Tale of 2 coaches: Vikings face Eagles
- Article by: DAVE CAMPBELL
- Associated Press
- December 14, 2013 - 8:15 AM
MINNEAPOLIS — Three years ago, after a snowstorm forecast for Philadelphia prompted the NFL to postpone the game by two days, the Minnesota Vikings dominated the playoff-bound Eagles near the end of a dramatically disappointing season.
Leslie Frazier was the interim coach, and that performance no doubt boosted his candidacy for the full-time job. Now, the Eagles are next on the schedule, and Frazier's future is again uncertain with the Vikings (3-9-1) in last place in the NFC North.
"He's definitely been holding things together. As far as the future, I don't know," wide receiver Greg Jennings said. "We don't control that. That all goes from upstairs, down. All we can do is control what we do, and that's what he's been doing as a head coach."
Beating the Eagles (8-5), who have won five games in a row to take control of the NFC East, might not be enough to earn Frazier another year, but it can't hurt his cause.
"It's not the effort. It's not that. We're preparing well. We're practicing well. We're just not making the critical plays at that time to get off the field or to drive on offense or to whatever to win a game, basically," linebacker Chad Greenway said.
The Eagles started fast, hit a snag and then took off under new coach Chip Kelly, who has so-far successfully implemented his fast-paced college offense from Oregon by turning running back LeSean McCoy loose and fostering a system for young quarterback Nick Foles to thrive in.
"He's a great head coach that really his players love. He really has a huge impact on us when he speaks to us or how he does things," Foles said. "He really cares about us, so you really go out and play for a guy like that."
A guy who has been doing whatever he can to sustain his team's momentum and sidestep a letdown against a lesser opponent.
"I literally was thinking of the Vikings game coming off the field on Sunday," Kelly said.
Here are five things to know about Sunday's game between the Eagles and the Vikings:
TRAVELING TOUGH: The Eagles are an NFC-best 5-1 on the road, their last loss away from Philadelphia on Sept. 29 at AFC-leading Denver. They also beat Detroit by two touchdowns in a snowstorm last week, so they're not likely to be fazed by the noisy home-field advantage the Vikings have in their dome.
The Eagles haven't allowed more than 21 points over nine straight games. But the Vikings, despite their unsettled quarterback situation, have scored 20 points or more in seven consecutive contests. For the season, they've lost four times and tied once in games when they still led with less than 60 seconds left.
"They've lost some really close ones to some really good teams, so you know they're going to be ready to go," Foles said.
UNHERALDED UNIT: For all the hype surrounding Kelly's up-tempo, high-powered offense, the defense has become the real stalwart of the squad since Peyton Manning and the Broncos put up 52 points in Week 4. They're still giving up high yardage totals, but have been excellent inside the 20-yard line and at forcing turnovers, with 12 takeaways during the winning streak.
RUNNING AWAY: McCoy leads the NFL with 1,305 yards rushing, with another 439 yards receiving on top of that. He had a career-high 217 yards against the Lions.
"This dude is making moves. He's doing things. He's like a human joystick right now," Vikings defensive end Jared Allen said.
TRYING TO KEEP PACE: Vikings star Adrian Peterson sprained his right foot in the second quarter last week, with only 13 yards for the afternoon. With Peterson now trailing McCoy by 84 yards, his pursuit of a second straight rushing title and third of his career is in trouble. Peterson has said all week he's planning to play, but the Vikings will be cautious about using him with their elimination last week from playoff contention.
TAKING BETTER CARE: Over their last 10 quarters, plus a pair of overtimes, the Vikings have only two turnovers. One was an interception off an on-target throw by Matt Cassel that Rhett Ellison bobbled into the air. The other was a fumble by Toby Gerhart that replays showed shouldn't have counted because his knee first hit the ground.
Cassel has been a big reason for that. He'll start at quarterback for the second straight week.
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