Philadelphia Eagles: Progress Report Headed into Week 12

Brad Gagnon@Brad_Gagnon NFL National ColumnistNovember 20, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 18: Quarterback Nick Foles #9 of the Philadelphia Eagles signals from the line of scrimmage against the Washington Redskins at FedEx Field on November 18, 2012 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

With the Philadelphia Eagles all but eliminated from playoff contention at this stage, we took a new progress report template for a spin last week.

Instead of getting into the gritty details of each game from the perspective of someone fretting the short-term, we examined the progress being made with regard to four questions pertaining to personnel for 2013 and beyond.

Since the Eagles decided to take the week off in an embarrassing loss to the Redskins, there's no reason we shouldn't continue to evaluate their progress (or lack thereof) in that light.

Four Key Questions to Monitor

Is Nick Foles able to lead the offense?

Seventy-eight passes into Foles' career, it's very tough to draw any significant conclusions.He's attempted only four passes of 20 yards or more that weren't throwaways and the vast majority of his completions have come within a few yards of the line of scrimmage.

He's been decent under pressure, but we've yet to see him display his exceptionally strong arm, and he's missed on some easy throws. 

He's also been shaky in general, lacking the poise you want from a franchise quarterback. He's detecting pressure where it doesn't exist, which indicates he's either over-compensating based on what happened to Michael Vick or he's playing scared with the offensive line in shambles. 

We won't necessarily get a better feel for what Foles can do against Carolina Monday night, but I think the true audition will take place in Dallas, Tampa and back at home against Cincinnati in Weeks 13, 14 and 15. 

Current answer: Probably not, but it's still very early

Can Brandon Graham be relied upon to replace Jason Babin and emerge as the team's next great pass-rusher? 

I mentioned last week that I wanted to see Graham get starter snaps, but Todd Bowles and Jim Washburn limited him to 24 for the second straight week. Trent Cole and Jason Babin had 37 and 34, respectively. But Babin had what was, by far, his best game of the year, while Graham failed to do anything special. 

Graham has still had a much better year than Babin on a per-snap basis, and Cole was actually rated by Pro Football Focus as Philly's least effective defensive player against the Redskins. 

I'd still like to see Graham put up another big performance or two as key cog in the pass rush before concluding whether the Eagles should dump the high-priced, soon-to-be-33-year-old Babin in the offseason.

(Another factor here is that the Eagles might finally activate rookie second-round pick Vinny Curry next week, giving him a chance to prove his worth as a member of the rotation at defensive end.)

Current answer: Probably, but he needs more reps

What do they have in Curtis Marsh and Brandon Boykin?

Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie struggled again in Washington, and it's becoming a distinct possibility that the Eagles revamp the entire secondary in the offseason. With that in mind, they need to know if Marsh or Boykin can become important contributors on defense in 2013.

Boykin wasn't tested a lot in the slot Sunday, but he still gave up a clumsy 61-yard touchdown to Santana Moss. The coaching staff has yet to take a chance on Marsh, who wasn't active against the 'Skins and remains buried on the depth chart. 

Once the Eagles are officially eliminated in the coming weeks, I want to see Marsh and Hughes in the lineup, and I want to see Boykin get some snaps outside. All 13 of the rookie's Week 11 snaps came in the slot.

Current answer: It doesn't look like either can be relied upon long term

Can Dennis Kelly start at offensive tackle?

The rookie fifth-round pick made his first career start at right tackle Sunday and was a major reason why Nick Foles was able to make it through the game alive. Sure, he took a couple penalties, but he gave up no sacks, no hits and only a single hurry, according to PFF.

In a perfect world, the Eagles will get Jason Peters and Todd Herremans back healthy in 2013, and Kelly can act as a swing tackle/apprentice. But that's no guarantee, so it would be very exciting for those in the Eagles' organization if Kelly were to perform well over the season's final six weeks.

He'll face a ton of quality defensive fronts, so we'll definitely know by the time the season wraps up if he's able to be relied upon next year.

Current answer: Early indications are very good

Week 11 Stock Report

Stock Rising (offense): King Dunlap

Kelly's obvious, but we just talked about him. Instead, we'll give this to Dunlap for bouncing back from a terrible performance against Dallas with a decent one on the left side against Washington. He gave up a sack and took another penalty, but it was progress.

Stock Rising (defense): Jason Babin

Babin's taken a lot of heat this year, but he had seven pressures on only 15 pass-rushing snaps against the Redskins. That's the Babin Eagles fans know and love from 2011. 

Stock Dropping (offense): DeSean Jackson / Jeremy Maclin

Two catches on nine combined targets and a combined five total yards for the team's two elite-level receivers in D.C. That's ridiculous, regardless of the quarterback situation. 

Stock Dropping (defense): Kurt Coleman

Time to give up on hope that the 2010 seventh-round pick can be a long-term starter in that secondary. He's been awful against the run all year and was just as terrible in coverage Sunday. The guy's not reliable at all.

View last week's report here


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