If you missed the first game review, breaking down the Eagles’ offense against Denver’s D, click here.
Now on to Bily Davis’ defense. Read more »
Here’s a look at how Chip Kelly divvied up playing time against the Kansas City Chiefs.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Here’s what we saw during the first half of tonight’s Eagles-Chiefs game.
* 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.
* 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.
If 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.”
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.
But with 3:11 left in the game, on the Chargers’ final touchdown of the day, they got the same look.
The safety’s lined up directly behind the slot corner, who is going to blitz.
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.
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 Sopoaga, Damion 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.
If you missed the game review on the Eagles’ offense, click here.
Here’s what we saw from the ‘D’ after having re-watched Sunday’s contest.
* The Eagles used three-down fronts and four-down fronts. They blitzed, and they dropped eight into coverage. Nothing worked. Philip Rivers carved them up, completing 36 of 47 passes for 419 yards and three touchdowns.
* In last year’s scheme, Fletcher Cox looked like he had a Pro Bowl ceiling. So far in this year’s scheme, he’s been pretty quiet, although Cox did have some moments in the second half. He stopped Danny Woodhead for no gain in the third. He got some pressure on Rivers on third down in the fourth and hit Rivers on the final drive. But through two games in the Eagles’ two-gap 3-4, Cox has not been a difference-maker.
* There were stretches on Sunday where the Eagles just got pushed around up front. Isaac Sopoaga has been a non-factor. He was double-teamed to the ground on Woodhead’s 4-yard run in the second. His backup, Damion Square, was no better. Square got double-teamed to the ground on Ryan Mathews’ 6-yard run in the second and again on the very next play. He was blocked easily on Ronnie Brown’s 8-yard run in the third.
* Cedric Thornton had a couple good moments. He dropped Brown after a 3-yard run in the third and tackled Mathews after a 1-yard run in the fourth. Didn’t see anything from him as a pass-rusher though.
* Rookie Bennie Logan had a strong preseason, but has been quiet so far. He was caught upfield on a delayed handoff in the second that gained 6 yards. Logan made a nice play against the run in the fourth, tackling Woodhead after a 4-yard pickup. He played 27 snaps and didn’t do much as a pass-rusher.
* Clifton Geathers played 14 snaps and didn’t do much. He was blocked on Woodhead’s 8-yard run in the fourth.
* I charted the number of pass-rushers Billy Davis used throughout the game:
Number Of Rushers
Number Of Plays
As you can see, nothing really worked. When the Eagles rushed three or four, Rivers was 17-for-22 for 208 yards (77.3 completion percentage, 9.5 YPA) with one scramble and one pass interference penalty.
When they blitzed with five or more, Rivers was 19-for-25 for 211 yards (76 percent, 8.4 YPA) with two defensive penalties and one sack.
* Connor Barwin played pretty well, with a few exceptions. He caught rookie right tackle D.J. Fluker off-balance, bull-rushed him and picked up the Eagles’ only sack in the first. He had a good edge rush on third down in the second and hit Rivers as he completed a pass to Woodhead. Against the run, Barwin did a poor job of setting the edge on a 10-yard Mathews run in the first. He did a much better job the rest of the game and dropped Mathews for a 2-yard loss in the first. In coverage, Barwin got beat by Woodhead on a 3rd-and-4 completion on the final drive. Had he forced an incompletion there, it would have been a 54-yard field goal attempt.
* Trent Cole was one of the Eagles’ more active defenders. He rushed off the right edge in the second and hit Rivers. He pressured Rivers in the second, but Cary Williams was called for pass interference. Great hustle in the third, pressuring Rivers and then assisting on a tackle after the QB dumped the ball off to Brown. In the fourth, Cole hit Rivers from behind and forced an incompletion. Against the run, Cole stopped Mathews after a 4-yard gain. He tripped Mathews up after a 3-yard run in the second and drew a holding penalty on the next play. Down in the red zone, Cole forced a fumble for the second straight week. On 41 passing downs, Cole only dropped in coverage twice, per Pro Football Focus. He lined up at right outside linebacker, right defensive end and a couple other spots.
* Casey Matthews came in and played four snaps at outside linebacker behind Barwin.
* Update: As a sign of just how small Brandon Graham’s role is in this defense, I’ll admit I didn’t have a single note on him from this game. Graham played 16 snaps and was a non-factor. Per PFF, on 11 passing downs, he dropped twice and rushed nine times. Given that Cole and Barwin are two of the defenders playing well, I’m not sure Graham is going to see a bump any time soon.
* DeMeco Ryans was active, finishing with nine tackles (six solo). Great effort on a second-quarter play. Ryans blitzed, didn’t get home and then pursued Woodhead, tackling him after a 2-yard reception. He got juked badly on Eddie Royal’s 15-yard touchdown in the fourth, running right past the wide receiver. The Eagles sent Ryans on inside blitzes all game long (19 times, per PFF), and he never got home. That was an issue throughout.
* Mychal Kendricks had a day to forget. Tight end Antonio Gates took the second-year player to school. Kendricks got beaten by Gates and missed a tackle on a 21-yard catch and run in the first. Same story on a 14-yard gain in the second. On a big 3rd-and-4 in the third, Gates beat Kendricks for a 7-yard gain. And Gates caught a 6-yarder on 3rd-and-3 against Kendricks in the fourth. Kendricks is the Eagles’ best cover linebacker, but he had issues all game long. Against the run, he was up and down. Kendricks got blocked on Mathews’ 7-yard run in the first. It looked like he tripped on Mathews’ 20-yard run in the first. And he got blocked on an 8-yard Woodhead run in the fourth.
There were some good moments. He got off his block and tackled Woodhead after a 2-yard run in the first. He stopped Mathews after a 3-yard run in the third and dropped him after a 1-yard run. Overall, though, Kendricks struggled.
* Cary Williams also had a day to forget. Three pass interferences – an 18-yarder, a 9-yarder and another that was declined because it was an 18-yard completion anyway. That last one came on 3rd-and-6 in the third. Have to check the All-22, but I believe the 24-yard TD to Royal was on Williams. The Eagles appeared to be in quarters coverage, and because Rivers held on to the ball so long, Williams cheated over to a receiver towards the middle of the field.
* Brandon Boykin wasn’t perfect, but he competed throughout. The second-year corner was targeted all game long and gave up at least four completions. In the second, Royal beat him on a wheel route for 21 yards on 3rd-and-7. And in the fourth, Boykin gave up a 16-yard completion on 3rd-and-7. He broke up a pass down the right sideline in the second and broke up a third-down pass in the third. Boykin also made a great hustle play, chasing Gates down and forcing a fumble in the red zone in the first half.
* Brandon Hughes played 22 snaps and suffered a hamstring injury. I actually only noticed him get targeted once – a 31-yarder to Malcom Floyd down the sideline in the second.
* Eagles safeties continued to struggle. Patrick Chung was called for a huge defensive holding penalty on 3rd-and-4 in the third. The Chargers would have had to punt, but instead, their drive was extended and they took 8:55 off the clock before kicking a field goal. On that same drive, Chung got matched up with Royal and gave up a 12-yard completion on 3rd-and-6. He tried to strip the ball instead of making the tackle and gave up extra yardage. Chung had a couple good plays against the run, including a stop in the third after a 2-yard Mathews run.
* Yet another day to forget for Nate Allen. Where to begin? The Chargers crossed their receivers, and he lost Royal on an 11-yard touchdown in the first half. Allen was blocked/tackled by King Dunlap on the 15-yard screen TD to Royal in the fourth. He got stiff-armed and was called for a face-mask penalty on a Mathews run in the first. He was slow to react on a 19-yard completion to Floyd in the first. Woodhead beat him for a 5-yard completion on 3rd-and-3 in the first. Gates got him for a 15-yard completion on the final drive. And Allen missed a tackle on Gates on a 21-yard catch and run on the very next play. At this point, it’s a matter of when, not if, Allen is yanked from the starting lineup.
* The problem is the coaches don’t feel Earl Wolff is ready. He too was late coming up on a 17-yard completion to Floyd in the second. Gates caught a ball down the seam in front of him for 16 yards. Wolff got matched up with Gates and allowed a 24-yard catch.
But when reviewing the game, I noticed Wolff had some good moments. He assisted in run support, helping to take Mathews down for a 2-yard loss in the first. He dropped Mathews after a 4-yard run in the third. He cleaned up on Royal after Chung missed a tackle in the fourth. And he broke up a pass intended for Gates in the end zone in the fourth. From the outside looking in, the move would seem to be to throw Wolff out there and let him take his lumps. But obviously, the coaches see him every day. He played 49 snaps.
“Right now?” Kelly asked after Sunday’s loss to the Chargers. “There aren’t any safeties on the street, I can tell you that. So we’re going to play with the ones we’ve got.”
Raise your hand if you take that as a ringing endorsement of the players on the roster.
Patrick Chung played 82 of 83 snaps at one safety spot. Nate Allen (63 snaps) and rookie Earl Wolff (49 snaps) rotated at the other spot. And the Eagles even had all three on the field at times because they were thin at cornerback
The results were ugly. The safeties weren’t the only problem, but Philip Rivers carved the defense up, completing 36 of 47 attempts for 419 yards and three touchdowns. The safeties couldn’t match up with tight end Antonio Gates, and they were slow to react on in-breaking routes in front of them when playing deep.
“We’ve got to coach them better and put them in positions to make plays,” Kelly said. “We’ve got to make sure we put a game plan together so they understand it. It’s a simple deal.”
Of course, in a league where savvy quarterbacks and offensive coordinators are adept at identifying mismatches and exploiting them, it’s really not that simple. Sunday’s loss was a perfect example of that.
For now, the Eagles could replace Allen with Wolff, but Kelly said they’re not going that route yet.
“I think Earl’s growing,” Kelly said. “We’ll continue to grow him, but he’s still making some mistakes out there and I think they’re bringing him along and are excited about what his future is, but we still don’t think he’s ready to play the whole game.”
Asked how Wolff graded out, Kelly said: “He was OK. Wasn’t 100 percent, but wasn’t in the failure category, so he’s still a work in progress.”
The other options on the roster are veterans Kurt Coleman and Colt Anderson.
The Eagles could also try to sign someone off the street. There have been a lot of comments here about Kerry Rhodes, but from what I understand, they are not going to go that route. Rhodes is 31 and hasn’t caught on anywhere yet.
Here’s a look at Eagles snap counts Sunday against the Chargers.
LeSean McCoy played 85 percent of the snaps, but the total was just 50 since the Eagles ran far fewer plays than in Week 1. He had 16 total touches for 167 yards.
Bryce Brown played nine snaps and had three carries for 13 yards. Chris Polk played special-teams only. He has not played an offensive snap yet.
Riley Cooper played the most snaps among this group for the second week in a row. He had two catches for 25 yards and a touchdown.
DeSean Jackson played all but five snaps, finishing with nine catches for 193 yards on 15 targets. As we mentioned, to say he could have easily had 300 yards receiving is no stretch.
The Eagles were in ’11′ personnel with one RB, one TE and three WRs quite a bit for the second straight week. Jason Avant played 81 percent of the snaps and had four catches for 39 yards. It doesn’t appear that Damaris Johnson will have much of a role in this offense when everyone else is healthy. He played just four snaps. And Jeff Maehl got on the field for three snaps.
At tight end, Brent Celek played all but five snaps and was shut out (one target). Rookie Zach Ertz played 12 snaps, but made the most of them, catching two balls for 58 yards. James Casey only played five snaps and dropped a potential touchdown pass early from Michael Vick.
Not too much to note here. Fletcher Cox played the most snaps (64), followed by Cedric Thornton (57). Isaac Sopoaga played 34 percent of the snaps. And the second team was Bennie Logan (33 percent), Clifton Geathers (17 percent) and Damion Square (14 percent). For the second straight week, Vinny Curry was inactive.
DeMeco Ryans and Mychal Kendricks played every single snap. Still have to re-watch, but Kendricks seemed to struggle throughout.
Connor Barwin was the only defensive player to notch a sack, and Trent Cole seemed to be active.
Casey Matthews backed up Barwin at left outside linebacker and played four snaps. And Brandon Graham played 16 snaps behind Cole at right outside linebacker.
The secondary was a mess. Cary Williams played every snap and was called for three pass interference penalties. Brandon Boykin played all but three snaps. He started off on the outside, but moved inside at times.
Brandon Hughes played 22 snaps on the outside, but suffered a hamstring injury.
Patrick Chung played all but one snap – both at safety and at nickel.
Nate Allen (76 percent) and Earl Wolff (59 percent) both saw significant action, but neither played well.
If you missed the first cheat sheet, click here. Below are 10 things to know about how the Eagles’ defense matches up with the Chargers’ offense.
1. Going into the opener, the question was: Would Billy Davis stick with a more traditional 3-4? Or would he run more of a 4-3 under? For Week 1, at least, it looked like the former.
You see the three defensive linemen are head-up on the tackles and center, respectively. There were multiple looks, especially in nickel, as we pointed out early in the week. But overall, it was a base 3-4. For explanations on the differences, click here.
2. The Eagles face a different style of offense this week with Philip Rivers and the Chargers, so this will be a good way to gauge how much Davis plans on changing his scheme on a weekly basis. Rivers completed just 14 of 29 passes against Houston; only Jacksonville’s Blaine Gabbert had a worse completion percentage in Week 1. The 31-year-old has not looked like the same player who went to four Pro Bowls. He’s thrown 36 interceptions in his last 33 starts.
The Eagles, meanwhile, will be without cornerback Bradley Fletcher, who suffered a concussion in Week 1. Brandon Boykin is expected to start on the outside opposite Cary Williams. In nickel looks, Boykin could move inside, and Brandon Hughes could enter the game. The Eagles’ other option is to have Hughes play on the outside from the get-go. Or they could keep Boykin out there and move either Patrick Chung or Jordan Poyer inside.
3. One goal with Rivers under new head coach Mike McCoy seems to be to get the ball out quickly. Rivers lacks mobility and really struggles against pressure. According to Football Outsiders, no QB had a bigger performance difference with and without pressure last season. Last week, Rivers got rid of the ball in 2.5 seconds or less on 68.8 percent of his attempts, according to Pro Football Focus. Only two quarterbacks had a higher percentage of those throws. The Eagles had a lot of success blitzing Robert Griffin III (All-22 breakdown here) last week. Rivers was 9-for-17 when the Texans blitzed him, but all four of his touchdown passes came against extra pressure. On his first touchdown, the Texans sent seven, and Rivers threw a beautiful corner route to Eddie Royal. Disguising pressure will once again be key.
4. From left to right, the Chargers’ offensive line is King Dunlap, Chad Rinehart, Nick Hardwick, Jeromey Clary and D.J. Fluker. Needless to say, this unit has struggled to protect Rivers. Dunlap has done well to stay in the league since the Eagles drafted him in the seventh round of the 2008 draft. He started 20 games for the Birds, including 13 last year. But he’s better suited for a backup role. Dunlap can hold his own in pass protection, but is a non-factor in the run game. Trent Cole was one of the best defenders on the field last week and should give Dunlap fits. Fletcher Cox had a couple nice moments late in Week 1 and will start at right defensive end.
5. Rinehart (LG) is considered a better run-blocker than pass-protector. Hardwick has started every game for the Chargers since 2010. Clary moves from tackle to guard after allowing a team-high 8.5 sacks and 18.5 blown pass blocks last year, according to Football Outsiders. And Fluker was the No. 11 overall pick in April’s draft. He played for Eagles offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland at Alabama and struggled Monday night against Houston. As a unit last year, the Chargers finished last in adjusted sack rate, per Football Outsiders.
6. Isaac Sopoaga (NT) and Cedric Thornton (LDE) will join Cox on the Eagles’ defensive line. Thornton played well vs. Washington. Bennie Logan and Damion Square rotated in at nose tackle and right defensive end. Clifton Geathers came in at LDE, and Vinny Curry was inactive. We’ll see if that rotation changes at all this week. The Eagles limited the Redskins to 74 yards rushing, and Alfred Morris averaged just 3.8 yards per carry.
San Diego does not have a potent rushing attack. Ryan Mathews has been a disappointment since the Chargers selected him No. 12 overall back in 2010. He’s battled injury problems and averaged just 10.7 games per season in the last three. And when he’s been on the field, he hasn’t been effective, averaging 3.8 YPC in his last 13 games. Ronnie Brown actually played more snaps than Mathews last week, per PFF. He averaged 3.2 YPC in one disastrous season with the Eagles, but has averaged 4.8 on 51 carries with San Diego.
7. Rivers doesn’t have a lot of weapons in the passing game. Vincent Jackson signed with Tampa before last season. And Danario Alexander tore his ACL earlier this summer. Veteran Malcolm Floyd led the team in catches (56) and yards (814) last year. He had 15 catches of 20+ yards and presents a matchup problem at 6-foot-5. Floyd had just one grab last week, but it was a 47-yarder. The ball skills of the Eagles’ defensive backs will be tested against Floyd. Last week, safety Patrick Chung did not look good in that aspect on a late Redskins touchdown.
8. Vincent Brown was a third-round pick in 2011. He missed all of last year with a foot injury and had two catches for 13 yards in Week 1. Royal will line up a lot in the slot. He was the only Chargers wide receiver with more than two catches last week. Royal had a pair of red-zone touchdowns and also drew a 21-yard pass interference penalty. For the Eagles, Cary Williams played well in his debut, finishing with a sack and an impressive interception near the sideline. Boykin lined up in a variety of spots, and that could continue this week.
9. Tight end Antonio Gates is not the weapon he once was, but he’s still scored seven touchdowns or more in each of the last nine seasons. Gates was the Chargers’ leading receiver in Week 1 with 49 yards. DeMeco Ryans played well vs. Washington, and Mychal Kendricks was all over the place, finishing with 10 tackles (one for loss) and a pair of QB hits. Davis used him as a blitzer, as a traditional inside ‘backer and even as a free safety. Look for Kendricks’ versatility to be highlighted all season long.
10. Look for the Chargers to throw to their running backs quite a bit. Mathews beat a linebacker on a wheel route for a touchdown last week. Danny Woodhead will see some targets on third down. …Six different Eagles – Ryans, Kendricks, Williams, Cole, Barwin and Cox – got hits on the quarterback last week. …Barwin will line up in a variety of places in the Eagles’ nickel package. He played well in his debut. …Nate Allen will start at safety alongside Chung. He didn’t appear to have any breakdowns last week. Rookie Earl Wolff will likely rotate in.
1. Billy Davis couldn’t have been too pumped when the schedule came out and he saw the Redskins listed as the first test for his overhauled defense. Davis was brutally honest this week when explaining where his ‘D’ stands as it enters the season. The Cliff Notes version? Well, let’s just say work-in-progress would be putting it mildly.
The Eagles are transitioning from a Wide-9 4-3 to a two-gap 3-4, pretty much as drastic a move as you could make in the front seven. Davis will find out just how much progress his group has made when it faces a Redskins offense that was the sixth-best (sixth in passing, second in rushing) in the league last year, according to Football Outsiders and fourth in points per game (27.3).
2. The Eagles will prepare for a 100 percent healthy Robert Griffin III. RG3 was the only QB in the league to complete at least 65 percent of his passes and average more than 8.0 yards per attempt in 2012. As a rookie, he threw 20 touchdowns against five interceptions and added 815 yards and seven touchdowns as a runner. Griffin is returning to the field eight months after suffering an ACL/LCL injuries in his right knee, both of which required surgery.
3. While Griffin’s mobility is certainly an asset, the truth is he can be a statue and still probably torch the Eagles’ secondary. Last year, he was 30-for-39 (76.9 percent) for 398 yards (10.2 YPA), six touchdowns and one interception in two meetings against the Eagles.
The Birds’ secondary features three new starters. Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher are the starting corners. The book on Williams is he’ll allow receptions in front of him, but is one of the best-tackling corners in the league. He did, however, have 17 passes defended and four interceptions last season, per Football Outsiders. Williams has had a tumultuous offseason. He skipped most of the spring and forced every Philadelphian (present company included) to figure out what “sconces” were. He got kicked out of a joint practice with the Patriots for mixing it up with Aaron Dobson. And earlier this week, Williams scuffled with Riley Cooper. If Employee 26 (that’s how Williams sometimes refers to himself) struggles against Washington, fans are unlikely to offer him a warm welcome the following week at the Linc. If he performs well, everyone’s likely to forget about all the offseason nonsense.
4. Fletcher will start at left cornerback. He had an OK preseason, giving up completions, but generally displaying decent coverage. Brandon Boykin will play nickel. The Redskins’ biggest receiving threat is Pierre Garcon. In his first season with the Redskins, Garcon caught 66 percent of the balls thrown his way. Despite only playing 10 games, he tied for the team lead with 10 grabs of 20+ yards. And according to Pro Football Focus, Garcon averaged 7.3 yards after the catch, fifth-best in the league.
Santana Moss is 34, but still productive. He had 41 catches for 573 yards in 2012, including 10 receptions of 20+ yards. Moss also led the Redskins with eight touchdowns. He’ll get matched up against Boykin, who had a strong rookie season and an excellent summer. Josh Morgan was the Redskins’ most-targeted receiver last year, and they also have athletic tight end Fred Davis, who is coming off a ruptured Achilles’ injury.
5. How did we get this far without discussing Alfred Morris? Davis and Eagles defenders made it clear this week that stopping the run is priority No. 1. Per Football Outsiders, the Redskins ran the ball on 48 percent of all of their first-half plays last year, second-most in the league. They ran it 55 percent of the time on first down, fifth-most.
Considering that Griffin is coming off an injury and the Eagles’ run defense didn’t exactly look stout in the preseason, look for a healthy dose of Morris early on. The second-year player had 335 carries last season, third-most in the NFL and piled up 1,613 yards while averaging 4.8 YPC. He had nine runs of 20+ yards and scored 13 touchdowns. The Eagles will start Isaac Sopoaga at nose tackle with Fletcher Cox and Cedric Thornton on either side. They’ll rotate in other linemen like rookie Bennie Logan, second-year player Vinny Curry and possibly Clifton Geathers and/or Damion Square, depending on who’s active.
“I think you’ll see a little bit of both,” outside linebacker Connor Barwin said. “It matters what the score is. It matters what other teams are doing. It matters what kind of offenses we’re facing. We’re gonna face this zone offense so you might see a little bit more of one or the other. But I think you’ll see both, and it really depends on what’s happening in the game, what’s working early and so forth.”
6. Up front, the Redskins return all five starters who played 15 of 16 games together last year. Left tackle Trent Williams is easily the team’s best offensive lineman. He owned Trent Cole last year, limiting him to two hurries and no sacks in two meetings. Cole spent much of the summer practicing dropping in coverage, but indications this week were that he won’t be doing as much of that when the real games start.
“The drops that we give the outside backers are very rarely anything that has to do with vertical,” Davis said. “It’s all about a 15‑by‑15 box that they live in. What you’re asking, it really presents some problems with the offense, too, when they are trying to run the ball and block those guys with the receivers.
“There’s a lot of things that go into it. I know when you think of Trent Cole and coverage and everything and everybody thinks about dropping vertically and deep, you say, that doesn’t fit, and I understand that. So the things we’ll ask them to do are in a smaller box than what you would ask other linebackers to do, if that makes any sense.”
Brandon Graham was the team’s most effective pass-rusher a year ago. He’ll rotate in with Cole and Barwin.
7. The rest of the Redskins’ line is: Kory Lichtensteiger (LG), Will Montgomery (center), Chris Chester (RG) and Tyler Polumbus (RT). Polumbus is probably the weak link, having allowed a team-high 4.5 sacks and had 18.5 blown pass blocks, per Football Outsiders. Lichtensteiger is considered a good run blocker, but he had 11 penalties in 2012. Montgomery has started all 32 games the past two seasons; same goes for Chester.
8. The Eagles’ inside linebackers and safeties will have to avoid big miscues against the best play-action team in the NFL. The Redskins used play-action on 42 percent of their pass plays last year. That was the highest number of any squad since Football Outsiders started charting games in 2005. They averaged 10.1 yards per play on play-action; 5.5 without.
“They set you up and run, run, run and then hit you with a play-action and try to go up top on you,” said safety Nate Allen. “So you gotta respect both of ‘em. You just gotta play your keys and be disciplined.”
Added rookie Earl Wolff: “You’re really anticipating on first down to see run. Alfred Morris, you want to anticipate him coming because he’s a really good running back. …Basically they’re gonna try to suck up our linebackers and hit comeback routes, hit curls, thing of that nature. They just have a highly-explosive offense. We have to be ready for anything.”
Allen and Patrick Chung will start at safety, but Wolff is expected to rotate in. We could also see some three-safety looks, specifically to defend against the read-option. HogsHaven.com posted a terrific piece on how blitzing a slot corner can be effective against the read-option. The Eagles showed a three-safety look with Chung in the slot this summer.
9. DeMeco Ryans is coming off a strong 2012 campaign and is the leader of the defense. Second-year player Mychal Kendricks looks ready to make a nice leap and could see a new role in 2013. Kendricks looked great as a blitzer in the preseason and showed pass-rushing chops while at Cal.
Of course, blitzing Griffin is a risky proposition. He averaged a league-high 9 yards per play against five rushers last year, per Football Outsiders. Griffin averaged a ridiculous 13.1 yards per play against six or more rushers, also a league-high. Overall, according Stats, Inc., Griffin completed 69 percent of his attempts for nine touchdowns and no interceptions against the blitz.
10. Griffin didn’t chuck it downfield a lot as a rookie. Only 9.2 percent of his attempts traveled 20 yards or more downfield. That ranked 32nd in the NFL, per PFF. However, when he did go deep, he was successful, on-target 50 percent of the time, fifth-best… Teams only sent extra pressure at Griffin 20 percent of the time, a league-low, per FO. …The Redskins used max protection 17 percent of the time, tops in the league. …The Eagles are thin at cornerback. The fourth option would be either newcomer Shaun Prater or rookie Jordan Poyer. …The Redskins scored touchdowns on 81.2 percent of their red-zone chances last year, fourth-best in 2012.
Earlier this afternoon, Chip Kelly said that Nate Allen would start at safety opposite Patrick Chung.
But in the end, that might not end up mattering much.
Kelly conceded that Earl Wolff would see time too, and the rookie safety echoed that sentiment after today’s practice.
“I honestly feel like me and Nate probably will get almost an equal opportunity on the field Monday night,” Wolff said. “He [Chip Kelly] told me I’m gonna play every quarter. Like I said, I don’t know exactly how much I’m gonna play. I’m just gonna be ready to take advantage of every opportunity.”
Asked about how he found out he was starting, Allen said: “I never got a formal, ‘This is what’s happening.’ But I was in with the ones today, and me and Earl were still rotating in and out. So I just heard it from y’all. It’s all good regardless.”
Their comments could mean a few different things. One is that maybe Wolff and Allen will rotate. It’s not as if either guy separated himself in the preseason. Maybe the coaches want to go with Wolff, but don’t want to just throw him out there full-time right away. This would be an unorthodox move, but probably not one we can completely rule out.
Another possibility is that the Eagles could show some three-safety looks. We saw this at practice during the summer with Chung, Allen and Wolff all playing together. The coaches believe Chung has some versatility. He sometimes played the slot receiver and looks like the Eagles’ best defensive back against the run.
“I’m not exactly sure,” Allen said. “I know we have some packages and stuff. But I’m not exactly sure what it’ll be like on gameday and how much we’ll rotate in and out. But we’ve just gotta get out there and make plays.”
The Eagles are thin at cornerback. The plan in nickel is simple: take Isaac Sopoaga out and put Brandon Boykin in. But if Billy Davis wants to go with six defensive backs, that’ll probably mean playing all three safeties.
Asked if he was expecting a rotation or just be involved in some special packages, Wolff said: “Probably both. I’m not exactly sure, but Coach told me to just be ready to go at any time during the game, at the beginning. So I’m just gonna be ready.”