1. What has been the biggest reason behind the Eagles' success during their four-game winning streak?
The reason for the Eagles' recent success is what I like to call the team's "winning recipe." On offense, you have a quarterback executing Chip Kelly's offense at a high level and not making mistakes. Nick Foles is throwing lots of touchdowns but isn't turning the ball over. On defense, the Eagles are generating pressure and forcing turnovers. They're also keeping the game reasonable. The Eagles are the only team in the NFL to allow only 21 points or less in their last eight games. The special teams unit is excelling due to Donnie "Football" Jones, who's pinning Eagles opponents deep in their own territory in order to force long drives. The Eagles are playing well in all phases right now.
2. At this point, is it safe to say that Nick Foles is going to be the Eagles' starting quarterback beyond 2013?
Ah, the million dollar question. Well, Kelly did say Foles will be the Eagles starter for the next 1,000 years, so I think that's a ringing endorsement. It's too early to "officially" commit to anything since there are still four games left and Foles needs to continue to play well to keep himself in the conversation. But all indications seem to point Foles will have a great chance at starting for the Eagles beyond 2013. It wouldn't surprise me to see Kelly hold a competition again in next year's training camp, but based on how things are looking right now, Foles will likely beat out that competition and take the job.
3. The Eagles are dead last in the NFL when it comes to passing yards allowed. How big of a concern is the secondary going into this week's game against the Lions?
I think that stat is a little misleading for two reasons. One, it's a volume stat. The Eagles run a lot of plays on offense at a fast pace, so that means the defense is also going to be on the field for a lot of snaps. A better indicator in this situation is passing yards per attempt. In that category, the Eagles rank 16th. Two, the supposed design of the Eagles defense is one that bends but doesn't break. They will give up yards, but once the opposing team's offense gets into scoring position they really start to bunker down. With that said, the Eagles secondary is certainly not a strength. CB Cary Williams is very much an up-and-down player. Bradley Fletcher is a solid but unspectacular corner. Nate Allen has come on as a decent starting safety. Meanwhile, Patrick Chung is a liability. So, it's a reasonable concern.
4. The Lions have been excellent against the run as of late. What makes the Eagles' run game so good, and what will be the biggest key for it to be successful against Detroit?
There are multiple keys to the success of the Eagles' run game. First, Chip Kelly is a coach who likes to run the ball. That always helps. Next, you have LeSean McCoy, who is a very special talent at running back. Some have compared his style to that of a certain former Detroit Lions running back by the name of Barry Sanders. He's shifty and extremely hard to tackle. Lastly, you can't forget the guys blocking for McCoy. According to PFF, the Eagles have the best run blocking offensive line in the NFL. Jason Peters, Evan Mathis, Jason Kelce, Todd Herremans and Lane Johnson are all athletic linemen who have the ability to open holes for Shady to run through as well as get down field to make next-level blocks. If the Eagles want to continue their success against the Lions, the offensive line will need to win their battles up front with Detroit's defensive line.
5. Back in April, a lot of people thought the Lions were going to make a move to ensure they get Lane Johnson. Not ending up with him has actually worked out quite well, but how has he performed for the Eagles during his rookie season?
Lane Johnson has had an up-and-down year. He started off well, then faced some struggles, but has rebounded in recent weeks. His incredible athleticism helps him with his run blocking, but he still could use some polish in pass protection. The book on Lane coming out was that he wasn't the most NFL-ready offensive lineman out of the top OL prospects, but he likely had the highest upside. That notion seems to be consistent from what's been seen out of Lane this year. He's still a rookie who needs some more seasoning, but there are real flashes of potential there. He will look to continue his improved play yet again this week.