Here’s the weekly look at what we saw from the Eagles’ offense after having looked at the All-22 tape from the Steelers game.
Play 1: As we’ve discussed, the Eagles’ offense the past two games has looked different than the version we saw in the first three. Part of that is giving Michael Vick options to get rid of the football quicker. But the big plays downfield are still important, given Vick’s skill set and the weapons he has to work with on the outside. Since the Eagles are attempting fewer of those big plays, it’s crucial that they hit on them when they have a chance. And I think they missed one early on against Pittsburgh. The key to the play was a fake that got Troy Polamalu taking a couple steps towards the line of scrimmage. The other safety, meanwhile, turned to help on Maclin.
As you can see, DeSean Jackson’s behind Polamalu and headed for open field, but Vick goes to Maclin, who has two defenders on him by the time the ball gets there, and the play results in an incompletion.
Play 2: Way too many breakdowns on the offensive line. Here’s one example. Take a look at the pre-snap shot. Brett Keisel (No. 99) is going to drop back into coverage. Lawrence Timmons (No. 94), who gave the Eagles fits all game, is going to blitz between Todd Herremans and Danny Watkins.
The Eagles have three guys blocking one rusher on the left, although Evan Mathis is ready to help Dallas Reynolds. The culprit here (and of course, there’s always a bit of guesswork involved) appears to be Watkins. He’s blocking, well, no one. He’s ready to help Reynolds, but has no idea Timmons blitzed. Herremans is handling the pass-rusher off the edge. Vick gets away from Timmons, but takes a sack.
The talent level on the offensive line is certainly an issue, but it’s mishaps like this one that the Eagles need to avoid to shore up protection going forward.
Play 3: More offensive line confusion. Here, pre-snap, Watkins is expecting to block Timmons. The Steelers show six at the line of scrimmage, but Timmons drops back into coverage.
Watkins ends up blocking nobody. McLendon sacks Vick and forces a fumble. The Eagles have six blockers against five pass-rushers, but Vick has no chance on the play.
Play 4: So as not to just pick on Watkins, here’s another breakdown – this time on the left side. James Harrison twists behind the defensive tackle, but nobody picks him up.
But they only end up rushing four. The Eagles have six to block four, yet somehow three players – Mathis, Bell and Lewis – end up blocking nobody. Keisel rushes unblocked, chases Vick out of the pocket and forces a third-down incompletion.
Play 6: Alright, let’s turn to some positives. Not sure if we saw a lot of this earlier in the season. If we did, I missed it. But take a look at the unbalanced line with two tight ends to the left of Bell.
We often talk about blocking and attribute successes and failures to the offensive line. But tight ends and running backs play a role too. Here, Brent Celek takes care of the defensive back, and Clay Harbor does an outstanding job on Harrison.
Play 7: One more to this point. Look at Celek on Harrison in the first.
Not an easy assignment, but he delivers a really good block and opens up room for McCoy to get to the edge and pick up 6 yards. I thought Celek was really good blocking in the run game against Pittsburgh.
Play 8: Much of the talk this week has been about Vick’s fumble down near the goal line. But the other one was costly too. It looked like Vick’s first read on the play was to Jason Avant, who was open.
Not sure why Vick didn’t pull the trigger. He hitched a couple times and then took off, losing the ball when Timmons hit him. Protection was pretty good on the play, as the Steelers only rushed four. Had Vick gotten to his next read, the Eagles might have had a big play.
Play 9: Two good-looking back-to-back plays on the Eagles’ scoring drive in the third. On the first one, the Steelers blitz six, but rather than picking up the blitzer off the edge, McCoy runs right past him (on purpose).
Jason Worllds gets a free shot at the quarterback, but Vick has two options to get rid of the ball quickly. One is to McCoy in the flat (keep that one stored away), and the other is Avant over the middle. He goes to Avant and picks up 10, standing in the pocket, absorbing a hit and getting rid of the ball on time. Well-done.
The very next play on the drive will look familiar. Once again, McCoy releases into the flat and lets Worllds go right past him. Vick gets rid of the ball quickly, and Steelers linebacker Larry Foote has to hustle over to account for McCoy.
Play 10: On their fourth-quarter touchdown drive, the Eagles converted a big 3rd-and-10 for 24 yards to Jackson. The play looked similar to one we saw the previous week against the Giants. This time, there was no help to that side, although a safety was dropping in the middle of the field. Jackson gave Ike Taylor a little inside move at the 25, looking back at the quarterback as if he was getting ready for the football, and then made his way to the sideline.
The Steelers rushed six on the play, but the Eagles kept eight in to block. Bell and McCoy did a good job on the safety who was blitzing from Vick’s front side. Once again, the Eagles hit on a big play even though they had two wide receivers going up against five defenders in coverage.
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