All-22: Breaking Down the ‘Pathetic’ Final Drive

A day after the loss to the Lions, a  fed-up Andy Reid had some harsh words for his offense.

“The last two drives offensively were pathetic. They were pathetic from a coaching standpoint and they were pathetic from a players’ standpoint,” he said.

What drove Reid to this level of irritation? We took a look at the coaches tape to find out. In this post, we’ll focus on the final drive: a three-and-out in overtime in which the Eagles lost a collective 21 yards. As a result, they were forced to punt from deep within their own end zone, allowing the Lions to take over at midfield. The game was over six plays later.

The series started with Michael Vick getting sacked for a seven-yard loss by Cliff Avril. Todd Herremans got beat badly on the play and Vick was hit from the blind side. You could chalk it up to a simple breakdown by the right tackle. But there is more to be taken from the play.

One of the criticisms of Marty Mornhinweg is that he continues to call plays that take a long time to develop despite the offensive line’s struggles. This looks like a good example of that. The snapshot below is right before Avril gets to Vick. You will see that DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin, the only viable options in this moment, are both heading deep.

The arrow points to Brent Celek. It looks like the tight end went low on a block and ended up on the ground on purpose to dupe the defense into thinking he wasn’t a pass option. He’ll eventually move into the flat. This whole process takes time. As you can see, he is still on the ground right before Vick goes down.

Here’s another look at it:
Here you see Celek just rising to his feet. Maclin, at the bottom corner of the shot, has his back turned and is no option. The blue arrow shows Ndamukong Suh beating Danny Watkins, who is on his knees in this frame. If Avril doesn’t get Vick, Suh will apply the pressure. And Vick doesn’t have anywhere to go.

On second down, Nick Fairley dropped Vick for a 14-yard loss. It’s hard to place any blame on play-calling for this one. The Eagles have six blockers to face a four-man front. Jason Avant — at the left of the screen — will give a chip before cutting across the middle. LeSean McCoy leaks out after staying in the backfield for a beat. As the arrow indicates, Fairley will curl to the right instead of attacking north-south. Evan Mathis tries to track him.

Vick’s first read is covered so he goes to his checkdown. But there’s no time for a dump-off to McCoy. 
Third down is where it gets really bad. Here, the Eagles leave seven in to block and are only facing three Detroit pass rushers, yet they still get beat. Here is how it looked pre-snap.

Avril will ultimately generate the pressure from the left side, forcing Vick to throw it out of bounds. Despite the numbers advantage, Avril ends up one-on-one against Brent Celek. Herremans, who appears to be peaking upfield in the next frame, is late to help. Dallas Reynolds is also without a man.
Avril shakes free before any double team is established and flushes Vick out. There seems to be a good amount of space between Vick and Avril in the next picture. But Vick’s not about to take a sack in the end zone in overtime.
A series that started out on the 25-yard line ended on the four. It cemented the Eagles’ fate, and certainly got the attention of the head coach.

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