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.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.
Become a fan of Birds 24/7 on Facebook.

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.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.
Become a fan of Birds 24/7 on Facebook.

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.
Become a fan of Birds 24/7 on Facebook.

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.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.
Become a fan of Birds 24/7 on Facebook.

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.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.
Become a fan of Birds 24/7 on Facebook.

Making Sense Of the Eagles’ Inactives

The following players are inactive for the Eagles’ Monday night matchup against the Saints: Trent Edwards, Mardy Gilyard, Darryl Tapp, Danny Watkins, Nate Menkin, Vinny Curry and Nate Allen.

Allen was questionable and didn’t practice on Friday or Saturday because of a hamstring injury. Taking his place will be David Sims, who has never played a defensive snap in the NFL. The Eagles acquired Sims from the Browns before the season, and he has a pretty remarkable story, going from trash man to starting safety against Drew Brees on national TV.

Mike Patterson is active for the first time after undergoing offseason brain surgery. Andy Reid said he’d monitor the defensive tackle’s snaps. Tapp is with his wife for the birth of their first child. Curry has yet to be active this season. Presumably, Brandon Graham and Phillip Hunt will take Tapp’s snaps at right defensive end behind Trent Cole. The Eagles have nine defensive linemen active – five tackles and four ends. Cullen Jenkins has played some DE this season as well.

Watkins is out for the second consecutive week with an ankle injury. Rookie Dennis Kelly once again gets the start. Aside from a couple miscues, he played well against the Falcons.

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

For the first time this season, all four Eagles running backs – LeSean McCoy, Dion Lewis, Bryce Brown and Chris Polk - are active. Lewis is active for the second time all season.

The Eagles have two backup offensive linemen – Demetress Bell and Matt Tennant.

Be sure to join me and Tim for a live chat during the game. Kickoff is set for 8:30.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.
Become a fan of Birds 24/7 on Facebook.

Cheat Sheet: Eagles’ Offense Vs. Saints’ Defense

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

1. The Saints’ defense hasn’t just been bad. It’s been historically bad. According to NOLA.com, Steve Spagnuolo’s group has given up more yards in the first seven games of the season than any defense in NFL history. The Saints rank 30th in the league in scoring defense, allowing 30.9 points per game. They’ve allowed at least 24 points in every game so far this season. Football Outsiders has them ranked last in overall defense – 32nd against the pass and 27th against the run. If the Eagles’ offense is ever going to get on track, this would be the week. Then again, folks in New Orleans are probably saying the same thing about their defense. The Birds are averaging 17.1 points per game, 28th in the league. Football Outsiders has the Eagles’ offense 24th – 22nd in passing and 30th with the run. They have not scored more than 24 points in a single game all season and have turned it over 17 times, tied for third-most in the league.

2. The Saints have a pedestrian pass-rush (13 sacks, 22nd) and will likely rotate seven defensive linemen up front. Defensive end Junior Galette leads New Orleans with four sacks. Cameron Jordan, a 2011 first-round pick, has three. He’ll get matched up with Todd Herremans, who has been inconsistent for much of the year. Former Eagles first-round pick Brodrick Bunkley is in his first season with the Saints. He was inactive vs. the Broncos, even though he was not listed on the injury report during the week. The Eagles will go with the same offensive line that was on the field last week. Rookie Dennis Kelly once again fills in for Danny Watkins (ankle) at right guard. Kelly played pretty well last week, as did King Dunlap at left tackle. As a unit, the offensive line held up OK in pass protection vs. the Falcons, but a lot of that had to do with the game-plan that focused on Michael Vick getting rid of the ball quickly.

3. Opponents are completing 66.5 percent of their passes against New Orleans, the fifth-worst mark in the league. And the Saints are allowing 9.1 yards per attempt, which ranks last. New Orleans has given up 32 pass plays of 20+ yards (third-most) and is allowing 304.6 passing yards per game (30th). Meanwhile, Vick has completed 62.4 percent of his passes in the last four games, but is averaging just 6.5 yards per attempt in that stretch, as the Eagles have tried to shift to a more methodical approach to help the offensive line. Vick’s gone without an interception in four of the past five games, but part of that has been luck. Last week, linebacker Stephen Nicholas dropped an easy pick that was right in his hands.

4. Opponents are averaging 5.0 yards per carry against New Orleans (30th). And the Saints have allowed nine runs of 20+ yards, third-most. At linebacker, New Orleans goes with Curtis Lofton in the middle, along with Jonathan Vilma at the WILL and David Hawthorne at the SAM. Lofton spent his first four seasons with the Falcons. He leads the Saints with 68 tackles. For the Eagles, LeSean McCoy has had nowhere to run in the past three games, totaling just 120 yards on 46 carries (2.6 YPC). In the past two, 11 of McCoy’s 30 runs have been stopped for zero or negative yards.

5. In the secondary, the Saints start cornerbacks Jabari Greer and Patrick Robinson. Greer, a nine-year veteran, is the team’s best defensive back. Robinson, a first-round pick in 2010, has been targeted 56 times, per Pro Football Focus. He’s tied for a team-high with five penalties, including a pair of pass interference calls. Nickel corner Corey White has allowed 30 catches on 37 targets, according to PFF’s numbers. Roman Harper and Malcolm Jenkins are the safeties. Harper made the Pro Bowl in 2009 and 2010. Last season, he had 7.5 sacks, but he’s been shut out this season. On average, Harper has blitzed just under four times per game, per PFF. Jenkins has blitzed just 10 times all season and been called for five penalties – including three face-masks and and an unsportsmanlike conduct. Jenkins has missed 14 tackles, per PFF.

6. For the Eagles, DeSean Jackson is having a quietly productive year, averaging 74.9 yards per game and 15.4 yards per catch. He’s yet to drop a ball and could have even better numbers if Vick had done a better job of getting him the ball. Some predicted a breakout year for Jeremy Maclin, but that has not happened. He’s averaging 54.7 yards per game, which would be a three-year low if it held up. Brent Celek leads the team with eight catches of 20+ yards, but he’s had a team-high six drops on the season.

7. On film, you see missed tackles, confusion and poor execution with the Saints. For example, there was this 95-yard Bucs completion to Vincent Jackson a couple weeks ago. You’ll see that after the ball is snapped, middle linebacker Curtis Lofton has his back to the line of scrimmage and is still trying to communicate with the secondary.

Josh Freeman’s pass goes down the left sideline. Both Robinson and Harper try to undercut the receiver, but neither gets a hand on the ball.

They both end up on the ground, and Jackson takes off. Jenkins, meanwhile, did a terrific job of never giving up on the play, and tackled Jackson at the 1. The Bucs failed to get in the end zone and turned it over on downs.

8. Expect the Saints to play their safeties deep and challenge the Eagles to methodically move the ball downfield without making mistakes. But as we’ve seen in past weeks, even when defenses play their safeties deep, the Eagles have opportunities to hit on big plays downfield. Here’s one play from the Broncos-Saints game. Denver lines up with one running back, two tight ends and two wide receivers. But the Saints still have their safeties deep.

Peyton Manning gets Harper to bite with a play-fake, allowing Demaryius Thomas to get free.

Harper tries to recover, but can’t, and the Broncos get a big play.

Vick and Marty Mornhinweg talked this week about how they were a bit too conservative vs. the Falcons. We’ll see if the line can hold up, but I expect the Eagles to open it up this week and take plenty of shots downfield.

9. The Eagles continue to get very little from their special teams. They rank 26th, averaging 22.1 yards per kickoff return. Among the 27 players who have returned at least 10 kickoffs, only four have failed to notch at least one return of 35 yards. Brandon Boykin is one of them, with a long of 31. Of course, blocking plays a role too. Punt returns have been just as bad. The Eagles are one of three teams without a punt return of at least 15 yards. Mardy Gilyard is out, meaning it’ll likely be Damaris Johnson again handling return duties. According to Football Outsiders, the Eagles’ starting field position has been their own 23.85-yard-line. That ranks 30th in the NFL.

10. The Saints are 25th in red-zone defense, allowing opponents to score touchdowns 60.6 percent of the time. The Eagles are 25th in red-zone offense, scoring touchdowns 45.5 percent of the time. …The Eagles are 11th in third-down offense, converting 42 percent of the time. The Saints’ defense is 13th, allowing conversions 37.8 percent of the time. … New Orleans is allowing opponents to gain 41.07 yards per drive (last).

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.
Become a fan of Birds 24/7 on Facebook.

Injury Updates: Allen, Jenkins And Patterson

Nate Allen did not practice again on Saturday because of a hamstring strain and is officially listed as questionable for Monday night’s matchup against the New Orleans Saints. Andy Reid said Allen will travel with the team and be a game-time decision.

If he can’t go, David Sims will get the start. The Eagles acquired Sims from the Browns before the season. He’s never played a defensive snap in the NFL and could be faced with trying to deal with Drew Brees and the Saints’ offense in his first action.

Defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins is listed as questionable with a knee injury, but he practiced, and Reid didn’t seem concerned about him possibly being held out.

Mike Patterson, meanwhile, very well could see his first action of the season. Patterson has been practicing with the team all week, and the Eagles have until Sunday at 4 p.m. to make a roster move, although Reid said they would likely make that decision today. If Patterson plays, he’ll likely be eased back in to the defensive line rotation.

Mardy Gilyard and Danny Watkins have both already been ruled out. Damaris Johnson is expected to resume punt-returning duties, and rookie Dennis Kelly will make his second straight start at right guard. Aside from a couple issues, Kelly held his own last week against the Falcons.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.
Become a fan of Birds 24/7 on Facebook.

Kelly Seeks To Keep Starting Job At Right Guard

Andy Reid made it sound today like Danny Watkins is unlikely to be ready Monday night, meaning rookie Dennis Kelly should expect to get his second straight start at right guard.

“I thought I was very aggressive,” Kelly said, when asked to offer a self-evaluation from last week. “I took the techniques that Howard [Mudd] has been preaching and executed them pretty well. I was a little unhappy on how I did with blockers on the second level, dealing with linebackers. I know one play in particular, I opened up too much and crossed my feet, and the backer went right under me. I just have to work on being disciplined with going over an open space.”

Watkins is dealing with an ankle injury that Reid termed “chronic” last week.

“This will pass here,” Reid said. “It’s not where it’s going to be career-ending or anything like that.”

But the possibility exists that Kelly could play himself into the starting job. Watkins was inconsistent through the first seven games, and Reid was asked if the former first-round pick will definitely get his job back once he’s healthy.

“I want to see how he feels, and then once he gets in there, we’ll take it from there and see how he does,” Reid said, choosing not to offer a definitive “yes” to the question.

As for Kelly, he didn’t hide his enthusiasm for possibly winning the job.

“Hopefully, if I keep playing at a high level, if they give me the spot, hopefully I can run with it,” he said.

Have coaches told him that opportunity exisits?

“Some players have talked about it, just saying, ‘If you’re in there, you’re in there for a reason,’” Kelly said. “Obviously, Danny’s hurt, but there were other options they could have put in. They are telling me to approach it like you can take it, so that’s what I’m doing. I’m just trying to obviously help the team win, but if I can get the starting spot, that’d be great.”

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.
Become a fan of Birds 24/7 on Facebook.

Eagles Depth Chart Notes

The Eagles today released their depth chart for Monday night’s game against the Saints.

No major changes, but some things worth noting.

On the offensive line, Danny Watkins is listed as the starter at right guard. Watkins sat last week due to a “chronic” ankle issue that was bothering him. Rookie Dennis Kelly took his place and played pretty well. We’ll find out if Watkins is healthy and in line to start, but Kelly has not replaced him on the depth chart.

Meanwhile, as expected, King Dunlap remains the starter at left tackle ahead of Demetress Bell. Dunlap played well against the Falcons.

On the defensive side of the ball, Jason Babin is still listed as the starter at left defensive end. Babin played 33 snaps last week to Brandon Graham’s 31. Babin had one hurry, no tackles and no sacks vs. Atlanta. I wrote about the production of the defensive linemen earlier today. The starter doesn’t really matter here. More important is who ends up playing more when the game’s over.

Phillip Hunt and Vinny Curry are listed as the team’s third-string defensive ends. Curry, a second-round pick, has yet to be active this season. Hunt played only special teams last week.

At defensive tackle, Fletcher Cox is officially listed as the starter ahead of Derek Landri. Cox had 11 tackles last week and has been playing more than Landri all season. Cox got his first career start against the Falcons.

And finally, not that I think Andy Reid would announce a quarterback change by just switching names on the depth chart without telling anybody, but in case you’re wondering, Michael Vick is still the starter.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.
Become a fan of Birds 24/7 on Facebook.

« Older Posts  |  Newer Posts »