Defense Game Review: 10 Observations

NFL: Washington Redskins at Philadelphia EaglesIf you missed the game review of the offense, click here. Now, onto 10 observations of the Eagles’ defense after having re-watched the game.

1. The Eagles’ defense shut out the Redskins for three-plus quarters, but let’s start in the fourth where things got a little dicey. Trent Cole was trailing Darrel Young in coverage, and Patrick Chung was closing in from his deep safety spot down the left sideline. Robert Griffin III escaped pressure and lofted one to Young. Cole went flying at him, and Chung did the same from the opposite direction. They both whiffed and collided into one another as Young got free for the 62-yard score. Then on the 2-point conversion, the Redskins set up with a bunch formation to the right, and Chung completely lost track of Nick Williams.

2. Roc Carmichael had a rough fourth quarter. But his coverage wasn’t bad on the 41-yard TD to Aldrick Robinson. Griffin underthrew the ball, and Robinson made a great adjustment. I asked Carmichael last week when he’s taught to turn and find the football. He said he watches the receiver’s eyes and hands. Obviously he could have done a better job on that play. Carmichael also gave up completions of 19, 9, 28 and 7 in the fourth quarter. The most concerning of those was the 28-yarder. The Eagles had the Redskins with a 3rd-and-25, but they were able to extend their drive with a completion to Santana Moss. Carmichael might have been expecting more safety help, but the safeties are going to play particularly deep in that spot, focused on keeping everything in front of them.

3. Washington had multiple opportunities to score on that final drive. Carmichael tried to step in front of a pass to Pierre Garcon near the sideline, but whiffed. Luckily, Brandon Boykin had switched off his man and hustled to the ball to limit the damage. Had he not done so, Garcon would have been running wild in the open field. Later on the drive, Robinson had a step on Boykin in the end zone, but Griffin overthrew him. It wasn’t an easy throw, but there was an opening.

4. Fletcher Cox was a “disruptive force” as Chip Kelly put it on Monday. His pressure on the final play helped force Griffin to throw the ball up for grabs as Boykin picked it off. Earlier in the game, Cox sniffed out a screen and dropped Roy Helu after a 1-yard gain. He and Patrick Chung combined to stop Alfred Morris after a 1-yard gain in the second. On a third down in the third, Cox pressured Griffin and caused him to throw high. Later in the quarter, he ran right to where the screen was going and nearly had an INT. Cox and Connor Barwin hit Griffin behind the line of scrimmage on 3rd-and-1 int he third. Just an excellent game from him overall.

5. The Redskins did have some success running the ball. Early on, Cole and Chung were fooled badly on an end around. Cole couldn’t get off the fullback’s block on an 8-yard Morris run, and he failed to set the edge on an early 11-yard Morris run. But he got better as the game went on. It looked like Helu’s 24-yard run in the second went right at Vinny Curry. Nate Allen got blocked, and Najee Goode missed a tackle. Cary Williams did a poor job of getting off his block or forcing Helu back inside. Later, the Redskins had a 22-yard run. I have to see the All-22, but it looked like the line got caught in a stunt, and Goode couldn’t get off his block. To be fair here, the Redskins are one of the best rushing teams in the NFL.

6. The Eagles were fortunate at times that Griffin just missed open receivers. We mentioned one already above, but there were others. On the first drive, he had Logan Paulsen wide open off play-action, but missed him. In the third, Griffin had Paulsen wide open again on 4th-and-1, but his throw was off-target.

7. Cedric Thornton and Bennie Logan were active throughout, combining for eight tackles (three for loss). Thornton shoved the right tackle back into Morris for a 1-yard loss in the first. He later got good penetration on a Morris run that lost a yard. And Thornton tackled Morris for no gain late in the first half. On Cole’s first sack, he beat Trent Williams one-on-one. But Cole’s second sack was the direct result of pressure by Thornton that forced Griffin to step up. Logan’s athleticism was on display throughout. In the first, he hustled down the line of scrimmage to help stop Morris after a 4-yard run. Logan pressured Griffin on the same drive, but couldn’t finish as the QB scrambled for 4.

8. I like Goode as a blitzer. He came unblocked and sacked Griffin in the first. He tipped a pass in the third on the play where Cox nearly came up with the interception. And he got his hand on another Griffin pass coming in a blitz in the fourth. One of my favorite moments in the game came in the fourth. Williams was mixing it up with Garcon. Goode, who has started one game in his career, actually had to go over to calm Williams (six-year veteran) down so he wouldn’t get flagged for an unnecessary penalty.

9. This has nothing to do with the defense, but c’mon FOX graphics people.

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It’s not Linkin Financial Field!

10. Leftovers: Barwin was great all game long. We wrote about him in-depth yesterday. …DeMeco Ryans was his usual steady self. …Allen continues to play the best football of his career. … Down 16 points with 7:45 left in the fourth, the Redskins waited until there was one second on the play clock to snap the ball. No sense of urgency. …Donnie Jones gets credit for the fourth-quarter punt that went out of bounds at the 2, but the truth is Nick Williams made a terrible decision not fielding it at the 20. He cost the Redskins 18 yards in field position. …Brandon Graham darted past the tight end and dropped Morris for a 3-yard loss in the first.

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