Offense Review: Dunlap Has Edge Over Bell
Here’s a player-by-player breakdown of how the Eagles’ offense performed Monday night, after having re-watched the game. Check out the linebacker review here, the defensive line review here and the defensive back review here.
Michael Vick – Lasted just six plays before leaving the game with a rib injury. Vick was 1-for-3 for 5 yards. He also ran once for 5 yards and slid awkwardly, going head-first and barely missing a knee to the helmet by Patriots linebacker Brandon Spikes. Vick misfired to Jason Avant on third down, but it looked like Avant was covered anyway. We may not see the starting quarterback again until Week 1 in Cleveland.
Nick Foles – There was a lot to like about his performance. The one thing that stood out was he’s willing to stand in the pocket, deliver the football and absorb hits. On Foles’ first pass attempt, he hit LeSean McCoy for 8 yards, but took a hit from Chandler Jones. Later, he took a huge, blind-side hit (a flag was thrown) from Jake Bequette, but stood in the face of some pressure on the next play and connected with Clay Harbor for 14 yards. Two other things: He fit the ball into tight windows, and he can throw on the move. Foles delivered a beauty to DeSean Jackson in the red zone, squeezing the ball in between two Patriots defenders and targeting Jackson low so that he could avoid a big hit. He threw Brent Celek open, even though the tight end looked to be covered initially. And he made nice throws on both touchdowns to Harbor – one while rolling to his right, the other in a perfect place so that the defender couldn’t get his hand on it.
Was Foles perfect? Of course not. He was nearly intercepted on a throw to the sideline in the first half, and he was picked off at the end of the second quarter. But overall, he looked comfortable and confident. Good signs for a rookie QB.
Trent Edwards – Can’t say I watched him closely. Edwards entered the game in the fourth and went 6-for-11 for 59 yards. With Vick and Mike Kafka injured, he’ll see the field plenty in the next two weeks.
LeSean McCoy – He looked fine with seven carries for 30 yards and a touchdown, along with two catches for 12. I’m not so sure I would have played him as much as Andy Reid did, but perhaps McCoy will sit in the final two games. As a blocker, he pretty much whiffed on Jermaine Cunningham on a third down. Later, though, McCoy had a nice blitz pickup on Foles’ 24-yard run. He and Foles had a fumbled exchange in the third.
Dion Lewis – Did not get a lot of work – three carries for 9 yards. Lewis broke a tackle on one run, turning what would have been a loss into a 4-yard gain. He should play a lot in the final two games.
Stanley Havili – He did pretty much everything he could to stake claim on the fullback job. Havili had a nice 14-yard run up the middle on the fake toss to McCoy to set up the first touchdown. Note that he started the play lined up on the right side between Todd Herremans and Avant. Good-looking play and execution. Havili did a solid job as a lead blocker on McCoy’s touchdown run. And he delivered a big-time hit in punt coverage in the second quarter. The Eagles could still add a fullback in the coming weeks, but it’s very possible that they go with Havili.
Emil Igwenagu – Didn’t get into the game until the fourth quarter. It’d be an upset in my eyes if he made the roster at this point.
Bryce Brown – Had a couple really good-looking runs late. Brown carried nine times for 51 yards, including a 27-yard scamper up the middle in the third. Brown also had two catches for 16 yards. Don’t see the Eagles letting him get away when they cut down to 53.
Chris Polk – Had four carries for 11 yards. Good, tough run to pick up a first on 3rd-and-1 in the fourth. Doesn’t look like there’s going to be a spot for him though.
DeSean Jackson – He finished as the game’s leading receiver with four catches for 82 yards. Nice catch and run on a crossing pattern for 15 yards in the first. Jackson made an 11-yard grab at the 2-yard-line to set up the Eagles’ second touchdown. Remember, he only had two red-zone catches all of last year. He had a 16-yard grab in the third and made a nice play on the ball for a 40-yard pickup. As Jon Gruden pointed out, Jackson should have done a better job of coming back to the football when Foles broke the pocket, threw his way and was nearly picked off. Jackson hustled to make a tackle after the Foles interception and taunted Patriots defender Nate Ebner afterwards. Always entertaining, that No. 10.
Jeremy Maclin – Quiet game. His one catch for 15 yards came in the third quarter.
Jason Avant – One catch for Avant too. He made a nice adjustment on the ball over the middle at the end of the first half.
Damaris Johnson – Not an especially good showing for the rookie. He fumbled the first punt, before picking it back up. And Johnson dropped a slant for the second straight week; this time, it was on third down. He finished with one catch for 23 yards.
Chad Hall – He came in with the second team and had three catches for 26 yards, including a nice 15-yard grab over the middle in the fourth.
Marvin McNutt – Was not targeted. Good effort blocking on a Brown run, but he was called for holding.
Brent Celek – I’ve seen some criticize him for his blocking on the play where Vick was injured. But Celek actually did a decent job on the play. Nearly five seconds elapsed from the time the ball was snapped to when Cunningham hit Vick. And the hit occurred 16 yards behind the line of scrimmage. That’s not on Celek. On McCoy’s touchdown run, he had a nice block on the safety. And Celek was initially covered, but did a good job of working to get open on a 13-yard gain in the third.
Clay Harbor – Good game from Harbor. Six targets, six catches, 30 yards and two touchdowns. Nice job of keeping his feet in bounds on the first score. As a blocker, he did a good job on McCoy’s 5-yard run in the first. Harbor lined up in the slot to the right and made a nice block on McCoy’s 9-yard run. Has really had a strong camp and preseason.
King Dunlap – He had some issues, but overall played pretty well. On an early running play, Dunlap did a good job shoving the DE out of the way, but he stumbled and fell to the ground as he made his way to the linebacker. He blocked first-round pick Chandler Jones one-on-one effectively, with a couple exceptions. Jones got past him and hit Foles on his first pass attempt. And Jones pressured Foles in the second, but a Patriots defensive back was whistled for a flag. Dunlap was called for a false start in the second. Overall, expect him to stay at left tackle with the first team – for now.
Evan Mathis – We’ve already discussed the play where Vick got injured. Mathis thought he had help from Jason Kelce, and Kyle Love got past him. To Mathis’ credit, he hustled back and held Love to keep him away from the quarterback. It’s the preseason – take the penalty and protect Vick. Of course, the refs didn’t throw the flag, and Cunningham ended up being the one who hit Vick from the other side. Later in the game, Mathis was slow to pick up a blitzer on 3rd-and-1, but Foles escaped and ran for 24 yards. In the run game, he did a good job getting to the linebacker on Havili’s 14-yard run.
Jason Kelce – Other than a 15-yard penalty for shoving a Patriots defender after the whistle had blown, Kelce played well. Good job on McCoy’s 5-yard run in the first. And nice block, creating space for Havili’s 14-yard run. Didn’t see any issues in pass protection.
Danny Watkins – The second-year player, on the other hand, had some issues in pass protection. Watkins had trouble with Ron Brace, who nearly sacked Foles and forced an incompletion on third down. Watkins was asked to pull and block the right defensive end/outside linebacker multiple times on play-action passes. He was effective on a couple and slow to get there on others. Watkins got beat by Brandon Deaderick on the shovel pass to Harbor in the third that was called back for a holding penalty. He showed his strength in pass protection early on, shoving Spikes to the ground in the first. Not quite out of the valley of darkness just yet.
Todd Herremans – See the Celek notes above if you’re wondering about Herremans’ responsibility on the Cunningham hit on Vick. Again, not really his fault. I’ve noticed offensive linemen seemingly take advantage of the replacement refs with how they use their hands. Herremans had trouble with defensive end Trevor Scott in protection and grabbed him by his facemask in the second, but the refs missed it. In the run game, Herremans did a good Jason Peters impression on McCoy’s 9-yard run in the second, shoving the DE upfield and getting to the second level. He also did a good job on McCoy’s touchdown run around the right side.
Demetress Bell – He doesn’t look comfortable to me. Bell entered the game at the start of the third and had trouble in pass protection on Foles’ completion to Maclin. On another play, he got beat by Bequette, but then recovered as Foles stepped up. Bell did not do an effective job of shoving Bequette upfield on a Lewis run in the third. He got beat by Bequette around the edge in the fourth and was called for a false start (might have been two) and a holding penalty. Bell was slow to get off the ball on a Brown run that lost 2 yards in the fourth. If I had to put down a wager right now, I’d say he is on the bench in Week 1.
** Don’t have a lot on the offensive line backups. But here’s what the second-team looked like from left to right: Bell, Julian Vandervelde, Steve Vallos, Dallas Reynolds and Dennis Kelly. Vallos at center ahead of Reynolds and Vandervelde was a bit of a surprise. Kelly had his share of issues in pass protection. And Vandervelde played better than last week.