I literally felt sick to my stomach as I re-watched this game. We had the game won at so many points, but failed to seal the deal. Want a good idea of why we lost? Making clutch plays. Our Safety was unable to hold on to a pass that hit him in the hands. The ball was then snagged by Larry Fitzgerald and it jump-started a scoring drive. Conversely, their DL had a ball hit him in the stomach, but got his hands on it and made the pick, killing a drive where we were already in the Red Zone. They made the big plays. We did not.
The whole day just a had a funny feel. The crowd was dead. The offense only had one drive that gained 50 or more yards. There were no big plays or ball control. There was just a blah vibe to the game. Things got a bit lively when Asante had his pick-6, but that was a momentary lapse of emotion.
The defense played well for 3 quarters, giving up just 198 yards and 7 points. Too bad the game didn’t end there. The 4th Qtr saw the defense give up 172 yards and 14 points. Good thing we have a defense built to protect leads, as I wrote all spring and summer. Nothing better than the Eagles losing and also taking the time to make me look like a jackass. Thanks, fellas.
Okay, let’s talk about the offense. Vick broke a couple of ribs early in the game. He didn’t tell anyone, but it was clear to anyone watching that he was playing poorly. The logical thing to do was feed the ball to Shady, after all he is having the best year of any RB in the whole friggin’ league.
Every year there is a game where Andy and Marty get something into their head and they won’t let go. This was that game for 2011. For most of the year teams have been hesitant about playing 8 men in the box. They’ve kept Safeties deep and taken away our deep balls. The Cards play a lot of single high Safety. They can be burned deep. I knew Marty/Andy would want to go deep and burn them, but I didn’t think they’d go as overboard as they did.
With DeSean in the game, that plan might have actually made sense. Without him, it didn’t. It made even less sense as we all watched Mike Vick fail to hit wide open receivers multiple times. Instead of adjusting, Marty/Andy stuck with the plan, just knowing that we’d hit for a big play and have our big lead. Uh…oops.
Andy said after the game that the Cards played a lot of 8-man fronts and that took away our ability to run the ball. Dave Spadaro said the same thing on Eagles Live. Ike Reese agreed with him.
Emmitt Smith never saw an 8-man front? Hell, I bet 1/3 of his rushing yards came against that look. You absolutely can run in that situation. There will be plays where you get burned. There are also plays where you can burn the defense if you hit the right gap. Besides, would you rather have Vick throwing incompletions or have Shady with the ball in his hands? Shady can make a defender miss. Let’s say you run him a couple of times for minimal gain. Then you’re dealing with 3rd/6 or 7. That’s better than 3rd/10.
Andy Reid and Marty Mornhinweg have forgotten more football than I could ever hope to know in my lifetime. Those are very smart men. But even smart guys have bad days. In a game where the QB was struggling and the whole offense needed a spark, you feed the ball to your red hot tailback. Instead, he got 17 touches. In a blowout win over Dallas, Shady had 32 touches. That stat makes my head want to explode.
My only sympathy with Marty/Andy is that they devised a gameplan and spent all week practicing it based on the fact DeSean would be part of it. That changed on Saturday night or Sunday morning. Still, how hard is it to look over at #25 and realize you need to feed him the ball?
VICK — Bad game, but how much of that was the rib injury? Really hard to give him a fair evaluation because of that. Vick proved just how tough he was. Played with broken ribs and continued to run around and try to do everything he could. Just didn’t throw the ball well consistently. Worst play was his overthrow of Celek on what would have been a huge play and likely a TD. Killer. Made some poor decisions in the Red Zone. Had a pass picked, but then nullified by penalty. Lucky play. Had another pass picked by DL. Finished the game 16-34-128 with no TDs and 2 INTs. Ran for 79 yards. Good effort, poor results.
YOUNG — Played one snap. Handed the ball off.
SCHMITT — Caught a pass early in the game.
MCCOY — Good and bad game. 14-81 on the ground. That was good. Caught 3 passes and looked to be about to break loose on all of them, but couldn’t. Got just 12 yards. Poor job of blocking. Very bad. Missed blocks a few times and Vick paid the price. Beaten to the inside once. Poor cutblock on one play. Called for holding late in the game and negated a nice gain that would have given us some hope. Shady normally is a good blocker. Can’t have a repeat of that performance.
DJAX — Suspended.
MACLIN — Took a big hit early in the game and wasn’t a factor after that. Hurt his hamstring later on when going for our lone deep ball of the game.
COOPER — Had a drop and never got back in the flow. Spent a lot of time as the lone receiver to one side.
AVANT — Very quiet game. I don’t know if Vick didn’t see him or what. Only catch game near the GL. Almost scored, but was a foot or so short.
smith — Not my favorite human being right now. 3rd/20. Caught a pass over the middle and then went down rather than fighting for the 1st down. Worst part, didn’t need to fight or be tough. I watched his play in slo-mo to make sure I wasn’t missing something. I wasn’t. There were a pair of defenders, about 10 yards apart. All Smith had to do was run upfield and stay between them. Could have gotten the 1st and gone down without a huge hit. Ran sideways and then went down to avoid contact. I literally have no idea what he was doing/thinking. Might be the low point of the whole season. If I never see him play for us again, it would be soon enough. I literally started to get nauseous while re-watching the play.
CELEK — 4-53. Good game as receiver. Helped with block on TD run.
HARBOR — Had a very good block on one run play. Put a LB on the ground. Did have a very costly false start. Turned 3rd/1 near the 10 into 3rd/6. On the ensuing play Vick threw an INT. That penalty cost us 5 yards and 3 points. Did make a key block on TD run. Crashed inside hard and got his body in the way of defender who wanted to get to Shady.
OL — Watching the game live I thought the OL really struggled. I felt differently after checking the tape. Vick was as much to blame as the OL for his “pressures”. Vick had terrible pocket presence in this game. He actually moved toward rushers on several plays. I’m not sure what was happening. Danny Watkins struggled with Darnell Dockett. Vick didn’t imagine that. Darnell used his quickness to give Danny real problems in pass pro. Jason Peters got beat on an early pass play. Just got sloppy. Todd got beat a time or two.
I’m surprised to say that King Dunlap did okay. I don’t think he’s got a future as a starting G, but he held his own. Jason Kelce had a couple of real good cut blocks downfield. He got away with a penalty on a screen to Celek. Jason was 10 yards downfield when Brent caught the pass. Should have gotten a flag. Jason did get called for hands to the face. Peters and Todd both had very impressive blocks on draw plays. Julian Vandervelde played LG in a GL set where we scored the TD.
Teams have come up with a new wrinkle to hurt our run game. Both CHI and ARZ blitzed a DB from the slot on plays where they suspected run. This player fires into the backfield at the snap. Avant has no chance to cut them off. The pulling TE has to take on a LB. That leaves the DB to make the tackle or disrupt the play. Worked well a couple of times in both games. I mention that here because you can see the OT, TE, and Avant all unsure how to handle the situation. Coaches need to figure out a counter to that.
I can’t stress enough that the defense actually played a good game for 3 Qtrs. They did what they were supposed to. Things took a major turn in the 4th Qtr.
I was pretty mad at Juan Castillo initially, but after checking the tape and talking to some people I feel a bit different. There were 2 4th Qtr pass plays where Larry Fitzgerald was able to burn rookie Jaiquawn Jarrett for 1st downs. The first was 3rd/5 after Nnamdi’s idiotic offside penalty. The Cards had 1 WR to the right. Jarrett, Rolle, and Asante were all on that side. Fitz broke to the inside. Jarrett covered him at that point. Asante saw that and bailed deep. There was no receiver on his side more than 4 yds downfield, but Asante was more than 10 yards deep. Fitz broke back outside and Jarrett was half a step behind as he made the transition. If Asante had stayed close to the LOS, he would have been right there to play the ball. Heck, I don’t know if Skelton would have made the throw. Instead, Asante is nowhere to be found. He comes up to join the play, but after Fitz has already been tackled after a gain of 10. There is no way I can believe that Castillo drew up a defense that called for Asante to be covering deep on 3rd/5 with no receiver anywhere near him. That’s got to be on Asante. That play came on the drive that tied the game at 14.
On the go-ahead TD drive the Cards faced 3rd/10 from our 38. Asante was the RCB, covering Fitz. The Cards had a bunch to the other side. A WR motioned to the right. Hanson went with him, which is a sign the defense is playing man coverage. Hanson gave a hand signal, as if to say “That’s my guy”. That WR ran a short route to the flat. Fitz went upfield. Jarrett was off the ball, as Safeties normally are in coverage. He ran with Fitz. Asante? He let Fitz go and focused on the underneath receiver. WTF?????
You might say “Tommy, great but you’re an amateur. How can you blame Asante?”. Fair enough. Except that I heard from a source that Asante absolutely is to blame. Asante decided to freelance on the play. Rather than sticking with Fitz, Asante hung his teammate out to dry. And the team. Skelton hit Fitz for a gain of 37 and they scored a TD to take the lead.
I eagerly anticipate Asante becoming an ex-Eagle. That is everything that is wrong with this team. Sure, Asante is a great playmaker, but that isn’t the time to roll the dice. The game is on the line. That’s the time to cover as if your life depends on it. Make them settle for a FG. Do not take chances. I wish Castillo were to blame for that. I’d rather be mad at the rookie DC for getting out-schemed by a veteran coach than to think a player knowingly abandoned his coverage of the top WR on the other team to play a friggin’ hunch. God, it makes me sick to think about that.
Asante isn’t the only one to blame, but that really eats at me.
Nnamdi had a ridiculously awful offside call on 3rd/10. We forced an incompletion and were headed off the field, but by lining up a yard too far, we gave them a 2nd chance and they burned us.
Several guys had dumb penalties.
Juan isn’t completely off the hook. His zone D on the first TD was poorly executed and I’m not thrilled with the notion of going zone in that situation. Larry Fitzgerald isn’t someone you want running free in a zone inside the 10. Put Nnamdi on his butt and press.
Juan did some good things. I think he anticipated the Cards using max protect so Juan went blitz heavy and it worked. We had 4 sacks and rushers/blitzers did come free on other plays. It was fun to see some good blitzing for the first time this year. Part of that is on the Cards OL. Those guys are not good, especially the OGs. Ugh.
Juan did get a bit creative. There were formations when both WRs were on one side and Asante actually played over on the left side, in the slot. That’s new to me. We did some run blitzing. We ran a few stunts on run plays where the DE crashed inside and a S or LB attacked off the edge.
There was so much to like…until the 4th Qtr. Juan gets some blame to be sure. If he does lose his job, he ought to write Asante a nice little thank you letter.
DL — Trent got a sack, but Patt flushed the QB out into the open. Trent had a dumb penalty for hitting the QBs head. Wasn’t dirty or dangerous, but they call that all the time. Trent drove the LT back into Skelton’s face on the INT to Nnamdi. Tapp, Parker, and Chaney were all pretty quiet. Babin drew a holding call and blew up a run play, but was more quiet than I expected.
Cullen Jenkins was a stud. He was disruptive a lot. He had 4 tackles and 2 TFLs. Hit the QB a couple of times and pressured him on other plays. Patt was somewhat quiet. Did hustle well. Trevor Laws looked good. He was getting penetration and causing problems.
Derek Landri was flat out terrific. He had a sack and TFL. He pressured the QB on the pick-6 by Asante. Landri blew up a couple of run plays with penetration. He got his TFL on the late TD drive by Arizona on 2nd/GL. I hoped that would be a huge play, but not so. That’s what you want from a backup DT. Get in there and go 100 mph and make stuff happen.
LB — Jamar Chaney had a solid game. He had 6 solo stops. He also had a TFL and got his first sack of the year. He broke up a pass. He did well on short throws to the TE. Chaney still needs work on run D, but he’s making strides. There was one play late in the game where he was burned badly. 4th/2. They have us spread out. RB runs a wheel route. It wasn’t Beanie Wells, but their pass catcher LaRod Stephens-Howling. Chaney should have really noticed that he was in the game and focused on that. Jamar was slow getting out wide as he had to move around traffic. The RB was wide open and Skelton made a good throw. We’ve been burned by the wheel route this year, but not the MLB in such a situation.
Brian Rolle wasn’t credited with any tackles, but he was in on a few. He did a good job of getting upfield and creating TFL situations for others. Rolle got burned by Fitz for a TD, but it’s hard to blame the rookie too much for that.
Akeem Jordan started at SAM. I didn’t see any mental mistakes, but ARZ didn’t run wide very much. That made it easier to deal with them. Jordan had a couple of good moments, but didn’t really stand out. Did look like he was held on a blitz. Hit Skelton, but after the ball was out. No call.
COLEMAN — Good game, with one huge mistake. I’d kill him for that, but he played so well overall that I don’t think it is fair. Led the team with 10 total tackles. Had a TFL. Blitzed well a couple of times. Kurt is the guy who forced an incompletion on 3rd/10 when Nnamdi lined up offside.
Kurt’s mistake was bad. BAD. He was on our right side. Arizona lined a WR in the backfield and then threw him a short pass. Kurt read the play and went for the guy. Kurt got an arm on him, but didn’t come close to making the tackle. Easy TD. Kurt was out of control, trying to come up with some huge hit. Just go make the tackle. It was 3rd/GL. No reason to go nuts. Bad missed tackle.
JARRETT — Got his first NFL start and boy was he a busy man. Had 7 tackles (6 solo). Got run over by Wells on one run up the middle. This ain’t the MAC, Jaiquawn. Generally did well in coverage. Just missed an INT while covering Fitz in the 4th. Would have been a huge play. We were up 7 and would have had the ball near FG range. Jarrett undercut the WR perfectly and was right there to make the play. Just couldn’t make a clean grab. Ball bounced off him and Fitz caught it. Even on those plays when Fitz did beat him, Jarrett never looked lost. I think he showed a lot of good traits.
ASOMUGHA — Shut down Fitz when he did cover him. Came up with an INT in the 4th Qtr. Had a solid overall game, but made one crucial mistake. Lined up offside on 3rd/10. Very dumb and very costly penalty.
SAMUEL — Did some good things. Had a pick-6 in the 2nd Q. Jumped a short route to his side. Smart gamble. Game was scoreless and it was the 1st half. Asante had Safety help over the top. Unfortunately he carried that mentality into the 4th Qtr and it killed us. Arizona threw 2 TD passes in his directions. Asante is a target in the Red Zone. People know he’s playing off.
RODGERS-CROMARTIE — Had his best game as an Eagle. Looked okay in the slot and had a couple of nice tackles. Got his first sack of the year when he shoved the QB out of bounds on broken pass play. DRC broke up 1st Q pass to slot receiver. Left game with nasty ankle injury in the 2nd half.
HANSON — Had one huge moment. ARZ threw WR screen to his side. Joselio jumped to inside of his guy and got a hand up. Unfortunately he hit the ball back into the endzone and Fitz snared it for the score. If Joselio got it cleanly, might have had a long pick-6. At the least could have knocked it down.
HUGHES — #4 CB late in game.
CHAS HENRY — 4 of his 8 punts were downed inside the 20. Averaged 42.8 per punt.
ALEX HENERY — 1 of 1 on FGs.
PR — Mac and steve smith shared duties. smitty muffed a punt and tried to give it away (traitor), but Cards refused. Mac came close to having a good return early on.
KOR — DRC took the job and did well. Averaged 26 per KOR, but did get hurt on KOR in 4th. Dion Lewis had a 33 yarder.
* Coverage was great. Colt Anderson and Akeem Jordan have been on fire recently.
* Landri got inside pressure on first missed FG.
* Laws got inside pressure on 2nd missed FG.
* No fake punts.