. They lost their first four home games to the Chargers, Chiefs, Giants and Washington to sink to 35. They won at Oakland and Green Bay to get to 5-5 and made it 7-5 to beat Washington and Arizona at home in the last two games.

Despite all the attention their offense has gotten, they outgained only Green Bay in the four-game winning streak. They finished with 542 yards in their victory over Oakland, but the Raiders gained 560. Philly's defense gave up big rushing totals in two of the wins – 191 to Washington and 210 to Oakland.

Eagles leaders:

OFFENSE

Passing:

Nick Foles: 124-196 (63.3 pct.), 1,791 yds., 19 TD, 0 Int., 17 sacks, 125.2 rating
Michael Vick: 77-141 (54.6 pct.), 1,215 yds., TD, 3 Int., 15 sacks, 86.5 rating

Nick Foles, LeSean McCoyQB Nick Foles and RB LeSean McCoy (Photo: AP Images)

Rushing:

McCoy: 232-1,088, 4.7 avg., 5 TD; 
Vick: 34-308, 9.1 avg., 2 TD;
Bryce Brown: 58-169, 2.9 avg., 0 TD;
Foles: 39-145, 3.7 avg., 2 TD.

Receiving:

Jackson: 61-1,021, 16.7 avg., 7 TD;
McCoy: 39-435, 11.2 avg., 1 TD;
Riley Cooper: 34-640, 18.8 avg., 7 TD;
Jason Avant: 29-336, 11.6 avg., 1 TD;
Zach Ertz: 26-342, 13.2, 3 TD;
Brent Celek: 23-319, 13.9n avg., 4 TD.

DEFENSE

Tackles:

DeMeco Ryans: 148
Mychal Kendricks: 102
Nate Allen: 78
Connor Barwin: 67
Cedric Thornton: 63
Trent Cole: 61
Fletcher Cox: 52
Cary Williams: 51
Earl Wolff: 50

Tackles for loss (Team total 23):

Cole: 7
Barwin: 6
Ryans: 2
Thornton: 2

Sacks (Team total 29):

Cole: 5
Barwin: 4
Vinny Curry: 4
Cox: 3
Ryans: 3
Brandon Graham: 3

Interceptions (Team total 15): Brandon Boykin 4; Williams 3; Fletcher 2; Ryans 2.

Special teams

Punting: Donnie Jones 65, 45.3 avg., 41.3 net, 5 touchbacks, 29 inside 20, 1 blocked.

Kicking: Alex Henery 18-23 FG, 34-34 FG.

Punt returns: Damaris Johnson 11-8.6 avg., 21-yard long; Jackson 8-7.0 avg., 12 long.

Kickoff returns: Johnson 17-25.9 avg., 33 long; Boykin 6-21.3 avg., 41 long.