Quarterly Grades: Eagles Offense

herremansjohnson_940

Earlier this week, we graded the Eagles’ defense, position-by-position, after the first four games of the season.

Now it’s time to check in on the offense. As we explained, these are based in large part on expectations, given the talent on the roster.




 

QUARTERBACKS: B

The two main concerns with Michael Vick going into the season were turnovers and injuries. His interception rate is down to 1.7 (two picks in 118 attempts), and he's stayed healthy aside from a couple plays.

Vick was OK in the opener against the Redskins. The numbers were good, but he left plays on the field. He was outstanding vs. the Chargers and terrible against the Chiefs. I thought Vick played well against the Broncos.

There are times when he is late with the ball or misses open receivers. But overall, he's been solid, especially when you consider how much he struggled in the previous two years (24 interceptions in 23 games). Vick is also getting it done with his legs. He leads all QBs with 228 rushing yards. By my count, 119 of those have come on six read-option runs.

Vick's completion percentage (55.1) needs to get better, but as we've mentioned, the Eagles have 23 pass plays of 20+ yards, tops in the NFL. And Vick's YPA (9.1) is second to only Peyton Manning.

There's always room for improvement, and the guess here is still that the Eagles get their QB of the future in the 2014 draft, but Vick has held up well for the most part through four games.

RUNNING BACKS: A

The Eagles' running game is the best in the NFL. LeSean McCoy has 468 rushing yards and is averaging a ridiculous 6.0 yards per carry. The marriage between McCoy and Chip Kelly's offense appears to be a perfect one.

Bryce Brown is averaging just 2.8 yards per carry, but has been better than those numbers indicate. He still bounces runs outside too much and takes losses that hurt his overall average.

Chris Polk got in the mix for the first time last week and looked good, scoring his first touchdown.

The run game will be the foundation of this offense all season long.

WIDE RECEIVERS: C

This is a tough one to grade because there's DeSean Jackson and everybody else. Jackson has 393 receiving  yards (seventh in the NFL). His numbers could be even better. Jackson and Vick failed to capitalize on several big-play opportunities against the Chargers, and last week, he had a 19-yard catch brought back because of a holding penalty.

There were certainly times when Dominique Rogers-Cromartie and Brandon Flowers shut down Jackson with man coverage and no safety help. But throughout the course of a game, he's going to get open and have his chances for big plays.

The rest of the receiving corps has struggled. But I can't rip them too much because it's not a "failing to live up to their potential" issue. It's a talent issue. Riley Cooper has not proven he's a starting NFL wide receiver capable of getting open on a consistent basis. And Jason Avant has great hands, but is working with limited athleticism.

Anyone expecting the current Eagles receivers to suddenly start playing better and getting open more will be disappointed.

TIGHT ENDS: C-

I probably could be more harsh here, but this comes down to more of a personnel decision than a lack of production issue as far as I can tell. Because the Eagles have had so much success running out of '11' personnel (1-RB, 1-TE, 3-WR), Kelly has decided to not go with multiple TE sets as much as expected.

Brent Celek had the big drop last week, but he's battled issues with his hands for awhile now. He and Zach Ertz have combined for seven catches of 20+ yards.

In terms of potential, Ertz is the player who can be expected to show improvement as the season goes on and become a bigger part of the passing game.

James Casey is clearly third on the depth chart and figures to see only spot duty unless Celek or Ertz suffers an injury.

OFFENSIVE LINE: B

Run grade? A. Pass pro grade? C. That's how I came to the overall mark with this group.

The run game has been a combined effort: Kelly's scheme, the read option, Vick's threat as a runner, McCoy's elusiveness and a tremendous job by the offensive line. Evan Mathis seems to throw a key block on every big run. Jason Kelce is showing no signs of being slowed by last year's injury, constantly getting downfield and taking out second- and third-level defenders. And Todd Herremans has been very good in the run game too.

At tackle, Jason Peters is still solid in that aspect, but he hasn't been the elite run blocker we've seen in years past. Lane Johnson is clearly better as a run blocker than in protection.

As a pass-blocking group, this unit has been way too inconsistent. Johnson has struggled to keep pass-rushers away from Vick all season long. Herremans had a nightmarish game against the Chiefs. And even Peters has had some issues in the last two weeks.

It's important to remember that Peters, Kelce and Herremans are all coming off of injuries. And Johnson is a rookie. If this offense puts it all together in the coming weeks, it will be in large part because the line plays to its potential.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.
Become a fan of Birds 24/7 on Facebook.

Be respectful of our online community and contribute to an engaging conversation. We reserve the right to ban impersonators and remove comments that contain personal attacks, threats, or profanity, or are flat-out offensive. By posting here, you are permitting Philadelphia magazine and Metro Corp. to edit and republish your comment in all media.

  • JofreyRice

    I’d go a little harder on the TE’s, and give them an F. They spent a lot to get them in here, and they were supposed to be crucial to keeping the offense moving smoothly when the defense tried to take something away. They were also supposed to help the success rate in the redzone. Through 4 games, they’ve only been visible when they’re screwing up.

    Now maybe it’s all on Kelly, or maybe it’s that they haven’t distinguished themselves in practice–Casey dropping a sure TD probably didn’t help too much–but that aspect of the offense has been a failure so far.

    Not too late to pass for the year, but they’ll have to put in some work.

    • BrickSquadMonopoly

      Agree and a C- for O line.

  • Will

    The Eagles are dreadful, all the moves in FA, and the draft make very little sense now if any. Just proves the Eagles do not know how to build a winning football team. The red zone production is awful once again. The Defense can’t get any opposing Offense off the field in 3 and out.

    • Dutch

      The Eagles brought in castoffs and throw-away prospects in Free Agency. To the man there was nothing in their signees previous play over the years that suggested they were much better than anything we were sending off or already had on the roster.

      We sent Samuels to Atl, and DRC was flat out released, in exchange we have Cary Williams, a back up in Baltimore, and Fletcher, who had zero chance in being retained by the Rams, as the featured defensive backs. And the linebackers are no better than they’ve always been. Kendricks and Ryan just aren’t making things the Eagles need to happen behind their defensive line, happen.

      Free Agency was a smoke screen, cheap move

      But hey, the Eagles are $20 Million under the cap.

      • G_WallyHunter

        DRC wasn’t released, was end of his contract. Samuel was over 11 million against the cap for 2012 with 0 guaranteed, that was strictly a financial decision (and a good one at that)… 11 million for a diva (mind you, productive) safety who doesn’t like to tackle? no thanks. And ya, you can all say we needed Samuel badly, but bottom line, 11 million has to go. 9% of the cap taken up by Samuel? Has to go

        Agreed with linebackers SO FAR, after the year Ryans had last year he deserves a little more time, and it’s too bad Kendricks hasn’t shown what we expected, maybe he’ll start. All of us fans need to remember it’s still early, we get ahead of ourselves too often.

        and hey, Eagles will be nearly $40 million under next year, can’t wait, let’s hope they don’t screw up and let’s hope they’ve learned their lesson from 2 years ago

        • Dutch

          I disagree….. but hey, the Eagles are $20 Million under the cap. And it looks like they are. The flaws in this defense look exactly like the flaws over the last two years.

          Ryan has spent this season like he spent much of last season, overrunning plays and being caught out of position. He’s missed a slew of tackles over the last two seasons. He’s not much better today then he showed himself to be last year. Even in that miserable shape, Ryan is probably the best the Eagles have had at linebacker in half a decade.

          I don’t expect much better from the eagles in so far as getting talent $40 Million under the cap. And despite the common fallacy, the Eagles draft haven’t produced much to built upon.

          Saying all of that, I still think the team can rally and win 9 games.

  • TC

    Say what you say but they should have kept Harbor.

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

    I say those grades are pretty fair. I think the offense can still put it all together against mediocre to less than mediocre teams. Luckily for the Eagles they have a slew of those coming up.

    I’m really looking for line improvement. I think that’s the biggest key. The WR don’t get open fast enough and Vick is going to need more time to get them the ball. So if they can play to their potential it should be good times moving forward.

    • theycallmerob

      Honestly, I think a bigger key is someone other than Djax step up. Seeing as how DJ2 gets no snaps, I think it has to be Ertz.
      I also think the quality of the opposition will help our OL improve/gain confidence these next few weeks

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

        I agree in theory, but I just don’t see anyone stepping up. Maybe Ertz. But I’m not holding my breath. I’m just assuming the receivers aren’t going to get any better, Vick’s play mostly stays steady (no wold swings in either direction) so the only unit left to improve is the OL. And they have room to do so, so here’s hoping.

    • Token

      So he needs even more time? NFL QBs dont get 5 seconds to throw the ball.

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

        You must be a pretty miserable individual.

        Why do you even root for the Eagles?

        Do you read the All-22 – the line has been breaking down quite a bit BEFORE he can set his feet to throw the ball. They have improvements to make. So he’s not even getting 3 seconds at times, let alone 5.

        But yes…keep b*tching about the QB since that is the only thing that seems to matter to you.

  • SeaDucks

    Am I the only one wondering why we are not seeing more of Maehl? Hasn’t played much, but when he has he’s made some great plays here, and just killed it at Oregon.Jackson and Vick desperately need help.

    • G_WallyHunter

      take Cooper’s place? I’d love to see him prove something, maybe get some more snaps this week. It’d be great to see D.Johnson in some more snaps too. Cooper is just contributing blocking, which is valuable, but need more production elsewhere

      • JofreyRice

        agreed. I was hoping Damaris could be a little waterbug-type guy, they’d find some way to involve on offense. So far his only action has been on kickoff returns, where he runs hard and gets utterly destroyed almost every time.

        • G_WallyHunter

          Every time I see your posts I wonder if it’s Howie for a second, it’s hilarious you got his “self portrait” as the pic

          • Loke1988

            Great now I want to puke now when it see his posts.

          • G_WallyHunter

            HAHA I hear that, just looks hilarious, looks like Howie is making an insightful post on Birds 24/7, stamped with his self-portrait of approval

          • JofreyRice

            It’s really amazing that a glamour shot of our GM even exists.

          • G_WallyHunter

            did you take it from the Eagles website? Under the “Who are we” section? hahahaha… must be back from his modelling days.. wasn’t he in some Jewish modelling agency?

          • Loke1988

            Some reason it just doesn’t surprise me. It’ just the type of thing that makes this team so unlikable for me.

          • G_WallyHunter

            HAHA the picture is the breaking point eh

        • Token

          I thought hed be a guy Kelly would figure a way to get the ball to. But I havent seen any kind of the offense I thought id see, so I dont know what to expect at this point.

          I just know something different better be done this week. The offense is already getting stale. Can we at least get back to uptempo?

    • JofreyRice

      He’s looked decent enough in the chances he’s had, but hoping for a guy like Maehl to bail out the offense is more wishful thinking than a solid plan. They really have to get something out of the position they invested so heavily in, TE.

      • G_WallyHunter

        Yea, was really excited to see Casey come in, thought he would be this “swiss army knife”, so what’s going on? Is CK right in saying he hasn’t been on because of what opponents give them? Is Casey just struggling to outperform Ertz and Celek? is Casey terrible at blocking and Celek is just the better all-around option? who knows. It’s terrible though, all this investment in the position and a quarter way through the season they are invisible.

        There’s a reason why Maehl has been on practice squad, hopefully CK can find a way to utilize him more, but like you said, hoping for him to come in and make everything better is not realistic at all

        • JofreyRice

          They didn’t “break the bank” to get him, but they spent a nice little chunk. I really don’t get this situation at all.

          He graded out pretty well in 2012, with the Texans, a +7.7 pass grading on almost 700 snaps for Houston. The thing with Casey was that he needed to be in an offense that featured him–Shannahan/Kubiak’s zone running offense really didn’t. Now, he comes here and has played a measly 18 snaps in 4 games, even when the offense is struggling to make plays in the redzone.

          Casey was one of the few FA moves I really liked, at the time of signing. You’re telling me guys like Jason Avant and Riley Cooper are showing they offer more to the offense? Hard to believe. If the argument is that Ertz is just playing so much better that he’s burying Casey on the depth chart, then where are Ertz’ snaps?

          • G_WallyHunter

            Exactly, great post. Hit on all the same things I wonder.
            They gave Casey what 8 guaranteed? 12 total? something like that, they gave him starter money and all of us fans thought he would be in the mix. It is confusing, and it makes me wonder what is going through Chips head.

            We’ve all come to trust Chip in his ways, basically because we trust the unknown (an attractive unknown, I might add) but this just doesn’t make much sense? Let’s hope tomorrow we see Ertz and Casey out there for many, many 2 and 3 TE sets and then we can stop talking about this lol

          • BlindChow

            The Giants LB’s are very weak, but they’re down to 3 healthy corners. I don’t think this will be the week we see 3 TE’s. We might get 4 WR’s, though…

    • OregonEagle

      Maehl has Fole’s confidence because they have been sharing 2nd unit reps. Maehl will get open because he’s quick but he’s not fast enough to stay open against good man coverage so the QB has to know where he is in the progression and get it to him on the break. For Maehl to do anything with Vick, Vick has to know that he is on the field.

      • Loke1988

        Which is half the battle.

  • borntosuffer

    O-line against the pass gets a D. They are getting beat, straight up – no blitz. The run threat alone HAS to make pass protection easier. Considering the pass game is what wins games now, I’d count that grade more and give them a C-. They are the biggest disappointment this year based on expectations.

  • Dutch

    Receivers C and Tight End C-, Outside of Jackson, none of the receivers or Tight Ends have been in the games. What we’ve found is we are handicapped without Maclin as a compliment to Jackson. There had been some buzz about maybe Maclin was expendable in this offense. That’s certainly not true.

    I’d be willing to settle for an incomplete, no pun intended, until we definitely know more about Damaris Johnson and his ability to get off the line and shake coverage.

    There’s no way the Eagles stable of receivers and tight ends are playing as an average NFL receiving corps.