The recent hand-wringing about the Eagles’ red zone problems ignores a pretty significant fact: Touchdowns scored from outside the opponent’s 20-yard line count for six points, too, and they may be even more damaging to the defense’s psyche.
The Eagles have nine offensive touchdowns of 20 yards or more. That is the most in the NFL through six games. Their total of 18 offensive touchdowns is second only to Denver’s ridiculous total of 31. Three other teams had more overall touchdowns through Week 6, but Dallas, Chicago and Detroit all have touchdowns by returns. The Eagles have none of those.
So without a defensive or special-teams score, the Eagles are averaging three touchdowns and a total of 28 points per game. That isn’t bad.
Obviously, Chip Kelly and his staff would like to be more effective in the red zone. Their 45-percent touchdown rate (9-for-20) is tied for 27th in the NFL. But even one more touchdown would move them all the way up to a 10-way tie for 15th place. So it’s not exactly a crisis.
Besides, the Eagles have been better the past couple of weeks. Nick Foles has been able to get DeSean Jackson involved, something that has seldom happened over Jackson’s career, with two touchdown catches.
“He’s fast,” Foles said. “He can catch the ball in traffic. He has great eyes, great hand-eye coordination. As long as you get him the ball, he’s going to go get it. He’s gotten into the right spot. Down there, it’s windows. It might be open for a split-second, that’s where you’ve got to hit it.”
Kelly said the general uptick, and the involvement of Jackson, had more to do with the coach himself than with Foles.
“He executes the plays that we call,” Kelly said. “A lot of our red zone -- I didn't do a good job calling plays and putting ourselves in good situations And I think we called plays and Nick put the balls where they are supposed to be.”
It will be worth monitoring the Eagles’ progress in the red zone with Foles running the plays that Kelly calls. But if the Eagles can keep scoring quick-strike touchdowns, as they did twice in Tampa Sunday, they’ll have every chance to win.