When you think of Cleveland, you might think of old phrases like “the rust belt” or “the mistake by the lake”. Both would be apt in describing the Eagles opening game. Michael Vick was definitely rusty and his game was full of mistakes. He was not alone in that category.
Ugly win. All wins are good in the sense that you need W’s to get into the playoffs. That said, I was hoping for the Eagles to play good football and set the tone for 2012. If that’s the tone for 2012, I’m gonna need a lot more beer. Heck, I might be sniffing glue by Halloween.
The offense looked as though it was playing preseason game #5. Vick was the most guilty of this, but there were mistakes by a slew of players. Vick was limited in the preseason so he had reason to be rusty. The other players got plenty of work this summer. I don’t know what their problem was.
The defense was outstanding. They played clean, crisp football. There were no blown assignments. CLE would shift and Eagles defenders would communicate and adjust accordingly. This is light years different than last September when there was pointing going on before, during, and after plays as no one knew where to be. The tackling was outstanding. There were a couple of misses, but each due to offensive players doing something right. These weren’t sloppy whiffs like we saw last fall.
STs was good. Josh Cribbs had a couple of good returns, but he’s Josh Cribbs for a reason. He’s one of the best RS’s in the league.
2/3 of the Eagles impressed me. They looked ready for action and showed the signs of being a top flight football team…a playoff team. The offense? Color me confused. That unit has produced yards and points for several years so I tend to think of this as an anomaly, but I’ll be honest and say that the group has me a bit nervous. They didn’t exactly look great in the preseason either.
My hope is that the offense can build on the strong finish to the game. The final 2 drives were good. One resulted in a missed FG, the other a TD. Penalties went away. Blocking was better. And Vick mostly looked better. Sunday is going to be a key test…can the offense move the ball and score on the Ravens? If so, I’ll go right back to being confident. If the struggles continue, I’ll remain a Nervous Nelly.
Andy Reid didn’t have many critical decisions to make that weren’t obvious. I had no issues with him. We went for it on 4th down once, but we had to so that was a no-brainer. The timeouts were there to be used at the end of the game, but thankfully we didn’t need them.
I think the offensive gameplan was to do a lot of ball control stuff. There was a focus on protection. We did a lot with rollouts and play fakes. The coaches used RBs, WRs, and TEs to help block. My guess is that they wanted to get Vick in rhythm and get the best of the Browns with a short, controlled passing attack. This would let the OL get comfortable and protect Vick. The penalties and mistakes of the early drives seemed to change things and we went pass happy. The run/pass balance got way out of hand.
Shady ended the game with 20 carries, but many of them came in crunch time. With Vick struggling, you wish the coaches had leaned more on the running game. CLE had some good plays, but for the most part Shady was able to do his thing. As I’ve covered many times, Andy believes in letting players work their way out of slumps. His metaphor is that you don’t tell Michael Jordan to quit shooting because he’s 1 of 12. There is some truth in that logic, but Andy always neglects to say that you can at least tell Jordan to let his teammates help him out since he’s cold. I’d rather have had Shady running the ball than Vick throwing it to Browns LBs.
Some people questioned the GL plays at the end of the game. No touches for Shady? First play was a run to Bryce Brown. You can argue the ball should have gone to Shady, but I think the other 2 plays needed to be passes. The clock was down to about 90 seconds. The Eagles had all 3 timeouts left. Had they not scored, the team could have played D and used the timeouts to get the ball back at midfield with about a minute to work with. Throwing the ball was smart.
Juan Castillo and the defense had a very strong day. Part of that is on a rookie QB, but the fact he was awful (even compared to other rookies) tells you that the Eagles had a lot to do with it. Castillo seemed to keep things simple and trust his players. That worked. I think he wanted to save any creative ideas for the Ravens since he felt our players were good enough to beat the Browns straight up.
Per Sheil Kapadia, the Eagles only blitzed 3 times. The DL got regular pressure. There were only 2 sacks, but Weeden didn’t have a clean pocket very often. Some of his 23 incompletions are due to being hurried or hit as he threw the ball. The DBs played a lot of press coverage, which I loved. This is what Juan wanted to do last year, but couldn’t as he tried to fit Asante into things.
Before you think I’m being too pro-Juan, I’m just trying to give the guy credit on a day when his plan worked. Clearly this game doesn’t prove anything. Juan will be tested when he faced veteran QBs and smart play-callers. That’s when you’ll see if he can adjust in games. That’s when we’ll get an idea of whether he can be good enough or not.
Field position hurt us. CLE averaged starting at their 37. We averaged starting at our own 23. 14 yards may not sound like much, but it adds up. The Eagles only began one drive beyond their own 26, and that was just at their own 36. Final drive was in CLE territory, but was just for kneel downs so that’s irrelevant.
The Browns scoring drives started at their 49, our 43, and our 22. The drives netted a total of 43 offensive yards. All of the drives came after turnovers. The fact the defense responded so well to quick change situations and tough field position is really impressive.
The defense didn’t allow a TD. This hasn’t happened since JAX game in September of 2010.
Playing behind the chains made for a rough day:
1st drive: 2nd/16, 3rd/15
2nd drive: 2nd/15, 1st/20, 2nd/16, 3rd/11, 2nd/11, 2nd/21
3rd drive: none
4th drive: none
5th drive: 2nd/20, 3rd/11
6th drive: 2nd/20, 3rd/13
Just look at that. On 4 of the first 6 drives the team had to overcome 2nd/long. Ridiculous. This was due to TFLs, botched snaps, and way too many penalties. It really did look like a 5th preseason game for a while early on.
The Red Zone was a nemesis in 2011. It was a good place on Sunday. The offense was 2 of 2. The defense held the Browns to 0 for 2. That’s huge. The RZ defense was 32nd (and historically bad in 2010). It improved to 30th last year. Now the team has 2 RZ stops and even one of those was a takeaway.
Eagles were 8 of 19 on 3rd downs. Solid. Browns were 2 of 13. Bad.
* Shady recovered a botched snap. No idea who was at fault on that. Great job by Shady to get on the ball.
* 3rd/1. Ran play-fake rollout to the left. Vick hit Shady with a short throw and got 10 yds on the play. Simple design, good execution.
* 1st/10. Late in half after Mac’s big play. Lined up both WRs to the right. DeSean was in the slot and ran sort of a dig route. Mac ran a post-corner-post. It was just a 2-man play. Joe Haden got turned around by good route from Mac, leaving him wide open. Vick had lots of protection and a clean pocket. Easy TD. Bullet throw from Vick that Mac got at the back of the endzone. Not sure why Vick read the play so slowly, but he did have the arm to get the ball there.
* 3rd/1. Ran Shady to the left from 1-back set. Got hit early, but rolled over LB for the 1st down. I hate short yardage with no lead blocker. Risky.
* 3rd/GL. Game winning play…Jimmy Bama wrote a whole post on it that is worth checking out.
* Mixed in plenty of rollouts to help with protection.
* No screen game whatsoever. They shut us down. Lots of former Eagles on team/staff. Had to help.
* CLE blitzed off backside on run plays a lot of the time. Guy either chased Shady or was able to pressure Vick on play fakes.
VICK – Bad game. I’d love to tell you that he was rusty early and then righted the ship and led us to a win, but that would be ignoring the pass he threw prior to the TD that should have been picked off. Vick did play better on the final 2 drives, but he got away with a careless, critical mistake that a veteran QB just can’t make. Ugh.
My biggest issue with him is that he made poor decisions and/or played slow. Guys would come open, Vick would see them, and then he’d throw the ball. By that time, defenders would either have the player covered or would be on the way. If this was 2009, I’d understand. Vick started 25 games over the last 2 years. He is a veteran QB. You must anticipate plays and throw the ball when the player is about to be open or is just coming open. You cannot wait until he is wide open and then throw. That’s too late.
Vick did play better on the final 2 drives. Made an excellent read and throw on the TD. Hit Celek prior to that to set up the TD and that was good. He seemed more under control. I hope that’s a sign that what we saw for 3 quarters was an anomaly and won’t be repeated.
The strangest play of the final drive was a run. It was 3rd/10. Vick took off since he had lots of room. Got near the line and had defenders to deal with. Tried to go through them. Got hit hard and the ball fell to the ground, as did Vick. He alertly recovered the ball and set up 4th/inches. That wasn’t a time to slide and I’m glad he sold out to try for the 1st down. Vick is tough.
Final numbers: 29-56-317 … 2 TDs, 4 INTs … 7 rushes for 32 yds (3 kneel downs).
#1 – Got pressure from the left side. Went wide of that and had some time. Saw Celek over the middle. Threw across his body and back to Celek, but it was a pass that shouldn’t have been thrown. Can’t lob balls across your body and over the middle.
#2 – Tried to get the ball to Clay Harbor on an intermediate route. Clay was open, for maybe half a second. Vick made a slow read and late decision. By the time the ball got there, 3 defenders were there. 1 tipped it, another picked it off.
#3 – Tried to hit Maclin on a crossing route. The ball was just a bit too wide. Mac got a hand on it and the ball bounced into the air. Joe Haden picked it and took off down the sideline. This was more poor execution than poor decision-making. I can live with mistakes like this, but don’t want to.
#4 – Vick wasn’t under much pressure, but just forced a ball into coverage. Threw it right to LB D’Qwell Jackson, who picked it off and ran it back for a TD. This pick was the worst. Made no sense.
Another issue for Vick was pocket presence. Sometimes he held the ball too long and didn’t respond well to actual pressure. Other times he got nervous when he did have a clean pocket and created pressure for himself by not just staying put. Vick is inconsistent with this on a regular basis, but it was a problem on Sunday.
* Ran for 16 yards up the middle on 3rd/15. Browns left it wide open. Smart choice.
* Made a really impressive throw on the run to DeSean. Threw it sidearm and led him nicely. Ball was a tad high, but considering Vick was on the run, it was impressive.
* Ran up middle for 11 on play where he had good protection and saw a gaping hole to attack. Didn’t slide, but dove to protect himself a bit.
* Fired a “rocket ball” to Celek on screen pass where blitzer had come free. Dumb. Brent had not shot to make the catch. You don’t want the ball being thrown recklessly in traffic.
* Made a terrible throw late in the half. Tried to hit Shady when he was tightly covered by a LB and the pass was very close to being intercepted. Botched screen pass.
* Tried to hit Shady with a dump pass over the middle late in the half. There were 2 Browns on him. Luckily the ball was off target.
* Great deep ball to Mac late in the half. Accurate. Touch.
* Never question his toughness. Dove at DT on run play where Shady cut back. Vick isn’t shy or timid.
* Forced the ball to Clay Harbor over and over. Most passes were late so defenders had a chance to play the ball. One 3rd Qtr pass was way late and ended up going into triple coverage. It was deflected by one LB and picked by another.
* Forced ball to Mac on next to last play. Almost a disaster. LB should have picked it off. Don’t know how Vick didn’t see him.
It was ugly, but he did enough to help us win.
SHADY – Good game. 20-110. Made one huge mistake. Ended the opening drive with a fumble. Started to his left. There wasn’t room to run so Shady tried to reverse his field. S T.J. Ward had lined up on the LOS and flew off the edge at the snap. He knocked the ball loose. Shady should have seen him prior to the snap and known that cutting back wasn’t going to be a good option. Got greedy and paid the price for it. As for why he fumbled, Shady didn’t anticipate contact so he didn’t have the ball tucked in tight. He wasn’t being careless and swinging it, but didn’t have it ready for contact. Showed good natural power when he lowered his shoulder into Sheldon Brown and knocked him out of the game for a bit. Most of his running success came to the outside. I thought he showed good speed and vision. Read his blocks well and maneuvered through traffic. Converted on 3rd/1 and 4th/inches. Didn’t try for big plays. Got the yards we needed. Last year had a bad habit of looking for big plays.
Outstanding day as pass blocker.
B BROWN – Backup RB. Saw time on run and pass plays. Got a very casual chip block on DT early on. You could tell Brown was just figuring things out as he hit the guy. Kinda funny to see. Sloppy block on blitzing LB on the next play. Went too low and the LB was able to use his hands to get by Brown and hit Vick. Ran straight upfield on play in 4th for gain of 4. Tackled by DE in pursuit. Good lesson for Brown about the speed of the game. Coaches shocked me by giving Bryce the ball on little trap draw on 1st/GL with 2 mins left. Penetration blew up the play. That showed a lot of trust by the coaches. My guess is that the coaches hoped Brown’s size, burst, and N-S running would help him to get in if there was a hole. There wasn’t.
HAVILI – Good game. Had some good blocks on run plays in the 4th Qtr. Attacked his targets aggressively. Encouraging to see this. Had key block on 4th/inches. Took DB and sealed him, giving Shady room to get a few yds.
* A couple of times we had Brent, Clay line up in the backfield. They would then move out as wings prior to the snap. They chip blocked the DE and then released into the flat as receivers. Simple, effective.
CELEK – Good game. 4-65. First catch was over the middle on the opening drive. Nothing fancy. Best play was a seam route in the late 3rd Qtr that went for a gain of 28. Made a crucial catch on final drive that got us down to the 4. Got open by force and Vick hit him with a good throw. Then Brent took on half the Browns team as he tried to score, but couldn’t get free. Had a good day as a blocker. There were some really good blocks and some were just so-so.
HARBOR – Good game. Used creatively. Lined up out wide. Also slot. TE. And almost in the backfield at times. 3-16 with a TD as receiver. Targeted 6 times. Had a pretty good block on the end around. Pulled and got on a LB. Lined up like H-back on a run play and then pulled and acted as the lead blocker to the backside. Good job on LB. Lined up at offset FB on pass play and then tried to block DE on far side. Didn’t work at all. Play action pass that penetration killed. Stayed in to block on 3rd/11. Did a good job on the DE and when Clay saw Vick roll from the pocket he released and went upfield. Wide open. Vick never saw him. Ran the play where he pulls and acts as lead blocker. Whiffed on the LB. Shady made the guy miss anyway. I liked the fact Harbor didn’t freeze/panic. Went upfield to go block someone else. Excellent block on 4th/inches run. Helped seal DE at the snap, then got LB and slowed him enough for Shady to get there and gain a few yds on the play.
MACLIN – Up and down game. Leading receiver at 7-96-1. Delivered the longest play of the game and the first TD. Targeted 14 times. When he wasn’t catching passes, things were very up and down. Made a dumb mistake early that negated a good gain to Shady. Eagles designed a “rub route” where Shady would get a pass near the sideline. Mac was supposed to get in the LB’s way so he couldn’t get out to Shady. Instead, Mac hit the LB and was correctly called for Off PI. Can’t just run into defenders. You must sell to the refs that you’re running a route and just happened to get in the way. Poor effort by Mac cost us 24 yards. Poor block on DeSean’s end around let Sheldon get in on the tackle. Caught a pass on crossing route on 3rd/5. Took a solid hit and was stopped for just 4 yd gain. Slow to get up. Didn’t look that bad, but really got to him. Called for holding on run late in the half. Ticky-tack call because he barely did anything, but he was grabbing the DB from behind. DUMB!!! You aren’t doing any good by grabbing like that. Only bad can happen.
Delivered a huge play late in the half when he caught a 46-yd pass down the left sideline. Did a good job of using speed and his hands to get by the DB and open. Made a good over-the-shoulder grab and held on as he went to the ground. Good job on the TD catch. Ran a crisp route and that got him open. Then managed to catch the ball and get his feet down cleanly in the endzone.
D JACKSON – Pretty good game. 4-77. Got off to a good start, then Vick went away from him. Looks worlds different than last year. Caught 2 passes by going off the ground and getting the ball. Ran an end around early on. Only got 5 yds, but ran the ball in traffic and showed no fear of contact. Long catch came late in the 1st Qtr. Got a pass down the right side. Got by Haden and added 15 RAC yards for a total gain of 35. Had a good catch for 9 yards on the final drive. Made very impressive play on deep ball that came his way. Went up high and knocked the ball away, making sure Haden couldn’t pick it off. Got away with Off PI on the play, but was worth the risk. The old DeSean is back and I’m very happy about that.
AVANT – Solid game. First catch came on pass play where he lined up tight to the formation and chipped the DE before releasing. Actually made an impressive 1-hand grab on that play, but only for a short gain. Caught a couple of passes early on in the game winning drive. 3rd down catch was nice. Avant was covered and saw Vick needed a target. Jason had been moving to the outside. Shifted back to the inside by a couple of steps and gave Vick an open, easy target to hit with a safe pass. Smart. Blocked well all game long. 4-27 as receiver.
D JOHNSON – Ran a slant and caught pass on 3rd down to move the chains. Simple play, but did a good job. Had a pass come his way in the 1st half, but the throw was off and couldn’t make the catch.
Complicated subject. While watching the game live, I thought the OL was terrible. Upon re-watching, they did a much better job than I realized. They still made too many mistakes and were way to sloppy for a group that mostly played together last year, but I think they got too much criticism. Vick had a clean pocket quite a bit. He didn’t get the ball out quickly at times.
The line had some really good run blocks in the 2nd half. They got going and things looked really good at times.
For the individual write-ups, I’m not listing every positive play. Would be nearly impossible. One way to look at this is that Vick dropped back 62 times, but was sacked only twice. He did run 4 other times, but most of those he had room and decided to take off. One sack was by the FS, the other the SAM – both were blitzers. Vick had better pass protection than some thing.
Yes, he did get hit too much. Yes, there were problems with protection. My point is that part of that is on Vick and that the OL isn’t as bad as some people made it out to be.
* CLE used outside blitzes vs empty or 1-back sets.
* First sack was a delayed blitzer that went unblocked.
DUNLAP – Eagles helped him quite a bit. Got lots of TE help. Also had WRs and RBs come chip for him. Got beaten by up and under move on pass play. Guy didn’t hit Vick, but did pressure him. King was called for holding. Was beaten to the inside on 2nd/long. Vick got flushed and then threw a pick over the middle. Tried to go upfield and block MLB on run. Barely got a hand on him. Didn’t affect the outcome of the play. Blocked DE for 3 seconds, then lost him. Guy got a good hit on Vick. I know that’s a long time to sustain blocks, but that’s how Vick plays QB. Gotta sustain until you know the ball is gone. Got driven back on run play in early 3rd and that forced Shady to cutback. Turned into a TFL. Had one pretty good block on the 2nd level. Hit a LB in the early 4th and allowed Shady a cutback lane. Not King’s best game, but he was a functional LT.
MATHIS – Ruined the opening play of the game by accident. Tried to run a screen. Evan pushed his DT and went to get upfield. Unfortunately, pushed the DT right into Shady and knocked him to the ground. That was an omen for the day. Good block of D’Qwell on outside run play. Kept him from getting involved at all. Called for holding on 1st Qtr drive. Grabbed DT and kept him from getting to Shady. Legit call. Got beaten by DT on pass play and that forced Vick to throw the ball away. Guy just overpowered Evan on the play. Good seal block on Shady run to his side. Evan got up and sealed the ILB, giving Shady a huge hole to hit. Had some real good blocks, especially in the 2nd half.
KELCE – Not his best day. Called for holding on 2nd Qtr run. Analyst John Lynch thought it was questionable call. Looked legit to me. The DT was about to make the play. Jason had his hands on the guy and was keeping him from getting to Shady. Good block on run play late in the half. Got out in the open and threw a LB to the ground. Made a strange read late in the half on an attempted screen pass. Let a DT cross his face, as if expecting Watkins to block him. Problem is that Danny was busy with a DT in front of him. Maybe it was a slide protection of some sort, but it is very unusual to let a guy cross your face and expect someone else to block him. Good blitz pickup on the long pass to Mac late in the half. Got manhandled late in the 3rd Qtr. DL hit him at full speed and drove Jason back toward Vick as he was throwing. Ball was batted back. Very good block on run to left in the early 4th Qtr. Drove DT sideways, let Mathis handle him. Jason cut upfield and sealed LB, giving Shady room to run for 1st down. There was a botched snap, but I’m not sure if that was on Jason or Vick.
WATKINS – Up and down. There was miscommunication between him and Kelce on a pass play which led to a big hit on Vick. Danny left the block first to go help Todd. Then Jason let go to go for a LB, who never even went after Vick. Dumb and dumber for a moment. Got beaten upfield by DT on pass. Stuck with the block and kept him from Vick. Normally that would have been fine, but it was a play-action pass and the penetration threw the whole thing off. Made a good peel-back block of LB on screen to free Shady up for gain of 8. Good vision/decision. Some OL run upfield blindly. Danny took on the LB closest to him and that was the key guy. Outstanding block of Rubin on run late in the half. Stuck with the block for at least 5 yards. Made sure his guy wasn’t going to affect that play. Kept his feet moving on the play. Good progress by Danny. Hasn’t always done that well. Got beaten to the inside on 3rd Qtr pass play and was called for holding, but penalty refused. Got called for holding on 3rd down pass late in the 3rd Qtr. DT just beat him with burst. Good job on run to the right side. Started with the DT, then passed him to Kelce. Danny went up and got a LB. Got beat to the inside by DT on pass play. Got lucky and drew a roughing the passer flag out of it. Looks good at times, but pass protection must be better. I thought he looked much better on the 2nd level.
HERREMANS – Got beaten cleanly by Parker on pass play. Juqua got his hand on Vick’s facemask (no call). Juqua was able to put Vick on the ground after the pass. Todd must be better than that. Good block on run late in the half. DE came inside and Todd gave him a big shove to get the guy out of Shady’s path. The Browns gave him fits on run plays to his side. The DE was jumping in and out. When outside, Todd was to shove the guy wide and create a running lane. When inside, Todd was to seal him. Made it tough for Todd to block since he had to react to a moving target. Doesn’t happen like that on most run plays. Might be something other teams pick up on. Generally had a solid day in pass protection.
* Reverse for long gain. Trent almost blew it up for big loss. He was blocked in the back, but I think that’s legal between the tackles. Babin hustled out wide in pursuit and also got blocked in the back. Not sure he’s fair game outside. Akeem Jordan hustled in pursuit, but was a step slow in getting far enough wide. Nnamdi made a great play. He was on the other side of the field, but took a good angle and hustled in pursuit. He prevented a possible TD.
* Great/awful play in 3rd Qtr. Backup DL in the game. Tapp drives Joe Thomas back. Thornton drives the C back. Cox drives the RG back. Hunt gets a bit of pressure from LDE. The pocket collapses. There is nowhere for Weeden to go. Cox grabs him from behind with 1 hand and pulls him down for the sack. Great. While Weeden is laying on the ground, Tapp and Hunt don’t think he’s been hit. They dive on him. Penalty. 15 yards. What in the history of hell were they thinking? Since when have you been allowed to dive on a QB who is laying on the ground? The hits were dirty or hard, but that’s beyond the point. The NFL doesn’t let you do that. Hasn’t for years. You see a QB on the ground. You tap him with your hand. This isn’t the Gang Green era when that stuff was allowed. Hate the rules all you want, but don’t be idiots. Tapp is a veteran and should really know better.
COLE – Solid game. Beat Joe Thomas for what should have been a strip sack, but Babin was offside and the play wiped out. Really good burst, hands on the play. Too bad. Got good pressure by on a pass by driving Thomas back toward Weeden. Good power on that play. CLE tried to block him with a RB on a 3rd Qtr pass play. Trent barely got slowed down by the guy and hit Weeden as he threw the ball. Pass was broken up. Credited with TFL on 4th Qtr run up the middle. Couple of guys were there.
BABIN – Great game. Maybe the best game Babin has played as an Eagle. Who knew he could play the run? First play of the year he got by the RT and stuffed the RB. Lined up offside and cost Trent a sack. Didn’t hurt us overall. Ran a game with CuJo late in the half. Jason went hard inside. Got into the G, then used spin move to come free up the middle. Hit Weeden, but was close to late hit. Got lucky there was no flag. Did a great job late in the half. CLE was in 3rd/2 and tried PA pass. Jason slanted to the inside and went right by RB who wanted to cut him. Jason hit the QB just as the ball was gone. Looked like the pass was a bit rushed because of him. Blew by the RT on the final play of the half and had chance for sack, but wasn’t able to get his hands cleanly on Weeden. Made a beautiful play to open the 3rd Qtr. Flew upfield, engaged the RT, slung him aside, and stuffed the RB for minimal gain. Had a strip-sack a couple of plays later. Browns tried to block him with TEs. That didn’t work. Jason got by them and hit the QB, knocking the ball out. Got outstanding pressure on 3rd/10 late in the 3rd Qtr. Flew upfield and OL gave him a shove that actually helped Jason get off the block and hit Weeden. Forced an incompletion. Blew up a run to his side by getting under the RT and driving him into the backfield. T-Rich went to the other side and made something out of nothing. Got pressure in late 3rd on key play. TE had gotten open in the endzone. Babin hit Weeden as he threw and the ball went off-target. Clutch play. Finished game with 4 solo stops, sack, FF.
LANDRI – Got the first big hit on Weeden. They left him unblocked and Derek got a big, but legal shot on the kid and slammed him down. Helped clog a running lane on the next snap. Took on a lot of double teams. Held his ground. Got good pressure on 2nd Qtr pass play when he was single-blocked. Didn’t make plays, but did his job.
JENKINS – Had a couple of TFLs and got pressure a couple of times. Blew up early run by slanting to the inside and hitting the RB at the LOS. Read a screen play well and had a chance for TFL, but the RB dropped the ball. Got pressure on 2nd Qtr pass when he looped around Babin and came totally free. Got free with 2nd effort on a 3rd down pass play and pressured Weeden. Got TFL on RZ run play to end the 3rd Q. Good penetration.
HUNT – Quiet game. Got some pressure on Weeden in the 2nd Qtr and flushed him out wide. Beat cut block attempt and got some pressure on Weeden on the 2nd INT to DRC. Got a penalty for hitting the QB after the INT. Didn’t get to see that part of the play.
THORNTON – Had to battle double teams on a regular basis. Mixed results. Gave some ground, but not too much. Also was eating up blockers on those plays. Called for offside penalty in 2nd Qtr. Pulled the ball loose from RB in the 4th Qtr, but he was clearly down so it wasn’t a fumble. Good effort.
TAPP – Backup RDE. Pursued well on run play to other side. Used a spin move to get inside the LT and blow up a run play. Made bonehead mistake when he dove on the QB and drew a flag.
COX – Played stronger than I expected. Got push on pass plays. Grabbed RB as he tried to go upfield and stopped him for short gain. Got his first NFL sack in the 3rd Qtr. Drove the RG back and reached around him to grab Weeden, pull him down. Pressure from Thornton meant Weeden couldn’t move up in the pocket. Got good pressure on pass in the early 4th. Looked quick.
GRAHAM – Only played 4 snaps. Made good play in early 2nd Qtr. CLE faked end around. BG read that and made sure RB had the ball. Then he crashed down and tackled the RB, limiting play to 4 yards. Got by the RT late in the half and was able to hit Weeden just after the ball was out.
*** A note about DL play. CLE had 8 drives of 3 or fewer plays. They didn’t have any drive last longer than 7 plays. No drive covered more than 53 yards. This meant that the starters stayed well rested and there wasn’t as much of a need for rotation as usual. That’s probably why some backups played less than usual.
KENDRICKS – Wow. Super impressed with this rookie. Outstanding job on early outside run. Read the play and hustled out wide. Fought through block and tackled T-Rich for minimal gain. Did a good job vs inside run. Used his hands to fight off block, then waited to see the RB. Once he did, burst through traffic to help make the stop. Helped with Kurt’s first INT. Nate had already hit Little and gotten the ball loose. Mychal came in and hit the ball with his helmet into the air for Kurt to pick. I’m sure that was 100% intentional. Or not. Made a clean tackle in space against a WR on a crossing route. Kept him short of the sticks on 1st/5. Did a terrific job vs 4th Qtr screen. Read the play, split a pair of blockers, and got to the RB to limit him to 5 yards. Not a play a normal rookie makes. Should have been beaten for a TD in the late 3rd. Played off vs TE. Got caught flat-footed & staring into the backfield, allowing the TE got open by a yard or two. Pass was errant and incomplete. Needs coaching and technique work. Had nothing to do with size or speed. Gave up short completion to TE (6 yds). Thought he had a chance to pick the ball off and was mad at himself. Looked athletic on that play. Credited with 5 total tackles.
RYANS – Good game. Had 5 solo stops. Should have had 2 or 3 TFLs, but was credited with just 1. Not sure about that. First big play came on 3rd/4. Tackled TE after catch on crossing route and held him to 3 yards. Forced CLE to punt. On a series early in the 2nd Qtr Ryans read a 3rd/1 play correctly. He fired upfield and got the RB down for a loss. No hesitation. Good tackle. Got a TFL on the next series when he read a run play quickly and fired upfield. Came after Weeden on a green dog in the 2nd Qtr and forced him to throw the ball away. Walked Ryans out over slot WR in Dime look in 3rd Qtr. Receiver caught pass and got 11 yds, but Ryans did tackle him. Curious about what we were trying to do on that look. Got in on a TFL on inside run in the 4th Qtr. Got T-Rich up high and made sure he wasn’t going anywhere.
JORDAN – WLB. Helped stuff an inside run by getting upfield and getting T-Rich by the legs. Attacked upfield on pass play (not a pure blitz) and forced an errant throw.
ROLLE – Played as Dime LB in a 3rd Qtr set.
CHANEY – Didn’t see notice on defense.
ALLEN – Solid game. Credited with 5 tackles and a TFL. Missed tackle on early run. Flew upfield and had chance for TFL, but T-Rich put a good move on him. Only cost us a couple of yards. Very next play was backside screen to TE. Nate read it and flew up to tackle him for 2-yd loss. Helped cause an INT in the 2nd Qtr. Weeden was trying to hit Little over the middle. Nate read the play and broke on the ball. He got there just after the ball did. Nate hit Little solidly and helped jar the ball loose. Eventually Kurt grabbed it. Tackled RB after short catch on 3rd/1. Came up quickly in the early 4th and tackled T-Rich after he got by Coleman. Strong wrap-up tackle. Played in the box and back deep.
COLEMAN – Picked off 2 passes and had 4 solo tackles. Made tackle on early pass to Nnamdi’s guy. Good tackle after the guy had gotten some yards and was in the open field. Moved down like a LB in the box in some Dime sets. Picked off pass in the RZ. Nate and Kendricks got the ball in the air. Kurt hustled over and made the catch. Easy, but clutch. Gotta catch those gimmes. Had one crazy play. Got tangled up with blocker on a run and came free right at T-Rich got to him. Kurt wasn’t ready and T-Rich hit him hard, knocking his helmet into and air and 5 yards down the field. Kurt got his face messed up, but grabbed the RB and brought him to the ground. Tough. Missed a tackle of T-Rich on cutback run in the early 4th. Good move by the RB and Kurt missed. Nate cleaned up. Picked off Weeden to seal the game. Lined up on the right hash pre-snap and then moved more to the center of the field after the snap. Not sure if this was by design or just happened. The pass was an overthrow and Kurt made a leaping grab to seal the deal. Wisely went down rather than trying to make a run for the endzone.
JARRETT – Did not see him on defense.
NNAMDI – Good game. Broke up 3 passes. Gave up completion early on when playing off coverage. We blitzed off the other side and I guess Castillo was hoping the ball would come there and Nnamdi might have chance to break on it. Instead, turned into nice catch and run. Had airtight coverage on slant that came his way prior to halftime. Incomplete. Broke up a 3rd Qtr slant that came his way. Broke up 4th Qtr pass to the flat. Hit RB right as the ball got there and it went flying. Too bad it wasn’t a fumble. Kendricks was ready to scoop and score. Excellent awareness and good hit by Nnamdi.
DRC – Great game. Picked off 2 passes and broke up 2 others. Gave up slant for about 10 yds. Good coverage, just a good throw and catch. Made a strong tackle on the play. First INT came on a deep ball. DRC had inside position and made a leaping catch as the ball got there. Perfect job by a CB. Cover tightly and make a play on the ball if it comes that way. 2nd INT was very similar. Didn’t have to jump for the ball, but did cleanly pluck it up high. Broke up a short throw that came his way in the 3rd Qtr. Had a pass come right to him in the endzone in the early 4th. Wasn’t able to make the grab. Should have been easy. Couldn’t tell if it caught him off guard or he was already thinking about a long return. That drop cost us 3 points.
BOYKIN – Good game. Had some passes come his way. Had tight coverage on Little and that forced an errant throw by Weeden. Failed to tackle WR in bounds late in the half and that let the Browns get off another snap. Didn’t hurt us, but you need to make those tackles. Highlight moment came when he broke up a 3rd down pass. Guy had gotten open for a moment and Boykin used his recovery speed to get there and knock the ball away. Gave up a completion when playing off, but did make the tackle. CLE ran a pick play on him in the mid-4th, but Brandon showed good awareness and stuck with his guy, forcing an incompletion. Boykin didn’t play like a rookie. Looked well-prepared and played smart football.
MARSH – Didn’t see him on defense.
HUGHES – Played in the slot in some Dime sets. Also played outside when DRC was out of the game for a few snaps. Covered tightly when in the slot.
HENRY – Great game. Averaged 55 yards per punt. Got off a 62-yard rocket when we were backed up and needed it.
HENERY – 1 of 2 on FGs. He’s now missed in 3 straight games. The made FG was a bit of a push, meaning the ball went to his right. I think he might have over-compensated on the next kick and it hooked to the left. The misses have to stop. Had some deep KOs.
PR – Damaris Johnson was okay. Long return was only 6 yds. Punts were erratic and he didn’t have much to work with. CLE was called for interference on one play when he was trying to make a fair catch.
KOR – Havili returned the first KO since it was short. Got 18 yards. Looked natural on the return. Boykin took the next KO out to the 26 (credited with 29 yards). Nothing to write home about. There were a couple of touchbacks.
* Akeem Jordan was our best STer. Led the team with 4 tackles, mostly on punts. Jordan made a terrific tackle of Cribbs after long punt and kept Browns from getting great field position. Got Cribbs on another punt return when he had started to get going. Every time Cribbs got the ball, I got nervous. Akeem was very good at getting downfield and making clean tackles.
* Chaney tackled Cribbs on first KO.
* Coleman made a good open field tackle on punt.
* Hunt, Marsh had good KO coverage to open 3rd. Hunt ate up blockers, Marsh closed from the outside in.
* Havili impressed me on STs by doing the little things. Took on blockers rather than getting out of his lane. Was physical. Did have one awkward moment. Almost touched a live punt. The P hit a short kick. Havili was mixing it up with cover guys as they ran down the field. He had no idea the ball was as short as it was and ran right by it. Browns thought he touched it, but wasn’t within a foot of the ball. Havili will have to learn to pay better attention. Can’t assume every punt will go 45 yards. That one only went 33, very short punt.
* Jason Avant made the tackle on the final KO. For all of you who want the Eagles to add veteran WRs as backups, remember plays like this. Avant and Riley Cooper are good STers. They are willing to do the dirty work.
* Sam checked out the Eagles production points they list for STs and saw Jaiquawn Jarrett played the most STs snaps, but only had 1 point. I was hoping to go back and see what the deal was, but the Eagles just cut him. Ouch.
GAMEBOOK (with snap counts)