Game Review: Eagles Vs. Panthers
Because of the short week, we’ll combine the game reviews into one post. I stopped the DVR after the Eagles went up 45-7 in the fourth quarter, so the final drives are not included.
Keeping that in mind, here’s what I saw the second time around.
WHEN THE EAGLES PASSED…
* Mark Sanchez completed 20 of 37 passes for 332 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. Two positives stood out to me when I re-watched. The biggest was Sanchez’s ability to navigate the pocket. Protection was good for most of the night, but when Sanchez had to maneuver away from pressure, he did so. In the first quarter, he stepped up and found Jeremy Maclin for a 15-yard completion. In the second, Sanchez escaped pressure, shuffled to his right and found Maclin for 14. He avoided a sack, climbed the pocket and found Brent Celek for a 9-yard gain. Later in the third, Sanchez shuffled to his left and hit Zach Ertz for 17 yards. He sidestepped Luke Kuechly and completed a pass to Celek for 37.
* The other positive was that he was very good with ball placement. On the crossers to Jordan Matthews, Sanchez got the ball out in front, allowing the receiver to pick up yards after the catch. On a few occasions, he had all day in the pocket, surveyed the field and found open receivers. On the one touchdown to Matthews, he bootlegged to the left, reset his feet and made an accurate throw.
* The negatives? Sanchez made a bad decision, looking for Maclin down the right sideline. He should have been intercepted, but the corner couldn’t keep his feet in bounds. And then there were some head-scratching plays. I’m not sure who Sanchez was targeting on his first pass, an incompletion to the end zone. The screen game looked ugly at times. The Panthers jumped one, and Sanchez misfired to the perimeter. Sanchez threw a screen to Cooper in the second, but Cooper was setting up as a blocker.
* Sanchez was not good against the blitz, completing five of 13 passes (38.5 percent), per Pro Football Focus. The Eagles took shots downfield. Five of his 37 passes (13.5 percent) traveled 20+ yards. He completed three of those.
* The Panthers tried to cover Matthews and Eagles tight ends with safeties and linebackers. That did not work out well. Matthews was targeted a team-high nine times and had seven catches for 138 yards and two scores. He went down on a couple ankle tackles or could have had an even bigger game.
* Darren Sproles got matched up with a linebacker on an angle route, but dropped the ball. The timing was off on that same play the previous week as well.
* Brent Celek made a great play on the 29-yard reception down the seam. The ball was underthrown, but Celek reached over Roman Harper’s head and made the grab.
* In his first game back, Evan Mathis was very good in pass protection. The line had a few issues here and there, but kept Sanchez clean for most of the game.
WHEN THE EAGLES RAN…
* From the TV tape, the biggest issues with the run were that the Panthers crowded the box, and Kuechly was very good. Sproles’ 8-yard TD came on a play we broke down a few weeks ago. The Eagles tried their usual plays – inside zone, sweep – but couldn’t get anything going. We’ll have more on the run game after watching the All-22 and talking to the players Wednesday.
* LeSean McCoy carried 12 times for 19 yards. Chris Polk had five for 11. Sproles had just the one carry.
“Had a lot of guys in there,” said Chip Kelly. “First off, give them credit. We didn’t execute the way we needed to execute in the run game. They did a better job at defeating our blocks than we did at sustaining our blocks. I can see their frustration. They played a lot of guys down towards the line of scrimmage, played a lot more man-free than they had shown going into the game. But if you do that then we have to be able to beat you throwing the ball, and I thought we had the ability to beat them in that way. Again, we don’t care if we run it or throw it as long as we’re moving the football. We’re confident in what we can do offensively.”
* Sanchez’s zone-read decisions looked like they could use some work. On one, he handed the ball off to McCoy for no gain. On another, he kept the ball and lost 5 yards.
WHEN THE PANTHERS PASSED…
* The Eagles’ pass-rush was tremendous, totaling nine sacks on the night. Cam Newton did not appear to be 100 percent, and the Panthers’ offensive line did not play well.
* Connor Barwin had 3.5 sacks. He was spying Newton in the first. Trent Cole and Vinny Curry got good pressure off the edges, and Barwin chased Newton down for the sack. He chucked the left guard to the ground and sacked Newton in the second. Good job cleaning up for another sack on the same series. Barwin knocked the right tackle to the ground and combined with Brandon Graham to sack Newton in the third. Great game.
* Fletcher Cox was fantastic. He pushed the pocket and forced Newton to scramble late in the first half. He destroyed the center and paved the way for Barwin’s sack late in the second. He did the same thing again later on the drive and nearly had another sack, but Barwin cleaned up. Cox didn’t give the Panthers time to set up a screen and sacked Newton in the third.
* Vinny Curry got a hand on Newton, but couldn’t finish on the Hail Mary late in the first half. Nice inside move for a sack/forced fumble on third down in the fourth.
* Cole’s pressure in the red zone forced a throw-away. He faked a stunt inside and then chased Newton down for a sack on third down in the second.
* Great rush in the second by Graham, but he couldn’t finish as Newton found the tight end for a first down. His pressure late in the first half led to another Barwin sack. Graham beat the left tackle in the fourth and combined with Barwin for a sack/forced fumble. He very well could have had four or five sacks in the past two games, but he hasn’t always been able to finish.
* Mychal Kendricks beat DeAngelo Williams for a sack of Newton in the first half.
* Per PFF, the Eagles blitzed on 14 of 51 pass plays. Five of those resulted in sacks. Newton was 5-for-8 for 73 yards on the other plays; he ran once. Four of the Eagles’ nine sacks came when they rushed four or fewer.
* The Eagles came up with three interceptions. Newton made a bad throw, and Kelvin Benjamin stopped his route as Cary Williams came away with a pick. Bradley Fletcher had a ball thrown right to him and returned it to the house. Nate Allen got an interception on the Hail Mary attempt.
* Newton’s final stats (25-for-40, 306 yards) were deceiving. He and the Carolina offense were ineffective through three quarters. Fletcher got tested downfield three times and forced three incompletions. Brandon Boykin got beaten for a couple third-down conversions, but also came up with two third-down tackles short of the sticks.
* The Panthers hit on a couple seam balls to Greg Olsen. Casey Matthews was in coverage on one; Malcolm Jenkins on the other.
* Barwin did a good job downfield on a fourth-down incompletion. Graham did a good job dropping on an incompletion to Benjamin.
WHEN THE PANTHERS RAN…
* The Eagles limited Carolina to 3.2 YPC on the ground. Kendricks had 13 tackles; he has 24 in the past two games (per team stats). Barwin had 11; Cole added 7; and Graham notched four.
* Matthews and Emmanuel Acho filled in for DeMeco Ryans. They combined for 11 tackles.
* The defensive line was tremendous. Cox had a tackle for loss in the third. Cedric Thornton tossed a lineman to the ground and hustled to the ball on the play where Williams fumbled. Bennie Logan was all over the place. He was responsible for at least four runs that each gained 3 yards or fewer.
* The Eagles’ defense has moved all the way up to No. 6 in Football Outsiders’ DVOA rankings. They are fifth against the run and ninth against the pass.