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.

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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.

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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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Making Sense Of the Eagles’ Inactives

The following players are inactive for the Eagles’ NFC East matchup against the Cowboys: Trent Edwards, Mardy Gilyard, Chris Polk, Danny Watkins, Nate Menkin, Vinny Curry and Phillip Hunt.

Hunt, who had a great preseason, is a healthy scratch and inactive for the first time all season. Curry, a second-round pick, still has not dressed for a game. The Eagles have five defensive tackles active: Fletcher Cox, Cullen Jenkins, Derek LandriMike Patterson and Cedric Thornton.

Watkins is out for the third consecutive game with an ankle injury. Rookie Dennis Kelly was solid against the Falcons, but really struggled last week vs. the Saints.

King Dunlap, who turned in his worst performance of the season against New Orleans, moves from left tackle to right tackle. Demetress Bell, who has struggled all season, will take over at left tackle and see a healthy dose of DeMarcus Ware.

After forcing a fumble on special teams last week, Polk sits against the Cowboys because of a toe injury. Dion Lewis is active for the third time all season. LeSean McCoy, who was probable, is active and will start.

With Gilyard out, Damaris Johnson is expected to once again handle punt returns.

The Eagles have two backup offensive linemen - Matt Tennant and Julian Vandervelde. Should a tackle get injured, Kelly would likely swing out.

Be sure to join me and Tim for a live chat. Kickoff is set for 4:25.

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Cheat Sheet: Eagles’ Offense Vs. Cowboys’ Defense

Philadelphia Eagles RB LeSean McCoy.Here are 10 things to know about how the Eagles’ offense matches up with the Cowboys’ defense. For the first cheat sheet, click here.

1. The Cowboys rank 18th in scoring defense, allowing 22.6 points per game. Football Outsiders has them ranked 13th – ninth against the run, 16th against the pass. The Eagles, meanwhile, are playing like one of the worst offenses in the league. There’s no sugar-coating that fact anymore. They’re tied for 30th in scoring (16.6 points per game), and Football Outsiders has them ranked 26th. The Eagles have 19 giveaways (tied for second-most with the Cowboys) and are 30th in red-zone efficiency, scoring touchdowns just 37 percent of the time. The Saints entered last week’s game allowing over 30 points per game. No opponent had scored fewer than 24. But the Eagles managed just 13.

2. The key cog in the Cowboys’ defense is pass-rusher DeMarcus Ware, who enters the game with nine sacks, tied for second-most in the league. The Eagles will go with four backups on the offensive line, Evan Mathis being the lone remaining healthy starter. Demetress Bell, who was a disaster against the Saints, will see a lot of Ware. Some have made the argument that the reason Bell struggled so much last week was because the coaches put him at right tackle, where he had never played before. But don’t forget that he had plenty of issues at left tackle earlier in the season. It would be a mistake for Marty Mornhinweg and Andy Reid to even consider letting Bell try to block Ware without help. The plan has to be to park Brent Celek or Clay Harbor next to Bell for pretty much the entire game. Ware will line up on the other side too. In those cases, the tight end can line up next to King Dunlap, who will play right tackle and is coming off his worst outing of the year.

3. Other than Ware, a few other defenders the Eagles will have to keep an eye on are nose tackle Jay Ratliff (probable), defensive lineman Jason Hatcher and outside linebacker Anthony Spencer. Spencer has three sacks on the season. Ratliff could give Dallas Reynolds and Dennis Kelly fits. Hatcher is second on the team in hurries and QB hits, according to Pro Football Focus. Michael Vick has been sacked 27 times, third-most in the league. He was sacked 23 times all of last season.

4. The Cowboys were dealt a blow when they lost Sean Lee, one of the league’s top inside linebackers, for the season to an injury. Dallas signed former Eagle Ernie Sims. Bruce Carter, a second-round pick in 2011, has been playing well. He’s second on the team with 46 tackles, including a team-high six for loss. Opponents are averaging 4.1 yards per carry against the Cowboys. LeSean McCoy is coming off one of his best games of the season, a 19-carry, 119-yard performance against New Orleans. He was limited in practice this week because of an illness, but is listed as probable. Michael Turner carried 20 times for 102 yards against the Cowboys last week.

5. Dallas is 24th in the league at covering opposing tight ends, per Football Outsiders. But like I mentioned above, the Eagles are going to need Celek and Harbor to block quite a bit in this one. Per PFF, on passing plays, Celek is being used as a blocker 28 percent of the time. Last year, that number was 25.3 percent.

6. Dallas’ offseason focus on defense was improving its secondary. The Cowboys signed cornerback Brandon Carr from the Chiefs and traded up in the first round to snag LSU’s Morris Claiborne. Dallas’ pass defense has produced mixed results. The Cowboys are 13th in opponents’ completion percentage (61.3) and 23rd in yards per attempt (7.6). They’ve allowed just seven passing touchdowns, tied for third-fewest, and have the fewest interceptions (three) in the league. Teams have targeted Carr (37 times) and Claiborne (34 times) pretty equally. The safeties are veteran Gerald Sensabaugh and Danny McCray, who had never started a game before this season.

7. As for Michael Vick, this season came with the promise that he’d show great improvement from 2011. But Vick’s numbers are down across the board, as he’s completed just 58.3 percent of his passes and is averaging just 6.8 yards per attempt. The offensive line has been terrible, but Vick has left too many plays on the field. Tbe Cowboys blitzed Ryan six times and Eli Manning the week before just once. The guess is Rob Ryan feels like he can get to Vick without having to send extra pressure.

8. As we showed with the All-22, Vick missed multiple opportunities to get Jeremy Maclin the football last week. The fourth-year receiver is averaging just 50.9 yards per game. DeSean Jackson, meanwhile, is quietly having a really good year. According to Pro Football Focus, among the 31 wide receivers who have totaled at least 500 yards, Jackson is the only one without a drop. He’s on pace to set career-highs with 74 catches and 1,248 yards.

9. Want to see the difference between a good offense and the Eagles right now? Check out this play from last week. The Cowboys bring a six-man pressure. The Falcons have no tight ends in to block – just one running back and the offensive line.


But check out the pocket Ryan has.


He doesn’t get sacked. He doesn’t get hit. No one even lays a finger on him. Ryan’s decisive, identifies Julio Jones against Claiborne down the left sideline, and the Falcons burn Ryan’s blitz with a 38-yard gain. The Eagles will have opportunities downfield, but it seems unlikely that they’ll be able to execute at this level.

10. Leftovers: The Cowboys are 10th in red-zone defense, allowing touchdowns 48.3 percent of the time. …The Eagles’ offense ranks 13th on third down, converting 41.4 percent of the time. The Cowboys rank 10th, allowing opponents to convert 36.3 percent of the time. …The Cowboys are 2-point favorites, according to Bovada. Per SportsInsights.com, 78 percent of the action is on Dallas to cover.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.
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OL Review: Bell Signing a Disaster

Here’s a player-by-player look at how the Eagles’ offensive line performed on Monday night against the Saints.

And before we get started, I broke down the seven sacks (with images!) in an earlier post, so click here for that.

King Dunlap – This had to be his worst performance of the season. Dunlap struggled throughout, often times with veteran defensive end Will Smith. He did a really poor job against Smith on a play-action sack in the first. Dunlap got beaten by Smith again and allowed a hit on Michael Vick on third down late in the first half. He did a poor job on LeSean McCoy’s 4-yard run in the fourth. And he got beaten by Smith again in the fourth, although Vick walked right into the sack. Smith got past Dunlap and forced Vick to scramble on another play. A couple bright spots: He did a good job on the linebacker on Bryce Brown’s 40-yard run in the first. And Dunlap was effective on the 13-yard McCoy run in the first.

Evan Mathis – To be honest, I pretty much had nothing written down for Mathis. I guess I was focused on watching for glaring errors, and he didn’t have many (although I didn’t notice any exceptional plays either). Mathis was the only true starter left standing on this offensive line Monday night.

Dallas Reynolds – It’s tough to tell how many errors are being made pre-snap and whether Reynolds or Vick are responsible. Reynolds was OK in this one and didn’t have as many issues as his teammates. He missed his block at the second level on McCoy’s 2-yard run in the first. And he failed to pick up Jonathan Vilma, allowing a sack/forced fumble in the first. Reynolds gave up a hit on Vick on third down in the red zone in the third. On the flip side, he did a good job on McCoy’s 25-yard run. And again on Brown’s 8-yard run. He’s actually done some good things in the run game this season.

Dennis Kelly – Last week, I thought he played relatively well, especially considering it was Kelly’s first career start. This week? As Jon Gruden pointed out on several occasions, not so good. Kelly whiffed on his block at the second level on McCoy’s 4-yard run in the first. And he got beaten by Cameron Jordan on the same drive, allowing a hit on Vick. Kelly did not get much of a block on Jordan on McCoy’s 2-yard run in the first. Later, he was gearing up for Curtis Lofton to blitz, but Lofton didn’t rush the passer. Meanwhile, Martez Wilson ran right past Kelly and crushed Vick for a sack. He whiffed on his block on the shovel pass inside the 5, although the play probably would have been stopped anyway. Kelly got tossed aside by Tom Johnson, who then dropped McCoy for no gain. He and Bell allowed a delayed blitzer to get through untouched between them, forcing Vick to scramble in the fourth. If Bell hadn’t gotten beaten so badly on another play, Kelly would have given up the sack, as Akiem Hicks got past him. A couple bright spots (but not many): Kelly and Reynolds created a running lane for McCoy’s 25-yard gain in the first. And he did a decent job on McCoy’s 5-yard run in the second.

Todd Herremans – He played an inconsistent quarter before leaving the game with an ankle injury. Good job by Herremans of pulling on McCoy’s 4-yard run. And he led the way on McCoy’s 8-yard scamper. But Herremans had trouble with Jordan’s speed rush around the edge on Vick’s incompletion to Brent Celek on the first possession. He was beaten badly by Jordan on the sack/forced fumble in the first. And Herremans missed his block against Vilma on the McCoy run that lost 1 yard (right before the red-zone interception). We should find out soon how serious his injury is.

Demetress Bell – The Bell signing looks like a complete disaster. When Jason Peters went down, the Eagles signed Bell to take over at left tackle. The hope was that he would be adequate with a high ceiling. Instead, he has been a complete liability nearly every time he’s stepped onto the field. In this one, Bell entered the game for Herremans in the first. He didn’t get a hand on Vilma as the linebacker dropped McCoy for a loss of 1 in the first. Bell allowed pressure around the edge, forcing Vick to step up and throw short to Stanley Havili in the second. It’s tough to say whether he was expecting help or just got beat as Jordan went right past him and Kelly in the red zone in the third. Bell was beaten by Jordan and gave up a hit on Vick with the Eagles backed up near their own end zone in the third. He did a poor job on McCoy’s 4-yard run in the fourth. Bell was called for a false start in the fourth, and on the very next play, was beaten badly by Jordan for a sack. He and McCoy let Wilson get around the edge, forcing Vick to scramble on the final drive.

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Tape Breakdown: Eagles Allow Seven Sacks

We don’t have the All-22 images yet, but ESPN did a good job of providing clear shots of the seven sacks the Eagles allowed in Monday night’s game against the Saints. So here’s one man’s attempt to figure out what in the world was going on with the Birds’ protection schemes.

Sack 1: This one started with the pre-snap look, and specifically Dennis Kelly. The Eagles’ right guard expects linebacker Curtis Lofton to blitz, so he moves off of his man to pick him up.


Lofton instead picks up LeSean McCoy in coverage. Martez Wilson, meanwhile, runs right past Kelly and has a free path to the quarterback.


Kelly tries to recover, but is too late.


Keep in mind that this sack took place in 2.1 seconds (all times unofficial, of course). The Eagles were not outnumbered. They had six blockers to handle four pass-rushers, but they had a breakdown in protection, and Vick got crushed.

Sack 2: The Eagles run slow-developing play-action. By the time Vick turns around, Will Smith has already beaten King Dunlap badly and is in the quarterback’s face. He scrambles and is eventually sacked by Brodrick Bunkley. The Eagles had six in to block five.

Sack 3: The Saints blitzed Jonathan Vilma right through the A-Gap. New Orleans crowded the line of scrimmage, and Dallas Reynolds let Vilma go right by him, instead choosing to block Lofton.


This shot is right after the ball is snapped. Could Vilma have an easier path to the quarterback? Vick spun away, but Cameron Jordan beat Todd Herremans badly, and the two defenders sandwiched Vick, sacking him and forcing a fumble.


This is one of those where the Eagles had six blockers against seven defenders so someone was going to be free. But Vick was sacked in 1.9 seconds. If Herremans doesn’t get beat, perhaps he’s able to improvise. It also looks like a play where Reynolds and/or Vick didn’t get the job done pre-snap.

Sack 4: The Eagles are in the red zone, and the first thing you’ll notice is they’re going empty backfield with no in-line tight end. Keep in mind that this is in the third quarter after the offensive line already had several issues. Why not give them at least a little help here? The Saints crowd the line of scrimmage.


Protection slides to the right. The Saints rush five, and the Eagles have five to block, but Smith has a free path to Vick. Not only that, but the Eagles can’t even block the other four guys, even though they have a one-man advantage. Jordan breaks through between Kelly and Demetress Bell.


Vick is hit within 1.9 seconds of when the ball is snapped.

Sack 5: This is one where Vick held on to the ball for awhile. Without the All-22, we don’t know if he had a receiver open or not, but he did have 3.6 seconds to get rid of the ball. It should be noted that the Eagles had six blockers to take on four pass-rushers, yet Brent Celek was asked to handle Jordan one-on-one.

Sack 6: This one’s probably on Vick. He could have stepped up, but instead danced right into the sack, as Dunlap had trouble with Smith off the edge.


You see the rest of the line has provided a clean pocket. Vick has plenty of space to move forward or to his right. Then again, this was in the fourth quarter. Can we really blame Vick for being a bit antsy after all those hits? The sack took place at 3.0 seconds.

Sack 7: And finally, a culmination of all the Eagles’ errors. It was a basic four-man pressure, but Bell got abused by Jordan, who sacked Vick in 2.3 seconds. Of course, it didn’t help that the Eagles again went with an empty backfield. And as you can see, if Jordan didn’t get Vick, Kelly and Dunlap got beaten also.

Perhaps at some point today, you’ll have a conversation with friends about who’s to blame: the offensive line, Vick or the coaching staff. The truth is, they were all responsible in one way or another. When you’re a 3-5 team and you score 13 points against a team that is allowing over 30 a game, there is plenty of blame to go around. So feel free to not be too picky.

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