Eagles Acquire DE Geathers For Havili

The Eagles announced today that they’ve traded fullback Stanley Havili to the Colts in exchange for defensive end Clifton Geathers.

Geathers (6-7, 325) is 25-years-old. He was originally a sixth-round pick by the Browns out of South Carolina back in 2010.

He’s bounced around the league, spending time with the Dolphins, Seahawks and Cowboys, in addition to the Colts and the Browns.

Last season, Geathers played 152 snaps for Indy, per Pro Football Focus, coming up with one sack and five tackles. In 2011, with Dallas, he played just 31 snaps.

As we mentioned earlier this week, the Eagles still need bodies on the defensive line. Geathers likely projects as a 5-technique defensive end, but will have to compete for a roster spot. In addition to his height, Geathers’ arms are 37 3/4-inches long. In other words, the theme of Chip Kelly wanting to add length on defense continues.

As for Havili, the writing was probably on the wall for him when the Eagles signed James Casey.

Originally a seventh-round pick out of USC in 2011, he played 21.5 percent of the Eagles’ offensive snaps last year, appearing in 15 of 16 games. He had six carries for 22 yards and a touchdown and also caught seven balls for 43 yards. Havili spent 37.5 percent of his snaps as a blocker in the run game and actually turned out to be an adequate lead blocker when called upon.

But it’s unlikely that the Eagles will use the fullback in a traditional role under Kelly. Casey spent 54.6 percent of his offensive snaps as a run blocker last year with the Texans. I’m guessing one of the things he found attractive about the Eagles is that won’t be his primary role here. But if called upon to serve as a lead blocker on occasion, he should be able to get the job done.

More to come.

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Eagles, James Casey Agree To 3-Year Deal

The Eagles’ first free-agent addition comes on the offensive side of the ball. The team announced Tuesday night that it has agreed to terms with versatile tight end James Casey on a three-year deal.

Casey, 28, can play a variety of positions – tight end, fullback, H-Back. The 6-foot-3, 240-pounder caught 34 balls on 45 targets for 330 yards and three touchdowns with the Texans last season. He served other roles too, including one as a lead blocker for Arian Foster.

Casey played in 51 percent of the Texans’ snaps, per Pro Football Focus. He was most commonly used as a blocker in the run game (54.6 percent of the time); he went out into pass routes 38.9 percent of the time; and he was kept in for pass protection on 6.3 percent of his offensive snaps. Casey had just one carry.

Drafted by the Chicago White Sox in 2003, Casey spent three years playing Rookie League ball before going to Rice and playing football. In 2008, he had 111 catches for 1,329 yards and 13 touchdowns.

He was a fifth-round pick by the Texans in 2009.

So, how does he fit in? We don’t know exactly what Chip Kelly is going to do offensively, but part of his college philosophy was based on getting to the line of scrimmage early and determining what to do based on the look of the defense.

Casey becomes a versatile chess piece in that respect. He can line up out wide, in the slot, on the line of scrimmage or in the backfield. He can start in one place, and once the quarterback assesses the defense, Casey can motion to a different spot to create pre-snap advantages for the offense. His versatility is likely a big part of what Kelly found attractive about Casey.

Casey’s signing shouldn’t affect Brent Celek. If the Eagles show a lot of spread looks, both Casey and Celek could be on the field at the same time. It could, however, be bad news for No. 2 tight end Clay Harbor, depending on how the rest of the roster shapes up.

And it could also signal that Kelly doesn’t plan on keeping another fullback, meaning Stanley Havili might hot have a roster spot.

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All-22: Wide Receivers Don’t Help McCoy

Here’s a look at some issues that stood out after watching the All-22 tape of the Eagles’ offense.

Play 1: Not only does LeSean McCoy have to deal with a leaky offensive line, but when he does have chances for big plays, the wide receivers rarely do their jobs blocking downfield. The Eagles had success with a couple screens vs. the Redskins. The second one picked up 25 yards. It should have been a touchdown.


As you can see, McCoy’s got Jeremy Maclin and Riley Cooper out in front. If those two wide receivers do a decent job blocking and hold off the defenders long enough for him to sprint by, it’s a score. Instead, you get this.


Neither guy makes his block. The two defensive backs close in on McCoy and tackle him after the 25-yard gain. Four plays later, the Eagles settle for a field goal. That’s a losing play right there.

Play 2: I guess DeSean Jackson didn’t want to feel left out. Here, he’s supposed to block safety Brandon Meriweather.


Jackson knows his assignment. He goes right towards Meriweather.


But when the time comes to block him, Jackson decides not to.


McCoy, who already avoided a linebacker in the backfield (after Brent Celek missed his block), gets tackled after a 1-yard run.

Play 3: I mean, really, if someone (anyone!) out there can explain this one to me, please go ahead. Down 14-3, facing a 3rd-and-5 from the Redskins’ 45, this is what the Eagles go with.

Jackson, the guy who got the $47M deal this offseason? On the sidelines. Maclin, the guy who led the team in receptions last season? Him too. McCoy, the team’s best all-around player? No need for him either. Celek ended up dropping what should have been a first down, but I just can’t for the life of me figure out how taking your three best offensive weapons off the field on a third down like this makes any sense whatsoever. Did the coaches help their rookie quarterback here?

Play 4: This is the kind of play we see every week. The Redskins crowd the line of scrimmage. It looks like they’re going to bring pressure up the A-Gaps, but they end up only rushing four.

Because they showed pressure up the middle, the Eagles had to adjust their protection. That meant both defensive ends getting one-on-one blocks. Ryan Kerrigan, the Redskins’ best pass-rusher, gets a one-on-one against McCoy. This is the kind of thing the Eagles probably should have done more of this season to gain favorable matchups for Trent Cole and Jason Babin.


Kerrigan ends up stripping Nick Foles and causing a fumble. No big deal though. It’s not like Jackson was wide open for a touchdown had Foles been given an extra second.


Play 5: Foles definitely looked panicked at times. In the third, he has Stanley Havili open in the middle of the field, but instead chucks it out of bounds in Maclin’s direction near the sideline.

If you’re looking for more on Foles, check out the breakdown from earlier in the week.

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RB, WR, TE Review: Maclin’s Future With the Eagles

Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Jeremy MaclinHere’s a review of how the Eagles running backs, wide receivers and tight ends performed against the Redskins on Sunday:

LeSean McCoy – He suffered the concussion late in the game. Prior to that, McCoy carried 15 times for 45 yards. But he had his most effective game in a long time as a receiver with six catches for 67 yards. The Eagles had a perfect call as he took a screen 20 yards in the first. Two plays later, they ran a fake wide-receiver screen and then came back to McCoy for 25 yards. He has to do a better job of taking care of the football. McCoy now has four fumbles on the season. He had three total in 2010 and 2011 combined. Ups and downs as a blocker. Good blitz pickup on Nick Foles’ first interception. And again on Foles’ 21-yard completion to Damaris Johnson in the second. Poor job picking up linebacker Keenan Robinson on Foles’ second interception. McCoy blocked Ryan Kerrigan to the ground in pass protection in the fourth. But there were issues. The Redskins showed blitz on 3rd-and-9 in the red zone, but only rushed four. That left McCoy on Kerrigan one-on-one, and he gave up a sack/forced fumble. He could not hold his block on third down in the fourth as Foles was forced to scramble and throw the ball away. It looked like McCoy was in position to help Dallas Reynolds after Barry Cofield went right around him, but he didn’t get there, and Foles took a huge hit.

Bryce Brown – If McCoy’s out, he figures to be the primary back. Brown ran five times for 35 yards against the Redskins. He had a nice 13-yard run to the right side in the second and later broke a couple tackles for an 18-yard run (but Jeremy Maclin was called for holding). In his last three games, Brown has carried 12 times for 85 yards (7.1 YPC). He’s getting better as the season’s going on, which makes sense, considering how little he’d played in the past couple of years.

Stanley Havili – A 9-yard catch and run in the first. That was it.

DeSean Jackson – The Eagles had no success getting him the football. Jackson had two catches for 5 yards, and those both came on wide receiver screens. It looked like he might have had a chance at a big play down the right sideline, but Foles’ pass floated out of bounds. Foles looked for him deep against a blitz in the fourth, but Jackson was covered. He did a horrible job as a blocker on one play, not even attempting to block Brandon Meriweather on McCoy’s run that was stopped after a 1-yard gain in the second.

Jeremy Maclin – Zero catches on two targets. We’ll need to wait for the All-22 to see if he was open and just not getting the ball. Decent block on the WR screen to Riley Cooper that picked up 15 in the first. He was called for holding on Brown’s 18-yard run in the second. And Maclin took a big hit on an ill-advised Foles throw in the fourth.

But with Maclin, the bigger picture is intriguing. He’s only signed through the 2013 season and then is scheduled to become a free agent. The new coach is going to determine the Eagles’ identity on offense. Maybe he’ll decide to go to more two tight end looks. Maybe he’ll want to run the ball more. Maybe he’ll decide the Eagles need a bigger, physical receiver to complement Jackson. Or maybe he’ll see a lot of untapped potential in Maclin. We just don’t know. The Eagles could let Maclin play out his contract and decide what to do with him after 2013. They could sign him to an extension this offseason. Or they could at least see what kind of interest there might be in Maclin for a possible trade. Unless the Eagles extend him this offseason, it makes sense for them to consider using an early draft pick on a wide receiver in April.

Riley Cooper – He finished with five catches for 61 yards. Cooper picked up 15 yards on a WR screen on third down in the first. He also had a 23-yard catch and run in the first, but dropped a 10-yard out in the fourth. Good effort as a blocker on the 20-yard screen to McCoy in the second.

Damaris Johnson – His lone catch was a 21-yarder on 3rd-and-17 in the second. Terrible job as a blocker, allowing DeAngelo Hall to go right past him and drop McCoy for a 5-yard loss in the fourth. Johnson had a 16-yard punt return, one of his best of the year.

Brent Celek – Drops continue to be an issue. Celek had the ball bounce off his hands on the interception in the first. And he had another drop on 3rd-and-5 in the second. On the season, Celek’s got seven drops, tied for fourth-most in the league, per STATS, Inc. He did a good job as a blocker on the 8-yard screen to Jackson. But Celek did a poor job on linebacker Rob Jackson on a McCoy run that was stopped after a 2-yard gain.

Clay Harbor – He didn’t exactly seize the opportunity either. Harbor had two drops and one catch for -1 yards. It’s tough to know what his responsibility was, but Harbor was the only player who had a chance of blocking Hall on the bootleg to open the game, and he was late getting to the cornerback. He gave good effort as a blocker on Brown’s 5-yard run in the first. And Harbor delivered a good block on Kerrigan on Brown’s 13-yard run in the first. Foles targeted him on a bootleg in the second, and it looked like Harbor was open. Either he tripped, or Foles just misfired.

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Eagles Snap Counts: Increased Role For Bryce Brown

Here’s a look at snap counts for the Eagles during their Week 11 loss to the Redskins. We’ll go position-by-position.

 
Overall Snaps
Snap %
LeSean McCoy5371%
Bryce Brown2027%
Stanley Havili912%

LeSean McCoy played 71 percent of the snaps, and many are questioning why he was on the field with the team trailing by 25 points and less than two minutes left. McCoy suffered a concussion on a 7-yard run when Redskins safety Madieu Williams hit him, helmet-to-helmet.

That means rookie Bryce Brown could see an increased role in the coming weeks. Brown carried five times for 35 yards yesterday and played 20 snaps overall (a season-high). He’s carried 12 times for 85 yards (7.1 YPC) in the last three weeks. On the season, Brown’s run 32 times for 141 yards (4.4 YPC).

Stanley Havili played nine snaps, his lowest total of the season.

 
Overall Snaps
Snap %
Jeremy Maclin7195%
DeSean Jackson7093%
Riley Cooper5269%
Damaris Johnson1419%
Brent Celek5573%
Clay Harbor2635%

Jeremy Maclin and DeSean Jackson played 95 and 93 percent of the snaps, respectively. Yet somehow, they were both off the field on a 3rd-and-5 play in the first half where the Eagles went with five receivers. The pair combined for two catches and 5 yards.

Riley Cooper had five catches for 61 yards. He figures to continue to see an increased role if Jason Avant misses next week’s game against the Panthers. Clay Harbor played 35 percent of the snaps, his highest number since Week 5.

 
Overall Snaps
Snap %
Trent Cole3463%
Jason Babin3157%
Fletcher Cox3056%
Derek Landri2546%
Mike Patterson2343%
Brandon Graham2241%
Cullen Jenkins2241%
Darryl Tapp1935%
Cedric Thornton1120%

The weekly Jason Babin/Brandon Graham split was 57 percent to 41 percent. It would probably be a good idea to give Fletcher Cox a bump in playing time, considering how well he’s performing. I don’t know what else to say about Vinny Curry. He appears healthy, and I have a hard time believing the coaches have determined that he can’t play based on practice. It’s time for him to be out there.

Mike Patterson saw his most action of the season, playing 23 snaps.

 
Overall Snaps
Snap %
DeMeco Ryans5398%
Mychal Kendricks5398%
Akeem Jordan2750%

DeMeco Ryans continues to play at a high level on a weekly basis. That is one offseason move that has worked out well for the Eagles.

 
Overall Snaps
Snap %
Nnamdi Asomugha5398%
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie5398%
Brandon Boykin2139%
Kurt Coleman5398%
Nate Allen5398%

What is this secondary going to look like next year? Is anyone safe? I’d say Brandon Boykin is the most likely of the bunch. He’s had his share of issues, but has shown potential as the slot cornerback. The Eagles have decisions to make on every other player back there.

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Eagles Wake-Up Call: Midseason Grades (Offense)

We’re eight games in, so now seems like a good time to hand out some grades. Let’s go position-by-position and start with the offense. The defensive grades will come later today.

Quarterback: C-

Any time we write about Michael Vick in this space, we generally attract polarizing opinions – those who say the Eagles’ offensive struggles are everyone else’s fault, and those who believe Vick is the primary problem. As with most arguments of this nature, the truth is somewhere in the middle.

Given the poor play of the offensive line, there have been many instances where Vick’s had no shot. The most common argument in Vick’s favor is that he’s been set up to fail. In some ways, that’s true. No one, however, would argue that he’s playing at a high level. After dedicating himself in the offseason, the results just haven’t been there. He’s completing 58.3 percent of his passes, averaging just 6.8 yards per attempt and has thrown 10 touchdowns to go along with nine interceptions (and 10 fumbles). He’s paid to make up for deficiencies around him and be a difference-maker. That hasn’t happened this year.

The problems on offense have not all been his fault, but Vick has been inconsistent and left too many plays on the field. The reason I don’t have a lower grade on him is because he’s led three fourth-quarter comebacks, and his toughness is second to none. I’m not sure how many quarterbacks could stand back there, take the beating he does every week and still get back up.

Running Backs: B-

For much of the season, LeSean McCoy’s had nowhere to go. He’s tied for second in the league in stuffs (runs stopped at or behind the line of scrimmage), per STATS, Inc. But McCoy has still done a lot of what he does best – make people miss. He’s 10th in the league in rushing (623 yards) and still is somehow averaging a respectable 4.3 yards per carry. I really don’t think there are many backs in the league who would be producing better numbers given the circumstances, so even though the run game has been a disappointment, I’m not blaming McCoy. The one area where he definitely needs to get better is as a receiver. McCoy’s averaging just 4.9 yards per catch, and the screen game has given the Eagles very little this season.

Bryce Brown is averaging 4.4 yards per carry, although that number got a huge boost with his 40-yard scamper last week. And Stanley Havili has been a pleasant surprise at fullback.

Wide Receivers: B-

This one’s aided by the All-22. DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin are getting open pretty consistently every week. Going into the year, it seemed unlikely that Jackson would rebound from a disappointing 2011 campaign just because he had a new contract. But that’s exactly what’s happened. He’s on pace to set career-highs in receptions and yards. Jackson is one of six receivers to average at least 75 yards per game and at least 16 yards per reception. Among the 29 wide receivers with at least 500 yards, Jackson is the only one who has yet to drop a pass, per Pro Football Focus.

Maclin’s season is a little bit trickier to assess. His numbers are pedestrian (28 catches, 356 yards), but again, we see with the All-22 that he’s getting open quite a bit. With better performances from Vick and the offensive line, his numbers would be better. Having said that, Maclin has not really done anything special with the ball in his hands this season.

Tight Ends: D

This one is difficult because Brent Celek is one of the guys in the Eagles’ locker room who always takes responsibility for his mistakes, and he clearly takes losses hard. But the bottom line is he hasn’t played up to his potential. Through eight games, Celek has a team-high six drops. He had a chance to be a real weapon for this offense, but he’s come up short on multiple occasions. Against the Lions, Celek dropped a potential touchdown and was called for offensive pass interference, negating another. And against the Saints, he fumbled in the red zone in the fourth quarter.

Clay Harbor, meanwhile, is actually playing slightly less (30.6 percent of the snaps, per PFF) than last year (33.6 percent). He’s been a non-factor with 11 catches for 79 yards.

Offensive Line: F

I don’t think I’ll find many arguments here. Evan Mathis is the only starter left standing as we go into Week 10. Demetress Bell has been perhaps the biggest disappointment on the team. In the offseason, I applauded the Eagles for moving quickly to sign Bell after Jason Peters went down. The knock on him was that he couldn’t stay healthy. I don’t remember anyone saying that he couldn’t play. But the entire season, from training camp on, has been a struggle. He failed to win the left tackle job and performed poorly when called on to fill in for King Dunlap. Last week at right tackle was a complete disaster.

Before his injury, Todd Herremans had not been playing as well as he did in 2011. And Danny Watkins continues to show little or no consistency on a weekly basis. Dallas Reynolds has been an inadequate replacement for Jason Kelce. Mathis, who’s certainly had some issues, has been the only reliable option in the group.

Andy Reid and Marty Mornhinweg have tried different things to mask the deficiencies on the offensive line, but nothing’s worked. The bottom line is the skill position players are built for a high-octane offense, and that style is not possible with this group. Because of so many issues in the run game, the methodical approach has not worked either.

The result is a team that’s averaging 16.6 points per game, which ranks tied for 30th in the NFL.

WHAT YOU MISSED

Vick took over all the pre-snap calls prior to the Saints game. Great job by T-Mac on this piece.

In his weekly mailbag, Tim discusses Nnamdi Asomugha’s contract and Reid’s excuses.

It sounds like Todd Bowles thinks he did a fine job putting the players in position to succeed Monday night.

An All-22 look at why the Eagles failed in the red zone last week.

When it comes to the QB situation, Jeffrey Lurie might have to assert his power. Tim explains why.

And finally, an injury update, including details on McCoy’s status for Sunday.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie had some interesting things to say when asked what players around the league think about the Eagles’ defense:

“Everybody looks at us as a pretty defense,” Rodgers-Cromartie said, per the Inquirer’s Zach Berman. “They’re just big guys with big talent that don’t really want to hit nobody.”

“Teams are going to line up and probably run the ball my way and throw the ball over there at Nnamdi in some dink-and-dunk type of stuff,” Rodgers-Cromartie said.

ESPN.com’s Dan Graziano details several reasons why the Cowboys are in better shape than the Eagles right now:

Romo still has more of a track record as a top NFL quarterback than the Eagles’ Michael Vick does, and the Cowboys are trying to sign him to a long-term contract. Management and the players believe in Romo and are prepared to move into the future with him as their quarterback. The Eagles, assuming they don’t make a miracle recovery, are likely to opt out of Vick’s contract at the end of this season and rebuild with rookie Nick Foles or look for someone else. The Cowboys have far greater stability at the most important position.

COMING UP

Another day of preparation for the Cowboys at Novacare. We’ll have it all covered right here.

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RB, WR, TE Review: No Big Plays For McCoy

Philadelphia Eagles RB LeSean McCoy.Here is a review of how the Eagles’ running backs, wide receivers and tight ends performed in Sunday’s game against the Falcons.

LeSean McCoy – The numbers are not pretty: 16 carries for 45 yards. In the last three games, McCoy has rushed 46 times for 120 yards (2.6 YPC). He actually had some good moments in this one. McCoy broke a tackle and picked up 7 in the second. He had a couple nice 10-yard runs in the fourth. And McCoy scored twice – once on a 2-yard run where he left Asante Samuel in the dust and another on a 7-yard reception. The problem? Five of McCoy’s 16 carries, or about 31 percent, were stopped for either no gain or negative yardage. That’s the direct result of a makeshift offensive line and McCoy trying to make something out of nothing. McCoy’s longest run of the game was 10 yards. And on the season, the big plays in the running game have taken a huge hit. McCoy is averaging one run of 20+ yards every 31.8 carries. Last year, it was one every 19.5. And looking ahead, I don’t see a real solution. McCoy will have some good weeks, but there are sure to be more struggles. As a blocker, it’s tough to say whether he should have picked up Thomas DeCoud on the safety blitz that resulted in a sack in the first. McCoy had a good blitz pickup on Vick’s 2-yard completion to Brent Celek. And he delivered a good lead block on Michael Vick’s 4-yard run on 3rd-and-3 in the second. He had three catches for 22 yards, including an 11-yard pickup on a screen.

Bryce Brown – He played eight snaps and had one carry – a nice 5-yard pickup in the red zone, although Brown fumbled (and recovered).

Stanley Havili – He played 14 snaps and did not get a touch (one target). Havili split out wide vs. Samuel in the second, and it looked like he got open, but Vick took off and ran for a first down. He missed his block on a McCoy run that picked up just 1 yard in the second. Not sure how Havili and Celek ended up trying to block Kroy Biermann on a four-man rush that forced Vick to run in the fourth.

DeSean Jackson – Five catches for 59 yards on seven targets. Jackson made a nice move to pick up 3 on a 3rd-and-2 completion in the second. He took a WR screen 12 yards in the second and had a 12-yard grab in the third. Jackson’s best play came when he turned a 6-yard grab into a 32-yard gain, leaving Samuel in the dust in the third. The Eagles got nothing going downfield in the passing game. I’m anxious to see with the All-22 whether they had opportunities that were missed.

Jeremy Maclin – Not a strong game for Maclin. He was targeted 11 times and had just six catches for 33 yards. Maclin also dropped a couple balls. He took a WR screen 12 yards in the second and caught a 10-yard pass in the red zone in the fourth, but other than that, Maclin was quiet.

Jason Avant – Four catches for 45 yards on seven targets. Avant had an 8-yard grab over the middle in the first. He did a nice job as a blocker throughout. Avant helped on the 12-yard screen to Maclin in the second. He did a good job on McCoy’s 7-yard run in the second. And Avant had effective blocks on both of McCoy’s touchdowns.

Riley Cooper – He played 18 snaps, was targeted once and didn’t have a catch. Cooper was the fourth wide receiver and filled in for Jackson when he left the game briefly because of an injury.

Brent Celek – Early on this season, it looked like Celek would be a nice option in the passing game. But he’s averaging just 24.7 yards per game in the last three. In this one, Celek had three catches for 32 yards on five targets. He wasn’t used much as a blocker either. Celek stayed in to block on just five of 38 passing plays, according to Pro Football Focus. He had a drop on the first possession, making four in the past two weeks. As a blocker, Celek did a good job of sealing the edge for Brown’s 5-yard run in the second. He delivered a good block on the WR screen to Jackson in the second. But he missed his block on the WR screen to Jackson that was stopped for no gain.

Clay Harbor – It seems pretty clear at this point that Marty Mornhinweg and Andy Reid don’t think Harbor can give much to this offense. He played just nine snaps and did not have a ball thrown his way. Harbor did a good job blocking on the WR screen to Jackson that picked up 12 in the second.

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Eagles Snap Counts: Babin, Graham Split Time At LDE

Here’s a look at snap counts for the Eagles during their Week 8 loss against the Falcons. We’ll go position-by-position.

 
Overall Snaps
Snap %
LeSean McCoy5486%
Stanley Havili1422%
Bryce Brown813%

McCoy carried 16 times for 45 yards (2.8 YPC). Brown had just one carry for 5 yards. And Chris Polk played strictly special teams. He’s yet to play an offensive snap all season. At this point, Dion Lewis has no role. He was inactive for the sixth time in seven games yesterday. Havili, meanwhile, played his fewest snaps (percentage) since Week 3 against the Cardinals. Of course, part of that had to do with the Eagles getting down early.

 
Overall Snaps
Snap %
Jeremy Maclin6298%
DeSean Jackson4978%
Jason Avant4673%
Riley Cooper1829%
Brent Celek5486%
Clay Harbor914%

At wide receiver, Cooper saw significant action, playing 29 percent of the snaps. He was the Eagles’ fourth wide receiver. Damaris Johnson was inactive for the second straight game. The question of who the team’s punt returner would be didn’t matter much as Atlanta was forced to punt just once all game. Presumably, Mardy Gilyard was going to handle those duties, but he got injured, and Brandon Boykin returned the lone punt.

So much for using Harbor more this season. He saw his fewest snaps (percentage) of the season. The last time Harbor played less than he played Sunday was his rookie season in 2010.

 
Overall Snaps
Snap %
Trent Cole5573%
Cullen Jenkins5168%
Fletcher Cox4459%
Cedric Thornton3648%
Jason Babin3344%
Derek Landri3243%
Brandon Graham3141%
Darryl Tapp1824%
Phillip Hunt00%

The most significant personnel move on defense was getting Graham more playing time. It was pretty much an equal time-share with Babin. Babin played 33 snaps, and Graham played 31, as the two rotated at left defensive end.

Cox had been playing starter’s snaps, but this was the first time all season he actually began the game on the field in place of Landri.

Hunt was questionable going in, but ended up playing. He got zero snaps on defense and was only used in a special-teams role.

 
Overall Snaps
Snap %
DeMeco Ryans75100%
Mychal Kendricks5877%
Akeem Jordan3749%
Casey Matthews1925%

Kendricks was disciplined for what Bowles called “personal issues off the field, violation of team compliance” and sat for the first series. Per reports, he missed a team meeting on Friday. Matthews took his place.

 
Overall Snaps
Snap %
Nnamdi Asomugha75100%
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie7093%
Brandon Boykin3851%
Curtis Marsh34%
Kurt Coleman75100%
Nate Allen75100%

Nothing really notable with the defensive backs. Boykin played 51 percent of the snaps as the nickel corner. Marsh spelled Rodgers-Cromartie for a few snaps at left cornerback.

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Mailbag: Revisiting the 2011 Draft; Expectations For Foles

I’m pinch-blogging for T-Mac with the reader mailbag this week. These are e-mails I’ve received in the past few weeks (edited slightly for viewing purposes).

I just spent five minutes looking at the Eagles’ 2011 draft and came to the conclusion that perhaps it’s one of the reasons why this team is having problems. Thoughts?

-Don

SK: I think you’re on to something, Don. The Eagles took 11 players in that draft, and three (Jaiquawn Jarrett, Greg Lloyd and Brian Rolle) are no longer on the team. Of that group, Jarrett, a second-rounder, is obviously the biggest miss. Especially when you consider the Eagles are having trouble on special teams and currently have zero depth at safety.

Losing out on Lloyd and Rolle is really no big deal. In the seventh round, you’re taking fliers on guys. However, it does reflect somewhat poorly on the coaching staff that Rolle went from being a starter in 2011 to getting cut this season.

Really, in most drafts, the first-rounder can make or break the class. The Eagles took Danny Watkins with the 23rd pick in the first round. If you’re going to take a guard in the first round, your expectations are that the player has a Pro Bowl ceiling. Watkins hasn’t come close to that. Right now, the Eagles would settle for reliable starter. Instead, Watkins has been average at best and too up-and-down. He shows flashes at times, but overall, has been a disappointment.

The Eagles took Curtis Marsh in the third round. Before the season, the thought was to get him some playing time this year, with the possibility that he could start in 2013 should Nnamdi Asomugha or Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie be gone. While Marsh looked good at training camp, he’s played exactly nine defense snaps, and we have no clue whether he’s a starting-caliber player.

The fourth-round picks were Casey Matthews and Alex Henery. Matthews plays special teams and is a backup at multiple linebacker spots, which isn’t bad for a fourth-rounder. Henery has been fine, although you can certainly debate the merits of taking a kicker so early.

Dion Lewis (fifth round) was supposed to be LeSean McCoy’s backup this year, but has only been active for one game. It would come as no surprise if he were to be off the roster completely at some point in the next month or two.

Julian Vandervelde, a sixth-rounder, is back on the practice squad after getting cut before the season. Jason Kelce (sixth round) and Stanley Havili (seventh round) look like the best of the bunch. Kelce projects as a quality center for years to come (assuming he’s healthy), and Havili has been a pleasant surprise at fullback this year.

But overall, yes, I think it’s fair to say that lack of production from the 2011 class has led to issues in some key areas (pass protection, safety, running back depth and special teams).

Colt Anderson is not even close to an NFL-caliber safety.  If he’s our third guy, then we’re in trouble whenever one of the starters goes down (like the last game).  Need another alternative.  David Sims must be better.

-David

SK: It’s a fair point, David. This team just can’t seem to get the safety position right. Remember, they tried a few different things this offseason. They were interested in free agent Yeremiah Bell, but he signed with the Jets. They signed Oshiomogho Atogwe, but he couldn’t stay healthy at camp and was cut. And they wanted Jarrett to fill a backup role, but he just didn’t pan out.

I remember in the first couple weeks of the season thinking that safety depth was a major issue. Then I kind of forgot about it because Kurt Coleman and Nate Allen stayed healthy. Last week, when Allen got hurt, Anderson had to come in, and it wasn’t pretty (although he’s a great special-teams player).

I wouldn’t be surprised if the Eagles worked out a safety or two in the coming weeks, but the truth is, there doesn’t seem to be a lot out there. We’ll see if they groom Sims, but remember, he’s only been a special-teams player too and has never played a defensive snap in the NFL.

Do you think the Eagles could/should/will re-sign C Jamaal Jackson?

-Tjade

SK: I don’t see it, Tjade. Howard Mudd clearly wanted a more athletic center when he took over last summer. Given Dallas Reynolds’ struggles, it doesn’t seem like the worst idea in the world to me. Jackson won’t be able to do all the things Kelce did, but you’d think he would know his assignments and do a better job of keeping Michael Vick upright. I have no idea what kind of shape Jackson’s in, and while I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Eagles make a move at center, it doesn’t look like he’ll be the one getting the call.

What I would like to know is the possibility of a change – not to Nick Foles, but to Trent Edwards.  I understand that Foles is listed as the No. 2 QB, but my thinking is Edwards has NFL starter experience and he would be more of a “game manager” not an impact QB that carries the high risk/high reward type of play. What are your thoughts?

-Joe

SK: A few people have asked me about this. I see zero point to playing Edwards. Let’s start with the fact that he hasn’t played in an NFL game since 2010. And don’t confuse “game manager” for “takes care of the football.” Edwards has 26 career touchdowns and 30 career interceptions. He’s been picked off once every 30.9 attempts. That’s barely better than Vick this year (once every 28.9 attempts).

There aren’t many things that would shock me with this team, but playing Edwards would be one of them.

I have to say I get really annoyed when people dismiss the idea of Nick Foles as throwing in the towel. WHY? Because rookies will make too many mistakes? Is he going to turn the ball over FIVE or SIX times per game?? I think he reads and reacts more quickly than Vick and throws with better ACCURACY. Also, do people really mean to tell me that this kid is not in the same ballpark with Christian Ponder and Andy Dalton?? No one was impressed with those picks last year and they have done fairly well so far despite the skepticism. And I think he has more pedigree than both of them!! Why is it so easy to assume he would fail??

-Jeff

SK: Jeff is fired up!

The truth is, you’re right that Foles is an unknown. And that works both ways. To say he reads and reacts more quickly than Vick and is more accurate is not a fair statement because you’re basing it on his college and preseason performance. Regular-season NFL games provide a different level of competition.

But it’s also not fair to say that playing Foles would be a clear move for the future. There is at least the possibility that he turns the ball over less than Vick. As a point of comparison, here are Vick’s numbers compared to the league’s rookies who are playing this year:

 
Comp. %
YPA
Touchdowns
INTs
Michael Vick58.97.188
Andrew Luck53.46.777
Robert Griffin III70.28.352
Ryan Tannehill59.67.346
Brandon Weeden55.86.6710
Russell Wilson59.47.087

If anything, the table shows that production is often based on expectations. All of the rookie quarterbacks, except Griffin, have had their share of issues with interceptions. And keep in mind, these were all first-round picks, except for Wilson. The table doesn’t take running numbers or fumbles into account. But you can see how Vick stacks up to the rookies from a passing standpoint.

Having said that, Andy Reid may come to the conclusion at some point that he can’t deal with Vick’s turnovers and mistakes. And he might be intrigued with the thought of playing Foles. I know some will argue that such a move would be to save his job and convince Jeffrey Lurie that he’s the right guy to develop the franchise’s next quarterback.

I don’t see it that way. I think Reid likes being the Eagles’ head coach. But he also knows he’ll get a job elsewhere if he gets fired. He put his imprint on the team’s offseason moves and believes the Eagles are built to win now. That’s part of the reason why he fired Juan Castillo even though the defense had played relatively well.

In other words, if Reid goes to Foles, it will be because he thinks the rookie can give him a better chance than Vick to win this year. Not because he’s looking ahead o 2013 and beyond.

Teams are stacking the line or putting eight in the box and daring the Eagles to burn them. Do you see the same thing?

-Bill

After we spent so much time talking about how teams play their safeties deep, that seems crazy to say, Bill. But guess what? You’re at least partially right.

It’s not every week, and it’s not every play, but there are absolutely times when defenses gear up to stop the Eagles’ run. Take a look at this image from last week’s game:

Detroit has all three linebackers and a safety ready to attack the line of scrimmage.

I’ll write more about Vick and the deep ball in a later post. But I’ve definitely seen defenses say: We will either be able to get to Vick, or he’ll miss the throw in regards to the Eagles’ deep ball. And in many cases, they’ve been right.

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

Cheat Sheet: Eagles’ Offense Vs. Lions’ Defense

Philadelphia Eagles right guard Danny Watkins.Here are 10 things to know about the matchup between the Eagles’ offense and the Lions’ defense. And if you missed the first cheat sheet, click here.

1. The numbers show the Lions are allowing 28.5 points per game, but that’s a little deceiving when you consider they’ve given up four special-teams scores in the last two games. Football Outsiders has Detroit ranked 20th overall – 24th against the pass and 15th against the run. Like the Eagles, the Lions’ attack revolves around getting pressure up front with their defensive line. They’ve got talent at linebacker, but their cornerbacks are not on the same level as the Birds.

2. Let’s start with those defensive linemen. Don’t expect to see the Lions blitz a lot. Last year, they rushed four linemen 77.7 percent of the time, third-most in the NFL, according to Football Outsiders. And like the Eagles, Detroit will use a rotation. Against the Vikings, seven different players were on the field for at least 20 snaps. Cliff Avril is listed as questionable with a back injury. If he goes, he’ll match up with Todd Herremans at left defensive end. Avril led the team with 11 sacks and 27 hurries last year. Herremans had a poor outing a couple weeks ago against the Giants but was very good against the Steelers.

3. On the other side, Demetress Bell will see a lot of veteran Kyle Vanden Bosch. Vanden Bosch spent five seasons with the Titans, where he learned his trade from Jim Washburn, twice tallying double-digit sack seasons. Now 33-years-old, Vanden Bosch had eight sacks and 15.5 hurries in 2011. Bell has been far from perfect, but he has improved and held up well for the most part in pass protection last week against the Steelers. One key matchup to watch will be right guard Danny Watkins against Ndamukong Suh. Suh had just four sacks in his second seasons, but Football Outsiders had him down for 24 hurries. Watkins continues to struggle in pass protection. Defensive tackle Corey Williams is out with a knee injury.

4. Confusion was an issue for the Eagles up front last week. And while the Lions won’t blitz a lot, they present some challenges for Howard Mudd’s group. Here’s one look from Week 4 where three linemen had their hands on the ground.


Even though there’s a lot of space in between them, Avril is going to twist inside behind Suh.


As you can see, both Vikings offensive linemen block Suh, and Avril runs free. If you want to put this into Eagles terms, we’re talking potentially about Watkins and Herremans. The result is a third-down incompletion and a near sack.

5. Of course, the aggressive pass-rush and use of the wide-nine has its disadvantages, as we’ve seen with the Eagles from time to time. One of those is the run D. Opponents are averaging 4.1 yards per carry against Detroit. In Week 4, Adrian Peterson rumbled for 102 yards, averaging 4.9 yards per carry. The image below may look familiar to you.

Vanden Bosch is lined up wide, ready to get after the passer. But the Vikings call a run with Percy Harvin.

Vanden Bosch is caught way upfield, and Harvin has a huge lane to run through for 14 yards.

The Eagles have put together balanced game-plans in each of the past two weeks. And while LeSean McCoy’s numbers (16 carries, 53 yards) from the Steelers game won’t jump off the page, he ran the ball well. He should be able to do some damage on Sunday.

6. The Lions have some talent at linebacker with Stephen Tulloch, DeAndre Levy (WILL) and Justin Durant (SAM). Tulloch played in Tennessee for five seasons before joining the Lions, so the wide-nine is nothing new to him. Levy, a third-round pick in 2009, has started each of the past four seasons. Durant spent his first four years in the league with the Jaguars before joining the Lions in 2011. Levy’s blitzed 22 times in four games (per Pro Football Focus); Tulloch 15 times; and Durant 10 times.

7. Opposing QBs have completed 66.1 percent of their passes against the Lions and are averaging 7.4 yards per attempt. Detroit has allowed five touchdown passes and has yet to come up with an interception. Veteran Chris Houston and rookie third-round pick Bill Bentley will match up against DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin on the outside. The Eagles could look to take shots at Bentley deep. In the past two games, he’s been called for three pass interference penalties and one defensive holding. Jackson is averaging 4.8 receptions and 78.2 yards per game. Both would be career-highs if they held up the rest of the way. He’s also yet to drop a pass. Maclin hasn’t been able to get going with just 165 yards in four games.

8. Brent Celek could play a big role Sunday. Football Outsiders ranks the Lions 27th at defending the tight end. Vernon Davis had five catches for 73 yards and a pair of scores against Detroit. Tennessee’s Jared Cook had four catches for 77 yards and a touchdown against the Lions. As for Celek, he had a season-low 9 yards receiving last week, although one of his three grabs was a touchdown. Part of the reason was that Celek stayed in to block more – on about 34 percent of the team’s pass plays, compared to about 28 percent the first four games. On the season, Celek has eight catches of 20+ yards, tied for fourth-most in the NFL, and just one fewer than Calvin Johnson.

9. The Eagles have scored touchdowns on 43.75 percent of their trips to the red zone. That ranks 24th in the NFL. The main issue? C’mon… you know this one. That’s right, turnovers. Two Michael Vick fumbles, one Vick interception and one McCoy fumble have hurt the Eagles inside the 20. That’s of added importance this week, given that the Lions boast the top red-zone defense in the league, allowing touchdowns just 16.67 percent of the time so far this season.

10. Leftovers: McCoy has 49 carries for 268 yards (5.5 YPC) to the right and 33 carries for 128 yards (3.9 YPC) to the left. …Fullback Stanley Havili has played more than 33 percent of the team’s offensive snaps in each of the past two weeks. …So much for a larger role for Clay Harbor this season. He’s played 34.1 percent of the team’s snaps, compared to 33.6 percent last season. Harbor has just six catches for 50 yards. …Vick completed 11 of 15 passes (73.3 percent) against the blitz last week.

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

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