Game Review: Eagles Offense Vs. Giants

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Below is a position-by-position review of how the Eagles’ offense performed against the Giants after having re-watched the game.

QUARTERBACKS

* Michael Vick started the game, but was pulled with 1:25 left in the second quarter because of a hamstring injury. In the first half, he had an uneven performance, showing inconsistencies as a passer, but making big plays with his legs. Vick finished 6-for-14 through the air. He had Zach Ertz on a corner route in the first, but was off-target. He missed Ertz again on a pass near the sideline where he had all day in the pocket. In the red zone, Vick had Jason Avant open on another corner route, but misfired for an incompletion. Vick did not complete a pass until the second quarter.

* There were obviously good plays too. Vick threw a good ball to DeSean Jackson on the first series, but he dropped it. Vick made a beautiful throw to Ertz for 24 yards and connected with Jackson for a 56-yard bomb, getting a little bit of help from the cornerback, who let the ball go right through his hands.

* Vick was the game’s leading rusher with seven carries for 79 yards. The Giants, like other teams the Eagles have faced, played a lot of man coverage. Vick took advantage of that in the first and scrambled for 34 on 3rd-and-20. Chip Kelly called a couple designed sweeps for Vick. On one, he picked up 11. And on another, he netted 14 to set up an Eagles touchdown.

* Nick Foles came in on the final drive of the first half. He too showed some inconsistencies, but played well considering the circumstances. Foles found LeSean McCoy matched up against a linebacker and hit him for a 12-yard gain on 3rd-and-4 in the second. He lofted one to Jackson for 21 yards to set up the field goal before halftime. In the third, Foles made a nice throw to McCoy while rolling to his right for an 11-yard completion on third down. He looked for Jackson deep one-on-one and got a 27-yard pass interference penalty. He did a nice job of stepping up in the pocket and avoiding edge pressure all game long. On one specific play, he found Jason Avant for a 22-yard catch and run. Later, he did the same thing, finding Jackson on a crosser on third down. Foles threw a beautiful ball to Brent Celek for a 25-yard touchdown. The Eagles ran play-action, and Foles’ pass traveled 40 yards in the air before it dropped into Celek’s hands. Foles also made a perfect throw on the 5-yard touchdown to Jackson.

* There were throws he’d like to have back as well. The biggest one was probably in the third when he had Riley Cooper separating from the cornerback down the left sideline. The Eagles could have had a 31-yard score with a better throw, but ended up settling for a field goal on that drive. Foles had multiple throws where it looked like he and the receiver were not on the same page (keep in mind, they have not been getting a lot of practice reps together). Foles had Avant open on an out pattern in the fourth, but was off-target. He later threw incomplete across his body. Overall, Foles went 16-for-25 for 197 yards and two touchdowns.

* Neither quarterback turned the ball over. The concepts might have been similar, but the offense changed in the first and second halves. With Vick, the Eagles had called runs on 20 of 36 plays, or 55.6 percent of the time. With Foles, they had designed runs on 13 of 40 plays, or 32.5 percent of the time.

* The Giants blitzed Vick on five of 16 pass plays, or 31.3 percent of the time. He went 2-for-5 for 7 yards. They blitzed Foles on nine of 27 dropbacks, or 33.3 percent of the time. He went 7-for-9 for 83 yards.

RUNNING BACKS

* LeSean McCoy had defenders in his face all game long, finishing with 46 yards on 20 carries (2.3 YPC). He was averaging 6.0 YPC in his first four games. With Vick in the game, McCoy had 12 carries for 48 yards. With Foles, he had eight carries for -2 yards. We will be looking into why that was the case later this week.

* Credit McCoy for doing some other things well. He had one of his finest blitz pickups of the year on a 3rd-and-11 in the first. He also caught six balls for 46 yards. On one reception in the red zone, it looked like he slipped and tried to cut it inside. From the TV angles, it appeared he might have been able to pick up a first if he took the play outside. McCoy later had an 11-yard grab near the sideline on 3rd-and-10. It was difficult to see if he got both feet in bounds, but the officials ruled it a catch, and the challenge was upheld.

* Bryce Brown was quiet, managing just 11 yards on five carries. He was stuffed for a 2-yard loss on 3rd-and-1 in the first. Chris Polk had two carries for 3 yards.

* By my count, the Eagles ran the read-option on 16 of 20 run plays with Vick in the game, or 80 percent of the time. Those were instances where the offense clearly left an unblocked defender. Kelly, however, indicated today that the Eagles didn’t run a lot of read option, so those plays might have been straight handoffs. We’ll clarify later this week. But on those plays, the Eagles picked up 51 yards (3.2 YPC). Vick kept the ball three times and picked up 7 yards on read-option runs. Overall, with Vick in the game, the Eagles had 81 yards on 20 designed run plays (4.1 YPC).

* With Foles in the game, I counted six read-option plays for -1 yards. Foles kept one of those for a 3-yard gain. Overall, with Foles in the game, the Eagles ran the ball 13 times for 14 yards (1.1 YPC). That’s not counting the last two kneel-downs.

TIGHT ENDS

* When the quarterbacks threw to the tight ends, the results were positive. Brent Celek had three catches on three targets for 47 yards and a touchdown. He got matched up with the safety in the third and made a nice grab for a 25-yard touchdown.

* Zach Ertz had two catches for 38 yards on three targets. He played his most snaps of the season, and it looked like the Eagles moved him around a little bit more than usual. In the second, he started off in-line, ran a corner route to the sideline and hauled in a 24-yard reception.

* The official gamebook had James Casey down for three snaps. Two of those were the kneel-downs at the end. I didn’t catch the third one.

* By my count, the Eagles only used two personnel packages: ’11’ personnel (1-RB, 1-TE, 3-WR), which is their most popular, 84.2 percent of the time; and ’12’ personnel (1-RB, 2-TE, 2-WR) 15.8 percent of the time.

WIDE RECEIVERS

* DeSean Jackson had a monster game with seven catches for 132 yards and a touchdown on 12 targets. We seem to say this every week, but there were plays left on the field. That’s a sign that Kelly is really doing a good job of getting Jackson open throughout the course of the game. Great concentration by No. 10 on the 56-yard bomb that went right through the cornerback’s hands. He also did an excellent job on a low throw from Foles on a shallow crosser, converting a 3rd-and-6 in the third. Jackson ran a great route on the 5-yard touchdown. The Eagles used a bunch look and got him free for a 28-yard catch in the fourth. And he also drew a 27-yard penalty in the third.

* Jackson ran a deep dig and dropped a Vick pass on third down in the first. He couldn’t hang on to a nice throw from Foles in the third. But overall, outstanding game. As of this writing, Jackson is third in the NFL with 525 receiving yards.

* Riley Cooper saw his playing time decrease. He had no catches on one target. Cooper had a shot at a 31-yard touchdown, but Foles’ throw was off-target.

* Jason Avant had three catches on seven targets for 33 yards. Vick and Foles each missed him once when he was open. Avant had a nice 22-yard catch and run in the third.

* Jeff Maehl played his most snaps of the year, but was not targeted.

OFFENSIVE LINE

* Overall, in pass protection, I thought this was one of the Eagles’ best games of the year. The line did a good job up front for both Vick and Foles. Jason Peters kept Jason Pierre-Paul in check all game long and specifically on the 56-yard bomb to Jackson. Didn’t notice any real issues for him in pass pro. On the rare occasions where the right defensive end got upfield, there was plenty of space for the QB to step up. Peters was OK in the run game. He let the defensive back slip past him on a 4-yard McCoy run late in the first. He was also called for a false start in the third, but played well overall.

* Decent game overall for Evan Mathis. He got out in front on Vick’s 11-yard run in the first. He got to the linebacker on a 9-yard run by McCoy. In pass pro, he held up well for the most part, aside from a few issues. Mathis was beat by a Cullen Jenkins spin move in the third as Foles was forced out of the pocket. Mathis got knocked off-balance (and to the ground) in pass pro in the third. And Jenkins powered through Mathis and Jason Kelce in the third, leading to a Foles sack.

* Not sure what was up with Jason Kelce. He was getting beat by interior linemen all day long. It really seemed like that was the biggest factor in the run game not being effective. At times, he just got flat-out beat physically. And at other times, it looked like Kelce was caught off-guard by what the Giants were doing up front. We’re going to revisit this topic later in the week after talking to him. But Mike Patterson went right past Kelce, leading to a 2-yard loss on Vick in the first. Patterson shoved Kelce into the backfield on Polk’s second-quarter run that went for no gain. Kelce had trouble with Patterson on McCoy’s 1-yard run in the second. And then with Shaun Rogers on a McCoy run that was stuffed for no gain. In the third, Patterson beat Kelce and McCoy was stopped for no gain. Later, it was Rogers again, getting past Kelce and dropping McCoy for a 3-yard loss. Patterson beat Kelce in the third on 3rd-and-2 and dropped McCoy for a 6-yard loss. And Johnathan Hankins got past him before dropping McCoy for a 2-yard loss in the fourth.

* The good for Kelce? He got to the DB on Vick’s 11-yard run and did a good job out in front of McCoy on a 12-yard screen. Kelce got the job done on a 3rd-and-3 McCoy carry in the second that picked up 9. And it looked like McCoy might have run right behind him for the 1-yard TD. Overall, either Kelce just had a nightmarish game, or something was up. We’ll look into it.

* Overall, I thought this was as good as Todd Herremans has looked all year, specifically in the run game. He exploded off the snap and executed a great double team on McCoy’s 17-yard run in the second. He threw the key block on Vick’s 14-yard sweep in the second. Herremans drove the LB downfield on McCoy’s 9-yard run in the second. In pass pro, there were some issues, but like I said earlier, the line gave the QBs plenty of time for most of the game. Herremans gave up a hit on Vick in the first. He let the safety get by him on a McCoy run that lost 5 yards. And it looked like he thought a blitzer was coming, as he allowed Justin Tuck to slip by and hit Foles. When Lane Johnson left the game for a snap, Herremans played right tackle, and Allen Barbre took over at left guard.

* This was the best Johnson has looked in pass protection all season long. He clearly won the battle against Tuck and the other linemen who set up at left defensive end. I didn’t notice Johnson give up a hurry all game long. Mathias Kiwanuka had a sack against him in the third, but that wasn’t Johnson’s fault. Foles stepped into the sack because of pressure from the other side. Johnson was good against the run also, as is the case most weeks. He was called for a false start in the first, but otherwise, played really well.

* Barbre filled in for one snap at right guard when Johnson left the game and later set up at left tackle for Jason Peters. On a completion to Jackson, Barbre got away with a hold, but recovered. He was called for a false start in the second half.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.
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