DL Review: Cox In a Pass-Rush Rut

Here’s the weekly breakdown of how the Eagles’ defensive line performed against the Saints.

You should know the deal by now, but just in case, “hurries” are tracked by the coaches. Pass-rushing opportunities are charted by Pro Football Focus. And pressure percentage measures how often a player notches a sack or hurry.

 
Pass-Rushing Opportunities
Sacks
Hurries
Pressure Percentage
Trent Cole200315.0%
Cullen Jenkins19015.3%
Jason Babin181216.7%
Fletcher Cox13000%
Cedric Thornton12018.3%
Brandon Graham12108.3%
Derek Landri120N/AN/A
Phillip Hunt10000%
Mike Patterson8000%

Brandon Graham and Jason Babin both had sacks and forced fumbles. Other than that play, though, Graham was quiet as a pass-rusher with no hurries. Babin had a couple hurries, and Trent Cole had three.

The Eagles got nothing from the interior pass-rush. Rookie Fletcher Cox is in a pass-rushing rut. He had zero hurries and has just two (no sacks) in his last four games. Cox has one sack and 14 hurries on the season. He’s been outstanding against the run; Cox’s 38 tackles are tops on the team among defensive linemen. But the Eagles could really use more production from him against the pass.

No defensive tackle had more than one hurry. That’s a problem.

Mike Patterson saw his first action of the season. Phillip Hunt filled in for Darryl Tapp, who was with his wife, waiting on the birth of their first child.

Below is the player-by-player breakdown.

Jason Babin – He played hard and came away with a sack and three hurries. Babin beat the right tackle one-on-one and forced a Drew Brees fumble in the fourth. He got good pressure on Brees and hit him on a third down near the end of the first half. He did a good job reading screen and tackling Chris Ivory after a 2-yard pickup in the third. Against the run, the Eagles were hurt by counters to the defense’s left side all game long. Babin got caught inside on an 8-yard Ivory run in the second, but to his credit, he hustled to the ball and eventually made the tackle. He also got caught inside on a 7-yard counter by Mark Ingram in the third.

Trent Cole – Cole was active throughout, but as I pointed out with the All-22, he missed opportunities for a monster game. He had a season-high seven tackles to go along with three hurries. Cole dropped Ingram for a 3-yard loss in the first. He had a good bull-rush and hit Brees, helping to force an incompletion late in the first half. Cole tackled Ingram after a 3-yard gain in the third. And he stopped Pierre Thomas after a 2-yard run in the red zone in the third.

Brandon Graham – Tough to evaluate him in this one. Graham had the huge sack/forced fumble, but wasn’t a factor the rest of the time. He failed to recognize a 9-yard screen to Jimmy Graham in the second and got caught inside on Ivory’s 22-yard touchdown run. Later, Graham had a chance to bring Ingram down near the line of scrimmage, but couldn’t make the play on a 7-yard run. He drew a holding penalty in the second. On the sack, he got to Brees in about 2.2 seconds.

Phillip Hunt – After playing zero snaps against the Falcons, Hunt filled in for Tapp. He made a decent inside move to force Brees to his left on an incompletion in the first. Good hustle to bring Thomas down after a 7-yard run on the next play. And Hunt stopped Ivory for no gain in the third.

Cullen Jenkins – One hurry and four tackles. Jenkins got good penetration and helped cause a 3-yard loss on the first defensive play. He got past the guard and knocked Brees down on the next play. Jenkins also played some defensive end. Overall, a pretty quiet game.

Fletcher Cox – A quiet game for Cox too. He had four tackles – dropping Ivory for a 1-yard loss in the fourth and tackling Ingram after a 2-yard run in the fourth.

Mike Patterson – Patterson looked understandably rusty with zero tackles and zero hurries. He got blocked on Thomas’ 9-yard run in the red zone in the second.

Derek Landri – Not much of a factor. He assisted Cole in bringing Thomas down after a 2-yard run in the third. Other than that, didn’t notice him doing much.

Cedric Thornton – Three tackles, but didn’t give the Eagles anything as a pass-rusher with just one hurry.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.
Become a fan of Birds 24/7 on Facebook.

 

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.
Become a fan of Birds 24/7 on Facebook.


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.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.
Become a fan of Birds 24/7 on Facebook.

Making Sense Of the Eagles’ Inactives

Philadelphia Eagles right guard Danny Watkins.The following Eagles are inactive for today’s 1 p.m. game against the Falcons: Trent Edwards, Damaris Johnson, Dion Lewis, Jamar Chaney, Danny Watkins, Nate Menkin and Vinny Curry.

The inactives are the same as a couple weeks ago against the Lions, except for Watkins (Steve Vallos didn’t dress in that game).

Starting in Watkins’ place is 6-8 rookie Dennis Kelly. Watkins missed practice on Thursday and Friday with an ankle injury that Andy Reid described as “chronic.”

“Danny has kind of a chronic ankle and he has had it for years,” Reid said after Friday’s practice. “He disturbed it in the last game and he thought it would be fine, and it didn’t work out. He came back Monday and practiced, Wednesday he practiced and he just didn’t feel right. So back him up and let the thing settle down.”

The backups on the offensive line are also worth mentioning. Demetress Bell, who started the previous four games, is your swing tackle. King Dunlap gets the start at LT. And Matt Tennant, whom the team just signed last week, is the backup guard/center.

Elsewhere offensively, Lewis continues to be an inactive. He’s only dressed for one game this season. Johnson is inactive for the second straight game. Riley Cooper will be the team’s fourth wide receiver. Mardy Gilyard and DeSean Jackson will handle punt-return duties.

On the defensive side of the ball, Phillip Hunt was questionable, but he’ll play. There was a chance that rookie second-round pick Vinny Curry would dress for the first time this season, but that won’t happen.

Be sure to join me and Tim for a live chat during the game at 1 p.m.

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

D-Line Diagnosis: Where Are the Sacks?

When asked last week why the Eagles’ defense has been unable to come up with more sacks, Todd Bowles pointed to four specific things.

“Part of the time, the ball is coming out quick,” he said. “Part of the time they’re max protecting. Part of the time we have to beat one-on-ones. Part of the time, coaching-wise, we have to scheme it better and help those guys get free.”

Let’s take a look at those four things individually.

Matthew Stafford consistently got rid of the ball quickly last week. But here’s the thing: For much of the game, that played right into the Eagles’ hands. Because of Stafford’s lack of patience and his focus on getting the ball out of his hands, he missed several opportunities at big plays downfield (see the All-22 breakdown here). And he also threw a lot of incompletions on the shorter/intermediate routes.

According to Pro Football Focus, before last week, Stafford was completing 77.1 percent of his passes between 0 and 10 yards. Against the Eagles, he completed just 12 of 22, or 54.5 percent. In other words, it’s not as if the defense was just giving up the shorter plays and allowing the Lions to methodically march down the field. They took a good number of those away. On the season, opposing quarterbacks are completing just 52.7 percent of their passes against the Eagles. That’s the best mark in the league. The secondary gets credit for that, but pressure, or even the possibility of pressure, has factored in also.

Bowles also talked about max-protecting. I showed this in the All-22 breakdown, but in case you missed it, here are a couple images.

In both cases, eight blockers against four defensive linemen. Tough to get to the quarterback in these situations. The Eagles simply have to rely on their coverage. It’s not that the Lions max-protected all game, but they chose their spots, specifically on plays downfield. I’d expect other teams to do the same going forward.

Bowles also talked about scheming better and helping the pass-rushers get free. Some might think that means increased blitzing. But I’d be surprised if the Eagles started to send a lot of extra pressure at opposing quarterbacks. The point of bringing Jim Washburn and the wide-nine was to generate pressure from the front four and not have to blitz. The Eagles have enough talent on the defensive line where they should still be able to do that.

“If it works, it’s great. If it’s not, don’t do it,” Bowles said, when asked about his philosophy on blitzing.

In other words, you might see more of it some weeks than others. It all depends on the opponent and the game-plan.

Something Washburn said the other week caught my attention too.

“We used to watch [Bears linebackers Brian] Urlacher and [Lance] Briggs,” Washburn said, via Paul Domowitch of the Daily News. “They’d stand up there in the A-gap. The other team would be scared to death to chip the ends. Urlacher and Briggs rarely came, but their presence standing up there in the A-gap affected what the offense did.”

It might not always be blitzing, but perhaps the threat of blitzing would help create space for the defensive ends.

And finally, winning one-on-one. That’s a simple way of saying the defensive linemen need to play better and take advantage of opportunities that present themselves.

Keeping all that in mind, below is the table we use every week to measure pass-rushing production. It takes into account opportunities (courtesy of Pro Football Focus), sacks and hurries (as tracked by the coaches). It also shows pressure percentage, which is simply the frequency with which each player notches a sack or a hurry.

 
Pass-Rushing Opportunities
Sacks
Hurries
Pressure Percentage
Jason Babin1852.52314.1%
Trent Cole1851.52313.5%
Cullen Jenkins1720148.1%
Fletcher Cox1521N/AN/A
Derek Landri114097.9%
Cedric Thornton83022.4%
Darryl Tapp730.5711.0%
Brandon Graham440.51331.8%
Phillip Hunt28027.1%

What stands out here? Let’s start with the defensive ends. Cole and Babin have combined for just four sacks. Their hurries and opportunities are identical. Both guys have track records of being productive pass-rushers. If Bowles and Washburn can scheme a way to get them more one-on-one opportunities, the sacks and turnovers are likely to follow.

It also seems like Graham is long overdue to get more snaps. On a per-play basis, he’s been easily their most productive pass-rusher. Graham played 24.4 percent of the snaps against the Lions. That number’s got to increase.

Some have asked about second-round pick Vinny Curry getting a shot. I’d have no problem with that. If he’s going to play, it’d almost definitely be for Tapp at right defensive end. Or he could step in for Hunt as the ninth lineman on gamedays, but Hunt plays special teams too.

At defensive tackle, you’ll notice the table is not filled out completely for Cox. That’s because there was a mix-up with his hurry numbers that I’m working to get clarification on.

With 14 hurries, Jenkins has been fine, but the Eagles are getting nothing out of Thornton and Landri.

Landri has nine hurries, but has struggled recently with just three in the last four games. And Thornton has just two hurries all season. Getting more interior pressure is critical going forward.

Note: Soon after I Tweeted out the link to this piece, Derek from Iggles Blog asked about the possibility of going with a 4-DE nickel look. That’d be one way to get Graham on the field more, especially considering what little pass-rush production the Eagles are currently getting from their defensive tackles.

Other than potentially getting Curry into the mix, I don’t see any personnel changes being made here. But getting more production out of this group has to be high on the list of priorities going into the final 10 games.

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

Eagles Snap Counts: Cooper Makes His Return

Here’s a look at snap counts for the Eagles during their Week 6 loss against the Lions. We’ll go position-by-position.

 
Overall Snaps
Snap %
LeSean McCoy6276%
Stanley Havili2429%
Bryce Brown1620%

McCoy left the game briefly in the second half with an ankle injury, but returned and said after the game that he was fine. Taking his place was Brown, who played a season-high 16 snaps. Brown had five carries for 4 yards. On the season, he’s averaging just 2.7 yards per carry on 19 rushes.

Dion Lewis was inactive for the fifth time in six games. Chris Polk dressed in his place after sitting the week before, but didn’t see any offensive snaps. Stanley Havili played slightly less than he did the previous two weeks, but was still on the field for 24 snaps.

 
Overall Snaps
Snap %
Jeremy Maclin7996%
DeSean Jackson7895%
Jason Avant5162%
Riley Cooper1012%
Brent Celek7085%
Clay Harbor2024%

Cooper was active for the first time all season and had two catches for 18 yards on three targets. Maclin had easily his best game of the season with six catches for 130 yards. And Jackson played well with five catches for 74 yards on eight targets.

Celek had a chance to have a huge game, but dropped one touchdown pass and was called for pass interference on another. He ended up with four catches for 33 yards and was on the receiving end of some crushing hits once again. Harbor played 20 snaps, his second-lowest total of the year. He had just two catches for 9 yards.

 
Overall Snaps
Snap %
Trent Cole5874%
Jason Babin5672%
Cullen Jenkins5571%
Cedric Thornton3747%
Derek Landri3545%
Fletcher Cox3140%
Darryl Tapp2026%
Brandon Graham1823%
Phillip Hunt11%

A lot of snaps, but not a lot of production from Cole, Babin and Jenkins. Cox got kicked out, forcing Jenkins, Thornton and Landri to play increased snaps. Graham is entrenched as Babin’s backup, but did not see a bump in playing time. Hunt has been almost phased out entirely with just one snap.

 
Overall Snaps
Snap %
DeMeco Ryans78100%
Mychal Kendricks6988%
Akeem Jordan2431%

Ryans played every snap and finished with 13 tackles (10 solo, 3 for loss). Jordan returned to the WILL spot, but the run defense wasn’t great as Mikel Leshoure averaged 4.7 yards per carry on 15 attempts. As a team, the Lions averaged 4.9 yards per carry.

 
Overall Snaps
Snap %
Nnamdi Asomugha78100%
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie7697%
Brandon Boykin4760%
Brandon Hughes1114%
Curtis Marsh79%
Kurt Coleman78100%
Nate Allen4558%
Colt Anderson3342%

The Eagles replaced Boykin with Marsh in nickel at times – specifically when Asomugha shadowed Calvin Johnson inside. Marsh was called for a defensive holding penalty on an early third down.

Hughes entered the game in dime situations and did not play well. I still have to re-watch, but it sure looked like he got burned by tight end Tony Scheffler on the 57-yard completion in the fourth and again by Nate Burleson on the 17-yard touchdown.

Anderson came into the game after Allen went out with a hamstring injury. He was called for pass interference in the end zone, but the Lions had to settle for a field goal on the last possession of regulation anyway.

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

DL Production: Time For Graham To Get More Snaps?

Going into last week’s game, the Eagles appeared to have a big advantage with their defensive line going up against the Steelers offensive line.

But when the teams actually played, Jim Washburn’s group didn’t have much of an impact, failing to get to Ben Roethlisberger and giving up big plays in the run game all day long.

So what happened? Here’s the weekly review of the Eagles defensive line. Let’s start with the numbers:

 
Total Snaps
Pass-Rushing Opportunities
Hurries
Pressure Percentage
Jason Babin522913.4%
Trent Cole502727.4%
Fletcher Cox462800%
Cullen Jenkins422727.4%
Derek Landri311300%
Cedric Thornton291200%
Darryl Tapp2211327.3%
Brandon Graham1811545.5%
Phillip Hunt6200%

You’ll notice there’s no column for sacks because, well, the Eagles didn’t have any for the second straight week. But this performance was far different from the previous week’s one against the Giants. The defensive line absolutely had an impact in that game. In this one, the Eagles did not get enough consistent pressure on Roethlisberger, and when they got close, they were unable to bring him down. To be fair, that’s one of his greatest strengths as a quarterback.

As for the numbers, you’ll see a lot of zeroes across the board. But the guy that should jump out here is Brandon Graham. He played 18 snaps and had 11 opportunities to rush the passer. In that time, Graham led the team with five hurries. Keep in mind that hurries are a stat kept by the team’s coaches, not by me or a league statistician. While the rest of the defensive linemen struggled, Graham got to the quarterback more than 45 percent of the time. He’s jumped ahead of Phillip Hunt in terms of playing time, but Graham needs to get on the field more.

One other thing you’ll notice is the Eagles’ lack of interior pressure. Other than Cullen Jenkins, the defensive tackles really were a non-factor when it came to getting to Roethlisberger. Perhaps because of that, we saw some different looks up front with Trent Cole and Jason Babin lined up inside on a few occasions.

Below is the player-by-player breakdown with some more notes:

Jason Babin – Quiet game with no sacks and one hurry. Jimmy Kempski over at Blogging the Beast took a detailed look at how the Steelers blocked Babin. He was chipped or double-teamed just five times all game. In other words, this was not a case of Pittsburgh consistently using extra blockers against him. As for individual plays, Babin showed great hustle, bringing Rashard Mendenhall down after a 24-yard gain (even though the play was called back). The refs missed a blatant holding call as Heath Miller threw Babin to the ground on Roethlisberger’s 9-yard run during the Steelers’ first scoring drive. Babin lined up in a few different places, including right defensive end and left defensive tackle. He got some pressure off the edge, but Roethliberger stepped up and found Chris Rainey for a 6-yard completion. He forced Roethlisberger to step up and throw incomplete on third down in the third. And Babin got his hand on Roethlisberger, but couldn’t bring him down on the big 3rd-and-12 conversion that went for 20 yards in the fourth. Against the run, Babin got blocked by Miller on a 7-yard Mendenhall run in the third.

Trent Cole – Also a quiet game – no sacks and just two hurries. Jordan Raanan of Bleeding Green Nation charted Cole’s snaps and found that he faced a chip or double-team on nine of 30 pass-rushing attempts. In other words, he had plenty of one-on-one chances. Cole got a hand on Roethlisberger in the second, but couldn’t bring him down on what turned out to be a 9-yard scramble. He lined up in different spots, including inside at defensive tackle. Cole hit Roethlisberger after he stepped up on third down in the third.

Fletcher Cox – Probably his least productive game of the season, although I have to take a look at the All-22 to see how often Cox was double-teamed. Cox got some pressure on Roethlisberger on a third down in the third. On one play, he lined up off the line of scrimmage, standing up, and got a running start. But overall, he struggled to get to the quarterback. Against the run, Cox got blocked on Mendenhall’s 9-yard run. He got blocked (and maybe held) on Isaac Redman’s 13-yard run in the third. Overall, three tackles, including one on Redman after a 2-yard run in the fourth.

Cullen Jenkins – He was easily the Eagles’ best interior pass rusher. Jenkins got decent pressure on a twist around Babin in the first, forcing Roethlisberger to step up. He drew a holding penalty on third down in the first as Willie Colon tackled him to the ground. Jenkins nearly had a sack, but drew a holding penalty instead late in the first half. He lined up at defensive end on a couple occasions. Against the run, Jenkins stopped Mendenhall for no gain in the first.

Derek Landri – Not a good game. Zero hurries, and Landri got blocked on several of the Steelers’ big run plays. Mendenhall ran in Landri’s direction for gains of 5 and 17 in the third. He got blocked on Mendenhall’s 9-yard run in the third and again on Redman’s 13-yard run. The good moments: Landri got his hand on a screen in the third and tackled Rainey after a 6-yard completion. He starts, but as you can see from the snap counts above, Cox consistently plays more.

Cedric Thornton – He was OK. Thornton dropped Rainey for no gain in the first and drew a holding penalty on a run play in the fourth. Thornton also did a good job helping to stop a Redman 4-yard run on the final drive.

Darryl Tapp – The coaches credited him with three hurries, second-most on the team, although I didn’t see him have much of an impact, other than earning a personal foul for unnecessary roughness in the first.

Brandon Graham – Mentioned him above. Graham led the team with five hurries. He hit Roethlisberger as he released the ball on a first-quarter incompletion. He charged through a double-team and hit him again, forcing Roethlisberger to throw it away in the second. Fox didn’t show a good replay, but this was the play where Roethlisberger had something to say to Graham afterwards. Graham drove Miller back with relative ease and pressured Roethlisberger into dumping it off for a 2-yard loss, but Nnamdi Asomugha was called for holding on the play. Made the most of his opportunities once again.

Phillip Hunt – He hasn’t had a lot of opportunities, but Hunt has just two hurries on the season. Played only six snaps against Pittsburgh.

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

Eagles Wake-Up Call: Brown, Graham Move Up Depth Chart

Philadelphia Eagles running back Bryce BrownHeading into Week 4’s matchup against the New York Giants, the Eagles have made a couple slight adjustments to their depth chart.

During the summer, Dion Lewis, Bryce Brown and Chris Polk competed for spots behind LeSean McCoy. McCoy played more snaps than any other running back in the league last year and averaged just 3.4 yards per carry in the final five games. Part of the reason for that was his backup, Ronnie Brown, gave the Eagles nothing.

Back in August, it appeared that Lewis was poised for a bigger role in his second season. But now, it’s difficult to find a reason why the Eagles are keeping him on the roster at all. For the first time, Brown is officially listed as the No. 2 running back. Through three games, he’s played 26 snaps and carried nine times for 38 yards (4.2 YPC). Last week, Brown ran four times for 28 yards and had a good-looking 17-yard scamper.

As for Lewis, he’s battled a hamstring injury, but was a healthy scratch last week. Perhaps the Eagles are holding on to him in case McCoy suffers a longer-term injury? If the team has to make a roster move, Lewis, who had a good training camp and was a fifth-round pick in 2011, could be let go.

Polk has been active for all three games and served a special-teams role.

If you’re wondering about McCoy, he’s playing slightly fewer snaps than last season. Through three games, he’s been on the field 83.8 percent of the time, per Pro Football Focus. Last year, it was 86.1 percent.

There’s been some depth chart movement on the defensive line as well. Brandon Graham is now listed as the backup left defensive end behind Jason Babin, a spot previously occupied by Phillip Hunt. Graham’s snaps have gone from four to nine to 17 in three weeks. Hunt’s, meanwhile, have gone from 15 to 15 to 12. In other words, the two defensive ends are pretty much splitting time (keep in mind that Graham was on the field for the end-of-game kneel-downs last week).

On the season, Graham has 0.5 sacks and five hurries. Hunt has no sacks and one hurry, but he was excellent in the preseason. The guess here is that the Eagles will continue to play nine defensive linemen and five defensive ends. Both Graham and Hunt will be counted on to get to Eli Manning on Sunday night.

WHAT YOU MISSED

McCoy went on national TV and said his beef with Osi Umenyiora is real. “I don’t like Osi,” McCoy said.

The Eagles decided they’d seen enough of Chas Henry, releasing the second-year punter and signing veteran Mat McBriar.

We posted a series of game reviews. DeMeco Ryans provided a bright spot. The defensive line had trouble getting to Kevin Kolb. And a player-by-player evaluation of the running backs, wide receivers and tight ends.

Could the Eagles learn any lessons from Kolb? T-Mac thinks so. He explains here.

And finally, if you didn’t tune in to Birds 24/7 Radio on 97.5 The Fanatic, the podcasts are available for download. Click here for iTunes and here to listen online. Tim and I broadcast live from 360 at Parx Casino in Bensalem every Monday from 6 to 7 p.m.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

Over at Grantland, Chris Brown shows how Larry Fitzgerald set up the Eagles on the 37-yard touchdown:

The key defenders here are cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha — lined up just outside Fitzgerald — and safety Coleman, responsible for playing Fitzgerald to the inside. The problem for Philadelphia is that as he sees the run action, Coleman immediately buzzes to the line. This essentially leaves Asomugha in one-on-one coverage on Fitzgerald.

Thinking he has inside help, Asomugha plays Fitzgerald with outside leverage. But with the benefit of noticing that Coleman is out of position, the crafty Fitzgerald immediately begins setting up for the big play. Fitzgerald releases immediately to the inside, where, without help, Asomugha is effectively already beaten.

Dan Graziano of ESPN.com examines Andy Reid’s comments about the Eagles’ quarterback situation:

It’s possible that Reid was just answering a news conference question as blandly and honestly as possible. It’s more likely he knew the comments would be broadcast everywhere, parsed for meaning and heard by Vick himself, and that he’s trying to light a fire under his quarterback. Nothing wrong with that, and there’s nothing wrong with evaluating as he goes. Vick has to protect the ball better, or the Eagles will have to consider making a change. But I don’t think it’s any coincidence that Reid’s first waver on this topic came after the Eagles’ first loss. If they’re 3-1 after Sunday night’s game against the Giants, I imagine he’ll go right back to full-support mode no matter how Vick played. But if they’re 2-2 and Vick lays another egg, “evaluate as we go” might be about the nicest thing Reid’s willing to say about his quarterback situation.

COMING UP

The Eagles return to Novacare today. We’ll hear from Reid and the players as they prepare to take on the Giants. Also be on the lookout for some All-22 goodness.

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

DL Review: Did Eagles’ Pass-Rush Get To Kolb?

Philadelphia Eagles defensive line coach Jim WashburnIn Sunday’s matchup against the Cardinals, the Eagles’ defensive line accounted for three sacks, but Jim Washburn’s group managed just six hurries.

As a point of comparison, the defensive line had 24 hurries against Joe Flacco and 19 against Brandon Weeden.

The reasons? For starters, Kevin Kolb only dropped back to pass 29 times. And often, his goal was to get rid of the ball quickly. While Kolb hit on the one 37-yard touchdown to Larry Fitzgerald, most of his throws were on short-to-intermediate routes.

The table below details snap counts and pass-rushing opportunities from Pro Football Focus. Sacks are self-explanatory. Hurries are official team stats kept by Eagles coaches. And pressure percentage simply shows how often each player notched either a sack or a hurry.

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

 
Total Snaps
Pass-Rushing Opportunities
Sacks
Hurries
Pressure Percentage
Derek Landri3917000%
Jason Babin35211.5323,8%
Trent Cole34200.5215.0%
Fletcher Cox3316016.3%
Cullen Jenkins3019015.3%
Cedric Thornton288000%
Darryl Tapp2890.5011.1%
Brandon Graham1760.5016.7%
Phillip Hunt123000%

Those are the numbers. Below is the player-by-player breakdown:

Jason Babin – He led the Eagles with 1.5 sacks and three hurries. Babin lined up like a blitzing linebacker and rushed unblocked, splitting a sack with Cole in the first. The Eagles showed the same look on the next third down, but only rushed four, instead of six (like the first time). Babin hit Kolb and nearly had a sack, but he flipped the ball to Fitzgerald. His pressure forced Kolb to scramble on third down in the third. And Babin showed good hustle, chasing and tackling Kolb 1 yard short of the first-down marker on the play. The offensive lineman pushed Babin into Kolb for a sack in the third. Against the run, he tackled Beanie Wells after a 2-yard run in the first. And Babin tackled LaRod Stephens-Howling for a 2-yard loss, somehow avoiding a horse-collar penalty.

Cullen Jenkins – Relatively quiet game for Jenkins. He pressured Kolb out of the pocket and forced him to throw the ball away in the second for his only hurry. A huge hole opened up between Jenkins and Cox on Ryan Williams’ 25-yard run on the 3rd-and-17 draw in the fourth.

Derek Landri – Played more snaps than any other defensive lineman, but was also relatively quiet. Landri dropped Williams for a 1-yard loss in the first. No sacks, no hurries.

Trent Cole – Solid game, but I thought Cole would dominate in this one. He lined up like a blitzing linebacker and steamrolled the center, splitting a sack with Babin in the first. Cole let Kolb spin out of his grasp on the 79-yard pass to Andre Roberts that was called back. I can’t imagine he was excited about dropping back into coverage on 3rd-and-8 in the first. Kolb completed a 12-yard pass to Roberts on the play. Cole and Cox dropped Stephens-Howling for a 1-yard loss in the fourth. And he stopped Wells after a 2-yard run in the first.

Fletcher Cox – He left the game in the second because of a migraine, but would return. Good penetration, forcing a Wells cutback on a 5-yard run in the second. He and Cole dropped Stephens-Howling for a 1-yard loss in the fourth. One hurry, no sacks. It’s worth noting that he started at left defensive tackle in place of Jenkins in the second half.

Cedric Thornton – I thought this was easily his best game of the season. Thornton and Tapp stopped Wells for no gain in the second. On a separate run play in the second half, Thornton shoved the center back into the ballcarrier and then hustled to assist on the tackle near the line of scrimmage. No sacks, no hurries, but Thornton got good push up the middle on the Tapp sack that was taken away because of the holding penalty. Thornton got a good push up the middle again on the sack that Graham and Tapp split.

Darryl Tapp – Also thought this was his best game of the season. Tapp really should have had 1.5 sacks were it not for the botched holding penalty that should have been declined. His pressure forced Kolb to scramble for 3 yards in the fourth. Against the run, he tackled Wells after a 4-yard run. He and Thornton stopped Wells for no gain in the second. Tapp and Mychal Kendricks dropped Williams for a 4-yard loss in the third. And he tackled Stephens-Howling after a 5-yard run. Good game out of Tapp.

Brandon Graham – His snaps have gone from four to nine to 17 in the first three weeks. Graham was credited with half-a-sack. He got pressure on Kolb in the first, but the quarterback stepped up and hit Fitzgerald on a shallow cross. Against the run, Graham dropped Stephens-Howling for a 2-yard loss in the fourth. On the final series, he dropped Stephens-Howling for a loss on consecutive plays.

Phillip Hunt – Quiet game for Hunt, who saw Graham bite into his playing time a bit. No hurries, no sacks in limited opportunities.

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

DL Review: Graham Making Most Of Chances

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

Let’s start with the numbers. The table below details snap counts and pass-rushing opportunities from Pro Football Focus. Sacks are self-explanatory. Hurries are official team stats kept by Eagles coaches. And finally, you’ll see pressure percentage, which simply shows how often each player notched either a sack or a hurry. The reason for the percentage is that a one-sack game for a defensive lineman who rushed the passer 30 times is different than a one-sack game for someone who had just 10 opportunities.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s the player-by-player breakdown:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

« Older Posts  |  Newer Posts »