Zone Read: Eagles-Packers, the Day After

ryans_400_111113On their first drive of the game, the Packers set up with a 1st-and-10 from the Eagles’ 31-yard-line.

They were in ’12′ personnel with two tight ends and Eddie Lacy in the backfield. The rookie running back had picked up 21 yards on his first four carries as Green Bay entered field goal range.

DeMeco Ryans lined up at his usual spot at middle linebacker about 4 yards behind nose tackle Damion Square. Seneca Wallace took the snap from under center, turned to his left and handed the ball off. As Lacy looked for a hole, Ryans flowed to his right.

Left tackle David Bakhtiari tried to get to him, but was unsuccessful. Ryans diagnosed the play, got downhill and planted his helmet into Lacy’s mid-section, knocking the 231-pound rookie backwards and onto the ground at Lambeau Field.

Lacy would manage just 54 yards on 19 carries (2.8 YPC) the rest of the day. And Ryans, with a game-high 13 tackles, was a big reason why. Read more »

Observations: Eagles 27, Packers 13

foles_400_102913GREEN BAY, Wisc. – Here’s what we saw during the first half of today’s Eagles-Packers game.

OFFENSE

* It was a strange day for the Eagles’ offense. They got a little luck on their way to their first touchdown. Nick Foles eyed DeSean Jackson deep, but underthrew him. Two Packers defensive backs collided, and the ball popped into the air before Jackson came down with it for a 55-yard touchdown.

* Then in the third, Foles threw one up for grabs, and Riley Cooper did a great job of finding the ball for a 45-yard touchdown. It looked like the ball moved a little when Cooper hit the ground, but the score stood.

* Later in the third, Cooper got wide-open with a double move and scored from 32 yards out. Overall, Cooper had three catches for 102 yards. In the last five games, he has 462 yards and five touchdowns.

* Foles’ numbers looked good: 12-for-18 for 228 yards and three touchdowns. But as described above, he got a lot of help. In the first half especially, he looked a little hesitant.

Read more »

Wake-Up Call: Kendricks ‘Humble And Hungry’

USATSI_7482059_168380503_lowresTen tackles per game.

That’s the number Mychal Kendricks guns for. His brother (also a football player) preached that if you reach that mark regularly, you’re set. And so that became the standard.

Earlier this season, the chase for 10 got him in trouble. He kept count in his head during the game. If he had only four, say, deep into the third quarter, Kendricks would start pressing. Would ask DeMeco Ryans how many he had. Ryans never had an answer because he knew better than to keep track. Read more »

Notes: On Ertz, ‘D’ and Foles’ Secret Weapons

ertz_940_100713Leading up to the Oakland game, Zach Ertz didn’t hide the fact that this trip meant something to him. He grew up  in nearby Danville, CA and played his college ball at Stanford. It was his first time back in the Bay Area since he left for training camp in late July. Got tickets for about 20 friends and family members to watch him play.

You could tell that he was smelling the end zone when he caught a short pass from Nick Foles over the middle midway through the opening quarter. Ertz lowered his shoulder and barreled ahead. Ultimately he was stopped at the 2-yard line.

“Coach Kelly preaches don’t reach for the goal line so I didn’t want to reach, have something bad happen and then not play again, so I just kind of tucked it in there. And I want to get Brent [Celek] a touchdown, anyway,” he said.

Celek scored on the very next play. Ertz’s patience paid off. Foles went back to the rookie later in the half for a 15-yard touchdown — Ertz’s first in the NFL. Read more »

Eagles Wake-Up Call: Midterm Grades (Defense)

barwin_400_103013We went over the offense on Tuesday. Now here’s a look at how the defense grades out through the first half of the season.

Defensive line: B-

This group has shown more improvement than any other on the team from Week 1 to Week 8. And defensive line coach Jerry Azzinaro deserves credit for that.

Cedric Thornton is playing lights-out on a weekly basis and leads all Eagles D-Linemen with 45 tackles. Fletcher Cox has really come on as of late and has three sacks to go along with a team-high 15 hurries (no other Eagle has more than seven). Isaac Sopoaga was a non-factor, but players like Clifton Geathers on the second team are starting to show flashes.

Opponents are averaging 3.7 YPC vs. the Eagles. Only five teams have posted a lower number. Read more »

Zone Read, Eagles-Giants, the Day After

mccoy_400102713Editor’s note: The Zone Read is a weekly feature that will publish the day after every game some time before noon. It will feature dispatches from the locker room, thoughts on what went down, play breakdowns and more. If you have feedback or suggestions, e-mail Sheil at skapadia@phillymag.com.

***

Through the first four weeks of the season, the Eagles’ offense had something to hang its hat on: the run game.

LeSean McCoy was gashing opponents – 468 yards on 78 rushes (6.0 YPC). The scheme was sound. The blocking was great. And the marriage between McCoy and Chip Kelly’s offense looked like one that would carry the Eagles all season long.

Many coaches break the season up into four-game segments. And the second quarter for the Eagles has produced a ground game that looks pedestrian. In the last four, McCoy has carried 78 times for 265 yards (3.4 YPC). Yesterday against the Giants, he carried 15 times for 48 yards (3.2 YPC). In the first half, he managed just 7 yards on six carries.

“I just gotta try to be more consistent, making plays when plays are granted, taking them,” said a frustrated McCoy, standing at his locker in front of a group of reporters. “Today was a little better, but not good enough. I had so much success against the Giants for so long, so it bothers me. I’ve gotta get it going. It starts with me. I need to make better decisions, which I’m not.”

Asked if he’s trying to do too much, McCoy said: “I think it’s a little bit of that, doing my own thing sometimes and just not making the plays. The plays, they’re there, they’re available. Just not getting it done.” Read more »

All-22: State Of the Eagles’ Defense

Barwinb_All22_102413Back in the spring, new Eagles defensive coordinator Billy Davis was asked if he had spent time looking at Jim Johnson’s scheme and concepts.

“He had some great dynamic pressures, and I’ve studied a lot of them,” Davis said. “They were out-of-the-box thinking. But when you really break him down, it was more guys up in the A-gaps with the illusion of pressure than actual [sending] more than four rushers.

“There were times that he brought more. …But he did a great job of keeping offenses off-balance through both pressure, illusion of pressure and non-pressure. And you need all elements to attack an offense because there’s some times you pressure some of the stuff Coach [Chip Kelly] does, you’re going to get eaten alive.”

Davis’ comments serve as a good launching off point to examining what’s working well for the Eagles on defense. Last week, they were able to keep Tony Romo off-balance and free up rushers all game long, both with the blitz and the threat of the blitz. Read more »

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