Eagles Wake-Up Call: Brown, Graham Move Up 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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.