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’

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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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Instant Observations: Eagles Fall To Chiefs, 26-16

Here’s what we saw during the first half of tonight’s Eagles-Chiefs game.

OFFENSE

* Michael Vick and the offense struggled throughout. Vick was 13-for-30 for 201 yards, a touchdown, two interceptions and a fumble. As a team the Eagles had five turnovers, four of which came in the first half. Damaris Johnson muffed a punt and Jason Kelce botched a snap. The Eagles went into halftime trailing 16-6 and ended up losing 26-16.

* Vick was injured with under two minutes left in the game. Justin Houston sacked him, and he came up limping. Nick Foles would have come in, but the Chiefs recovered the fumble.

* On Vick’s first interception, he was picked off by safety Eric Berry, who returned it 38 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter. Vick appeared to be looking for Brent Celek on the “stick” concept we wrote about during the week. On Vick’s second interception, he was looking for Riley Cooper on a post.

* The offensive line struggled as well. Vick was sacked six times. Jason Peters had a tough time all night with Tamba Hali. Lane Johnson was beaten for at least one sack by Justin Houston. And it looked like Dontari Poe got by Evan Mathis once.

* LeSean McCoy had another monster night, carrying 20 times for 158 yards and a touchdown. He suffered a leg injury in the second, but returned during the first possession of the third. On McCoy’s 41-yard TD run in the third, Kelce had a nice block on Dontari Poe.

* DeSean Jackson entered the game as the league’s leading receiver, but he had just one reception for 9 yards in the first half. Jackson shook free for a 40-yard completion in the second half. He finished with three grabs for 62 yards on seven targets.

* Riley Cooper had no catches on five targets in the first half. He dropped a ball on a corner route on third down, and the Eagles had to punt. He had two catches for 29 yards in the game.

* On one possession in the third, cornerback Sean Smith suffered a calf or hamstring injury. The crowd thought he was trying to slow the Eagles’ offense down. McCoy might have thought the same as he got in Smith’s face as he went back to the sideline. Later, cornerback Brandon Flowers stopped the game for an injury. He missed one snap.

* Vick had four runs for 99 yards, including one 61-yarder on the Eagles’ lone scoring drive in the first half. Vick read Poe on the play and took off. Late on the drive, he hit Jason Avant for a 22-yard TD on a corner route. Vick made a beautiful throw as he was getting crushed by linebacker Derrick Johnson.

* The Eagles went for two after their lone touchdown of the first half and came up short.

* Kelce was playing with an injured thumb/hand. He snapped the ball into his thigh and then it hit Todd Herremans before the Chiefs recovered.

DEFENSE

* With the Chiefs pinned inside their own 10-yard line in the fourth quarter, the defense failed to get off the field, allowing Kansas City to chew 8:15 off the clock to make it a two-possession game with a field goal. On a key third down, Alex Smith hit Donnie Avery in between Bradley Fletcher and Nate Allen to extend the drive.

* Smith finished 22-for-35 for 273 yards. He was conservative for much of the night, but did not turn the ball over. Avery had seven catches on seven targets for 141 yards.

* For most of the first three quarters, the Eagles bottled up Jamaal Charles. He only had nine carries for 19 yards, but finished with 20 for 92. Charles had three carries for 28 yards on one drive in the second half, capping it off with a 3-yard touchdown run. He also caught seven balls for

* The Eagles’ defense actually played pretty well in the first half, considering the position the offense put it in. After giving up a 57-yard kickoff return to Quintin Demps to start the game, they forced a punt. Connor Barwin had an excellent first half. He blew by Eric Fisher and crushed Alex Smith on the first drive.

* After Johnson muffed the punt, Mychal Kendricks had a tackle for loss and Nate Allen sacked Smith as the Eagles forced a field goal.

* Cedric Thornton was very good early on. He had a nice run stop on third down that forced a punt.

* Vinny Curry was active for the first time all season. He played well, coming up with a sack, at least one other pressure and drew a holding penalty. Brandon Graham, Fletcher Cox and Trent Cole also had sacks.

* Allen and Earl Wolff continued to rotate. The Chiefs had a 51-yard completion to Avery in the first half. Tough to say for sure, but it looked like Wolff might have been at fault.

* Clifton Geathers, who has been quiet, made a nice run stop after a 1-yard gain in the second.

* Mychal Kendricks broke up a pass intended for Chad Hall in the end zone in the first half, forcing a field goal.

* Patrick Chung suffered a left shoulder injury in the second half.. Allen and Wolff finished the game at safety.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.
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Cheat Sheet: Eagles Defense Vs. Chiefs Offense

Billy DavisIf you missed the first cheat sheet, click here.

Now, 10 things to know about how the Eagles’ defense matches up with the Chiefs’ offense.

1. Billy Davis and company used an effective blitz-heavy package to slow down Robert Griffin III and the Redskins in Week 1. But the Eagles’ D looked much more like the unit everyone was expecting going into the season last week against the Chargers. Philip Rivers completed 36 of 47 passes for 419 yards and three touchdowns. He was sacked once, and the Chargers were 10-for-15 on third down, effectively keeping the Eagles’ offense off the field. Through two games, the Eagles’ defense ranks 29th, according to Football Outsiders. The Chiefs have been efficient, though not spectacular. Kansas City scored 17 points in a win against Dallas last week, and Andy Reid’s offense ranks 12th overall, per FO.

2. The Chargers’ game-plan was pretty simple: Get Rivers to the line of scrimmage early, force the defense to show its hand, audible into a play that works, and move the football.

“They’d get up, take a look, then come back, sometimes they checked, we checked, and then they checked again,” Chip Kelly explained. “I think when you’re playing a quarterback like Philip Rivers, I think basically they put the game in his hands and he was making a lot of checks at the line of scrimmage depending on the looks we were presenting. That’s what you get when you’re going against someone as talented as him. You’ve got to get lined up and you’ve got to play because you just can’t say they’re not going to run a play here. When they’re ready to run a play, you’ve got to be lined up ready to run a play.”

Davis believes strongly in disguising looks and confusing opposing quarterbacks. But the Chargers’ offense controlled the game by lining up early and dictating when the ball was snapped.

“There were times they checked, we checked, and then tried to give them a different look, and then he came back with a play,” Kelly continued. “You know, it becomes a‑cat‑and‑mouse‑game and you get going, but they’ve got to snap the ball at a certain point in time, and we’ve got to be lined up and ready to go. …We have to be prepared with a defense when he gets up on the ball, and then we’ve got to do a job of trying to give them a disguise and make sure that it’s not totally something that he’s going to see, and then we can rotate into some things.  But sometimes your disguise ends up being a liability because you’re not close enough in coverage when you’re that far off.”

3. The crew at NBC’s NFL Turning Point did a great job of catching wide receiver Eddie Royal talking to coaches about a specific look the Eagles were showing. It came late in the third quarter. Royal noticed that safety Nate Allen was stationed about 11 yards directly behind Patrick Chung, who was playing slot corner. He raised his hand as if to say, “Chung’s blitzing here. You got me.”

chung1_091913

That’s exactly what happened, but Trent Cole manhandled the left guard and forced Rivers to roll to his right where he dumped the ball off to Ronnie Brown. If Rivers had time, he would have had Royal open in the middle of the field.

chung1a_091813

But with 3:11 left in the game, on the Chargers’ final touchdown of the day, they got the same look.

royal1_091913

The safety’s lined up directly behind the slot corner, who is going to blitz.

royal2_091913

As soon as he gets the snap, Rivers knows it’s coming and unloads to Royal behind the line of scrimmage. You can see how far away Allen is. King Dunlap takes care of Allen, Royal jukes DeMeco Ryans, and the Chargers have a 15-yard score.

royal1a_091913

Davis wants the Eagles to be unpredictable on defense, but that didn’t happen last week.

4. So far in Reid’s offense, Alex Smith is completing 60 percent of his passes, but averaging just 5.7 yards per attempt. That ranks 29th among starting quarterbacks. Last week, the Eagles wanted to guard against the big play. But this week, there’s far less need to play their safeties deep. Per Pro Football Focus, just 4.3 percent of Smith’s throws have traveled 20 yards or more from the line of scrimmage. That’s 31st among starting quarterbacks. Smith will look to be efficient and control the tempo of the game, while keeping the Eagles’ offense off the field.

5. Up front, from left to right, the Chiefs have: Branden Albert, Jeff Allen, Rodney Hudson, Jon Asamoah and No. 1 overall pick Eric Fisher. Albert will often get matched up against Trent Cole, who has exceeded expectations early on. Cole only dropped back into coverage three times last week, per PFF. Fletcher Cox leads the team with three QB hurries (coaches stats), but has been quiet overall. Isaac SopoagaDamion Square and Bennie Logan have been unimpressive at nose tackle. Same goes for Clifton Geathers at LDE. And Cedric Thornton has been OK. A lot of questions about Vinny Curry. My take? The Eagles don’t think he fits, and he won’t see the field unless someone is injured. We’ll find out about 90 minutes prior to kickoff (when inactives are announced) whether I’m right or not.

6. The Eagles have been blitz-heavy in each of the first two weeks. Against San Diego, Davis sent five or more pass-rushers at the QB 53.8 percent of the time. Rivers completed 76 percent of his attempts and averaged 8.4 yards per attempt against the blitz. But it must be noted that his numbers were even better when the Eagles didn’t send pressure (77.3 percent, 9.5 YPA). Alex Smith was not blitzed much through the first two games. He’s 9-for-11 for 73 yards against extra pressure and has been sacked twice, per Stats, Inc. While the Chiefs rely on a short-to-intermediate passing game, Smith doesn’t get rid of the ball as quickly as you might think. Per PFF, it takes him on average 2.76 seconds to make a decision (attempt a pass, run or get sacked). That ranks 20th in the NFL.

7. On the ground, the Chiefs feature Jamaal Charles. Ready for a stat that will blow your mind? Since 1920, among running backs who have had at least 300 carries, Charles has the highest yards-per-attempt average at 5.72, per Pro Football Reference. And last year, he piled up 1,509 yards while averaging 5.3 YPC. I know what you’re thinking: Good thing Andy won’t give him the ball! Charles is averaging 16 rushing attempts per game, 12th-most in the NFL and down slightly from last year’s mark (17.8).

8. Charles has also caught 11 balls, more than any other Chiefs player. The Eagles were a mess in coverage last week. Mychal Kendricks got worked over by Antonio Gates all game long. In the secondary, Cary Williams was called for three pass interference penalties. This week, the Eagles will get Bradley Fletcher back from a concussion. Fletcher played well in Week 1 against Washington. Brandon Boykin will go back to the slot full-time. The Chiefs’ top wide receiver is Dwayne Bowe. He’s got eight catches for 86 yards and a score through two games. Among Kansas City’s six players who have at least four catches, none has a yards-per-reception higher than 12.3.

9. At safety, the Eagles will once again go with Chung and Allen, but expect rookie Earl Wolff to once again rotate in. Last week, the Chargers killed the Eagles with in-breaking routes, and the safeties were slow to react and failed to provide adequate help all game long. There’s no need to be conservative against Kansas City. The Chiefs will also line up in the Pistol. It’s worth noting that the Pistol is not what Kelly and the Eagles run. It’s a formation where the quarterback sets up in shotgun, but is closer to the line of scrimmage (usually 4 yards). And the running back lines up directly behind the quarterback, instead of to one side or the other. Kansas City has hired Chris Ault as a consultant. Ault is credited as the creator of the Pistol from his time at Nevada. Matt Bowen has a good breakdown here of some of the new concepts the Chiefs are showing under Reid.

10. Brandon Graham has played just 21.6 percent of the Eagles’ defensive snaps through the first two games. …Casey Matthews saw some time at outside linebacker, backing up Connor Barwin vs. San Diego. …Derek Sarley has an excellent All-22 breakdown of the Eagles’ defensive woes on Philly.com. Also check out Tommy Lawlor’s always-informative detailed game review on IgglesBlitz.com.

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