How close were Mike Wallace and Nick Foles from a couple of game-breaking plays? Well, the stats would show that Mike Wallace was non-existent on the field. However, if three plays happened slightly different last week, Wallace would have come out of Thursday’s game as the hero. Instead, many fans are calling for the Eagles to go get Dez Bryant since the receivers had a quiet Week 1. The Eagles were able to hold off the Falcons by just 6 points, but if Foles and Wallace were able to get on the same page, the Eagles could have stretched their lead.
#1 – 3rd and 7 at ATL 17 (8:23 2nd Q.)
This play ended up as a positive for the Eagles as Trufant was called for PI, but this had a chance to be a touchdown for Wallace. Nick Foles started the play by going through his reads to his left and as he progressed across the field, Wallace broke to the inside and beat Trufant. The image below shows the break of Wallace and the space he created.
The blue arrow shows where Wallace should have continued his route in order to keep his inside leverage on Trufant. Instead, Wallace drifted upfield (red arrow) as Foles turned to throw and allowed Trufant to sneak inside of him for the deflection. Fortunately, Trufant had his arm wrapped around Wallace as he dove for the pass break up and the Eagles got the first down due to a pass interference call. I’m not saying it was a sure-fire touchdown, but if Wallace worked towards the ball, he sets himself and the Eagles up for a chance to score. This miss falls on Wallace, with a bailout from Trufant.
#2 – 1st and 5 at PHI 18 (0:29 2nd Q.)
This was the first deep shot the Eagles tried to take to Wallace. Wallace runs a deep post and is able to get behind the linebacker (Jones) and in front of the safety, splitting the defenders as he crosses the field. Nick Foles had to give his guy a shot on this route. The screenshot below shows where the ball needed to be for Wallace to be able to make a play (blue dot) and the red dot shows where Foles missed him, short.
Many fans were doing one of two things on this play. One, screaming at their TV’s for a flag to be thrown for PI on Jones as he maked contact as Wallace worked towards the underthrown ball. Or two, ripping Mike Wallace for not “working hard enough” to fight back to make the catch.
First off, this would have been a very ticky tack PI call on Jones. The ball was severely underthrown and Jones was looking back towards the ball when he made contact with Wallace. Essentially both players have a right to make a play and Jones just being in the way is not enough for pass interference. Second, who expects Mike Wallace (200 lbs) to fight through a linebacker, Deon Jones (222 lbs) while running full speed in the opposite direction? That would have been an unbelievable play for Wallace and this one was a miss on Nick’s end.
#4 – 2nd and 8 at PHI 48 (4:48 4th Q.)
This play should have been a touchdown. This is the reason the Eagles brought Mike Wallace in, for his ability to stretch the field vertically. When Wallace gets a step, Foles has to give him a chance to make a play. The screenshot below shows the slight separation that Wallace gets and that is all he needed to score if the ball is put right on him.
This would have truly been a game-breaker as a score here would have given the Eagles a lead. Now, the Eagles went on to score later on this drive with a Jay Ajayi touchdown run, but they cannot afford to miss this opportunity in the future. The pass came up short and fortunately, Alford overran the ball and missed his chance for an INT or else this would have been catastrophic for the Eagles. This missed connection again falls on Foles.
These were the only three ‘targets’ for Mike Wallace in week one. Hopefully, he sees a few more go his way this week.
The Eagles will need Foles and Wallace to be on the same page in Week 2 in Tampa Bay. If they can take advantage of Wallace’s ability to take the top off a defense, this will open up the underneath for Nelson Agholor and Zach Ertz to go to work.
Film Study session complete.