A couple weeks ago, the coaches approached the Cardinals game assuming the offense would be just fine operating as it usually does. They tried little things to help Demetress Bell and Dallas Reynolds, who were making their first starts of the season. But overall, Andy Reid and Marty Mornhinweg believed this offense could still score points by hitting on big plays down the field in the passing game.
After a 27-6 loss, though, it appears they’ve made some significant changes the past two weeks.
1 – The number of blitzes Juan Castillo dialed up against the Giants in the teams’ Week 11 meeting last season. Eli Manning dropped back to pass 38 times in that game, and the Eagles sent extra pressure just once. They were still able to sack Manning three times and hit him on 10 occasions with their front four. That’s the formula. By my count, the Eagles have blitzed 16 times in the first three weeks. Opposing quarterbacks are 6-for-13 for 109 yards when they send extra pressure. The Eagles also have two sacks (and there was an offensive pass interference penalty). But there’s always risk when you blitz. Of those six completions, three have gone for 20+ yards. DeMeco Ryans has been the most frequent blitzer. He’s gone after the quarterback 14 times, per Pro Football Focus. No other Eagles has blitzed more than five times.
A left tackle in Demetress Bell who was making his first start of the season – someone who was struggling so badly two weeks ago that he didn’t even dress for the opener against the Browns. A center in Dallas Reynolds who was making his first career start and had been on the practice squad for the previous three seasons. A quarterback in Michael Vick who had six interceptions and three fumbles in the first three games.
And a coaching staff that would likely ignore many of those issues, deciding instead to focus on hitting on big plays downfield.
Here are 10 things to know about the matchup between the Eagles’ offense and the Cardinals’ defense Sunday afternoon. If you missed the first cheat sheet, which focused on the Eagles’ D and Arizona’s offense, click here.
Who was to blame on those plays?
Here is a breakdown of the 14 hits, followed by a player-by-player review of the offensive line after having re-watched the game.
But how does the Birds’ talent compare to teams around the league?
Each summer, Michael Lombardi of NFL.com puts out his list of blue-chip and red-chip players. Click on the link for a full explanation, but here’s the basic version: Blue-chip players are among the top-five at their position, and red-chip players are among the top 10.
When first considering it, you’d think the Eagles would have a pretty good showing on the list, specifically on offense. But you’d be wrong.
Less than three months later, he’s in the driver’s seat to be the Eagles’ starting left tackle.
With the opener just about two weeks away, the offensive line has question marks.