Game Review: Eagles Offense Vs. Chiefs Defense

Todd Herremans 1Here’s a position-by-position look at what we saw after reviewing Thursday night’s game.

QUARTERBACKS

* You hopefully know by now that I call it like I see it with Michael Vick. I thought he was outstanding last week against the Chargers, and I thought he was terrible against the Chiefs. Were there offensive line issues? Absolutely. We’ll get to those below. But Vick made bad decisions all game long and was inaccurate with the football when he had opportunities to make plays.

* Let’s start with how the Chiefs defended Vick. They challenged the Eagles receivers with man coverage all game long. The Birds’ pass-catchers struggled to get open, and when they did, Vick failed to capitalize. He was rarely blitzed. By my count, Kansas City sent five or more rushers his way on just seven of 38 drop-backs, or 18.4 percent of the time. Against the blitz, he was 2-for-5 for 30 yards and sacked twice. Against three- and four-man rushes, he was 11-for-25 for 171 yards and sacked four times. Vick also ran twice for 38 yards in those situations.

* The first interception was a disaster. Vick stared down Brent Celek from the time he took the snap. Linebacker Derrick Johnson deflected the pass, and Eric Berry returned it for a touchdown. We praised his decisiveness last week, but against Kansas City, Vick held on to the ball way too long. He had a clean pocket for about 3.7 seconds in the first, and it looked like he had LeSean McCoy open near the sideline. But Vick waited and eventually took a sack. On the next play, he rolled to his left, held the ball for 4.2 seconds and was hit while he released the ball.

* Vick twice threw behind Riley Cooper on post patterns to the left side. The first was incomplete, the second intercepted. Those are throws he’s made in the past and ones that have to be completed, especially against a good defense like Kansas City’s.

* Miscues in the red zone as well. It looked like Vick overthrew DeSean Jackson on the fade, and he called for the snap before Cooper was set, resulting in a 5-yard penalty. Overall, Vick had three balls batted down at the line of scrimmage and one hit off of Justin Houston’s helmet.

* As always with Vick, there were some good moments. He read the DT and took off on a 61-yard run in the first. He stood in the pocket, took a hit and delivered on time to Jason Avant for the 22-yard touchdown. He escaped pressure and found Avant for a 31-yard completion in the third. And he threw a beauty to Jackson down the sideline for 40 yards in the third.

* Kansas City has a lot of talent on defense, and we likely won’t know how good the Chiefs are on that side of the ball until a month or so from now. But Vick was 13-for-30 for 201 yards and three turnovers. It’s pretty much impossible to win when your quarterback has numbers like that.

RUNNING BACKS

* What’s left to say about LeSean McCoy? He’s an elite talent and the player that makes the Eagles’ offense go. McCoy carried 20 times for 158 yards. I know it’s only three games, but McCoy’s on pace for 2,106 yards and will almost certainly enter Week 4 as the league’s leading rusher. He’s averaging 6.4 yards per carry and has 119 more yards as a receiver.

* What’s most impressive about McCoy is his ability to navigate through traffic. Unbelievable footwork when defenders get close at or behind the line of scrimmage. McCoy suffered an ankle injury in the second, but returned in the third and reeled off runs of 30 and 41 yards in the second half.

* By my count, the Eagles used the read-option on 10 of 24 rushing attempts (not counting Vick’s scrambles). On those 10 plays, they piled up 145 yards (14.5 YPC). On the other 14 runs, the Eagles had 81 yards and averaged 5.8 YPC.

* The lazy opinion after this game is: See, Kelly’s offense can be shut down easily! But if teams want to follow the Chiefs’ formula, they’ll need corners who can cover man-to-man and a front-seven that can dominate. Those are the factors that led to the Eagles’ downfall. They were still able to run the ball, but made too many mistakes in the passing game because of breakdowns in protection, bad decisions by Vick and a failure to win one-on-one matchups. The failures were more execution than concepts, in my opinion.

* Bryce Brown carried just three times for 7 yards. Loved his hustle on the 61-yard Vick run though. Brown sprinted downfield right behind Vick, looking for someone to block the entire way.

WIDE RECEIVERS

* This was the “I think they miss Jeremy Maclin” game. The Chiefs played man coverage, but used a safety to help on Jackson. That gave the Eagles one-on-one opportunities elsewhere, but they couldn’t win. Jackson had three catches for 62 yards, including a 40-yard bomb down the sideline in the third. Kelly tried to move him around, but the Eagles couldn’t get Jackson as many touches as he had in the first two weeks.

* Cooper played poorly throughout. Two catches for 29 yards on seven targets. He failed to make the catch on a post-corner route on third down in the first. The ball hit him on the finger-tips. That’s a play an NFL starting wide receiver has to make. Later, Vick escaped pressure and looked for Cooper near the sideline, and he failed to hang on again. Watching live, I thought the throw was out of bounds. But after watching the replay, it looked like Cooper had a chance. We’ll get a better look with the All-22, but overall, it seemed like Sean Smith kept him in check all game long.

* Jason Avant played a good game with five catches for 87 yards and a touchdown on eight targets. He’s not usually a YAC guy, but Avant made a defender miss and picked up 8 yards and a first down in the second. He also made a nice grab, tipping the ball to himself for 20 yards in the fourth.

* Damaris Johnson didn’t play any offensive snaps, but had the big fumble on the punt return in the first.

* Once again, the Eagles were in ’11’ personnel with one RB and one TE for most of the game, or 53 out of 63 snaps to be precise. They were in ’12’ personnel on eight snaps, went 1-RB/4-WR once and 2-RB/2-TE/1-WR once.

TIGHT ENDS

* Quiet game for this group. As I mentioned, the Eagles went multiple TEs on just nine of 63 snaps, or 14.3 percent of the game. The Birds’ tight ends combined for three catches on eight targets for 23 yards. Brent Celek had two catches for 18 yards; Zach Ertz one grab for 5 yards.

* Ertz did a good job in pass protection on one snap in the second, getting matched up with Houston. It might be time to get him on the field a little more.

* James Casey played one snap.

OFFENSIVE LINE

* Where to begin with this group? The Chiefs rushed three or four on 31 of 38 passing downs and dominated the Eagles up front on passing downs. The run game was a different story as the Birds averaged 9.8 yards per carry.

* Todd Herremans was one of the most visibly upset guys in the locker room after the game. Now that I have reviewed the game, I think I know why: The third quarter had to have been one of the worst he’s played in his entire career. On one play, he got overpowered by Tyson Jackson, shoved back into Vick and then into the ground. Or as Mike Mayock put it, “jacked right back into Vick’s lap.” On the very next play, Herremans failed to get to Johnson, who stopped Brown after a 3-yard run. After that, Dontari Poe drove Herremans into the backfield on a 1-yard Brown run. Later, he was pushed back into Vick again, even though Vick completed a 6-yard pass. And he was beaten by Houston, giving up a hit on Vick on third down in the third.

* Other issues for Herremans: He had trouble in pass pro early on Vick’s 5-yard completion to Ertz. He was pushed back into Vick’s face on a 24-yard scramble. And he had some trouble with Jackson on McCoy’s 2-yard run in the second. Were there some good moments? Yes. Specifically in the run game. Herremans did an excellent job on McCoy’s 41-yard touchdown, starting out on a double-team and then getting to the linebacker. But overall, this was a major struggle for the veteran, who has not played well this year.

* Jason Peters had issues all game long with Tamba Hali. Hali beat him around the edge in the second for a sack. Later in the quarter, Hali pressured Vick again, forcing him out of the pocket. And on the INT intended for Cooper, Hali beat Peters and forced Vick to step up. Peters probably got away with a hold on that play too. Later in the fourth, Hali beat him two more times on pass-rushes. And Peters was called for a false start.

* The Eagles’ left tackle had nice blocks on McCoy’s runs of 18 and 30, but he struggled in pass pro.

* Evan Mathis was probably the Eagles’ most consistent offensive lineman. He had an excellent block on Johnson on Vick’s 61-yard run in the first. And Mathis got to the linebacker on McCoy’s 30-yard run. He did a nice job pulling in the run game throughout. In pass pro, he had some issues. Mathis gave up a pressure to Poe that led to a sack in the first, although Vick held on to the ball for 3.7 seconds with a clean pocket. He was called for a false start in the third and failed to pick up Hali on a stunt, allowing a hit on Vick.

* Very uneven day for Jason Kelce. Playing with the thumb injury, he had the botched snap where he thought Vick was under center. That was a big turnover. The Eagles had scored on their previous possession, and the defense had forced a punt. In the third, Kelce had a shotgun snap get past Vick as well. Poe was disruptive, but as a blocker, I thought Kelce held his own, especially in the run game. Kelce got to a linebacker on McCoy’s 18-yard run in the second and did a great job on Poe on McCoy’s 41-yard run.

* Another learning experience for Lane Johnson. On the “swinging gate” two-point conversion play, Kelly said Johnson missed his assignment, which was to block Hali. As a blocker on offense, pretty much all of Johnson’s issues this year have come in pass protection. He got pushed back on Vick’s 24-yard scramble in the first. He was beaten one-on-one by Houston for a sack in the second. Houston then overpowered him for another sack in the first half. And Johnson allowed pressure on at least two more occasions in the second half. As a run blocker, he’s still very good. Johnson crushed Jackson on a 7-yard McCoy run. McCoy ran right behind him for 4 yards on 2nd-and-2 in the second. And Johnson pushed an LB to the ground on McCoy’s 18-yard run. Up and down game for the rookie.

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