Game Review: Eagles Defense Vs. Vikings

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Minnesota Vikings

Here’s a position-by-position look at the Eagles’ defensive performance after having watched the All-22 from Sunday’s game.

DEFENSIVE LINE




* 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.

OUTSIDE LINEBACKERS

* 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).

INSIDE LINEBACKERS

* 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.

DEFENSIVE BACKS

* 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.

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.

  • cloisterwater

    “In the third, Thornton roughed up the center and dropped Asiata for a 4-yard loss.”
    That’s an understatement. I might have gone with something like “Thorton dropped Asiata for a 4-yard loss after tossing the center out of his way as if opening a screen door without a latch.”

    • cloisterwater

      I like to focus on the positives.

      • Media Mike

        Thorton is the man.

    • G_WallyHunter

      That was so beastly

  • Media Mike

    Booooooooooooooooooooooo!

  • Media Mike

    Still boooooooooooooooooooooo!

  • nicksaenz1

    “Not a good day for Chung.” Sheil, you don’t need to repeat this every week, we know. Instead, you should just make it a point to tell us when he played well, because “Not a good day for Chung” is basically the norm.

    • Richard Colton

      Notagudayfor Chung. I like it Nick. Sounds like Suh’s parents named him.

      • nicksaenz1

        I like Notgonnaworkhereanymore Chung, just a little bit better.

        • G_WallyHunter

          How much dead money in cutting him?? Was all his guaranteed given this year?
          I guess it is because of how good this FO is with things like that

          • nicksaenz1

            He’s $1mil dead if cut. Meaning, Notgonnaworkhereanymore Chung is the likely official name. Hell if he were $3mil dead I’d cut him because the secondary improves by virtue of his absence.

          • G_WallyHunter

            Hey, at least it’s not $4mil, right? right??

          • nicksaenz1

            I see what you did there.

        • Richard Colton

          Tell me Patrick…what would you say…you do here?

          • nicksaenz1

            Well look, I already told you, I deal with the goddamn coverage so the linebackers don’t have have to! I have coverage skills! I’m good at dealing with covering! Can’t you understand that! What the hell is wrong you Philadelphians!

          • Richard Colton

            as long as we’re not gonna jump…to conclusions.

          • theycallmerob

            I’M GOOD WITH DEALING WITH PEOPLE!!!! CAN’T YOU UNDERSTAND THAT?!

            hands down, this blog has the best movie and culture references. For all the Simmons does on Grantland, I haven’t seen voltron once.

  • morgan c

    Interesting analysis. A lot of it runs counter to my impressions watching the game, but obviously those aren’t as sound as re-watching the tape.

    1) Though our front played well against the run, I really did not think we were good against the pass. I remember numerous times we just couldn’t get to Cassell in time, and he beat us, consistently. Sure, the larger problem was the secondary, no doubt. But we know our secondary is the weak link. We have looked better in past weeks because our DLine and OLBs have been stepping up the pressure. Not the case in this game. I heard a lot about how we were being held (mostly by commenters here), but not sure if there was any truth to that, at least more so than in any other NFL game. We were able to get into the backfield, but we were not able to get around the tackles, and as a result, it seemed like Cassell was able to step up a bit in the pocket and have time (see: 57 yard TD). It’s great if we get penetration, but we have to collapse the pocket. It’s worthless if we just let the QB or player out of our grasp in the backfield.

    2) I think you are being too kind to Nate Allen. In general, this year, you seem to highlight when he plays well and kind of go easy on him when he’s bad. Watching the game, I noticed numerous times he was around the receiver but could not make a play on the ball, or the tackle. I think he was just as bad as Chung in the passing game. Really shows little instincts and makes terrible reads. He may be “okay” at times, but he NEVER breaks up a pass or is in position to do so in the passing game. When was the last break-up he had?

    3) Still waiting for Kendricks to develop into the consistent force so many have predicted. He seems ultra focused on tackle numbers, which isn’t really the true barometer of great linebacker play. He made a great interception, and has been good against the run. I’m being harsh, cus he’s close. You can see it. It just seems like every game, he gets burned badly at least once or twice for a huge pass play. That Ford catch was a back-breaker… ball went right through his hands. How does that even happen?

    Okay, that was too long, and I realize pretty harsh. Whatever, we need another safety and CB at least. It is what it is. Go Birds. Offense, take us home!

    • Richard Colton

      Good stuff Morgan. When the defense starting playing well after week five, many of us asked the question: are some of these guys actually getting better? or does a rising tide lift all boats? I think we have the answer.When the D was really bad early on, we identified OLB and DB as the biggest areas on need. Guess what? They still are.

      • nicksaenz1

        Be fair, we identified them as needs when we were playing well, defensively. In fact, we were talking about how Foles playing well and likely being the guy going forward allows us to address these needs right away in the draft/FA.

        • Richard Colton

          Safety? How many people said they we “willing to live with” another year of Allen and Wolff? OLB? Barwin & Cole moved a lot of fans off that position too. Here’s my updated needs ranking, in order of importance. Tell me if you agree.
          1) OLB playmaker
          1A) Safety playmaker
          2) O-line
          3) CB
          4) ILB
          5) Kick/Punt returner
          6) WR

          • nicksaenz1

            Olb and safety are still my top wants for the off season, but I wouldn’t be mad if Allen is still on the roster. I know he won’t be because someone will pay him a little more, but If you told me that Allen and Wolff were the only two safeties held over from this roster (maybe K Johnson depending on how he pans out) I wouldn’t at all be mad.

          • Richard Colton

            Im OK with roster too. If the law firm of Wolff-Allen is my starting safety tandem next year, I’m not happy.

          • nicksaenz1

            Same here. We’re on the same page.

            EDIT: You forgot the possibility of a kicker in the 2nd or 3rd round…

          • Richard Colton

            Fine. Henery misses one more, my new bumber sticker will be:
            “Don’t blame me, my kicker’s a Norwegian”

          • GEAGLE

            Nate Allen won’t be here…if our safeties were acceptable to the coaching staff, Brad and Cary would be playing press man which is what we signed them for! instead of playing off..

            How we are using our corners is a direct result of how little our coaches think of Safeties not named Wolff

          • theycallmerob

            just so long as we’re lined up to get Moses in the 3rd, I can live with the rest.
            But all in all, that’s a pretty accurate list. I get the great WR talent, but they can be found late (like Campanaro). Grab Joyner first, unless we can somehow grab Mack

          • Richard Colton

            you sold me on the dancing bear – I’m all in for Moses

      • cliff henny

        the glaring early season problems are still the problems, least new ones arent being created. also, some long term solutions have been found. beginning of year, if i told you Ryans will look like he has 2-3 good yrs left, logan is legit nfl NT,thornton eats running backs like hotcakes, kendricks/curry are showing signs, boykin is solid nickle and wolff doesnt look nearly as lost as college tapes ….you’d of taken that?

        • Richard Colton

          I would have, and I still do. I feel better about the state of our D than I did after the preseason. Still think we’re 2 playmakers and maybe a solid starter from being a really good defense.

          • cliff henny

            yup, exactly…and about 15 back-ups, but that takes time.
            .
            here’s ’13 season to me
            1.offense works…kelly knows what he’s doing w/ shady/jax
            2.foles – solid maybe future definitely dont need to reach or rg3 trade, cant use top picks to get impact players
            3. howie isnt a complete idiot, cap as always looks great
            4. found solid base of players on defense.
            .
            can lose last 2, i’m still happy. future looks mighty right to me

          • Richard Colton

            spot on. Regarding your #2 point. What, if anything, can Captain Checkdown do in the next 2 games to move you from “solid, maybe future” to “future, maybe star?”

            For me? Its QB rating over 100 vs. Bears and Cowboys and a 2-1 TD/INT ratio.

          • cliff henny

            think i’m pretty solid on him. no issue giving him all of ’14 to show us more.

          • Andy124

            Remain healthy.

          • nicksaenz1

            At this point just not having a repeat of the first Dallas game should be all anyone needs.

    • sdk152

      Morgan, thanks for your thoughts. What I noticed from Allen was that he hustled over to plays even when he wasn’t the assigned defender. That’s why it may have looked worse on TV than on All-22. I strongly disagree that he was as bad as Chung in the passing game. At least that was my perspective. It’s always possible that I may have missed something. Thanks for reading. -SK

      • morgan c

        Thanks for replying Sheil. Haha, and I doubt your perspective is wrong having watched and reviewed things more closely. Your point re: Allen hustling over after when he wasn’t assigned is probably the reason for me thinking he was worse than he was (as in, thinking he was the guy and was out of position). I’m sure Chung was worse.

        Allen just frustrates me and I think a lot of the fans because he showed potential pre injury his rookie year, was a high pick, a great college player, and just hasn’t panned out. Oh well.

  • Bullwinkle

    The number of tackles made by players can be a misleading stat. The defensive players will make a lot of tackles when they give up a lot of first downs and yards. They will make a lot less tackles when they hold teams to 3 and out. A CB, safety, or LB won’t have to make a tackle if they can prevent the pass completion.

    • morgan c

      exactly

  • TNA

    Acho waived. Keelan Johnson, undrafted FA safety signed.

    • Richard Colton

      god bless you.

    • Chris

      For anyone interested:

      Listed 5’11 212lb

      In his redshirt senior year at Arizona State (2012), Johnson finished second on the team with 88 total tackles, and led the team with five interceptions and 13 passes defensed. He was an All-Pac 12 honorable mention.

    • reb

      that’s hope. has to be better than what’s out there already?

  • dislikedisqus

    I think you should re-label your review of that defensive performance a “pathology report”.

  • Sven

    Bad Injury news for the Eagles secondary, Patrick Chung is healthy and good to go for the next game.

  • GEAGLE

    Like I said, Logan and Kendrick played really well

  • anon

    garret hartley got fired — wonder if we’ll look

    • #7

      We shouldn’t pick up other team’s trash. Dude has been horrible this year

    • Beavis

      That would seemingly go against Chip’s mantra of team building. Our kicker is a mediocre noodle leg, but it would send a bad message in the lockerroom to cut bail now. Then again, his biggest mantra is “Win the day.” Sooooo…..

  • OregonDucker

    ” Chip Kelly mentioned Fletcher Cox by name when identifying positives from Sunday’s game.”

    http://legacy-cdn.smosh.com/smosh-pit/062011/transformer-tank.gif

    • Andy124

      That just makes us wish you hadn’t deleted it.

  • Jim Beam

    monitor interface xe-1/0/1

  • bill

    By all accounts, Cox played very well … and yet, a journeyman QB threw all over this defense, often with plenty of time. How often does it happen that a high 1st round pass rushing talent has a great game and yet his defense is absolutely dominated by the passing game?
    Is Kelly’s effusive praise a balm for Cox, implicitly admitting that his talents are largely wasted in this scheme? I mean, it’s great that he was good against the run, but you can find 2 gap DEs that are good against the run relatively late in the draft and pay them accordingly. Cox is much more than that, and would probably shine in a 1-gap system. When the time comes, are Howie and Chip going to be willing to pay Cox what a 1-gap team will be willing to pay him?
    I imagine Chicago and Dallas watched that game and have decided (not that it probably took too much for either of them anyway, given their proclivities) that an upside down, Air MorningReid type offense (throw on first and second, run on 3rd) is the way to really torch this defense. If so, Davis may need to abandon the base 2-gap defense and get to 1-gap nickel as his base for the game.

  • EuropeanEagle

    I think there was an incompatibility between the type of 3-man front we play (2 gap) and the coverage in the secondary. If your Dline isn’t in “passrush first” mode, then maybe giving 10 yard cushions on every pass play isn’t the best way to go. Want something positive to chew on though? Okay: the run D; had this been an AR coached team, Asiata would’ve probably had a carreer day.