LB Review: How the Eagles Used Ryans

Philadelphia Eagles LB DeMeco Ryans.Here’s a player-by-player review of how the Eagles linebackers performed Sunday against the Ravens, after having re-watched the game. Click here to find all of the game reviews.

The Eagles’ defense has played 132 snaps through two games. On 125 of those, DeMeco Ryans and Mychal Kendricks have been on the field together.

Linebacker rotation? Not as long as those two guys are healthy. Against the Ravens, they each played all 70 snaps. Akeem Jordan got the nod at WILL and played 37 snaps.

Here’s the breakdown:

DeMeco RyansJuan Castillo actually chose to blitz a decent amount in this one. By my count, he sent extra pressure on nine of 44 pass plays, or 20.5 percent of the time. And Ryans was the most frequent blitzer, going after Flacco on seven occasions. He broke through in the second, but Joe Flacco made a nice, subtle move to his right, giving him enough time to hit Jacoby Jones for the 21-yard touchdown. On a third down in the fourth, Ryans got there, blitzing off the left edge and picking up a sack. Overall, he played another great game, specifically in the second half. Ryans had nine tackles (eight solo). Through two games, he has five tackles for loss. In all of 2011, no Eagles linebacker had more than six. In addition to the sack, he had a third-quarter interception. When Kendricks and Cullen Jenkins missed tackles on Ray Rice in the second, Ryans was there to clean up, stopping the running back after a 3-yard gain. On the very next play, he had great coverage on tight end Dennis Pitta and tackled him after a 2-yard gain on third down, forcing a punt. Ryans dropped Rice for no gain in the third and again after a 1-yard pickup in the fourth. Later in the quarter, he stopped Rice after a 3-yard gain and dropped Pierce for a 2-yard loss. If you missed the NFL Films piece from the Eagles-Ravens game, click here. Some good Ryans footage in there.

Mychal Kendricks – Looking forward to watching the All-22 and focusing on him. Kendricks was really good in coverage. Examples: Tackled Pitta after a 4-yard completion in the second. Forced a Flacco incompletion to Rice on a third down in the second. Dropped Rice for a 5-yard loss after a completion. Broke up a pass for Pitta in the third. And another to Pitta in the fourth, where he nearly had an interception. Of course, the one we all remember is the break-up on the final play of the game where Flacco was looking for Rice. Against the run, Kendricks got blocked by Pro Bowl guard Marshal Yanda on Rice’s 16-yard run. And he hustled to eventually bring down Rice on the 43-yard run.

But here’s one thing that will make you like the rookie even more. After the game, he was at his locker, and a reporter asked him if he was happy with the way he performed in coverage against the Ravens’ running backs and tight ends.

“I’m pretty pleased with the way I played as far as that’s concerned,” Kendricks said at first. “I gave up one pass though, which was probably the most crucial moment, little stick route.”

Even though he ended the game with the break-up against Rice, Kendricks still had another play on his mind. It was the one where he got beat by Pitta for a 12-yard completion on third down on the final drive. Those plays are of course going to happen, but Kendricks has been impressive through two games.

Akeem Jordan – Don’t have a lot of notes on Jordan. As I mentioned above, he played quite a bit. Pitta knocked him over and then caught an 8-yard pass from Flacco in the third. But other than that, didn’t notice Jordan get beat in coverage. Didn’t notice him much in the run game either. The team credited him with two tackles.

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DL Review: Graham Making Most Of Chances

Here’s a player-by-player review of how the Eagles defensive linemen performed Sunday against the Ravens, after having re-watched the game. Click here to find all of the game reviews.

Let’s start with the numbers. 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 finally, you’ll see pressure percentage, which simply shows how often each player notched either a sack or a hurry. The reason for the percentage is that a one-sack game for a defensive lineman who rushed the passer 30 times is different than a one-sack game for someone who had just 10 opportunities.

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

Total Snaps
Pass-Rushing Opportunities
Pressure Percentage
Fletcher Cox5234000%
Jason Babin44340514.7%
Trent Cole47331621.2%
Derek Landri36250416.0%
Cullen Jenkins32260415.4%
Darryl Tapp2315000%
Cedric Thornton2214000%
Phillip Hunt1590111.1%
Brandon Graham9404100%

The first thing that jumps out is Graham’s production in limited action. The coaches credited him with four hurries, and he was only on the field for four passing downs, meaning he pressured the quarterback on every opportunity. There’s no doubt in my mind he’s going to see a bump in playing time, starting this Sunday.

Cole led the way with six hurries and the defensive line’s only sack, stripping Joe Flacco from behind in the first.

Landri and Jenkins both got to Flacco quite a bit. Left guard Ramon Harewood was making just his second career start, and the Eagles got the better of him all day. Don’t be thrown off by the fact that Fletcher Cox had zero hurries. There’s a reason he played more snaps than any other defensive tackle (write-up below). And keep in mind, Cox was going up against Pro Bowl right guard Marshal Yanda.

One other thing that stands out: Tapp and Hunt combined for one hurry. Just another reason why I think you’re going to see more of Graham. The Eagles generally reward players who are producing.

Here’s the player-by-player breakdown:

Jason Babin – He had five hurries, but wasn’t as good against the run. Babin pressured Flacco on the play where Cole forced the fumble in the first. Nice hurry in the second, forcing Flacco out of the pocket on a 3-yard completion to Ray Rice. Against the run, Babin was unblocked on Vonta Leach’s 5-yard touchdown, but he made a bee-line to Flacco. Had he read run, Babin probably would have dropped Leach for a loss. The Ravens left him unblocked on the Rice 43-yard run, but Babin couldn’t quite get to him in the backfield. Later, he made an excellent play against the run, dropping Rice after a 2-yard gain. The Eagles showed the look where Babin and Cole line up in the middle like blitzing linebackers. Babin was called for a personal foul after hitting Flacco late on 3rd-and-18 in the fourth.

Trent Cole – His sack/forced fumble was huge as it set up the Eagles’ first score. Cole got good pressure on Flacco in the second, forcing an incompletion. He and Landri hit Flacco on a third down in the third. Cole hit Flacco on the touchdown to Jacoby Jones that was called back. And he got good pressure on the first play of the final drive. Cole lined up at left defensive end on one play. Rice chipped him, Cole got up, and Rice threw him to the ground. That’s one powerful running back. By the way, the zone blitz made its return on a couple plays. Cole dropped back into coverage on a third down in the third.

Cullen Jenkins – Jenkins had four hurries. He got excellent push up the middle on DeMeco Ryans’ sack in the fourth. And Jenkins got good pressure on third down in the fourth, forcing Flacco out of the pocket. He pressured Flacco again on the final drive and actually made contact with the quarterback’s helmet, but the refs didn’t call it. Against the run, Yanda got the better of Jenkins on a couple occasions, including the Leach touchdown run. Jenkins had a chance to make a play on Rice near the line of scrimmage, but couldn’t bring him down on the 16-yard run in the second. The Eagles showed a look with him at right defensive end, Landri and Cox at tackle, and Cole at left defensive end.

Fletcher Cox – I thought he was disruptive throughout. It’s only been two games, but Cox has shown flashes that suggest he can be a dominant defensive tackle. Cox brought Rice down after a 2-yard gain in the second. He went right around Yanda (Pro Bowler) and pressured Flacco into an incompletion in the second. Not sure why the team didn’t credit him with a hurry on that one. Cox’s athleticism was on full display on one play in the second. Yanda tried to use a cut block on him, but Cox stayed on his feet, hustled to the ballcarrier and stopped Rice after a 2-yard gain. Impressive play. He got his hand on a screen to force an incompletion in the third. And Cox fought through a double-team in the fourth, drawing a holding penalty. It’s not as good as a sack, but Cox was responsible for the offense losing 10 yards. He’s going to continue to be the most-used defensive tackle on this team.

Derek Landri – Really good game. Like I mentioned above, Harewood, the Ravens’ left guard, likely saw Landri in his nightmares Sunday night. He got good push up the middle on the Flacco fumble in the first. He got in the backfield on Rice’s 4-yard carry in the first. Landri went right around Harewood and shoved Flacco as he released the ball on a 6-yard completion in the second. Later, he got good pressure, forcing Flacco out of the pocket. Landri pushed a double-team back into Flacco’s face on a third-down incompletion in the third. He shoved Harewood into the backfield, causing a 4-yard loss for Rice. He went right around Harewood and hit Flacco on a fourth-quarter throw that went incomplete. He tackled Rice after a 2-yard gain in the fourth. And he went right around Harewood to pressure Flacco on the final drive. The one negative was the 43-yard Rice run. A big hole opened up between Landri and Cole. But overall, outstanding game.

Cedric Thornton – He’s not doing much in terms of rushing the passer, but Thornton made a few nice plays. He disrupted a Rice run that gained only 2 yards in the second. And he got into the backfield on another Rice 2-yard run, but couldn’t make a play. Thornton recognized a screen and tackled Rice on an incompletion in the third.

Darryl Tapp – Tapp didn’t do much in this one. He hustled to bring Rice down after a 9-yard run in the third.

Phillip Hunt – He was quiet too. No sacks, one hurry, although he didn’t have a lot of opportunities. Hunt dropped back into coverage once from left defensive end.

Brandon Graham – As I mentioned above, he made the most of his opportunities. Graham got around the right tackle and hit Flacco as he threw in the second. He went right around the fullback on a play-action pass and hit Flacco as he threw incomplete. Graham got pressure near Flacco’s feet on a screen attempt in the third. And against the run, he stopped Bernard Pierce for no gain in the fourth. Have to respect the approach he’s taken, despite limited snaps.

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RB, WR, TE Review: Inside Celek’s Big Day

Philadelphia Eagles tight end Brent Celek.Here’s a review of the Eagles’ running backs, wide receivers and tight ends after having re-watched Sunday’s win against the Ravens. Click here for the offensive line review.

LeSean McCoyMarty Mornhinweg called a great game. The Eagles had 16 passes and 19 runs in the first half. They finished with 38 called passes and 34 called runs. McCoy’s numbers were not eye-popping: 25 carries for 81 yards (3.2 YPC). But it looked like he made the most of his opportunities against a tough Ravens defense. We’ve discussed the loss of Jason Peters. But Jason Kelce is a key to this team’s rushing attack. Losing him definitely hurt. McCoy fumbled for the second time in as many games. That has to stop. He only fumbled once on 273 carries last season. McCoy had a nice 7-yard run in the second and produced a great individual effort, making people miss with a 20-yard gain later in the quarter. He also had a good 11-yard run in the fourth. As a blocker, McCoy had ups and downs. He did just enough in blitz pickup to give Vick time to find Brent Celek for 23 yards on the first play from scrimmage. He completely missed on his chip in the third, allowing Dannell Ellerbee to sack Vick. In the fourth, he had a couple of tremendous blocks. One on the safety and another on Ray Lewis, allowing Vick to take off for 8 yards. McCoy had two catches for 8 yards. He dropped a third-down pass from Vick. McCoy played 86 percent of the offensive snaps, the exact same number as last season.

Bryce Brown – Brown has talent, but looks like a guy who hasn’t played much football the past three seasons. He was on the field for eight snaps and had three carries for 7 yards. From this perspective, the botched exchange that resulted in a fumble was on Brown. As a blocker, he missed a blitz pickup, but Vick stepped up and hit Celek.

Stanley Havili – He played 21 percent of the snaps, more than last week. Havili had two carries for 1 yard. He had a nice lead block on McCoy’s 4th-and-1 carry in the red zone in the first. In protection, Havili was OK in blitz pickup on third down in the fourth. He initially slowed down the linebacker off the edge, but then allowed a hit on Vick.

DeSean Jackson – Don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say he’s playing some of the best football of his career. Consider this: Vick threw to Jackson eight times. Seven of those were completions for 114 yards. Jackson is not just running go-routes. He had a nice 17-yard grab on a Vick sprint-out in the first. He had a 10-yard catch on 3rd-and-4 in the second. He got open on an 8-yard out on 3rd-and-6 in the third. He held on for a 49-yard bomb with Ed Reed closing in the fourth. And he had a 14-yard catch to get the final drive started. If you watch the replay, check out the reaction of the defensive players after Jackson caught the 49-yarder. They were going nuts on the sideline. Jackson only came off the field for eight snaps. I’m guessing he opened things up for Celek too. I’ll take a look at that when the All-22 is released Wednesday.

Jeremy Maclin – He toughed it out and started before suffering a hip contusion while blocking for Celek in the third. Maclin was only targeted once, but it was a big one, as he came up with a 23-yard touchdown catch. In a matter of one or two seconds, Maclin made the decision to get down so that his knees would be in bounds. The Eagles might want to give him next week off so that he can heal up. We’ll see as the week goes on though.

Jason Avant – He had two balls thrown his way and caught both of them. Avant’s great hands were on display as he snatched a 16-yard pass from Vick in the first. He also made a nice 17-yard grab in the fourth.

Damaris Johnson – He played 22 snaps. Johnson lined up in the backfield and looked good, picking up 6 yards and a first down on a run around the left end in the first. He only had one ball thrown his way, but it was a 13-yard gain where he beat 2011 first-round pick Jimmy Smith.

Mardy Gilyard – He was active, but played special teams only.

Brent Celek – Guess which tight end led the NFL in yards after the catch last season. Rob Gronkowski? Nope. Jimmy Graham? Try again. It was Celek. And that ability was on display once again Sunday. Celek had a career game with eight catches for 157 yards. And by my count, 67 of those yards were after the catch. The first defender is rarely able to bring him down, and Celek has been a weapon in the Eagles’ passing game since the sixth game of the 2011 season. Great effort on a 19-yard catch and run on 3rd-and-20 in the first. Later, he almost had his helmet knocked off by Bernard Pollard, but held on to the ball as the crowd went nuts. In general, I’m anti-hurdle, but Celek’s leap over Ed Reed worked perfectly. And his teammates loved it. If you watch the replay, check out their reaction on the sideline. Celek stood up and took the blame for Vick’s second interception. He’s the kind of teammate who would do that regardless, but if you watch the replay, Celek had Lewis on his left, so Vick had to throw it high to the other side. The ball bounced off of Celek’s hand and was picked off by Reed. Celek had a lot of good moments as a blocker, mixed in with a couple miscues. Let’s start with the good. Nice job in protection on Vick’s 10-yard completion to Jackson. Nice block on McCoy’s 7-yard run. Good job on McCoy’s 9-yard run in the third. And again on McCoy’s 5-yard run. Celek did a good job on McCoy’s 6-yard run as well. On the flip side, he missed his block on a Havili run that went for no gain. There was confusion in the third as safety James Ihedigbo went right past him and dropped McCoy for a 2-yard loss. Overall, outstanding game for Celek.

Clay Harbor – He played a lot (36 snaps, 45 percent). Harbor had one catch – a 19-yard grab on the final drive. He held up well as a blocker too. Specifically, Harbor did a good job on McCoy’s 5-yard run in the third.

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OL Review: How Did Bell And Reynolds Hold Up?

Here’s a review of how the Eagles offensive linemen performed after re-watching Sunday’s game against the Ravens.

King Dunlap – He suffered a hamstring injury in the third quarter, trying to get to Ray Lewis on a LeSean McCoy run to the left side. Overall, the Eagles were much better in pass protection than Week 1. The only issue I saw for Dunlap was when he couldn’t hold his block against Courtney Upshaw, who got past him and chased Michael Vick out of the pocket on his first interception. Run-blocking has never been Dunlap’s strength. He got called for holding Haloti Ngata on a McCoy run in the first. And Dunlap couldn’t hold his block on a McCoy run that was stopped for no gain. On the flip side, he had a decent block on Damaris Johnson’s 6-yard run in the first.

Evan Mathis – He got called for two penalties – a holding and a false start – but other than that, Mathis played a good game. He had some really good moments in the run game, specifically. Mathis did a nice job of getting to Lewis on Johnson’s 6-yard run in the first. He blocked the linebacker on McCoy’s touchdown run in the first. He did a good job on McCoy’s 7-yard run in the second and again on an 11-yard run in the fourth. Mathis also threw the key block on the linebacker on Vick’s game-winning touchdown. In protection, he held up well. Mathis did a nice job one-on-one against Ngata on Vick’s 18-yard completion to DeSean Jackson in the second. The holding penalty I mentioned occurred when a rusher got past him and McCoy in the fourth.

Jason Kelce – He suffered the knee injury on a McCoy run where Ravens safety Ed Reed dove for the running back, but hit Kelce low instead. Kelce was really playing a good game up to that point. I didn’t notice any breakdowns in protection. And he’s been excellent in the run game. Kelce made a good block on Johnson’s 6-yard run in the first. And again on McCoy’s 4th-and-1 carry. He also did a good job on McCoy’s touchdown run and his 7-yard run in the second. We’ll find out if he’s out four-to-six weeks or the entire season. But this line is definitely going to miss Kelce.

Danny Watkins – He’s still having too many issues in pass protection. Ngata went right around Watkins and delivered a blow to Vick’s chest/rib area on a 19-yard completion to Brent Celek in the first. Ngata probably could have been flagged for a penalty on the play. Watkins had trouble with Albert McLellan in the second as Vick was forced to leave the pocket and run for 5 yards. Ngata went right around him and crushed Vick from his blind side in the third. And Ngata beat him again later on a play where   Pernell McPhee crushed Vick. Watkins had some good moments too. He made a decent block on McCoy’s 7-yard run in the second. And he did a good job in pass protection on Jackson’s 49-yard bomb in the third. But he just needs to get better in pass protection, especially given the team’s uncertain center situation.

Todd Herremans – After a disappointing Week 1 performance, Herremans was better against the Ravens. The Eagles should be running to his side a lot going forward. McCoy ran behind Herremans on the 4th-and-1 conversion in the first. Herremans made a really good block on McCoy’s 7-yard run in the second. And again on McCoy’s 5-yard run. He blocked the defensive end and then Lewis on McCoy’s 6-yard run in the fourth. In protection, Herremans had a few issues, but was fine overall. There was confusion all around on the Bernard Pollard sack in the first. Herremans and Watkins let Upshaw go right past them. Herremans got beat by Upshaw on the fourth-quarter play where Mathis was called for holding. And on the next play, he got beat by McPhee, who crushed Vick as he threw.

Demetress Bell – I was surprised when inactives were announced and the Eagles decided that he would dress as the swing tackle in place of rookie Dennis Kelly. Clearly, the coaches are seeing some progress from Bell. He entered the game in the third quarter and held up well. In the preseason, Bell looked completely lost. That was not the case here. By my count, Bell was on the field for 20 pass plays. And on 11 occasions, he was asked to block a Ravens defender one-on-one. On the other nine plays, the Eagles wisely gave him help – either in the form of another lineman, a tight end or a running back. Bell did a really nice job in protection on the 49-yard completion to Jackson. The question is: Has something clicked with Bell and Howard Mudd’s techniques? Or did he just block the way he used to with the vertical steps in Buffalo, trying to do whatever he could to keep Vick clean? From my perspective, there was definitely a little bit of that, which seems fine, given the circumstances. Bell was not perfect, but he held up much better than expected. He got turned around on a stunt on the first play of the final drive, but Vick stepped up and hit Jackson for a 14-yard gain. In the run game, he didn’t give the Eagles much. Bell got beat inside and was called for holding on a McCoy run that was stopped at the line of scrimmage. And he got blown up by Upshaw on a McCoy run to the left that lost 4 yards. If Dunlap can’t go Sunday, Bell will get his first start of the season.

Dallas Reynolds – Not sure if I tempered my expectations for Reynolds or if he really played well, but I was impressed with the way he came in and performed. I didn’t notice any missed blocks that resulted in a sack or a hit on Vick. On the 13-yard third-down completion to Johnson, he started out with Watkins, double-teaming Ngata, recognized a delayed blitzer and switched to help Mathis. Really nice job for someone seeing his first NFL action. In the third, Reynolds had some trouble with nose tackle Maake Kemoeatu, but overall, he might have been the Eagles’ unsung hero Sunday. We’ll see if they make a roster move or give him a shot with Kelce out.

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All-22: What We Learned About the Eagles’ Offense

Here are observations on the Eagles’ offense after having looked at the All-22 coaches’ tape.

If you missed the take on the defense, click here.

Play 1: Let’s start with the good for a change, shall we? Michael Vick’s best throw of the game was the 46-yard completion to Jeremy Maclin down the left sideline near the end of the first quarter. Perhaps what was most encouraging was that Maclin wasn’t really open when Vick threw the ball.

Philadelphia Eagles WR Jeremy Maclin

As you can see, when Vick decides to target Maclin, the cornerback has a step on him. But Maclin and DeSean Jackson are talented receivers, capable of winning one-on-one against most of the league’s defensive backs. The great quarterbacks trust their receivers and let them make plays. That’s what Vick did here.

Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Jeremy Maclin.

We sometimes take for granted the skill level, speed and timing of these players. Look at where Maclin is when he finally ends up catching the ball. He’s more than 25 yards away from where he was when Vick first let go of the ball. But the pass landed right in his hands, even though the cornerback was just a step behind and the safety was closing. Just a great pass and great execution from quarterback and receiver.

Play 2: Ok, now we get to the interceptions. Bad things happen when Vick throws across his body. But on the first pick, he probably could have completed the pass had he looked for McCoy.

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick.

As you can see, McCoy had no defenders around him. Even if Vick is off-target, it’s just an incompletion. But he thought he could get the ball to Brent Celek, who was at the 39-yard-line. The result, of course, was an interception. The discouraging thing here is that Vick made pretty much the same play two more times later in the game, even though neither of those throws resulted in a turnover.

Play 3: A lot of people made the point that on Vick’s third-quarter interception, he was late with the football. The All-22 would seem to back that up.

Philadelphia Eagles TE Clay Harbor.

Harbor makes his break at the Browns’ 46. It looks like there’s a window there for Vick to get him the ball. The circled player at the Eagles’ 49 is Browns linebacker L.J. Fort. As you can see, he’s in no position to pick the pass off when Harbor first makes his cut. But Vick held onto the ball, Fort made his read, closed and came away with the interception.

Play 4: LeSean McCoy fumbled just once all of last season. But he was stripped on his first carry of 2012. McCoy makes highlight-reel plays all the time by reversing field and never giving up on plays. But it sure looked like he had a big running lane had he followed fullback Stanley Havili on this one.

Philadelphia Eagles RB LeSean McCoy.

Jason Kelce did a good job on the defensive tackle, and King Dunlap had the defensive end blocked. Havili was in position to help Dunlap if necessary. There was no one else to block. It looked like McCoy had a lot of running room through the initial hole.

As I mentioned in the previous post, this is of course easy for me to say, watching the game in slow motion four days later. Players are expected to make split-second reads and decisions. McCoy went on to have a great game, carrying 20 times for 110 yards.

Plays 5: When the Eagles gave Jackson a contract extension this offseason, there was a lot of talk about his production, and specifically, whether he did things that don’t show up in the box score. A couple plays from Week 1 would suggest that’s absolutely the case.

The first is a 3rd-and-15 play. Jackson lines up in the slot, which he did 10.4 percent of the time last year, according to Pro Football Focus. He made a subtle move outside after going about 10 yards in his route, and then continued downfield. Jackson never got open, but look at all the attention he attracts from Browns defenders.

Philadelphia Eagles WR DeSean Jackson

When Vick finally decides to take off (the line of scrimmage was the Eagles’ 21), the middle of the field is wide open. Jeremy Maclin (bottom of the screen) ran a deep out. And so did Jason Avant (top of the screen). The arrow points to Jackson, who has two defenders in front of him. The Browns also have two defensive backs behind him. There’s not a single defender inside the numbers within 20 yards of the line of scrimmage.

Of course, NFL players can make up ground quickly, and Vick ended up just picking up the first down with a 16-yard run.

Play 6: One more where Jackson didn’t have a catch, but had an impact. It was the 18-yard touchdown to Maclin at the end of the first half.

Philadelphia Eagles WR DeSean Jackson.

Interesting concept here. The Eagles kept eight players in to block. Maclin lined up out wide to the right of the formation, and Jackson was in the slot. Vick delivered a little pump fake in Jackson’s direction (middle of the field, at the 15-yard-line). That got the safety (circled) to bite, and you can see all the attention Jackson attracted, with three defenders around him. Maclin made his move, and Vick delivered a bullet to him in the back of the end zone for the score. Consider this: The Eagles had two receivers going up against seven Browns defenders in coverage, and they were still able to make a play.


* There seems to be a debate about who’s to blame for all the hits Vick takes: The quarterback? The offensive line? Or the coaches? I’m not sure why we have to pick just one. Vick played a bad game. He was late with throws. He left the pocket at times when he didn’t have to. And he made bad decisions. We’ve already discussed how the coaching staff and the game-planning had something to do with that.

But let’s not allow the offensive line to get off the hook. There were specific plays where Vick stood in the pocket, delivered the ball on time and took big hits because of poor protection.

One was an 18-yard strike to Jackson. The throw had to be perfect, and it was. Browns cornerback Joe Haden was all over the wide receiver. Vick took a hit on the play, but he did not hold onto the ball too long. He delivered on time. The problem? Bryce Brown missed his block, and Todd Herremans left his man to help the running back.

Later, Vick hit Jackson for a 35-yard completion. Again, Vick was on time with his throw. He let go of the ball as soon as Jackson was coming out of his break. The Eagles even kept seven guys in to block, and the Browns only rushed five. Jason Kelce and Danny Watkins initially double-teamed defensive tackle Ahtyba Rubin, but Watkins left to help Brent Celek. Kelce left too. Rubin, arguably the Browns’ best defensive lineman, literally had no one blocking him as he rushed up the middle and nailed Vick. That’s not on the quarterback.

* Havili looked good as a lead blocker when given the opportunity.

* In some eyes, this will count for nothing, but others will appreciate it. Vick’s effort to chase down Haden and make the tackle after the interception that bounced off Maclin’s hand was unbelievable. Had Vick not hustled and made the play, Haden would have had just one man to beat and could have very easily scored. The Browns ended up settling for a field goal on the drive. Again, tackling opposing cornerbacks after interceptions is not high on the list of things you look for out of your quarterback. But there’s a reason Vick’s teammates like playing with him.

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All-22: What We Learned About the Eagles’ Defense

The NFL gave football geeks everywhere our wish this offseason, announcing it would release All-22 coaches’ film to the public (for a small fee, of course).

Unlike TV footage, the All-22 angles account for every player on the field on any given play.

I took a look at the coaches’ tape and came away with some new observations from Sunday’s Eagles-Browns game. We’ll start with the defense here and post on the offense next.

A little disclaimer first: There’s still guesswork involved. What coverage was called for the defense? What protection was called for the offensive line? How many reads did the quarterback go through? And so on. The players are making split-second decisions and reacting. But football is best explained when you slow things down. If you have ideas for how I can make these more useful, please let me know.

In the meantime, let’s get started.

Play 1: We’ve been talking all week about what a good job DeMeco Ryans and Mychal Kendricks did. Ryans, specifically, seemed to make good reads all game long. He had three tackles for loss, and was often a step ahead of the offense, allowing him to get to his spot without even having to shed any blocks.

The Eagles were one of the worst tackling teams in the NFL last season. And you can see from the first photo that in this scheme, a missed tackle by a linebacker can lead to a huge gain in the running game.

Philadelphia Eagles linebacker DeMeco Ryans
On this play – 3rd and 1 from the Cleveland 40 – it’s Ryans vs. Trent Richardson, one-on-one behind the line of scrimmage. You can see the huge running lane between the Eagles’ defensive tackles, who were blocked on the play. If Richardson gets past Ryans and can race between the safeties, he has a monster gain. But Ryans made the tackle, dropped him for a loss, and the Browns were forced to punt.

Plays 2 and 3: Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie had a pair of interceptions. Chances are, he’s going to get targeted quite a bit this year with Nnamdi Asomugha on the other side. But look at the coverage by all three cornerbacks (Brandon Boykin included) on Rodgers-Cromartie’s first pick.

Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie

Brandon Weeden had nowhere to go with the football. Asomugha’s at the top of the screen, Rodgers-Cromartie is at the bottom, and Boykin is in the middle. Weeden decided to take a shot at Rodgers-Cromartie, who was step-for-step with Travis Benjamin, a rookie receiver who ran a 4.36 at the combine. And DRC came away with the pick. It’s worth noting that Fletcher Cox took on two offensive linemen and got good push up the middle on the play.

Later, it was the same story on Rodgers-Cromartie’s second interception. This time, the Eagles had four receivers blanketed. Weeden decided to take a shot with Benjamin again, and DRC (bottom of your screen) made another nice play on the ball.

Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie
Play 4: Let’s stick with Rodgers-Cromartie, shall we? There were actually a couple plays where he got beat, but Weeden couldn’t find his receiver. Mohamed Massaquoi got him on a double-move on third down in the second, but Weeden sailed the throw way over the receiver’s head. Pressure from Cullen Jenkins and Jason Babin had something to do with it, but the Browns could have easily had a 25-yard completion.

Earlier in the game, Rodgers-Cromartie got beaten for what would have been a touchdown, but Weeden again overthrew his receiver.

Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie
As you can see, Massaquoi is all by himself near the 25-yard-line. Rodgers-Cromartie got turned around and is inside the numbers at the 30. The Eagles had safety help with Nate Allen, but he wouldn’t have arrived until after the pass was completed. Fortunately for the defense, the ball was way over Massaquoi’s head.

Play 5: Rodgers-Cromartie wasn’t the only one with a little luck on his side. Kendricks played a really good game, but he got beaten by tight end Jordan Cameron in the end zone.

Philadelphia Eagles LB Mychal Kendricks.

Weeden overthrew Cameron, and once again pressure played a role. Babin and Derek Landri were sandwiching Weeden as he let go of the football. The officials called the Eagles for holding on the play. They didn’t announce a number, but it was likely on Kendricks, who got a hand on Cameron once he realized he was in trouble.

Play 6: Nate Allen finished last year strong, and he played well in Week 1. On Kurt Coleman’s first interception, Allen made a great play on the ball in the red zone, breaking up a pass intended for Greg Little.

Philadelphia Eagles safety Nate Allen
Check out where Allen is and where Little is when Weeden releases the ball. He’s a good 5 or 6 yards away, but Allen reacted and closed quickly to get the Eagles the ball back. If the Birds want to improve on their poor performance in the red zone from a year ago, they’ll need more plays like this.

Play 7: The front four and the back end of the defense are supposed to work together. That means Babin probably owes Rodgers-Cromartie and Asomugha a thank you for his sack Sunday.

Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Jason Babin
As you can see, the two Eagles starting cornerbacks were all over their respective receivers. Weeden had nowhere to go with the football, allowing Babin to pick up the sack and force a fumble.

Later, when Cox got his first career sack, Weeden initially was looking in DRC’s direction, but the coverage was good once again.

Extra point: Remember the early play where it looked like Asomugha was playing way off in coverage, and the Browns hit Massaquoi for a 24-yard slant? Not so sure that was on the cornerback. It looked like the Eagles were in zone, and the area where Massaquoi caught the ball was the responsibility of linebacker Akeem Jordan. But Jordan, and some other Eagles defenders, moved towards the line of scrimmage and were expecting run. If you take that catch off of Asomugha, he didn’t allow a completion all day. Hat tip to Derek, formerly of Iggles Blog fame, for noting this on Twitter.

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Eagles DL Review: Babin Leads the Charge

Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Jason BabinHere’s a player-by-player review of how the Eagles defensive linemen performed Sunday against the Browns, after having re-watched the game. Click here to find all of the game reviews.

The Eagles kept nine defensive linemen active in Week 1. They all saw the field, although the first group played significantly more, and Brandon Graham only saw a handful of snaps.

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 the Eagles coaches. And finally, you’ll see percentages based on opportunities. The reason for those is that a two-sack game for a defensive lineman who rushed the passer 30 times is different than a two-sack game for someone who had just 10 opportunities.

Total Snaps
Pass-Rushing Opportunities
Sack %
Hurry %
Jason Babin402813.6%621.4%
Trent Cole412800%414.3%
Cullen Jenkins422800%310.7%
Derek Landri332200%29.1%
Fletcher Cox301915.3%210.5%
Cedric Thornton211200%00%
Darryl Tapp211200%00%
Phillip Hunt15700%114.3%
Brandon Graham5400%125%

As you can see, Babin led the way with a sack and six hurries. He was constantly around the quarterback and looked to be at full strength, despite missing the entire preseason with a calf strain. Cole had success too going up against All-Pro left tackle Joe Thomas. He had a sack taken away because of a Babin offsides penalty. Good debut for Cox, who had a sack and a couple hurries. Jenkins had three hurries, and Landri added a couple. Hunt and Graham had one each. Obviously, the small number of snaps skews the percentage.

Below is a player-by-player breakdown of how each lineman played.

Jason Babin – Excellent all-around game for Babin. Not used to seeing him make plays against the run, but Babin was strong in that aspect Sunday. He dropped Trent Richardson after a 1-yard gain in the first. In the third, the Browns ran right at him, but Babin tossed the right tackle aside and stopped Richardson after a 1-yard gain. As a pass rusher, he put a hit on Brandon Weeden on third down in the second after he released the ball. Babin probably could have been called for a flag on the play. Late in the first half, he avoided a chip and hit Weeden. Babin got good pressure off the edge, forcing Weeden to scramble on the final play of the first half. He sacked Weeden in the third. Later in the quarter, he beat the right tackle badly and hit Weeden as he threw incomplete. He and Landri crushed Weeden in the third, helping to force a bad throw.

Trent Cole – He went up against one of the best left tackles in the league but found a way to make plays. Cole beat Thomas and stripped Weeden in the first, but the play was called back because of the Babin penalty. He probably got blocked in the back on the 35-yard reverse in the second, or Cole could have had a tackle for loss. He got good pressure and a hand in Weeden’s face, helping to force an incompletion in the third. The Browns tried to block him with a tight end in the third, and Cole beat his man easily, hitting Weeden as he released the ball. I think he’s in store for a big year.

Cullen Jenkins – He played a lot of defensive end in the preseason, but Jenkins played primarily at left defensive tackle in this game. The only time he shifted outside was on 3rd-and-1 a couple times in the second quarter. Powerful play in the first half by Jenkins, stopping Richardson after a 1-yard gain on a run to the left. He looped outside and pressured Weeden on third down, helping to force an incompletion in the second. Jenkins got some pressure on Weeden, forcing him to roll to his right on third down in the third. He made a great play against the run, dropping Richardson for a 3-yard loss in the red zone in the third. And it looked like he tipped a ball at the line of scrimmage later on the same possession.

Derek Landri – He went right past the guard and hit Weeden on the 24-yard completion in the first. Something I noticed upon re-watching: On DeMeco Ryans’ tackle for loss in the second, Landri took on two offensive linemen and allowed the linebacker to attack freely. In fact, that was something I noticed throughout the game. Ryans often didn’t have to deal with linemen in his face, allowing him to make plays. That’s really encouraging, and different from last year. Landri and Babin might have saved a touchdown by nailing Weeden as he threw incomplete to the tight end, who was open in the end zone in the third.

Fletcher Cox – He played left defensive tackle with the second group, but it might only be a matter of time (as in, possibly Sunday against the Ravens) until he moves up to the first group. Cox got good push up the middle on a screen attempt that went incomplete in the second. He picked up his first career sack in the third. And it’s worth noting that with the game on the line in the fourth, he was on the field with Jenkins at defensive tackle. Cox got some pressure on the final play, looping around the left end. Against the run, he brought Richardson down after a 3-yard gain in the second. And he tackled Richardson after a 5-yard gain on the next play.

Cedric Thornton – He played right defensive tackle with the second group and had a relatively quiet game. On one play, Thornton got good penetration, forcing Richardson to cut back on a 5-yard run in the second. Richardson’s longest run went through the hole between Thornton and Tapp for 9 yards. And I believe it was Thornton who jumped offsides in the second, even though the refs called it on Cox.

Darryl Tapp – He played right defensive end with the second group and had a couple good moments. Tapp helped stop Richardson for no gain in the second. And he made a nice tackle on Richardson after a 2-yard gain in the fourth. On the downside, he picked up a 15-yard penalty for jumping on Weeden after the quarterback was already down in the third.

Phillip Hunt – He played left defensive end with the second group, but only got seven chances to rush the passer. On one play, the Browns tried to block him with a tight end and a running back, but that didn’t work as Hunt pressured Weeden, who had to throw the ball away in the second.

Brandon Graham – Only a handful of snaps for Graham. He came in at left defensive end in the second and tackled Richardson after a 5-yard run. Graham got good pressure, hitting Weeden from left defensive end late in the first half.

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Eagles LB Review: DeMeco Ryans, Difference-Maker

Here’s a player-by-player review of how the Eagles linebackers performed Sunday against the Browns, after having re-watched the game. Click here to find all of the game reviews.

DeMeco Ryans – Not sure his debut could have gone any better. According to stats kept by the team, Ryans led the Eagles with nine tackles (eight solo). Perhaps more impressive is that three of those were for loss. In other words, he wasn’t just solid. He was a play-maker. Ryans made a great tackle on tight end Benjamin Watson, stopping him 1 yard short of a first down on 3rd-and-4 in the first. He got behind the line of scrimmage and dropped Trent Richardson for a loss on 3rd-and-1 in the second. He again dropped Richardson for a loss on the next possession. In the third, Ryans stopped Richardson after a 1-yard gain. He was not fooled by play-action and got in Brandon Weeden’s face as the QB threw incomplete in the third. Ryans helped Cullen Jenkins drop Richardson for a 3-yard loss in the red zone in the third. And he stuffed Richardson for a 1-yard loss in the fourth. In coverage, Ryans got blocked on a screen to Brandon Jackson that went for 14 yards in the fourth. He had a tough matchup against Josh Gordon in the slot in the third and got beat for a 12-yard completion. But overall, he was outstanding. Andy Reid said he wasn’t sure if Ryans would be ready to stay on the field in the opener after being primarily a two-down player last season with Texans, but that wasn’t an issue. He played 60 of 62 snaps and was on the field in base, nickel and dime packages. Ryans went after the quarterback twice.

Mychal Kendricks – Strong debut for the rookie. He finished with five tackles (four solo) and one for loss. Kendricks got off a block and tackled Richardson after a 2-yard gain in the first. He made a nice tackle on Mohamed Massaquoi in coverage short of the first down in the second. He got away from an offensive lineman and brought Richardson down after a 5-yard gain on a screen in the third. In coverage, Kendricks got lucky on one play in the red zone. The tight end beat him to the corner, but Weeden missed the throw, or it would have been a touchdown. The refs called holding on the play, but didn’t announce a number. It could have been on Kendricks. Later on that possession, he broke up a pass for Watson, but it popped up in the air and the tight end came down with it. Kendricks blitzed once in the first. He played 55 of 62 snaps, only coming out in dime (one LB, six DBs).

Akeem Jordan – The Eagles were only in base with three linebackers on 20 plays, or 32 percent of the time. Jordan started at WILL and was fine. He was in on a tackle on Richardson for no gain in the second. And he assisted Ryans in bringing down Richardson after a gain of 1 in the third. He was a beast on special teams with four tackles in coverage.

Brian Rolle – He played a couple snaps in dime in the first half. The guess here is that Reid didn’t want to wear Ryans out early on and thought giving him a breather in the first half was a good idea. As I mentioned above, Ryans replaced Rolle in dime later on. Rolle had a special-teams tackle and was the first man down in coverage three times.

Jamar Chaney – The gamebook credited him with one snap, but I missed it.

Casey Matthews – Played exclusively on special teams.

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DB Review: How the Eagles Used Asomugha

Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Nnamdi AsomughaHere’s a player-by-player review of how the Eagles defensive backs performed Sunday against the Browns, after having re-watched the game. Click here for the review of the offensive line. And here for the review of the running backs, wide receivers and tight ends.

Nnamdi Asomugha – By my count, he got targeted four times and gave up one completion – the 24-yard slant to Mohamed Massaquoi early on. Asomugha played almost exclusively at right cornerback. The only exceptions were a few snaps where the Browns went with 1-WR sets. On those plays, if the receiver was to the left side of the defensive formation, Asomugha simply acted like a safety or linebacker. On one occasion, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie went with the receiver to the right side of the defensive formation, and Asomugha moved over to the other side. Again, those were only a few snaps. Good, physical play by Asomugha, getting his hands on Josh Gordon at the line of scrimmage and breaking up a slant in the second. He made the same play again in the third. Brandon Weeden tried to fit one in between him and Kurt Coleman down the left sideline, but it was incomplete. Nice read and hit on Brandon Jackson in the flat, forcing an incompletion on third down in the fourth. And good hustle to bring Travis Benjamin down after a 35-yard gain on the reverse in the first. Really strong game for Asomugha. And check out Tim’s story on him and Rodgers-Cromartie from after the game.

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie – Rodgers-Cromartie was targeted seven times and allowed just one completion for 12 yards. He had the two interceptions, both on plays where Weeden looked for Benjami. Benjamin, a rookie from Miami, ran a 4.36 at the combine, but Rodgers-Cromartie had no trouble keeping up with him, running step-for-step with the receiver and making nice plays on the ball. He broke up a slant to Benjamin on third down in the first and had another breakup in the third. Rodgers-Cromartie got beat on a 12-yard slant in the second, but made the tackle right away and limited YAC. He got beat by Massaquoi in the first, but Weeden overthrew the receiver in the end zone. Rodgers-Cromartie nearly had a third pick in the end zone on a ball that was tipped at the line of scrimmage. I’m guessing Weeden was targeting Massaquoi (who Rodgers-Cromartie was covering) on the game-ending interception. He missed four snaps because of a shoulder issue, but came back in. Really good game for Rodgers-Cromartie.

Brandon Boykin – Excellent start for the rookie. He was targeted five times and allowed one completion for 13 yards. Boykin was targeted in the second, but had good coverage on Greg Little on the incompleiton. Good, athletic play on third down in the third. Boykin was covering Massaquoi in the slot when Weeden escaped pressure and rolled to his right. Massaquoi started back to that side, and Boykin stuck with him, diving and breaking up the pass with two hands, while forcing a Browns punt in the process. He broke up a pass for Massaquoi on third down in the third. Boykin was targeted in the fourth, but again had good coverage, forcing an incompletion. The only yards he allowed came on a 13-yard completion in the third. The Eagles were in nickel with Boykin on the field for 63 percent of their snaps. He got banged-up on the final Eagles’ kickoff, but looks to be OK.

Brandon Hughes – He played 12 snaps. Some were in dime as the fourth cornerback. Others were at left cornerback when Rodgers-Cromartie came out. And one was in nickel for Boykin on the final play of the game. I’m surprised the Browns didn’t go after Hughes when he was on the field. He was not targeted at all. Curtis Marsh played one snap but suffered a hamstring injury.

Nate Allen – Strong game. Great read, great tackle on the tight end screen in the first, dropping Alex Smith for a 1-yard loss. Great timing on the first interception in the red zone. Allen hit Little as soon as the ball got to him, breaking up the pass and allowing Coleman to make the pick. The Eagles only blitzed a defensive back once. That was Allen in the first quarter. He finished last year strong and is off to a good start in 2012.

Kurt Coleman – Good game for Coleman too. He came down with the interception in the red zone in the first and of course had the second one to end the game. Coleman made a good tackle on Gordon after a 12-yard completion. And it should be noted that his helmet was loose from a block before Trent Richardson knocked it off in the second. Coleman and Allen played all 62 snaps.

Note: The target numbers above are from re-watching the game on TV. I’ll revise if necessary after taking a look at the All-22 when it’s released on Wednesday.

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RB, WR, TE Game Review: McCoy Shines Once Again

Philadelphia Eagles RB LeSean McCoy.Earlier, I posted the game review of the Eagles offensive line.

Here’s what I saw from the running backs, wide receivers and tight ends after having re-watched Sunday’s game against the Browns.

I’ll post a lengthier piece on Michael Vick later this week after watching the All-22 tape. And defensive game reviews will come on Tuesday.

LeSean McCoy – Where would the Eagles be without him? McCoy played 81 of 95 snaps and carried 20 times for 110 yards even though he didn’t have Jason Peters blocking for him. He added six catches for 26 yards, although the offense wasn’t very productive in the screen game. McCoy had plenty left in the fourth quarter, rushing eight times for 55  yards (6.9 YPC) in the final 15 minutes. The numbers could have been even better. McCoy had multiple runs and a 24-yard catch called back because of penalties. He was good in short yardage, delivering great effort to pick up a first on 3rd-and-1 in the third. And he came through as a blocker. McCoy picked up the blitz on Vick’s 4-yard completion to Jeremy Maclin in the second. He did so again on Vick’s 28-yard completion to Brent Celek . The only negative for McCoy was the first-quarter fumble. He’s always carried the ball away from his body, but since McCoy only had one fumble on 273 carries last year, no one complained.

 Tremendous overall game.

Stanley Havili – He played 18 snaps and had a couple really good moments. No offensive touches or targets for Havili, but he threw a nice lead block on McCoy’s 4-yard run in the first. And again on 4th-and-1 on the final drive. Remember, that was the biggest question with him this preseason. He looked capable in Week 1.

Bryce Brown – He played just eight snaps and had two carries for 3 yards. I’m not quite sure why the Eagles gave him the ball instead of McCoy with the game on the line before the Clay Harbor touchdown, but Andy Reid defended the call today, saying the team has scored on that play in the past. Brown missed his blitz pickup against the linebacker and gave up a hit on Vick in the first. Still looks very shaky to me in that aspect. Likely the reason he didn’t play more.

Chris Polk –  He was active, but did not get any snaps on offense.
DeSean Jackson – I thought he really played a solid game. Jackson made several tough catches that he would not have made last year. Nice grab for 15 yards on a high throw from Vick in the first. Nice job of going up and getting the football for an 18-yard gain vs. cornerback Joe Haden in the first. Jackson broke a Haden tackle for a 35-yard gain. And on the final drive, he made a nice 9-yard grab on a high throw from Vick, with Haden on his back. He even made sure Haden didn’t intercept Vick in the end zone on the final drive. Overall, four catches for 77 yards on six targets against a tough corner.

Jeremy Maclin – Strange game for Maclin. He led the Eagles with seven catches for 96 yards, but needed 14 targets to rack up those numbers. The two catches – a 46-yarder and an 18-yarder – at the end of the first half were big. On the touchdown, the Eagles actually kept eight guys in to block. Maclin and Jackson were the only two receivers in pass routes, going up against seven Browns defenders. Obviously a breakdown in the Cleveland ‘D’ that allowed Maclin to get open. He drew a couple flags – one on a pick and the other for holding. Maclin also had a ball bounce off his hand on the Haden interception. Not a good throw, but he had a shot at it. We’ll see if the hip injury keeps him out of Sunday’s game against the Ravens. Impressive that he was able to get through the whole game with the injury.

Jason Avant – Relatively quiet game for the veteran, who suffered a wrist contusion at some point. He had four catches on five targets for 27 yards, including a nice one-handed grab in the first. Avant is the Eagles’ best blocking wide receiver and did an outstanding job on McCoy’s 22-yard run in the second.

Damaris Johnson – He played 13 snaps, although that number could jump in Week 2 if Maclin or Avant can’t go on Sunday. Johnson played in 4-WR sets and also spelled Maclin when he left the game. He converted a third down on his only grab for 10 yards and was targeted twice.

Brent Celek – He’s never missed an NFL game and came off the field for just six snaps in this one. Celek finished with four catches for 65 yards on eight targets. His 17-yard catch and run on the final drive set up the game-winning touchdown. Celek earlier had a 28-yard catch. Remember, he had 14 catches of 20+ yards last year, just one fewer than Jackson and Maclin. Celek had one issue as a blocker, letting a defensive lineman get between him and Herremans as Vick was sacked. But he had good blocks on McCoy runs of 7 and 13 yards in the fourth. Overall, a good game. I’ll take a look later this week to see how often he was asked to stay in as a blocker.

Clay Harbor – He was targeted just 19 times all of last season, but had six balls thrown his way on Sunday alone. Harbor finished with three catches for 16 yards, including the game-winning touchdown, which Vick fit into a tight window. As a blocker, Harbor did a good job on the bootleg in the first, keeping the defensive end away from Vick, who found Jackson for 15 yards. He blocked D’Qwell Jackson on McCoy’s 9-yard run in the second. And Harbor gave a nice effort on McCoy’s 4th-and-1 conversion on the final drive. The one miscue I saw was when Harbor lined up as a fullback and was asked to block a defensive end off play-action. He missed, and Vick was forced to leave the pocket and throw the ball away.

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