All-22: How Murray Compares To McCoy

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Chip Kelly stood before reporters at the NovaCare Complex yesterday defending a trade he made back in March.

The deal — sending LeSean McCoy to Buffalo in exchange for Kiko Alonso — couldn’t have turned out much worse for the Eagles so far. Out of 46 running backs who have the qualified number of carries, McCoy ranks 12th in yards per rush this season, while Alonso has battled injuries and struggled.

“I think we did the right thing at the time,” Kelly said yesterday. “We traded an outstanding running back for a linebacker. But we also traded $700,000 for $11.9 million. I think with all of those situations, there’s money involved. One of the things we had was, we had a lot of players who were older and at the ends of their contracts that were making big money.” Read more »

All-22: How Billy Davis Confused Tom Brady

Billy Davis. (Jeff Fusco)

Billy Davis. (Jeff Fusco)

It was a laughing matter. Literally.

Tim and I explained in last week’s Press Coverage how the Eagles would need to generate a good pass rush and force turnovers against Tom Brady to pull off the unlikely upset over the Patriots. How unlikely? We treated it more as a joke than as something that could actually happen.

But Billy Davis’ unit, after allowing 90 points in the previous two weeks, helped do just that as their four sacks and two interceptions played a pivotal role in Philadelphia’s 35-28 win.

“It’s a tough place to go in,” Davis said. “First of all, I thought the players did a great job. They showed a lot of character, being in the hole we were in the last two weeks and them fighting through it and having that challenge of going in there to beat Brady and Coach [Bill] Belichick in Foxborough is a big deal.

“A big part of it was the three- and four-man rush winning there and the cover guys just holding. We knew we were going to get our share of their passing game. That’s what they do and that’s what their strength is. In the last couple weeks, we were not having much success in that area and the guys stepped up and made a lot of plays.” Read more »

All-22: How Lane Johnson Projects At Left Tackle

Lane Johnson. (USA Today Sports)

Lane Johnson. (USA Today Sports)

After allowing 90 points in five days, the focus on the Eagles understandably shifted to the defense. Despite an outstanding start to the season, Billy Davis’ unit now ranks 20th in the NFL in points per drive.

However, the increased scrutiny of the defense has taken attention away from an equally problematic unit: the offensive line. In the last three weeks, the Eagles have allowed 13 sacks and 27 quarterback hits. They’ve also averaged just 3.2 yards per carry.

“Obviously, we’ve played really, really poorly the last few weeks,” Jason Kelce said. Read more »

All-22: The Good (And Bad) Of Eric Rowe

Eric Rowe and Calvin Johnson. (USA Today Sports)

Eric Rowe and Calvin Johnson. (USA Today Sports)

After Nolan Carroll broke his right ankle on Thanksgiving, Eric Rowe stepped onto Ford Field and didn’t quite believe his eyes. Opposite of the rookie, on just his second snap, was Calvin Johnson.

“It was kind of surreal because I’m like, ‘This is Calvin Johnson, one of the greatest,'” Rowe said.

The safety-turned-corner played 52 snaps in the Eagles’ 45-14 loss, including 14 against Johnson in which he allowed four catches and two touchdown passes. In a game where the Eagles gave up 45 points and five touchdown passes for the second consecutive week, Billy Davis had to insert the second round pick at outside corner. Read more »

All-22: Sanchez’s Interceptions, Receiver Rotation

Mark Sanchez. (Jeff Fusco)

Mark Sanchez. (Jeff Fusco)

It felt like the aftermath of the Dallas game all over again. Lavonte David, who had just intercepted Mark Sanchez twice on Sunday, explained that his pick-six was a result of the Eagles predictability problem.

“It was just play recognition,” David told NJ Advance Media in the Buccaneers locker room. “I knew exactly what they wanted to do. It’s the same thing they were doing all game. I knew that on the drive before they were hitting us a lot with screen passes. So, knowing that, all I needed to do was read and react.

“When I saw the alignment coming out … [Darren] Sproles came out earlier and the alignment came out after. I was able to get a beat on the ball and was able to jump the route.” Read more »

Eagles All-22 Wake-Up Call: Declining Defense

Billy Davis. (Jeff Fusco)

Billy Davis. (Jeff Fusco)

Surrounded by a horde of reporters in the Eagles locker room, Billy Davis took full responsibility. Just minutes prior, his defense allowed 45 points and 521 total yards to a previously below-.500 Buccaneers team.

Tampa Bay broke several records at The Linc, including the franchise mark for number of players (five) to catch a touchdown pass. They also became the first road team in NFL history to have a quarterback throw five touchdown passes and a running back to rush for at least 200 yards.

“I didn’t see this one coming,” Davis said. “We didn’t do anything well today starting with coaching. We didn’t stop the run and we gave up five touchdown passes. There are no excuses for anybody. It was an awful day.” Read more »

All-22: Twists And Turns In the Passing Game

Brent Celek. (Jeff Fusco)

Brent Celek. (Jeff Fusco)

Prior to the Eagles game Sunday against the Dolphins, many expected them to use a run-heavy offense and exploit the NFL’s second-to-worst run defense. But then they averaged just 2.3 yards per carry against Miami, so it wasn’t surprising they threw the ball 48 times compared to 36 rushes.

However, even before their struggles against Miami on the ground, they relied on the pass to move the ball down the field, throwing for nearly 400 yards (although -39 sack yards hurt their total number of passing yards). They utilized their tight ends in particular as Brent Celek accumulated 134 receiving yards, his highest total since 2012 and the third-most of his career, while Zach Ertz added seven catches for 68 receiving yards.

“We just thought those match-ups for us were something we felt like going into the game [with],” Chip Kelly said. “We run the ball a lot with Brent when Brent is in there, so obviously we felt like in play-action pass, we could exploit some things there, and I thought Brent did a really nice job with it.

“They made some adjustments and played a little bit more man coverage than zone coverage to kind of take some of that stuff away, but we felt like those match-ups on the inside with their linebackers and safeties were to our advantage with our tight ends.” Read more »

Eagles All-22 Wake-Up Call: O-Line Inconsistency

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

The offensive line was rolling. They paved the way for a rushing attack that gained more than 150 yards in four straight weeks — the first time the Eagles did so since 1992 — and provided sound pass protection.

Before Sunday, the Dolphins ranked second-to-last in run defense (allowing 142 yards per game), leading many people to believe the Eagles would dominate the ground game.

However, the opposite happened on Sunday, and Philadelphia averaged just 2.3 yards per carry in their 20-19 loss. Miami recorded four sacks, nine tackles-for-loss and 10 quarterback hits. Sam Bradford constantly took shots from the Dolphins’ defensive line, and he eventually suffered both a concussion and an injured left shoulder in the third quarter.

“We’re frustrated,” Jason Kelce said. “I think we let a game get away from us, and I think everybody knows that. Offensively, we had so many opportunities, and let every single one of them slip through our fingers, it seems like. But I think everyone else knows that we can improve, and if we can eliminate these self-inflicting things, we can still be a dynamic offense.” Read more »

Eagles All-22 Wake-Up Call: Secondary Concerns

Nolan Carroll and Dez Bryant. (USA Today Sports)

Nolan Carroll and Dez Bryant. (USA Today Sports)

Despite the Eagles’ win Sunday night, their pass defense had one of its worst games of the season. They gave up season-highs in opponent passer rating (105) and touchdowns through the air (three), and Matt Cassel had his best game as a Cowboy.

Both Cole Beasley and Dez Bryant surpassed 100 receiving yards while reaching the end zone, and their quarterback averaged 7.9 passing yards per attempt.

“[Beasley] is a tough matchup for a lot of people because he’s so good at getting in and out of breaks,” Chip Kelly said. “The tough matchup is that is that they also have [Jason] Witten and they also have Dez at full speed, so who are you going to double?

“You can’t double three of them; if you do, you don’t have enough guys. Sometimes they caught us when we were doubling Witten or Dez, and now Beasley is in a one-on-one. That’s what happens when you have three really good weapons in their offense.”

The Eagles did have their bright spots in coverage, however, including Jordan Hicks’ pick-six. Byron Maxwell also continued his improvement and turned in another good performance, while the pass rush disrupted Cassel or brought him down several times.

But between Philadelphia’s struggles on Sunday and Hicks’ season-ending injury, how much concern should there be about the Eagles’ defense going forward? We turned to the tape to find out. Read more »

All-22: The Offensive Line’s Transformation

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

The Eagles’ offensive line couldn’t have played much worse against the Cowboys in Week 2. They gave up so much penetration that the team totaled just seven rushing yards, averaging 0.4 yards per carry. If not for Sam Bradford’s 9-yard scramble, they would’ve finished in the negative.

Down two starters (Jason Peters and Andrew Gardner) heading into their rematch against Dallas Sunday night, the offensive line appeared poised for another poor performance.

What followed surprised many, however, as they paved the way for a dominant performance on the ground. The Eagles rushed for 172 yards, averaging 4.9 yards per carry, and won largely because of how well they ran the ball. Read more »

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