Here’s what I saw from the Eagles’ offense after having reviewed the All-22 tape.
Play 1: My overall impression here was that there were plenty of opportunities for points, and the players on the field came up short. In other words, I probably put far less blame on Marty Mornhinweg than many of you for this one. But let me try to show what I mean. We start with the second Michael Vick interception, which really turned out to be a huge play.
The Eagles had everything work on the play except for the throw. They lined up in the I-formation and ran a play-fake that got the safety to bite. DeSean Jackson got open for what should have been a monster play, and pass protection held up.
The safety (No. 26) is barely in the picture, and Jackson has the cornerback behind him. If the ball is thrown towards the middle of the field, this is an 80-yard touchdown. But look at where the ball ends up.
It’s behind Jackson, forcing him to turn around, and allowing Chris Houston to pick it off. The Eagles go from a potential 80-yard touchdown to a turnover. Once again, we see that the offense is not hitting on big plays because it’s not executing. It has little to do with defenses taking those big plays away.
Play 2: Again, a game of missed opportunities. The offense just left way too many yards on the field. Both Vick and Andy Reid talked about how Jeremy Maclin was wide-open on the Eagles’ final drive in regulation. And they weren’t lying. Maclin did a good job of being physical against the defensive back and created all kinds of space.
That’s as open as you can hope to get on this route. The yellow circle identifies all the open field available with no Lions defenders. At the least, you’re looking at a 20-yard gain. If Maclin can make a defender (or two) miss, it’s a touchdown. But Vick’s pass gets batted down at the line of scrimmage by Ndamukong Suh, and the Eagles have to punt.
Play 3: The first interception was also a missed opportunity. It didn’t look to me like Vick made a bad decision, but he was late with the football. The first shot shows Jason Avant open, behind the linebacker and in front of the safety.
But Dallas Reynolds and Evan Mathis have trouble with Nick Fairley. The next photo shows what the pocket looks like when Vick actually starts to get rid of the ball.
Can you even see him back there? How is Vick supposed to make an accurate throw with that crowd in front of him? The ball floats over Avant’s head and is picked off by Louis Delmas. Reynolds and Mathis take some blame here. But Vick does too for not getting rid of the ball sooner.
Play 4: Alright, before I get you too depressed and you stop reading, let’s get to some of the good plays. For a short time, it looked like the 70-yard touchdown to Maclin would be what everyone dissected this week. The Eagles’ biggest play of the game started before the ball was snapped.
Jackson is lined up in the slot to the right. ESPN’s NFL Matchup crew always does a good job of showing how quarterbacks use motion to identify coverages. Here, there are nine Lions defenders near the line of scrimmage. Vick motions Jackson to the left, and the defensive back goes with him.
That sets up a bunch look for the Eagles to the left. Three receivers against three defensive backs. The Lions take a huge gamble with a seven-man blitz. After the ball is snapped, the bunch look confuses Detroit as two receivers go with Avant, leaving Maclin wide open.
The result is a 70-yard score. If you’re looking for a bright spot with Vick and the offense, it’s that they’re much improved against the blitz. On Sunday, Vick was 10-for-15 for 157 yards against extra pressure.
Play 5: The Eagles’ screen game has been horrible for much of the season, but maybe there’s reason for hope. They scored the 2-yard touchdown to LeSean McCoy on an inside screen. And this one near the end of the first half had to be one of their best screens of the year.
Play 6: Here’s why you can’t always blame play-calling. Vick has two receivers open in Celek (shorter crossing route) and Avant.
Play 7: And finally, perhaps because the Eagles have showed a more balanced game-plan in recent weeks, the Lions really geared up to stop the run on certain plays. Check out this look with eight men in the box on a 2nd-and-10 play in the first quarter.
Three linebackers and a safety right behind the four linemen. Even with the defense loaded up to stop the run, it looked initially like McCoy could have had a running lane. And if you can get past the defenders in the box, these runs can turn into monster gains.
He has just 75 yards on 30 carries the past two weeks.
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