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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DL Production: Cole Gets Shut Out

Here’s our weekly look at the Eagles’ defensive line production.

The Eagles had quite a few “close but no sack” moments against Robert Griffin III. In fairness to Jim Washburn’s unit, Griffin makes defensive linemen look silly on a weekly basis.

Here are the numbers. Sacks, hurries (a stat kept by the coaches) and pressure percentage (frequency with with each player notches a sack or hurry, given the opportunities).

 
Pass-Rushing Opportunities
Sacks
Hurries
Pressure Percentage
Trent Cole16000%
Jason Babin151113.3%
Fletcher Cox13107.7%
Cullen Jenkins12000%
Mike Patterson120216.7%
Brandon Graham80112.5%
Derek Landri70228.6%
Darryl Tapp70114.3%
Cedric Thornton2000%

We know the Eagles are not looking forward to facing Griffin for years to come. I’m guessing they’re not going to enjoy going up against left tackle Trent Williams either. Williams held Trent Cole to no sacks and no hurries. Cole has a total of seven hurries in the last four games. He doesn’t have a sack since Week 3 against the Cardinals.

Jason Babin was actually very active. He had one sack and was really responsible for the other one. Babin’s pressure forced Griffin to step up, and Fletcher Cox was the first person to touch him. Babin also had four tackles.

My upcoming All-22 post is going to focus a lot on Cox. He is coming on strong. The rookie had 10 tackles. He’s had two double-digit tackle games in the last month. No other Eagles defensive lineman has one all season. Cox was all over the place against the Redskins, even though it might not show up in the numbers here.

Brandon Graham only had eight opportunities, but he hasn’t done much in the last two games (one tackle, two hurries). This was the most active Mike Patterson’s been since returning (two hurries, three tackles). Derek Landri had two hurries in his previous five games, but notched a couple in this one. Darryl Tapp had five tackles.

Going forward, it looks like Vinny Curry is going to get a shot against the Panthers, per a CSNPhilly.com report by Geoff Mosher. So who does he bump? The Eagles could go with five defensive ends and sit Cedric Thornton, who’s being phased out anyway. Or they could have Curry take Tapp’s place behind Cole.

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Game Review: Foles’ First NFL Start

Eagles quarterback Nick Foles.We’ll get to the All-22 breakdown later in the week, but here’s a look at how Nick Foles performed in his first NFL start.

THE GAME-PLAN

It’s easy to look at the final numbers, see Foles dropped back to pass 51 times and kill Andy Reid and Marty Mornhinweg. But those numbers are skewed by the fact that the Eagles were trailing, 31-6, in the fourth quarter. On two fourth-quarter drives, Foles dropped back 20 times, and the Eagles only had three called runs.

The throws early on were high-percentage attempts. Seven of the first eight attempts were within 5 yards of the line of scrimmage (not counting a throw-away). The Redskins came in with a struggling secondary, but the Eagles were unable to take advantage, as Foles averaged just 4.4 yards per attempt.

Here’s a look at the throws by distance. Short indicates 5 yards or less from the line of scrimmage. Middle is 6 to 15. Deep is 16 to 25. And Bomb is more than 25.

 
Completions
Attempts
Yards
Short1420103
Middle51458
Deep2543
Bomb020

Overall, a lot of screens and checkdowns. On throws that traveled 6 yards or more from the line of scrimmage, Foles was just 7-for-21. He hit Damaris Johnson over the middle for 21 yards on 3rd-and-17 in the second. And Foles connected with Brent Celek for 22 yards on 3rd-and-5 in the third.

ACCURACY

Overall, the numbers show 21-for-46, or 45.7 percent, which is terrible, especially considering that opponents were completing 63.8 percent of their attempts against the Redskins going in. While Foles certainly missed too many throws, his receivers didn’t help him. I counted five drops – two by Celek, two by Clay Harbor and one by Riley Cooper. Add in five balls that were thrown away, and his completion percentage wasn’t as bad as the numbers indicate.

On several throws, either timing or accuracy was an issue. He got rid of the ball quickly, but was off-target on a throw to Johnson (who was open) in the first. He misfired to Harbor in the second. Initially, I thought that Harbor tripped, but after watching the replay, it looked like he was just lunging for the ball. And Foles threw short of Jackson on a 12-yard out in the fourth.

THE MISTAKES

The first interception was on Celek. Foles actually made a nice throw on the move. He had pressure in his face on the second interception, but made a bad throw. We’ll have to wait for the All-22 to see exactly what happened.

Fumbles were an issue. It’s foolish to only count them when the other team recovers since those are generally 50/50 balls. Foles fumbled three times. On one play, the Redskins brought a corner blitz with Josh Wilson, who came unblocked and sacked Foles, who lost the ball. Another occurred when LeSean McCoy was asked to block Ryan Kerrigan one-on-one. Kerrigan sacked Foles and forced a fumble. And the third one came when Foles panicked and threw low to McCoy behind the line of scrimmage.

THE TARGETS

Taking away the balls that were thrown away, here are Foles’ targets:

 
Targets
Completions
Yards
Riley Cooper8561
LeSean McCoy7667
Brent Celek7542
DeSean Jackson725
Clay Harbor61-1
Damaris Johnson2121
Stanley Havili219
Jeremy Maclin200

As you can see, 22 of Foles’ 41 attempts, or 54 percent, targeted running backs and tight ends.

The numbers to DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin were ugly: 2-for-9 for 5 yards. The two completions were screens to Jackson. Going forward, Reid and Mornhinweg need to give Foles more opportunities downfield.

LEFTOVERS

Jim Haslett blitzed Foles a lot – 22 times out of 51 dropbacks by my count. Against extra pressure, he was 9-for-21 for 92 yards. Early on, Foles did a good job of changing the play at the line of scrimmage and hitting Cooper on a WR screen for 15 yards. But overall, the Eagles handled the blitz poorly.

On 3rd-and-4 in the red zone in the third, Foles took a delay of game instead of calling timeout. It looked like Reid tried to call timeout, but didn’t get it. Still, the quarterback has to show better awareness in that spot.

So overall, a messy performance. The Eagles averaged 3.6 yards per play. They turned it over three times (and that number could have been higher). Foles was sacked four times.

It certainly wasn’t all on the quarterback, and it was only one game, but the rookie didn’t provide many encouraging signs in this one – especially considering the caliber of opponent. The smart move would seem to be to let Foles get more experience so that you can make an informed decision at quarterback at the end of the season. But Reid says he’s leaning towards playing Michael Vick when he’s healthy.

We’ll see if that means Monday night against the Panthers or down the road.

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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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RB, WR, TE Review: Aikman Calls Out Maclin

Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Jeremy MaclinHere’s a review of how the Eagles running backs, wide receivers and tight ends performed in Sunday’s loss to the Cowboys, after having re-watched the game.

LeSean McCoy – He was sick during the week, but performed well on Sunday, rushing 16 times for 82 yards (5.1 YPC). After a rough stretch, McCoy has bounced back the past two weeks (35 carries, 201 yards, 5.7 YPC). McCoy had a big 23-yard run in the third quarter and also added a 13-yarder. On the season, he has seven runs of 20+ yards. That’s tied for second-most in the NFL behind only Adrian Peterson. Quite impressive, when you consider he’s running behind a makeshift offensive line. McCoy had four catches for 20 yards, including a 12-yard pickup on a screen. Andy Reid said he wanted to spell McCoy more since he was under the weather, but he still played 81 percent of the snaps.

Bryce Brown – He played 12 snaps and was ineffective as a runner (three carries for 1 yard). Brown failed to help Demetress Bell on DeMarcus Ware in the second and allowed a hit on Nick Foles. But he did an excellent job of picking up the blitzing defensive back on Foles’ 44-yard touchdown to Jeremy Maclin. As the Fox broadcast showed, Brown was then the first person to congratulate Maclin in the end zone.

Stanley Havili – As I detailed right after the game, the end of the first half was classic clock mismanagement by the Eagles. Havili ran out of bounds after a short catch, allowing the Cowboys to preserve a timeout and get the ball back. In the fourth quarter, he had the 1-yard touchdown. Havili also had one grab for 3 yards. He played 15 snaps.

DeSean Jackson – He finished with five catches for 62 yards. Early on, Jackson broke a couple tackles and took a screen 31 yards to set up the Eagles’ touchdown. He made a nice adjustment on the 7-yard slant in the third. The interception was a similar play, but Jackson couldn’t make the catch (the throw was behind him). He generally doesn’t give the Eagles much as a blocker, but Jackson delivered good effort on the 12-yard screen to McCoy.

Jeremy Maclin – He had his legs taken out and couldn’t hang on to the pass from Michael Vick in the first. Maclin left the game briefly, but would return. Andy Reid said yesterday that he suffered a lower back strain. I will rarely mention players shying away from contact because, well, it’s easy for me to say behind my laptop. But Fox analyst Troy Aikman was honest in his assessment that Maclin pulled up on a slant from Foles. “He saw [Gerald] Sensabaugh sitting there in the safety position, and he didn’t want any part of it,” Aikman said. “He knew it was going to be a big-time collision had he continued to go in and make a play on that ball, and he just said ‘No thank you.'” Maclin had the 44-yard touchdown in the third. And he made a nice one-handed catch for 11 yards in the fourth. Overall, eight catches for 93 yards.

Jason Avant – He only played 12 snaps before suffering a hamstring strain. Avant was targeted twice and had one catch for -1 yards.

Riley Cooper – He played a season-high 44 snaps and did a great job on the 2-yard fade in the end zone in the first. It makes you wonder why the Eagles haven’t tried that more in the past. Cooper drew a holding penalty in the third. And again in the fourth, negating a Foles interception. He gave great effort as a downfield blocker on McCoy’s 23-yard run in the third, but couldn’t hold his block on Morris Claiborne on McCoy’s 3-yard run in the fourth. Overall, two catches for 24 yards.

Damaris Johnson – With Avant out, he played 11 snaps. Johnson had a 32-yard catch and run to set up the Eagles’ fourth-quarter touchdown. He also made a 12-yard grab, but it was called back because of a King Dunlap penalty in the third.

Brent Celek – According to Pro Football Focus, he was kept in to block on just five of 43 passing plays. The Eagles’ game-plan seemed to focus more on getting the ball out quickly than keeping in extra blockers. Celek was targeted three times and had three catches for 31 yards. On the first play, he faked a run block on DeMarcus Ware before going out into his route. Celek stiff-armed Sensabaugh for a 17-yard gain.

Clay Harbor – He played 17 snaps and had three catches for 25 yards. On the 3rd-and-2 throw in the third, Harbor blocked Ware, giving Foles time to throw to Maclin. Ware was reading run. If he had been going after Foles immediately, he would have had a clear path to the quarterback and likely a sack.

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Eagles DL Review: Where Are Cole And Babin?

Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Jason BabinThrough seven games, it’s official: Any conversation about why the Eagles are struggling has to include a mention of the defensive line’s lack of production.

It’s true that sacks aren’t everything, and that the front four can affect the game in other ways. We’ve shown that with the All-22 on several occasions. But Jim Washburn’s group just hasn’t been good enough, and the lack of production has been stunning when you consider pretty much the entire organizational philosophy was built around getting pressure from the defensive line.

It’s not as if the Eagles stood pat either. In the offseason, they actually bolstered the unit, spending a first-round pick on Fletcher Cox, who has been their best defensive tackle. They also got a healthy Brandon Graham back, and he has been one of their more productive pass-rushers.

But as a whole, there’s been a huge dropoff. Against the Falcons, I didn’t see a lot of max-protect. Tony Gonzalez stayed in to block just three times, per Pro Football Focus. Atlanta’s backs chipped on occasion, but my guess is they do that every week. Matt Ryan got rid of the ball quickly at times, but he also had all day when he needed it. Per PFF, Ryan was 5-for-7 on passes that traveled 10 yards or more from the line of scrimmage. Combine that with Atlanta’s success on screens, and it’s no wonder that Ryan picked the Eagles apart.

There were a couple minor tweaks in personnel. Graham played more, and Jason Babin played less. Cox, who has played starter’s snaps all season, was actually on the field alongside Cullen Jenkins to begin the game.

Here’s how the production looked. If you’re new to this weekly breakdown, “Hurries” are a stat tracked by Eagles coaches after they look at the tape. And “Pressure Percentage” is how often a player notches a sack or hurry, taken opportunities into account.

 
Pass-Rushing Opportunities
Sacks
Hurries
Pressure Percentage
Trent Cole33026.1%
Cullen Jenkins291417.2%
Fletcher Cox24000%
Cedric Thornton19105.3%
Brandon Graham180211.1%
Jason Babin18015.6%
Derek Landri14000%
Darryl Tapp8000%

I’ll get to the player-by-player breakdown below, but a couple things stand out here. Cole and Babin combined for three hurries and three tackles. That’s not even close to good enough. The four Eagles defensive ends (throw in Graham and Darryl Tapp) had five hurries and no sacks. To put that into perspective, Cole had a sack and eight hurries by himself against Atlanta last year.

Other than Jenkins, the Eagles got little pass-rush production from their defensive tackles – one sack and zero hurries from the other three guys (Derek Landri, Cox and Cedric Thornton).

Here’s the player-by-player breakdown:

Jason Babin – Saw his playing time cut drastically and did not produce when he was on the field. No sacks, one hurry and zero tackles. He had not dropped back into coverage once all season (per PFF), and when Babin did so in the first, he was called for defensive holding on third down. Huge play that allowed the Falcons to continue their drive and eventually score a touchdown. He rushed upfield and got taken to the ground as Ryan scrambled for 10 yards in the second. Babin couldn’t get off Tony Gonzalez’s block as Jacquizz Rodgers found a big lane between him and Jenkins for 10 yards in the second. He fell for the fake handoff as Julio Jones took the end around for 9 yards to his side. Babin bit on the fake toss to Jones, allowing Ryan to shovel the ball to Jason Snelling for an 8-yard gain on 3rd-and-3. He doesn’t give the Eagles much against the run, so if Babin fails to produce a pass-rusher, he’ll likely see his snaps continue to shrink.

Trent Cole – He abused left tackle Sam Baker in last year’s matchup but was mostly a non-factor this time around. Cole was credited with two hurries. The most notable was when he chased Ryan out of the pocket in the red zone in the third, helping to force an incompletion. Cole had three tackles. He dropped Rodgers after a 3-yard run in the first. And he helped bring Michael Turner down after a gain of 4 in the second. Simply not playing at the level Eagles fans have come to expect over the years.

Brandon Graham – He got more snaps, but did not set the world on fire as a pass-rusher with just two hurries. Graham, however, was good against the run. He had six tackles – more than Babin or Cole have achieved in a single game all season. Graham tackled Turner after a 3-yard gain and then after a 1-yard run. He brought Rodgers down after a 1-yard pickup and had another stop for no gain. On the second touchdown (the screen to Snelling), the Falcons left him unblocked. Graham was close to Ryan, and a hand up might have at least made Ryan’s throw more difficult. As a pass-rusher, Graham chased Ryan out of the pocket and forced an incompletion in the third. He had a good bull-rush on the next play, but Ryan scrambled for 7 yards. I’d expect him to continue to get more snaps in Babin’s place.

Darryl Tapp – Not a factor on defense. Not a lot of chances, but zero hurries vs. the Falcons and just one in his last two games.

Fletcher Cox – According to the coaches’ stats, he had 11 tackles, the most of any Eagles defensive lineman all year. Some of those showed up on TV, but I’m guessing his impact will be more evident when the All-22 is released. Defensive tackles don’t get too many opportunities for interceptions, but Cox couldn’t hold on to the one that was right in his hands on the first possession. He tackled Snelling after a 5-yard dumpoff in the first. And Cox showed his athleticism, hustling to get to Jones on a WR screen, but he couldn’t bring the WR down as he picked up 37. Cox dropped Turner for a 1-yard loss in the third. He’s the Eagles’ best DT against the run, but is still inconsistent as a pass-rusher (zero hurries). On the season, Cox has 34 tackles, the most of any Eagles defensive lineman.

Cullen Jenkins – He was easily the team’s best pass-rusher in this one. Jenkins got a “gimme” sack late as Ryan just went down to keep the clock running. But he also had four hurries earlier. Jenkins was all over Turner on the screen where Cox nearly had the interception. He got good pressure on the third down where Babin was called for holding. He dropped Rodgers for a 2-yard loss in the first and pressured Ryan on third-and-goal in the red zone. Jenkins brought Ryan down after a 1-yard scramble. Later in the game, he started lining up at left defensive end in place of Babin and Graham.

Derek Landri – Not sure if he’s injured, but Landri has been a non-factor as a pass-rusher. He had zero hurries for the second straight game. He has one hurry in the last three and three hurries in the last five. He did have five tackles. Landri dropped Turner for a loss of 2 after Thornton got in the backfield. He and Kurt Coleman dropped Turner after a 1-yard gain in the second. Landri was initially double-teamed, but got no pressure at all on Ryan on the 63-yard touchdown to Jones. He nearly sacked Ryan in the second, but couldn’t bring him down behind the line of scrimmage.

Cedric Thornton – He’s showing signs of improvement. Thornton had a career-high eight tackles (six solo) and ended the Eagles’ sack drought with a takedown of Ryan. He got great penetration, but missed a tackle in the first as Landri cleaned up. Good hustle throughout from Thornton. He brought Turner down from behind after a gain of 6 on a screen in the first. He chased Rodgers down after a gain of 5 on another screen. And he was the one who finally tackled Rodgers after a 43-yard gain in the third. Thornton also stopped Turner after a 1-yard gain in the third.

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RB, WR, TE Review: No Big Plays For McCoy

Philadelphia Eagles RB LeSean McCoy.Here is a review of how the Eagles’ running backs, wide receivers and tight ends performed in Sunday’s game against the Falcons.

LeSean McCoy – The numbers are not pretty: 16 carries for 45 yards. In the last three games, McCoy has rushed 46 times for 120 yards (2.6 YPC). He actually had some good moments in this one. McCoy broke a tackle and picked up 7 in the second. He had a couple nice 10-yard runs in the fourth. And McCoy scored twice – once on a 2-yard run where he left Asante Samuel in the dust and another on a 7-yard reception. The problem? Five of McCoy’s 16 carries, or about 31 percent, were stopped for either no gain or negative yardage. That’s the direct result of a makeshift offensive line and McCoy trying to make something out of nothing. McCoy’s longest run of the game was 10 yards. And on the season, the big plays in the running game have taken a huge hit. McCoy is averaging one run of 20+ yards every 31.8 carries. Last year, it was one every 19.5. And looking ahead, I don’t see a real solution. McCoy will have some good weeks, but there are sure to be more struggles. As a blocker, it’s tough to say whether he should have picked up Thomas DeCoud on the safety blitz that resulted in a sack in the first. McCoy had a good blitz pickup on Vick’s 2-yard completion to Brent Celek. And he delivered a good lead block on Michael Vick’s 4-yard run on 3rd-and-3 in the second. He had three catches for 22 yards, including an 11-yard pickup on a screen.

Bryce Brown – He played eight snaps and had one carry – a nice 5-yard pickup in the red zone, although Brown fumbled (and recovered).

Stanley Havili – He played 14 snaps and did not get a touch (one target). Havili split out wide vs. Samuel in the second, and it looked like he got open, but Vick took off and ran for a first down. He missed his block on a McCoy run that picked up just 1 yard in the second. Not sure how Havili and Celek ended up trying to block Kroy Biermann on a four-man rush that forced Vick to run in the fourth.

DeSean Jackson – Five catches for 59 yards on seven targets. Jackson made a nice move to pick up 3 on a 3rd-and-2 completion in the second. He took a WR screen 12 yards in the second and had a 12-yard grab in the third. Jackson’s best play came when he turned a 6-yard grab into a 32-yard gain, leaving Samuel in the dust in the third. The Eagles got nothing going downfield in the passing game. I’m anxious to see with the All-22 whether they had opportunities that were missed.

Jeremy Maclin – Not a strong game for Maclin. He was targeted 11 times and had just six catches for 33 yards. Maclin also dropped a couple balls. He took a WR screen 12 yards in the second and caught a 10-yard pass in the red zone in the fourth, but other than that, Maclin was quiet.

Jason Avant – Four catches for 45 yards on seven targets. Avant had an 8-yard grab over the middle in the first. He did a nice job as a blocker throughout. Avant helped on the 12-yard screen to Maclin in the second. He did a good job on McCoy’s 7-yard run in the second. And Avant had effective blocks on both of McCoy’s touchdowns.

Riley Cooper – He played 18 snaps, was targeted once and didn’t have a catch. Cooper was the fourth wide receiver and filled in for Jackson when he left the game briefly because of an injury.

Brent Celek – Early on this season, it looked like Celek would be a nice option in the passing game. But he’s averaging just 24.7 yards per game in the last three. In this one, Celek had three catches for 32 yards on five targets. He wasn’t used much as a blocker either. Celek stayed in to block on just five of 38 passing plays, according to Pro Football Focus. He had a drop on the first possession, making four in the past two weeks. As a blocker, Celek did a good job of sealing the edge for Brown’s 5-yard run in the second. He delivered a good block on the WR screen to Jackson in the second. But he missed his block on the WR screen to Jackson that was stopped for no gain.

Clay Harbor – It seems pretty clear at this point that Marty Mornhinweg and Andy Reid don’t think Harbor can give much to this offense. He played just nine snaps and did not have a ball thrown his way. Harbor did a good job blocking on the WR screen to Jackson that picked up 12 in the second.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.

OL Review: Eagles Try Something New On Offense

During the bye week, Andy Reid said multiple times that he was evaluating everything.

On defense, that meant changing coordinators. But considering Marty Mornhinweg kept play-calling duties and Michael Vick remained the starting quarterback, what would it mean offensively?

That was one of the questions going into Sunday’s game. And while the offense only produced 17 points, Reid and Mornhinweg actually made some drastic changes.

Ok, perhaps “drastic” isn’t the right word, because this has been a gradual process. It started after the Cardinals game. That’s when the coaching staff realized running a big-play offense with this line was unrealistic. We saw more balance, shorter routes, and more options against the blitz when the Eagles faced the Giants, Steelers and Lions. But there were still plenty of “shot” plays downfield – sometimes at inopportune times.

After all, this team still has weapons who can get downfield in DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin and Brent Celek. Coaches have continuously said defenses are taking away the deep ball. That’s true sometimes. But the Eagles have had plenty of opportunities through seven games to hit on those plays. The main issues? Protection hasn’t held up, and Vick hasn’t taken advantage – either by not pulling the trigger or simply missing with his throws.

Against the Falcons, there were no deep attempts. As in zero. Not a single pass thrown more than 15 yards from the line of scrimmage. The game-plan focused on short and intermediate throws. Get the ball out of Vick’s hands quickly. Give the offensive line a chance to succeed. Provide options against the blitz. Achieve balance with the run and the pass.

In many ways, it was the exact game-plan fans had been asking for. But there was a problem. The Eagles got down early, and they just don’t execute at a high-enough level for this kind of offense to succeed. The issues were particularly glaring in a couple instances. After the Falcons strung together a 16-play, 80-yard drive, the Eagles went three-and-out. But it wasn’t just that, they failed to gain a single yard on those three plays: incompletion, LeSean McCoy run for -1 yards and sack for a loss of 2.

Late in the game, after many had fled the Linc, and many more had changed the channel, the Eagles took over at their own 35. They were down, 30-17, and there was 5:24 left in the game. In the NFL, 13 points is not an insurmountable deficit. Just a couple weeks ago, the Lions were down two scores with 5:18 left and beat the Eagles. In this one, the Birds even had two timeouts.

But the pieces on offense just don’t fit. The line can’t protect long enough to hit on big plays, and the skill-position players can’t execute well enough to consistently sustain drives. The Eagles got the ball back with 5:24 left, and again with 3:42 left. They ran a total of nine plays for 5 yards on those two drives. Let me repeat that: NINE PLAYS FOR 5 YARDS.

When they needed to score quickly – something that was a hallmark of this team in the past – the offense couldn’t get it done. What’s unclear is how many times the Eagles actually had chances to hit on big plays and didn’t execute. We’ll chime in on that once the All-22 is released.

We can discuss at length what kind of offense the Eagles should be running, but the truth is, given the personnel, there probably is no right solution. That’s just the reality after seven games.

Having said all that, here’s the player-by-player game review of the offensive line:

King Dunlap – Given what I detailed above, the offensive line was put in a pretty good position to be successful in this game. And I actually thought Howard Mudd’s guys were OK. This was far from their worst performance of the season. Dunlap performed at a much higher level than Demetress Bell. I didn’t notice him giving up a hit on Vick all game. He showed good athleticism getting out in front and blocking the safety on the 12-yard screen to Maclin in the second. And he did a good job picking up a blitzer on Vick’s 12-yard completion to Jackson in the third. Overall, solid job in protection.

Evan Mathis – Let’s start with the good. Nice job getting to the safety on the 12-yard screen to Maclin in the second. Good block on LeSean McCoy’s 7-yard run in the second. Good block on the linebacker on another 7-yard McCoy run. And really nice job on Jonathan Babineaux on McCoy’s 10-yard run in the fourth. The issues? Linebacker Stephen Nicholas blitzed between him and Dallas Reynolds on a third down in the second. The Falcons showed seven at the line of scrimmage, and no one picked up Nicholas, who hit Vick right after he released the ball. Not sure whose fault it was, but there was clearly a breakdown somewhere. Later, the Falcons sent a delayed blitz through the A-Gap, and Sean Weatherspoon rushed untouched, leading to a sack. It looked like Mathis could have picked him up, although perhaps he thought McCoy was back there in protection. Overall, though, I thought Mathis played a good game.

Dallas Reynolds – There are times when Reynolds looks like he can be a competent center. And other times when his miscues lead to negative plays. For example, Babineaux beat him badly on the early McCoy run that lost a yard. He couldn’t quite get to the linebacker on McCoy’s 4-yard run in the fourth. He pulled, but couldn’t block the linebacker on McCoy’s fourth-quarter run that lost a yard. And Reynolds was beaten badly by Peria Jerry, who jumped in the backfield on McCoy’s fourth-quarter run that picked up 3. He had trouble with Corey Peters on McCoy’s run that lost 3 yards in the fourth. But again, there were good moments. Reynolds did a nice job pulling and getting to the linebacker on a 7-yard McCoy run in the second. He got to the linebacker again on another 7-yard McCoy run. Nice job on the Vick QB draw that picked up a first. And good hustle to take out Babineaux on the 11-yard screen to McCoy in the fourth. Reynolds delivered a good block on McCoy’s 10-yard run in the fourth. And again on the 7-yard touchdown to McCoy.

Dennis Kelly – He had a couple issues, but overall, I thought the rookie played well. He did a decent job handling a stunt and picking up John Abraham on a 7-yard Vick run in the second. Kelly did a nice job of switching off the DT and on to the blitzing linebacker in the fourth. And he did well in pass protection on the 10-yard completion to Maclin in the fourth. The issues? He failed to pick up a blitzer on a third-down play in the red zone in the third, and Weatherspoon hit Vick, helping to force an incompletion. The Eagles gambled on the play, though, going with an empty backfield and five receivers in pass routes, so that one might have been on the quarterback partially too. Later, it looked like Kelly missed his block on the linebacker as McCoy lost 3 yards. I don’t want to get carried away and say he’s definitely a better option than Watkins because, again, the linemen were not asked to hold their blocks very long in this game. There was a lot of dink-and-dunk that called on receivers to pick up yards after the catch. But Kelly looked comfortable, and other than a few issues, seemed to know what he was doing out there.

Todd Herremans – An up-and-down game for Herremans. There have been too many of those this year for the veteran. Good block on McCoy’s 7-yard run in the second. And again on McCoy’s 4-yard run in the fourth. Nice trap block on McCoy’s 10-yard run. And good job in protection, one-on-one, on Vick’s 16-yard completion to Celek. Jerry got past him on the play-action pass in the third, forcing Vick to run (although it looked like he could have stepped up). Herremans had some trouble with Kroy Biermann on Vick’s third-down incompletion in the red zone in the third. Abraham beat him on McCoy’s fourth-quarter run that picked up 3. He got beaten off the edge by Biermann for a sack in the fourth. And Herremans was called for a holding penalty against Abraham. Like I said, inconsistent performance in this one.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.

RB, WR, TE Review: McCoy’s Got Nowhere To Go

Philadelphia Eagles RB LeSean McCoy.Here’s a player-by-player review of how the Eagles’ running backs, wide receivers and tight ends performed Sunday against the Lions.

LeSean McCoy – When we talk about the struggles of the offensive line, often times the focus is on pass protection. But it appears we’re now seeing how missing Jason Peters and Jason Kelce (and replacing them with Demetress Bell and Dallas Reynolds) is affecting McCoy and a once-potent run game. On Sunday, McCoy carried 14 times for 22 yards, averaging just 1.6 yards per attempt. For his career, in games in which he’s had at least 10 attempts, this was McCoy’s second-lowest average, behind just the Dolphins game from 2011. The running back simply had nowhere to go Sunday as Lions defenders lived in the backfield and dominated the Eagles’ offensive line. In the past two games, McCoy has 75 yards on 30 carries (2.5 YPC). His longest run in that span has gone for 11 yards. The big plays haven’t been there. Last year, McCoy averaged one run of 20+ yards every 19.5 attempts. This year, it’s one every 27.8 attempts. He’s battling every snap, but getting very little help. That’s ‘a huge concern for this offense going forward. As for Sunday’s performance specifically, McCoy was used a lot in the passing game with seven catches, but he totaled just 26 yards. He had the 2-yard touchdown and took a screen 17 yards in the second. Other than that, though, not a lot of success as a receiver. The truth is McCoy is good enough to be effective some weeks even if the blocking isn’t there. But you get the sense there are more games like Sunday’s coming down the road.

Bryce Brown – Brown played 16 snaps, but didn’t fare any better than McCoy, rushing five times for 4 yards. He had a nice 5-yard run in the red zone in the third. And on one play, he broke a tackle, but did not look particularly quick bouncing to the outside for 1 yard. On the season, 19 carries for 51 yards (2.7 YPC).

Stanley Havili – Up and down. Nice lead block on Brown’s 5-yard run in the third. Poor job on McCoy’s 1-yard screen in the fourth. Overall, Havili played 24 snaps. He did not have any touches.

DeSean Jackson – Another solid game. Jackson had five catches for 74 yards, and those numbers could have been even better, but Michael Vick missed him on the deep post that resulted in an interception. The Eagles tried a toss to him on the first series that resulted in a disastrous 14-yard loss. The play relied on Cliff Avril biting on the fake to McCoy. He didn’t, and Jackson was stopped in the backfield. Jackson made a nice 9-yard grab in the second. He picked up some YAC and showed good hands on a slant that picked up 16 yards in the third. And he made a nice catch for a 30-yard gain down the sideline. Jackson’s putting together an outstanding year. He’s on pace for 77 catches and 1,240 yards – both of which would be career highs. And he’s yet to drop a pass.

Jeremy Maclin – Easily his best game of the year. Maclin finished with six catches for 130 yards. He also drew drew two pass interference penalties for 32 yards. The big play was the 70-yard touchdown in the fourth. Maclin picked up 15 yards on a third down in the third. And he turned a 6-yard grab into a 16-yard gain against the blitz. Maclin could have had another big gain on the Eagles’ second-to-last drive, but Vick’s pass was batted at the line by Ndamukong Suh.

Jason Avant – He had two catches on four targets for 21 yards, including a nice 17-yard grab in the second. I’m not sure why he didn’t try to run out of bounds after making a 4-yard catch near sideline at the end of the first half. On the Maclin 70-yard score, the Eagles lined up in a bunch formation, and two Lions defenders went with Avant, leaving Maclin wide open.

Riley Cooper – Played 10 snaps and finished with a pair of catches for 18 yards. Cooper had a third-down grab for a first early on and a 10-yard grab in the second. This was his first action of the season.

Brent Celek – Rough day for the veteran tight end on a number of different levels. He seems to be on the receiving end of big hits every week, but there’s no questioning Celek’s toughness. He had a chance for a monster game, but finished with just four catches for 33 yards. He dropped what should have been an 8-yard touchdown in the third and was called for pass interference, negating a touchdown on another drive. Celek dropped what could have been a third-down conversion in the first quarter. As a blocker, good job on Brown’s 5-yard run in the third. For some reason, he was asked to block Cliff Avril one-on-one in the third, even though the Lions weren’t blitzing, and Celek gave up a sack.

Clay Harbor – A non-factor. He played 20 snaps, but had just two grabs for 9 yards.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.

OL Review: Watkins Continues To Struggle

Philadelphia Eagles right guard Danny Watkins.Here’s a player-by-player review of the Eagles’ offensive line after having re-watched Sunday’s game against the Lions.

Demetress Bell – Looked like a step backwards for Bell, who struggled throughout. He was beaten badly by Lawrence Jackson and allowed a hit on Michael Vick in the first. Bell ran right into LeSean McCoy on the 3rd-and-1 shovel pass that resulted in a 3-yard loss. Jackson beat him again in the second and hit Vick as he threw complete to Jason Avant. He got spun around and beaten by Kyle Vanden Bosch, who hit Vick on a third-quarter incompletion. Bell was beaten by Vanden Bosch again on a third down in the third. Jackson beat him to the inside, forcing Vick out of the pocket on a third down in the fourth. Bell did a poor job on Bryce Brown’s run that went for no gain on the second-to-last series. And he got steam-rolled by Vanden Bosch on the Eagles’ final offensive play. Early on, Bell was called for a false start. He’s tied for the team lead with five penalties on the season.

Evan Mathis – Up-and-down game for Mathis. He gave up a hit on Vick in the first as Sammie Hill was called for a personal foul. He got blown back on a Brown run that lost 4 yards in the third. Mathis was beaten by Nick Fairley on the second sack of Vick on the final drive. Fairley twisted outside, and I’m not sure if Mathis was expecting help from McCoy, who stayed in to block momentarily before releasing into his route. Vick held on to the ball for awhile before going down for a loss of 14. The next play could have resulted in a safety. After Vanden Bosch steamrolled Bell, Mathis held him pretty blatantly in the end zone before Vick threw the ball way. Had the refs thrown the flag, it would have been a safety. On the flip side, Mathis did a good job pinning the defensive tackle inside on Vick’s 2-yard touchdown to McCoy. And he had some good moments in pass protection.

Dallas Reynolds – Not a good showing for Reynolds. We know about how he snapped the ball before Vick was ready, resulting in a turnover. But the other fumble where he and Vick botched the snap might have been on Reynolds too. Despite a double-team, he and Mathis let a rusher break through and get to Vick on his first interception intended for Avant. Fairley beat him badly and dropped McCoy for a 5-yard loss in the third. Reynolds completely whiffed on his block on the screen to McCoy in the fourth that picked up 1. He and Bell had a good double-team on the linebacker on McCoy’s 2-yard touchdown in the second.

Danny Watkins – The second-year guard is really struggling. Fairley and Ndamukong Suh made it a very long day for Watkins. He got beaten by Suh and gave up a hit in the first quarter. Fairley got past him and hit Vick to force an incompletion in the second. He was slow to get to the linebacker on Brown’s 2-yard run in the second. Watkins got abused by Fairley, who hit Vick in the third. It was really a bad play. Vick was in shotgun and threw an 8-yard slant. The Lions only rushed four, yet he still got crushed. That’s unacceptable. Fairley beat Watkins and dropped McCoy for a 4-yard loss in the fourth. Suh got in Vick’s passing lane and batted down a ball on the second-to-last drive. He could have had Jeremy Maclin for a big gain. Not sure if that was on Watkins or Vick. On the Cliff Avril sack in overtime, Watkins got beaten by Suh. The bright spots? Good job in pass protection on the 70-yard touchdown to Maclin. Good job pulling on McCoy’s 6-yard run in the second. And good job blocking out in front of a 17-yard screen to McCoy in the second. But just too many issues throughout.

Todd Herremans – He actually held up really well in pass protection… until the final drive of the game. Herremans gave up a costly sack against Avril, letting him get around the edge. Other than that, I’m not sure he got beaten all day. Herremans made a nice block on the 17-yard screen to McCoy in the second.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.

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