Detailed Game Review – PIT 16, PHI 14

Posted: October 10th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 55 Comments »

Disappointing loss. Simple as that. The Steelers didn’t have their A-game. You never expect to go to Pittsburgh and win when you look at the schedule in the spring or summer. This was a chance to steal a game. The Eagles could have gotten to 4-1. Sure, they’d still be flawed, but 4-1 flawed is better than 3-2 flawed.

Unfortunately, the Steelers were able to fight through and win the game. They were a desperate 1-2 team and that showed in the final drive. They battled their way down the field, making clutch plays and finally nailing the game-winning FG.

There are some positives to take from the game. The Eagles didn’t have their A-game either, but were able to take the lead midway through the 4th Qtr. That required good defense to keep the game close and the offense coming through when needed. The OL looked good at times. There was some really good individual blocking. The Steelers overload blitzes did confuse them and lead to a couple of sacks. One sack was on Vick for hesitating on a play when he decided to scramble. The DBs had a good day in coverage. I didn’t see Safeties biting on fakes as in previous weeks.

Vick’s fumbles are the most memorable aspect of this game. He had 4 of them. Lost 2, including one at the goal line, and that may have cost the Eagles the game. You never know how things would play out, but if Vick just holds onto that ball and the Eagles settle for a FG, it is possible the Steelers need a TD to win the game late and that changes things in a huge way. Aw heck, they probably still win and the loss is just that much more painful.     

I do think Andy Reid is right to be impressed with the way the team handled the situation. We remember the 2004 Eagles going to Heinz Field and getting absolutely demolished. Score was only 27-6, but felt more like 127-6. Those Steelers bullied us and dominated the game. I still remember Darwin Walker being driven 10 yards off the LOS on a run play. I literally laughed out loud as I re-watched that moment. The Steelers aren’t as good now, but a young Eagles team went in there and battled their butts off, almost winning. There is something to be said for that, especially when you think back to the crappy performance vs Arizona.

COACHING

Overall I thought Andy did fine. He had to challenge the early Vick fumble and that got overturned. Things got really interesting on the Eagles final drive. DeSean caught a short pass and the ball was spotted short of the first down line. It looked to me that he got it. Reid also, as he challenged the spot. Unfortunately the officials did not agree. That set up 4th and short.

Andy decided to go for it. With 13:11 left in the game. From our 30…our 30. This decision goes against most football logic, but I think Andy went this way based on the way this game felt to him. We trailed 13-7 at that point. If we give the ball to Big Ben and he kicks a FG, it becomes a 2-possession game. Our offense was not exactly moving at a quick pace. The Steelers took away our big plays.

So Andy rolled the dice and gave the ball to Shady. He was rewarded with a 1st down. Andy went for it on 4th down near midfield and got that one as well. He took a huge risk, but I understand where he was coming from. I wasn’t shouting “NO!!!” at the TV as we did go for it. The decision didn’t bother me. I was surprised, but not upset. The game had a weird vibe to it and Andy must have felt that as well. He went all in and got rewarded. I don’t want this to become a habit, though.

As for the offensive gameplan, Marty and Andy did a solid job. We ran a reasonably balanced game. I had no problem with the QB draw at the GL. I wanted them to run that last week so I’m not going to be a hypocrite and start complaining when it backfires. I do wish we had gotten the ball to DeSean on an end around or something like that. We were moving the ball 5 yds at a time. I’d like to get my playmakers a bit more involved.

Juan and the defense…mixed feelings. We only gave up 16 points. We did a lot of bend, but don’t break stuff in this game. We did try some blitzing early and got burned. I wonder if that made Juan go away from that or if it was his design all along.

As I watched the game Sunday I was very frustrated on the final drive. I wanted us to be more aggressive. Upon re-watching the game, there were players in position to make plays, but guys didn’t do that. Especially Nate Allen. He is not meant to play down in the box. Juan used him there on the final drive and he got burned on several plays. Kurt Coleman is smaller, but is more at home in the box. I’d have switched that up. Juan’s ability to evaluate personnel is a major question.

Jim Washburn deserves some criticism. I love Jim, but he didn’t play Brandon Graham on the final drive. Graham had gotten the best hits on Big Ben. So why the heck would you not want him out there for at least a play or two?

OFFENSE

Plays

* 1st/GL. Vick lined up in shotgun with Havili in backfield. QB draw. Havili had a good block of LB. OL, Celek on the right got movement. One player was unaccounted for. Unfortunately that was SS Ryan Clark and he hit Vick and knocked the ball loose. PIT recovered. Barf.

* Used a ghost reverse to help sell a screen to Shady, but the Steelers read the play well and the pass actually lost 2 yds.

1st/10. Brent and 2 WRs are to the left. Another WR is way right. Shady is in the backfield. PIT blitzed off the edge and Shady went right to that spot. Caught them in the perfect defense. Vick got the ball to Shady quickly. Defender came flying out to make the stop. Shady put a quick move on him and then flew upfield for the score.

4th/inches. Final drive. Straight ahead run play. No room for Shady up the middle so he cut to the right. Found some daylight and then burrowed for a yard. Excellent effort. Todd got some initial surge with his block. Harbor was able to pin 93 inside and move him a step off the ball. That’s where Shady ended up going.

4th/1. Final drive. 2 WRs, 2 TEs. Had Avant line up as a wing back. He then blocked a S at the snap. Very good block. Watkins, Reynolds doubled DL to the right side. Todd got movement off the snap. Celek had an excellent block of LB. Shady went to the area Todd was in and got the yard.

3rd/GL. Final drive. Simple play. Brent comes off the ball. Engages the SS. Fakes in and jerks hard to the outside. The second he’s open Vick has a laser coming right to him. Vick had a free blitzer coming at him, but stayed focused and made a very good throw. Excellent job by Celek to get open and make the critical catch.

* We were 4 of 10 on 3rd downs.

* We were 2 of 3 in the RZ. That kept us in the game.

* Only had 3 plays of 15 or more yards. Normally Shady does that by himself. Had to play small ball and struggled with that.

Players

QB 

VICK - Up and down game. The down side is clearly the fumbles. They cost us at least one FG and also hurt our momentum. The 1st half didn’t feel right after the GL fumble. It was like waiting for the other shoe to drop. When is the pick-six coming? Where is the next disaster? There was no other disastrous play, just some mediocre offense.

Vick was better after halftime, going 13-18-105 with 2 TDs and no turnovers. Not great numbers, but better. Good enough to get us the lead. Did play well in the 4th Qtr. Made soem clutch throws. His TD to Celek was an impressive play.

Overall numbers, 20-30-175. Ran 5 times for 16 yds. Long was just 9 yds. I didn’t see a lot of open guys that Vick missed. There were some and I’ve noted them below. I am a bit concerned with his deep passing. He’s missing guys. Sometimes it is a simple over or underthrow. Other times he puts the ball in the wrong place. Instead of leading the WR away from the DB, he’ll throw it between them. That kind of stuff.

* Missed wide open Brent Celek on opening series. Would have put us out at the 50 or better. Instead threw deep for Mac, who was double covered, and the ball was incomplete.
* Had pass on 2nd drive almost get picked off. Was hit as he threw. I think he was trying to get the ball out of bounds, but wasn’t able to get enough on it since he got hit. DJax kept it from being picked.
* Scrambled on 2nd drive and fumbled as he hit the ground. Play was overturned on replay. Had very good protection, but no one was open. Running was smart. Big void in he defense. Got 9 yds.
* Strip sack ended the 3rd series. Vick had good blocking. No one was open so he decided to run, but hesitated on that and Timmons was able to hit him from behind and knock the ball loose.
* Threw deep into double coverage for DJax in the 2nd Qtr. Incomplete.
* Ran QB draw in 2nd Qtr. Unfortunately PIT blitzed up the middle and blew the play up.
* Threw deep for Mac in the late 2nd Qtr. Had him open to the post, but threw the ball straight and the pass had no chance.

RB/FB

SHADY - Didn’t post the biggest numbers, but had an impressive game. 16-53 on the ground. Had to battle for every single yard. Long run was just 10 yds. 4-27 as a receiver, including a 15-yd TD. Had a good cut block of Harrison on pass play to DJax. Made a great move on Munday on final drive. Run went left. Everyone was blocked but the SS. Shady put a wicked move on him in the hole and got by him untouched for 7 yds. There were a couple of TFLs by Timmons where Shady had no chance. Pass blocking was up and down.

Converted:
3rd/2. Cut to backside of play, but didn’t go outside. Stayed tight and got the yds.
4th/1. Had to fight for a yard on final drive.
4th/1. Had to fight for a yard on final drive (diff play, though).

Good to see Shady making tough runs and moving the chains.

LEWIS - Didn’t play much on offense.

B BROWN - Quiet game. Had 1 carry for 4 yds. Got hit hard by Clark and I think that is when Bryce suffered a shoulder injury. Wasn’t a flashy hit, but Clark brings a lot of power without needed to launch himself. Hits like a man. Bryce found out the hard way. Had an effective block of blitzing LB on play where Vick threw deep. Gave him time to get the pass off.

HAVILI - Had 1 carry for 5 yds. Came on the opening drive. Made a good cut on the play. Had an excellent lead block on outside run on opening drive. Hit DB and let Shady get the edge. Did a solid job with his blocking overall. Played 21 snaps, a pretty good amount.

TE

CELEK - Quiet game. Had 3 catches, but only for 9 yds. One catch was a TD. Excellent seal block of Harrison on run play to the left on opening drive. Let Shady get out wide. Had another good seal of Harrison to open the 3rd series. Caught pass in early 3rd Qtr. Also drew flag on that play when defender hit Brent up high. Had some excellent blocks on the final drive. Pinned Timmons inside on run play that came to Brent’s side. Gave Shady a running lane. Was used in pass pro as well. No real standout moments.

HARBOR - 1 catch for 8 yds. Had a good block of Harrison on run play to the outside. Shady got wide for 9 yds on the play. Had a good seal block of SS on 3rd/2 run play that gave Shady room for about 2.1 yds. The catch came on the final drive. TE delay screen. Clay almost fought his way into the endzone. Good job on that play. Had some quality blocks.

WR

MACLIN - Led the team with 5 catches. Only had 39 yards, with a long play of 11. Drew a downfield throw on 2nd drive. Wasn’t able to make the grab, but did draw a flag. Next play Mac lined up to the right and caught a pass that got us inside the 5. Tried to get in the endzone, but his toe hit the sideline. At the time, I thought “No biggie. We’re almost at the goal line anyway”. Oops. Almost ran himself out of a 1st down on the final drive. Caught a pass, went back to try to get running space, saw that wasn’t going to work, and got back upfield to move the chains.

D JACKSON - Targeted 8 times, but only had 4 catches. Not his fault. A few of those throws were times when Vick was just getting rid of the ball. Did have 58 yards and delivered the only 2 big plays (24, 23). Did a good job to break up a pass along the sideline where a DB was trying to pick it off. Caught pass on pick play in the mid-2nd Qtr. Ran drag route as Celek released upfield. DeSean added good RAC yds. Got sloppy at the end of the play and had the ball knocked away from him. Was able to get on it and make the recovery. DeSean’s 24-yd catch on the final drive set us up for the go-ahead TD. Simple route and catch.

AVANT - Had 3 catches for 34 yds, per Gamebook. I had Avant with 4. First catch came on 3rd down on opening drive. Simple out route, but moved the chains. Made a tough catch between 2 DBs in the 3rd Qtr. Took a big hit, but held onto the ball. Final catch came over the middle on scoring drive in the 3rd Qtr. Nothing fancy, just Avant being Avant. Caught a pass on the go-ahead drive in the 4th Qtr.

D JOHNSON - Quiet game. Didn’t do much in the way of 4-WR sets. And Mac was able to play all game.

OL

* I only saw 1 double A-gap blitz. Came on final drive. Timmons came free and hit Vick, but ball was out.

* The OL seemed to talk to each other more than any other game I can recall. Lots of communication. There were still missed blitzers. I don’t think of these guys as missed assignments so much as blitzes that worked. You would see a play where the G and C would start blocking a guy and then a second later a blitzer would attack outside the G. It is really hard to peel off a block like that and pick up the blitzer. Other times this year we’ve just had guys running free. Pass pro still needs work.

BELL - Had a false start on the opening drive. Another one on the 3rd drive. Missed a blitzer in the 4th Qtr on an obvious play. Just let the guy go free to his inside. Frustrating to see that. Did have his best game. I thought the OLBs would give him fits. Wasn’t the case. Did a good job of blocking them and the DEs. Is starting to look more comfortable and I think that helps him quite a bit.

MATHIS - Solid game. Good job on run plays. Didn’t see any major breakdowns in pass pro. There was a rusher who flew by him late in the game. Watching live, I thought Evan screwed up. Nope, that was Bell’s guy. Had a real good block of Timmons on final drive. Pass pro. Took him on, then gave him a big shove to the outside. Harrison beat him with a good move on the final drive and pressured Vick into an errant throw.

REYNOLDS - Played his best game of the season and I would say it was a legitimately good game. Controlled the NT. Reynolds was quick off the ball and did a good job on run plays. He was able to flow playside and block who was needed. Had a good block of the NT on Havili run play. There was a run play where he was on the 2nd level and couldn’t get to Timmons, but that’s a tough assignment. Anchored well in pass pro. Not sure how he did with line calls and blitz adjustments. I’m guessing he did well since there weren’t clear missed assignments on a regular basis.

WATKINS - Screwed up in pass pro in 3rd Qtr. Had LB on him, but guy bailed at last minute. NT came to his side, but Danny didn’t block him and the guy sacked Vick and knocked the ball loose. Danny was alert and did recover. Had a real good run block on final drive. Moved the the right and was able to get wide and keep Timmons away from Shady, giving him the edge. There were a few plays where it looked like Danny missed blocks. These were creative blitzes. On one, a DL lined up on his outside shoulder. The guy crossed his face at the snap and attacked inside. Danny blocked him. Then blitzer came through the gap a second later. In theory, Danny should pass the DL to Reynolds and peel off and get the blitzer. Doing that in 1.5 to 2 seconds is a lot easier said than done. There were other plays when Danny and Reynolds would double a DL and then a blitzer would attack. Again, Danny should peel off, but he also must see the blitzer. If he turns his body left, he’ll have no idea the blitzer is even attacking there. What makes this all so confusing is that the Steelers do a lot of stemming and faking. They line a player up right over you and then he drops back instead of rushing. This might happen 3 times and then the 4th is when the blitz comes. Stemming is when there is pre-snap movement and they try to confuse OL on who is coming and where they will attack.

Danny must do a better job of anticipating blitzes. I don’t think you expect him to know every time it is going to happen, but he needs to show better awareness. The Steelers don’t have great athletes up front so Danny did fine once he was engaged with defender. He did a good job on run plays. Blitz recognition is an area where he must improve.

HERREMANS - Good game. We ran to his side at key moments for a reason. Was able to get some movement and give Shady room. Did a good job in pass pro. Steelers LBs didn’t get a lot of pressure off the edge. There was one play where Todd got off balance in pass pro and 93 beat him around the edge, but Vick had already thrown the pass.

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DEFENSE

PLAYS

* PIT ran a TE screen on play we just happened to blitz off that edge. Bad luck. Play went for 18 yds.

* 1st Qtr PIT lines up I-right on 2nd/10. We blitz LB off the edge. They run a draw. DeMeco gets stuck on a block. Kurt misses the tackle. Mendenhall runs for 24 yds. Bad luck with the blitz call. PIT had penalty wipe out the play (illegal formation).

* PIT ran read option play. Graham got back there in a hurry and got the RB, but Ben kept the ball and ran for s short gain. Weird.

* Bad luck on the TD. Kendricks got out in position, but blew the tackle. Looked like a rookie on that play. Chaney might have been there to clean up the mess, but was late for a good reason. Ryans tried to flatten a receiver running a drag route. Instead, he flattened Jamar. Chaney did get up and run out wide, but wasn’t able to get to Mendenhall before he ran in for the score.

* 3rd/12. We played Cover 2. Rushed 4 up front. Babin exploded off the edge and got his hands on Ben, but could not get hold of him. Jenkins was the DT to that side and took more of an outside rush. That meant Ben could cleanly step up in the pocket. Would have been better to have Cox there to drive the RG backward. Cole and Cox did a stunt on the other side and it didn’t work well. Ryans might have gotten too much depth on his pass drop. He ws 20 yards downfield w/ #88. That left the middle open and Brown got in there. Boykin made the tackle, but Brown got 20 yds on the play.

* Ran a screen play on final drive. Perfect call. Got us in a situation where they had more blockers than we had tacklers. No mistake by Juan or the players. You have to tip your cap to the Steelers for a great playcall here.

* 3rd/4. DL collapsed pocket and Ryans did a green-dog blitz and hit Ben…just after the ball was away. PIT ran a bunch set to their right. Ran a legal pick play and Sanders did a great job of scraping off the backside of the TE so there could be no penalty. Boykin was right there to make the tackle after the catch, but had no way to get through the pick and prevent it. Great execution by PIT.

Final drive DL role call:

1 – Babin, Cox, Thornton, Cole
2 – ditto
3 – ditto
4 – Babin, Jenkins, Cox, Cole (3rd/12)
5 – Hunt, Jenkins, Landri, Tapp
6 – ditto
7 – Hunt, Thornton, Landri, Tapp
8 – Babin, Cox, Thornton, Cole
9 – Babin, Cox, Jenkins, Cole
10 – Babin, Cox, Thornton, Cole
11 – ditto
I didn’t keep track on the final few plays. PIT was already inside the 25 and in good FG range.

* PIT was 6 of 14 on 3rd downs. That enabled them to sustain a few drives on us.

* Only 1 of 4 in the RZ. Eagles have made great strides in RZ defense.

* No sacks. No takeaways. Only 1 TFL. Not good.

PLAYERS

DL

COLE - Quiet game. Credited with just 1 tackle. Had a chance for huge play on the 2nd play of the game. Errant snap got bobbled by Ben and the ball was right there for Trent to scoop up or fall on. He was hand-fighting with the LT and didn’t see the ball before the Steelers jumped on it. Would have given the offense the ball at the PIT 10-yd line. Beat the LT cleanly in the 2nd Qtr and flushed Ben, who then scrambled up the middle. Put Ben on the ground on 3rd Qtr pass play. CuJo messed up the blocking and left Ben exposed for Trent to hit.

BABIN - Active game, but limited production. Credited with 1 tackle. Showed great speed, hustle in chasing down Mendenhall after he got loose for 24 yds on a draw play. Babin flashed explosive speed on that. Chased down swing pass from behind and got in on tackle of RB. Looped hard to the inside on 3rd down in early 2nd Qtr. As he got by the RG, Ben threw the pass. Got his best pressure on 3rd/12 play on final drive but wasn’t able to get hold of Big Ben. Had some success with bullrushing Miller when they blocked Jason with the TE.

LANDRI - Had a couple of tackles and a PD. There were good moments, but wasn’t consistently disruptive. Destroyed the LG on a pass play. Just threw the guy to the ground. Unfortunately, it was a semi-roll the other way and short throw so Derek didn’t get to even hit Big Ben. Hustled downfield to tackle TE after short catch late in the half. Made tackle on 3rd Qtr run when he got off block and got RB from behind. Exploded upfield and almost got to Ben on screen pass on final drive, but was 1/2 second late and the ball was out.

JENKINS - Looked great at times, but only so-so at others. Got some snaps at LDE in certain sets. Looked like that was vs power sets. Used spin move on 3rd/19. Got right by the LG. Then the LG tackled CuJo and drew the flag. Forced a punt on that play anyway. Got held big time on 4th/10 play with bad snap. No flag. Pass ended up incomplete anyway. Beat the LG with burst, rip move. Showed good hustle in chasing screen passes out to the edge. Used great club move late in the half to beat the LG and get into the backfield. Had good chance for sack, but was held and did draw the flag. Used a club/swim move late in the half to blow by the LG and get into the backfield. Just missed a sack. Ben was able to fight his way out of the tackle and get upfield. Drove the LG back into Ben on 3rd Qtr pass play. Still got the ball out.

TAPP - Backup RDE. Got partial hit on Ben on 2nd drive. Ced collapsed pocked and Ben stepped up to throw, giving Tapp easy angle to him. After the play, Tapp shoved an OL who had pushed him. Tapp got a penalty and that wiped out a 2nd/ 20 situation. Dumb. Might have broken up a TE screen. Came off the ball on passing play and saw Ben look his way. Stopped and moved back a step toward the TE. Don’t know for sure that’s what the play was, but looked like it. Ben threw the ball away to the other side.

GRAHAM - Backup LDE. Stat sheet is not impressive, but the tape is. Another good outing. Got solid hit on Ben when Ced collapsed the pocket and forced Ben to step up. Put him on the ground. Opened the 2nd Qtr by splitting a double team and putting Ben on the ground. Just stayed low and fired through the blockers. Did a good job of bullrushing the TE when they used Miller to block him. Drove Miller right back to Ben on 2nd Qtr play and could have had sack, but Ben was able to dump the ball to outlet receiver (still lost yds).

COX - Had a good play late in the half. Used a spin move to get off a block and then chase down Ben from behind. Slammed him to the ground pretty good. Had a chance to get pressure late in the half, but lost sight of Ben and then spun the wrong way. Used good rip move on the LG in the late 3rd. Drove the guy back and forced Ben to throw off-balance and off target. Went into beast mode on run play on final drive. Stood up the RG, shed him, and grabbed the RB as he tried to go by. That was a man’s play…not a rookie’s.

HUNT - First noticed him in the late 3rd. Played some LDE on final drive. Got off block and helped tackle RB. Chased down RB from behind on inside run after that. Got in on tackle. Good hustle.

THORNTON - Active vs the run early on. Drove back LG on run play and helped limit that run to just a yd. Actually got held. Played with good pad level. Strong. Used his hands well. Got pressure on 1st/20 pass play right after that. Tackled RB on final play of the 1st Qtr. Looked like TFL, but credited with no gain. Hustled down the LOS to make the stop and got a good shot on the RB from the side. Drove the LG right back into Ben’s face on 2nd Qtr pass, but Ben was able to still get the ball to his TE. Got held on first play of final drive. Pushed PIT back to the 10. Just got the better of the LG. Really starting to come on. Getting better each week.

LB

KENDRICKS - Had tight coverage of WR on 1st/20 play. Short route over middle. Kept WR from making catch, although it wasn’t a good throw. Made a good stop when he tackled RB by the feet on a draw play up the middle. Looked very good in coverage at times. There was a 2nd Qtr pass play where he was all over Miller and Ben looked that way, but had to throw the ball away. Fell for fake pitch when Ben was scrambling up the middle in the 2nd Qtr. Showed excellent hustle in chasing down RB on screen pass on final drive. Mychal was blocked early, but never gave up. Odd game, overall. Did some good things, but we could have used better run defense from him between the tackles. Didn’t make mistakes, but wasn’t beating blockers and getting to the ball. Had a chance on the final drive for a miracle play. Flew off the edge and hit the RB just after he got the ball. Didn’t create a fumble and the guy got back to the LOS. I was praying MK would knock the ball loose and we’d run it back for a score…the Heinz Field Hallelujah play. Didn’t happen.

RYANS - Solid game. Led the team with 12 tackles (6 solo). Stuffed RB on opening play. Chased down Miller on TE screen and tackled him after gain of 18. Stuffed RB on run to the right side for short gain. Tackled Ben after scramble up the middle. Had Miller in coverage in late 2nd. Bought fake to outside and let him get open over the middle. Sloppy, but did recover and make the tackle. Hit Ben on pass play late in the half. Close to a late hit, but looked okay. Ball was gone for sure. Fired up the middle on 3rd Qtr run. Wanted to blow up run play. Got blocked by the FB and RB had room to run. DL slanted to the right on 3rd/1 and DeMeco came around the backside to tackle the RB, but did give up the 1st down.

CHANEY - Started at WLB. Tackled RB on run up the middle. Nice little play since it went away from his side. Looked like he made a major mistake in run D in the early 3rd. Lined up over a gap. At the snap, moved with the flow of the play and engaged an OL. RB ran to the gap where Chaney was originally. Turned that into a gain of 17. Looked like Jamar needed to stay backside and find the ball before going with the flow. On the very next play he fell for run that started one way and then cut back. Wasn’t specifically his gap, but had he stayed back, could have moved laterally and made the stop. Got sucked in and went forward. No discipline. Been studying way too much Ernie Sims tape. On next play Mike Wallace ran a shallow cross and Jamar got on that quickly and helped to keep it from being caught. Failed to take on C on 3rd Qtr run play. Moved around the block and tried to get in on tackle of RB. Not good. Read a screen in the 3rd and was right there, but pass was incomplete. Struggled to shed blockers when he did engage them. Fired through A-gap and hit RB in the backfield on run in the late 3rd.

Jamar is talented. He is good when allowed to attack. He can make some plays in space. BUT…he is a liability as a run defender between the tackles. He wants to chase the ball. That leaves backside gaps wide open. You must cover your gap. Do your job. Be smart, be disciplined. I’d consider trading him. I’m just not sure he can play in this system.

MATTHEWS - Took over for Kendricks in the 3rd Qtr. Got in on tackle of RB on first 2 plays. The first play came sorta at him. The second one was away. Tackled the RB from behind. Nothing great. Solid. 3rd down wasn’t so good. Bit on WR screen fake while the TE went downfield. Casey immediately pivoted and chased the TE. Pass was off target and incomplete, but the TE was open for a second or two.

S

ALLEN - Played 2 games. The first one, was good. That lasted for 3 to 3 1/2 Qtrs. Broke up downfield pass in the endzone. Came on 4th/10 when Ben just fired the ball downfield. Nate tried to pick it off, but would have been dumb for him to do that. Would have cost us 20 yards of field position. Got around blocker and tackled RB on swing pass for short gain. Came down inside on next play and tackled RB on run up the middle. Short gain. Hit a WR early from behind and broke up a 2nd Qtr pass. No flag. Got TFL in 2nd Qtr. Ben dumped ball to receiver in the flat and Nate came up quickly to make the stop. Came up to LOS and tackled RB on 3rd Qtr run. Looked good in coverage as well.

The final drive of the game was not so good. Had chance to get TFL on run play on final drive. Got into the backfield quickly, but wasn’t able to make the tackle. Not at his best playing in traffic in the box. Did a terrible job on run play right after 3rd/4 conversion. Lined up in the box. Was to the inside of a WR. At the snap, the WR was able to pin Allen inside and give Mendenhall a free run to the edge. Critical mistake. Cannot let that happen. 7 easy yds. Then missed a tackle vs run on the other side of the formation. Had chances to make simple plays and important plays on that drive. Didn’t do it. Finished the game with 7 solo tackles. Should have been 10.

COLEMAN - Broke up short pass to Wallace in 1st Qtr. Missed key tackle on early draw play. Should have been short gain. Instead, it went for 17. Made crucial play late in the half. Hustled to make tackle of Brown inside the 10 and to keep him from scoring. PIT had to settle for FG after that. On the tackle, Kurt pulled the shoe off Brown. Kurt then slung it over to the sideline so Brown would have to go there and put it on. I liked that play. Reminded me of Cortland Finnegan, one of my favorite NFL guys. Seemed to play back deep most of the game. Had a problem with play fakes the last couple of weeks, but showed better discipline this time out. Finished the game with 5 total tackles.

CB

NNAMDI - Up and down game and was lucky for it to be that good. Had a lot of action come his way and finished the game with 7 solo tackles. Tackled Miller after short catch on 3rd/long to end the first drive. Ran into WR on downfield pass into the endzone. Didn’t really affect the play since pass was off target, but still not smart move. Could have been called PI. Didn’t have good body control on that play. Tackled Brown after short catch in early 2nd Qtr. Had man coverage on Brown late in the half when a deep ball came that way and was dropped by Antonio. Could have been a TD. Had a poor play right after that. Played off vs Brown. Gave up a short catch. Took a poor angle and missed the tackle. Brown added 15 RAC yds and almost scored. Gave up completion in the early 3rd Qtr, but had good coverage.

DRC - Gave up short completions in the 1st half. Had a chance to make a play late in the half. Read a pick play and jumped it, but wasn’t able to get his hands on the ball. Almost made a crazy play at the end of the half. Held the WR as he tried to break to the inside. That slowed the guy and the ball still came that way. DRC had a chance to pick it off, but wasn’t able to make the grab. Would have saved us 3 points. Looked confused on 3rd Qtr run play, as if he was surprised the RB cut it back his way. DRC chased him down, but we gave up 17 yds. Did strange thing on 3rd Qtr pass play. Stuck with Wallace on drag route. Right on him. Ben threw the pass and DRC lost sight of Wallace. The ball was overthrown by a yd or so, but could have been a big play. DRC covered well most of the play but got sloppy at the end. Almost very costly mistake.

BOYKIN - Tackled TE after short dump pass on 3rd/19 play. Brown beat him on 3rd down pass play in early 2nd, but throw was off and fell incomplete. Did give up some completions. Boykin generally did a solid job in coverage. One key completion came on a 3rd down and PIT used a pick play to get the guy open. Not much Brandon could have done to stop that. Finished the game with 4 solo stops.

=============================================================

ST’s

MCBRIAR - Not his best game. Averaged 44 yds per punt. Boomed one for 56 so the others averaged just 40 yds. Had 1 touchback.

HENERY - No FGs. 1 touchback on his 3 KOs.

PR – Damaris had 1 PR for 13 yds. There was another punt that was short. Damaris yelled at his teammates to get away from the ball. I liked that. I think he got too close to the ball as he yelled at them and that did make me nervous.

KOR – Boykin was 3-65 with long of 25. The blocking isn’t good, but Boyking still seems to be thinking instead of just going. He’s trying to read blocks. Needs to just run.

MISC

* Mardy Gilyard ran out of bounds on his own while covering a punt and was flagged. Got used as a gunner.

* Colt Anderson made a sensational play in KO coverage. Flew down the right side and tripped up the KOR at the 8-yd line. You never see KORs tackled inside the 10. Great hustle by Colt. He is a difference maker on STs.

GAMEBOOK


  • Jonzee72

    Any chance we see Vinny Curry in the next couple of games if the lack of sacks continue?

    • TommyLawlor

      Doubtful. I don’t see the DEs as slacking. Teams are doing a lot of little things to deal with our pass rush. I don’t see Curry as the answer.

      • Ark87

        I doubt that Curry would provide answers to the sack conundrum, but if The DL’s job for now is forcing complex pass pro packages and forcing short passes, I don’t see the harm in letting our second round pick get some experience to build on in his rookie year.

      • http://twitter.com/ProtoTyler Ty-Philly

        No thoughts to deactivating Hunt? Is he contributing enough on ST that they won’t consider it?

        • TommyLawlor

          Hunt is solid STer. Maybe outright good.

          • http://twitter.com/ProtoTyler Ty-Philly

            I just didn’t have a good feel one way or the other. Saw him flash on ST a game or 2 ago and didn’t know if he had kept it up

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

            I was thinking deactive or cut Tapp and use Curry limited like they do Graham now, Give all of tapps current snaps to Graham

  • Steag209

    Hey Tommy, think you could write something about our lack of success at the RB screen? It seems to me it hasn’t been very effective since Vick took over. Is that due to the way teams play Vick or what? I remember Andy used to be known as a screen genius, what’s happened?

    • TommyLawlor

      I thought about covering this in the bye week. I still need to do some research on the subject.

  • Todd B.

    A little off topic but the Eagles released Moten and signed another LB for the sole purpose of trying to find better ST coverage guys.

    At what point do they just cut the revolving door at ST LB and sign a dedicated kick off specialist that can boom every kick into the back of the end zone negating the need to find a better coverage player?

    • Ark87

      I was wondering that myself. I was under the impression that our kicker had a strong leg. Strong enough to consistently kick it out of the endzone now that they moved up the kicking tee. At first I wondered if Bobby April was asking him to try to land it about 4-6 yards deep to allow the KO coverage a chance to make a play and pin them deep….but after that Giants game where I would think Andy would be screaming mercy, damn i was thinking squib after a while. So I guess i wonder if Henery CAN kick it out of the endzone consistently (4th round kicker, he ought to be able to).

      Who was our ST coordinator when Djax went to the probowl for 2 positions. Tom…Daschel? The dude’s coverages were terrible too but atleast we had a punt return game.

      • TheRogerPodacter

        not positive, but i think it was Daschel.

      • http://twitter.com/RIPworms RIP Worms

        Tom Daschle was a US Senator…Ted Daisher was the special teams coach…. Bobby April is the current “special” teams coach

        • TheRogerPodacter

          Daisher! thats it! lol…. i thought it was Daschel too. hahaha

    • ohitsdom

      Interesting idea. Having a kicker who can boom it might also help light a fire under Henery. His touchbacks are few and far between, and his FG career long is 51 yards. I think it remains to be seen if he has the big leg, so a move like this might help with his offseason focus.

    • TommyLawlor

      Not a bad idea. Still, you prefer the better LB since he can help with blocking on KORs, PRs, covering both, and be a backup LB.

  • miked718

    Andy going for it on that drive was great and I wish he would roll the dice more in favorable situations like that. Momentum is underrated just because it’s not a statistic (yet). He showed his team he believed in them to get the job done and as a fan, winning a 4th and 1 from either side is a huge boost. I love seeing Penn State play the way they are with that backup kicker. Repeatedly getting an offense to 4th down and allowing the 1st has got to completely demorlize a defense.

    I did just finish watching the ESPN documentary about Steve Bartman and the 2003 Cubs so perhaps I’m overrating momentum slightly right now.

    • P_P_K

      I have to admit I didn’t like going for it. From our own 30? With plenty of time left. Glad I was wrong.

  • http://twitter.com/MKoikkalainen Mikko Koikkalainen

    Just one little note. Turnovers are now automatically reviewed so Andy didn`t have to challenge Vick`s fumble.

    • Ark87

      Is that true? Couldn’t he have been penalized for his challenge then. I remember he once challenged a scoring play when that was first introduced. Got flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct. Luckily it was preseason.

      • http://twitter.com/MKoikkalainen Mikko Koikkalainen

        Yeah it`s 15 yard unsportsmanlike penalty if coach tries to challenge play that is automatically reviewed.

        • TheRogerPodacter

          they also then do not review the play (if it could change in your favor) isnt that right? or am i making that up. lol

          • Ark87

            And do they take that challenge/timeout away? If I remember right i was relieved that they did not, as the challenge I’m referring to was sketchy.

            I think I heard the same thing about them sticking with the original ruling w/o review.

            Somebody needs to help us out here, I feel like I’m Donovan not knowing that you can tie in the NFL.

          • Anders

            If they are reviewing it already, they keep doing it, if they havnt begun they wont do it. Its just stupid.

          • A_T_G

            I believe they also say “You can’t tell me what to do,” and stick out their tongue.

          • Eagles4life

            Completely off topic here but I was wondering we can’t have all the plays challengable by the coaches without penalizing on timeouts just like Cricket. Cricket used to be that no play can be challengable and it had a big impact on the outcome of the game if an umpire made the mistake, so they introduce plays can be challenged by the players on the field. They are very quick in giving the result by the booth umpire using technology that it almost have no affect whatsoever on the timings of the game. Just wondering if we can do something using advanced technology and it completely remove any referee mishaps

    • TommyLawlor

      Completely forgot about that. Thanks for reminding me.

  • ACViking

    Re: Final Drive – DL Array

    T-Law:

    Really nice touch listing the 4 D-linemen on Pitt’s final drive.

    What struck me is that Washburn had COX and THORNTON out there most of that drive. Any thoughts . . . besides the Birds may have found two big, young, athletic DTs to anchor the D-line for the next 6-7 years.
    _______________

    Is Nnamdi — who, from the analyses of others, is generally playing pretty well — proving the principal that guided the Eagles during the first 10 years of the Banner/Reid regime: DO NOT SIGN GUYS 30-years and OLDER.

    Seems like, with rare exceptions (Champ Bailey, Charles Woodson, Night Train Lane, Jimmy Johnson, Willie Brown, Mel Renfro), that the productivity and elite execution of cornerbacks begins eroding at age 30. [Same w/ DEs, generally.]

    • TommyLawlor

      Nnamdi is a freak. Notice the other CBs listed are big guys. Size doesn’t change with age. Speed does. That’s why so many average and small sized CBs fade. They can’t run. The big guys can still play big. Remember that just last year the Rams brought Al Harris back and had him play. He did a solid job until he got hurt.

      I do think the policy of avoiding 30-yr old guys is wise. Don’t make it a concrete rule, but it is a smart general policy.

      • JRO91

        avoid 30 year old guys? I take offense to that!! 30 is the new 20!! At least that is what I tell myself!!

        • TommyLawlor

          Shut up, grandpa. Go chug some Geritol and leave us kids alone.

    • Anders

      Dawkins proved that if you produce over the age 30, the FO will keep him (outside of the little Banner mistake). Also Vick just got a huge contract last year and Cole, Babin, Jenkins, NA and Herramans aint young guys

  • eagles2zc

    Is there a reason Coleman plays in what is traditionally the FS position (right side)? People keep saying the two safety positions are interchangeable in Juan’s system, but I would feel more comfortable having Coleman stack the box and Allen roaming in the back

  • GermanEagle

    Great job as always Tommy.

    But why no mention of Vick’s pass to Desean on the 17 game TD drive when he had huge pressure in his face and delivered a beautiful pass anticipating where Jackson was running?! That was a heckuva throw!

    • P_P_K

      Yes it was.

    • TommyLawlor

      I watched that stuff on All-22 and may have been focused on DJax or blocking and not Vick. Error on my part. Vick came up big when we needed that. If only he didn’t fumble…

      • GermanEagle

        No worries, buddy. Let’s hope the non-INT streak continues and the fumbles will go away. Then we will be in for a big ride!

      • Mac

        Any chance the fumbles are related to the helmet punching injury?

        Not trying to make excuses, trying to find reasons…

        • poetx99

          i’ve wondered that as well. years back, i remember favre, then mcnabb, going through some ugly streaks of fumbling, due to nerve damage or injuries to their thumbs or throwing hands. wouldnt surprise me at all.

          • Mac

            Hey poetx, thanks for taking the time to post that… The injury thing made sense to me, but it’s nice having some history to ponder that backs it up.

      • OldSoul

        seemed like the same play we scored the TD on vs. the Giants. Desean is in slot, they criss cross, Vick throws before Desean is “open”.

        • poetx99

          it was similar. djax started in the slot and took an inside release toward the post (the score vs. nyg was an ’87′ or post/post-corner combo in which desean and maclin crossed down the field). on the one versus the giants, desean gave a great fake to the post, which moved the safety, and then broke it out to the corner.

          on this one, he released inside, looked over his inside shoulder, and then broke outside, but more flatly, like a deep out. however, vs. certain defensive alignments (like cover 2), you’ll run a post-corner flatter, almost like an out, to make sure you get under the safety.

          in this case, it looked moreso that vick’s throw just made it there and desean adjusted (came back to it), which flattened the 7. big time route. big time throw (getting hit, despite max protect), and great catch. desean has been lights out so far this season and is doing ALL the little stuff to maximize his impact. the inside release (faking outside in order to get it), the look over the shoulder, all this stuff helps him get open.

          look for, in future, same look, with double posts, or a 9 to maclin. (desean continuing to the post and jeremy slipping behind the safety).

  • P_P_K

    Not sure I agree the teams didn’t bring their A games. I think what we saw is who we saw. Something like that. Two tough teams played a hard nosed game. It’s debatable if either squad is a Super Bowl contender but they are both good. Other than Vick’s fumbles and all the penalties on the Steelers, I think both teams played pretty well.

    • TommyLawlor

      Sloppiness. Steelers had dropped passes. Penalties. We had the fumbles. That type of stuff. I don’t know that it felt like a playoff game, but the intensity was close and both teams did fight. This wasn’t some casual AFC-NFC game. Both teams wanted to win.

      A for effort. B- for results. Does that sound better?

      • P_P_K

        Sounds about right. “Cause the Steelers won, they get a solid B for results.

  • pricebe

    Re: the second fumble Vick lost. I thought Avant was open on a corner route with enough yardage to get a first down. He had a step and a half on Polamalu AND Vick looked right at him but he was slow to recognize it and had to pull it down and run. Just throw the damn ball

    • poetx99

      i think vick was staying away from polamalu. polamalu has picked him off before. and he’s slick. he might LOOK like he’s not in position to make a play to bait you into a throw.

      that’s like why eli wouldn’t eff with asante. no telling what he would do on a given play, so he would just throw against our other cb where he could trust his reads.

      not saying vick DIDN’T miss avant (and desean, earlier, i think). but i also wouldn’t be surprised if he was intentionally staying away from troy.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1116101444 Erik L. Richardson

    Yo Tom, I’m glad there are people like you that really have insight and perspective into the game. I really appreciate your concise critique. Before reading the DGR, I thought when I viewed the game live that DeMeco flashed but did not have a lot of impact. I saw him make some tackles. But I thought overall since Mendenhall was getting 3, 4 yards per rush that he was having trouble shedding blocks or taking the runner down with initial contact. I’m happy to have him.

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  • ceteris_paribus1776

    Re: Nnamdi,

    I appears to me that teams are not affraid to go after him, at all. He’s certainly not elite shutdown status at this point, and I’m wondering if he’s anymore than your marginal #1. I think this was the biggest FA flop based on expectations and pay Reid has made

    • Ark87

      no doubt he is overpaid, he gets the Revis-echelon pay but does not give Revis-echelon play. He is definitely good. He’s every bit the vet, presses the boundary on what kind of contact he can get away with. I admire his game in a lot of ways. The thing is he isn’t a play maker, never has been, never had to be. He has a knack for having good coverage, being in a receiver’s hip pocket. Good enough for a QB to go to his next read. It seems like QB’s are starting to be willing to throw on him when he has good coverage because he really doesn’t have especially good ball skills, he just isn’t a play maker.

      • Mac

        I am hopeful that after this year’s performance Nnamdi will be man enough to take some pay cut to help out the “we need DRC” fund.

        • Ark87

          I was hoping the same thing. He is a real smart and calm and guy. He’s an extremely a-typical CB personality wise (they call him Old head, and not because of his haircut) so maybe he has enough control of his ego to take a pay-cut.

          That being said, he is so driven by his charities and the bigger picture in life, sometimes I think football is just a means to fund his charitable ambitions. So in that sense I wonder if he will squeeze every penny he can out of his career and not accept a pay-cut.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jeffrey.stover.3 Jeffrey Stover

    Tommy, this has nothing to do with your article, but I need to vent. I played as a defensive lineman from the time I was 8 until i was 18. That block on Cushing, in my opinion was a dirty block. He hit him in the back, below the knee, and outside the “box”. I read today that there is “box”, tackle to tackle in which such a block would be legal above the knee and from behind! That is a very dangerous block period and it should not be allowed in any location. I hope they change that rule soon. It is weird that you can hit someone low from behind in the “box”, but not just push them in the back. It just made me angry to see it happen especially since the OL did it because he whiffed on his original block attempt and that was his response. Whatever happened to good ole fashioned holding when you miss your block on someone?!? I am fine with cut-blocks (no high, low stuff) as long as they are from the front because at least then as a defender you have a chance to see it coming and protect yourself.

  • http://twitter.com/benjabad Ben Hert

    You mention Chaney being talented, but not a good fit in this system. This brings up something that has been bugging me for awhile:

    We currently have two coaches right now that I would classify, in my imaginary coach classification system, as “system coaches.” They have a unique system that is something they make work and specialize in. Granted, I’m sure they aren’t the only coaches using these systems, but they are different from the norm. We all know who those coaches are on the Eagles. The thing with these “systems” is that they need a specific type of player that works for that specific system. Mudd requires smaller, athletic OL, rather than big immovable masses of humans. Washburn requires sleeker, smaller, quick DL. We say to ourselves, “this guy would be great in the Wide-9,” or “this guy would thrive in Mudd’s system.”

    The problem I see is that we’ve spent a lot of resources collecting these “system” players, like Mathis, Babin, and Curry. What happens when we don’t have those systems anymore? Wash and Mudd are both pretty old, and I think anyone would be surprised if Mudd stayed past this year. Wash is great friends with Mudd, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him retire when Mudd does or shortly after as well. Regardless of my ability to predict the future, what happens to these players that we’ve invested in that won’t work in another system? I know Chung has begun to adopt the Mudd philosophy, as he coached the OL during OTA’s, but we can never know exactly Chung will do when he takes over for Mudd. Same for the DL…what will become of these specialized W-9 DE’s like Curry and Babin when/if we switch to another system? It scares me to invest in these system players, both currently and in the future, if we don’t know if that system will be around forever.