It’s been non-stop drama, both on and field and off for the Eagles so far this season. They have come back from down double digits three times in a row, and all three times Nick Foles has thrown for over 300 yards.
But their 3-0 record may be deceiving. There are a multitude of weaknesses that keep this team from playing its best football. And also an unrelenting injury bug that has infected the offensive line (Jason Kelce, Evan Mathis and others are out) and the defense (Mychal Kendricks is expected to miss his second straight game).
The Eagles haven’t had to play their best to tally their three wins, but in San Francisco Sunday afternoon at 4 p.m., they might have to.
Figure out the running game
It might not be that the Eagles can’t figure out how to mix in the running game. It could just be that the rest of the NFL would prefer get beaten by Nick Foles than by LeSean McCoy.
Foles has thrown for an NFL-leading 978 yards in three games, while McCoy, one of the top tailbacks in the game, has just 175 yards on 60 carries.
“He’s had more carries this year in the first three games than he had last year,” Eagles coach Chip Kelly said, “But obviously the same five guys blocking for him is part of it to do with it. We’ve got to do a better job in the run game just overall, but I think he’s excited that we’re 3‑0. “
The Birds will have a tough defensive front to combat with their makeshift offensive line, but they will try as best they can to get the ground game going — if for no other reason, than to keep things from getting too one-dimensional.
“If everybody in the stadium knows what you’re going to do,” Kelly said of simply relying on the passing game, “then that makes it a lot more difficult.”
Tighten up the secondary
The Eagles gave up more than 400 yards to the Redskins and Kirk Cousins last week. They have to be better against Colin Kaepernick.
“Offensively, they’ve got a lot of weapons.” Kelly said of the 49ers. “They were a little different in this last game. This is the first time they played a lot of five wides to start the game.”
With Vernon Davis likely returning, there are a lot of things for the Eagles cornerbacks, safeties and linebackers to be worried about in pass coverage.
“[They have] two really good wide receivers in [Anquan] Bolden and [Michael] Crabtree that can catch the ball,” the coach said, “and they’re physical receivers and good on the offensive line.”
With Robert Griffin III out last week, the Eagles haven’t faced a dual threat like Colin Kaepernick yet. The defense, which has barely done enough to propel the Eagles to victory in the first three games, will really have to be aware of the mobile and strong-armed signal caller.
“Kaepernick has got that running quarterback skill set with a huge arm, so he can throw it vertically, he can make any throw,” Eagles defensive coordinator Bill Davis said. “When he extends a down, he’s probably at his best. When he’s running around like the [Ben} Roethlisbergers of the world and those guys that can get out of the pocket and find the open receiver and have the big arm to get it there.”
Kaepernick and the 49ers are a lackluster 2-1. The Eagles can be sure they are motivated to get back to .500 Sunday at their new stadium.