All-22: Why the Run Defense Faltered

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Since the day he was hired as the Eagles’ defensive coordinator, Billy Davis has talked about competing against opposing play-callers and quarterbacks on gamedays.

Last week against the Saints, he went up against one of the best duos in the league in that respect: Sean Payton and Drew Brees.




"He's probably one of the best in formations and matchups and adjustments," Davis said of Payton. "He's got a great mind as far as he makes you defend the width and the depth of the field.

"And I think him and Drew are really one and the same person. They have worked so much together that their understanding together that no matter what is in Sean's head, Drew can execute. And that's the key to great offensive football is when the quarterback has the same understanding as at coordinator or the head coach in this case, and they play very efficient."

The Saints entered the postseason with the reputation as one of the league's more pass-happy teams. That figured to be even more the case Saturday, considering they were without their leading rusher in Pierre Thomas. The Eagles, meanwhile, had the fifth-best run defense in the NFL since Week 10 and had shown vulnerabilities against the pass.

All week, the question was whether the Eagles could handle Brees. No one paid much attention to the Saints' running game.

But on the first play Saturday night, Payton provided a twist.

New Orleans came out in 12 personnel - one running back and two tight ends. Davis elected to go with his nickel package. That meant corner Brandon Boykin on the field instead of nose tackle Bennie LoganTrent Cole, an outside linebacker, stuck his hand in the ground and lined head-up against the left tackle.

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"They kind of caught us by surprise," Logan said. "We wasn’t expecting them to run. Different things that we saw on film that kind of gave us keys to run and pass. The first play of the game was a stretch play, which caught us by surprise. ...They were more of a passing team, not necessarily a running team. So they ran the ball a lot more than we expected."

Here, you'll see the Saints block down on Connor Barwin, the wide receiver lines up Nate Allen, the tight end gets to Mychal Kendricks, and the center sizes up DeMeco Ryans.

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Cornerback Bradley Fletcher's job is to keep Mark Ingram from getting outside, but he misses the tackle, and the result is a 17-yard gain.

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"I made the calls for the passing game to make sure we keep the big plays off us," Davis said afterwards, admitting he was surprised New Orleans stuck with the run. "It was a lot more split safety and a lot more pass-oriented calls, so some of the runs leaked out. I could have called more of a run-based defensive game, shut that down, but we were trying to keep the points down and the big plays off us. So that run game comes down to me, not the players."

A few things stood out when watching the Saints run the ball on tape:

1. They used multiple tight ends all game long. Take away Brees' runs, and New Orleans ran 31 times for 172 yards, averaging 5.5 yards per carry. Of those 31 runs, 23 came out of multiple-TE sets. The Saints gained 130 yards on those plays and averaged 5.7  yards per carry.

2. The Saints got the Eagles in their nickel package to run the ball. With Boykin on the field instead of Logan, the Saints ran it 13 times for 84 yards (6.5 YPC).

"As the game went on, they kind of got us out of our base formation," Logan said. "We brought our nickel in, and a lot of times when we brought our nickel in, they ran the ball on us with something that caught us by surprise, something we never saw on film. It was just something that caught us by surprise, we weren’t expecting it."

3. On a player-by-player basis, the Eagles did not play their best game. The defensive line, which had been a real strength, got pushed around. Linebackers struggled to get off blocks and finish plays. And the defense as a whole missed too many tackles.

"It’s still 11-on-11," said DeMeco Ryans. "You’ve gotta beat the man across from you and make a play. Coach Davis called a good game, a really good game. But we still have to make plays."

***

Davis tried to adjust and started to go with his base defense more against the 2-TE sets. The problem there? Without Boykin, it left the Eagles vulnerable in coverage.

Here, again the Saints go with two tight ends - even though neither goes by the name of Jimmy Graham. Instead, it's veteran Benjamin Watson and rookie Josh Hill.

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Watson runs an over route across the field to the left sideline.

The Eagles show blitz, but end up just sending four. Kendricks rushes Brees, while Ryans and Barwin drop back into coverage. Davis was hesitant to send extra rushers at Brees all game long, instead opting to drop players into coverage. The Eagles were one of the heaviest blitzing teams in the league during the regular season, but only rushed more than four on five of Brees' 33 dropbacks, per Pro Football Focus, or 15.2 percent of the time.

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Ryans got good depth on his drop, but when he turned around briefly to see if a player was crossing, Watson had not yet cleared. Ryans faced the quarterback and lost track of the tight end, who came wide open near the sideline.

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The Saints used a play-fake, and Kendricks had a chance at Brees, but the veteran did a great job of climbing the pocket. The result was a 27-yard completion, Brees' second-longest of the day.

***

And of course, the Saints deserve credit for just executing better on many plays.

"They had a good gameplan, and Mark Ingram, he ran like his life depended on it," said Cedric Thornton. "He’s a great running back, and definitely can’t take nothing from them guys."

Ingram led New Orleans with 97 yards on 18 carries, but it was rookie Khiry Robinson who came up big on the Saints' final drive. Facing a 2nd-and-11, the Saints ran an inside zone.

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Initially it looks like Nate Allen will be able to make a play on Robinson, even though the linemen and linebackers are being blocked.

But the rookie RB cuts it back. Logan can't get a hand on him, and Ben Grubbs does a great job on Fletcher Cox.

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The result is a 13-yard run on one of the key plays that set up the Saints' game-winning field goal.

All week long, we analyzed and projected how the game would play out. But no one pegged the Saints' running game as a determining factor in the game's outcome. No one but Payton, that is.

He relied on multiple TE sets, got the Eagles in their nickel package and ran the ball all game long. That's a major reason why the Saints are still alive and headed to Seattle to take on the Seahawks in the divisional round.

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  • evanphilly

    Much like when the Eagles focused on Bryant and Murray and had Witten run wild on them, the Eagles basically sold out and stopped the strength of the Saints, but got caught off-guard by the run. The coaching battle is one big chess match and the Eagles lost. Oh well, lesson learned and lets get ready for year 2.

    • Will

      Two great Safeties on the field for the Eagles woulda help shut that run game down at the LOS….said our Safeties would get exposed this game sure enough…

      • Will

        74. Nate Allen, Eagles

        47/100

        Coverage: 17/40, Run Defense: 4/15, Tackle: 7/20, Speed: 19/25

        Nate Allen struggled in 2012 to make plays in coverage or make tackles when beaten for a catch. He missed too many tackles with poor effort and bad angles in pursuit. Allen simply didn’t show the cover skills or playmaking ability to be a starting free safety. He has a lot of developmental work to do in reading and recognizing plays and moving on time to impact the offense.

        http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1444324-br-nfl-1000-2013-top-75-safeties/page/2

        Out of a list of top 75 SS in the NFL….# 74th…

        • cliff henny

          lemme guess, chung’s 75th

          • Will

            This is based off of 2012 season Chung was 23rd…I assume he has dropped to below #75 after this season…

          • NickS1

            Guess. It’s a given.

        • theycallmerob

          bleacher report is far from a reliable source. all they ever do is rankings or top 10 lists. useless. don’t need that garbage to know Allen is mediocre at best

          • Will

            Since you brought it up what is a better source? From everything I’ve read Byrd and Ward are the two best Safeties out there up for grabs…

          • Tom a

            Not up for grabs you dope… Both could get franchised and moreover both would probably cost 14 mil a year… I know during your fantasy football draft that doesn’t matter but you can’t blow your but on the 2 best safeties, orapko and a ntackle and expect to sign kelce, cooper, foles, Thornton, cox, Kendricks, Boykin, curry in the next two years …. Build through the draft and acquire depth through free agency …. Maybe one youngish stud free agent is the way to win … Look an niners Seahawks texans …. Not cowboyz skins etc …. And you don’t want too many big free agents … Didn’t you learn anything from the dream team. Smh

          • Will

            Fair game after March 11th….wasn’t suggesting they sign all of them…..lol….just ones they should consider…I would like if they went after both Safeties…the draft for the last 5 years hasn’t worked….6-8 million for Ward/ Byrd who knows but would be worth it….you pay 10.5 million for DJax next year…..why not pay to have great WR’s,TE’s, and RB’s covered….instead of 400,000-600,000 range no wonder Nate isn’t killing himself out there…..

          • Will

            I have never played fantasy football…lol….

          • deg0ey

            Dude…I’d like some of whatever you’ve been smoking. Byrd and Ward would probably both cost $14m/year? Polamalu is currently the highest paid safety in the league and he’s on less than $10m. Second highest paid is Eric Berry and he’s only on $8.3m.
            I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Byrd becomes the highest paid safety in the league, but there is pretty much zero chance that he gets $14m.
            Agree with your overall point, though; there are better ways of spending that money for this team at this time.

        • reb

          Allen had a good game or two this year, but seems to have reverted to all bad angles, slow steps and missed tackles.

    • Adam

      We don’t have the personnel to stop more than one aspect of any team. We sell out to stop one player or one facet of a teams game and we are left susceptible somewhere else. This is where a pass rush and some safeties will go a long way.

      • Rambler

        Exactly my sentiment. My initial reaction to seeing this was one of questioning Billy Davis’ ability to adjust and scheme. However, upon calming down and further reflection… it really is just a matter of a lack of playmakers and talent on the defense. That will change.

        • WorldPh_ingChamps

          I completely agree, the phase out of Trent Cole will begin next season, I believe. We will have opportunities to add safety help and add more dynamic LB’s that can do more of a mix of everything. We will probably try to add one of the bigger name FA safeties and draft depth at LB and o-line and d-line this year. 2015 I would start looking at WR and CB….

  • bentheimmigrant

    Honestly, I still think Davis did the right thing. He took away their strength, and accepted that he was giving something up. We could never shut down everything with the current mix of players. In the end, he kept the game close. That’s all I asked of the D before the game, and I really thought if we kept them below 30 it was our game to lose.

    • Adam

      Davis absolutely made the right call. We should have been able to contain their running backs. Just comes down to execution and we didn’t execute. It sounds like the guys game in a bit confident about being able to stop a sub par running team and they got punished for it.

      • jabostick

        Yep. That’s pretty much been Kelly’s mantra all year – try and put your opposition in uncomfortable positions and then execute. Payton tried to do the same thing. The D did their job for the most part save for a couple of plays here and there. But NO just out-executed them on the last drive.

        Similarly, at times the offense didn’t execute like they needed to to take advantage of the first half turnovers. Same with special teams. No one was brutal (coaches included), just didnt execute well enough

      • JofreyRice

        I will never fault the guy for taking away the #1 strength of an opposing offense. The problem really wasn’t the total yardage given up–they could have run for 200 yards, for all I care–it was the fact that they couldn’t get the big stops when they needed to, in short yardage, and at the end of the game.

        As Barwin said, having them consistently in 3rd and < 3, because they had picked up 6 or 7 on first down, affected Davis' ability to call plays to prevent them from picking up the short first down, but at some point, you can't just rely on false starts to force them to throw for the first. They really needed a better way of defending those obvious run downs, even if they were ceding the run, to stop the pass.

        • Token

          Line just got dominated. And what you saw in the last two games of the year was zero pressure. No pass rusher able to win a 1v1 battle. That will never be Barwins game, hes a terrible rusher but does other things well. Coles spot must be filled with a legit pass rusher. Someone who can win a battle and get pressure without the scheme having to create it.

          Then of course they got killed in the run Saturday. Logan isnt a NT. I think he could be quite a contributor. He can play snaps at both NT and end. But hes not a full time NT. Especially with weak ILB play behind him. You watch some of these Saints plays…. Kendricks and Ryans were both bad. Kendricks was on the ground quite a bit, just tripping over guys. Easily blocked.

          So at end I think they should be pretty good. But they need a bigger, stronger body to take snaps at NT.

          They really needed a ILB the other night. It was a glaring weakness. Kendricks splash plays have clouded his overall play. I still dont see the young budding star that seemingly everyone else does. Against a team that wants to be physical, he doesnt quite cut it. I just feel a game like this last one is when a ILB can step up and help stop the bleeding. You may be able to have Ryans OR Kendricks, but both of them starting vs. a team that wants to run down your throat isnt a good situation.

          Maybe it doesnt get addressed this year. But assuming they keep Kendricks starting, since Ryans doesnt have many years left anyway, they need a bigger stronger sure tackler to compliment him

          • cliff henny

            true, 26 is still good enough to win. holding teams to under 21 streak and dallas the saints to mid 20’s might have been done with mirrors or duct-tape, but help hopefully is on it’s way.

          • JofreyRice

            Looking at the Free Agent list, outside of Orakpo, who will probably be franchised…another intriguing name is Jason Worilds, of Pittsburgh.

            He’s that squatty James Harrison type edge rusher, don’t know if he fits Kelly’s physical mold, but he’s obviously been taught the fire zone 3-4 system, and has played on both sides for them. He’s not Demarcus Ware, or anything, but he can rush the passer, I think, and beat blocks from Running Backs and TE’s.

            Other than that, it’s slim pickings or weird fits. They might look at a guy like Michael Johnson, from the Bengals, who played 4-3 end for Zimmer in Cincy. Sort of a weird body type at 6’7 and 265. Averaged around 8 sacks a year for them, and has some experience b/c Zimmer does weird stuff with dropping linemen in coverage the way JJ used to.

            I’d rather not have to watch another end/OLB conversion, and it’s risky/unlikely to pay what Johnson would command and then ask him to do things you don’t necessarily have a lot of tape on, but it’s just very tough to find a good young passrusher in free agency. They are too valuable. It’s like finding a good young QB in FA; just not all that likely.

          • Token

            I agree with the last part. Dont want to convert a guy.

            Worilds is interesting. Hes had some injury issues before. But this was the first year he got much of a chance. Steelers did start him over Jarvis Jones. But id assume that since they took Jones and Woodley is locked in Worlids is prolly gonna be out there. Steelers arent in a good cap position I dont believe.

            Orakpo seems like a good fit. Plays hard. Came back strong after the injury and may be a guy ready to bust out. Im hoping he gets loose since a all new staff will be coming in. Never know.

            Man, Byrd and Orakpo would make me feel pretty care free going into the draft. Tho I know that has about a 5% chance of happening.

          • JofreyRice

            Yeah, can’t see Washington letting Orakpo go, considering he’s made the Pro Bowl 3 out of his 4 healthy years in the league.

            Byrd’s got to be on the way out in Buffalo, though. I guess S is a relatively cheap position to franchise, but isn’t it still like the highest salary plus 20% on top of that? Not really familiar with multiple franchise tags.

          • Adam

            Non exclusive tag is the average of the top 5 salaries at the position, or 120% of their last years salary, whichever is less. If it’s non exclusive other teams can try and sign him but his team can match the offer sheet but if they don’t match it they get compensated with 2 first round picks.

            Exclusive is or 120% of previous years salary, whichever is greater and they can’t negotiate with other teams.

            Byrd got the non-exclusive one last year. I think he doesn’t want to be in Buffalo anymore so I wouldn’t be surprised if he get tagged and that foot injury came back. I think the Bills will realize this and let him walk, so they collect their compensatory picks sooner.

          • morgan c

            Also, what if we had told Curry to slim down with the idea of moving him to OLB, instead of bulk up, to put him as a 3-4 end, where he doesn’t get on the field enough? His strength is rushing the passer, and he’s shown ability when given snaps. I still think we need a legit OLB (or hell, I’d take a pass-rushing 3-4 end ala JJ Watt (I wish!)), but maybe Curry would be better suited all along to a rush OLB, and not a gap control slightly undersized 3-4 end??

            Thoughts?

          • bentheimmigrant

            I think he’s done well. I noticed him on a few nice run stops by the end of the season. And I think the value of an effective interior rusher cannot be overstated in the 3-4. Next year will tell us if the experiment has worked, but if he can play the run consistently well next year and still get after the passer I’ll consider it a huge success.

          • theycallmerob

            I think that’s unrealistic only because Azz and Minter know him from Marshall, and since Day 1 decided to make him a DE instead of OLB. He spent all year learning to 2gap. I don’t see why they’d have wasted all that time. Already have 2 former DEs playing out of position at OLB, no point trying to get snaps in for all 3.
            I’d imagine Curry or Graham gets traded, especially if Cole stays. I get the whole depth thing, but it’s hard to justify the tweeners if we can get draft value and replace them with better “fits”, per se

          • morgan c

            Agree about NT (see comment below), and Kendricks too. Hopefully, he makes a real leap next year, but if not, I just don’t trust him as an every down ‘backer. He is athletic, and has a knack for making big plays (which is huge), but he misses A LOT of tackles, and he takes poor angles and plays out of control sometimes. He often misses wildly and it damages us badly. I think he still has next year to prove himself, but he’s got to play more under control. Other than this game though, Ryans was really a beast against the run all year. He will eventually need to be replaced, but not next year. He’s still only 29 I think, or maybe 30. But yeah, Kendricks needs to improve.

      • Will

        Having two pro bowl Guards blocking makes a big difference…especially when we are in Nickel…our safeties needed to recognize and shut the run down…..didn’t happen…

    • anon

      no. adjustment.

      • theycallmerob

        adjust to what? did you actually read the article? when we played nickel, they ran, when we went base they would abuse our coverages. It’s not Davis’ fault the players rushing couldn’t win battles, or that they missed tackles.

        • Will

          Cause our Safeties are sub par….very poor in run support…

          • reb

            True – but that’s not relevant to the discussion of whether or not Davis coached the game well. Given what he had he called a good game.

          • Will

            I think Billy D did the right thing and tried to take away the passing game and force them to run on us….but nobody really appreciates great Safety play till it gets exposed…The Double TE sets that they could run or pass out of depending weather we were in Nickel or not was slick. Now a blueprint is out there to beat us……….Hope they get some Great Safeties, NT and OLB for next time…Still overall they held them to 26 points…The Offense just faltered and didn’t score enough…with 2 turnovers we should of got 14 points off of the turnovers…I think Billy D did a wonderful job all season long with the player’s he had at his disposal…imagine if they get better player’s for Billy D next year…Food for thought Seattle held Brees to 7 points then again they have the Legion of Doom for a secondary…we on the other hand gave up the most passing yds…..Williams,Fletcher and Boykin did there best happy with the production at CB just need depth but Safety in Allen he shouldn’t start, Chung can’t cover, and Wolff is fighting thru knee injuries…pitiful…. I hope Billy D has a say in FA and goes and gets Byrd and Ward, A heavy NT, an OLB who is a pass rushing Demon who can cover …If not the top level talented teams will continue to beat us…

          • Tom w

            Hilarious. Thank god you aren’t our gm.

          • Will

            Tom W- you would gladly resign Nate Allen and be smug in your ignorance….

          • Tom w

            Stop,talking fucking nonsense. No one said anything about resigning Allen or bringing back Nate Allen dope … But that also doesn’t mean we must ignore everything we are building and sign 2 very good safeties in free agency and a pass rusher and nose tackle and Eric decker …. Because that is the ridiculousness you keep proposing for everyone to read …. I have been saying for well over 6 months we,should steal Byrd via trade or target Byrd or ward or Chris Clemons in free,agency bc they fit the age we,like and chip knows 2 of them. But I also listen to the gm when he talks and discusses team philosophy of building talent through draft and depth through free agency …. I’d love Calvin fucking Johnson too moron but it ain’t happening … Does that mean I am okay starting j avant next year …. No!!!!! Learn how to form an argument that is based in reality or go back to Philly.com and stop,wasting our time.

          • Will

            Lol………….All I’m saying is address the Safety issue, you realize the Eagles could of drafted Earl Thomas but didn’t…The Eagles just do not put any real value on the Safety spots..or money for that matter….Till they do are Defense will struggle against the top passer’s in the NFL and a SB just ain’t happening…A Super Bowl win is on my bucket list…been waiting for 42 seasons now….If they go get 2 Safeties in FA and nothing else I’d be happy…is it going to happen who knows…I’ll have to wait like everyone else to see what they do….Kenny Phillips and Chung and Wolff last year were tapped to address it…How did that work out? The Eagles have been trying for the last 5 years to fill the Safeties spots with no real luck….why not go get proven player’s that’s all I’m suggesting…

        • Brandon

          Well Brees did throw 2 picks so I wouldn’t say they flat out abused our coverages…

          • theycallmerob

            the first was a horrible underthrow where he didn’t get any help from the receiver, the second appeared to be a slant where he just never saw Ryans (who read Brees eyes the whole time). We took away his playmakers, but he’s still one of the greatest in the game and was able to keep drives going.

    • jabostick

      Also, the two botched plays that led to a missed FG, the Cooper drop, better coverage on the last kickoff… Was a pretty thin line between a win and a loss and I think if one or two of those things happen and we win – all of a sudden it is “hey look at Billy Davis forcing the Saints to run and keep them out of their gameplan”.

      • Brandon

        Hindsight is 20/20 so not faulting Billy in any way, but part of me wonders what the outcome would have been if the Eagles would have played the run a little more honestly with their base package from the start of the game. Although he hit a few big ones, Brees seemed to be struggling to throw the ball effectively in the sub-freezing temperatures.

        The Saints actually can run the ball ok enough, its just that they never choose to do it. So its no shock to me that they ran through our 5 and 6-man boxes with ease. Maybe if we force Brees to throw a little more he gives up another pick. I guess we will never know.

        • reb

          Then their TE’s would have run all over us. I still think he made the right call -take away their strength and force them to rely on their weakness. Had our offense executed just a bit better the conversation would be very different.

      • anon

        usually is a pretty thin line. need more talent and experience.

        • jabostick

          That is sort of my point, though, I guess. The ‘talent and experience’ argument only works when it works. As an example, given the other catches Cooper made I don’t think the one he dropped was ball because of a lack of talent or experience or the size of the moment. It was just a brain fart. If he makes the routine catch and runs 30 more yards, we just come up with a different narrative.

          If a team gets blown out or plays wildly different than from the regular season or it is a recurring thing then I get the arguments otherwise, it’s just a couple of plays that didn’t break our way

    • http://abigbuttandasmile.com/ A Big Butt and a Smile

      D played great. They played above their talent level for a good chunk of the year. They played the best game they could have played. I figured if we kept them below 30 we should have won. And we should have.

    • anon

      we got out coached.

      • bentheimmigrant

        And what praytell would you have done? Switched to stopping the run and opened the passing game? We had to pick our poison and we chose the less effective one. The right choice. Or did you want NO going all out pass against our secondary?

        • Will

          I would of pulled out all stops to acquire better safeties in the off season…A true NT, and an OLB….which I hope they address this off season….There is not one half-way descent Safety on the Eagles roster….

          • bentheimmigrant

            I think we have to remember how far we did come, in the end. Also that they were specifically trying not to bring in players who would earn more than players already here. I imagine that’s not permanent. Definitely need a serious upgrade or two. Really hoping Wolff is the real deal.

          • Will

            I would think if you could sign both Byrd and Ward they both would be well worth the $ spent….and we could focus on OLB and NT next….am grateful how far we have come in 8 months….A serious upgrade at Safety would go a long way in improving the Eagles D…as far as Wolff goes he has a ailing knee and durability issues already…I dunno Byrd/Ward would be outstanding back there why not go get the best and be done with it and have great mentors for Wolff…the better QB’s in this league ate our secondary for lunch with ease…

          • Tom w

            Goes against everything Howie said last year … You build through the draft not free agency… Can’t be the redskins or cowboyz … Can’t buy a championship cause your upset we lost a playoff game … Can’t spent 14 million a year on 2 2728 yr old safeties … Next your gonna say let’s sign orapko too and Raji cause we need a pass rush and bit nose guard because Logan had one bad game when sends ran on us in double tight against our nickel. So you don’t spend anothe 10 mil on orapko and 5 on Raji etx bc you have a shitload of younger pkayers to sign in 2 yrs or you end up like cowboyz. Jesus Christ . It’s one playoff loss. The sky isn’t falling. We are young … 2 great drafts … Build and you get better just by our babies being one yr older. One safety may make sense but 2-5 large free agent signings isn’t the way to win. Ask the dolphins and bucs how that worked out. Beyond that there is no way in hell Howie is signing the two top free agent safeties and orapko and Raji. Lay off the crack. Pulled out all the stops you said???? You sound like a Philly.com fantasy footballer. There is a thing called a salary cap and chemistry … If Kelly and Howie payed a bunch of free agents last year he would’ve lost the team veterans … Horrible idea … Even worse idea to change our emphasis to free agency over draft to fix weaknesses …. I could see one strong free agent signing bc Kelly is familiar w each safeties but you don’t overspend at one position where it’s not qb let alone a premium position. Let’s sign all the best free agents —- yea that’s realistic —- not! You end up paying for past performance and are almost always disappointed bc of age, injury, fit, and natural tendency for a paid pkayer to relax and not have the hunger or loyalty of a younger home grown player … Jesus christ

          • Will

            All that is reasonable yet the draft has done nothing to address the Safety spot…Howie admitted it was hard for him to find or know a good safety publicly…Wolff has knee issues, Chung is a 10 million bust, and Nate Allen isn’t good enough to start. The Safety spots for the last 5 years is horrendous…Would be great if they signed one FA…Then again Byrd and Ward would both be immediate upgrades and you know what you are getting as opposed to the draft…The Draft has not work so far…be honest…So I think FA for Safety is the way to go…you still need an OLB and NT for this Defense, a Kicker and a WR…How they address it is anybody guess…After the big money they spent on CB’s a few years ago the Eagles seem reluctant to add FA…Most Great teams have a mix of young guys and Vets…or you can continue to give up the most passing yds in the NFL and wonder why?…

          • Tom w

            So I guess guys like Byrd ward vaccaro Thomas berry Ed reed werent drafted??? Had to start somewhere … U don’t spend ridiculously and give up trying to find a safety in the draft … Acquire one young vet stud … Maintain our cap leverage and draft bpa. And stop telling is about Byrd and ward … We all are aware who they are and at a need position and they went to Oregon … It’s no big secret we need safety help …. Explaining our safety stats is unneeded … I think my GRANDMOM is aware the safeties played poorly

          • Will

            Look the draft is a crap shoot at best, we pick at 22…..I know Chip see this and they will address it hopefully….Safety in this draft is not a great class, there are a lot of FA Safeties in comparison…I love Defense….I have faith in Chip as well…I hope they just move on from Nate Allen……of the Safeties you mentioned the Eagles could of drafted a few of them but passed…Until the Eagles find a solution back there it is a worthy topic…

            http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1901942-browns-must-find-a-way-to-re-sign-safety-tj-ward-this-offseason

            Descent Safeties make 6-8 million a year…Nate makes on avg. 1.2 million, Chung 3 million….you get what you pay for…

          • Tom w

            Top 5 safeties make that much. What are you crying about anyway? That we shoulda spent uber bucks last year on both safeties??? We didn’t know what we had on defense, needed to build a bad team not a playoff contender, had so many holes on defense had to address close to 8 positions and changed schemes …. Why would you overspend on good but not elite safeties last year when everyone and their mothernthoughtnwe were 3 yrs away …. We hit on barwin, fletch, cwill, jones, …. Our last two drafts were lights out ….. Why in the world would we adopt the skins/your crazy strategy of going nuts on 4 highly paid free agents … It’s cap irresponsible, team chemistry altering, and proven not to work….. It also will never freaking happen …. Listen to Howie today and everything he has said over the last yr ….. It’s not happening so just give it up…… It proven to be a horrible strategy in football and is the opposite of what are FO will do… Basically proving you are wrong on all counts…..as ridiculous as saying we should trade cole for a first rounder or,trade graham for Richard Sherman ….. Ain’t freaking happening in a million yrs

          • Will

            Lol….your why we haven’t won a Championship since 1960…Our team needs 2 Safeties, OLB, NT, Kicker,WR….to be competitive….if you can’t see that your blind…that means Allen, Chung, Cole, Henry and Maclin ain’t good enough and Logan is too light for NT….Byrd and Ward are top 5 Safties that’s why they do not make 600 k like Nate Allen you get what you pay for…It’s tough to wrap your head around it but Defenses win Championships!

          • theycallmerob

            nice…use….of….paragraph….breaks

          • Tom w

            Phone dork

      • Will

        out played & out classed….

  • R. Colton’s Wine Glass

    Who predicted that the Eagles would lose the game while winning the turnover battle with not one, but two interceptions by Brees? Maybe Dick did. D did its job. Just gotta get that whole roll-out-of-the-pocket-and-throw-the-ball-away-when-you-have-7-seconds-and-nobody-is-“open” thing down.

    • cliff henny

      agreed. how dare an Eagles’ fan predict a winning scenario. dont worry, he’s been forewarned about my plans for shipping him off to bangladesh

    • anon

      mccoy was wide open in the flat — see the chipwagon story. just got locked downfield, correctible.

  • cloisterwater

    I just looked at the pictures. Too painful to read right now.

  • Will

    Jairus Byrd is #2 SS on the list stop screwing around with the Safety spot and go get a proven Vet! The Free Safety is a mix of the power hitting safety with a blend of speed and cornerback skills asked upon by their defense to do a little bit of everything.

    We got Safeties that do nothing well…3 Safeties deployed on Defense of Bryd/Ward/Rhodes would be great in the pass or run game to counter what NO did to us……

    • Token

      No need for a power hitting safety anymore. They have taken that guy out of the game. If anything Wolff can fill the run support role. I want a extremely good center field coverage safety. That guy is Byrd.

      • Adam

        It’s true. I was bored the other night and watched some Dawkins highlights. I’m not sure he would have ever taken home a game check with all the fines he would have gotten.

    • theycallmerob

      you’re not seriously still bringing up kerry rhodes are you?

      • Will

        Yup ….he’s probably retired but still better in retirement than any current Eagle which is down right sad…

    • Maggie

      And nooobody else in the whole NFL has noticed their greatness. There will be nooo competition. Just call them up and sign them for whatever you want. Right. Why, I bet all the better safeties in the League don’t even have agents!

      • Will

        And your all for resigning Nate Allen I bet…….. that line goes around the block too…Our Safeties Suk!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! and have for the last 5 years……………Nate Allen is arguable our best Safety and most people who rank NFL player’s feel Nate is not good enough to start in the NFL…. If you want a SB you might have to spend some $ on Safeties…ours plain out suk!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • Will

        Here’s 3 player’s you should sign….

        Because young talent acquired through the draft comes so cheap, an organization might choose to let a dynamic player test the market or even walk without an offer rather than lock him up long term. When a mid-round afterthought runs routes just as crisply as your 1,000-yard receiver, why pay?

        Then again, the draft is a crapshoot, both in terms of landing the prospects you want and whether they pan out or not. The guys who could be available this spring are at least better-known commodities, with track records of ability and success enticing to prospective buyers.

        Eric Decker, WR, Denver Broncos

        Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

        It’s difficult to imagine the Denver Broncos letting Eric Decker go. After all, he caught 87 passes for 1,288 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2013. Those are elite numbers for a wideout, not the sort of production you pinch pennies over.

        Decker is 6’3″ and can get deep with his route-running more than with his speed or athleticism; he’s definitely a very good wideout, but Denver might not want to pay him like a great one.

        These are Peyton Manning’s Broncos, and he has thrown the criteria for gauging receivers out of whack with his all-time great season. With Manning under center, four different Broncos caught double-digit touchdowns, and three had over 100 targets.

        In fact, Decker didn’t lead his team in any statistical category, save for a tie withDemaryius Thomas with 19 catches of 20-plus yards; Thomas has him beat in receptions, yards, yards per catch and yards after catch, while both Demaryius and Julius Thomas scored more touchdowns.

        With the Thomases and Welker around, Denver might not want to pay Decker like a number-one wideout, because he’s not on this team. Given his skill set, he’s best suited as a second option, but someone who wants to give him a bigger role could snag him.

        Brian Orakpo, OLB, Washington Redskins

        Rob Carr/Getty Images

        Given the tire fire that is the Washington Redskins, you might forget how good BrianOrakpo is.

        After tearing his pectoral and missing 14 games in 2012, Orakpo returned to a Washington organization mired in discord; only three teams gave up as many yards per pass attempt as the Redskins, so Orakpo’s 10.0 sacks did not seem that significant.

        That gives Orakpo 39.5 sacks in 64 career games. That’s one shy of his career high set as a rookie, and he’s still displaying the freakish athleticism that made him a first-round pick back in 2009.

        Just think: This is what Orakpo could do without a capable secondary behind him. Imagine if he goes out this summer and joins a team that lets him be more than just a silver lining on a flawed unit.

        Jarius Byrd, FS, Buffalo Bills

        Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

        If you’re only looking at interceptions to judge a defensive back, it appears Jarius Byrd has dropped off since his rookie campaign. He came out of nowhere to record nine picks in his first season, and he picked off 13 in the four years since.

        But what that ignores is his transformation from a ball hawk exclusively to a well-rounded, intelligent safety.

        It’s flashier when safeties just go for the ball, regardless of their assignment or responsibility, but Byrd can step up and contain the run as well as read the QB’s eyes and position himself to prevent a pass before it’s even thrown.

        He was able to force so many turnovers as a rookie because, well, he was a rookie and opposing offenses would take advantage of him. Byrd is far too savvy to be exploited now, and he still found a way to pick off four passes despite playing only 11 games in 2013.

        Cut ties with Nate Allen, Trent Cole, and MacLin….

        • Tom w

          Your an utter moron. Salary cap nitwit. Chemistry dope. Remembering what Howie and Kelly both said was winning way to build a team. Stop spamming entire articles in the site. Everyone knows orapko decker and Byrd. And then when you can tell me how in the fuck we have the cash to sign the top 3 free agents and probably spent 26 mil a year on all 3 and 75 mil guaranteed for 3 pkayers … Just stop bro this isn’t fantasy football

      • Will

        Then again how bad do you want a SB or not…

  • Al

    Tough loss to swallow, but the Saints have two of the better guards in the NFL and their line was better than our line on Saturday. Our line is really young and they were all playing in the first playoff game of their young careers. Hopefully they learn from this game.Give Payton credit for recognizing that the Eagles would sell out to stop the pass.

  • Media Mike

    So…………………… the answer is our D-line got blocked by a below below average run blocking unit from the Saints. Weak.

    • theycallmerob

      and what exactly makes a line with 2 pro bowler guards and a damn good C and RT below below average? missed that whole portion from the article.

      • Media Mike

        The center and RT and not “damn good” compared to Thorton and Cox all season. A rookie LT should not have blocked up ANYBODY on our D. No sale Rob.

        3. On a player-by-player basis, the Eagles did not play their best game. The defensive line, which had been a real strength, got pushed around. Linebackers struggled to get off blocks and finish plays. And the defense as a whole missed too many tackles.

        “It’s still 11-on-11,” said DeMeco Ryans. “You’ve gotta beat the man across from you and make a play. Coach Davis called a good game, a really good game. But we still have to make plays.”

        • theycallmerob

          I didn’t list LT for a reason. and whether you think so or not, the general opinion of folks in the league is that they are, in fact, pretty good players. WTF is below below average anyway, bottom 5 or 10? talk about a ridiculous sale.

          • Media Mike

            3. On a player-by-player basis, the Eagles did not play their best game. The defensive line, which had been a real strength, got pushed around. Linebackers struggled to get off blocks and finish plays. And the defense as a whole missed too many tackles.

            “It’s still 11-on-11,” said DeMeco Ryans. “You’ve gotta beat the man across from you and make a play. Coach Davis called a good game, a really good game. But we still have to make plays.”

            Unacceptable against a team with poor rushing totals. Flat out unacceptable. New Orleans is 25th in rushing yards and 26th in rushing yards per attempt. The Eagles D was 10th in rushing yards and 4th in rushing yards per attempt. That is a flat out brutal failure of our D line in a favorable matchup.

          • theycallmerob

            I hate the yards and attempts stat for them, simply because they pass all the friggin time. Brees isn’t putting up 5000 yards a year because they don’t trust the run game, it’s because that’s how Payton rolls. Sheesh, they even use their RBs as passing weapons more than runners.

            And the execution is an entirely different argument, don’t move the goalposts. I never said we didn’t execute. But I won’t get on board with the notion that NO had a terrible OL. Because we played poorly doesn’t mean you can take away from them. The eagles missing tackles has no bearing on the performance of their OL

          • Will

            Cause we were in Nickel and Logan was out of the line up…when we went base they passed….very smart on there part took a page out of the Kelly playbook …..

        • Will

          The Saints said they did this cause of our Safety play they saw on tape…it was the weakness they exploited…plain and simple and the player’s we had couldn’t stop it…

      • Will

        And the rookie LT owed Trent Cole all night by himself…we had zero pass rush all night…

    • Tom w

      Are you slow or something … The article says the saints had 7 blockers on the great majority if their runs in the box … W in turn had 4 or 5 maybe 6. It’s a recipe for losing to the run but should have prevails bc we controlled Brees … Our offense should have out up more points in the first 3 quarters plain and simple .. Then a ten point lead prevents the saints from running all the time and plays into our nickel coverage. Getting outmanned on the great majority of runs doesn’t make our dline poor especially after being ranked in the top 5 in ypc for 16 freaking games vs one bad one. Jesus Christ

  • morgan c

    Okay so after the game, people, including myself were pretty fired up and reactionary. It happens. But now that this has sunk in, and I can reflect on a good season, I still think it is foolish to think we are just set at DLine. Yes, they became a strength for this team as the season wore on. Thornton looks solid as a run-stopper, and Cox had his moments (though on the whole, he didn’t make the leap from Year 1 to Year 2 so many had expected – probably more based on scheme, but given where we drafted him and how he projected, this guy better make the leap next year…). Logan, from the beginning, was never pegged as an every down (or even two down) NT. He overachieved and was better than anything we got from Soapoaga.

    I can see we were in the wrong personnel for stopping the run, much of the game. In a way, this is a relief. However, I can’t shake the mental image of Logan being abused on that final game-deciding drive. Can he be our franchise NT in a 3-4? Maybe. But he’s probably best suited as a versatile rotation piece as an end or a third down NT maybe. If he puts on a ton of weight, okay. But as currently constituted, I just don’t feel good going ahead penciling him in as our 1st and 2nd down NT for the future, and this game, and specifically, the final drive shows why.

    Point is, after pass-rusher, and safety, we need to think NT.

    • morgan c

      And OLine too…
      and then WR (if we don’t keep Maclin and Coop for team-friendly deals)… and CB…

    • anon

      he’s a rookie undersized nt, we knew that from jump. he’s gotta fatten up and i think we bring in a fat guy as well but i think if he makes the jump he’s the guy

  • Will

    Byrd/Ward/Pollard/ Ihedigbo are all avaiable….just to name a few hope we go sign two of them…

    • Tom w

      Stop dude. Just stop.

      • Will

        Nope…lol….not until it’s fixed just sick of it for the last 5 years just dreadful…..

        • Tom w

          It’s not funny. We all know who,is available. We know safety is a need. They aren’t signing top 2 safeties decker and a pass rusher … It’s called a salary cap which you obviously have no understanding about or team chemistry or what are FO philosophy is. You may get one stud safety and depth at a couple other positions … If that doesn’t work. …tough grapes.

  • Michael Jorden

    I was pretty much over the loss until I read this. Time to fire up the Barf O’Matic again… I hate losing in the run game in the playoffs.

  • John J. King

    Chip & Billy got a lesson they spent the whole season giving other teams. Do the unexpected. They won’t make that mistake again AND they might have won the game anyway if a few plays had turned out as designed. A great effort all season. Fill a few holes, get some stronger #2s and this team could. go. all. the. way.

    • EaglePete

      thats the essence of good coaching, do the unexpected. Why belichick is the best at adjusting in the 2nd half of games. I dont mind, we slowed down their passing game and got beat by the run and ST. Im okay with that over a lot of other ways to lose. That being said, catch the damn ball Riley, throw it away instead of the deep sack Nick and we may be heading into another game this weekend. If If, ands and buts were candy and nuts every day would be Christmas.

  • pjcostello

    With better cover corners and a decent safety or two, the Eagles might not have played so much nickel in fear of the pass, and might have been able to play more base defense to stop the run. C’est la vie. :-(

  • davev

    didn’t read all the comments because they become repetitive but simply put Davis got Paytoned which means he got out coached. Read the article and don’t tell me they would have abused us through the air based on one play when they had I Cant Cover Demeco in pass coverage for some reason. Kelly will fix this though.