Daily Local News (West Chester, PA)

Focus on Foles as Birds battle Texans

- By Bob Grotz bgrotz@delcotimes.com @BobGrotz on Twitter

It’s been seven weeks since the Eagles beat a winning team and si x since quarterbac­k Nick Foles, on pace to throw 21 intercepti­ons, played a turnover-free game.

The Eagles’ 5-2 record is proof they can’t beat a good team when Foles throws multiple intercepti­ons.

Foles can take a giant step forward ending his streak of four consecutiv­e games with one or more turnovers Sunday against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium (1 p.m., Channel 29, WIP 94.1-FM).

The Texans (4-4) have studied Foles’ adventures, including his history with zone coverage.

“You never want to have intercepti­ons,” Foles said. “I don’t look at stats the way that you all do. I look at them as those are all things where we can have points. We’ve got to get those points. It’s my job to put us in position where we put more points on the board and win the games. I’m the decision-maker on offense.”

All of the Eagles faults showed up in their 24-20 loss last week to the Arizona Cardinals. The defense gave up touchdown plays of 80 and 75 yards, and Foles threw multiple intercepti­ons, one rather carelessly into the end zone. Add a fumble inside the 5-yard line by rookie receiver Josh Huff to the Birds’ inability to convert goal-to-goal in the red zone and you get a team that’s just good enough to hang with the good teams, but got to 5-2 on the season beating up on a long line of losers.

The Eagles wins this season are over teams with

“You never want to have intercepti­ons. I don’t look at stats the way that you all do. I look at them as those are all things where we can have points. We’ve got to get those points. It’s my job to put us in position where we put more points on the board and win the games. I’m the decisionma­ker on offense.”

a record of 14-24 (.368). Luckily for Foles and the guys, there are still a couple of weeks to get back in sync before the toughest part of the schedule arrives.

“I think obviously ever ybody kind of sees what Dallas is doing because they’re in the division,” safety Malcolm Jenkins said of the 5-2 Cowboys. “But we want to take it one game at a time. We feel good about matching up with whoever is out there. We’re in a good position with a 5-2 record. But there’s a lot that you can do to mess it up and a lot you can do to improve it. So right now there’s no light at the end of the tunnel. We’re just still trucking along as hard as we can trying to get better each week. Pretty soon that stuff will start defin- ing itself and we’ll start seeing the light at the end of the tunnel and where we stand.”

The Texans (4- 4) are 2-point underdogs at their place, where they’re 2-1. Quarterbac­k Ryan Fitzpatric­k, the bearded 10year vet has been around the block and then some. Fitzpatric­k has a career record of 31-53-1. The tie came with the Bengals in 2008 when Eagles quarterbac­k Donovan McNabb was unaware a game could end thusly.

“He looks like a guy that can get hot and make all the plays,” Eagles linebacker Connor Barwin said. “I think he can run around a little bit. People don’t talk about it, but he can make some plays with his feet. And he has some good receivers and a good running back that he’s going to get the ball to. For us up front it’s about making it hard for him to get the ball to his playmakers.”

The Eagles are focused on trying to take away Arian Foster, the NFL’s second leading rusher. When Foster isn’t involved in the stretch running attack he’s taking some of the heat off wide receiver Andre Johnson, who when his knee isn’t acting up as it has lately, is an elite receiver.

DeAndre Hopkins also poses a problem for an Eagles secondary that could be without safety Nate Allen, nursing a hamstring issue.

The Eagles have some favorable matchups on offense.

Texans cornerback­s Kareem Jackson and Johnathan Joseph are exper ienced but undisting uished. Safeties D. J. Swearinger and Kendrick Lewis are talented, but have played just eight games together.

“S we a r i n ger, the s a f e t y, is a physic a l player who likes to talk a lot,” Eagles leading receiver Jeremy Maclin said. “They have some guys who have some experience. But that pass rush makes their job a lit tle bit easier. I think we’ve got to definitely be on time and be where our quarterbac­k needs to be.”

J.J. Watt (7 sacks) anchors the front seven for t he Texans. Jadeveon Clowney (f lu), the f irst overall pick is a game-day decision. Nose tackle Ryan Pickett, even at age 35, is solid against the run. Outside linebacker­s Brooks Reed and Whitney Mercilus are effort guys who rush the passer.

“It doesn’t mat t er kind of who we’re going against,” Maclin said. “I feel like as long as we go out and execute there’s going to be plays to be made no matter who we’re playing. We’ve just got to go out there and be on track and be on the same page as our quarterbac­k.”

The Eagles are minus-7 in turnover ratio. Only Washington (minus-8), the Jacksonvil­le Jaguars (minus-10) and the New York Jets (minus-15) have worse turnover differenti­als.

“The No. 1 thing is just not turning the ball over,” Maclin said. “Ever ybody who t ouches the ball has to take better care of it.”

Jenkins, echoing the sentiment of his teammates on defense called the conflict “A huge game especially coming off a loss.”

“I think we want to be able to come out and perform well,” Jenkins said. “There’s no game right now that’s bigger than this week.”

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 ?? MARK ZALESKI — THE ASSOCIATES PRESS ?? Nick Foles and the Eagles’ offensive line will pay a lot of attention to Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt during today’s game at NRG Stadium.
MARK ZALESKI — THE ASSOCIATES PRESS Nick Foles and the Eagles’ offensive line will pay a lot of attention to Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt during today’s game at NRG Stadium.

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