Eagles looking for ways to kick offense into top gear

Assuming Nick Foles has time to throw — and that’s assuming a lot — he might want to look in the direction of his top two playmakers.

Those players being DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin, of course.

The receiving tandem combined for just two catches last week against Washington, including a goose egg for Maclin. On the year, Jackson and Maclin have just six touchdowns as the offense continues to struggle to put points on the board. Foles knows he needs to get them involved early and often.

“The key to having a great team and a great offense is having a great o-line, it starts with them,” Foles said, “and then getting the ball into your playmakers hands. Those two guys are our playmakers, so we need to get them the ball.”

There is a theory floating out there that maybe Maclin and Jackson aren’t doing enough to get open. Perhaps the diminutive duo is getting lost in the shuffle, unable to find seams over the middle or keep working when plays break down. Looking at the tape, that isn’t the case.

“That’s just how it happened,” Maclin said, when asked what he learned from the game tape. “Yes, there were plays where I felt like I could have gotten the ball, but what receiver doesn’t feel like they can get the ball throughout the course of the game? Like I said, that was the flow of the game.”

Foles probably has better chemistry with Damaris Johnson and Riley Cooper since he was practicing with the second team before Mike Vick went down. If so, that’s not a good excuse.

“I’m just trying to get the ball on whatever play to the best receiver possible,” Foles said. “Those guys are great players. I just have to continue to complete more balls, make better decisions, and not turn the ball over.”

What to watch as Birds host Carolina

The Eagles might not be playing for much more than their dignity the rest of the way. Players’ and coaches’ jobs will be on the line and the front office is evaluating everyone and everything. Here’s what to look for when the Eagles host the Carolina Panthers tonight on national TV (8:30 p.m., ESPN):

1. Keep the QB clean. We say it every week and we’ll keep saying it until something changes: The Eagles need to stop the pass-rush. The makeshift offensive line gave up four sacks last week, while allowing Nick Foles to take some brutal hits. The unit is still trying to gel after 10 weeks, with another new starter, Jake Scott, taking over at right guard for a dinged Danny Watkins. And Carolina brings two of the best pass-rushers around in Greg Hardy and Charles Johnson (15.5 sacks combined).

2. Next man up. LeSean McCoy is still dealing with headaches after sustaining a concussion, leaving the door open for rookie Bryce Brown to start at running back. Brown had a great camp and has looked good in spurts this season (32 carries for 141 yards, including a 40-yard gainer). Brown hasn’t started a game since high school, all the way back in 2009. It’ll be interesting to see how much the pass-happy coaching staff trusts Brown.

3. All about Foles. Whether it’s Andy Reid coaching this team next year or someone else, the Eagles have to evaluate Nick Foles. If the kid can play at a high level over these last few games than the Birds can cross quarterback off their wish list this offseason. If not, well, the shopping cart gets even bigger.

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