Game Review: Eagles Defense Vs. Redskins Offense

Mychal Kendricks 1If you missed the offense, click here. Below is the position-by-position review of the Eagles’ defensive performance against the Redskins, after having re-watched the game.

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN

* The starting defensive line from left to right was Cedric Thornton, Isaac Sopoaga and Fletcher Cox. Cox moved around a bit in nickel, sometimes playing left defensive end. A big hole opened up between him and Trent Cole in the first as Alfred Morris picked up 15. But Cox gave great effort on the play and eventually chased him down. He didn’t do much as a pass-rusher until late. Cox got free on a big blitz in the fourth and crushed Robert Griffin III. He later sacked Griffin when the Eagles used just a three-man rush.

* Thornton had a good second half too. He hustled from the back side, dropping Morris for a 2-yard loss and later charged through a double-team on the play where DeMeco Ryans sacked Griffin. Thornton also used his length, batting down a pass at the line of scrimmage. He missed a tackle on a 3rd-and-1 in the fourth, but otherwise played well.

* Tough to grade Sopoaga without the All-22 (not released yet). But he drew a holding penalty on a run play in the third and chased Griffin to the sideline on an incompletion later in the quarter.

* The backups from left to right were Clifton Geathers, Damion Square and Bennie Logan. Geathers got good pressure on two occasions, once fighting a double team and forcing Griffin to scramble. Logan blew up a stretch play in the third as Mychal Kendricks finished the tackle after a 1-yard run. Logan also played some nose tackle and drew a holding penalty in the third.

OUTSIDE LINEBACKERS

* In case you were wondering, Trent Cole was still a beast upon re-watch. The Eagles’ right outside linebacker owned the first half. He flew in from the back side and forced a Morris fumble early on. He jumped on Morris in the end zone to notch a safety. He dropped Morris for no gain on a zone-read play. He came flying in at Griffin and hit him as a pass-rusher. He slipped past the fullback and dropped Morris for no gain. And he tackled Griffin after a scramble on third down, forcing a punt. That was all in the first half.

* Cole dropped 23.8 percent of the time on pass plays, per Pro Football Focus. His best option in coverage might be to drill the opposing receiver. That’s what he did on one play in the third, forcing the receiver to the ground within 5 yards of the line of scrimmage. Cole hit Griffin on a play-action pass in the third and closed in on the play where Cox got a sack. Cole gets this week’s award for “player who most exceeded expectations.”

* Connor Barwin also played really well. The Eagles’ primary goal was to limit the Redskins’ ground game early on. Barwin forced Morris out of bounds for a 3-yard loss in the first. He stood up over the center and rushed the QB on the Brandon Boykin interception. He hustled to bring down Pierre Garcon after a 5-yard gain on a screen. And Barwin pressured Griffin on at least four occasions. Really strong debut.

* Brandon Graham played 19 snaps. On 14 passing plays, he never dropped back. Looked a lot more like a nickel pass-rusher than a 3-4 outside linebacker to me. We’ll wee if that continues. Graham set the edge on a Morris run that was dropped for a 2-yard loss and pressured Griffin on two occasions.

* Casey Matthews mixed in for three snaps, and it looked like he was actually playing outside linebacker.

INSIDE LINEBACKERS

* Mychal Kendricks was everywhere. All signs point to a big second-year leap out of him. He flew to the ball and knocked Morris out of bounds for a 3-yard loss early on. Kendricks did a great job to avoid blockers and tackle Morris on a first-quarter screen. His versatility was on full display. Kendricks blitzed seven times, per PFF. He rushed unblocked in the second and crushed Griffin, forcing him into an intentional grounding. And Kendricks leveled Griffin again in the third. On the Cary Williams interception, Kendricks dropped back as a safety. Outstanding performance overall.

* DeMeco Ryans was solid too. He blitzed and knocked over the left guard on a play-action pass in the third and sacked Griffin later in the quarter.

* Jake Knott mixed in a little as well. It looked like Kendricks might have had an equipment issue at one point.

DEFENSIVE BACKS

* It’s difficult to gauge their play based on TV tape. But I didn’t see either Williams or Bradley Fletcher give up a completion in man coverage. There were a few times when they were dropping in zone and allowed receptions in front of them. But that seemed to be the design of the defense. Definitely did not see that performance coming from the starting corners.

* Williams came flying in on a corner blitz and sacked Griffin in the second. He made a fantastic interception near the sideline in the third and broke up a deep fourth-down pass late. Great performance from Employee 26.

* Fletcher was really good too. He made two good plays on the ball, forcing incompletions and once had a little luck on his side as the receiver dropped the ball. Fletcher suffered a concussion, and his status for this weekend is up in the air.

* Brandon Boykin got picked on quite a bit. No one’s confirming, but he may been a little banged-up. Boykin blitzed five times, the most of any defensive back. He played the slot, but then moved outside when Williams and Fletcher got dinged-up in the second half. Boykin would likely play the outside if Fletcher can’t go this week.

* Rookie Jordan Poyer played 17 snaps in the slot and got picked on. It looked like the 10-yard Leonard Hankerson TD was on him, and Poyer also allowed a 5-yard completion on 3rd-and-2. He had trouble getting off his block on a screen to Pierre Garcon that picked up 17.

* Safety is impossible to assess off TV tape, but the Eagles did not give up a completion that traveled more than 20 yards from the line of scrimmage until the Redskins’ final drive. The game-plan once they got the lead seemed to be to blitz and keep all receptions in front of them.

* Overall, Billy Davis dialed up a lot of blitzes. Per Stats, Inc., the Eagles blitzed Griffin 29 times on 56 dropbacks, or 51.8 percent of the time. On those plays, he was 13-for-26 (50 percent) for 121 yards (4.7 YPA). Griffin was sacked twice and took off once.

* Patrick Chung seemed to hold up fine until that fourth-quarter touchdown. “Needs to have better ball skills than that,” said Jon Gruden on the play. Earl Wolff played seven snaps, but mostly, it’s going to be Chung and Nate Allen early on.

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  • B-West

    Its a shame that Curry and Graham appear to be the odd men out. The knee injury combined with all the depth chart roadblocks have really set back Graham. I’d rather see Curry dealt than have him waste away in the same fashion.

    I do hold out hope that everything went very vanilla after the first half, and maybe Graham could have a larger pass rushing role. That doesn’t explain Curry being inactive tho.

  • Sam

    Great debut for Barwin, tremendous combination of size and speed. Cole erased any doubts about the position change. Kendricks looks like he’s going to be huge in this defense. All this and two interceptions by the much-maligned secondary! OK, doubts about Poyer and maybe Chung, and I’d like to see Graham used better (such a waste of talent not to get the most out of him, ditto Curry), but on the whole a more potent defense than I was expecting and a huge relief from last year’s no-tackle chaos.

    • G_WallyHunter

      I would write out the exact same thing. good points. Excitement all-around for this D… Billy was planning this all along lol.. underselling them last week. Unless that’s what really lit the fire under them…

  • anon

    Is it sunday yet? I can’t wait to see this team play again. Stupidly did not DVR this game.

  • #7

    Completely shocked that Cole played so well as a LB. It’s one game, but hopefully he can keep this up

  • jon h

    Careful on the DVR, ESPN stopped the game on mine with 7 minutes left in the game. Loved the Cox knocked down RG3 and then didn’t help him up. COle is one of my favorite Eagles and has more right to bitch than anyone, but he doesn’t and had his best game in 4 years. At times, they looked like JJ’s defense, but seemed to tire toward the end of the game.

    • EuropeanEagle

      I think Cole had his best game against Atlanta, week 2 of the 2011 season. But he looked awesome on monday night.

  • cloisterwater

    No mention of Boykin’s pick in his performance section? That was pretty big at the time.

    • EaglePete

      under Barwin “He stood up over the center and rushed the QB on the Brandon Boykin interception.” but ya, not under his name

  • distantfires

    Upon Ryans’ monster sack, the ground shook noticeably in front of our TV!

  • cloisterwater

    No mention of Boykin’s INT in his section? It was pretty huge at the time.

  • EaglePete

    Im kind of glad they got a huge lead and had to hold it. I think that part of the game is important in this high powered “new” nfl. Teams are never out of it, so this was a good study for them on how to handle it. Just ask the Bolts how that goes, or the donkeys in last yrs playoff game. If they step on the pedal and have too many 3 n outs it also gives the opponent more time to come back so kind of a catch 22. Run game was impressive which is great to see, some of those holes were huge. Gotta love the TOs, hope they continue. That tackling was also great after having to watch last years fiasco. Ill take a huge play here or there but watching guys go untouched 30 plus yds was hard to stomach. The Chip Kellly machine has arrived, hold onto your hats NFL, here we come.

  • Rick H

    Good job Sheil! I agree almost on everyone except Geathers. I didn’t see him do anything and haven’t seen him do anything in any game including pre season. You may do a report on Special Teams but if you do not Jake Knott made an absolutely huge play on the onsides kick by diving and covering up Jason Avant which gave him cover and time to get the ball! Williams had a great night! One pick and that 4th down knock down of Griffin’s pass. Give me some Vinny Curry this Sunday please!

    • Adam

      Rewatch the game then, because Geathers showed up on Monday night. He’s not going to be dominate but he’s a good rotation guy.

      • bentheimmigrant

        Yeah. I was surprised he dressed instead of Curry, as I got the impression over the summer that he was still too raw. But I definitely noticed Geathers a couple times.

  • Michael Myers

    ” His best option in coverage might be to drill the opposing receiver”….love it and so true

  • http://abigbuttandasmile.com/ A Big Butt and a Smile

    Okay someone explain something to me please…I missed part of the fourth, the 36 yard run. When I got back it was 3rd and 15 – what the heck happened after the 36 yard run and up to the 3rd and 15. Seems like we should have scored there…at least a field goal.

  • Tim_A_H

    “We’ll wee if that continues.” Hahaha! Sorry to pick on a typo, but that’s funny!

  • bentheimmigrant

    The games were always extra long with Andy. All those pass plays meant a lot of incompletions and receivers ducking out of bounds, not to mention the change of possession TV timeouts (with an offence that was all about the big play, there was once a time when we’d score pretty quick)… I had hoped for a quicker game with Kelly, but it definitely doesn’t seem that way.

  • Dutch

    That was those fake redskin injuries. they didn’t have any shame claiming sham injuries. they all just laid across the railroad track.

  • G_WallyHunter

    If he can do that for 10 more games and shore up a nasty D with meco and barwin….. Tcole… damn gets me excited. Meco, Cole, barwin will only complement kendricks and as this blog said, he has the freedom to sorta play to instincts… can be a disgusting LB group

  • http://abigbuttandasmile.com/ A Big Butt and a Smile

    Yeah purchase it through them.

  • BlindChow

    Depends.

  • Justin

    When was the last time you thought the Eagles had quality linebackers?

  • G_WallyHunter

    When they had Trotter commanding the middle, what’s that gotta do with anything?