Game Review – PS #2 – BUF at PHI – Offense

Posted: August 23rd, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 88 Comments »

The Eagles did not have a good offensive showing against the Bills. Poor blocking was an issue. Horrible QB play was an issue. Dumb penalties were an issue. Turnovers were an issue. Lots of blame to go around. There wasn’t a 3rd down conversion until the 4th quarter if that gives you any idea how much they struggled.

The starting offense came out flat and had a couple of wasted drives. They got going on the third drive and then went no-huddle. That helped get them in a rhythm and the offense looked good for a few plays. That all changed when Matt McGloin hit the field on the next drive. He was so bad it was hard to evaluate some of the players around him. He played like a nervous rookie, not someone who has started games and been around the league for years.

There will be a lot of talk about the struggles of the run game. Let’s give the Bills some credit for playing good defense, but the blocking by TEs and OL in this game left a lot to be desired. It was hard to judge the RBs because penetration blew up so many plays.

QB

Carson Wentz – Pretty good game. 6-9-56. First pass of the game just sailed over the head of Jeffery. No reason a short throw like that should have been so off target. Hit Ertz over the middle on the next play for 11 yds. Bad throw on 3rd/GL. Jeffery wasn’t really open, but the ball wasn’t anywhere near him. Might have been just throwing the ball away, but he tried to put touch on it so was an odd throw. Wentz came alive on the 3rd drive. Hit Jeffery with a quick throw to the right side. Then hit Agholor with a quick throw to the left for a 1st down. Offense went no huddle. Hit Jeffery on play-action for a gain of 14. Had to move in the pocket on the next play. Found Blount over the middle for a short pass that turned into a gain of 17. Had ball tipped by blitzer on next throw, but fell incomplete. Used hard count to get BUF to jump on 3rd/2. Gift 1st down. Had to scramble on next play. Heavy blitz forced him to run for short gain. Was under heavy pressure on the next play. Stood tall in the pocket and hit Blount with short pass, but then Blount fumbled.

Was hoping to see the offense look more crisp with Wentz at the helm. The first two drives weren’t good, but they did get it going on the final drive. The key is to build off that in the next game and avoid the slow start.

Matt McGloin – Awful. Just awful. Worst moment might have been on first drive. Tried to run a screen. BUF was all over it. McGloin still threw the ball. Clement caught it, took a big hit and lost yards. Just throw the damn ball away. Ugh. Made a handful of good throws, but they were completely negated by the awfulness of his bad moments. 12-20-131. Threw INT on horrible lob pass downfield to Hollins. There was double coverage and the throw was easily picked off. Not sure which was worse…the decision or the throw.

Dane Evans – Got better in his second game, but still erratic. 9-12-92. Showed a strong arm once again. Doesn’t consistently throw spirals. Accuracy was an issue on throws to his right. Highlight play was when he scrambled left and dove for the 1st down. Great effort, but came up short. Highlight throw was 3rd/19 pass to Ward for gain of 29 and 1st down. Put the ball on Wards back side and gave him a chance to make a play. Aggressive, but smart. A more gifted, more polished version of GJ Kinne, but still a major project.

RB

LeGarrette Blount – Up and down. Only 5 for 8 on the ground, but had no room. A couple of those runs were impressive. Hard, physical runner. Doesn’t go down on first contact. Highlight play was catching short pass over the middle, setting up his blockers and then taking off for gain of 17. Impressive play. Lowlight came a few snaps later when he caught another short pass, but then fumbled.

Corey Clement – Good game. 8-34 on the ground and had no room most of the time. Broke off 24-yd run in the early 2nd. Went backside on the play and used speed to get wide and then down the field. Put a good move on DB to get additional yards at the end of the run. At his best when he can keep his shoulders square to the LOS. Nice burst. Runs hard. Good pass-pro block on next snap. Love that effort and willingness to do the dirty work. Can’t always get the ball, but must be able to contribute. Solid in pass pro on several plays. Dropped pass in mid-2nd. Not a good throw (shocking, right?), but still needed to make the grab to impress the coaches. Ran for TD late in the half. Earned it by running hard and forcing his way in at the goal line.

Donnel Pumphrey – 2-20 as receiver. Caught pass in the late 3rd and made first defender miss. Good hands. Picked up rusher on pass play in mid-3rd. DE got by Hart and Pump was there to take him on and slow him down. Very good pass block in early 4th. Blocked blitzing OLB and rode him wide of the pocket.

Byron Marshall – Got to play a lot in the 4th. Lined up out wide and caught a pass, showing his versatility. 6-21 on the ground, including a TD. Solid #4/#5 type of RB, but not explosive or much of a playmaker. Good pass catcher.

WR

Alshon Jeffery – Up and down in his Eagles debut. Ran the wrong route on 3rd/12 and that forced Wentz to throw to Ertz, who was short of the sticks. Jeffery did get going on the third drive. 2-23. Made it look so easy. Doesn’t catch the ball…just engulfs it. You can see how gifted he is.

Nelson Agholor – Good game. Played slot for most of 1st half. 2-28. Caught short pass from Wentz and turned that into gain of 7. Got ball on end around and got 6 yards, but wiped out due to penalty. Caught pass late in the half. Got the ball over the middle and added 10 RAC yards. Good hands and RAC yards on both catches. That’s what you want from a slot guy. Looked quick, confident and elusive with the ball in his hands.   Read the rest of this entry »


Updating the OL Situation

Posted: August 21st, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 150 Comments »

The Eagles made an interesting move on Monday.

Tobin had played both LT and RT this preseason. He’s played various positions in his NFL career. He’s not a guy you want as a full-time starter, but Tobin has value as a backup and spot starter.

That’s pretty good value. Seattle will likely have a pick late in the round, but you can still find quality players in the 5th round.

Let’s look at the Eagles OL as I see it now.

LT Jason Peters ………. Dillon Gordon
LG Isaac Seumalo …… Chance Warmack
C Jason Kelce ………… Stefen Wisniewski
RG Brandon Brooks … Dallas Thomas
RT Lane Johnson …… Halapoulivaati Vaitai

Out: Taylor Hart, Darrell Greene, Victor Salako, Aaron Neary, Tyler Orlosky, Josh Andrews

The Eagles want Big V to be the swing tackle, the guy to backup both Peters and Johnson during games. If someone is out for an extended time, the team would have to decide the best course of action.

I have Thomas making the team in this scenario. That’s far from a lock. He’s played better than I expected, but hasn’t wowed anyone. Andrews is the last remaining Eagle from the 1960 title team, or at least it seems like that. He’s been hurt this summer and hasn’t gotten substantially better in the past few years. The coaches tend to love him so that gives Andrews a chance. Plus he can play G or C.

Salako isn’t good enough for OT in the NFL, but they could try him at OG and see what he does. Orlosky has potential and could play C or G. He could win a job in the next 2 weeks, but it won’t be easy.

The Eagles could also go with just 9 OL and then carry some of those guys on the practice squad.

Dealing Tobin was smart. He was going to leave as a free agent after the season if he played here this year. You get something for him now from a team that was desperate for OL help. The Eagles have good starters and like several of their backups.

*****

Practice Notes from MIA vs PHI

Fran Duffy

Jimmy Bama

Jeff McLane

Brandon Lee Gowton

Sounds like Wentz had a strong day of practice. And that Alshon Jeffery dude is okay too.

Brandon Graham and Jordan Hicks both suffered injuries on Monday. Sounds like nothing too serious.

Joe Walker is playing MLB with Hicks out. That could be a good thing. The Eagles need to figure out if they’re comfortable with Walker as the backup MLB or if he’s still a project because he’s coming off an ACL and has no experience.

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Game Review – PS #2 – BUF at PHI – Defense

Posted: August 21st, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 112 Comments »

Jim Schwartz turned the dogs loose in this game and blitzed more than he usually does. The results were bad for Buffalo. They ran 40 plays in the 1st half, gained 163 yards and scored just 6 points. The Eagles came up with a pair of sacks and a pair of takeaways.

The defense was more erratic in the 2nd half, with backups playing the whole way. Buffalo did score 10 points. The Eagles had 4 more sacks and another pair of takeaways, including the INT that sealed the win.

DL

Fletcher Cox – Stud. Drove the RG right back into Taylor, causing incompletion. On 3rd/10 he drove the C right back into Taylor. Played at RDE for a snap on 3rd down.

Brandon Graham – Flew into the backfield on the 2nd play and really popped Shady for the TFL. Drove the RT back into Taylor on the play where McLeod forced the INT. Dropped into coverage on zone blitz. Good coverage of TE. Switched places with Cox on 3rd down. Got by the RG, but QB slid away from that area.

Tim Jernigan – Showed good quickness off the ball. Got some push on an early run play. Later in the 1st Qtr, drove the LG 5 yards back, but the ball went away from his side. Chased down Shady on screen and made the tackle.

Vinny Curry – Played RDE. Didn’t really flash. Seemed to do a lot of power rushing. Go engage the OT and drive him backward. Went to the inside a couple of times to give good blitz angles to Kendricks.

Derek Barnett – Terrific game. Mostly RDE. Had a sack. Regularly disruptive. Used speed, power and inside moves to beat blockers. Great motor. Chased plays all over the field. Exactly the kind of showing you want from a 1st round pass rusher. Looks like the real deal.

Chris Long – Backup LDE. Disruptive all game long. Rushes from multiple stances. Effective whether upright or down on the ground. Knows how to get pressure by going around the blocker or driving him back to the QB.

Destiny Vaeao – Backup DT. Good game. Best moment was also his worst. Drove the RG backward and game off block to hit Taylor (and force quick throw). Slung Taylor to the ground and drew penalty. Not dirty or dangerous, but against the rules. Gave them 1st down. Good movement skills. Can go hard to the inside or outside. Good with rip move. Pushed the pocket on some plays.

Justin Hamilton – Backup DT. Another strong performance. Shed the LG and got RB for short gain on first play. Got some push on pass plays. Really collapsed the pocket on play where Kendricks got his sack. Drove the LG backward, shed him and stuffed RG for minimal gain in late-2nd. Love his power. Not the quickest guy in the world, but moves well for big guy.

Gabe Wright – Backup DT. Athletic player. Can be quick off the ball. Best moment came when he hustled downfield to make a tackle. Didn’t get much push on pass plays.

Elijah Qualls – Backup DT. Up and down. You can really see where his short arms are an issue. Had little success with power rushes. Was better when using quickness to get penetration. Still a project. 

Steven Means – RDE. Great game. Was going up against 2nd and 3rd stringers, but got the best of them all game long. Seemed like he lived in the backfield. Combination of motor, quickness, power and skill makes him tough for backups to block. Credited with 2.5 sacks and a pass deflection. Disruptive force. One mistake came in late 3rd. Shot into the backfield and somehow missed TFL of RB.

Alex McCalister – LDE. Pretty good game, but paled in comparison to Means. McCalister was quick off the ball. Used his length effectively. I thought he showed a better motor this week and was more physical. Had a sack and FF. Good effort against the run.  Read the rest of this entry »


Concerns

Posted: August 20th, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 28 Comments »

For the most part, things look good for the Eagles right now. The team is fairly healthy. The defense is playing lights out. The offense has some really good pieces, even if the group hasn’t been great in the preseason games.

There are some potential concerns. Let’s talk about areas where things aren’t going smoothly.

OL

The starting offensive line hasn’t been on the field yet. The backup line has had some moving pieces. Still, the line play has not been good. Some of this will go away in the regular season. Jason Peters and Lane Johnson being sloppy in the opener was an anomaly. Those guys each have a strong track record. Some August sloppiness doesn’t erase what they’ve done n the past.

I was hoping Isaac Seumalo would take a big step forward this year. He didn’t play well in the opener, but was better on Thursday. Jeff Stoutland admitted Seumalo started slow in Training Camp before getting better the last week or so. Seumalo is a player the Eagles are high on so they’ll be patient with him.

Other players fighting for roster spots and/or trying to earn key backup roles don’t have that kind of wiggle room. Matt Tobin has been up and down. He’s not guaranteed a job. Chance Warmack is fighting for a spot and he’s been up and down. Dillon Gordon got better from Week 1 to Week 2. Darrell Greene looks like a rookie, but he was here last year.

The starting OL should be on the field Thursday night. And Big V should be on the field with the #2 unit so this will be a chance for both groups to play well and set a good tone for the upcoming season.

TE blocking

Brent Celek is the Eagles best blocking TE. He’s been okay this summer, but hasn’t stood out. Zach Ertz has been awful.

Ertz doesn’t have to move the guy 5 yards downfield, but at least hold your ground and keep him occupied. Ugh.

We have to hope the regular season will bring out better blocking from Ertz. He has shown improvement in the last couple of years, but only marginal improvement. He must get better in this area.

STs

I’m not sure what to make of Caleb Sturgis. He was 8 of 8 at Sunday’s practice, but he’s missed more kicks this summer than last year. He missed one on Thursday in the Bills game.  The backup holder was in for that attempt and details like that can affect kickers.

The returners have not had any room to work with. The cover units have given up too many big returns. I tend to think a lot of this is due to Dave Fipp using a lot of young guys in the games to find out who can play and who can’t. Still, you expect more from the Eagles STs units.

RB

Darren Sproles hasn’t played. Wendell Smallwood can’t stay healthy. Donnel Pumphrey hasn’t shown the athleticism everyone expected. LeGarrette Blount hasn’t had running room and then fumbled vs Buffalo.

Should we worry?

I don’t think so. Sproles will play in the regular season. Smallwood practiced today and has looked good when he’s played. Blount will look better when the starting OL is together and blocking for him. Pumphrey hasn’t had much of a chance to make things happen in space, but part of that is on him. He has to make the first guy miss and create his own room some of the time.

Depth at QB

Matt McGloin has been awful. I know he’s got physical limitations, but his decision-making is terrible. How is he a veteran QB? Dane Evans shows promise, but is still a major project.

I think Nick Foles can be a terrific backup QB, but he’s got to get healthy. You can’t count on Carson Wentz starting all 16 games. You have to be prepared to play someone other than him.

*****

I don’t think this is a subject for concern, but we need to talk about Alshon Jeffery.

Jimmy Bama has the story up about WRs coach Mike Groh talking about Jeffery.

“Alshon ran the wrong route,” wide receiver coach Mike Groh acknowledged. “It’s probably a route he hadn’t practiced yet. It’s certainly his responsibility to know it, but in a short week and a non-game plan week, ordinarily if you’re spending four days of practicing the game plan as a team you’ll run every play. That’s one (play) that’s been (practiced in camp), but because of the time he missed, we run it two different ways and he got confused.”

It was a moment in the game that wasn’t noticed by a soul, other than the Eagles’ coaching staff of course, who knew the play call. Luckily for the Eagles, Wentz didn’t throw an interception because he was anticipating his receiver to be in one spot, while the receiver was in another. Also luckily for the Eagles, it’s still only the preseason.

“I think he’s behind,” Groh said. “Anytime you miss the amount of time that he did, he’s a little bit behind. Fortunately, we have time for him to catch up.”

This became a hot topic. Doug Pederson was asked about it at his press conference and said Jeffery is fine and that everyone makes a mistake.

I’m glad Groh is being hard on his receiver. You have to push those guys to get the best out of them. At the same time you have to be careful what you say to the media. There is a reason Andy Reid so rarely criticized players publicly. Critical comments rarely stay in the right context and often take on a life of their own.

Jeffery running the wrong route is not a big deal. It was on his first drive as an Eagle. Preseason is when you work through things like this.

At the same time, Jeffery is a highly paid veteran player. He needs to know the playbook and shouldn’t be making a mistake like this. He still has one preseason game and three weeks of practice before the season opener. Jeffery needs make sure this mistake is an anomaly and a good lesson for him.

Based on all the reports, Jeffery had a strong day of practice on Sunday so it sounds like all is good with him.

Go make plays and all will be forgiven.

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Defense Looks Legit

Posted: August 19th, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 78 Comments »

The Eagles defense was good last year. It was very good according to analytics and pretty good according to traditional stats. No matter how you slice it, the group played well. The goal in the offseason was to make changes that would help this group get to the next level.

After a couple of preseason games, it looks like the defense could be outstanding this year.

All the talk after Thursday was about Ronald Darby, Mychal Kendricks and Derek Barnett. Those guys were noteworthy. But put on the game tape and you’ll see Fletcher Cox destroying the pocket on multiple plays. You’ll see Rodney McLeod flying around the field and making things happen. You’ll see Brandon Graham exploding into the backfield to blow up a run and then dropping back to cover a TE on a zone blitz. It seemed like everyone made a play or did their part to help a teammate make a play.

The addition of Darby gives this defense to really go up a notch. The defense now has playmakers at each position. Darby doesn’t have to turn into Troy Vincent, but he needs to give the Eagles someone they can have confidence in when facing top flight receivers. Darby showed against the Bills that he has big time speed and very good feet, key traits for a CB.

As with the addition of Alshon Jeffery, there is a ripple effect with the presence of Darby. Jalen Mills remains a starter, but is now the #2 CB. Patrick Robinson can slide inside and play the slot, where he’s had success in the past. Players are now in roles that fit them better. That helps players to play with more confidence and gives them a better chance at doing a good job.

The Eagles look better at each part of the defense.

Derek Barnett, Tim Jernigan and Chris Long make the DL look like it could be a dominant group this year. The returning players know their roles better and the new guys are ideal fits for the scheme.

Mychal Kendricks looks like Year 2 in the scheme is going to bring out the best in him. He’s still not going to play a lot, but he’ll build up confidence based on what he’s done this summer. After seeing his success, the coaches might decide they want to use the base package more than last year or that they mix him into the nickel. Joe Walker looks like he is past his torn ACL. He’s still young and learning, but I’ve been impressed by him. Nate Gerry shows promise. You want backup LBs that can run and hit.

The addition of Corey Graham gives the team better depth at Safety. The coaches can now use Malcolm Jenkins creatively if they want to. Last year they were forced to after Ron Brooks injury and it hurt the whole defense. Terrence Brooks has had a good summer and looks like the #4 Safety. He’s better against the run than in coverage, but has played well.

I already covered the key CBs earlier. Beyond them, you see Rasul Douglas playing better in games. Aaron Grymes just had his best game according to DB coach Cory Undlin. C.J. Smith has been up and down, but that’s okay if you’re the #5/#6 CB.

Jim Schwartz has to be excited by the depth and versatility of the defense. He can feel comfortable with backups on the field. He can get creative with different packages. Schwartz can mix up his coverages more than last year. He can go Cover 2 or single-high Safety or use some zone looks.

The team that has really given the Eagles fits in recent years is the Skins, who the Eagles face in the opener. The defense gets a chance right off the bat to show just what they can do. For now we’ll have to see how they play on Thursday night, when the starters will play more than half the game. I’m expecting another strong performance from the D.

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