Zone Read: Eagles-Cardinals, the Day After

NFL: Arizona Cardinals at Philadelphia EaglesChip Kelly stood at the podium late Sunday afternoon and prepared to answer questions about his team’s performance against the Arizona Cardinals.

“It looked like the offense had a lot of trouble after that touchdown drive to start the second half-” a reporter started before Kelly interrupted.

“Can we go positive with the first question on a win?” he joked.

About 10 minutes later, the Eagles’ locker room opened up to reporters, and while it was clear that players were happy to have gotten a win, they knew there were plenty of mistakes that needed to be corrected.

After putting together an impressive 13-play, 82-yard drive to start the third quarter, the offense stalled in a big way. The Eagles totaled 22 yards (not counting penalties or kneel-downs) on six drives. They managed just five first downs during that stretch and did not move more than 16 yards on any single possession.

“We try to stay out of this situation,” said LeSean McCoy. “We just have to do a better job of closing out the game. We have gone through this a couple of times and we just have to do a better job.” Read more »

Week 12: Eagles Pass-Rusher Rankings

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Oakland RaidersAs Connor Barwin finished up with the media last Sunday and got ready to head for the showers, he noticed his teammate Trent Cole had a crowd of reporters around him.

“Hey Trent, say the Bearcats played really good today,” Barwin yelled to a grinning Cole, his fellow Cincinnati alum. “Say that. Tell ‘em how the Bearcats showed up.”

Against the Redskins, Barwin and Cole both set season-highs in tackles. They combined for 21 total, along with three sacks, a batted pass and a forced fumble. All in all, a pretty good day at the office for the Eagles’ starting outside linebackers. Read more »

Defense Game Review: 10 Observations

NFL: Washington Redskins at Philadelphia EaglesIf you missed the game review of the offense, click here. Now, onto 10 observations of the Eagles’ defense after having re-watched the game.

1. The Eagles’ defense shut out the Redskins for three-plus quarters, but let’s start in the fourth where things got a little dicey. Trent Cole was trailing Darrel Young in coverage, and Patrick Chung was closing in from his deep safety spot down the left sideline. Robert Griffin III escaped pressure and lofted one to Young. Cole went flying at him, and Chung did the same from the opposite direction. They both whiffed and collided into one another as Young got free for the 62-yard score. Then on the 2-point conversion, the Redskins set up with a bunch formation to the right, and Chung completely lost track of Nick Williams.

2. Roc Carmichael had a rough fourth quarter. But his coverage wasn’t bad on the 41-yard TD to Aldrick Robinson. Griffin underthrew the ball, and Robinson made a great adjustment. I asked Carmichael last week when he’s taught to turn and find the football. He said he watches the receiver’s eyes and hands. Obviously he could have done a better job on that play. Carmichael also gave up completions of 19, 9, 28 and 7 in the fourth quarter. The most concerning of those was the 28-yarder. The Eagles had the Redskins with a 3rd-and-25, but they were able to extend their drive with a completion to Santana Moss. Carmichael might have been expecting more safety help, but the safeties are going to play particularly deep in that spot, focused on keeping everything in front of them. Read more »

Zone Read: Eagles-Redskins, the Day After

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Oakland RaidersWhen asked to describe Connor Barwin, second-year player Vinny Curry pointed to the impact his teammate has made during the week.

“He’s definitely brought a lot of different things to this team,” Curry said. “He’s a leader in so many different ways. He’s all about team camaraderie. We all get together and do dinner every week. The front, the D-Line, the inside linebackers and the outside linebackers. And that’s something he brought to the team. And just look at us now, guys out there making plays. Everybody’s happy, everybody’s jumping around, compared to last year. See what I’m saying? It’s just fun to be a part of.”

If having weekly dinners together led directly to defensive success, every unit in the league would be lining up for unlimited soup, salad and breadsticks. But there’s no denying that the Eagles had a toxic mix of personalities in the locker room last year, specifically on the defensive side of the ball.

Juan Castillo and Jim Washburn were fired in-season. Jason Babin was sent packing. And the defensive backs spent most weeks pointing fingers at one another.

“I think what we honestly lacked a lot on defense last year was leadership,” said center Jason Kelce, who played with Barwin at Cincinnati. “And I think that wasn’t DeMeco [Ryans’] fault. A lot of that was the defensive line and the DBs that we had in there were kind of very selfish groups, and that rubbed off on the ‘backers and everything else. Read more »

Inside Voices: Graham’s Frustrations Building

Eagles LB Brandon Graham running out with teamBrandon Graham is in his fourth year now, believe it or not, yet in many respects is still waiting for his career to get going.

He has been largely stuck in neutral since being taken with the 13th overall pick back in 2010. The Michigan product has watched some of his peers from that draft class take off to reach All-Pro heights. It is his belief that he will still reach that level. But it hasn’t shaken out for Graham thus far. He had multiple injuries early; underwent microfracture surgery and had his ACL repaired. He has played under four different defensive coordinators (Sean McDermott, Juan Castillo, Todd Bowles, Billy Davis) in as many years, and has simply been unable to capture the form that made him one of the premiere college players in the country.

Where is his frustration level at the moment?

“It’s almost at a 10,” Graham admitted. Read more »

Zone Read: Eagles-Packers, the Day After

ryans_400_111113On their first drive of the game, the Packers set up with a 1st-and-10 from the Eagles’ 31-yard-line.

They were in ’12′ personnel with two tight ends and Eddie Lacy in the backfield. The rookie running back had picked up 21 yards on his first four carries as Green Bay entered field goal range.

DeMeco Ryans lined up at his usual spot at middle linebacker about 4 yards behind nose tackle Damion Square. Seneca Wallace took the snap from under center, turned to his left and handed the ball off. As Lacy looked for a hole, Ryans flowed to his right.

Left tackle David Bakhtiari tried to get to him, but was unsuccessful. Ryans diagnosed the play, got downhill and planted his helmet into Lacy’s mid-section, knocking the 231-pound rookie backwards and onto the ground at Lambeau Field.

Lacy would manage just 54 yards on 19 carries (2.8 YPC) the rest of the day. And Ryans, with a game-high 13 tackles, was a big reason why. Read more »

Eagles Wake-Up Call: Pass-Rush Rankings

Eagles DE Vinny Curry helmet off at practice looking at cameraThrough nine games, the Eagles’ pass-rush remains a work-in-progress.

Last week against Oakland, Billy Davis’ unit took advantage of a QB in Terrelle Pryor who was anxious to escape the pocket all game long.

Overall, the Eagles rank 22nd in Football Outsiders’ adjusted sack rate, which takes into account pass-rushing opportunities.

Granted, numbers don’t tell the whole story, but here’s a look at pass-rushing production from a statistical standpoint. Sacks and hurries are tracked by Eagles coaches.

Pass-rushing opportunities are courtesy of Pro Football Focus. And I calculated pressure percentage, which is sacks/hurries per opportunity. Read more »

Zone Read: Eagles-Raiders, the Day After

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Oakland RaidersWhen addressing the media after his team just dropped 49 points against the Oakland Raiders, Chip Kelly wanted to make one thing clear: The offensive explosion was not the result of some magical play-calling elixir he had concocted in the wee hours of the morning at the NovaCare Complex.

Rather, it was something a lot more simple.

“We called a lot of plays that we’ve called the last two weeks,” Kelly said. “We just executed ‘em. I think that’s the biggest thing.”

The masses are searching for answers on the day after the Eagles earned their fourth victory of the season.

How can an offense that scored three points in two weeks all-of-a-sudden look unstoppable?

How can a quarterback who was a complete disaster two weeks ago come back and play the best game of his life? Read more »

Observations: Eagles 49, Raiders 20

foles_400_110313Here’s what we saw during today’s Eagles-Raiders game.

OFFENSE

* The question coming in was: How would Nick Foles rebound from his disastrous performance two weeks ago against the Cowboys? Even Foles’ biggest supporters could have never imagined he would come back with one of the best statistical performances in NFL history. Foles completed 22 of 28 passes for 406 yards and tied an NFL record with seven touchdowns. The Eagles routed the Raiders, 49-20, for their fourth win of the season. Read more »

Eagles Wake-Up Call: Midterm Grades (Defense)

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

Defensive line: B-

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

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

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

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