Rolle on the Roll, Plus Links and Some Falcons Talk

Posted: September 14th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 28 Comments »

I had a couple of columns post today.

I wrote about the Rams game for PE.com.  Should be a couple of nuggets in there that I haven’t touched on here so far.

For SB Nation Philly I took a look at angle I definitely haven’t touched on here.  The Eagles were clutch on Sunday.

* * * * *

Brian Rolle got some snaps as the starting WLB in today’s practice.  What do we make of this?  First, since he’s my long lost son I’m pretty proud.  Please call home, Junior.

I wrote a few places about the problems Moise Fokou had vs the run.  I know some fans hear the phrase “gap responsibility” and think that is some code word to protect the players you want and criticize others.  Not the case.

Go re-watch Steven Jackson’s TD run.  Pause it at the :07 mark.  You’ll see the LDE and both DTs in okay position.  You’ll see Casey and Chaney coming upfield under control.  The play is headed to that side of the field (Jackson’s right).  He sees there is no room and cuts back to the left.  This is where Fokou should be.  Unfortuantely Moise was so fired up to get to the ball that he got out of his gap responsibility.  That made it easy for the OL to come up and block him.  Once that was done, there was an interstate to the endzone.  Kurt Coleman should have gotten off his block.  That would have helped.

There is no guarantee that Fokou staying in that gap would have stopped the play.  Jackson is a talented RB.  He could have broken a tackle and still gotten to the endzone.  The difference is that then you know he’s physically beating you.  He had to earn it.  Missed assignments make it easy on him.

Fokou had multiple plays where he was out of position.  That opened the door for Rolle.  Recently I heard Andy Reid or some other Eagles guy state that Rolle had the best training camp of anyone on the team.  I don’t know if that was a legit comment or just some PR talk.  Regardless, Rolle impressed people in practice.  He then played well in the preseason games.  He was good on Sunday.  He’s passed every test so far with flying colors.  Rolle has earned the right to get a shot at WLB if Fokou is going to miss assignments and be sloppy.

I would imagine Fokou keeps his job this week.  This could be a warning to him to clean up the mistakes.  He’s now officially on a short leash.

* * * * *

Who’s ready for a bit of Falcons talk?

Here is the team’s official depth chart.

Most of the players are guys we’ve faced over the last couple of year.   They are hurting at DT right now.  Jonathan Babineaux is out.  That means we’ll face at least one backup DT.  Corey Peters is the other starter.  He’s been hurt, but is trying to get ready for the game.  We’ll see how that goes.  The Falcons might also be without C Todd McClure and slot receiver Harry Douglas.  I think Douglas is key for them.  Take him out and you’re down a quick, athletic guy who can make things happen in the middle of the field.

I have real mixed feelings on this game.  Atlanta is going to be desperate after getting their butt kicked on Sunday.  I never want to play a desperate team.  That said, the matchups favor us.  We’ve had Atlanta’s number throughout the Matt Ryan era.  We normally win pretty comfortably.  They struggle to stop our offense.

I’ve only watched a bit of the ATL/CHI game, but on the opening series the Bears had 2 receivers wide open.  Each play gained 23 yards and both were easy.  All teams are going to have breakdowns in the opener as players shake off the rust and get back to regular season mode.  I don’t want to make too much of that.  Still, we’ve been able to move the ball on them in the last few years.  Green Bay lit them up in the playoffs with their passing game.

I’ll re-watch the rest of the game and see what’s what.  Atlanta played poorly, but that sure doesn’t make them a bad team.  They are loaded with talent and should be very good.

One thing they must do is stop being so conservative on offense.  OC Mike Mularkey said that the Bears Cover 2 scheme forced the Falcons into throwing short, but even he noted that he was surprised by the number of checkdowns.  RBs caught 11 of Ryan’s 31 completions.

Our defensive scheme worked well vs Ryan in past years.  The new scheme might be something he’s more comfortable facing, crazy as that sounds.


  • Anonymous

    Is Rolle really a good fit at our WILL spot, or are the coaches just trying to give him a chance to get on the field?

    • Anonymous

      Rolle has the speed to cover backs and receivers who run crossing routes. He is tough and physical enough to be a good run defender. Rolle was a MLB at Ohio State.

  • http://twitter.com/PhillyFollower PhillyFollower

    History says this is going to be a tough game:

    When Matt Ryan starts + finishes game for Falcons in Georgia Dome:

    2008: 7-1 (Loss came in a 20-24 game against Broncos)
    2009: 5-0
    2010: 7-1 (Loss came in 14-17 game against Saints)

    2010 Postseason: 0-1 (Loss came in a 21-48 game against eventual SB champs GB Packers)

    Total Falcons record at home with Matt Ryan as starter: 19-3
    ——————————————————————————-

    I’m confident we have what it takes to win this game, but I don’t think it’ll be anything close to an easy game (like how last years match-up turned out to be).

    • Anonymous

      Great point about Ryan at home. Very, very tough.

      • Jason Etgen

        That team plays a lot better in the dome. However, you have to admit that the atmosphere could be very different come Sunday. Those people love Vick. Still.
        If Matt Ryan doesn’t light it up right away, and/or Mike Vick tears it up, that place isn’t going to feel like home field for them.

        • Anirudh Jangalapalli

          Do they really love Vick? I thought they see him as the guy who took a $100mm contract from them, slacked off, and left their franchise without a starting QB when he got arrested for his dogfighting activities.

          I’m really curious to see the reception he gets.

          • Anonymous

            That is not how ATL fans feel about him. I’ve got several falcons fans around me and all I ever hear about from them is “Mike Vick looks great,” “Wish we still had Mike.” ATL fans love Michael Vick. Look back at the ’09 game. That whole dome was cheering for Vick.

  • Anonymous

    I like Fokou quite a bit. It seemed like he played pretty well in the 2nd half of the game, perhaps after some of his nerves had settled. I’m assuming that the “practice promotion” of Rolle is a thinly-veiled threat to Fokou’s job security. “Get your shit together, Moise, or we’re moving on.” That said, I quite like the Little Ball of Hate so I’ll be okay with it either way. Hopefully it lights a fire under both of them.

    As I said in the week 1 game thread, I am plenty nervous about this ATL matchup. Good team, bad performance last week. They were fortunate enough to see their entire division swept in week 1, but their backs are still against the wall. They’re gonna be on primetime, at home, and the Dome is going to be looooud. I think its a very dangerous situation for the Eagles and they need to be on top of it. They handled St. Louis somewhat easily while playing their “B-” game. Beating Atlanta is going to require their “A+” game. A strong week of practice and filmroom work is absolutely crucial.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_GWMNZ32U6YPGGA7N4JNWH4OSJE Mac

      I don’t think you can discount the conspiracy theory that Fokou actually knew that Steven Jackson would strain his quad on that run if he just let him past… he made an executive decision to let him have the 6 points knowing that it would cost the Rams their top RB the rest of the game.

      On a more serious note… I hope that Moise doesn’t play tight on Sunday as a result of being put on the spot.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Scott-Buchanan/1557343118 Scott Buchanan

    Rolle is Sam Mills 2.0

  • http://twitter.com/Heisexalted Jesus is Lord

    ok, let me get this straight, Fokou is now on a short leash? Casey Matthews must be on a really, really, really long leash. I’ve never seen a less impactful linebacker in my life…..I know, “its early” “he’s smart” “he has great instincts” “he has long hair like his brother” none of those things translate to him making any tackles near the LOS or keeping from punked routinely. The kid was handed a starting position without the benefit of a single practice. No competition in training camp unless you call a 7th rounder, Greg Lloyd?

    I know this topic has been discussed ad nauseum, but the fact that Rolle is pressing Fokou, not Matthews defies logic and reason.

    • Anonymous

      There is a reason Matthews didn’t have to beat out a veteran this summer to get his job. Time.

      In a normal offseason young players learn the scheme in the May and June camps. They come to Lehigh and then get a chance to fight for the job. There wasn’t time for that this year.

      Once the Eagles decided they wanted to go with Matthews, it needed to be all in. And that’s what they did. He got all the reps so he could learn. They couldn’t have him learning the spot and competing for it at the same time.

      The Eagles might be right or wrong about Matthews, but I do think they handled it the right way. Had they done this in a normal offseason, I’d be in agreement with you.

      • Anonymous

        Sure the prep time was shorter, but why has Mathhews been seemingly immune to evaluation? Seems to me the Watkins situation is comparable. The Eagles were seemingly all in with Watkins, even having him play the final pre-season game. They realized the rookie couldn’t cut it, at least not yet, so they had to remake the O line at the last minute. Chaney and Rolle have both played MLB, yet they haven’t taken any snaps at the position. What gives?

        Alright, horse has now officially died. No more beating.

        • Anonymous

          I know it’s a tired story, but until he either steps up or is benched, Matthews is a topic that will be discussed all season, and rightfully so. I fully agree with ppk that it’s fine for them to go all in and let him take all the reps with the starters, but that doesn’t mean you ignore backups or refuse to acknowledge if he is playing poorly. When AR snapped at the reporter who asked the question about Matthews playing poorly after the steelers game, I felt AR was completely out of line. It’s a legitimate question that they seem adamant about not answering. As ppk said, what has this guy done that makes him immune to evaluation and fair criticism?

          I think it is entirely possible that Matthews develops into a quality lb eventually, but right now, he seems completely lost and overmatched. It’s still very early in the season, but my concern is that we haven’t really seen much of an improvement in his play yet. Right now, he needs to find a way to dramatically improve his learning curve.

    • Michael Abrams

      Here’s my amateur evaluation of Matthews (I’m no pro, but I’ve watched every snap 3 times on the DVR). Yes, he looks terrible in run support. He’s tentative and can’t get off blocks. But he looks good in pass coverage already. He’s step for step with RBs and sometimes slot receivers and he breaks well on the ball. We fans tend to notice him getting blocked 10 yards downfield and groan, but don’t forget that this entire defense is built to stop the pass. I’m guessing the coaching staff is seeing something they like from him, and it’s pass defense.

  • Anonymous

    I had the same thought about the Falcons and our new D. I felt what we’ve been doing the past few years was just a nightmarish matchup for Atlanta’s offense. I agree that this new scheme has the possibility to play more into their hands especially with the weaker run defense. (based off of a one game sample anyway)

  • Anonymous

    I’m hoping that if Rolle can prove himself at base D Will, then it may free them up to move Chaney to the middle and put Fukou at Sam, where he played well last year. As much as everyone is knocking the LBs, you’d have three guys who have a chance to be good.

    • Anonymous

      I know you’d like that, but don’t count on it. I really get the feeling the Eagles want Chaney at SAM. That’s valuable spot to them.

      Could be wrong. We’re all learning on the fly due to all of the changes this year.

      • Anonymous

        Fukou has played SAM better than any position, has gotten his act together and is entering his prime. WILL is probably Rolle’s best position. That leaves MIKE for Chaney. I assume they will give Matthews a few weeks or a week to ‘bounce back’ and then these kinds of options may be in play.

        • Anonymous

          Isn’t Fokou still basically playing the same position as last year? I thought the responsibilities are mostly swapped between WIL and SAM this year with the Wide 9 system?

        • Anonymous

          Isn’t Fokou still basically playing the same position as last year? I thought the responsibilities are mostly swapped between WIL and SAM this year with the Wide 9 system?

        • Anonymous

          Isn’t Fokou still basically playing the same position as last year? I thought the responsibilities are mostly swapped between WIL and SAM this year with the Wide 9 system?

        • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_GWMNZ32U6YPGGA7N4JNWH4OSJE Mac

          Everything that I’ve read agrees with what Tommy and Dan have said. The Will and Sam are very different this year. Wil is our run stopper and in many cases covers the RB in pass defense. Sam is responsible for being a Snuggie on the TE.

          Juan has shaken things up a bit in some ways that don’t make sense necessarily (in terms of position names) to fans because we’ve become accustomed to it being a certain way.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=548999324 Matt Hoover

    Derek Landri worked out for the Falcons, fishing for info? Or legit interest?

    Nice to see Lee got a job today with the Bengals, looks they passed on Lindley tho

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Anders-Jensen/748307140 Anders Jensen

      They did lose a starting DT for atleast 4 weeks.

  • Michael Abrams

    Tommy, I’d love to get your thoughts on how Rolle played on Sunday when he was out there. In re-watching the game on DVR, I was pretty impressed. 2 plays stood out to me. In the first, the Rams ran a draw on 2nd and long (we were in nickel, which is why Rolle was on the field). The center fired out to block Rolle. Rolle came up, hit him with his hands and knocked him on his ass. The center. I said “Did Rolle just blow up an offensive lineman?” I had to watch in slo-mo 3 times. Yup. It was the center. Then Rolle recovered his balance and peeled off to make the tackle. Remember all that talk over the summer about Juan teaching the LBs to hit blockers with their hands instead of shoulders? That must be what that’s supposed to look like, because it doesn’t look like that when the other LBs do it.

    On the second play, it was 3rd (or 4th?) and short. This was the play where the Rams RB fell forward to get the first down but Billick took the opportunity to talk about the nice, aggressive hit Rolle put on him (Good point, bad timing. Billick was an idiot all day). Anyway, they run left and both Casey Matthews and Rolle spot the RB in the gap and shoot in, but Rolle comes in harder, shoving Mattews out of the way with his shoulder (it looked like by accident — but nothing was gonna get between him and the RB). Rolle didn’t quite get him square and the RB fell forward for the 1st down. Rolle was visibly upset. Still the contrast between him and Matthews was so striking on that play. Rolle just looked like a guided missile.

    I don’t know whether there were some bonehead plays to go along with the good ones (Tommy?), but Rolle just looked like he belonged out there. I think he just played his way in to the lineup.

    • Anonymous

      Re-watch the 4th down. Watch the LT (not the TE beside him). The LT comes up and shoves Casey in the shoulder. Rolle is unblocked and is able to make the tackle. I had no problems with Casey on that play. He was in the right spot and force Williams toward Rolle. That’s good LB play by both guys.

  • Anonymous

    @Tommy – this is off topic – any thoughts as to why DJax’s contract has not been done yet? I would think they would have gotten it out of the way by now