All-22: The Unpredictable Eagles Defense
Here are some plays that stood out after having looked at the All-22 tape of the Eagles’ defense against the Cowboys:
Play 1: On the 11-yard touchdown to Felix Jones, I counted four different Eagles who had a chance at him, and none of them came through. First up was Nate Allen, who could have dropped him for a loss.
Next, Darryl Tapp and Nnamdi Asomugha both miss.
One bright spot among the comedy of errors: There’s been a lot of talk about whether Eagles players are consistently trying. I think that Andy Reid is telling the truth when he says the effort is there. Check out where Graham came from here. Yes, he missed the tackle, but he never quit on the play and really hustled to get to Jones.
On the other hand, this is what Todd Bowles is talking about when he says he’s putting players in the right positions, but they just have to make plays sometimes.
Play 2: Remember the whole “We’re not going to be predictable” storyline that got repeated after Juan Castillo was fired? Well, Bowles lived up to it here. I’d say blitzing Asomugha, your $60M corner, on third-and-long qualifies. Take a look at who the sixth man is at the line of scrimmage.
According to Pro Football Focus, Asomugha had not blitzed once all season prior to Sunday. On this play, the Cowboys sent three receivers into routes, and they were all downfield since it was 3rd-and-15. The Eagles rushed six and were able to collapse the pocket.
Of course, the pressure wasn’t exactly due to Asomugha’s great pass-rushing prowess. He’s back there behind No. 63. Trent Cole, Cullen Jenkins, Fletcher Cox and DeMeco Ryans all got pressure on Romo. Cox got credit for the sack, although it probably should have gone to Cole or Jenkins. Romo just kind of went down, and they appeared to be the two who touched him first.
Play 3: It led to a sack the first time, so why not try it again? Here’s Asomugha at the line of scrimmage on 3rd-and-14 in the third.
The impressive part is he recognizes that Romo is scrambling to his right, so he spins and starts giving chase.
Play 4: Game-changing play in the third. The Cowboys faced a 3rd-and-5 from their own 39, down 17-10. In one instance, it looked like Cox would have a sack. In the next, the Cowboys were closing in on the game-tying score. Cox starts from his normal spot at left defensive tackle.
But he’s going to loop all the way around Cole at right defensive end. This kind of move is going to take some time, but the Eagles get Romo to hitch, and Cox has a clear path to the quarterback, even though the Eagles didn’t blitz.
Kendricks bit on the pump-fake and ended up on the ground. When Romo escaped, and it looked like Babin and Jenkins were closing in, he pump-faked again. That got Allen to come up. You always hear analysts talk about coming back to the ball when the quarterback’s in trouble, but Austin did the opposite and streaked down the field.
You see Austin in the yellow circle. You also see Kevin Ogletree (red circle) behind Brandon Boykin for what could have been a 61-yard touchdown. Those things happen when the quarterback buys six seconds to throw the ball.