DL Production: Time For Graham To Get More Snaps?

Going into last week’s game, the Eagles appeared to have a big advantage with their defensive line going up against the Steelers offensive line.

But when the teams actually played, Jim Washburn’s group didn’t have much of an impact, failing to get to Ben Roethlisberger and giving up big plays in the run game all day long.

So what happened? Here’s the weekly review of the Eagles defensive line. Let’s start with the numbers:

 
Total Snaps
Pass-Rushing Opportunities
Hurries
Pressure Percentage
Jason Babin522913.4%
Trent Cole502727.4%
Fletcher Cox462800%
Cullen Jenkins422727.4%
Derek Landri311300%
Cedric Thornton291200%
Darryl Tapp2211327.3%
Brandon Graham1811545.5%
Phillip Hunt6200%

You’ll notice there’s no column for sacks because, well, the Eagles didn’t have any for the second straight week. But this performance was far different from the previous week’s one against the Giants. The defensive line absolutely had an impact in that game. In this one, the Eagles did not get enough consistent pressure on Roethlisberger, and when they got close, they were unable to bring him down. To be fair, that’s one of his greatest strengths as a quarterback.

As for the numbers, you’ll see a lot of zeroes across the board. But the guy that should jump out here is Brandon Graham. He played 18 snaps and had 11 opportunities to rush the passer. In that time, Graham led the team with five hurries. Keep in mind that hurries are a stat kept by the team’s coaches, not by me or a league statistician. While the rest of the defensive linemen struggled, Graham got to the quarterback more than 45 percent of the time. He’s jumped ahead of Phillip Hunt in terms of playing time, but Graham needs to get on the field more.

One other thing you’ll notice is the Eagles’ lack of interior pressure. Other than Cullen Jenkins, the defensive tackles really were a non-factor when it came to getting to Roethlisberger. Perhaps because of that, we saw some different looks up front with Trent Cole and Jason Babin lined up inside on a few occasions.

Below is the player-by-player breakdown with some more notes:

Jason Babin – Quiet game with no sacks and one hurry. Jimmy Kempski over at Blogging the Beast took a detailed look at how the Steelers blocked Babin. He was chipped or double-teamed just five times all game. In other words, this was not a case of Pittsburgh consistently using extra blockers against him. As for individual plays, Babin showed great hustle, bringing Rashard Mendenhall down after a 24-yard gain (even though the play was called back). The refs missed a blatant holding call as Heath Miller threw Babin to the ground on Roethlisberger’s 9-yard run during the Steelers’ first scoring drive. Babin lined up in a few different places, including right defensive end and left defensive tackle. He got some pressure off the edge, but Roethliberger stepped up and found Chris Rainey for a 6-yard completion. He forced Roethlisberger to step up and throw incomplete on third down in the third. And Babin got his hand on Roethlisberger, but couldn’t bring him down on the big 3rd-and-12 conversion that went for 20 yards in the fourth. Against the run, Babin got blocked by Miller on a 7-yard Mendenhall run in the third.

Trent Cole – Also a quiet game – no sacks and just two hurries. Jordan Raanan of Bleeding Green Nation charted Cole’s snaps and found that he faced a chip or double-team on nine of 30 pass-rushing attempts. In other words, he had plenty of one-on-one chances. Cole got a hand on Roethlisberger in the second, but couldn’t bring him down on what turned out to be a 9-yard scramble. He lined up in different spots, including inside at defensive tackle. Cole hit Roethlisberger after he stepped up on third down in the third.

Fletcher Cox – Probably his least productive game of the season, although I have to take a look at the All-22 to see how often Cox was double-teamed. Cox got some pressure on Roethlisberger on a third down in the third. On one play, he lined up off the line of scrimmage, standing up, and got a running start. But overall, he struggled to get to the quarterback. Against the run, Cox got blocked on Mendenhall’s 9-yard run. He got blocked (and maybe held) on Isaac Redman’s 13-yard run in the third. Overall, three tackles, including one on Redman after a 2-yard run in the fourth.

Cullen Jenkins – He was easily the Eagles’ best interior pass rusher. Jenkins got decent pressure on a twist around Babin in the first, forcing Roethlisberger to step up. He drew a holding penalty on third down in the first as Willie Colon tackled him to the ground. Jenkins nearly had a sack, but drew a holding penalty instead late in the first half. He lined up at defensive end on a couple occasions. Against the run, Jenkins stopped Mendenhall for no gain in the first.

Derek Landri – Not a good game. Zero hurries, and Landri got blocked on several of the Steelers’ big run plays. Mendenhall ran in Landri’s direction for gains of 5 and 17 in the third. He got blocked on Mendenhall’s 9-yard run in the third and again on Redman’s 13-yard run. The good moments: Landri got his hand on a screen in the third and tackled Rainey after a 6-yard completion. He starts, but as you can see from the snap counts above, Cox consistently plays more.

Cedric Thornton – He was OK. Thornton dropped Rainey for no gain in the first and drew a holding penalty on a run play in the fourth. Thornton also did a good job helping to stop a Redman 4-yard run on the final drive.

Darryl Tapp – The coaches credited him with three hurries, second-most on the team, although I didn’t see him have much of an impact, other than earning a personal foul for unnecessary roughness in the first.

Brandon Graham – Mentioned him above. Graham led the team with five hurries. He hit Roethlisberger as he released the ball on a first-quarter incompletion. He charged through a double-team and hit him again, forcing Roethlisberger to throw it away in the second. Fox didn’t show a good replay, but this was the play where Roethlisberger had something to say to Graham afterwards. Graham drove Miller back with relative ease and pressured Roethlisberger into dumping it off for a 2-yard loss, but Nnamdi Asomugha was called for holding on the play. Made the most of his opportunities once again.

Phillip Hunt - He hasn’t had a lot of opportunities, but Hunt has just two hurries on the season. Played only six snaps against Pittsburgh.

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

LB Review: Eagles’ Run Defense Falters

Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Jamar ChaneyHere’s a player-by-player review of the Eagles linebackers after having re-watched Sunday’s game.

DeMeco Ryans – The coaches credited him with a season-high 12 tackles, and while Ryans had some good moments, this was not his best outing. Steelers fullback Will Johnson got the best of Ryans on a few occasions. One was the Rashard Mendenhall 24-yard run that was called back for an illegal formation penalty. Another was his 17-yard run. And a third was Mendenhall’s 9-yard run. We’ll get a better look at Ryans in coverage once the All-22 comes out, but it looked like he got beat by tight end Heath Miller on a 15-yard completion near the end of the first half. According to Pro Football Focus, Ryans blitzed five times. He delivered a big hit on Ben Roethlisberger as he let go of the ball in the second. Steelers offensive linemen didn’t like the gesture and got in Ryans’ face after the play. Ryans hit Roethlisberger again on the 3rd-and-4 completion on the final drive.

Mychal Kendricks – Up and down game for Kendricks, who left the game briefly in the second half after suffering an ankle injury. Early on, he combined with Cullen Jenkins to stop Mendenhall for no gain. And Kendricks had good coverage on Emmanuel Sanders on a first-quarter incompletion. He also brought Isaac Redman down after a gain of 1 in the first. But not a good series in the second. He fell for the Roethlisberger fake lateral on a 9-yard run. And later on the drive, Kendricks had a chance to bring down Mendenhall one-on-one, but couldn’t make the play, as he ran in for a 13-yard touchdown. Later, he got taken down by guard Ramon Foster on Mendenhall’s 9-yard run. Kendricks blitzed three times. He had a chance to sack Roethlisberger in the second but couldn’t bring him down. And in coverage, it looked like he lost track of Jerricho Cotchery on the 7-yard red-zone completion in the second.

Jamar Chaney – Not a good game for Chaney, who started at WILL and was on the field for 36 snaps. The coaching staff did not credit him with a tackle. He was blocked by center Maurkice Pouncey, allowing Mendenhall to pick up 17 yards in the third. He couldn’t get off his block on Mendenhall’s 9-yard run and was blocked again on Redman’s 13-yard run. Chaney probably got away with a hold on Mike Wallace in coverage in the third. There were some good moments. He got in the backfield to help stop Redman for no gain in the third. And Chaney made a good read to help break up a screen to Mendenhall in the third.

Casey Matthews – He only played three snaps, filling in for Kendricks, but Matthews had two tackles. He brought Redman down for no gain in the third. And again after a 4-yard gain on the next play. In coverage, it looked like Matthews might have lost track of Miller, but Roethlisberger’s throw was off-target on third down in the red zone in the fourth.

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

RB, WR, TE Review: How the Eagles Used Celek

Philadelphia Eagles tight end Brent Celek.Here’s a player-by-player review of how the Eagles running backs, wide receivers and tight ends performed Sunday against the Steelers.

LeSean McCoy – Numbers don’t come close to telling the whole story. McCoy had 16 carries for 53 yards (3.3 YPC) and four catches for 27 yards. Those stats don’t jump off the page, but he was outstanding. McCoy picked up 8 on a 2nd-and-1 run in the first and had a nice carry around the left edge for 6 yards. He came up huge on the fourth-quarter scoring drive. On the Eagles’ first fourth-and-one, it looked like he had nowhere to go, but McCoy picked up a first down with a great second effort. If he doesn’t make that play, the Steelers’ offense takes over at the Eagles’ 30 with 13:05, up 13-7. McCoy later converted a second fourth-and-one on the drive. He also had made safety Ryan Mundy look silly with a 6-yard run in the fourth. Great design and execution on the touchdown catch in the third. McCoy let Jason Worllds rush Michael Vick unblocked, but turned around quickly, caught the ball in the flat, put a great move on Larry Foote and got in the end zone. As a blocker, McCoy had ups and downs. He was asked to pick up Lawrence Timmons (a tough assignment) and got blown up in the first as Michael Vick threw the ball away.  McCoy whiffed on his block on the QB draw to Vick that lost 1 yard in the second. LaMarr Woodley squeezed past him and Danny Watkins in the first, hitting Vick as he completed a 12-yard strike to Jason Avant. He did a great job taking James Harrison out on the Vick pass to DeSean Jackson that picked up 25 yards in the second. Overall, a really strong performance.

Bryce Brown – He only played four snaps and battled a shoulder injury. Brown had a nice 4-yard run on 2nd-and-1 in the second. He did a poor job in blitz pickup against Timmons on a deep attempt to Jeremy Maclin in the second.

Dion Lewis – He was active for the first time all season and played three snaps (no touches). Tough to say for sure, but it looked like Lewis was late picking up Brett Kiesel as he forced Vick out of the pocket on a third-down incompletion in the third. Later, Lewis blocked no one as Timmons came untouched through the A-Gap and hit Vick on a fourth-quarter throw.

Stanley Havili – He once again was on the field more, playing 37 percent of the snaps. And Havili performed well. Just one touch – a nice 5-yard run in the first. But Havili delivered a good lead block on McCoy’s 8-yard run. And he had the linebacker pushed back in the end zone on Vick’s QB draw down near the goal line.

DeSean Jackson – Official stats have him down for eight targets, but if you remove the balls that should be considered throw-aways, that number is really six. Jackson finished with four catches for 58 yards. He picked up yards after the catch on a shallow crossing route that gained 25. And Jackson got open for a 24-yard completion on 3rd-and-10 during the final drive. I have to see the All-22, but it looked like he might have had a step deep on the early bomb that went Maclin’s way. Pass interference definitely could have been called on the bomb to Jackson in the second that fell incomplete. I really thought he had the first down on the Eagles’ 17-play drive. Reid challenged it, but the original call was upheld, costing the team a timeout it could have used later. Overall, solid game. He still does not have a drop this season.

Jeremy Maclin – He was the Eagles’ most-targeted receiver with nine balls thrown his way. Maclin finished with five catches for 39 yards, but keep in mind he also drew a 31-yard pass interference penalty in the first. He had a 10-yard grab in the red zone in the first, but couldn’t stay in bounds or he would have had a touchdown. Vick fumbled on the very next play.

Jason Avant – Finished with three catches for 34 yards. Nice 12-yard grab on 3rd-and-10 on the first drive. Nice job blocking on the McCoy 15-yard touchdown in the third. Good, tough catch over the middle for 12 yards on the 17-play drive. Interesting blocking assignment in the fourth: He and Celek double-teamed Worllds on the 24-yard completion to Jackson.

Damaris Johnson - He played four snaps but was not targeted.

Brent Celek – I was surprised he wasn’t a bigger factor in the passing game. Celek finished with three catches for 9 yards on four targets, including the 2-yard touchdown in the fourth. Part of the problem was that he stayed in to block about 34.3 percent of the time on pass plays, according to Pro Football Focus. Previously, that number was 28.1 percent (in the first four games). As a blocker, I thought Celek was outstanding. Good job on McCoy’s 8-yard run in the first. Great job in protection one-on-one vs. James Harrison on the 10-yard completion to Maclin in the red zone in the first. Great job on Harrison on McCoy’s 6-yard run in the first. And good block on McCoy’s 6-yard run in the fourth.

Clay Harbor – He played 22 snaps (39 percent) and caught the only ball thrown his way – an inside screen that picked up 8 yards, setting up the Eagles’ second touchdown. As a blocker, nice job one-on-one in pass protection against Harrison on an early bomb attempt to Maclin. And good block on McCoy’s 10-yard run in the first. Harbor was called for a false start in the first.

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

Mike Check: Vick Shows Progress Vs. the Blitz

We’ve used up plenty of space here discussing Michael Vick’s two fumbles on Sunday.

But what did the Eagles’ quarterback do on the other 55 plays?

As we wrote about yesterday, the Eagles have gone with a completely different game-plan the last two weeks. They’ve become more balanced, given Vick options against the blitz and tried to disguise issues in pass protection.

The part about giving Vick options against the blitz is important. Take a look below at his numbers Sunday against different types of pressure.

Number of Rushers
Number of Plays
Completions
Attempts
Yards
Sacks
Runs
Throw-Aways
41991552131
5105739201
686884001
TOTAL372030175333

Dick LeBeau and the Steelers blitzed on 18 of Vick’s 37 dropbacks, or 48.6 percent of the time.

And Vick had his way against extra pressure, completing 11 of 15 passes (73.3 percent) for 123 yards (8.2 YPA). For those of you who prefer those numbers converted to a quarterback rating, Vick’s was 136.9 against the blitz. And keep in mind those numbers do not include the 31-yard pass interference penalty Jeremy Maclin drew, which also came against the blitz.

That seems like progress to me.

Protection was far from perfect, but Vick did a really good job of getting rid of the ball quickly and letting his playmakers do the rest. More on how the Eagles performed against the blitz in the All-22 breakdown later this week.

PATIENCE WITH THE DEEP BALL

One thing we’ve seen the last two weeks is that Marty Mornhinweg and Andy Reid are choosing their spots to go downfield. Here’s a breakdown of Vick’s throws by distance:

 
Completions
Attempts
Yards
5 Yards Or Less111355
6 to 15 Yards81096
16 to 25 Yards1124
More Than 25 Yards0 (PI)40

I counted three passes that Vick threw away. Those are not reflected here. On passes that he actually intended to be caught by a receiver, he was 20-for-27 (74.1 percent). As you can see, Vick had a lot of success on the short and intermediate throws, going 19-for-23 (82.6 percent) on passes within 15 yards of the line of scrimmage.

Vick took shots deep too, just not as many. While the offense has changed its style the last two games, the big plays downfield still will be counted on. Vick attempted four passes that traveled more than 25 yards downfield. He didn’t connect on any of them, but Maclin did draw a 31-yard penalty on one.

Through four games, opponents have completed 66.1 percent of their passes against the Lions, but Detroit has allowed just eight pass plays of 20+ yards, second-fewest in the league. Mornhinweg and Reid will have to determine whether they want to stick with the game-plan we’ve seen the past two weeks or switch things up in Week 6.

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

OL Review: Eagles Shifting Offensive Philosophy?

When evaluating the state of the Eagles’ offensive line right now, it’s important to manage expectations.

A couple weeks ago, the coaches approached the Cardinals game assuming the offense would be just fine operating as it usually does. They tried little things to help Demetress Bell and Dallas Reynolds, who were making their first starts of the season. But overall, Andy Reid and Marty Mornhinweg believed this offense could still score points by hitting on big plays down the field in the passing game.

After a 27-6 loss, though, it appears they’ve made some changes. The offense is in a difficult spot. On one hand, the personnel – Michael Vick, DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin and Brent Celek – should thrive in a big-play offense. One in which safeties can never play deep enough because the Eagles just have too much speed. But such an offense requires pass protection that gives the quarterback time to wait for those routes to develop.

The truth is, the Eagles are not going to get that protection consistently with this line. Three of the five offensive linemen – Bell, Reynolds and Danny Watkins – are question marks.

So before the Giants game, the coaches made some fairly significant adjustments. Use fullback Stanley Havili and try to maximize production in the run game with LeSean McCoy. Choose spots to take shots down the field, and provide extra protection to let those plays develop. Have the wide receivers work the short and intermediate routes. Let them make plays after the catch. Give Vick options to get rid of the ball quickly.

It’s probably not the preferred style of play for Reid and Mornhinweg. But given the injuries to Jason Peters and Jason Kelce, the turnovers by Vick, the effectiveness of McCoy and the play of the defense, it’s the Eagles’ best chance to win games in 2012.

And so that’s what we saw for the second straight game yesterday. Later in the week, I’ll try to show some of what I described above with the All-22 tape. For now, here is a player-by-player breakdown of the offensive line after having re-watched the TV broadcast.

Demetress Bell – I think you can get by with Bell if he plays like he did on Sunday. In some ways, it was a King Dunlap-like performance. He wasn’t great, but he didn’t kill them. Overall, there seemed to be too many plays where general confusion among the offensive linemen led to pressure. For example, the Steelers fooled the Eagles on a third down in the third, showing six at the line of scrimmage, but only rushing four. Brett Keisel went right between Bell and Evan Mathis. Neither guy blocked anyone. Not good. Vick scrambled and threw the ball away. But overall, I thought Bell did pretty well in protection. He got his share of help, but was certainly asked to block people one-on-one at times. The Eagles ran to the left side a fair amount. Bell did a nice job on McCoy’s 10-yard run around the left edge in the first. Often times, a tight end lined up next to Bell to try and gain the edge on those runs. Bell did a poor job with his backside block on McCoy’s 2-yard run in the fourth. He didn’t block anyone on the inside screen to Clay Harbor in the fourth. He didn’t provide much of a block on Vick’s QB draw that lost 1 yard in the second. He offered a poor attempt at a cut block on McCoy’s 4-yard run in the second. And he was called for a false start on the first drive. Like I said, an OK performance. If he stays at left tackle, the Eagles need to continue to help him and see how much he can improve. I think the one thing Bell has over Dunlap is that his ceiling should be higher. In other words, if Mudd is seeing the right signs, significant improvement by the time November rolls around is possible.

Evan Mathis – He was OK, but this wasn’t Mathis’ best performance. I mentioned the confusion above. On another play, James Harrison twisted inside, and it looked like Bell was expecting Mathis to pick him up, but he didn’t. Harrison rushed cleanly and got a shot on Vick, forcing an incompletion. Mathis had an issue in pass protection on the throw to Maclin that drew a 31-yard pass interference penalty. Harrison beat him and hit Vick on a fourth-quarter incompletion to Celek. In the run game, Mathis did a good job on McCoy’s 6-yard run in the fourth.

Dallas Reynolds – Hate to repeat myself, but once again, confusion. The Eagles had seven to block four in the fourth, yet Lawrence Timmons ran right between Reynolds and Watkins to hit Vick. Reynolds and Mathis both picked up the linebacker on the play. One guess is Reynolds probably should have blocked Timmons, but Dion Lewis might have been responsible too. On another play, Reynolds had trouble with Casey Hampton, but recovered and took him to the ground as Vick stepped to his left. Overall, I thought Reynolds did a lot of good things. He made a nice block on Havili’s 5-yard run in the first. He did an excellent job of picking up a blitzer on the 10-yard completion to Maclin in the first. He made a nice block on Bryce Brown’s 4-yard run in the second. And he did a good job of switching off his man and picking up a blitzer on the 24-yard completion to Jackson. Again, it’s a matter of expectations. Reynolds is not going to make the Pro Bowl. But he appears to be improving.

Danny Watkins – It looked like he probably missed his assignment in the first. The Steelers rushed four. The Eagles had six in to block, and Timmons rushed Vick unblocked, leading to a sack. I’ll take a look at the All-22, but it seemed like Watkins was probably responsible. On another play, I’m not sure if Watkins was expecting help from Reynolds, but he let Steve McLendon go right past him and sack Vick in the third. Vick fumbled on the play, but Watkins recovered. He also got beat by Jason Worllds on the 2-yard touchdown to Celek. The good? Watkins made a nice block on the Vick QB draw that resulted in a fumble. And it looked like McCoy ran right behind him on the second fourth-and-one carry during the 17-play drive. The inconsistency, specifically in pass protection, remains an issue in Watkins’ second season.

Todd Herremans – Nice bounce-back game after Herremans had issues against the Giants. He was clean in pass protection throughout the game. And he did a nice job on the Vick QB draw that resulted in a fumble.

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

LB Review: Ryans Provides Bright Spot

Philadelphia Eagles LB DeMeco Ryans.If you’re looking for a positive to take out of Sunday’s loss to the Cardinals, DeMeco Ryans once again played at a high level.

Here’s the player-by-player breakdown of the Birds’ linebackers, after having re-watched the game.

DeMeco Ryans – He’s played every snap the past two games and has missed just two snaps all season. The coaches credited him with eight solo tackles, and Ryans was once again a playmaker. He’s put together an outstanding three-game stretch to start the season. Ryans brought running back Ryan Williams down after a 4-yard run. He shot through the hole and dropped LaRod Stephens-Howling for a 5-yard loss in the third. And he and Mychal Kendricks combined to stop Williams short of a first down on 3rd-and-1 in the third. Ryans now has six tackles for loss in three games. In coverage, Ryans nearly had an interception in the red zone, but the ball popped up in the air, and wide receiver Michael Floyd came down with it for the touchdown. The Eagles only blitzed three times all game, and Ryans was sent on two of those occasions.

Mychal Kendricks – Eagles coaches credited him with a season-high six solo tackles. Kendricks was not perfect, but he was active throughout. He tackled Beanie Wells after a 2-yard gain in the second and stopped Wells for no gain in the third. Kendricks chased Williams to the sideline on a 3-yard run in the third. And he shot through the hole, combining with Darryl Tapp to bring Williams down for a 4-yard loss in the third. One bad moment against the run was when he couldn’t get off the tight end’s block on the 25-yard draw to Williams in the fourth. In coverage, Kendricks got picked by the wide receiver on a 12-yard completion to Williams in the first. He missed a tackle on Larry Fitzgerald after Kevin Kolb flipped the ball to avoid a sack in the first. Kendricks beat by tight end Rob Housler for an 11-yard completion on 3rd-and-2 in the second. He and Ryans both went to cover the back on 3rd-and-7 in the second, leaving TE Jeff King wide open for a 15-yard gain. It looked like Kendricks pointed to himself after the play, acknowledging that he made a mistake. Kendricks blitzed once and got a hand on Kolb.

Akeem Jordan – He only played 14 snaps before injuring his hamstring. Jordan got off his block and tackled Williams after a 3-yard gain in the second. We’ll see if he can go Sunday vs. the Giants.

Brian Rolle – He filled in for Jordan and played 16 snaps. Rolle got beaten by Housler for a 7-yard completion in the fourth. And he was blocked by the tight end on the Williams run that went for 11 yards on 3rd-and-3.

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

DL Review: Did Eagles’ Pass-Rush Get To Kolb?

Philadelphia Eagles defensive line coach Jim WashburnIn Sunday’s matchup against the Cardinals, the Eagles’ defensive line accounted for three sacks, but Jim Washburn’s group managed just six hurries.

As a point of comparison, the defensive line had 24 hurries against Joe Flacco and 19 against Brandon Weeden.

The reasons? For starters, Kevin Kolb only dropped back to pass 29 times. And often, his goal was to get rid of the ball quickly. While Kolb hit on the one 37-yard touchdown to Larry Fitzgerald, most of his throws were on short-to-intermediate routes.

The table below details snap counts and pass-rushing opportunities from Pro Football Focus. Sacks are self-explanatory. Hurries are official team stats kept by Eagles coaches. And pressure percentage simply shows how often each player notched either a sack or a hurry.

Note that these numbers are just for Sunday’s game.

 
Total Snaps
Pass-Rushing Opportunities
Sacks
Hurries
Pressure Percentage
Derek Landri3917000%
Jason Babin35211.5323,8%
Trent Cole34200.5215.0%
Fletcher Cox3316016.3%
Cullen Jenkins3019015.3%
Cedric Thornton288000%
Darryl Tapp2890.5011.1%
Brandon Graham1760.5016.7%
Phillip Hunt123000%

Those are the numbers. Below is the player-by-player breakdown:

Jason Babin – He led the Eagles with 1.5 sacks and three hurries. Babin lined up like a blitzing linebacker and rushed unblocked, splitting a sack with Cole in the first. The Eagles showed the same look on the next third down, but only rushed four, instead of six (like the first time). Babin hit Kolb and nearly had a sack, but he flipped the ball to Fitzgerald. His pressure forced Kolb to scramble on third down in the third. And Babin showed good hustle, chasing and tackling Kolb 1 yard short of the first-down marker on the play. The offensive lineman pushed Babin into Kolb for a sack in the third. Against the run, he tackled Beanie Wells after a 2-yard run in the first. And Babin tackled LaRod Stephens-Howling for a 2-yard loss, somehow avoiding a horse-collar penalty.

Cullen Jenkins – Relatively quiet game for Jenkins. He pressured Kolb out of the pocket and forced him to throw the ball away in the second for his only hurry. A huge hole opened up between Jenkins and Cox on Ryan Williams’ 25-yard run on the 3rd-and-17 draw in the fourth.

Derek Landri – Played more snaps than any other defensive lineman, but was also relatively quiet. Landri dropped Williams for a 1-yard loss in the first. No sacks, no hurries.

Trent Cole – Solid game, but I thought Cole would dominate in this one. He lined up like a blitzing linebacker and steamrolled the center, splitting a sack with Babin in the first. Cole let Kolb spin out of his grasp on the 79-yard pass to Andre Roberts that was called back. I can’t imagine he was excited about dropping back into coverage on 3rd-and-8 in the first. Kolb completed a 12-yard pass to Roberts on the play. Cole and Cox dropped Stephens-Howling for a 1-yard loss in the fourth. And he stopped Wells after a 2-yard run in the first.

Fletcher Cox – He left the game in the second because of a migraine, but would return. Good penetration, forcing a Wells cutback on a 5-yard run in the second. He and Cole dropped Stephens-Howling for a 1-yard loss in the fourth. One hurry, no sacks. It’s worth noting that he started at left defensive tackle in place of Jenkins in the second half.

Cedric Thornton – I thought this was easily his best game of the season. Thornton and Tapp stopped Wells for no gain in the second. On a separate run play in the second half, Thornton shoved the center back into the ballcarrier and then hustled to assist on the tackle near the line of scrimmage. No sacks, no hurries, but Thornton got good push up the middle on the Tapp sack that was taken away because of the holding penalty. Thornton got a good push up the middle again on the sack that Graham and Tapp split.

Darryl Tapp – Also thought this was his best game of the season. Tapp really should have had 1.5 sacks were it not for the botched holding penalty that should have been declined. His pressure forced Kolb to scramble for 3 yards in the fourth. Against the run, he tackled Wells after a 4-yard run. He and Thornton stopped Wells for no gain in the second. Tapp and Mychal Kendricks dropped Williams for a 4-yard loss in the third. And he tackled Stephens-Howling after a 5-yard run. Good game out of Tapp.

Brandon Graham – His snaps have gone from four to nine to 17 in the first three weeks. Graham was credited with half-a-sack. He got pressure on Kolb in the first, but the quarterback stepped up and hit Fitzgerald on a shallow cross. Against the run, Graham dropped Stephens-Howling for a 2-yard loss in the fourth. On the final series, he dropped Stephens-Howling for a loss on consecutive plays.

Phillip Hunt - Quiet game for Hunt, who saw Graham bite into his playing time a bit. No hurries, no sacks in limited opportunities.

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

RB, WR, TE Review: Examining McCoy’s Role

Philadelphia Eagles RB LeSean McCoy.Here is a player-by-player look at how the Eagles running backs, wide receivers and tight ends performed against the Cardinals, after having re-watched the game. Click here for other game reviews.

LeSean McCoy – Let’s start with the gameplan. Consider the following:

* In Week 2, the Cardinals’ defense allowed one touchdown drive against Tom Brady and the Patriots. And that came late in the fourth quarter.

* The Eagles were starting a left tackle in Demetress Bell, whom they didn’t think was good enough to dress two weeks ago.

* They had a center in Dallas Reynolds who was making his first NFL start after spending three seasons on the practice squad.

* They were without Jeremy Maclin at wide receiver.

Throw in that Michael Vick had six interceptions and three fumbles in the first three games, along with the fact that the Cardinals had a shut-down corner in Patrick Peterson, and it’s virtually impossible to figure out why Andy Reid and Marty Mornhinweg decided the gameplan would focus on big plays downfield.

McCoy had just four first-half carries for 15 yards. Overall, he finished with 13 for 70, averaging 5.4 yards per carry. Those are encouraging numbers, considering the Eagles have lost Jason Peters and Jason Kelce, two of their key cogs in the run game. The Eagles tried to get the ball downfield off play-action passes, something the Patriots had success with the week before. But in this one, Cardinals defenders weren’t fooled at all, and Vick would often have guys in his face as soon as he turned around on those slow-developing plays.

McCoy also had three catches for 8 yards. The Eagles have gotten nothing from their screen game.

And he had ups and downs as a blocker. On pass plays, McCoy was asked to stay in and block 56.8 percent of the time, per Pro Football Focus. In the first two games, that number was just 25.6 percent. Vick clearly expected him to block Kerry Rhodes on the fumble at the end of the first half.

Bryce Brown – With Dion Lewis once again inactive, it’s clear that Brown is this team’s backup running back. And he had his best showing Sunday, carrying four times for 28 yards, including a nice 17-yard pickup, his longest of the season. Brown was targeted twice, dropping one and making an 8-yard grab on the other. I’m not sure why he was on the field at the end of the half on second down near the goal line. Clearly, the Eagles were going to ask their back to block in that situation. McCoy, Chris Polk and Stanley Havili all have a leg up on Brown in that aspect. Overall, he played 10 snaps.

Stanley Havili – He played 12 snaps. No touches for Havili, but he had a solid lead block on McCoy’s 7-yard run in the second.

Brent Celek – He finished with two catches for 36 yards on six targets. Celek picked up yards after the catch on the 34-yard grab in the first. He got laid out by Rhodes on a deep ball over the middle in the second. As I explained in yesterday’s post, Celek had some issues in pass protection that led to Vick getting hit. Overall, he was asked to block more than usual. On pass plays, Celek stayed in 36.8 percent of the time, compared to 25.8 percent the first two weeks. Good block by Celek on Brown’s 17-yard run in the third. Only Calvin Johnson (9) has more catches of 20+ yards than Celek (7).

Clay Harbor – I have a difficult time figuring out why he played fewer snaps Sunday than the first two games. Considering the questions on the Eagles’ offensive line and the likelihood of the Cardinals blitzing, I figured Harbor would be used quite a bit to help keep Vick clean. But I was wrong. He only played 11 snaps. Harbor couldn’t finish his trap block on Sam Acho on Brown’s 3-yard run in the first. He was not targeted. I’ll have to take a look at the All-22 tomorrow, but it sure looked like Harbor was open in the end zone on second down before the game-changing fumble at the end of the first half.

DeSean Jackson – He finished with three catches for 43 yards on 10 targets. The Eagles wanted to get him the ball deep in the first half, but were unsuccessful. Jackson’s longest reception was 16 yards. The offense has had success all season long having him run intermediate routes outside the numbers. If defenses are going to play their safeties deep, I think the Eagles need to take advantage of these more. T-Mac wrote about a couple specific plays yesterday – one where Jackson complained to the ref and another where he got stopped short of a touchdown at the 1. My take? Maybe I’m nuts, but I really feel like he could have caught the deep ball had he finished his route and not complained to the official. If he comes down with that, it has a chance to be a 94-yard touchdown. I have no problem with the other play. Jackson is small, and he’s had two concussions. I don’t think he would have dragged Rhodes into the end zone. I’m fine with him getting down and protecting himself on catches over the middle. Jackson has not had a drop in three games.

Damaris Johnson – Up-and-down game. He obviously had the costly fumble on the punt return, setting up a Cardinals touchdown. He’s been unimpressive on special teams. Johnson had some good moments as a receiver, specifically on the crossing pattern where he spun away from a defender and picked up 26 yards. Overall, Johnson finished with five catches for 84 yards on 11 targets. Also, great hustle on the Vick fumble that was returned for a touchdown. Johnson sprinted downfield and nearly drew a block in the back penalty before James Sanders scored.

Jason Avant – The Eagles used three receivers or more all game long. Avant, Johnson and Jackson all played at least 88 percent of the snaps. Again, I’m surprised they didn’t use more two tight-end sets in this one. Avant had three catches for 38 yards on four targets. He made a nice 13-yard grab with a defender all over him in the second. And another nice 17-yard grab in the third.

Mardy Gilyard - He played six snaps as the fourth receiver. No targets.

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

Mike Check: Blitz Breakdown And 19 Hits On Vick

The Cardinals employed a couple different strategies to confuse the Eagles’ offense on Sunday.

In the beginning, they were hesitant to use extra rushers against Michael Vick. Arizona was playing without safety Adrian Wilson, and the guess here is that the Cardinals wanted to force the Eagles to move methodically down the field, something they have not been able to do consistently. The Cardinals didn’t want to fall victim to a 1- or 2-play touchdown drive where Vick hit DeSean Jackson for a downfield bomb.

The numbers bear this out. On the Eagles’ first 23 passing plays, the Cardinals sent extra pressure (more than four defenders) just four times. The key was that they brought heat from different places. Arizona often plays with just two true defensive linemen – Darnell Dockett and Calais Campbell. But they have outside linebackers like Sam Acho and O’Brien Schofield. And they have play-making inside linebacker Daryl Washington, who gave Vick and the offense fits. Defensive coordinator Ray Horton was willing to blitz his defensive backs too.

The second half was a different story. Playing with the lead, the Cardinals were able to take more risks and attack. On the Eagles’ final 24 passing plays, Arizona blitzed 12 times, often sending six defenders at Vick.

Below is a table with some details.

Number of Rushers
Number of Plays
Completions
Attempts
Yards
Sacks
Runs
Throw-Aways
353337110
426102091241
574789001
69070204
TOTAL471737217556

For our purposes, we’ll define a blitz as five rushers or more. As you can see, the Cardinals blitzed Vick on 16 of 47 dropbacks, or 34.0 percent of the time. He was 4-for-14 for 89 yards and a pair of sacks against the blitz. Not good.

The Cardinals took advantage of Dallas Reynolds, often sending pressure up the middle. The numbers on the “big” blitzes of six rushers are especially troubling. Vick was 0-for-7 with a pair of sacks on those. And on four of the incompletions, he had to throw the ball away. In other words, Vick targeted a receiver on just three of nine occasions when the Cardinals sent a six-man rush.

Think other teams will take notice of that?

Of course, the point here is not to place all the blame on Vick. He absolutely needs to play better. Andy Reid and Marty Mornhinweg need to do a better job of protecting him too. On 19 of 47 passing plays, or  40.4 percent of the time, he ended up on the ground. Those include sacks, knockdowns and runs. Earlier, I broke down the offensive line issues. But here’s a look at each of the 19 hits individually. The point is that everyone – from Vick to the offensive line to the running backs to the tight ends to the coaching staff – had a part in Sunday’s horrible offensive performance.

One: The Eagles ran a slow-developing play-action pass on the first play from scrimmage. By the time Vick turned around, Campbell, who had beaten Demetress Bell, was in his face. Vick scrambled for 3 yards, and Washington hit him just before he went out of bounds. The Cardinals did not blitz on the play.

Two: No blitz here either. Bell got beaten by Acho. LeSean McCoy tried to pick up Washington, who was rushing on the play. Vick pump-faked, trying to set up a play downfield, but because of the presure, had to escape the pocket. Washington crushed him as he threw the ball away.

Three: This was a third down, and the Cardinals only rushed three. Reynolds and Evan Mathis initially double-teamed Campbell. Mathis left to help Bell, and Campbell went right around Reynolds, hitting Vick as he let go of the ball.

Four: Once again, the Eagles ran a slow developing play-fake. It seemed like Vick held onto the ball too long, but keep in mind, the fake did not work very well, and the Cardinals did not blitz. Arizona had eight defenders in coverage going up against three Eagles receivers in pass routes. Schofield was initially fooled, but he had time to get to Vick and sack him. It’ll be interesting to look at this one with the All-22 to see if Vick had anyone open.

Five: This was originally a designed roll-out to the left. The Cardinals only rushed four, and Vick couldn’t find a receiver, so he scrambled to his right. But he didn’t protect the football and ended up fumbling.

Six: The Cardinals only rushed four, but McCoy was slow to pick up Washington. Vick narrowly escaped a safety, but was eventually sacked.

Seven: Another four-man rush. Vick had plenty of time. Of course, that was partly because Bell was holding an offensive lineman. Vick took off, ran and was hit after a 5-yard scramble. The play came back anyway because of the flag.

Eight: Vick ran for 20 yards, but refused to slide and had his head slammed into the ground by Washington. No blitz here. Just a three-man rush.

Nine: Brent Celek did a poor job trying to block outside linebacker Quentin Groves and gave up a hit. The Cardinals rushed six on the play.

Ten: This was the game-changing fumble at the end of the first half. The way I see it, one of two things happened here. Both are based on whether or not McCoy made a mistake. If McCoy was supposed to block Kerry Rhodes coming off the edge, it’s on him. If he was correct to protect the other side, then it’s on Vick for not recognizing Rhodes would be unblocked pre-snap. I’ve heard some argue that Vick held onto the ball too long here. I timed it. The ball was in his hands for 1.7 seconds. The Eagles were on the 1-yard line, but it’s not like he stood there and pump-faked three times.

Eleven: A delayed blitz from Schofield. He was originally lined up outside Todd Herremans, but looped inside, and Watkins failed to pick him up. Schofield went untouched and hit Vick low as he released the ball.

Twelve: Celek couldn’t hold his block on Acho. It seemed like he expected the ball to be out sooner. Acho crushed Vick from behind as he released the ball to Jason Avant. No blitz, just a four-man rush.

Thirteen: Another four-man rush in the third. Vick had all day, couldn’t find a receiver, decided to run and picked up 4 yards. He did not slide.

Fourteen: Four-man rush once again. Reynolds gets beat badly by defensive tackle David Carter. Vick stepped up and was sacked.

Fifteen: Another slow-developing play-action pass. By the time Vick turned around, he had Washington in his face. He simply had no shot. The Cardinals rushed six defenders, and Washington was not fooled.

Sixteen: Play-action pass. Bell got beaten badly by Campbell. Vick tried to escape and was hit by Acho as he threw the ball away. Vick was called for intentional grounding. The Cardinals sent six rushers on the play.

Seventeen: Campbell split the double-team between Reynolds and Mathis, hitting Vick as he released the football in the fourth quarter. It was a four-man rush.

Eighteen: The Cardinals sent a five-man blitz in the fourth. Safety James Sanders blitzed up the middle, and nobody picked him up. McCoy was occupied with another blitzer, and Reynolds was double-teaming Washington with Watkins. He likely was supposed to step out.

Nineteen: The TV broadcast blacked out momentarily on this one. But the Cardinals sent six, and Sanders came through the middle once again to hit Vick. It looked like either McCoy or Reynolds was supposed to pick him up.

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

OL Review: Protection Issues For Bell, Reynolds

Cardinals defensive coordinator Ray Horton saw what everyone else saw when he was game-planning for Sunday’s matchup with the Eagles.

A left tackle in Demetress Bell who was making his first start of the season – someone who was struggling so badly two weeks ago that he didn’t even dress for the opener against the Browns. A center in Dallas Reynolds who was making his first career start and had been on the practice squad for the previous three seasons. A quarterback in Michael Vick who had six interceptions and three fumbles in the first three games.

And a coaching staff that would likely ignore many of those issues, deciding instead to focus on hitting on big plays downfield.

We know how that turned out. The Eagles had all kinds of problems protecting Vick, and he struggled to find receivers while turning the ball over two more times. By my count, Vick ended up on the ground 19 times. Those include hits, sacks and improvised runs. Over the next few posts, we’ll try to diagnose what went wrong with the offense.

One thing you’ll notice below is that not all the issues were the line’s fault. Others (running backs, tight ends, the quarterback, the coaches) played a role too. We’ll get to all of those, but let’s start with the player-by-player breakdown of the offensive line.

Demetress Bell – I don’t think you’ll hear many argue that he did enough to warrant consideration to be the team’s starting left tackle the rest of the way. Bell had protection issues throughout. Calais Campbell went right past him on the first play from scrimmage, forcing Vick to take off and run. Bell got beat inside by Sam Acho on the next play, again forcing Vick to escape the pocket and throw the ball away. He was called for a false start at the start of the second, right after the Eagles wasted one of their timeouts. Bell was called for holding against Acho in the second. On the deep incompletion to Damaris Johnson in the second, he likely got away with what should have been a third penalty. And he had trouble with Acho around the edge in the second half, as the linebacker got a hand on Vick as he threw incomplete. In the run game, Bell flashed good athleticism blocking out in front of an 8-yard LeSean McCoy run in the first. But he missed his block on a third-quarter McCoy run that was stopped for no gain. Overall, a shaky performance.

Evan Mathis – Good game overall from Mathis. He’s really doing a nice job in the run game. Good block on McCoy’s 8-yard run in the first, and again on McCoy’s 10-yard run in the third. Mathis got to the second level on McCoy’s 7-yard run in the third. In protection, he did an outstanding job of blocking his man and then switching off to a blitzer to give Vick time on his 34-yard completion to Brent Celek. Mathis did a nice job of picking up Darnell Dockett on a stunt on the 26-yard completion to Johnson near the end of the first half. He got out in front on the 8-yard swing pass to Bryce Brown in the fourth. Mathis got beaten by Campbell in the fourth and gave up a hit on Vick. But in all fairness, it looked like Dallas Reynolds was probably supposed to help him there with the double team. Defensive tackle Dan Williams went right past Mathis and dropped McCoy for no gain in the first. But like I said, overall, he played really well.

Dallas Reynolds – He had many of the issues you would expect out of a center making the first start of his career. Reynolds got beaten badly by Campbell on third down in the first, allowing a big hit on Vick. On third down in the second, he had trouble with Campbell, and the defensive lineman batted a Vick pass at the line of scrimmage. Reynolds couldn’t block the linebacker on the screen to Celek that picked up just 2 yards late in the second. He got beat badly by David Carter in the third, allowing pressure that led to a sack. In the fourth, the Cardinals sent multiple defensive backs blitzing up the middle. It looked like Reynolds let safety James Sanders go past him untouched in the fourth as he stuck with Danny Watkins on a double-team. Reynolds had some good moments in the run game. He made a nice block on McCoy’s 7-yard run in the second. And again on McCoy’s 10-yard run. He did a nice job on McCoy’s 7-yard run in the third and had a good backside block on Brown’s 17-yard run in the third. Overall, there seemed to be more “This is my first NFL start…” issues than “I’m just getting beat…” issues. We’ll see if the coaches agree.

Danny Watkins – I didn’t notice a lot of protection issues for Watkins, which is a good sign. It looked like he failed to pick up O’Brien Schofield on a delayed blitz in the third as Vick got hit low. But that was the only major one. I’ll have to give Watkins a closer look once the All-22 comes out. In the run game, Dockett went right past him on one play in the first. But Watkins made a good block on McCoy’s 14-yard run in the fourth. On a screen in the second, he couldn’t get to the safety, and McCoy lost a yard. Overall, seemed like this might have been a step in the right direction.

Todd Herremans – After two up-and-down games, I didn’t have a single note about Herremans giving up a sack or hurry in this one. He seemed to play well overall.

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

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