Eagles’ Change Approach; Megatron, Lions Bust Loose

The plan heading into Sunday’s game against the Lions was to switch up the looks on Calvin Johnson to keep him guessing. That tactic was used sparingly early on. By our count, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie lined up over Johnson just three times in the first half. Nnamdi Asomugha was in charge of Megatron the rest of the time.

Johnson ended the half with one catch for 28 yards.

“I was on him most of the game,” said Asomugha. “I think when we got to the fourth quarter there was a lot more trying to give him a different look, give him something else so that he doesn’t get comfortable with one guy. There were sometimes, especially in the fourth quarter, when Dominique would go to him.”

Unofficially, Rodgers-Cromartie was on Johnson 11 times overall — eight of which came after intermission.

Following the opening 28-yard reception, Johnson was held without another catch until that fourth quarter. From there, he racked up five grabs for 107 yards as the Lions overcame a 10-point deficit to edge the Eagles, 26-23 in overtime.

Johnson had three grabs for 68 yards on a drive early in the fourth that ended in a one-yard Matthew Stafford touchdown run and cut the Eagles’ lead to three. Johnson’s 20-yard pick-up got Detroit down to the goal line. The Eagles’ were in zone coverage on that play and Nate Allen, who it turned out was playing on an injured hamstring, ended up on Johnson and got beat.

Rodgers-Cromartie was primarily responsible for Johnson on the key 17-yard reception in overtime. Juan Castillo dialed up a blitz on the play, sending Kurt Coleman, who did not make it to the quarterback. While much of the talk will be about the lack of blitzes called by the defensive coordinator, the belief by some in the locker room afterwards seemed to be that the blitzes late did more harm than good.

“We brought a little bit [of pressure] today, and they got us on a couple of them,” said Andy Reid. “We have to do better when we do blitz, and obviously we have to get more pressure on the quarterback.”

The decision to blitz late and use more of Rodgers-Cromartie on Johnson in the fourth represent two critical changes in approach that arguably damaged the team’s chances of winning. There was an interesting exchange between a reporter and Asomugha after the game exploring that subject.

As a player, when things go so well for three quarters, is there a sense of wanting the other team to prove they can beat what you’re doing before you change things up?

Asomugha paused for a moment, then said, “Um, yeah.”

As a veteran, is that a spot where you go to your coaches and say, ‘Hey, this is working, let’s try to use more of what’s working?’

“Um, yes.”

Asomugha continued.

“I don’t know if we changed what was working, I’ll just say that I know we blitzed a lot more toward the end of the game. We didn’t do as much blitzing the first three-and-a-half quarters, then we wanted to get after him. We did, and [Stafford] found the spot that he wanted to go to.”




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  • Tyler Phillips

    Nnamdi: “I’m not saying this was the coaches fault, but this was the coaches fault.”

  • Kimbafuzz

    So….lemme get this straight… The coverage was working TOO well, so Juan/Todd decided to change it??? W.T.F????

    Did they have Megatron on their fantasy teams??? Cause that’s the only way that decision makes sense.

  • Reading that frustrates me even more.

  • Ryan

    Nnamdi was dominant today. Don’t know what the coaches were thinking on those final 2 drives…

    • JofreyRice

      Yup. I’ve been pretty critical of Nnamdi, but he was everything he was advertised as when he was allowed to be today. Complete incompetence by Castillio and the rest of the staff.

  • Mike

    This reminds me of the Castillo quote after the Arizona game- thinking about bracketing Fitzgerald but deciding not to do it because they thought Arizona would be expecting that. Who cares?!? If that’s the most obvious way you can get beat, then take that away first!

  • Johnson went crazy because the Eagles were not putting any pressure on the Detroit Quarterback, you can’t allow Johnson to roam through your zone without paying the consequences eventually. Megatron is to big, to fast and to good. Kurt Coleman to slow to blitz from the safety position, it’s a waste of time to send him, when Megatron is in the pattern, Coleman should always stay deep to help over the top. Anyone notice how far away he was on the sideline catch to Megatron that was challenged?

    Coleman is a liability and using Anderson is an even worse liability defending speedy receivers. Neither can keep up with them.

  • Brian

    This is exactly why Juan Castillo has no right and no business being a defensive coordinator. Something is working great for three quarters, so let’s switch it up so he “doesn’t get too comfortable.” UM, WHAT?!?

  • barry_nic

    Wow. When the offense should make adjustments they don’t, when the defense doesn’t, they do. I like Andy, I really do, but this is really starting to come apart. For three quarters, they let Nnamdi and Dom do what they do best and it works! That’s what they payed for, arguably the best reciver in the NFL neuteralized. Then they change their strategy? Please give me a break. I’ve been a fan SO long and I’m just tired of always asking why. Why not run the ball in the forth to protect the lead, why not use a fullback on short yardage, and now changing up the coverage when it’s been working for the whole game? The big guys been doing this for 14 years now, come on! I know it’s not the superbowl or an playoff game, but every game is important. 4 and 2 would have been a great record, this loss will count later on in the year. This could be a great year, and I’m trying to enjoy myself as a fan and I’m not. I’ve been loyal through Kuharich, Kotite, Rhodes, AR. But Andy and the eagles are like the end of a long mariage that just doesn’t have it any more.
    PS, RIP wide9, if you can’t produce sacks anymore then what good are you?

  • So which coach made the decision to fix what wasn’t broken? Reid, Castllio, Bowles?