Four Downs: O-Line Struggles Lead To Loss
The Eagles lost to the Dolphins, 20-19, at Lincoln Financial Field. Here’s what we saw.
MOST TELLING STAT: 2.3
The Eagles’ offensive line, particularly on the inside, struggled after last week’s impressive performance. Philadelphia averaged 2.3 yards per carry, and constantly gave up pressure on pass plays.
Ndamukong Suh dominated as he recorded three tackles for loss and three quarterback hits. The Dolphins forced three fumbles — although the Eagles recovered all of them — and tallied 10 quarterback hits. Philadelphia’s offensive line continued to commit penalties and had a few communication breakdowns.
When the Eagles provided solid pass protection, their tight ends ran loose as Brent Celek and Zach Ertz combined for 202 receiving yards. Celek caught a 60-yard pass on the Eagles’ first drive and kept getting open on over routes off play-action.
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Billy Davis constantly put his guys in a position to succeed, as he drew up several good blitzes that resulted in sacks and quarterback hurries. When Philadelphia forced the safety, Walter Thurmond blitzed untouched off the edge as the Eagles overloaded the left side of Miami’s offensive line.
Mychal Kendricks also improved as the game went on as he used his athleticism to make plays. He made an outstanding open-field tackle on Lamar Miller on a third down, and flew into the backfield when he sacked Ryan Tannehill. Early on, Kendricks had tough matchups in coverage, including one where he had to cover Miller one-on-one on a go route.
Despite poor pass protection, Sam Bradford played well and continued to improve. He completed 19 of his 25 pass attempts for 236 yards, one touchdown and a 118.1 passer rating. He was hurt by drops and had few opportunities to attack downfield because of the blocking. Bradford also misfired on a few throws that were either above or behind his targets.
Perhaps his best throw of the day was to Miles Austin down the right sideline on a third down in Miami territory, but Austin dropped it. Bradford kept a few plays alive with his legs by escaping pressure, as he did on his touchdown pass to Josh Huff, who made a difficult catch.
After Bradford left the game with a left shoulder injury and concussion in the third quarter, Mark Sanchez looked comfortable in the offense, despite a few timing miscues. He threw the ball well on the move, but made a costly bad decision when trying to force the ball to Austin in the end zone. His red zone interception came late in the fourth quarter with the Eagles down just one point.
DeMarco Murray looked more elusive today, combining for more than 100 rushing and receiving yards. It was evident on several plays, including one swing pass he gained nine yards on after making two defenders miss.
One phase of the game the Eagles struggled in, however, was special teams. They gave up a blocked punt that gave Miami the ball in the red zone, and Caleb Sturgis missed a 32-yard field goal.