All-22: Diagnosing Issues For the Eagles’ Defense

I know many of you don’t care to re-live Monday night’s loss to the Saints, but here are a handful of plays that caught my eye when I watched the All-22 film of their defensive snaps.

Play 1: Trent Cole rarely gets a free shot at the quarterback. But Todd Bowles’ blitz call gave him an opportunity to sack Drew Brees in the first quarter. First, check out the pre-snap look.


The Eagles show six at the line of scrimmage, and the Saints have an empty backfield, meaning someone’s going to be unblocked. The protection slides to the right, leaving Cole with a direct path to the quarterback. There’s no chip, no double team, nothing.


But Brees, as he so often does, is able to create space for himself. He delivers a little pump-fake, gets Cole to rush right past him and slides to his left. The Eagles, meanwhile, have single coverage on all five receivers since they blitzed six. Look at all the space Brees has when he finally gets rid of the ball.


The result is a 38-yard completion to Lance Moore, who was being covered by Brandon Boykin. Boykin was also called for pass interference on the play.

Cole had a pretty active game, but he missed an opportunity here, and the result was a big play.

Play 2: Plenty of blame to go around on the Chris Ivory 22-yard touchdown run. Let’s start with Brandon Graham, who gets caught inside. And Mychal Kendricks, who can’t get off his block.


Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie may have had a shot, but he’s blocked too, as you can see below.


David Sims is the only person with a chance, and he can’t make the tackle.

One more note: Look at where Rodgers-Cromartie still is. This is the fastest guy on the defense. He’s being blocked by 6-1, 184-pound receiver Joseph Morgan. Maybe Morgan delivered a good block. But Rodgers-Cromartie has shown on several occasions that he has little interest in making plays against the run. Not a good showing on this one.

Play 3: Another big run here. The left tackle lets Cole through. But in Jim Washburn’s system, you play the run on the way to the quarterback. Cole has a chance for a tackle for loss.

But since he’s not sure if it’s a run or play-action, he’s just a split-second slow in attacking the ball-carrier, and Thomas sidesteps him.

Meanwhile, the Saints have blocks set up on Kurt Coleman, DeMeco Ryans and Rogers-Cromartie.

Sims hustles to the ball and eventually brings Thomas down after a 19-yard gain.

But look at Rodgers-Cromartie again unable to get off his block. He’s blocked out of bounds when the play is over. Talented cover corner, but not really much of an upgrade over Asante Samuel against the run.

By the way, I don’t think this is a matter of Rodgers-Cromartie quitting. He’s always played like this. The issues just become more obvious when the team is losing and the defense isn’t playing well.

Play 4: Graham did a nice job on the sack/forced fumble in the third, but the coverage was key. Take a look.

Brees wanted to go to the end zone, but the Eagles had Rodgers-Cromartie and Coleman on the lone receiver to that side. Meanwhile, Akeem Jordan did a nice job on the running back in the flat. Graham was able to get to Brees in (unofficially) 2.2 seconds to create the turnover.

Play 5: The Eagles gained some momentum in the third, cutting the lead to 21-13. On the ensuing drive, the Saints faced a 3rd-and-7, and Bowles went with a look we’ve seen multiple times this year with the defensive ends standing up as rush linebackers and the defensive tackles shifting out.

The Eagles often blitz out of this look, but here, they just sent four, and they got zero pressure. Brees had all day to find Moore for a 23-yard completion. Babin got to his feet, but wasn’t able to bring the quarterback down.

Brees had about 3.9 seconds to find his receiver. That’s way too much time, especially in a key third-and-long situation like this.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.
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Eagles Snap Counts: Babin Still Ahead Of Graham

Here’s a look at snap counts for the Eagles during their Week 9 loss against the Saints. We’ll go position-by-position.

 
Overall Snaps
Snap %
LeSean McCoy6481%
Stanley Havili1823%
Bryce Brown1114%

LeSean McCoy had one of his best games of the year with 19 carries for 119 yards. For the first time all season, the Eagles kept all four running backs – McCoy, Bryce Brown, Chris Polk and Dion Lewis – active. Lewis did not play at all. Brown played just 11 snaps, but made the most of them with four carries for 49 yards. Polk played special teams only and came up with the forced fumble in the third quarter on kickoff coverage. Stanley Havili played slightly less than normal.

 
Overall Snaps
Snap %
Jeremy Maclin7797%
DeSean Jackson7797%
Jason Avant4456%
Riley Cooper68%
Brent Celek7392%
Clay Harbor2532%

Nothing really noteworthy at wide receiver. Riley Cooper played just six snaps as the team’s fourth wide receiver. Damaris Johnson was active, but did not play offensively.

Celek was involved in both Eagles turnovers. He was probably held on the first one – a Michael Vick interception that bounced off his hand. And Celek fumbled in the fourth quarter with the team trying to stage a late-game comeback. He finished with five catches for 47 yards. Harbor saw his most action since Week 2. He had three catches for 20 yards.

 
Overall Snaps
Snap %
Trent Cole3766%
Jason Babin3359%
Cullen Jenkins3257%
Fletcher Cox2545%
Cedric Thornton2239%
Derek Landri2138%
Brandon Graham2138%
Phillip Hunt1832%
Mike Patterson1527%

Last week, the Jason Babin/Brandon Graham split was 33/31. This week, it was 33/21, as Babin saw significantly more playing time. Each player had a sack/forced fumble. Other than the two sacks, the Eagles were credited with just one hit on Drew Brees.

Mike Patterson saw his first action of the season, playing 15 snaps. Phillip Hunt didn’t play any defensive snaps last week, but filled in for Darryl Tapp (whose wife was giving birth) at right defensive end behind Trent Cole this week.

 
Overall Snaps
Snap %
DeMeco Ryans56100%
Mychal Kendricks56100%
Akeem Jordan3562%
Casey Matthews12%

The only thing notable here is that the Eagles were in their base defense with Akeem Jordan on the field for 62 percent of the snaps. Fourteen of Brees’ 21 completions went to tight ends and running backs. The Saints ran 25 times for 140 yards (5.6 YPC).

 
Overall Snaps
Snap %
Nnamdi Asomugha56100%
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie5496%
Brandon Boykin2138%
Curtis Marsh12%
Kurt Coleman56100%
David Sims56100%

David Sims filled in for Nate Allen. He missed a tackle on the Chris Ivory touchdown and got matched up with Jimmy Graham on several occasions. Sims led the Eagles with eight tackles, although many of those were after completed passes.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.
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Eagles Wake-Up Call: The Babin Backlash

Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Jason BabinJason Babin‘s reaction to the “vile” chants he heard at the Linc last week has not gone unnoticed. With the Eagles mired in a three-game losing streak and falling short of expectations for a second-straight year, Babin’s comments have been met with sharp resistance by a weary fan base.

And it’s not just the fans. No one had a more adverse reaction to Babin’s words than Jeremiah Trotter.

“When I hear some of this talk man it really, really pisses me off,” said the former Eagles linebacker on 97.5 The Fanatic, “because you’re focused on the wrong thing. You should be focusing this week on the Saints, not focusing on what the fans are saying, or putting things on Twitter saying this or that. Come on, dude. Go out and win some games. Let the fans do what they’re gonna do. Fans are still going to be fans, and they have every right to boo you if you don’t go out and put a good product on the field.

“Dude, get a grip, this is football. You’re  a man. Why are you worried about what people say anyway? I understand that players have feelings, but you’re a man. You’re playing a gladiator sport, and you’re running around worried about what fans are talking about? Even if I did feel a certain way you would never hear me say it because number one, you are showing your weakness right there. You’re playing a gladiator sport, dude. Go play ball.”

Babin put out a tweet about loyalty aimed at a portion of the fan base earlier in the week, and later explained what had him irritated.

“Really I was speaking to, during the game there was a good section of fans chanting some of the most vile things I’ve ever heard — not just at a football game, but in life in general,” said Babin. “Talking about attacking Coach, talking about people’s wives and kids and chanting them. And I just thought there is no place for that in the NFL. None whatsoever. Just some of the foul things that they were saying.

“And I’m going to be protective of Coach Reid and Coach Wash and my teammates. It was upsetting that a few bad apples were chanting that stuff, but what are you going to do?”

Talk-show lines have lit up on the topic. There were few Babin defenders.

While there’s no evidence that the two are directly related, Marty Mornhinweg took a left turn at his press conference Friday and decided to hit on the fan-player relationship in Philadelphia. The reporter’s question was about Michael Vick and how much of a distraction his situation presents. This is where Mornhinweg took it.

“Very little. I will say this, that there are some players that can’t play in this city. It’s that simple, and then the tough guys, both physically and mentally, can thrive playing for the Philadelphia Eagles and this city,” said Mornhinweg. “You know, I’ve been here a while now and I’ve grown to love and respect our fans. They are passionate. It’s almost like, hey, they can say anything they want about their players, but no one else can. We understand that and it’s just very simple that outside influences distract us zero. It’s that simple and I’ve talked about that a little bit, generally, here with that certain attitude and that certain mentality.”

Not sure what that has to do with Vick, but it sure is applicable to the conversation going on this week, thanks in large part to Babin.

WHAT YOU MISSED

Mike Patterson was activated to the 53-man roster and hopes to get in on the action Monday.

Nate Allen missed practice again and is a question mark for the Saints game.

A recent report suggests some assistants wanted Vick benched. On Saturday, the QB denied the report.

Sheil hands out the first of his cheat sheets for Monday night.

Are the recent transplants driven to fight for their coach’s job? We take a look.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

Here is a Saints’ slant, courtesy  of the Times-Picayune:

Maybe the fortunes of the Saints offense can change as well as the Eagles have been an uncharacteristic mess with Philadelphia already firing defensive coordinator Juan Castillo and promoting Todd Bowles to take over the vacancy. The change didn’t produce early dividends as Matt Ryan and the Falcons offense torched the Eagles defense last week in Philadelphia.

“I’m sure just like every team, when you have a new defensive play-caller, there are things that you evolve to as the season progresses,” Brees said on the new Eagles defense. “You find out what you’re good at. You find out what your sweet spot is and that type of thing. A lot of what you do is study film and see how you study scheme and personnel and you study tendencies and all those things. Yes, I’m sure that will evolve.”

The ESPN experts are split on this game. Six picked the Saints, and six the Birds.
COMING UP

The Eagles travel to New Orleans. We’ll have live coverage from The Big Easy.

Cheat Sheet: Eagles’ Defense Vs. Saints’ Offense

Here are 10 things to know about how the Eagles’ defense matches up with the Saints’ offense.

1. The Saints are sixth in the league in scoring offense, averaging 27.1 points per game. Football Outsiders has them ranked eighth – 10th in passing and 15th in rushing. New Orleans is coming off its worst offensive performance of the season. In their first 10 drives against the Broncos, the Saints punted eight times, scored once and turned it over once. They scored just 14 points, a season-low. The Eagles’ defense, meanwhile, is also coming off its worst performance of the season in a 30-17 loss to the Falcons. They allowed scores on each of Atlanta’s first six drives (touchdowns on the first three). The Eagles are 16th in scoring defense (22.1 points per game). Football Outsiders ranks them ninth – 13th against the pass and eighth against the run.

2. With the Saints, it all of course starts and ends with quarterback Drew Brees, one of the best in the game. He’s averaging a league-high 45 attempts and 330 yards per game. When Brees is rolling, the Saints have a versatile passing attack, capable of putting together long, efficient drives or burning defenses with the deep ball. By some accounts, Brees is performing as well as ever. For example, his 20 touchdowns are second in the NFL to only Aaron Rodgers. On the other hand, Brees is completing just 59.7 percent of his passes, putting him at 21st in the league. That’s a huge dropoff from last year when Brees had a completion percentage of 71.2. The last time Brees completed less than 60 percent of his attempts was 2003, and he has a completion percentage of 67.2 since joining the Saints.

3. Brees is averaging 7.3 yards per attempt (tied for 12th), but the big play is very much a part of this offense. Brees has hit on 30 pass plays of 20+ yards, second-most in the league to Peyton Manning (33). And per Pro Football Focus, his accuracy percentage (which includes completions and drops) on throws of 20+ yards is 52.6, fourth-best in the league. He’s thrown eight interceptions, or one every 39.4 attempts. Brees hasn’t been great on third down (51.8 percent completions), but in the red zone, he’s got 12 touchdowns and no interceptions. Meanwhile, even though Matt Ryan carved up the Eagles last week, the Birds are still second in opponents’ completion percentage (55.3). And they’re allowing 6.6 yards per attempt, tied for eighth.

4. The Saints will spread it out, meaning the Eagles will be in nickel or dime for much of the game. That means a lot of action for Brandon Boykin and potentially Curtis Marsh or Brandon Hughes. According to STATS, Inc., 60 percent of Brees’ attempts have come from 4+-WR sets. And 85.7 percent have come out of 3+-WR sets. Brees gets rid of the ball quickly and does an outstanding job of moving in the pocket to create space. It’s important that the Eagles at least make things difficult for him, something they did not do against Ryan and the Falcons.

Here’s a play from last week against Denver. First of all, look at the pre-snap formation.

The Saints go five-wide. No in-line tight end. No backs to chip or block. But Denver does an excellent job in coverage.

You can see initially that Brees has a clean pocket as the Broncos only rush four.

But his first read is covered and he has to maneuver to his left. Now, the pocket isn’t so clean anymore.

By the time he wants to get rid of the ball, he’s shuffling to his left while throwing to his right and has a defensive lineman in his face. Remember, Brees is the same height as Michael Vick (6 feet).

Brees actually made a nice throw, but the linebacker on tight end Jimmy Graham broke the play up. Regardless, you get the point. The front end and the back end working together to make things difficult on Brees, even if the defense didn’t tally a sack.

5. The Saints have very little interest in running the ball. They are averaging a league-low 19.9 rushing attempts per game and are tied for 30th, averaging 3.7 yards per carry. Part of that is because the defense is so bad. And part of that is because Brees is generally such a high-percentage passer so throwing the ball carries less risk. On Monday night, the Saints will be without playmaker Darren Sproles and will go with Pierre Thomas and Mark Ingram. Thomas has played 40.2 percent of the snaps, and Ingram 17.9. Thomas is averaging 4.4 yards per carry; Ingram 2.9. The Eagles, meanwhile, are allowing 4.0 yards per carry, tied for 12th. DeMeco Ryans has been tremendous with 10 tackles for loss, more than any Eagles player had all of last season. He’s got 40 tackles in the last three games, according to team stats. On the defensive line, the Eagles could get a boost from defensive tackle Mike Patterson, who has not played yet this season. Fletcher Cox got the starting nod over Derek Landri last week. And Cedric Thornton played his best game of the season with eight tackles.

6. Marques Colston (6-4, 225) is the Saints’ leading receiver with 40 catches (on a team-high 70 targets) for 580 yards. He has lined up in the slot about 50 percent of the time, per PFF. The Eagles will have to decide what to do on those plays. Colston would have a sizable height advantage over nickel corner Brandon Boykin (5-9). This might be a good spot to move Nnamdi Asomugha inside on Colston. Colston leads the team with seven catches of 20+ yards and five touchdowns. His 10 red-zone receptions are tops in the league. And Colston has converted 12 third downs (tied for seventh).

7. Lance Moore is second on the team with 54 targets and 433 yards. He’s lined up in the slot 35.1 percent of the time, per PFF and can get deep. Last week, when asked about Vick leaving plays on the field, Andy Reid said that happens to all quarterbacks. And he’s got some evidence here. Brees is one of the best in the league, but he misses throws too. Last week, with the offense sputtering vs. the Broncos, he had a chance to hit a big play to Moore.

A double-move combined with a Brees pump-fake allowed Moore to get behind the cornerback. As you can see, the safety is not in position to get there in time, but Brees overthrew him, and a potential 66-yard touchdown instead was simply an incompletion on third down. You can be sure that the Saints will test the Eagles downfield. Nate Allen could be out with a hamstring injury, meaning David Sims, who has never played a defensive snap in the NFL, would get the start.

8. Tight end Jimmy Graham has 30 catches for 315 yards and four touchdowns. Last year, Graham had 99 catches for 1,310 yards and 11 touchdowns. Asomugha could also match up with Graham in this one. Last week, the Eagles got killed on screens. You can expect the Saints to run a few of those to Graham on Monday night.

“I just thought we missed tackles,” Todd Bowles said on Friday.

The Eagles are 13th in the league at covering opposing tight ends, per Football Outsiders. Meanwhile, Devery Henderson is a deep threat. He only has 17 catches, but five of them have been for 20+ yards, and Henderson is averaging 16.0 yards per reception.

9. The Saints’ offensive line: Jermon Bushrod (LT), Ben Grubbs (LG), Brian De La Puente (Center), Jahri Evans (RG) and Zach Strief (RT). Bushrod has made 39 straight starts for New Orleans. Grubbs, a former first-round pick of the Ravens, is in his first year with the Saints. De La Puente has been the team’s starting center the past two seasons. Evans has been named an All-Pro for three straight seasons and has started 103 games in a row. The same five offensive linemen have started every snap together for the Saints this season. Brees has been sacked just 13 times. Jason Babin and Brandon Graham will match up against Strief. Babin played 33 snaps last week; Graham 31. Trent Cole has not played as well as he has in previous seasons. He’ll get matched up against Bushrod.

10. Will the Eagles blitz more? Brees has been pretty good against extra pressure, completing 60.4 percent of his passes and averaging 8.0 yards per attempt (four touchdowns, two INTs), per STATS, Inc. Last week, the Eagles blitzed seven times. Ryan went 3-for-3 for 36 yards, and the Eagles were called for three penalties (two pass interference, one defensive holding) on those plays. On another, the Saints were called for a penalty.

Last week, the Broncos’ lone sack on Brees came on a delayed blitz. Initially, it looks like a four-man rush, but the key is linebacker Wesley Woodyard, who waits a second after the ball is snapped.

The left defensive end rushes inside, meaning the right tackle has his back to Woodyard and has no idea he’s coming.

That leads to a sack and forced fumble on Brees.

See? The Eagles aren’t the only team that struggles to handle a delayed blitz every now and again.

Leftovers: The Saints have the league’s best red-zone offense, scoring touchdowns 72.73 percent of the time. The Eagles are fourth in red-zone defense, allowing touchdowns 37.5 percent of the time. … The Saints look for big plays on play-action. According to PFF, Brees’ yards-per-attempt jumps from 6.9 to 9.2 on play-action throws. Given the responsibilities of Eagles’ safeties against the run, they’ve been vulnerable to play-action all season. … The Saints are one of two teams that has had worse starting field position (their own 23.03) than the Eagles this season. They are dead-last in the league in that category.

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Andy Reid And the New Blood

Philadelphia Eagles head coach Andy ReidWhat does the Andy Reid drama mean to a recent import, exactly?

Everyone in this town knows the tale backwards and forwards. Every win and every loss is a piece of a larger mosaic. We know where it fits and what it signifies. Do trade acquisitions and free-agent signings, plucked from one culture and plopped into another, appreciate what this all means? Do they understand the magnitude of this season?

Probably not. And therein lies the value of building through the draft. Players who are reared in one place are more likely to have an appreciation and loyalty towards the men who guard the walls. It’s just not the same if you are a transplant.

That is not to say that the new crop –which includes Nnamdi Asomugha, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, DeMeco Ryans, Cullen Jenkins and Jason Babin — all lack perspective or an emotional attachment to their coach.

“One of the things when I got traded here, I was mad at the time — not really mad, but I didn’t understand why I was traded. But when I got here the first thing I realized was the history of the Eagles, coming into a winning organization. And you can credit Andy Reid for that,” said Rodgers-Cromartie. “Just looking at him as a coach, just here two years, I can appreciate everything he does. That’s why you want to get them games, the games you are supposed to get. You want to go out and fight that much harder.”

The Eagles are 3-4. If Jeffrey Lurie means what he says, Reid will not be back for a 15th season if they continue on this trajectory. While that may be an acceptable outcome for a large contingent of the fan base, most players find significant value in Reid — even the new ones.

“First and foremost, Coach Reid has done a fantastic job. He is one of the best coaches in this league. Guys around the league want to come to Philly and play here because he’s such a great coach, it’s such a great organization,” said Ryans. “You want to go out and make things happen. I feel like if we do our job, everything will take care of itself.”

And does the coach’s job being on the line provide extra motivation?

“First you play for yourself, that’s always. Then you find other reasons,” said Rodgers-Cromartie. “You’ve got family, kids. But then another reason has to be Andy Reid because the type of coach he is, you know what he’s doing and you know all around he’s a good guy and a good coach. You don’t get that too often, and we’d love to keep that around.”

Some would suggest that if the players are that desperate to preserve their head coach’s job, they have a funny way of showing it. The Eagles are now a game under .500 over the last two seasons. Are there too many foreigners and not enough locals? Did recent draft miscalculations, which forced in a wave of  outside talent, water down the Reid culture?

It is one of the working theories.

Bottom line, there are nine games left to save that culture.

“It’s pretty simple: It’s trickle-down,” said Babin. “Everybody wins, everybody does good and everybody’s life and situation is good. When you lose, that trickles down as well. Nobody wants that.”

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Twitter Mailbag: On Fans, Bowles And the Costanza Wallet

Philadelphia Eagles secondary coach Todd Bowles.

Every Thursday we select a few of your Twitter questions and provide the long-form answers they deserve. For a chance to have your question published on Birds 24/7, send it to @Tim_McManus.

From @riggitty: Why did Todd Bowles have such a rough first game at dc with so much time to prepare?

His promotion may have happened during the bye week, but I definitely don’t look at it as him having a lot of time to prepare. Just take Juan Castillo, for example. OK, so he was coming from the offensive side of the ball, but it took an entire season for the defense to get comfortable with his scheme. The beginning of last season was total chaos on defense.

The learning curve won’t be nearly as steep for Bowles, especially since he worked closely with Castillo and this unit up through the first six games. There was some obvious confusion early in that Atlanta game, though. Players were scrambling pre-snap trying to figure out exactly where they should be. They were caught out of position and were not sure-footed. It looked a lot like 2011, to be perfectly honest.

It should not come as a surprise that a change that big threw the ‘D’ off-kilter a bit. New voice, modified approach, new wrinkles. Maybe the defense will ultimately be better under Bowles, but it has to happen fast.

From @a_rizzo23: with most of the eagles starters under contract nxt yr, how can a new coach bring in his “own guys”?

A few things on this:

One, just because a player is under contract does not mean you have to keep him. The Eagles can part with Michael Vick after this season with minimal financial repercussions, for example. Seems likely they would cut ties with Jason Babin as well. You’re obviously not going to purge your entire roster. But just think about how different of a feel this team would have with those two moves alone.

A new coach would likely change most of  the staff as well. That probably means no Jim Washburn and no Wide 9. New coordinators. New approach.

Then there’s the philosophy shift. Every head coach has a style all their own, and will try and identify players that will best fit with that style. That doesn’t happen overnight, granted. There will be some weeding out and some building via the draft. But there are certainly ways to change the identity in fairly short order.

 

It’s true. Costanza’s got nothing on this bad boy:

Mike Missanelli did a bit on this once. During a commercial he asked to borrow a dime for the vending machine and I pulled this puppy out, started digging through it, and fished out the coin. He went back on the air and talked not only about the monstrosity above, but the fact that he cannot trust a man who carries change in his wallet.

And yes, it does throw my equilibrium off.

From @EClarke1: Why do Eagles players every year turn against the fans? are we too hard, or are they too soft?

Loaded question. My favorite.

In case you missed it, Jason Babin spoke Thursday about a faction of the fan base that was chanting “vile” things at the players and coaches during the Falcons game. Also this week, DeSean Jackson talked about how it feels like the fans are sometimes against them.

I look at it on a case-by-case basis. There are times when fans cross the line, like a few apparently did Sunday. No excuse for it, and it makes everyone else look bad.

It is rarely a good idea for a player to challenge the fans publicly, however. Telling a paying customer how to behave, particularly when the product is poor, is ill-advised. It never comes across right, even if well-intentioned.

The type of player that thrives in Philly is one that not only understands but appreciates how the fan base is wired. They are crazy and demanding, but only in the name of passion and frustration and caring. If you dig that, then you will look at these fans in the proper light. And you will know that calling them out only wounds them unnecessarily.

Jason Babin Reacts To Eagles Fans’ ‘Vile’ Chants

Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Jason BabinJason Babin — or at least his Fan Club handle on Twitter — sent a message about loyalty to the Eagles fan base recently.

What was he getting at, exactly?

“Really I was speaking to, during the game there was a good section of fans chanting some of the most vile things I’ve ever heard — not just at a football game, but in life in general,” said Babin. “Talking about attacking Coach, talking about people’s wives and kids and chanting them. And I just thought there is no place for that in the NFL. None whatsoever. Just some of the foul things that they were saying.

“And I’m going to be protective of Coach Reid and Coach Wash and my teammates. It was upsetting that a few bad apples were chanting that stuff, but what are you going to do?”

Here is what was put on Twitter Tuesday:

 

 

What about those who say your job is not to listen the fans but pay attention to what’s happening on the field?

“Absolutely,” Babin replied. “But if I could say just one of the things that they were chanting…it’s way past bad, it’s foul. I don’t even want to repeat what I heard. It was that bad. And I’ve got  a pretty high threshold for adult jokes.”

This is the second time this week that a player has talked about the behavior of Eagles fans. DeSean Jackson also spoke out during an appearance on Mike & Mike.

“During the game, me and one of my teammates, he actually said, ‘Man, they are sitting there and booing us.’ For that to be our support team — Philadelphia fans, they are definitely the type of people where if you’re doing good they love you but once you’re doing bad it’s like the world is going to end. To be out there and hear  our home [crowd] booing us, it’s a crazy feeling at times,” said Jackson. “Once again, we only care about the 53-men on that team, our coaches and the organization. Back’s against the wall. Whoever else is against us, we realize that. Sometimes our own fans can be against us as well.”

All-22: Why the Eagles’ Pass-Rush Is Struggling

Here’s an All-22 look at the issues plaguing the Eagles’ pass rush, with a focus on last week’s performance against the Falcons.

Play 1: The Eagles got the Falcons in a 3rd-and-8 on their first possession and sent a blitz. Both linebackers (DeMeco Ryans and Casey Matthews) went after Ryan. Nobody got close to the quarterback.


One-on-one blocks all around, and look at that pocket. Granted, Ryan got rid of the ball quickly, but I would bet the Eagles haven’t given Michael Vick a pocket like this against a six-man pressure all season.

Meanwhile, the Falcons set up with a bunch look to the left. The Eagles appeared to be in man coverage with two deep safeties, but there was one problem: No one accounted for Drew Davis, who was left wide open.


The result is a 15-yard completion and a Falcons first down. After the game, Todd Bowles took responsibility for making a bad call on the first drive. This could have been the play he was talking about.

Play 2: Another clean pocket in the first for Ryan. Here, he finds Tony Gonzalez for an 11-yard completion.


The Falcons kept a running back in to block, and the Eagles only rushed four. But check out Trent Cole. One-on-one with Sam Baker, and he’s nowhere close to affecting the play.

Now is a good time to address the “He got rid of the ball quickly” argument. Last year, J.J. Cooper of Football Outsiders tracked how many “quick sacks” various defensive linemen had. These were sacks that occurred in 2.5 seconds or less from when the ball was snapped. Jason Babin had eight of those, and Cole had five.

Pretty much any time I’ve interviewed a defensive lineman in the past two years, he’s talked about the need to get off the ball quickly to be effective in Jim Washburn’s system. In other words, the pass-rush is supposed to account for quarterbacks getting rid of the ball quickly. That doesn’t always translate into sacks, but it should mean making life difficult for the opposing offense. That’s not happening nearly enough right now.

On the play above, Ryan got rid of the ball in under three seconds, but the Eagles made it pretty easy for him.

Play 3: On the first touchdown, the key was Julio Jones (red circle). Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Kurt Coleman reacted to a possible WR screen as Davis ran right past them.


By the time they realized he was behind them, it was too late. Touchdown.


Again, it didn’t help that Ryan again had a clean pocket. The Falcons kept in seven to block. Babin got a one-on-one, although that was probably because he rushed off the edge. As you can see, he and the Eagles’ other linemen got nowhere near Ryan.


But the touchdown here was clearly on the coverage.

Play 4: Tim already did a good job of breaking down the Jones 63-yard touchdown against Nnamdi Asomugha, but again, look at the pocket for Ryan.


He once again got rid of the ball in under three seconds, so it would have been difficult to sack him, but Eagles defensive linemen are nowhere near him. Brandon Graham got chipped. Derek Landri initially faced a double-team, and then the guard moved to Darryl Tapp. To be fair, it didn’t help that Ryan often had his first read open. On all levels, this was just too easy for the quarterback.

Play 5: Here, it’s another 11-yard completion to Gonzalez. Ryan again gets rid of the ball in under three seconds. But the pocket is clean.


Cullen Jenkins was double-teamed. Everybody else had one-on-ones. You can make the case that Cole got held, but Babin isn’t close to Ryan. Again, too easy for the quarterback.

Play 6: So, if the quarterback’s getting rid of the ball quickly and you’re not getting pressure with the front four, what do you do? One option is to blitz. Overall, the Eagles blitzed seven times – not really an increase from what we saw in the first six games. I showed one of them earlier. Here’s another.

The Eagles send six (Mychal Kendricks and Ryans), but no one gets a hand on Ryan. The blitz goes up the middle, setting up one-on-ones for both ends, but Ryan hits Roddy White on the drag route for 14 yards.

Play 7: It probably goes without saying, but the back end plays a critical role in pressure. Take a look at this play near the end of the first half. Asomugha has single coverage on Jones, and the Falcons try a double-move. Asomugha doesn’t bite, the Eagles pressure Ryan, and they drop him after a 1-yard scramble.

Here, you see that the coverage was good, leading to pressure on the quarterback. Rather than blitzing, this is probably the Eagles’ best option for fixing the pass-rush. Cover better, make the quarterback hold the ball, and give the defensive line more time to get home.

Play 8: Another example here of how this is supposed to work. Graham bull-rushes the right tackle and makes things difficult for Ryan.

Ryan has a receiver open, but the defensive line makes it hard to get rid of the football, so he has to scramble.

And it’s not as if Ryan held onto the ball here. The first image was captured about 1.9 seconds after the ball was snapped. Graham just got to him quickly.

Play 9: In the third quarter, Cole shows he’s capable of doing the same, beating Baker one-on-one and forcing Ryan out of the pocket.

The pressure got there in about 2.1 seconds. It sounds simple, and it is. One way to fix the pass-rush: Get there faster! Again, they did so in 2011. They’re not doing so enough this year.

Play 10: In the red zone in the third, Cedric Thornton breaks the sack drought with a pressure up the middle.

Did Ryan hold on to the ball too long? Nope. This sack took place in about 2.2 seconds. You can see the right guard is pushed back into Ryan’s face. He wanted to go White, but Asomugha had good coverage.

Once again, evidence that the front end and the back end have to work together for this defense to be successful.

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Eagles Depth Chart Notes

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

No major changes, but some things worth noting.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Eagles DL Review: Where Are Cole And Babin?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s the player-by-player breakdown:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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