The Matchup: Eagles Vs. Raiders

mccoy_400102713Editor’s Note: This feature will post every Friday. We’ll bring you nuggets from the locker room, scouting reports on the upcoming game, reader e-mail and more.

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LeSean McCoy took heavy breaths in between sentences, his forehead glistening with sweat from extra conditioning work after practice.

On the surface, everything is good for the 25-year-old running back. At the halfway point of the season, he’s the NFL’s leading rusher (733 yards). He’s carrying the ball more than ever (19.5 times per game). And he’s averaging a healthy 4.7 yards per carry.

Yet McCoy is in the midst of a mental tug of war in his fifth NFL season. In the past four games, he’s averaging 3.4 yards per carry. The Eagles’ offense has scored just three points the last two weeks, failing to hit on explosive plays and finding difficulty in sustaining drives.

“Just more attention to really try and contain the backs, keep everything in front of them,” McCoy said when asked this week about opposing defenses. “The backers are way more into the line than usual. And everything just seems so cluttered, seems so packed. That’s probably the biggest difference I’ve noticed. Even on some of the fakes, if it’s a half-fake or an average fake, they’re all on it. So that’s probably the biggest difference I’ve noticed from just early in the season to the last couple weeks.”

Defenses game-plan for the Eagles and make No. 25 their first priority. With a shaky QB situation and one true dangerous threat in the passing game in DeSean Jackson, it’s really a no-brainer. But that has led to tough times for McCoy, who has been critical of himself after each of the last two games. Read more »

Eagles Wake-Up Call: Midterm Grades (Defense)

barwin_400_103013We went over the offense on Tuesday. Now here’s a look at how the defense grades out through the first half of the season.

Defensive line: B-

This group has shown more improvement than any other on the team from Week 1 to Week 8. And defensive line coach Jerry Azzinaro deserves credit for that.

Cedric Thornton is playing lights-out on a weekly basis and leads all Eagles D-Linemen with 45 tackles. Fletcher Cox has really come on as of late and has three sacks to go along with a team-high 15 hurries (no other Eagle has more than seven). Isaac Sopoaga was a non-factor, but players like Clifton Geathers on the second team are starting to show flashes.

Opponents are averaging 3.7 YPC vs. the Eagles. Only five teams have posted a lower number. Read more »

Three-And-Out: Eagles-Giants Predictions

mccoy_400Player I’ll be watching

McManus: Nate Allen.

Billy Davis was armed with a few interesting stats when he met with reporters this week. One was that the Eagles’ defense is being thrown on an average of 45 times per game (44.28, actually). That number is so high in part because the Eagles give up a lot underneath in the name of preventing the deep ball.

The Giants were undeterred by this style of defense the last time these two teams played. By Davis’ count, Eli Manning threw deep 11 or 12 times against the Eagles in the first matchup. Manning attempted 52 passes overall in that game.

Safe to say the secondary will be busy again. Allen has been playing better of late, but faces a pretty stiff test on Sunday. Read more »

All-22: State Of the Eagles’ Defense

Barwinb_All22_102413Back in the spring, new Eagles defensive coordinator Billy Davis was asked if he had spent time looking at Jim Johnson’s scheme and concepts.

“He had some great dynamic pressures, and I’ve studied a lot of them,” Davis said. “They were out-of-the-box thinking. But when you really break him down, it was more guys up in the A-gaps with the illusion of pressure than actual [sending] more than four rushers.

“There were times that he brought more. …But he did a great job of keeping offenses off-balance through both pressure, illusion of pressure and non-pressure. And you need all elements to attack an offense because there’s some times you pressure some of the stuff Coach [Chip Kelly] does, you’re going to get eaten alive.”

Davis’ comments serve as a good launching off point to examining what’s working well for the Eagles on defense. Last week, they were able to keep Tony Romo off-balance and free up rushers all game long, both with the blitz and the threat of the blitz. Read more »

Eagles Wake-Up Call: Quarterly Grades On ‘D’

kendricks_940_100113

It’s time to run to the mailbox and steal the report card before Mom and Pops get their hands on it.

OK, fine. Apparently, that’s not how things work nowadays. But you get the idea. We’re a quarter of the way into the season, so it’s time to give out some grades. We’ll do the defense today (position-by-position) and deal with the offense in a future post. Read more »

Week 3: Eagles Snap Count Analysis

Here’s a look at how Chip Kelly divvied up playing time against the Kansas City Chiefs.

 
Overall Snaps
Snap %
LeSean McCoy5279%
Bryce Brown1421%

LeSean McCoy was once again the Eagles’ best offensive player. He carried 20 times for 158 yards and played 52 snaps (79 percent). McCoy suffered an ankle injury late in the first half, but returned on the first possession of the third quarter and played lights-out.

Bryce Brown had three carries for 7 yards. Chris Polk did not play.

 
Overall Snaps
Snap %
DeSean Jackson6598%
Riley Cooper6294%
Brent Celek6091%
Jason Avant5583%
Zach Ertz1523%
Jeff Maehl35%
James Casey12%

DeSean Jackson played all but one snap (pretty sure that was the failed two-point conversion). The Chiefs played a lot of man coverage, but used a safety to help on Jackson, Kelly said. He got loose for one big 40-yard gain, but ended with just three catches for 62 yards on seven targets.

As many pointed out during the game, the Eagles’ other receivers were unable to threaten KC’s defense. Riley Cooper played 92 percent of the snaps, but had just two catches for 29 yards on seven targets. The Eagles once again used a lot of ’11′ personnel with one RB and one WR. Jason Avant played 83 percent of the snaps and was the team’s leading receiver with five grabs for 87 yards.

Brent Celek played 91 percent of the offensive snaps, but had just two catches for 18 yards. Zach Ertz played 23 percent of the snaps and was targeted once for 5  yards. James Casey played just one snap.

Damaris Johnson did not play any offensive snaps.

 
Overall Snaps
Snap %
Fletcher Cox6174%
Cedric Thornton5770%
Isaac Sopoaga3745%
Bennie Logan2632%
Vinny Curry1215%
Clifton Geathers810%

The Eagles’ defensive line probably played its best game of the season. Fletcher Cox played 74 percent of the snaps; Cedric Thornton 70 percent. Both guys played well.

Vinny Curry played for the first time all season and was productive. He had a sack, a hurry and drew a holding penalty on 12 snaps.

 
Overall Snaps
Snap %
DeMeco Ryans82100%
Mychal Kendricks8199%
Connor Barwin7591%
Trent Cole6579%
Brandon Graham1721%
Casey Matthews79%
Jake Knott11%

Connor Barwin played 91 percent of the snaps; Trent Cole 79 percent. Brandon Graham was productive with his 17 snaps. Both Graham and Cole had sacks. And Barwin had several standout plays.

Casey Matthews played seven snaps behind Barwin.

DeMeco Ryans played 100 percent of the snaps; Mychal Kendricks 99 percent.

 
Overall Snaps
Snap %
Cary Williams82100%
Bradley Fletcher82100%
Patrick Chung6174%
Nate Allen6073%
Brandon Boykin4555%
Earl Wolff4352%

Bradley Fletcher and Cary Williams played the whole game. Nickel corner Brandon Boykin was on the field for 55 percent of the snaps.

At safety, Nate Allen and Earl Wolff rotated again. Allen played 73 percent of the snaps; Wolff 52 percent. Late in the game, Patrick Chung suffered a shoulder injury, so Wolff and Allen played together.

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