Eagles OL Review: Mathis, Scott Get Tested

Here’s a player-by-player review of how the Eagles’ offensive line performed against the Bengals, after having re-watched Thursday night’s game.

King Dunlap – The veteran held up well in pass protection. I didn’t see him give up any hits on Nick Foles. Dunlap did a nice job pass-blocking on the 17-yard completion to Jeremy Maclin in the third. He rarely gives you much in the run game and was up and down in that aspect. But Dunlap did a nice job on Bryce Brown’s 6-yard run in the third and again on his 8-yard run. He got pushed into the backfield on Brown’s run that lost 2 yards in the second.

Evan Mathis – He’s had a great season and was battling an ankle injury, but Mathis was up-and-down in this one, going up against some talented defensive linemen like Geno Atkins. Let’s start with the good. He did a nice job on Brown’s 6-yard run in the red zone. And Mathis got his hands on Vontaze Burfict on Brown’s 6-yard run in the third. He held up well in pass protection on Foles’ 17-yard completion to Maclin in the third. Now, the issues. Mathis whiffed on his block against Pat Sims, leading to the Foles/Brown fumble and the Bengals’ defensive touchdown. He was driven into the backfield by Atkins on a Brown run that was stopped after 1 yard in the fourth. Mathis had some trouble with Atkins in the first, but Foles stepped up and found Jason Avant for 25 yards. He gave up a sack in the third as Wallace Gilberry came Mathis’ way on a stunt. But to be fair, Foles held on to the ball for awhile on the play.

Dallas Reynolds – He had ups and downs as well. Good block on the screen to Brown that picked up 11 in the second. And nice job pulling on the 6-yard Brown carry in the red zone. But he couldn’t hold his block on the linebacker on Brown’s 3-yard carry in the second. And Reynolds had a costly illegal snap when the offense had a 1st-and-goal from the 2 late in the first half. They ended up settling for a field goal. Burfict went right around him and dropped Dion Lewis for a 4-yard loss on a screen in the third.

Jake Scott – He did not play particularly well. Scott was called for an illegal block in the back on the screen to Maclin where he fumbled. Atkins shoved him deep into the backfield, disrupting a Brown run that lost a yard in the first. He let Domata Peko get past him on Brown’s 3-yard run in the second. Scott got abused by Atkins in the third and was called for holding. And he was shoved into the backfield by Atkins on a Brown run that lost 2 yards in the third. The good moments? He did a nice job out in front of the screen to Brown that picked up 11 yards. And Scott blocked Burfict on Brown’s 6-yard run in the red zone.

Dennis Kelly – He also had his share of issues. Kelly gave up a hit on Foles in the second on the play where the QB was called for intentional grounding. He did a poor job of handling a stunt in the second, allowing pressure on Foles. It looked like Carlos Dunlap tossed him to the side on a Brown run that lost a yard in the third.

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Cheat Sheet: 15 Things About Eagles-Bengals

Eagles quarterback Nick Foles.The Thursday night game has us off our regular schedule this week, so we’ll combine the two cheat sheets into one. Here are 15 things to know about how the Eagles match up with the Bengals.

1. If the season ended today, the Eagles would pick fourth. It seems highly unlikely that the Birds will catch either the Chiefs or Jaguars, who have two wins apiece. The Raiders have three wins and host the Chiefs. The Titans (four wins) host the Jets on Monday Night Football. The Panthers (four wins) travel to San Diego to take on the Chargers. And the Lions and Cardinals (both four-win teams) face each other. In other words, there’s going to be a lot to sort out next week. As for odds, the Eagles have a 0.1 percent chance of landing the top pick, according to Football Outsiders. But they have a 17.1 percent chance of landing a top-three selection.

2. Offensively, the Eagles are tied for 27th in scoring offense, averaging 18.5 points per game. Football Outsiders has them ranked 24th – 24th in passing and 23rd in rushing. The Birds are coming off their first win in nine games and are averaging 26 points per game in their last three. The Bengals, meanwhile, are 15th in scoring defense, allowing 21.5 points per game. Football Outsiders has them ranked 20th – 12th against the pass and 26th against the run. Cincinnati has allowed 20 points or fewer in five straight games.

3. For Eagles fans, all eyes will be on Nick Foles. The rookie quarterback completed 32 of 51 passes for 381 yards and a pair of touchdowns last week. He also ran for a score. In the last two games, Foles has completed 63.5 percent of his passes, averaged 7.4 yards per attempt and tossed three touchdowns with no interceptions. Opponents are completing 63.7 percent of their passes against the Bengals (26th) and averaging 6.8 yards per attempt (11th).

4. Foles and the Eagles’ offensive line will face a stiff test against the Bengals’ pass-rush. Cincinnati leads the NFL with 42 sacks. The one player to keep an eye on is No. 97, defensive tackle Geno Atkins. The third-year player is tied for sixth in the league with 10.5 sacks. He’s the only DT who ranks in the top-38. The next closest is Detroit’s Ndamukong Suh, who has 5.5. Atkins is a physical force, who will test the interior of the Eagles’ line in Jake Scott, Dallas Reynolds and Evan Mathis. Mathis has an ankle injury, but is listed as probable. He’s playing the best football of his career. Scott had been playing well, but had issues last week vs. Tampa. Reynolds too struggled against the Bucs. King Dunlap could have his hands full with right defensive end Michael Johnson (questionable – toe), who is second on the team with 8.5 sacks. And Dennis Kelly, who had a disastrous performance last week, will match up with talented defensive end Carlos Dunlap.

5. The Eagles couldn’t get anything going on the ground last week against Tampa’s strong run defense. Bryce Brown had just 6 yards on 12 carries, after piling up 347 yards and averaging 8.1 yards per carry in the previous two games. He’ll have more room than last week, going up against a Bengals defense that’s allowing 4.2 yards per carry (14th). The Bengals go with fourth-year player Rey Maualuga at middle linebacker, undrafted free agent Vontaze Burfict on the weak side and veteran Manny Lawson on the strong side. DeMarco Murray averaged just 2.5 yards per carry on 21 attempts against the Bengals last week.

6. Foles completed passes to eight different receivers last week. He was 9-for-13 for 104 yards on attempts to Jeremy Maclin and 7-for-10 for 133 yards on throws to Jason Avant. Clay Harbor gets the start in place of Brent Celek, who suffered a concussion last week. Harbor caught all six balls thrown his way for 52 yards against Tampa. The Bengals are 28th in the league against opposing tight ends, per Football Outsiders. Their starting corners are Leon Hall and Terence Newman. Newman’s in his first season with the Bengals after having spent nine with the Cowboys. Hall, a first-round pick back in 2007, is in his sixth season with the Bengals. Adam Jones will be on the field in nickel. Cincinnati’s safeties are Chris Crocker and Reggie Nelson.

7. Defensively, the Eagles are coming off of their best performance since Todd Bowles took over. They forced Tampa to punt on seven straight possessions to start the game and nine of 12 overall. The defense allowed two scoring drives of 77 and 75 yards in the second half, but got a stop in the fourth quarter to give the offense the ball back. Overall, the Eagle are 25th in scoring defense, allowing 26.2 points per game. Football Outsiders has them ranked 25th – 31st against the pass and 11th against the run. The Bengals, meanwhile, are 11th in scoring offense, averaging 24.7 points per game. Football Outsiders has them ranked 14th – 15th in passing and 12th in rushing.

8. In his second season, Andy Dalton’s numbers are up across the board. He’s completing 63.4 percent of his passes (11th), averaging 7.16 yards per attempt (16th) and has thrown 25 touchdowns (tied for 5th), compared to 14 interceptions (tied for 6th-most). Dalton doesn’t throw downfield a ton – 11.4 percent of his attempts have traveled 20 yards or more downfield, per Pro Football Focus. In Bowles’ first six games as defensive coordinator, opponents completed 76.3 percent of their passes against the Eagles. But Josh Freeman completed just 41.2 percent of his attempts last week.

9. The Eagles will have to deal with one of the best receivers in the game in A.J. Green. The second-year player is sixth with 1,151 yards and eighth with 79 receptions. He’s first among wide receivers with 10 touchdowns and tied for 11th with 14 catches of 20+ yards. According to Football Outsiders, the Eagles rank 31st in the league against opposing No. 1 receivers. Nnamdi Asomugha fought through an injury last week, but did not play well. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie had been struggling, but turned in one of his best games of the season. Safety Nate Allen feels less pressure to account for both stopping the run and defending play-action with the changes up front. And Colt Anderson will get his second straight start in place of Kurt Coleman.

10. Behind Green, the Bengals don’t have a lot of firepower in the passing game. Tight end Jermaine Gresham has 55 catches for 636 yards and five touchdowns. Jamar Chaney took over at the SAM spot last week and played well. The Eagles rank 17th at covering opposing tight ends, according to Football Outsiders. Brandon Boykin will have to deal with slot receiver Andrew Hawkins, who has caught 45 of the 69 balls thrown his way.

11. Dalton’s been sacked 32 times on the season, tied for third-most behind Aaron Rodgers and Philip Rivers. The Eagles have scrapped Jim Washburn’s system for the most part. They didn’t get much pressure on Freeman last week, although Fletcher Cox and Cullen Jenkins both notched sacks. With Mike Patterson out, the Eagles will go to a four-man rotation at DT – Cox, Jenkins, Derek Landri and Cedric Thornton. Brandon Graham and Trent Cole will start at defensive end. Phillip Hunt, Vinny Curry and Darryl Tapp will also mix in.

12. A quick sidebar on the Patterson issue. This quote from Jim Washburn during training camp stuck in my mind:

“He doesn’t have to come to these rookie meetings at night, in the afternoon. He doesn’t have to be there. I said ‘Mike, you don’t have to be there.’ He said, ‘Well I like to be there.’ He likes football. He’s a good one, god dangit, we miss him now.”

And this one from Patterson, when asked why he didn’t just decide to retire:

“I just think it has to do with my personality. I just love this game so much. It’s just real fun to me, I enjoy it. When it first happened, people would say ‘no [don't go back],’ but when everything’s all said and done, the doctor said I was able to play still.”

We know football’s a business, but it’s tough to defend the Eagles over $150,000 on this one.

13. Back to tonight. The Bengals run the ball with BenJarvus Green-Ellis, who is 26 yards away from reaching the 1,000-yard mark for the second time in his career. Green-Ellis is averaging 4.1 yards per carry and has six runs of 20+ yards. The Eagles tightened up their alignment up front last week, but Doug Martin still had 128 yards and averaged 4.6 yards per carry. Keep an eye on Mychal Kendricks. The rookie linebacker was moved to WILL last week and turned in one of his best games of the season.

14. Special teams once again let the Eagles down last week as Damaris Johnson’s muffed punt led to a Bucs touchdown. Overall, Football Outsiders has the Birds’ special teams ranked 21st. On average, the offense has started drives at its own 24.5 yard line (28th). Opponents have started drives at their own 30.48 yard line (31st), although part of that is obviously due to turnovers on offense. Alex Henery boomed a 58-yard attempt last week, but it hit the post. He also missed from 31 yards away. The Bengals, meanwhile, are eighth in FO’s special-teams rankings. They’re starting drives at their own 30.28 yard line (2nd), and opponents are starting at their own 25.22 (5th).

15. Leftovers: The Eagles are seventh in red-zone defense, allowing opponents to score touchdowns 48.84 percent of the time. The Bengals are 11th in red-zone offense, scoring touchdowns 56.25 percent of the time. …The Eagles are 27th in red-zone offense, scoring touchdowns 46.34 percent of the time. The Bengals are 17th in red-zone defense, allowing opponents to score 52.94 percent of the time. …The Eagles are -19 in turnover differential. Only the Chiefs are worse. The Bengals are dead-even with 21 takeaways and 21 giveaways on the year.

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Eagles OL Review: Identifying the Issues Vs. Tampa

Philadelphia Eagles left guard Evan Mathis.Below is a player-by-player review of how the Eagles’ offensive line performed in Sunday’s 23-21 win over the Bucs after having re-watched the game.

King Dunlap – A very up-and-down performance from the left tackle. He could not get to Michael Bennett on an early stretch play that lost 4 yards. Dunlap hit Ronde Barber, but barely moved him on an early Bryce Brown run that was stopped for no gain. He was beaten badly off the edge on a first-quarter sack and later had trouble with the defensive end, who rushed off the edge and forced Nick Foles out of the pocket. Daniel Te’o-Nesheim went right past him and sacked Foles in the second. Dunlap was pushed deep into the backfield on a Brown run that lost 7 yards in the second. He and Dennis Kelly both were beaten on a second-quarter play where Foles stepped up and found Jason Avant deep downfield. The good: Dunlap did a nice job on Brown’s 11-yard run in the second. He put a good block on the defensive back on the screen to Jeremy Maclin that picked up 24. And he did a nice job one-on-one in pass protection, giving Foles time to find Jeremy Maclin for 22 yards on 3rd-and-10 in the fourth.

Evan Mathis – This very well could be the best stretch of football we’ve seen out of Mathis. With the pieces around him all struggling on Sunday, Mathis again delivered a strong effort. He drove Te’o-Nesheim to the ground on Foles’ 14-yard pass to Damaris Johnson in the second. Great effort finishing the play on Foles’ 14-yard scramble in the third. Often times, when a QB takes off to run, offensive linemen will just stop. Mathis not only picked up Gerald McCoy on a stunt, but drove him downfield until the whistle blew. Later, Mathis did an excellent job on the defensive back on the Maclin screen that picked up 24. It’s possible I missed one, but I didn’t notice a single breakdown in protection from him.

Dallas Reynolds – Not a good showing. Reynolds couldn’t hold his block on McCoy on an early stunt that resulted in a sack. It didn’t look like Reynolds was trying to pass the DT off to Mathis either (to be fair, Foles had more than three seconds to get rid of the ball on the play). Later, he got pushed into the backfield by Te’o-Nesheim on a Brown run that was stopped for no gain. Reynolds stayed with the double-team and failed to pick up linebacker Lavonte David, who was coming on a blitz and hit Foles. It’s possible Reynolds thought Brown was picking up David on the play. He and Jake Scott did a poor job handling a stunt in the first as Foles was sacked. Defensive tackle Gary Gibson got past him and pressured Foles into throwing the ball away in the red zone in the second. Reynolds later let Gibson through again, but Foles stepped up and found Avant in the third. McCoy went right past him and dragged Dion Lewis down for a loss of 4 in the fourth. One of the few bright spots came when Reynolds switched off to the blitzer on Foles’ 11-yard completion to Clay Harbor late in the first half.

Jake Scott – He had been playing well, but struggled in this one. Scott was a little slow to pick up Da’Quan Bowers on a stunt on the early 6-yard completion to Johnson. McCoy went around him on third down in the first quarter. Scott did a poor job of handling a first-quarter stunt as Bennett sacked Foles. He got abused one-on-one against McCoy, giving up a sack in the third, and got pushed back by Te’o-Nesheim on the two-point try, allowing a hit on Foles. Scott had a nice block on the defensive back on the screen to Avant that picked up 10 in the third.

Dennis Kelly – Yikes. Perhaps a year from now, Kelly will remember this as a learning moment. But he struggled big-time on Sunday. Poor job on Bennett on a stretch play that lost 4 yards in the first. He couldn’t get in front of McCoy on a Brown run that picked up 1 yard in the first. Kelly did a poor job with his block on a Brown run in the second that was stopped for no gain. He was beaten badly on Brown’s red-zone run that lost a yard in the second. And Kelly was beaten off the edge on the play where Foles stepped up and found Avant deep downfield. He had trouble with Bennett in the third, but McCoy sacked Foles first. Kelly got pushed into the backfield by Bennett on Brown’s third-quarter run that lost a yard. He was beaten badly on third down in the third, forcing Foles to move out of the pocket and throw incomplete. Kelly missed his block on the WR screen to Maclin in the fourth that picked up 4 yards. On the very next play, he gave up a sack to Bennett. And he had trouble with Bennett on the play after that, but Foles stepped up and hit Maclin for a first down. Much to improve on after this outing for Kelly.

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All-22: Brown, O-Line Clicking On All Cylinders

Here’s an All-22 look at Bryce Brown’s 24-carry, 169-yard performance Sunday night against the Cowboys.

Play 1: Big runs require several different elements to come together within a matter of seconds. For example, on this first-quarter play, it initially looks like the linebacker is going to meet Brown after a short gain.


You’ll also notice Jake Scott and Dennis Kelly are double-teaming the nose tackle. But Scott comes off the double-team and blocks the linebacker.


Suddenly, Brown’s got a running lane. And he’s shown in the past couple of weeks that when he’s one-on-one with a defensive back, he’s winning more often than not. Ok, forget that. He’s winning every time. Brown first breaks the tackle of safety Danny McCray, and then, the other safety, Gerald Sensabaugh, takes a shot.


Looks like he’s got him, right?


Wrong. Brown once again shows excellent lower-body strength, shakes free and is eventually pushed out of bounds after a 24-yard run.

Play 2: I thought Marty Mornhinweg and Andy Reid did an outstanding job with their game-plan of neutralizing DeMarcus Ware. Here, in the red zone, the Eagles line up in shotgun with three wide receivers. They get Ware going upfield, creating a huge running lane for Brown.


Evan Mathis (highlighted in yellow to your right) throws the key block. And Dallas Reynolds takes care of the linebacker. Another key aspect of the play design iss Riley Cooper going inside. The Cowboys initially have two defensive backs to that side of the field, but Cooper takes them with him. And Brown has nothing but open field in front of him.

Play 3: Nice job here by Scott, who has to get outside the defensive lineman to execute his block.


He does so flawlessly. Brent Celek and Dennis Kelly also get the job done, allowing Brown to get outside.


Once Brown gets into the open field, McCray once again has a shot at him.


But Brown once again shakes him off and picks up 39 yards.


Play 4: On the second touchdown run, you really can’t execute a double-team better than Celek and Kelly do here.


Reynolds also gets the job done on the linebacker. And Jason Avant deserves credit for busting it to get to the safety.


That’s your weekly reminder of the importance of wide receivers blocking in the run game.

Play 5: The draw on the Eagles’ final possession of the first half was set up perfectly. Look at the blocking.


Mathis and Scott pin defenders to the inside. Reynolds sets up on the linebacker. Avant is on the defensive back. And Dunlap is out in front.

We’ve picked on Reynolds plenty in this space, so it’s only fair to give him credit here. He sticks with the linebacker 15 yards downfield. And keep in mind, this is a player who was questionable going into the game because of an ankle injury. Great effort.

Obviously, Brown had the fumble in the fourth (his third in two games). He’s got to do a better job of taking care of the football. And the Cowboys were without Jay Ratliff, Sean Lee and Bruce Carter. But as you can see, even with the makeshift offensive line, the Eagles’ running game is clicking on all cylinders right now.

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OL Review: Scott Still In For Watkins

It’s probably too little, too late, but the Eagles’ offensive line turned in one of its best performances of the season Sunday night against the Cowboys.

Sure, it helped that Dallas was without Jay Ratliff, Sean Lee and Bruce Carter, but the offense scored points on six of 10 offensive possessions. Nick Foles was sacked just once and had a comfortable pocket for most of the game. On the ground, the Eagles averaged 7.0 yards per carry, which help neutralize DeMarcus Ware. The Eagles often ran play-fakes right at Ware to slow him down.

Below is the player-by-player breakdown:

King Dunlap – He had some issues, but overall, did a respectable job against Ware, especially considering Dunlap was playing through a knee injury. In pass protection, he allowed Ware to get some pressure on Foles as he dumped it off to Clay Harbor for 3 yards in the third. Ware got past Dunlap in the fourth, but Foles escaped and threw complete to Jason Avant. Dunlap allowed the team’s only sack, as Victor Butler went right around him, one-on-one, and stripped Foles in the fourth. He did a poor job on Jason Hatcher on Bryce Brown’s run that lost 6 yards in the first. On the flip side, Dunlap got out in front and blocked the linebacker on Dion Lewis’ 11-yard run in the third. He helped shove Ware upfield on Brown’s 13-yard run in the fourth.

Evan Mathis – He’s really playing well right now. Mathis did a nice job on the linebacker on the 13-yard screen to Damaris Johnson in the first. He threw the key block on Brown’s 10-yard touchdown in the first. And Mathis got to the linebacker on Brown’s second touchdown run. He pinned Hatcher on Brown’s 20-yard run in the second and did a good job on Josh Brent on Lewis’ 11-yard run in the third. Mathis blocked Hatcher and helped create a lane for Brown on his 13-yard run in the fourth. Strong overall game.

Dallas Reynolds – I thought he also delivered a pretty good performance, especially considering he was dealing with an ankle injury and listed as questionable on Friday. Let’s start with the good. Reynolds did an excellent job getting to linebackers on the second level all game long. Examples: Brown’s first touchdown run, Brown’s 20-yard run in the second, Brown’s 13-yard run in the fourth. He and Dennis Kelly had a nice double-team on Brown’s 39-yard run in the second. And Reynolds had an excellent block on Marcus Spears on Brown’s second touchdown run. The issues? Brent got past him and pressured Foles, forcing him to throw it away in the fourth. And Reynolds failed to switch off his man and pick up Ernie Sims on the first play from scrimmage.

Jake Scott - By all accounts I’ve heard, Danny Watkins was healthy last week and ready to start at left guard if Mathis had to play center. Yet Scott still started at right guard in his place. And Scott played pretty well too. It’s now officially fair to question why the Eagles didn’t sign him earlier in the season. Scott sealed the edge and allowed Brown to turn the corner on his 39-yard run in the second. He did a nice job of switching off his man on a stunt in the second, giving Foles time to hit Avant for 29 yards. When the Eagles needed a first down on 3rd-and-2 in the third, they ran Brown right behind Scott and picked it up. He did a nice job on Sims on Brown’s 17-yard run in the third. And Scott got to Dan Connor on the shovel pass to Brown that picked up 7. He did a good job on the linebacker on Brown’s 2nd-and-2 carry that picked up 6 yards. Most of the Eagles’ issues in pass protection came late when Dallas knew they had to throw the ball (and perhaps the linemen were fatigued). Spears beat him badly in the fourth, forcing Foles to scramble and throw the ball away.

Dennis Kelly – He has issues here and there, but overall, Kelly looks like a pretty competent right tackle. He did a nice job on Spears on Brown’s 5-yard run in the first. He handled Anthony Spencer one-on-one on an 8-yard completion to Brown in the first. Kelly threw a key block on Brown’s 24-yard run in the first. Perfectly-executed double team by him and Brent Celek on Brown’s second touchdown run. Nice job switching off his man and handling a stunt on a 29-yard completion to Avant. Good block on Sean Lissemore, creating a running lane for Brown on his 17-yard carry in the third. Kelly got out in front of the screen to Avant and blocked Ware. He had some trouble with Spencer on Foles’ incompletion to Riley Cooper in the third. And Kelly got beaten by Spencer in the fourth, but the Cowboys linebacker was called for roughing the passer on the play.

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Cheat Sheet: Eagles’ Offense Vs. Panthers’ Defense

Here are 10 things to know about how the Eagles’ offense matches up with the Panthers’ defense. If you missed the first cheat sheet, click here.

1. C’mon, admit it. You want an update on draft position after the Sunday’s games, don’t you? Going into tonight’s contest, only the Chiefs (1-10), Jaguars (2-9) and Panthers (2-8) have fewer wins than the Eagles. The Raiders and Browns are both 3-8. As we mentioned yesterday, going into this weekend’s games, the Eagles had a 23.4 percent chance of landing a top-three pick, according to Football Outsiders.

2. Ok, let’s talk about the actual game. The Panthers are 21st in the league in scoring defense, allowing 24.3 points per game. But Football Outsiders has them ranked eighth – ninth against the pass and 17th against the run. The Eagles are 31st in scoring offense, averaging just 16.2 points per game (ahead of only the Chiefs). Football Outsiders has the ranked 28th – 29th in passing and 26th in rushing. The Eagles tied a season-low with six points last week vs. the Redskins and have not scored more than 24 points all season.

3. The Panthers will likely play eight different defensive linemen throughout the course of the game, the best of which is Charles Johnson, who has 8.5 sacks (tied for eighth in the league entering the weekend). He has 29 sacks since the beginning of the 2010 season. King Dunlap will have his hands full with Johnson. A couple weeks ago, Dunlap had the disastrous game against the Cowboys. He wasn’t as bad last week, but still had his share of issues.

4. Greg Hardy, a 2010 sixth-round pick, has seven sacks. He’ll match up with rookie Dennis Kelly. Kelly had some miscues last week, but played relatively well against Ryan Kerrigan. He certainly looked more comfortable at tackle than he did at guard the previous three games. Jake Scott, who was watching football at home a couple weeks ago, will get his second consecutive start at right guard. Aside from the three penalties, Scott was solid vs. the Redskins. If he plays well the rest of the season, Howie Roseman will have to answer the question of why it took so long for the Eagles to sign him.

5. One question that’s going to be tossed around quite a bit in the coming weeks is: How long will the Eagles need to turn this thing around? My initial response is always: That depends on the direction they go at quarterback. But it also depends on the offensive line. If Jason Peters, Todd Herremans and Jason Kelce are all healthy going into next year, they actually could have a good offensive line. Maybe they use an early pick on a tackle and move Herremans back inside. But there will be a couple lingering questions. One is depth. Kelly, for example, has a chance to prove himself in the final six games. The other issue is scheme fit. The Eagles have focused their offensive line moves on Howard Mudd’s system. But what happens when Mudd is gone? What kind of scheme will the Eagles go to? Will someone like Jason Kelce still seem like a promising player? Those are questions that the new coach is going to have to answer.

6. At running back, Bryce Brown makes his first career start. Brown has not run the ball 15 times in a game since high school. Monday night is a great opportunity for Brown to get his name out there as he tries to establish a career in the league after a disappointing college campaign. He’s averaged 4.4 yards per carry on 31 rushes. In the last three games, Brown’s run 12 times for 85 yards. Dion Lewis and Stanley Havili could get in the mix too. The Panthers are allowing 4.2 yards per carry. Rookie linebacker Luke Kuechly has been a tackling machine. According to ESPN.com’s stats, Kuechly entered the weekend third in the league with 97 tackles. That’s remarkable when you consider he didn’t become a full-time player until the fifth game of the season. Kuechly mans the middle with James Anderson at the SAM spot and Thomas Davis at the WILL.

7. Nick Foles gets his second straight start after an unimpressive debut last week. Of course, Foles didn’t get a lot of help from his teammates as the defense got torched by Robert Griffin III, and his receivers dropped five balls. And the offensive line, well, you know about the offensive line. Opponents are completing 65.8 percent of their passes against the Panthers (29th) and averaging 7.0 yards per attempt (13th).

8. The Redskins and Jim Haslett blitzed Foles quite a bit last week, and the results were not pretty. He went 9-for-21 for 92 yards against extra pressure. Sean McDermott learned under Jim Johnson and will definitely dial up the blitz, although he hasn’t had to rely on it as much as you might think – presumably because the Panthers have been able to get pressure from the front four. Last week against the Bucs, Carolina blitzed just seven times, but had success as Josh Freeman went 2-for-7 for 23 yards against extra pressure, according to Pro Football Focus.

9. One of Foles’ issues last week was his inability to get the ball downfield to DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin. The pair combined for two catches for 5 yards. It was just the second time all year Jackson failed to reach at least 50 yards receiving. Maclin, meanwhile, is averaging 49.9 yards per game, his lowest number since entering the league in 2009. Jason Avant is out, meaning more playing time for Riley Cooper and Damaris Johnson. The Eagles signed Greg Salas earlier in the week, but he very well could be inactive. Carolina, meanwhile, starts cornerbacks Captain Munnerlyn and Josh  Norman. Munnerlyn, a 2010 seventh-round pick, has been targeted 50 times and allowed 62 percent completions, per PFF. He has two pick-sixes on the season. Norman, a rookie fifth-round pick out of Coastal Carolina, has been targeted 68 times and allowed 66.2 percent completions.

10. Leftovers: The Eagles are 15th in third-down offense, converting 38.6 percent of the time. The Panthers are 18th in third-down defense, allowing conversions 38.2 percent of the time. …The Eagles are 30th in red-zone offense, scoring touchdowns 38.7 percent of the time. Carolina is seventh in red-zone defense, allowing touchdowns 43.8 percent of the time. …The Eagles’ average starting field position on offense is their own 24.02 yard line (29th). …The Eagles have the most giveaways (24) in the NFC. They also have the fewest takeaways (10).

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OL Review: What To Make Of Scott’s Debut

Here’s a player-by-player look at what we saw from the Eagles’ offensive line in Sunday’s loss to the Redskins:

King Dunlap – Not as bad as last week, but Dunlap was up and down. He was called for a pair of holding penalties – one on a LeSean McCoy run in the first and another in pass protection in the third. Dunlap just got flat-out beat one-on-one on a Rob Jackson sack in the fourth. And he was unable to get to linebacker Lorenzo Alexander on a screen to Brent Celek that lost 3 yards in the fourth. Initially, it looked like Dunlap gave up a sack in the third, but the replay showed Ryan Kerrigan blatantly grabbing his jersey, not allowing him to get over to Perry Riley, who was blitzing off the edge. Dunlap got beat by Alexander on an inside move late in the game. He had some good moments in pass protection, specifically on Nick Foles’ 21-yard completion to Damaris Johnson.

Evan Mathis – The lone starter from the beginning of the season was solid for the most part. Mathis held up well in pass protection. He did a good job on McCoy’s 5-yard run in the third. And Mathis did a great job blocking London Fletcher downfield on McCoy’s 13-yard catch and run in the fourth. In the first, Kedric Golston went past him and dropped Bryce Brown for a 1-yard loss.

Dallas Reynolds –  He had quite a few issues with Barry Cofield, the Redskins’ veteran nose tackle. Cofield gave him trouble in the third, but Foles stepped up and completed a pass to Celek. Really bad moment in the third. The Eagles had a 1st-and-10 at the Redskins’ 20, and Reynolds got abused by Cofield as McCoy was dropped for a 6-yard loss. Later, Cofield went right around him and crushed Foles on an incomplete throw in the fourth. And Reynolds did a poor job on Riley, who blitzed on Foles’ second interception.

Jake Scott – Let’s get the penalties out of the way first. Scott was called for two false starts in the first and holding in the fourth. Can some of that be explained by the fact that he just got signed last week? Probably. Scott had three penalties in 16 games last season, although he had 11 in 2010, per Pro Football Focus. Overall, though, I thought he did some positive things for someone who was just thrown into the mix. Scott showed good athleticism and got his hands on a defensive back on the 8-yard screen to DeSean Jackson. He did a nice job switching off to Kerrigan on a stunt as Foles found Stanley Havili for 9 yards on 3rd-and-2 in the first. Scott delivered a good block on the shovel pass to McCoy that picked up 5. Good job of getting to the linebacker on McCoy’s 4-yard run in the first. He got just enough of the linebacker out in space on the McCoy screen that picked up 25 in the second. And Scott drove Cofield to the ground on McCoy’s 9-yard run around the right side in the second. On Foles’ second interception, it’s tough to say whether he should have picked up the blitzer. Scott ended up not blocking anyone, and McCoy got bowled over. The Redskins rushed five on the play, and the Eagles had six in to block. In the second, Scott had some trouble in protection, but Foles stepped up and hit Riley Cooper. So the penalties were bad, but at 31, he looks like someone who still belongs on a roster.

Dennis Kelly – I actually thought he held his own against Kerrigan, who is a former first-round pick and a pretty good pass rusher. Kelly certainly looks more comfortable at tackle than guard. He did a good job of picking up the defensive tackle on a stunt as Foles found Havili for 9 yards in the first. On the shovel pass to McCoy, Kelly initially executed a double-team with Scott and then got his hands on a linebacker at the second level. He had trouble with Kerrigan and was called for holding, negating a 13-yard completion to Brown in the first. Good block on Golston, creating space for Brown’s 13-yard run in the second. Good job pinning Kerrigan inside on McCoy’s 9-yard run in the second. Nice job one-on-one in pass protection against Kerrigan on Foles’ 21-yard completion to Johnson on 3rd-and-17 in the second.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.
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Cheat Sheet: Eagles’ Offense Vs. Redskins’ Defense

Here are 10 things to know about how the Eagles’ offense matches up with the Redskins’ defense. If you missed the first cheat sheet, click here.

1. The Redskins rank 27th in scoring defense, allowing 27.6 points per game. Football Outsiders has them ranked 23rd – 24th against the pass and 17th against the run. The Eagles continue to perform like one of the worst offensive teams in the league. They’re averaging 17.3 points per game (29th) and have failed to score more than 24 in any single game. Football Outsiders has the Eagles’ offense ranked 24th – 25th in passing and 24th in rushing. The Eagles have turned it over 21 times – second-most in the league. They are 29th in red-zone efficiency, scoring touchdowns 40 percent of the time.

2. The spotlight will be on rookie Nick Foles, who is making his first start. Against the Cowboys, he completed 22 of 32 passes, but 16 of those completions were within 5 yards of the line of scrimmage. Foles did a good job of keeping his eyes downfield and showed good athleticism, but he made a few questionable decisions (All-22 breakdown here), which were expected. He will face a shaky Redskins defense on Sunday. Opponents are completing 63.8 percent of their passes against Washington (22nd), and the Redskins are allowing 7.9 yards per attempt (27th).

3. Without Brian Orakpo (out for the season with a pectoral injury), the Redskins have not been able to generate much of a pass-rush. Ryan Kerrigan, a first-round pick in 2011, has 4.5 sacks. As a team, the Redskins have 14 sacks (tied for 28th). The Eagles have allowed 29 sacks, tied for second-most. Danny Watkins is questionable. If he can’t go, newcomer Jake Scott or rookie Dennis Kelly would get the nod at right guard. If Watkins plays, Kelly is expected to line up at right tackle, and King Dunlap will play left tackle. If Kelly plays guard, Demetress Bell, who has struggled all season, would be forced into action. Dunlap had a disastrous game last week against the Cowboys. And Kelly has struggled at guard.

4. I write this every week, but DeSean Jackson is quietly having a really good year. He’s 12th in the league, averaging 76.2 yards per game. Only five receivers are averaging at least 75 yards per game and 16 yards per reception: Calvin Johnson, Demaryius Thomas, Vincent Jackson, Julio Jones and DeSean Jackson. The Eagles need to continue to find ways to get Jackson the ball. Jeremy Maclin was a favorite target of Foles’ last week, finishing with eight catches for 93 yards. Riley Cooper and Damaris Johnson figure to see extended action with Jason Avant out of the lineup. Cooper made a great play on the fade in the end zone vs. Dallas.

5. Brent Celek could be a factor vs. the Redskins. Football Outsiders has Washington ranked 24th in covering tight ends. Celek has had 50 yards or fewer in five straight games. The Redskins’ inside linebackers are Perry Riley, a 2010 fourth-round pick, and 37-year-old London FletcherClay Harbor played just 18 snaps last week. You’d think that with Avant out and the Redskins having a weakness against tight ends that this would be a good opportunity for him to get on the field.

6. Redskins defensive coordinator Jim Haslett is in a tough spot. He doesn’t have the pass-rushers to rely on pressure without blitzing. And he doesn’t have the secondary to cover when he does dial up extra pressure. You’ll definitely see Foles get blitzed in this one, but that means there will be opportunities for (relatively) easy completions.

For example, here, the Redskins come with a seven-man pressure against Carolina. That means one defender is going to be unblocked. It’s on the quarterback to get rid of the ball quickly.

Cam Newton finds tight end Greg Olsen open for an 8-yard completion. He’s also got a receiver wide-open in the middle of the field.

7. Another example on a 19-yard touchdown to Steve Smith. This time, the Redskins rush six. The key is Jonathan Stewart coming across the formation to pick up the blitzer.

As you can see below, he does an outstanding job. And check out the pocket for Newton. Even though the Redskins sent six, no one is near him.

He has his option of three different receivers. Newton goes to Smith (bottom of the screen), who is actually covered. But Smith does what he’s done all his career and fights for the ball, coming down with the 19-yard touchdown.

8. On the ground, LeSean McCoy has been really good the last two weeks, averaging 5.7 yards per carry on 35 attempts. Washington is allowing 4.2 yards per carry. McCoy is averaging 5.5 yards per carry out of two tight-end sets. But he’s had nowhere to go in the red zone. McCoy has 20 carries for 24 yards inside the opponents’ 20. Inside the opponents’ 10, he has 13 carries for 2 yards and two touchdowns.

9. We’ve talked about the punt return the Eagles allowed last week, but their return units continue to be a complete disaster as well. On average, the Eagles’ offense is beginning drives at its own 24-yard-line, per Football Outsiders. That’s the third-worst mark in the league. The Eagles are one of three teams without a kickoff return of at least 35 yards this season. They are the only team without a kickoff return of at least 35 yards in the past two seasons.

10. Leftovers: The Redskins are 22nd in red-zone defense, allowing touchdowns 57.6 percent of the time. The Eagles are 29th in red-zone offense, scoring touchdowns 40 percent of the time. …The Eagles are 15th in third-down offense, converting 38.9 percent of the time. The Redskins are 29th in third-down defense, allowing opponents to convert 43.8 percent of the time.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.
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With Watkins Questionable, Scott Could Be Plugged In

Philadelphia Eagles right guard Danny Watkins.Offensive lineman Jake Scott was signed by the Eagles on Monday. He could see action less than a week later.

Danny Watkins (ankle) practiced all week but is officially questionable for Sunday’s game in Washington.

“Well, what you end up getting with the [high-ankle sprain], you get tweaks in there and it hinders your lateral mobility,” said Andy Reid. “I was proud of him for getting out here and going through what he did. He did a nice job with it. He’s making progress and we’ll just see how he does here over the next couple days.”

Reid would not reveal who would take Watkins’ place if he can’t go.

Here’s what we do know: Dennis Kelly, who filled in for Watkins at right guard while he was out, has been getting the majority of his reps at right tackle this week. It has been a “60-40″ split between tackle and guard at practice, according to Kelly. This is a tough situation for the rookie, who is trying to mentally prepare for his first professional start at tackle while also working in at guard.

“I’m taking the same approach that I did throughout the week. We don’t know what’s going on with Danny yet, so you’ve just got to be ready to take both,” said Kelly. “It’s a little difficult. With the beginning of the year, trying to learn the offense with all the positions it does make it a little bit interesting, but I’m used to it now and have a better grasp of the offense so it’s not as hard.”

Meanwhile, Scott has been working in at right guard and, despite being brand new to the team, could be called upon if Watkins can’t go and Kelly is kept outside.

“There’s a chance, yeah. There’s a chance,” said Reid. “He worked in part of the rotation, That’s a possibility.

“He looks like he’s in pretty good shape. We put him through a pretty excessive workout, just in case it came down to where he had to get in and play and he handled that well.”

The 31-year-old Scott played under Howard Mudd in Indianapolis so he has an understanding of the technique. Scott said he had some options prior to signing with the Eagles but was “picky in the situation. I wanted to be in the right situation. I wanted to be somewhere where I could come in and have a chance to play.”

With the offensive line in flux, he may have an opportunity to do just that.

The 6-5, 292-pounder has started 121 career regular season games and nine postseason contests with the Colts (2004-07) and Titans (2008-11). He started all 16 games in each of the last seven years.

“I’ve got to be ready for this Sunday if they need me,” said Scott. “So, I’ll be ready for Sunday.”

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OL Review: King Dunlap’s Rough Day

Here’s a review of the Eagles’ offensive line performance after having re-watched Sunday’s game against the Cowboys:

Demetress Bell – Had his usual array of issues. The Eagles moved Bell from the right side to the left side and gave him help against DeMarcus Ware with extra blockers and quick throws. Bell was asked to block Ware one-on-one in the second and had trouble, but the Cowboys jumped offsides. Ware went right around him and hit Nick Foles in the second. Bell was called for holding on the very next play. He had trouble with Ware on the LeSean McCoy run that was stopped for no gain in the second and was beaten badly by Ware around the edge on Foles’ deep ball to Riley Cooper in the third. Bell let Ernie Sims get around him on McCoy’s 2-yard run in the fourth. Anthony Spencer got past him, forcing Foles out of the pocket on third down in the fourth. Bell was beaten around the edge by Victor Butler for a sack in the fourth. With 53 seconds left and the Eagles needing to go 89 yards for a chance to tie the game, he was called for a false start on first down. Tough to imagine this signing having gone any worse.

Evan Mathis – Up-and-down game for Mathis. He failed to pick up Ware on the twist in the first, leading to a hit on Michael Vick. McCoy ran right into him on a first-quarter carry for no gain. He and McCoy were slow to pick up Spencer in the first, as the linebacker got a hand in Vick’s face on the incompletion to Jeremy Maclin. Mathis whiffed on his block attempt on the screen to McCoy that picked up 8 on 3rd-and-13 in the second. There were positives too. Nice job on the 12-yard screen to McCoy. And good block on McCoy’s 13-yard run.

Dallas Reynolds – He was actually OK through three quarters, and then, like the rest of the line, fell apart in the fourth. Reynolds’ best moments came in the run game. Good double-team with Mathis on McCoy’s 6-yard run in the first. Really nice job creating a hole for McCoy on his 23-yard run in the third. Good job again on McCoy’s 13-yard run in the third. And excellent job of getting to the linebacker on McCoy’s 6-yard run in the third. It’s tough to say whether he or Bell was supposed to block Bruce Carter on Bryce Brown’s 3rd-and-15 run that picked up 2, but the linebacker went right past both linemen. Reynolds failed to pick up Jason Hatcher on a twist on third down in the third. He tripped on his way to the linebacker on McCoy’s 3-yard run in the fourth. And he didn’t make much of a block on Brown’s run that was stopped for no gain in the fourth.

Dennis Kelly – Another rough go for the rookie. Kelly did a poor job of picking up Sims on the blitz where Vick may have sustained the concussion. The Cowboys rushed six on the play, and the Eagles had six in to block, but Kelly failed to pick up Sims. Poor job on Kenyon Coleman on McCoy’s 3rd-and-2 carry near the end of the first half. Kelly couldn’t finish his block on McCoy’s 6-yard run in the third. And he was beaten badly by Jay Ratliff on the Foles interception that was called back because of a Cowboys penalty. Ratliff beat Kelly again and forced Foles out of the pocket and into an incompletion in the fourth. Hatcher got past him on 3rd-and-24 in the fourth, forcing Foles to dump it off to Clay Harbor. Kelly failed to pick up Spencer on the twist as he sacked Foles and forced the fumble late in the game. A couple good moments: He got to the second level on McCoy’s 6-yard run in the first. And again on McCoy’s 13-yard run in the third. Overall, though, very shaky the past two weeks.

King Dunlap – Simply a terrible, game-changing stretch in the third quarter. Dunlap pretty much tackled Maclin on the WR screen that lost a yard. On the next play, he was called for illegal hands to the face, negating a 12-yard gain and third-down conversion from Foles to Damaris Johnson. And he didn’t get much of a block on Ware on Brown’s 2-yard run on 3rd-and-15. Dunlap then went to the sideline on the field-goal try, forcing Andy Reid to use a timeout. Later, he was called for illegal hands to the face in the fourth, negating a Cooper catch. Dunlap actually did some good things earlier. He was effective on McCoy’s 6-yard run in the first and delivered a nice backside block on McCoy’s 23-yard run in the third. Good job on McCoy’s 13-yard run in the third also. But overall, a disastrous performance.

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