Game Review: Eagles Offense Vs. Chiefs Defense

Todd Herremans 1Here’s a position-by-position look at what we saw after reviewing Thursday night’s game.


* You hopefully know by now that I call it like I see it with Michael Vick. I thought he was outstanding last week against the Chargers, and I thought he was terrible against the Chiefs. Were there offensive line issues? Absolutely. We’ll get to those below. But Vick made bad decisions all game long and was inaccurate with the football when he had opportunities to make plays.

* Let’s start with how the Chiefs defended Vick. They challenged the Eagles receivers with man coverage all game long. The Birds’ pass-catchers struggled to get open, and when they did, Vick failed to capitalize. He was rarely blitzed. By my count, Kansas City sent five or more rushers his way on just seven of 38 drop-backs, or 18.4 percent of the time. Against the blitz, he was 2-for-5 for 30 yards and sacked twice. Against three- and four-man rushes, he was 11-for-25 for 171 yards and sacked four times. Vick also ran twice for 38 yards in those situations.

* The first interception was a disaster. Vick stared down Brent Celek from the time he took the snap. Linebacker Derrick Johnson deflected the pass, and Eric Berry returned it for a touchdown. We praised his decisiveness last week, but against Kansas City, Vick held on to the ball way too long. He had a clean pocket for about 3.7 seconds in the first, and it looked like he had LeSean McCoy open near the sideline. But Vick waited and eventually took a sack. On the next play, he rolled to his left, held the ball for 4.2 seconds and was hit while he released the ball.

* Vick twice threw behind Riley Cooper on post patterns to the left side. The first was incomplete, the second intercepted. Those are throws he’s made in the past and ones that have to be completed, especially against a good defense like Kansas City’s.

* Miscues in the red zone as well. It looked like Vick overthrew DeSean Jackson on the fade, and he called for the snap before Cooper was set, resulting in a 5-yard penalty. Overall, Vick had three balls batted down at the line of scrimmage and one hit off of Justin Houston’s helmet.

* As always with Vick, there were some good moments. He read the DT and took off on a 61-yard run in the first. He stood in the pocket, took a hit and delivered on time to Jason Avant for the 22-yard touchdown. He escaped pressure and found Avant for a 31-yard completion in the third. And he threw a beauty to Jackson down the sideline for 40 yards in the third.

* Kansas City has a lot of talent on defense, and we likely won’t know how good the Chiefs are on that side of the ball until a month or so from now. But Vick was 13-for-30 for 201 yards and three turnovers. It’s pretty much impossible to win when your quarterback has numbers like that.


* What’s left to say about LeSean McCoy? He’s an elite talent and the player that makes the Eagles’ offense go. McCoy carried 20 times for 158 yards. I know it’s only three games, but McCoy’s on pace for 2,106 yards and will almost certainly enter Week 4 as the league’s leading rusher. He’s averaging 6.4 yards per carry and has 119 more yards as a receiver.

* What’s most impressive about McCoy is his ability to navigate through traffic. Unbelievable footwork when defenders get close at or behind the line of scrimmage. McCoy suffered an ankle injury in the second, but returned in the third and reeled off runs of 30 and 41 yards in the second half.

* By my count, the Eagles used the read-option on 10 of 24 rushing attempts (not counting Vick’s scrambles). On those 10 plays, they piled up 145 yards (14.5 YPC). On the other 14 runs, the Eagles had 81 yards and averaged 5.8 YPC.

* The lazy opinion after this game is: See, Kelly’s offense can be shut down easily! But if teams want to follow the Chiefs’ formula, they’ll need corners who can cover man-to-man and a front-seven that can dominate. Those are the factors that led to the Eagles’ downfall. They were still able to run the ball, but made too many mistakes in the passing game because of breakdowns in protection, bad decisions by Vick and a failure to win one-on-one matchups. The failures were more execution than concepts, in my opinion.

* Bryce Brown carried just three times for 7 yards. Loved his hustle on the 61-yard Vick run though. Brown sprinted downfield right behind Vick, looking for someone to block the entire way.


* This was the “I think they miss Jeremy Maclin” game. The Chiefs played man coverage, but used a safety to help on Jackson. That gave the Eagles one-on-one opportunities elsewhere, but they couldn’t win. Jackson had three catches for 62 yards, including a 40-yard bomb down the sideline in the third. Kelly tried to move him around, but the Eagles couldn’t get Jackson as many touches as he had in the first two weeks.

* Cooper played poorly throughout. Two catches for 29 yards on seven targets. He failed to make the catch on a post-corner route on third down in the first. The ball hit him on the finger-tips. That’s a play an NFL starting wide receiver has to make. Later, Vick escaped pressure and looked for Cooper near the sideline, and he failed to hang on again. Watching live, I thought the throw was out of bounds. But after watching the replay, it looked like Cooper had a chance. We’ll get a better look with the All-22, but overall, it seemed like Sean Smith kept him in check all game long.

* Jason Avant played a good game with five catches for 87 yards and a touchdown on eight targets. He’s not usually a YAC guy, but Avant made a defender miss and picked up 8 yards and a first down in the second. He also made a nice grab, tipping the ball to himself for 20 yards in the fourth.

* Damaris Johnson didn’t play any offensive snaps, but had the big fumble on the punt return in the first.

* Once again, the Eagles were in ’11’ personnel with one RB and one TE for most of the game, or 53 out of 63 snaps to be precise. They were in ’12’ personnel on eight snaps, went 1-RB/4-WR once and 2-RB/2-TE/1-WR once.


* Quiet game for this group. As I mentioned, the Eagles went multiple TEs on just nine of 63 snaps, or 14.3 percent of the game. The Birds’ tight ends combined for three catches on eight targets for 23 yards. Brent Celek had two catches for 18 yards; Zach Ertz one grab for 5 yards.

* Ertz did a good job in pass protection on one snap in the second, getting matched up with Houston. It might be time to get him on the field a little more.

* James Casey played one snap.


* Where to begin with this group? The Chiefs rushed three or four on 31 of 38 passing downs and dominated the Eagles up front on passing downs. The run game was a different story as the Birds averaged 9.8 yards per carry.

* Todd Herremans was one of the most visibly upset guys in the locker room after the game. Now that I have reviewed the game, I think I know why: The third quarter had to have been one of the worst he’s played in his entire career. On one play, he got overpowered by Tyson Jackson, shoved back into Vick and then into the ground. Or as Mike Mayock put it, “jacked right back into Vick’s lap.” On the very next play, Herremans failed to get to Johnson, who stopped Brown after a 3-yard run. After that, Dontari Poe drove Herremans into the backfield on a 1-yard Brown run. Later, he was pushed back into Vick again, even though Vick completed a 6-yard pass. And he was beaten by Houston, giving up a hit on Vick on third down in the third.

* Other issues for Herremans: He had trouble in pass pro early on Vick’s 5-yard completion to Ertz. He was pushed back into Vick’s face on a 24-yard scramble. And he had some trouble with Jackson on McCoy’s 2-yard run in the second. Were there some good moments? Yes. Specifically in the run game. Herremans did an excellent job on McCoy’s 41-yard touchdown, starting out on a double-team and then getting to the linebacker. But overall, this was a major struggle for the veteran, who has not played well this year.

* Jason Peters had issues all game long with Tamba Hali. Hali beat him around the edge in the second for a sack. Later in the quarter, Hali pressured Vick again, forcing him out of the pocket. And on the INT intended for Cooper, Hali beat Peters and forced Vick to step up. Peters probably got away with a hold on that play too. Later in the fourth, Hali beat him two more times on pass-rushes. And Peters was called for a false start.

* The Eagles’ left tackle had nice blocks on McCoy’s runs of 18 and 30, but he struggled in pass pro.

* Evan Mathis was probably the Eagles’ most consistent offensive lineman. He had an excellent block on Johnson on Vick’s 61-yard run in the first. And Mathis got to the linebacker on McCoy’s 30-yard run. He did a nice job pulling in the run game throughout. In pass pro, he had some issues. Mathis gave up a pressure to Poe that led to a sack in the first, although Vick held on to the ball for 3.7 seconds with a clean pocket. He was called for a false start in the third and failed to pick up Hali on a stunt, allowing a hit on Vick.

* Very uneven day for Jason Kelce. Playing with the thumb injury, he had the botched snap where he thought Vick was under center. That was a big turnover. The Eagles had scored on their previous possession, and the defense had forced a punt. In the third, Kelce had a shotgun snap get past Vick as well. Poe was disruptive, but as a blocker, I thought Kelce held his own, especially in the run game. Kelce got to a linebacker on McCoy’s 18-yard run in the second and did a great job on Poe on McCoy’s 41-yard run.

* Another learning experience for Lane Johnson. On the “swinging gate” two-point conversion play, Kelly said Johnson missed his assignment, which was to block Hali. As a blocker on offense, pretty much all of Johnson’s issues this year have come in pass protection. He got pushed back on Vick’s 24-yard scramble in the first. He was beaten one-on-one by Houston for a sack in the second. Houston then overpowered him for another sack in the first half. And Johnson allowed pressure on at least two more occasions in the second half. As a run blocker, he’s still very good. Johnson crushed Jackson on a 7-yard McCoy run. McCoy ran right behind him for 4 yards on 2nd-and-2 in the second. And Johnson pushed an LB to the ground on McCoy’s 18-yard run. Up and down game for the rookie.

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Game Review: Eagles Defense Vs. Chargers Offense

Fletcher CoxIf you missed the game review on the Eagles’ offense, click here.

Here’s what we saw from the ‘D’ after having re-watched Sunday’s contest.


* The Eagles used three-down fronts and four-down fronts. They blitzed, and they dropped eight into coverage. Nothing worked. Philip Rivers carved them up, completing 36 of 47 passes for 419 yards and three touchdowns.

* In last year’s scheme, Fletcher Cox looked like he had a Pro Bowl ceiling. So far in this year’s scheme, he’s been pretty quiet, although Cox did have some moments in the second half. He stopped Danny Woodhead for no gain in the third. He got some pressure on Rivers on third down in the fourth and hit Rivers on the final drive. But through two games in the Eagles’ two-gap 3-4, Cox has not been a difference-maker.

* There were stretches on Sunday where the Eagles just got pushed around up front. Isaac Sopoaga has been a non-factor. He was double-teamed to the ground on Woodhead’s 4-yard run in the second. His backup, Damion Square, was no better. Square got double-teamed to the ground on Ryan Mathews’ 6-yard run in the second and again on the very next play. He was blocked easily on Ronnie Brown’s 8-yard run in the third.

* Cedric Thornton had a couple good moments. He dropped Brown after a 3-yard run in the third and tackled Mathews after a 1-yard run in the fourth. Didn’t see anything from him as a pass-rusher though.

* Rookie Bennie Logan had a strong preseason, but has been quiet so far. He was caught upfield on a delayed handoff in the second that gained 6 yards. Logan made a nice play against the run in the fourth, tackling Woodhead after a 4-yard pickup. He played 27 snaps and didn’t do much as a pass-rusher.

* Clifton Geathers played 14 snaps and didn’t do much. He was blocked on Woodhead’s 8-yard run in the fourth.

* I charted the number of pass-rushers Billy Davis used throughout the game:

Number Of Rushers
Number Of Plays

As you can see, nothing really worked. When the Eagles rushed three or four, Rivers was 17-for-22 for 208 yards (77.3 completion percentage, 9.5 YPA) with one scramble and one pass interference penalty.

When they blitzed with five or more, Rivers was 19-for-25 for 211 yards (76 percent, 8.4 YPA) with two defensive penalties and one sack.


* Connor Barwin played pretty well, with a few exceptions. He caught rookie right tackle D.J. Fluker off-balance, bull-rushed him and picked up the Eagles’ only sack in the first. He had a good edge rush on third down in the second and hit Rivers as he completed a pass to Woodhead. Against the run, Barwin did a poor job of setting the edge on a 10-yard Mathews run in the first. He did a much better job the rest of the game and dropped Mathews for a 2-yard loss in the first. In coverage, Barwin got beat by Woodhead on a 3rd-and-4 completion on the final drive. Had he forced an incompletion there, it would have been a 54-yard field goal attempt.

* Trent Cole was one of the Eagles’ more active defenders. He rushed off the right edge in the second and hit Rivers. He pressured Rivers in the second, but Cary Williams was called for pass interference. Great hustle in the third, pressuring Rivers and then assisting on a tackle after the QB dumped the ball off to Brown. In the fourth, Cole hit Rivers from behind and forced an incompletion. Against the run, Cole stopped Mathews after a 4-yard gain. He tripped Mathews up after a 3-yard run in the second and drew a holding penalty on the next play. Down in the red zone, Cole forced a fumble for the second straight week. On 41 passing downs, Cole only dropped in coverage twice, per Pro Football Focus. He lined up at right outside linebacker, right defensive end and a couple other spots.

* Casey Matthews came in and played four snaps at outside linebacker behind Barwin.

* Update: As a sign of just how small Brandon Graham’s role is in this defense, I’ll admit I didn’t have a single note on him from this game. Graham played 16 snaps and was a non-factor. Per PFF, on 11 passing downs, he dropped twice and rushed nine times. Given that Cole and Barwin are two of the defenders playing well, I’m not sure Graham is going to see a bump any time soon.


* DeMeco Ryans was active, finishing with nine tackles (six solo). Great effort on a second-quarter play. Ryans blitzed, didn’t get home and then pursued Woodhead, tackling him after a 2-yard reception. He got juked badly on Eddie Royal’s 15-yard touchdown in the fourth, running right past the wide receiver. The Eagles sent Ryans on inside blitzes all game long (19 times, per PFF), and he never got home. That was an issue throughout.

* Mychal Kendricks had a day to forget. Tight end Antonio Gates took the second-year player to school. Kendricks got beaten by Gates and missed a tackle on a 21-yard catch and run in the first. Same story on a 14-yard gain in the second. On a big 3rd-and-4 in the third, Gates beat Kendricks for a 7-yard gain. And Gates caught a 6-yarder on 3rd-and-3 against Kendricks in the fourth. Kendricks is the Eagles’ best cover linebacker, but he had issues all game long. Against the run, he was up and down. Kendricks got blocked on Mathews’ 7-yard run in the first. It looked like he tripped on Mathews’ 20-yard run in the first. And he got blocked on an 8-yard Woodhead run in the fourth.

There were some good moments. He got off his block and tackled Woodhead after a 2-yard run in the first. He stopped Mathews after a 3-yard run in the third and dropped him after a 1-yard run. Overall, though, Kendricks struggled.


* Cary Williams also had a day to forget. Three pass interferences – an 18-yarder, a 9-yarder and another that was declined because it was an 18-yard completion anyway. That last one came on 3rd-and-6 in the third. Have to check the All-22, but I believe the 24-yard TD to Royal was on Williams. The Eagles appeared to be in quarters coverage, and because Rivers held on to the ball so long, Williams cheated over to a receiver towards the middle of the field.

* Brandon Boykin wasn’t perfect, but he competed throughout. The second-year corner was targeted all game long and gave up at least four completions. In the second, Royal beat him on a wheel route for 21 yards on 3rd-and-7. And in the fourth, Boykin gave up a 16-yard completion on 3rd-and-7. He broke up a pass down the right sideline in the second and broke up a third-down pass in the third. Boykin also made a great hustle play, chasing Gates down and forcing a fumble in the red zone in the first half.

* Brandon Hughes played 22 snaps and suffered a hamstring injury. I actually only noticed him get targeted once – a 31-yarder to Malcom Floyd down the sideline in the second.

* Eagles safeties continued to struggle. Patrick Chung was called for a huge defensive holding penalty on 3rd-and-4 in the third. The Chargers would have had to punt, but instead, their drive was extended and they took 8:55 off the clock before kicking a field goal. On that same drive, Chung got matched up with Royal and gave up a 12-yard completion on 3rd-and-6. He tried to strip the ball instead of making the tackle and gave up extra yardage. Chung had a couple good plays against the run, including a stop in the third after a 2-yard Mathews run.

* Yet another day to forget for Nate Allen. Where to begin? The Chargers crossed their receivers, and he lost Royal on an 11-yard touchdown in the first half. Allen was blocked/tackled by King Dunlap on the 15-yard screen TD to Royal in the fourth. He got stiff-armed and was called for a face-mask penalty on a Mathews run in the first. He was slow to react on a 19-yard completion to Floyd in the first. Woodhead beat him for a 5-yard completion on 3rd-and-3 in the first. Gates got him for a 15-yard completion on the final drive. And Allen missed a tackle on Gates on a 21-yard catch and run on the very next play. At this point, it’s a matter of when, not if, Allen is yanked from the starting lineup.

* The problem is the coaches don’t feel Earl Wolff is ready. He too was late coming up on a 17-yard completion to Floyd in the second. Gates caught a ball down the seam in front of him for 16 yards. Wolff got matched up with Gates and allowed a 24-yard catch.

But when reviewing the game, I noticed Wolff had some good moments. He assisted in run support, helping to take Mathews down for a 2-yard loss in the first. He dropped Mathews after a 4-yard run in the third. He cleaned up on Royal after Chung missed a tackle in the fourth. And he broke up a pass intended for Gates in the end zone in the fourth. From the outside looking in, the move would seem to be to throw Wolff out there and let him take his lumps. But obviously, the coaches see him every day. He played 49 snaps.

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Game Review: Eagles Offense Vs. Chargers Defense

0V3J0546Here’s a position-by-position review of the Eagles’ offense after having reviewed the game:


* Michael Vick played an outstanding game. He looked comfortable in the pocket, knew where to go with the football and delivered darts all day long. Was he perfect? No. The one deep ball led DeSean Jackson out of bounds (although he still had a chance to make a play). And Vick’s throw to James Casey in the end zone was a little low, even though he should have made the catch. But overall, 23-for-36 for 428 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions.

* The 61-yard touchdown to Jackson was a beauty, and Vick did a masterful job of taking the Eagles 75 yards in 80 seconds in the first half. His one deep ball hit Jackson in the fingertips, but the wide receiver admitted he should have had it. When the Chargers blitzed (sent five or more), he was 6-for-10 for 133 yards and scrambled once. Vick got rid of the ball quickly on the 27-yard completion to Zach Ertz in the fourth, beating the blitz. And he even threw the ball away wisely on a couple occasions.

* Overall, Vick did a good job of avoiding hits until the final scoring drive when he took a couple crushing blows.

* On the season, Vick has 13 completions of 20+ yards, tops in the NFL. He’s averaging 10.3 YPA, tied for first. Only Aaron Rodgers and Peyton Manning have higher passer ratings. There’s still plenty of time to go, but I thought Vick looked significantly better in Week 2 than he did in Week 1. Chip Kelly and the coaching staff deserve credit too for putting him in positions to succeed.

* Nick Foles came in for a play and threw a fade incomplete to Jackson. Kelly admitted today that he should have called timeout and put Vick back in the game. I’m in the camp with those who believe the Eagles probably should have run the ball with Foles in the game, rather than have him come in cold and try to connect on that TD. But that’s why they call it second-guessing.


* The Chargers played a safety up and tried to stifle the Eagles’ running game, but it’s not like they shut down LeSean McCoy. He still had 11 carries for 53 yards and added five catches for 114. McCoy leads the NFL with 237 rushing yards and is averaging a healthy 5.6 yards per carry.

* McCoy got matched up with safety Eric Weddle on a route in the first, made the catch and took for a 70-yard gain. By the way, give Chargers linebacker Reggie Walker credit for hustling downfield and bringing McCoy down on that play. The Eagles settled for a field goal, so he essentially saved four points.

* McCoy had several other nice runs. He made Walker look silly on a 4-yard gain in the first, bounced a run outside for 9 yards later and got the job done in short yardage. McCoy had a 17-yard scamper and a 21-yard catch in the second. He did a good job of turning into a blocker on Vick’s touchdown run in the fourth.

* Bryce Brown played nine snaps and had three carries for 13 yards.

* I charted zone-read plays. The Eagles ran it nine times for 54 yards (6.0 YPC). Vick kept the ball on two of those nine, running for 17 yards. In Week 1, the Eagles used the zone read 49 times, per ESPN Stats & Information.


* The Eagles also have the league’s leading receiver. DeSean Jackson has piled up 297 yards in two games and had a nine-catch, 193-yard performance on Sunday. The truth is, it could have been even bigger. The Chargers tried to shadow him man-to-man all game long with Shareece Wright. That didn’t work out so well. There were four missed opportunities. One was the ball that was thrown too close to the sideline. Then there was the deep ball that hit Jackson’s fingertips and would have been a 79-yard TD. Vick overthrew him once on what would have been a 69-yard bomb. And Lane Johnson’s penalty negated a 37-yarder.

* Jackson still had a 61-yard grab and a 41-yard grab. But as crazy as it sounds, a 350+ receiving yard day was in play.

* Kelly is doing a masterful job of getting the ball in Jackson’s hands and creating mismatches. This is just the second time in his career he’s had back-to-back games with seven receptions or more. And he was targeted 15 times vs. San Diego. Jackson is catching the ball in a variety of spots and doing an excellent job of getting down and avoiding big hits when he’s in the middle of the field.

* Riley Cooper did an excellent job of using his size on the 13-yard touchdown. He also made a nice leaping grab for 12 yards.

* Jason Avant had four catches for 39 yards on seven targets, including a nice 21-yarder over the middle in the fourth.


* After a big first week, Brent Celek was only targeted once and ended up with zero catches.

* Zach Ertz only played 12 snaps, but had two catches for 58 yards. He show good YAC ability on a 31-yarder in the third and came back with a 27-yard catch and run in the fourth. As a blocker, Ertz did a poor job on Weddle on Brown’s 8-yard run in the first.

* The Casey grab in the end zone was close. My feeling is if they would have ruled it a TD on the field, it would have stood. But they ruled it incomplete, and it was too close to be reversed. Casey only played five snaps.

* I charted personnel groupings. The Eagles were in 11 personnel (1-RB, 1-TE, 3-WR) on 46 of 58 offensive snaps. They were in 12 personnel (1-RB, 2-TE) on nine snaps; went 3-TE twice; and showed one 4-WR look. For all the offseason talk about using multiple tight ends, the Eagles really haven’t gone that route much in their first two games.


* Overall, I thought the offensive line played really well, especially in the second half when the Eagles scored points on four straight drives. There were hiccups here and there, but overall, a strong showing.

* Let’s start with Jason Peters. The big man looked more dominant in the run game this week. Nice kick-out block on Brown’s 8-yard run. Good down block on McCoy’s 17-yarder. And Peters drove the linebacker to the ground on Vick’s 9-yard zone read carry in the fourth. In the first, he was matched up against Dwight Freeney, who hit Vick as he threw, but it really looked more like Vick stepping into pressure than Peters getting beat. The Eagles used some more unbalanced lines. Peters set up at right tackle in the first, but missed his block on the safety on a red-zone run. Other than the one play I mentioned, he was flawless in pass protection. If you see a replay of the 61-yard Jackson TD run, check out Peters on Freeney. He shoved him about 10 yards upfield and completely out of the play.

* Up-and-down day for Lane Johnson. It’s not like he was getting beat all game long, but just too many costly mistakes. The rookie got schooled by Freeney on a spin move in the second. Vick got hit on the play and overthrew Jackson. Later, Johnson was called for a penalty on the 37-yard touchdown to Jackson (details here). The Eagles had to settle for a field goal on that drive.

* Johnson had some other issues too. He got pushed back into Vick on a third-down incompletion in the second. He got beaten to the inside by the DT, who disrupted a third-down play in the third and stopped the Eagles for no gain, forcing them to kick a field goal. Again, overall, I thought Johnson did many things well, but there were issues.

* Todd Herremans was up-and-down as well. He got beaten badly by Jarius Wynn for a sack on the first drive. Herremans did a poor job on nose tackle Cam Thomas, who stopped McCoy on a 1-yard run. He pulled, but completely whiffed on the linebacker on McCoy’s third-down run that was stopped for no gain in the third. And he was slow to pick up a stunt on third down late in the fourth as the Chargers crushed Vick. Too inconsistent in this one.

* Evan Mathis was up and down in Week 1, but played well vs. the Chargers. Great seal block on Brown’s 8-yard run in the first and nice job pulling on McCoy’s 17-yarder in the second. Mathis delivered a good block on McCoy’s 21-yard screen. The only issues? He was slow to get to the safety on McCoy’s 3-yard run with the Eagles backed up near their own goal line. And he got pushed back into Vick in pass protection in the third.

* Jason Kelce looked like their best offensive lineman on Sunday. He did a nice job in the run game throughout and once again showed off his athleticism in the run game, pulling on McCoy’s 17-yard run in the second. Kelce made a nice block on McCoy’s 21-yard screen, and I didn’t really notice any issues in pass protection. He has played really well in the first two games.

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Game Review: Eagles Defense Vs. Redskins Offense

Mychal Kendricks 1If you missed the offense, click here. Below is the position-by-position review of the Eagles’ defensive performance against the Redskins, after having re-watched the game.


* The starting defensive line from left to right was Cedric Thornton, Isaac Sopoaga and Fletcher Cox. Cox moved around a bit in nickel, sometimes playing left defensive end. A big hole opened up between him and Trent Cole in the first as Alfred Morris picked up 15. But Cox gave great effort on the play and eventually chased him down. He didn’t do much as a pass-rusher until late. Cox got free on a big blitz in the fourth and crushed Robert Griffin III. He later sacked Griffin when the Eagles used just a three-man rush.

* Thornton had a good second half too. He hustled from the back side, dropping Morris for a 2-yard loss and later charged through a double-team on the play where DeMeco Ryans sacked Griffin. Thornton also used his length, batting down a pass at the line of scrimmage. He missed a tackle on a 3rd-and-1 in the fourth, but otherwise played well.

* Tough to grade Sopoaga without the All-22 (not released yet). But he drew a holding penalty on a run play in the third and chased Griffin to the sideline on an incompletion later in the quarter.

* The backups from left to right were Clifton Geathers, Damion Square and Bennie Logan. Geathers got good pressure on two occasions, once fighting a double team and forcing Griffin to scramble. Logan blew up a stretch play in the third as Mychal Kendricks finished the tackle after a 1-yard run. Logan also played some nose tackle and drew a holding penalty in the third.


* In case you were wondering, Trent Cole was still a beast upon re-watch. The Eagles’ right outside linebacker owned the first half. He flew in from the back side and forced a Morris fumble early on. He jumped on Morris in the end zone to notch a safety. He dropped Morris for no gain on a zone-read play. He came flying in at Griffin and hit him as a pass-rusher. He slipped past the fullback and dropped Morris for no gain. And he tackled Griffin after a scramble on third down, forcing a punt. That was all in the first half.

* Cole dropped 23.8 percent of the time on pass plays, per Pro Football Focus. His best option in coverage might be to drill the opposing receiver. That’s what he did on one play in the third, forcing the receiver to the ground within 5 yards of the line of scrimmage. Cole hit Griffin on a play-action pass in the third and closed in on the play where Cox got a sack. Cole gets this week’s award for “player who most exceeded expectations.”

* Connor Barwin also played really well. The Eagles’ primary goal was to limit the Redskins’ ground game early on. Barwin forced Morris out of bounds for a 3-yard loss in the first. He stood up over the center and rushed the QB on the Brandon Boykin interception. He hustled to bring down Pierre Garcon after a 5-yard gain on a screen. And Barwin pressured Griffin on at least four occasions. Really strong debut.

* Brandon Graham played 19 snaps. On 14 passing plays, he never dropped back. Looked a lot more like a nickel pass-rusher than a 3-4 outside linebacker to me. We’ll wee if that continues. Graham set the edge on a Morris run that was dropped for a 2-yard loss and pressured Griffin on two occasions.

* Casey Matthews mixed in for three snaps, and it looked like he was actually playing outside linebacker.


* Mychal Kendricks was everywhere. All signs point to a big second-year leap out of him. He flew to the ball and knocked Morris out of bounds for a 3-yard loss early on. Kendricks did a great job to avoid blockers and tackle Morris on a first-quarter screen. His versatility was on full display. Kendricks blitzed seven times, per PFF. He rushed unblocked in the second and crushed Griffin, forcing him into an intentional grounding. And Kendricks leveled Griffin again in the third. On the Cary Williams interception, Kendricks dropped back as a safety. Outstanding performance overall.

* DeMeco Ryans was solid too. He blitzed and knocked over the left guard on a play-action pass in the third and sacked Griffin later in the quarter.

* Jake Knott mixed in a little as well. It looked like Kendricks might have had an equipment issue at one point.


* It’s difficult to gauge their play based on TV tape. But I didn’t see either Williams or Bradley Fletcher give up a completion in man coverage. There were a few times when they were dropping in zone and allowed receptions in front of them. But that seemed to be the design of the defense. Definitely did not see that performance coming from the starting corners.

* Williams came flying in on a corner blitz and sacked Griffin in the second. He made a fantastic interception near the sideline in the third and broke up a deep fourth-down pass late. Great performance from Employee 26.

* Fletcher was really good too. He made two good plays on the ball, forcing incompletions and once had a little luck on his side as the receiver dropped the ball. Fletcher suffered a concussion, and his status for this weekend is up in the air.

* Brandon Boykin got picked on quite a bit. No one’s confirming, but he may been a little banged-up. Boykin blitzed five times, the most of any defensive back. He played the slot, but then moved outside when Williams and Fletcher got dinged-up in the second half. Boykin would likely play the outside if Fletcher can’t go this week.

* Rookie Jordan Poyer played 17 snaps in the slot and got picked on. It looked like the 10-yard Leonard Hankerson TD was on him, and Poyer also allowed a 5-yard completion on 3rd-and-2. He had trouble getting off his block on a screen to Pierre Garcon that picked up 17.

* Safety is impossible to assess off TV tape, but the Eagles did not give up a completion that traveled more than 20 yards from the line of scrimmage until the Redskins’ final drive. The game-plan once they got the lead seemed to be to blitz and keep all receptions in front of them.

* Overall, Billy Davis dialed up a lot of blitzes. Per Stats, Inc., the Eagles blitzed Griffin 29 times on 56 dropbacks, or 51.8 percent of the time. On those plays, he was 13-for-26 (50 percent) for 121 yards (4.7 YPA). Griffin was sacked twice and took off once.

* Patrick Chung seemed to hold up fine until that fourth-quarter touchdown. “Needs to have better ball skills than that,” said Jon Gruden on the play. Earl Wolff played seven snaps, but mostly, it’s going to be Chung and Nate Allen early on.

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Game Review: Eagles Offense Vs. Redskins Defense

Lane JohnsonBelow is a position-by-position breakdown of how the Eagles performed on offense, after having re-watched the game.


* Michael Vick completed 60 percent of his passes (15-for-25) for 203 yards (8.1 YPA), two touchdowns and no interceptions. He added 54 yards on the ground and turned it over once on the controversial fumble in the first quarter.

* As is usually the case with Vick, there were ups and downs, but overall he played well and let his weapons make plays after the catch. He hit Brent Celek down the seam for 28 yards on the first play and showed good patience on the 25-yard touchdown to DeSean Jackson. As a runner, Vick made rookie safety Bacarri Rambo look silly on his 36-yard gain in the fourth quarter. On his touchdown run, Vick read the defensive tackle and dove into the end zone.

* There were times where he left some plays on the field. Vick was off-target on a few throws early. On the first drive, Vick had Celek open on the corner route, but couldn’t connect. He missed Jason Avant near the left sideline on the Eagles’ second drive and then misfired looking for Zach Ertz on the post. He settled down though, finishing the first half by completing nine of 11 attempts.

* Decision-making was up and down. At times, he was outstanding, like when Vick hit Jackson on a bubble screen for 16 yards, or on the 3-yard touchdown run. But at other times, he was suspect. Vick scrambled to his right on the first drive, and instead of running out of bounds or throwing the ball away, he tried to squeeze a throw in to Riley Cooper and was nearly picked off. On the lateral play that resulted in a Redskins defensive touchdown, it looked like Vick had room to run up the middle. He turned into a blocker for LeSean McCoy on multiple occasions. While fans and teammates can appreciate the effort, that can’t continue going forward. And Vick continues to dive head-first on runs, meaning it’s perfectly legal for defenders to get hits on him when he’s vulnerable on the ground.

* According to Pro Football Focus, Vick was 6-for-12 for 50 yards against the blitz. And he only attempted five passes in the second half. Overall, the offense moved the ball well, and that’s a credit to Vick. But there are obviously areas that still need improvement.


* LeSean McCoy was the best player on the field, running 31 times for 184 yards and a score. Everyone recognizes the highlight plays, but McCoy got tough yards as well. He picked up 4 on 4th-and-1 in the first and fought for 2 yards in the second, picking up a first on 3rd-and-2 in the red zone. Run blocking was very good, but McCoy broke nine tackles, according to PFF, the most of any running back in Week 1. McCoy’s 91 yards after contact tied Adrian Peterson for a league high. And he is currently the NFL’s leading rusher by 72 yards.

* Bryce Brown was up and down. He broke a tackle near the line of scrimmage and picked up 7 on 3rd-and-2 in the first and later did a nice job of making himself skinny, running up the middle for a 5-yard gain. Overall, better than the numbers (9 carries for 25 yards) indicate. Brown missed a blitz pickup in the first and gave up a hit on Vick. I’d expect him to see him spell McCoy a little bit more going forward.

* According to ESPN Stats and Information, the Eagles gained 245 yards on the ground on zone-read plays, the most of any team in the past five years.


* It was the DeSean Jackson show early. He caught seven balls on nine targets for 104 yards. Jackson took a bubble screen 16 yards on the first drive and had a nice 26-yard catch and run on the second drive. He had 70 yards after the catch, tied for third-most by a wide receiver in Week 1, per PFF. All seven of Jackson’s catches went for first downs, and he had the 25-yard score in the first half. According to PFF, he lined up in the slot on eight of 30 pass plays and was outside for the other 22. No. 10 looks dialed in and is primed for a big year.

* Riley Cooper played every snap and really did a nice job as a blocker. Noticed him specifically on the 16-yard bubble screen to Jackson, the 6-yard screen to Jackson and Vick’s 36-yard run in the fourth. As a receiver, just two catches for 14 yards. I expect his role going forward to be exactly what it was on Monday night.

* Jason Avant had just two catches on three targets for 13 yards. But he too was effective as a blocker. Noticed him specifically on the 16-yard bubble screen to Jackson in the first, McCoy’s 16-yard run in the second and McCoy’s 34-yard TD run. Avant had a fumble in the fourth and couldn’t hang on to the onside kick at the end.

* The Eagles were in 11 personnel (1-RB, 1-TE, 3-WR) 67 of 75 snaps (not counting the two kneel-downs), or 89.3 percent of the time.


* Brent Celek only had two catches, but he made them count, finishing with 56 yards and a score. He had a 28-yard pickup on the first drive and did a nice job making the catch and breaking a tackle for the TD. Celek was up and down as a blocker. He did a poor job on Brian Orakpo on McCoy’s 7-yard run in the second, was beat again by Orakpo on a McCoy red-zone run and was called for holding (plus a personal foul) while trying to block Orakpo one-on-one in pass protection in the third.

* Zach Ertz had one catch for 11 yards. And James Casey didn’t play until it was kneel-down time.

* The Eagles were in 12 personnel (1-RB, 2-TE) on just eight of 75 snaps, or 10.7 percent of the time. For all the preseason talk about how Kelly loved tight ends, he did not use a lot of multiple TE looks in Week 1. Also worth noting: The Eagles were in the same two personnel groupings (’11’ and ’12’) for the entire game.


* Overall, thought they played well, but as always in Week 1, there’s room for improvement. Let’s start with the rookie. Really liked what I saw from Lane Johnson in the run game. He looks like a seasoned vet in that aspect with a Pro Bowl ceiling. Johnson came off his double team and got to the linebacker on McCoy’s 6-yard run in the first. He moved over to the left side in between Evan Mathis and Jason Peters on several occasions, including once where he made a nice block on a McCoy 13-yard run. Johnson did a great job on McCoy’s 34-yard TD run and also on his 16-yard scamper.

* In pass protection, Johnson had a few issues. He had trouble with Ryan Kerrigan on the first drive as Vick was forced to scramble. Johnson has been blamed for a sack in the first, but I’m not sure it was completely his fault. The way the Eagles’ protection was set up, Johnson was responsible for two defenders on the play. He should have either gotten some help, or Vick should have known there would be a free rusher and gotten rid of the ball. Later, Johnson gave up a pressure that led to Vick getting hit. And on another play, he either failed to pick up a blitzer or expected Celek/McCoy to take the defender. Johnson was also called for a false start in the third. Overall, a strong debut. The mistakes Johnson made appeared to be ones that should be expected from a rookie. The physical tools are all there and he does not look as raw as anticipated.

* Didn’t think Evan Mathis was as consistent as he usually is. He probably could have been called for holding on McCoy’s 4th-and-1 carry in the first and also on the lateral play that resulted in a Redskins touchdown. It looked like Mathis was late picking up a blitzer on Vick’s third-down throw in the second, and he let a defender slip through to drop Brown for a 1-yard loss in the second. Mathis was also called for holding in the second. There were good moments too. Outstanding double-team with Jason Kelce on Brown’s 7-yard run in the first. And Mathis got to the linebacker nicely on McCoy’s 34-yard touchdown run.

* Kelce didn’t show any lingering effects from the ACL injury that ended his season in Week 2 last year. In the first quarter, he pulled and led the way for McCoy on a 16-yard run. Later, he did the same, crushing London Fletcher and putting him on the ground on a 12-yard gain. There were a few issues. He gave up a hit on Vick in the second and was beaten by Barry Cofield, who dropped McCoy for a 3-yard loss in the fourth. Kelce was also called for holding in the fourth. But overall, thought he played really well.

* Jason Peters didn’t quite look like 2011 Jason Peters, but still played well. Again, lots of unbalanced line looks where he set up next to Johnson on the same side (will show more clearly once the All-22 comes out). Peters made several good blocks in the run game, including one where he created a lane for McCoy to pick up 16 yards. I counted two times where he had some trouble with Orakpo in pass protection, but neither led to a QB hit. Orakpo got the better of him on a third-quarter play where Brown was stopped for no gain. It looked like Peters tripped on a McCoy 1-yard run, and he was called for a false start in the first. Overall, though, a solid 2013 debut. He should only get better.

* The Eagles had some protection issues on the right side. Todd Herremans had trouble with Cofield in the red zone on the first drive. In the second, Herremans started a double-team with Kelce and let Ryan Kerrigan burst through untouched for a sack. He was slow to pick up a blitzing linebacker on third down in the second and had some trouble on the Celek touchdown. Herremans was very good in the run game. He executed his blocks on several big runs, including McCoy’s 7-yard scamper in the first and his 16-yarder. I’d expect him and Johnson to work out what seemed like communication issues. Overall, Herremans was OK.

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No-22: How Barwin’s Finding Success In Different Roles

When Chip Kelly introduced James Casey back in March, he described the tight end as “a new toy” who could line up in various spots in his offense.

He didn’t use the same terminology when the Eagles signed outside linebacker Connor Barwin, but really, that’s what Kelly was giving Billy Davis on the defensive side of the ball.

Much of the talk around Barwin has been about how his sack total dropped from 11.5 in 2011 to just 3.0 in 2012. But the truth is Barwin’s versatility is what the Eagles found most attractive when they brought him on board. Moving from a Wide-9 4-3 to a 3-4, they needed an outside linebacker equipped to handle a number of different responsibilities. And that’s what they got in Barwin.

Already this preseason, the 26-year-old is being used in a variety of ways. And against Jacksonville, he showed some play-making chops with an interception and a sack in the first half.

In the second quarter, Barwin got matched up with a slot receiver, who was running a 10-yard dig route.


Barwin’s first focus here is to bump or “re-route” the receiver. Outside linebackers like Barwin, Brandon Graham and Trent Cole are pretty much always going to have a size advantage against their opponents in coverage. So why not exploit it within 5 yards of the line of scrimmage?


The tricky part comes next. Barwin has to turn his body to get back into his drop. You can see in the next frame that he is basically facing the sideline when Chad Henne winds up to pass.


“You re-route, you see a dig behind you, you react back to it,” Barwin said Monday. “I reacted back and luckily I got my head around before the ball was in there. A lot of times when they beat you with that, you re-route and turn right and he comes behind you. And by the time you get back, the ball’s already there. So you’ve gotta make sure you flip and get around quick.”


Barwin finds the ball with his eyes when he turns around.


The result is an interception.

According to Pro Football Focus, Barwin has been on the field for 38 passing downs in the preseason. He’s split his time equally between rushing the passer (19 times) and dropping back into coverage (19 times). If the numbers look anything close to that in the regular season, it will present a stark contrast to how Barwin was used in Houston. Last year with the Texans, he rushed the QB 86.4 percent of the time and dropped 13.6 percent.

On the next possession, the Jaguars faced a 3rd-and-5 from the Eagles’ 16. Davis likes to emphasize pre-snap disguise. Here, the defense goes with three down linemen. Barwin lurks back before eventually inching up to the line of scrimmage.



Cedric Thornton was lined up at nose tackle right over the center. But when the ball was snapped, Barwin attacked the center and shoved him to the ground. Thornton looped behind him and pressured Henne.

“Me and Swamp [Thornton], who was at the nose, we had talked about it,” Barwin explained. “…I said ‘I’m gonna come from the left.’ So I just snuck up, I started behind him, and snuck to the left. I think the guard thought I was gonna go left, and then I went and picked the center. He wasn’t ready for it.”

There wasn’t a great angle on TV, but here you can see Barwin puts the center on the ground.


That set up Thornton with a one-on-one against the right guard. He pressured Henne, who stepped up, and Barwin ended up with the sack.

“We just ran a little game, me and Ced,” Barwin said. “Usually, games, I’ve always run ‘em with D-Tackles on the outside, so it was just like, I was essentially like a D-Tackle. Me and Ced were two inside guys and we ran a little kind of cross game and the center didn’t see it coming.”

When the Eagles are in their sub package, look for them to go with three down linemen quite a bit, with Barwin being used in a variety of ways.

“It’s not free-for-all,” Barwin said of his joker role. “There’s a containment of what I can do. But there’s usually… I’ve been taught by the look what’ll work. So part of what their formation is or where the running back’s at, I go a certain place. That’s a gameplan-type thing.”

Against Carolina, Barwin’s pre-snap look was similar to the play above. In the first shot, he’s lurking.


Then threatening as a pass-rusher up at the line of scrimmage.


And eventually, he takes off in a dead sprint to get back into coverage.


Notice it’s not a backpedal here. It’s turn/sprint/flip back around.

“The thing about an outside linebacker is when you drop, it’s a little bit harder because you start at the line most of the time,” Barwin said. “An inside linebacker, he starts 5 yards deep, he’s only gotta go 5 more. So me and Trent and Brandon, you really have to turn and run sometimes because you’re going a whole 10, 12 yards instead of 5-to-10. That situation, especially in play-action, you’ll see us just bail because obviously play-action passes are meant to go downfield. So those are the times where we really have to turn and make sure we get our depth.”

As for the pre-snap look, Barwin said: “There’s a lot of things you can do out of it. That’s why we’ll run it. …I’ll be sometimes inserting at different places. Sometimes I’ll be covering. …So it’s a way to really disguise things.”

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Eagles-Jaguars Game Review: The Offense

If you missed the defense, click here.

Below is the position-by-position game review of the offense.


* It was an uneven performance for Michael Vick. He went 15-for-23 for 184 yards, a touchdown and an interception. He also ran seven times for 53 yards. Vick did a nice job escaping pressure and finding Jason Avant down the sideline for 20 yards on the first play. He threw an absolute laser to Riley Cooper for the 9-yard TD. But he did leave plays on the field, like when he overthrew Brent Celek on the wheel route. And as Derek Sarley pointed out, he was too hesitant when he had receivers open. Vick can make up for breakdowns in protection, and he can hurt teams with his legs. But the number one factor that will determine his success in this offense is decision-making. We’ll find out where he’s at with that aspect when the Eagles take on the Redskins at FedEx Field two weeks from tonight.

* Hard to argue with the numbers for Nick Foles: 10-for-11 for 112 yards. Foles misfired on his first pass, a screen to Damaris Johnson, and then connected on his next 10. Most of them were underneath throws; only one traveled more than 10 yards from the line of scrimmage, per Pro Football Focus. But he averaged 10.2 yards per attempt as guys picked up yards after the catch. Foles moved the team and looked comfortable running the offense against Jacksonville’s backups.


* LeSean McCoy only played 18 snaps and carried five times for 9 yards. But he had a nice 15-yard run in the first, breaking Jason Babin’s tackle behind the line of scrimmage. He’ll rest now until Week 1.

* Bryce Brown continues to dazzle and frustrate at the same time. Eleven carries for 92 yards and a touchdown, including impressive gains of 7, 11 and 23. But he had the big fumble trying to get into the end zone in the second half.

This will come down to coaching. It’s up to Chip KellyDuce Staley and company to find a way to get Brown to secure the ball better. The talent is there. He’s got a unique blend of size and speed. But opposing defenses will be looking to punch the ball out every time he’s in the game. I still think Brown will get it down at some point. But it’s something to watch every time he’s on the field. As a blocker, Brown did a poor job with his blitz pickup on 3rd-and-8 in the first. Needs to get better in that area.

* The numbers for Chris Polk – six carries for 23 yards – weren’t great, but thought he ran well. He dragged defenders with him on a 4-yard pickup in the third and then gained 12 around the right end. Polk ran over a defensive back at the goal line on his touchdown. Normally reliable in blitz pickup, he whiffed on a play where Vick escaped and picked up 10 yards with his legs.


* DeSean Jackson continues to look comfortable in this offense. He finished with three catches for 48 yards on four targets. Jackson has six catches on nine targets this preseason and is averaging 20.5 yards per catch without a drop. A career year for No. 10 is in play.

* Avant was his usual self, keeping his feet in bounds for a 20-yard completion. He had the amazing one-handed grab on the ball that was tipped at the line of scrimmage. Overall, three catches for 36 yards on four targets. He also showed up as a blocker, doing a nice job on Polk’s runs of 12 and 11 yards, respectively.

* Cooper came down with the touchdown and made nice blocks on a screen to Avant and an 11-yard pickup by Brown. He also did a good job on Brown’s 23-yard run. Cooper figures to play a lot of snaps even if he’s not a big factor in the passing game.

* Johnson fumbled the one return but bounced back with a 61-yarder. As a receiver, he had two catches for 24 yards on three targets. On one play, he went up in traffic between defenders and snagged a 10-yarder from Foles.

* Russell Shepard got more involved, catching two balls for 38 yards. He showed good YAC ability, taking a screen 29 yards. Shepard’s firmly on the roster bubble.


* Brent Celek had four catches for 54 yards on seven targets, but he could have had an even bigger game. Vick overthrew him on the wheel route and also on another player early on. Celek made a nice grab for 26 yards on third down, ran hard for yards after the catch and blocked well on a bubble screen to Avant in the second.

* Zach Ertz lined up in the slot, found a soft spot in the zone and made a 13-yard grab in the first. He couldn’t hang on for what would have been a tough catch off play-action in the first as a defender delivered a forearm to his head. Up and down as a blocker. Poor job on McCoy’s 4-yard loss in the second. But excellent job on the screen to Shepard.

* James Casey was quiet again with one catch for 3 yards. He set up as a lead blocker, but whiffed on McCoy’s 15-yard run. Good block on the Shepard bubble screen in the fourth.


* Jason Peters looked great in pass protection. For the entire game, with one exception, he did not let his defender get close enough to even breathe on Vick. Even on the one play where he allowed a pressure, Vick held on to the ball for awhile before throwing it away. He was OK in the run game, but not his usual dominant self. Peters was slow to get to the linebacker on a second-quarter run that lost 4 yards. He couldn’t quite get to the linebacker on a Polk 4-yard run. Overall, though, encouraging performance from No. 71.

* Evan Mathis’ performance was shakier than usual. He had trouble with Tyson Alualu on third down during the first series and was later called for holding on 3rd-and-8, negating an 18-yard completion to Celek. Mathis got beat by Jeremy Mincey in the first and then again by Sen’Derrick Marks, who put a big hit on Vick. As we showed earlier in the week, he and Jason Kelce had an issue with a stunt and gave up a sack. Mathis was better in the run game. He threw a defender to the ground on Brown’s 5-yard run in the second. Nothing to panic about, but he did not play particularly well.

* The same goes for Jason Kelce. On the first play play, he had trouble with defensive tackle Roy Miller. On another play, Jason Babin looped inside from the left edge, and Kelce was slow to pick him up. He also had two errant snaps. One was high and ruined the timing of a zone read/bubble packaged play the Eagles had on. Vick had to throw the ball away. The other was low and fumbled by Vick. Kelce was mostly good in the run game, getting to the linebacker on McCoy’s 15-yard run and again on Brown’s 23-yard run. Still think he’ll have a good year, but not a clean performance.

* Todd Herremans has been shaky in two of three preseason games. On the second play, he had trouble with Miller and Vick ended up getting sacked. Herremans did a poor job picking up a blitzing linebacker on 3rd-and-8 in the first. Marks beat him badly on the Vick interception. Herremans, too, was better in the run game. Nice blocks on McCoy’s 15-yard run, Brown’s 7-yard run and Brown’s 23-yarder. We pointed out earlier that he and Johnson had a miscue that resulted in a 5-yard loss for McCoy. Worth keeping an eye on him early in the season, and also worth noting that Herremans was dealing with knee inflammation.

* Lane Johnson had some issues early on with Babin, getting beat on a spin move and then around the edge in the first quarter. But I thought he settled down and eventually played fine. In fact, Babin tried the same spin move in the second, and Johnson stoned him as Vick found Celek for 26 yards. Will get better as the season goes on, but Johnson should be pretty good from the start.

* A couple notes on the backups. Julian Vandervelde continues to take second-team reps at center. If he and Allen Barbre make the team, Danny Watkins could be on the outside looking in. Also, Michael Bamiro has a good chance of sticking.

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Eagles-Jaguars Game Review: The Defense

Below is a position-by-position review of what we saw from the Eagles’ defense Saturday night against Jacksonville after having reviewed the game.

Note: Snap counts are courtesy of Pro Football Focus.


* After the first game, we, along with others, expressed some concern about Fletcher Cox. That seems like a long time ago, doesn’t it? Cox was really good against the Jaguars. He pressured Chad Henne on a second-down throw in the first and was very active against the run, bringing Maurice Jones-Drew down after a pair of 2-yard runs. Maybe most importantly, he made a play that reminded everyone of his elite athleticism.

In the third quarter, Henne scrambled and tried to get to the right sideline for a first down on 3rd-and-5, but Cox wasn’t having it.




Granted, Henne is not Robert Griffin III, but those are the kinds of plays we saw during Cox’s outstanding rookie season.

* Really not seeing a lot from Isaac Sopoaga. I know that’s a “dirty work” position and Sopoaga’s a veteran, but he doesn’t seem to be causing much disruption on the interior. We’ll get a better look with the All-22 during the regular season, but I still think Bennie Logan could take over the starting nose tackle spot early in the season.

* Not a good showing by undrafted rookie Damion Square. He lined up at nose tackle, but somehow ended up on the other side of Logan (RDE) on the 63-yard Jordan Todman run. That helped open up the huge cutback lane.

* Clifton Geathers was on the receiving end of a cut block on that play, but overall, he was pretty active. Good penetration to disrupt Denard Robinson’s 1-yard run in the first. And Geathers pressured Henne in the second, forcing him to scramble for a 1-yard run. He’s on the roster bubble. I think he’s got a good shot of sticking around though.

* Cedric Thornton did well as a pass-rusher. He got decent pressure on Henne on third down in the first, then beat the right guard badly to sack Henne on first down of the next series.

* What else does Vinny Curry have to do to earn more playing time? He’s been the Eagles’ most active defender this preseason. Curry’s ability to get off the ball quicker than everyone else on the field has been fun to watch. Great penetration, bursting through the backfield on Todman’s third-quarter run that lost a yard. Later in the series, Curry rushed from LDE, got the better of the right guard and hit Henne as he was releasing the ball in the red zone. Great first step on the very next play, hitting Henne again. He then had a sack and also forced a fumble in the third. It’s going to be interesting to see how many snaps Curry gets once the season starts.


* On passing downs, Trent Cole rushed the QB 11 times and dropped into coverage seven times, per PFF. He came from RDE in the second and hit Henne on a third-down pass. Cole was OK against the run, missing a tackle on an 8-yard Jones-Drew run, but stopping Todman after a 1-yard gain. Didn’t notice him much in coverage. Only thing left to do now is wait and see how he fits in a couple weeks.

* This was Connor Barwin’s best performance of the preseason, as his versatility was on full display. The Birds’ starting left outside linebacker lined up over the slot receiver, dropped back into coverage and made a tremendous interception in the second. Later, he stood up in the A-Gap, ran a twist with Thornton, attacked the center and came up with a sack. Barwin had a nice rush and got his hands on Henne on the first-quarter touchdown pass. He’s had a nice summer.

* Brandon Graham had a couple nice moments. He set the edge and forced Robinson inside on a 1-yard run in the first. And he came off the edge in the red zone in the third, forcing Henne to step up into a Curry sack. Still don’t know how he’s going to be used in the regular season.

* I fully expect the Eagles to add an outside linebacker after other teams make cuts. Chris McCoy has a chance to stick. Everette Brown has had a quiet summer, but flashed a bit in the fourth quarter vs. Jacksonville. Don’t think he’s going to make it though.


* Mychal Kendricks was very active for the second straight game. He dropped Jones-Drew for no gain on the first play and later had good coverage on the running back on a third-down incompletion. Kendricks had a sack in the second, which was mostly due to miscommunication by the Jaguars’ offense. Henne was looking to throw, but his receivers were run-blocking. On the next play, Kendricks got in the passing lane, leaped and batted down a pass at the line of scrimmage.

The second-year player was not perfect. He was taken to the ground by the fullback on Jones-Drew’s 7-yard run on 3rd-and-1. But overall, a fine performance.

* DeMeco Ryans has had a quiet preseason, but that was the case last year, and he was great when the games started counting. Ryans was crushed by the fullback on Todman’s 14-yard run on 4th-and-1. But again, don’t see any need to panic.

* The Eagles let Jamar Chaney go yesterday. Undrafted free agent Jake Knott has a good chance to stick. If the Eagles keep four inside linebackers, the final spot will come down to Casey Matthews, Emmanuel Acho or a player who’s currently not on the roster.


* Cary Williams played pretty well. He gave up an early 20-yard completion, but later broke up a couple passes, including one on third down in the second. Per PFF, Williams allowed one completion on four targets.

* Bradley Fletcher’s numbers were not as good. The Jaguars took advantage of the huge cushion he was giving receivers with a couple screens and a comeback route. Fletcher gave up a back-shoulder throw to Justin Blackmon for 21 yards. It was tough to tell whether he or Patrick Chung was at fault on the first touchdown. And Fletcher struggled to get off the receiver’s block on Todman’s 14-yard run to his side in the second. He’ll probably still start the season at left corner, but if Fletcher struggles, Brandon Boykin could replace him.

* Boykin started the game as the inside nickel corner and then moved outside. He was called for pass interference in the red zone and allowed a 13-yard completion on 3rd-and-14. Boykin later broke up a third-down pass. Likely to start the season as the nickel corner.

* Brandon Hughes and Curtis Marsh have fractured hands. Eddie Whitley suffered a knee injury and was waived. The Eagles are thin at corner with only Jordan Poyer and Trevard Lindley behind the first three guys. Poyer nearly came away with a couple interceptions, but had a holding penalty.


* Always a tough position to evaluate off of TV tape. We’ll get an idea of what the coaches thought of the film when we see who’s practicing with the first team this week. On Saturday, Chung manned one starting position, while Nate Allen and Earl Wolff rotated at the other one.

* On the 63-yard run, Chung got blocked, allowing the big cutback. And Wolff admitted to taking a horrible angle. With Kenny Phillips out of the picture, the Eagles are likely to go with Chung, Allen, Wolff and Colt Anderson on the roster. Kurt Coleman and David Sims are fighting for spots.

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No-22: What We Saw From the Eagles’ Offense

The Eagles’ first-team offense had eight possessions Saturday night against the Jaguars.

The results? A touchdown, three field goals, two punts and two turnovers. Not disastrous, but certainly a bit choppy.

Here’s the No-22 breakdown of some of the things we saw after re-watching.


That’s at the foundation of Chip Kelly’s offense. Set up in shotgun, spread the defense and run the football unless that option becomes unavailable.

Yet, of the 45 plays the first-team offense ran, only 15 were designed runs. The Eagles went with four players split out on only 11 occasions. And only twice out of those 11 did the offense run the ball. Instead, we saw a lot of in-line tight ends and even a two-back set with Michael Vick under center.


Essentially, this is the 4-TE look we’ve written about before. James Casey is in the fullback role LeSean McCoy’s lead blocker. You see Brent Celek and Zach Ertz. Clay Harbor, now practicing with the wide receivers, is split out wide.

Here, you can see the Jaguars have nine guys in the box. They rarely played with two deep safeties. As Jason Kelce explained after the game, that’s one of the reasons the Eagles passed the ball so much.

Kelly always wants to look for a numbers advantage. When the defense is stacking the box, the offense has a couple options. One is to forget the spread, pack it in and regain the numbers edge, as you see above. The other is to make the defense pay in the passing game, which the Eagles also tried.


Gus Bradley and company were ready for the Eagles’ zone read. Boiled down to its simplest form, the play leaves an edge defender unblocked. If that defender crashes inside to the running back, the quarterback keeps the ball and runs. If the defender stays home, the quarterback hands the ball off.

Under those terms, the offense really should always win if the QB makes the correct read. But that’s obviously not how it works on the field. When writing about how to defend the read option, Chris Brown of Grantland recently explained the “scrape” technique. The idea is that the unblocked defender crashes inside, taking on the running back, while a second defender comes up and fills his place to account for the quarterback.

The Jaguars got the Eagles using this scrape technique in the first quarter. Here’s the pre-snap look:


You see the unblocked DE on the left side and the middle linebacker who is going to end up taking the quarterback.


The DE heads towards McCoy. He doesn’t care if Vick keeps it. That’s not his responsibility. The middle linebacker loops around and runs behind him. You can see Todd Herremans is set to block him as if the linebacker is going to attack the inside run.


The DE really sells out on McCoy. He’s tackling him to the ground even though he doesn’t have the ball. The middle linebacker, meanwhile, gets to the backfield untouched and brings Vick down for after just a 2-yard gain. You can see Herremans chasing him from behind.

Stopping the read option is going to be a highly-discussed topic all season long. This is just one technique, and it’s one that Kelly has probably seen hundreds of times before. There will be points and counter-points all season long between the league’s top offensive minds and its top defensive minds.

But the scrape is something the Eagles can expect to see throughout the year.


The fact that Jason Peters, Evan Mathis, Kelce, Todd Herremans and Lane Johnson are healthy enough right now to suit up together when the Eagles open the season against the Redskins in a couple weeks is a good thing.

But the truth is this unit had a rough go against Jacksonville.

At times, the offensive line got beaten physically, and other times, it suffered mental/communication errors.

For example, the Eagles had a 2nd-and-10 from the Jaguars’ 19 late in the first quarter and called a run to McCoy. But Herremans and Johnson went to block the same linebacker, letting defensive tackle Jeremy Mincey burst through the backfield untouched.



Mincey dropped McCoy for a 5-yard loss, and suddenly the Eagles were faced with 3rd-and-15. They picked up 12 before settling for the field goal.

Later in the first half, the Eagles faced a 3rd-and-10 from the Jacksonville 17. The Jaguars ran a stunt with their right defensive end and right defensive tackle. The DT attacked Peters, while the DE looped behind him.


Tough to know whether it was supposed to be Mathis or Kelce picking him up, but neither got a hand on him, and he got a clear path to Vick for the sack.



The Eagles had a six-man protection against a four-man rush. That should never end in an unblocked defender, but that’s what happened here.

Of course, this is just the preseason, and August is the time to work out some of these issues. Four out of five of the starting linemen have proven track records in the NFL. Then again, four out of five (aside from Johnson) are coming off of injuries.

If the Eagles want to surprise teams offensively, they’ll need the line to lead the way. That means getting some issues resolved before Week 1 against the Redskins.

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No-22: The Eagles’ New-School Triple Option

Earlier this week, we looked at how the Eagles packaged the zone read with the bubble screen on several occasions against the Panthers.

The basic premise was simple: If the quarterback saw favorable numbers in the box, he went with the zone read. If he thought he had an advantage on the perimeter, he threw the screen. It was an either/or proposition.

But Chip Kelly and the Eagles ran a different play that actually combines the two. In other words, it’s a zone read and a bubble screen. Or essentially, a new-school triple option.

Take a look at this play from the Eagles’ first drive last week. It looks like a normal zone read. The Eagles leave the right defensive end unblocked. If he stays at home, Nick Foles hands the ball off. If the DE crashes inside, Foles takes off and runs.


But as you can see, there’s a little more to it. On the back side, the Eagles have a bubble screen set up to Jason Avant. Foles has two decisions to make on this play. First, he has to choose whether to hand the ball off or keep it. On this particular play, the DE crashes, so Foles keeps it.

Decision two comes after he takes off. Foles can go ahead and run. But he can also sling it to Avant if the slot corner comes up to tackle him.

“Each play is something different,” said QB Dennis Dixon, who is very familiar with the options available in Kelly’s offense. “We’re reading somebody totally different each play. I can’t tell you the specifics of it, but we’re reading somebody in particular, yeah.”


The slot corner comes up, and the outside corner is 10 yards away from Avant. So Foles passes the ball to the perimeter, creating an advantage for the offense.

The more common triple option allows the QB to hand the ball off, run it himself or pitch it to a second back. The first two options in this version are similar. But instead of a normal pitch, it’s a bubble screen to the perimeter for the third option.

There’s only one defender outside the numbers, and Riley Cooper’s blocking him.


How hard is it for a defense to defend against so many options on one play?

“Hopefully it’s hard. It’s even harder on Riley trying to hold that block that long,” Avant said with a laugh. “The MVP of that play is Riley Cooper. Otherwise my head is rolled off somewhere. That’s what we’re trying to do, put as much pressure on the defense as we can.”

The truth is, if Cooper had been able to sustain a better block on the cornerback, and if the ball had gone to say DeSean Jackson instead of Avant, the Eagles would have had a chance to score on this play. Instead, it was a 6-yard gain.

Another factor to consider is where the QB is when he releases the ball. Is it meant to be a forward pass or a lateral?

“It can be both,” Foles said, not willing to offer up any more details.

Isn’t it a dangerous play if it’s a lateral? An off-target pass or a drop could result in a costly turnover.

“It’s something you’ve got to really work on in practice,” he added.

Dixon insinuated that the pass-option should only be taken if the outside cornerback’s playing far off the line of scrimmage.

“The quarterback has to be smart when he gets to that point,” Dixon said.

“It depends on how the defense is playing us. The quarterback has a lot of options. At the end of the day, we have to be able to have ball security. We just want to put it in our playmakers’ hands.”

Translation: If there’s any doubt, just keep the ball and run.

That’s what happened later in the quarter on the exact same play.


Again, the right defensive end is left unblocked. He crashes inside, so Foles keeps it. He’s got Damaris Johnson setting up for the bubble screen with Cooper as the blocker.


But this time, the slot corner sticks with the receiver. Foles makes the right call and keeps the ball, picking up 6 yards with his legs.

“If the quarterback chooses not to run the ball if somebody takes him, just to be an option for the quarterback,” Johnson said of his role on the play. “That’s it.”

And of course, the third option is to just hand the ball off. On Michael Vick’s first drive, the Eagles had three inside runs in a row, and each play had the three options built in.

The first one:


The unblocked DE gravitates towards Vick. He hands the ball off to McCoy. And the Eagles also have the screen set up.

Play No. 2:


Look familiar? Unblocked DE upfield towards Vick. He hands the ball off to McCoy. And they’ve got the screen set up on the perimeter.

And play No. 3:


This time, Chris Polk comes in for McCoy. The unblocked DE isn’t upfield, but he froze for a second until he was sure Vick handed it off. And once again, the screen is set up to the bottom of the screen (TV angle cut off the blocker on the outside).

The Eagles had five run plays on Vick’s first possession. All five had the screen element built in.

This concept exemplifies some of the key aspects of Kelly’s offense. Because the Eagles were essentially using the same play over and over again, they could move at a fast pace. Option one is to run the ball if it’s there. But if it’s not, there are options. And the field is spread, forcing the defense to account for every square inch, sideline to sideline.

The play also shows the advantage of having a mobile quarterback. Defenders are forced to make decisions that could potentially lead to disastrous results.

As Evan Mathis put it: “There’s just a lot of opportunities for the quarterback to show their athleticism in this kind of offense. There’s a lot of choices for the quarterback. There’s some plays we run that are options, and if you have a quarterback with the speed that Michael Vick has, then some of those plays can end up being pretty dangerous.”

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