Here’s a position-by-position look at the Eagles’ defensive performance after having watched the All-22 from Sunday’s game.
* Going in, the Eagles should have expected to dominate the Vikings’ ground game, given that Adrian Peterson and Toby Gerhart were out. And that’s what happened. Matt Asiata needed 30 carries to get to 51 yards (1.7 YPC). The pass-rush could have been better, but Matt Cassel did a good job of getting the ball out quick, and most of the problems through the air were the fault of the secondary.
* Chip Kelly mentioned Fletcher Cox by name when identifying positives from Sunday’s game. Cox had a season-high eight tackles (per team stats) and a QB hurry. He drove the opposing lineman into the backfield on Asiata’s 3-yard run in the first. Cox and Mychal Kendricks tackled Asiata after a 1-yard run. And Cox manhandled the guard before stopping Asiata for no gain in the second. As a pass-rusher, he occupied the left tackle, freeing Trent Cole to rush the passer on the first-quarter play where Connor Barwin was credited with a sack. One key play: The Vikings had running back Joe Banyard blocking Cox one-on-one on the 57-yard TD to Greg Jennings. We’ll show this in the All-22 review, but the back did an amazing job of giving Cassel time to find his receiver.
* Cedric Thornton was stout against the run as usual. He finished with six tackles. Early on, Thornton helped disrupt an Asiata run that gained 1. In the third, Thornton roughed up the center and dropped Asiata for a 4-yard loss.
* Bennie Logan played his best game of the season, according to Billy Davis. As a pass-rusher, he looped around the end and crushed Cassel on a pass attempt in the second. And Logan’s deflection led to Kendricks’ interception in the third. Against the run, Logan tackled Asiata after a 1-yard run in the second. He was credited with three tackles, two hurries and a batted pass. The rookie is playing consistently well.
* Vinny Curry was one of multiple players to pressure Cassel on Barwin’s sack in the first. He pressured Cassel to scramble in the second and stuffed Asiata for no gain in the fourth. Overall, two tackles and a hurry. Clifton Geathers played 11 snaps (no tackles, sacks or hurries). Damion Square played nine snaps.
* Barwin was OK. He had a sack and five tackles. Early on he looped behind Curry to pressure Cassel. Cassel ran out of bounds behind the line of scrimmage for a sack. In the second, Barwin’s pressure forced Cassel to step up on a 1-yard scramble. Against the run, he threw the TE to the ground and tackled Asiata after a 2-yard pickup in the second. Barwin and Kendricks stopped Asiata for a 2-yard loss in the fourth. He missed a tackle on Asiata’s 6-yard red-zone run in the second. And he failed to set the edge on Asiata’s 10-yard run in the fourth.
* Cole somewhat quietly set a season-high with 10 tackles. He also had a hurry, crushing Cassel after his 3-yard completion in the first. Cole dropped Asiata for a 1-yard loss in the first. And in the third, he schooled the left tackle and dropped Asiata for a 2-yard loss. Cole had a third tackle-for-loss in the fourth. The bad moments? He jumped offsides in the second. And the Vikings tried to set up a pass by Cordarrelle Patterson. Cole had a chance to drop him for a loss, but missed, and Patterson picked up 12.
* Brandon Graham played 20 snaps and had two tackles (no hurries or sacks).
* DeMeco Ryans was OK. He had seven tackles and a sack. Ryans dropped Asiata for no gain in the first. He put a big (legal) hit on Jerome Simpson after a 19-yard completion in the first. In the third, he and Kendricks blitzed up the middle, and Ryans got the sack.
* Kendricks had a game-high 12 tackles to go along with a sack and an interception. Very active game. Kendricks tackled Asiata after a 2-yard run in the first. He and Cox tackled Asiata after a 1-yard run later in the quarter. He showed strong hands and good concentration on the interception in the third. Kendricks blitzed and sacked Cassel in the fourth. The one play he’d like to have back came in a huge spot. The Vikings faced a 3rd-and-14 from the Eagles’ 42, leading 27-22 in the fourth. Kendricks was in man coverage and tried to undercut tight end Chase Ford, but he couldn’t get his hands on the ball. Ford made the catch, Colt Anderson missed a tackle, and it ended up being a 37-yard gain. Re-watching, that was clearly one of the biggest plays of the game.
* Bradley Fletcher had a rough day at the office. The Eagles played a lot of zone in the first half, but left gaping holes in between defenders, and Cassel took advantage. In the second, Davis moved to a lot more man, but it didn’t seem to make much of a difference. Fletcher had a pair of pass interference penalties. The first one was a tough call, but it came in the end zone in the second. It was third down. An incompletion, and the Vikings would have had to kick a field goal. Instead they were able to score a TD. Fletcher had a second pass interference penalty (30 yards) to set up the Vikings’ last touchdown. On 3rd-and-10 in the fourth, with the Eagles still looking to mount a comeback, he was in man coverage and gave up an 11-yard completion to allow Minnesota to extend its drive. There were a couple instances (a 19-yarder in the first; a 42-yarder in the third) where Fletcher had good coverage and Cassel just made great throws. But overall, not a good performance.
* Cary Williams struggled too. He missed a tackle in the first, turning a 12-yard completion into a 26-yard gain. Williams bit on a double-move in the fourth and gave up a 31-yard completion. In the fourth, he was called for a personal foul penalty and then got beat by Patterson for a TD on the next play.
* Brandon Boykin suffered a concussion on a special-teams play and only played 17 defensive snaps.
* Roc Carmichael played 12 snaps. He was called for a taunting penalty. On one third-down play, he made a good tackle, stopping Jennings short of the sticks.
* Nate Allen was OK. He missed a tackle in the backfield on Patterson’s 3-yard run on 3rd-and-3 in the second. He also missed a diving tackle in the fourth on a 31-yard completion.
* Not a good day for Patrick Chung. He got beat by Jennings on a 57-yard TD in the first. He also got fooled and left a hole for Ford to pick up 18 yards in the first. Chung was called for a personal foul penalty in the fourth.
* Kurt Coleman played 26 snaps. He was fortunate that Cassel’s throw was off-target in the second, or he would have likely given up a TD. Later in the half, he overran a play and gave up 5 yards on a quick hitch. Davis said the plan all along was to rotate Chung and Coleman.
* Anderson played four snaps, but missed two tackles. The big one was on the 37-yard completion to Ford I mentioned above. Huge spot in the game. Kendricks gave up the completion, but Anderson completely whiffed on his tackle attempt and allowed Ford to pick up big yards after the catch. Anderson also missed a tackle on a screen to Patterson in the fourth.