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.

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  • Will

    Great interception to kill the final drive way to go Brandon Boykin!

    • Will

      Realize not actually photo of week 11 game before someone points it out…

  • Will

    Connor Barwin came up big all day! Connor Barwin rocked RGIII and he fumbled to boot…Sweet Sack deserves game ball.

  • jabostick

    Not to complain after a win (especially one where the defense played very well for 3 quarters) but it seems insane that Boykin only played 26 snaps. I get the run-heavy Redskins approach but that just seems like way way too little for a one of our best defenders.

    • theycallmerob

      Mental game by Davis. None of the ‘skins WRs are worthy of Boykin’s coverage.
      And I guess it still surprises some folks he doesn’t start outside, but I get the reasoning that Kelly and Davis have shared. Against most teams (especially the better ones), the slot receiver does the most damage and is usually a “starter”; Boykin has played more than half the snaps in most games. I’m sure if Roc had been an utter liability, Boykin would have subbed in.

      • jabostick

        I’m probably making my own argument against myself because I actually agree with Davis’ reasoning. No shame in being a shutdown nickel. Just seems weird looking at the snap count and seeing all those names ahead of him.

        Kudos to Boykin that it felt liked he played a lot more. Between his special teams work and the number of plays he made when he was on the field, I thought it was a typo when I saw it

      • nicksaenz1

        He became a liability in the 4th. Need Fletcher to get healthy.

        • theycallmerob

          eh….that one big TD was kinda silly, like some of the breaks others accuse us of getting. Remember Riley’s TD against GB? Does that make the S and CB there a liability? And the only other really bad coverage I saw in the 4th was the long 3rd down conversion to S. Moss, but honestly can’t remember who was covering him. Chung looked worse all game.
          Think back to the roll-out bomb to A. Robinson last year, in the game @ DC. He had about 10 steps on nnamdi and coleman. THAT’s blown coverage. This was a poor throw that the WR made a play on. eh.
          Against both GB and WAS, he did nothing to cost us the game, which is all you can ask for in a guy who we got for nothing in mid-September from another team’s practice squad.
          Honestly? I’d take him over sconces.

          …But you’re absolutely right. Need Fletcher down the stretch.

          • nicksaenz1

            Over Sconces, maybe. He was just behind the WR a lot in the 4th, like he couldn’t close back on the WR after the WR made his break. That was definitely his breakdown on the Moss 3/25 catch… After remembering we got him in mid-Sept, it’s clear he hasn’t had enough smoothies. He’ll catch on.

    • Dave

      The problem with Boykin is that he is about 2 inches too short from being a dominate outside corner. He’s one of my favorite players and I wish he were 2 inches taller because then he would be a stud on the outside. But right now he’s the ideal nickel corner…so the amount of snaps he plays is directly related to the offense we are going against. Washington chose to try and run the ball a lot…meaning we weren’t in nickel as much

      • BlindChow

        Has Boykin’s size been a detriment when he’s been on the outside? I know they were testing him there in the preseason, but I haven’t heard anything about him being burned because he wasn’t 2 inches taller.

        • Andy124

          Roc burned him on his way up the depth chart.

          • Dave

            Boykin played outside the whole chargers game I believe. I’d have to go back and watch it again to see how well he did. But I’m just saying in general the reason he isn’t strictly an outside guy is because he is 5’10”. Tough to line up week in and week out against guys who are 6’3″

            I think if they had enough confidence that he could make up that size difference you wouldn’t see Roc on the field that much.

          • theycallmerob

            At least according to Davis, it’s more the whole “learning/keeping up with 2 positions” kind of excuse. the positions are very, very different in the NFL. I can see why they may not want to put too much on his plate. Again, Roc isn’t an absolute liability nnamdi out there

          • A Roy

            You can use either word. They’re synonymous.

  • theycallmerob

    anyone still upset we went right into the 2gap 34 this year?

    A lot of folks guessed right, it seems they really wanted to see everyone grow into the system and have a full year of technique under their belts before looking at personnel improvements in the off-season.
    Of course it’s easy to view this positively in hindsight (imagine if we kept giving up points like early in the season), but I don’t think anyone would have predicted that our DL would do so well so fast. Who thought before the year that, by the bye week, the starting line of Thornton-Logan-Cox would become the strength of our D?

    • JofreyRice

      No, I for one didn’t think they’d catch on this fast. I mean, you can say what you want about the QB’s they’ve faced over this stretch, but if you isolate the play of the defensive line, it’s been sterling for guys with 2 gap responsibilities. The sack #’s are really never eye-popping for 2 gap DL, but the Eagles guys have been very active in making the QB uncomfortable.

      I’d still like to see upgrades in the LB corps and back half, but I think Cox/Thornton are a great peanut butter and jelly of passrush and run defense. Logan’s even been decent for a rookie. I’m impressed that the staff has motivated some of the less talented/end of the road guys to play with viciousness and energy. They can add pieces as they go forward, but having a young, solid backbone in the form of the D Line is huge.

      • theycallmerob

        but if you isolate the play of the defensive line, it’s been sterling for guys with 2 gap responsibilities.

        You’re right about the QBs, but look at some of the running backs/offenses they faced- shut down Doug Martin, Pryor, Lacy, and Morris (real test of DL in 2gap, as you note). Still some tough tests left with Bush, Forte, and AD.
        Most of all, I can’t get over the age thing….at 25, Geathers is the elder statesman.
        Bring in plenty of young guys to fight for snaps with Square, Geathers, Curry, and Kruger.

  • JofreyRice

    I didn’t see the end of this game–the comeback portion–but I was impressed with the run defense from what I saw. The defense was able to compensate for individual breakdowns of players like Goode, Chung and Cole by hustle to the ball and gang-tackling. Morris is a good back, running in a system that’s tailor made for his style. He’s going to force some missed tackles with his power and low CG. They didn’t let him kill them, though.

  • Andy

    Graham looked hungry on that Morris hit in the first.

  • Dave

    How’s this for an idea? I think one thing we notice is that we would love to have that “get after the QB” OLB. And I think we can all agree that the play of Najee Goode has been extremely eye opening. So in an attempt to have them both on the field…when Kendrick comes back, how about shifting him to OLB and letting him be that “seek & destroy” pass rusher? I believe he has the talent to excel in this role and Goode is good enough (no pun intended) to hold down that ILB role with Ryan’s. And if it works…then you can save an early draft pick for another position of need?

    Also, is it plausible to think the eagles defense could break the chiefs 9 game streak of holding opponents to under 21 points!?! 7 down, 3 to go

    • nicksaenz1

      He did play OLB in college in the 3-4

      • BlindChow

        He’d have to be better than caseymatthews…

        • nicksaenz1

          You and I are better than Casey Matthews.

      • Dys

        I don’t watch a lot of college ball, but from everything I have watched I’m fairly certain he played ILB in College.

        • nicksaenz1

          Stand corrected. Not sure why I remember him as having played OLB in college. Thanks.

  • nicksaenz1

    I’m debating a Fletcher Cox jersey. Want a Foles jersey, but still too risky of a purchase until after the draft. I think Fletch is here for a long time.

    • Holmes

      You want “Cox” on your back, huh?

      • nicksaenz1

        That’s certainly better than a few other places I can think of.

  • anon

    We’re tied for 11th in turnover differential (big change from last year). If you take out MB we are close to top 5 (I think he has 5 TOs). We were 32nd/31st in 2012/2011 respectively.

    • nicksaenz1

      I love that we all have started to exclude Barkley from the TO equation.

  • docboy

    some of the best DB are shorter than Boykins… D. Green, Eric Allen to name a couple..it ain’t how big you are, it’s how big you play…..

  • Johnny Domino

    Re: the other #9
    Maybe they were thinkin Linkin Park