I’m only half done with the DGR, but here is my take on the defense from the opening win over the Skins.
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Terrific 1st half by the defense. The 3rd quarter was acceptable, but not good. Things got ugly in the 4th quarter. The Skins gained 175 yards and scored 14 points. They had another drive that ended in Eagles territory.
We have to focus on RG3 for part of this. He was rusty in the 1st half and really struggled. He got better as the game went along. He got some help from the Eagles. The coaches began using some backups in the 2nd half, due to injury and fatigue. The Skins took advantage of that.
I wish Bill Davis had run a conventional Nickel look in the 2nd half (4-2-5). He kept using the 3-3-5 look and blitzing off it. With the score 33-7, I wanted to see Graham at LDE and Cole at RDE with Cox and Thornton inside. I’m not sure if Graham and Cole were ever on the field together. The Skins RT struggled all game long. I really wanted to see Graham light him up, but the coaches mostly kept BG on the other side.
I did like the aggressive blitzing approach that Davis took for the first 3 quarters. He turned Cole, Kendricks and Ryans loose and let them attack. The DBs got to blitz. Allen, Chung, Williams and Boykin all were turned loose as blitzers. The Eagles only finished with 3 sacks, but they got regular pressure. RG3 didn’t have a clean pocket for much of the game. He took some big hits and got up sl0w a couple of times.
The pass rush disappeared for parts of the 4th quarter. This is where it would have been so nice to have Vinny Curry in the game. His burst off the ball would have given fits to the Skins OGs. He also could have eaten up snaps at DE and OLB. The Eagles offense failed to sustain drives in the 4th and that kept the defense on the field. The Skins were going no-huddle and that wore the D down.
I don’t think Davis went to a prevent defense in the 4th. He still did mix in some blitzes. I do think he ran some softer coverages, giving up short completions. You can tell that the Eagles need better backup CBs. Boykin is good in the slot, but less effective outside. Poyer should be learning right now, not playing.
I love the fact that there weren’t any bad blown assignments. No Skins receiver was just running wide open. The defense played with a lot of energy and aggression. They flew to the football and gang-tackled most of the time. The defense came up with 3 takeaways and a safety. I don’t think the defense is as good as they looked early on and I don’t think they’re as bad as they looked late. I think this unit can be good enough to help the Eagles win some games.
* RG3 started off 13 of 25. He then went 17 of 24. He really did wake up.
* WAS was 2 of 10 on 3rd downs.
* They were 2 of 3 in the Red Zone.
* Skins only ran 18 times for 74 yards.
* They only had 2 plays longer than 20 yards and both came on the final drive.
* Opening 3rd down. Cole at RDE in 3-3-5 look. Barwin, Kendricks and Ryans were the LBs. Barwin rushed the RG. 4 rushed overall. Ryans covered the RB. MK took the TE in the flat. Boykin got the INT while covering down the field.
* Skins first good play came when they lined guys up to the outside and drew Kendricks, Allen out there and then ran to the other side. Got 15 yds.
* The Skins had a bunch set to their right. Kendricks, Allen and Boykin had some confusion about getting lined up. They were bumping into each other just before the ball was snapped. The pass was incomplete, but Kendricks and Boykin talked after the play, as they tried to figure out who should have been where. Didn’t look like the petty sniping we saw last year, but rather guys talking to each other.
* There was a play in the early 4th where Boykin, Nate and Bradley Fletcher failed to get WR Josh Morgan down. Should have limited him to 10 yds, but he fought upfield for 19. Sloppy tackling.
COX - Quiet for the first 3 Qtrs of the game. Wasn’t much of a factor against the run. Came alive in the 4th Qtr as a pass rusher. Got loose up the middle and got a big shot on RG3 in the early 4th. Beat the RT and got a sack late in the game. Used quick burst and a good rip move to get the sack. Drove the RT back to RG3 and flushed him on the final drive. Cox then chased him out of bounds, giving up just a short gain. Great speed, hustle from the big fella.
SOPOAGA - Solid game. Played better than what we saw in the preseason. Still not the NT that some probably hoped for. Won his share of battles when single-blocked. Didn’t face many double-teams, but did get moved back a yard or two when he faced them. RG tried to block him in the 3rd and Sopes pushed him back a yard. That drew holding call on the RG. Chased RG3 out in space after Geathers flushed him in the 3rd Qtr. Forced an incompletion.
THORNTON - Good game. Got good push from DT late in the 1st half when rushing the passer. Shed block of RG and tackled Morris on inside run. Had chance to get Helu for a loss on 3rd/1, but couldn’t get hold of him cleanly. Did get a TFL when he chased down RB from the backside in the 3rd Qtr. Drove the C right back to RG3 on the play where Ryans got his sack. Great explosion, power from Ced on that play. Batted a pass in the mid-4th. Effective inside rusher. Tough run defender. Finished with 3 tackles, TFL, PD. One play he’d like to have back is the TD run by Morris. Ced hustled down the LOS and left a huge cutback lane. If Ced was more under control there, might have made the tackle.
CURRY - DNP.
GEATHERS - Backup LDE. Showed some flashes. Drove the RT back to RG3 and then dove for the QB. Didn’t get him, but showed good power. On the next play, drove the RG back to RG3. Had a couple of more plays where he showed good power. Needs to be able to finish plays.
LOGAN - Played both DE and NT. Drew a holding call on the C late in the 3rd Qtr. Overall had kind of a quiet game. Was on the field plenty, but didn’t stand out.
SQUARE - Solid showing. Mostly played NT. The Skins didn’t run right at him so Square was able to be effective. Used his hands well to fight off blockers. Got some pressure on pass plays. Moved well laterally on runs. I was pleasantly surprised by Square’s performance.
COLE - Good game. On his first snap of the season, Cole flew down the LOS and hit RB Alfred Morris, knocking the ball out. The Eagles recovered. Got a gift safety on the 3rd series of the game. RG3 made a poor toss and Morris couldn’t catch it. This was in the end zone. Morris covered the ball and Cole dove on him for the easy 2 points. Got TFL on the next play when run came his way. Got by blocker and wrapped up Morris for short loss. Drew holding call on TE Paulsen on run to his side. Trent just shoved Paulsen out of the way so he could get to the RB and Paulsen grabbed his arm and wouldn’t let go. Got a good hit on RG3 on deep ball in the mid-2nd Qtr. On the next snap, Cole blew up a run. Got by a pair of blockers and hit the RB in the backfield. Runner managed to get back to the LOS. Cole got hits on RG3 on several plays. Some were in the backfield, others up the field and one out in space. Trent was in the right spot and took his shots when he could. Credited with 4 tackles, TFL and a FF.
BARWIN - Set the edge on run play to open the 2nd series. RB was forced to stay deep and bounce the run out further to the outside. Pursuit helped get a TFL. Made good open field tackle on WR screen on early 2nd Qtr play. Most impressive moment came on 3rd/long play. Eagles rushed just 3. Barwin beat the RT and RG3 took off the other way. Barwin chased him down and only gave up a couple of yards on the play. Great hustle, impressive speed. Beat block of TE to get some pressure in the early 3rd. Jumped offside in the early 4th and that led to sloppy play where Skins got 19 yds. Had a chance for a sack in the mid-4th. Split blockers and got into the backfield, but RG3 used his voodoo moves to escape from Barwin. Got pressure off the edge on the next play, which was 4th/15. That kept RG3 from getting zip on the ball and allowed Williams to knock it down. Showed his versatility. Covered. Rushed. Played the run. Sometimes rushed off the edge. Other times came inside and tried to shoot gaps.
GRAHAM - Played some DE late in the half. Used power moves a couple of times. Beat LT Trent Williams with a speed move and got pressure on RG3 on one play. Played some OLB in the 2nd half. Blew up a run play. Drove the TE back, then drove the LT back. RB had nowhere to go and pursuit got him for a TFL, but Graham made the play. Had a chance to rush the passer a lot in the 4th Qtr and wasn’t getting pressure. LT did a good job on him. I was disappointed that Brandon got a chance to rush the passer in a known passing situation and didn’t get more pressure.
KENDRICKS - Good game. All over the place. Made things happen. Recovered fumble on opening play. Cole knocked it loose and it came right to Mychal. Helped get TFL on next series. Barwin did a good job of setting the edge. That gave MK a good angle to the runner and he flew over to help knock the guy out of bounds. Did a great job on the play of staying square to the LOS. Did a good job on a screen pas in the mid-1st Qtr. Read the play, moved through traffic and made a good wrap-up tackle. Exploded up the middle on a blitz at the end of the half and literally slammed RG3 to the ground. Clean, but hard hit. Shed block of FB and tackled Morris on 3rd Qtr run. Got a big hit on RG3 late in the 3rd Qtr and forced an errant pass. Credited with 10 total tackles, TFL, FR and a couple of QB hits.
RYANS - Wasn’t as flashy as Kendricks, but re-watch the game and you’ll be impressed. Blitzed in the 3rd Qtr and drove the LG back close to RG3. Good power for an ILB. Did that on some run plays as well. Gave me Trotter flashbacks. Ryans isn’t 260, but he runs into blockers at full speed and will knock the crap out of them. Ran over the LG on a pass play just after that. So much fun to watch. Got a sack in the mid-3rd. Came on a Green Dog. That is when the RB stays in to block. Ryans was supposed to cover him. When the RB stays in, the LB has a green light to blitz (known as a dog in older football circles). Active tackler in the run game. None were standout plays. Had a big hit on CB Bradley Fletcher that gave him an apparent concussion. Did a good job with making on-field adjustments to the defense.
MATTHEWS - Played some defense in the 2nd half.
KNOTT - Played some on defense. Came over and hit receiver after catch over the middle. Should have made a wrap-up tackle. Showed good hustle on a run play. Got out wide and helped gang-tackle a RB.
GOODE - Didn’t see him on defense.
ALLEN - More of the same. Didn’t make any mistakes, but also failed to stand out. Was in on 6 total tackles. Blitzed in the early 3rd, but RG3 got rid of the ball before anyone could get near him. Threw pick to Williams on that play. Came up in run support to help Thornton with TFL in the 3rd Qtr. Made tackle of TE after catch over the middle. Slung him to the ground. Solid tackle. There were a couple of plays where he was too passive in trying to help make tackles, but overall he was effectively aggressive.
CHUNG - Mixed bag. Good vs the run. Was in on 7 total tackles. Blitzed up the middle and helped pressure RG3 into an errant throw. Came flying up in run support and made a strong tackle of Morris. Made a clean tackle of Moss in the early 4th Qtr. Awful job at the end of the game. Eagles were in Cover 3. Chung needed to stay deeper than the deepest. Let WR get behind him. Compounded that by mis-timing his jump and letting the ball over his head. TD for the Skins. Should have been incompletion or a pick. Chung can’t make coverage mistakes like that.
WOLFF - Played very little on defense.
COLEMAN - Didn’t see him on defense.
FLETCHER - Had 4 solo stops. Made a strong, physical tackle of Garcon after catch in the early 3rd. Had tight coverage of Robinson on 4th Qtr pass and kept it from being completed. More effective when pressing than playing off, but we knew that already. Got knocked out of the game late by a hit from Ryans. Could have used him on that final drive.
WILLIAMS - Good game. Had tight downfield coverage on deep ball to Garcon. Incompletion. Got a sack in the 2nd Qtr. WR lined up tight to the formation. Cary fired off the edge and hit RG3 from the backside. He jumped on his back. Physical takedown. Some CBs can blitz, but don’t know how to finish. Cary did a good job of getting RG3 down. Made a beautiful diving INT in the early 3rd. Great hands on the play. Made a great play on 4th/15. Saw RG3 put the ball over the middle to Robinson. Cary flew over and knocked it away without any contact. Great read and break on the ball.
HUGHES - DNP
BOYKIN - Good game. Came up with his first NFL INT on the opening 3rd down play. Was in the slot. Stayed underneath the receiver since he had S help over the top. RG3 forced the ball into coverage and Boykin made the pick. Blitzed on 3rd down in early 2nd Qtr. Started outside, but looped hard to the inside and came free up the middle. RG3 got rid of the ball just before BB got there. Tackled Helu on 3rd down run play. Gave up a couple of yds, but made a good stop. Broke up pass to Moss over the middle in the mid-4th. Great body control to get in front of the WR and knock the ball away, but without contact. Got to blitz on a few plays. Funny to see Boykin going against OTs.
POYER - Played on defense in the 2nd half. Gave up a TD to Hankerson. Played off and was simply slow to close to the receiver after he made the catch. Easily ran into the endzone. Had good coverage of Moss in the 4th on 3rd/2 play along the sideline, but missed the ball by inches and Moss made the grab. Made good tackle of Garcon late in the game after a short catch. Closed to the ball quickly on that play. Got better as the game went along, but looked like a rookie.
I’m pretty sure Dave Fipp is the greatest coach ever. He makes Bear Bryant and Vince Lombardi look like hacks. Amazing what a difference a year makes. The Eagles STs are actually…good.
JONES - Good game. First punt was fair caught at the 4-yd line. Another punt was fielded inside the 10. Put a punt out of bounds at the 6-yd line. Had another punt fair caught at the 11-yd line. 4 of his 6 punts were downed inside the 20. Had a long of 61.
HENERY - Nailed a 48-yd FG. Actually kicked it twice. Kelly decided to challenge a play just as Henery was making the kick. I wondered if that would affect Henery, but he came back after the challenge was denied and that kick was even straighter than the first. Plenty of distance. 3 of his 6 KOs were touchbacks. The other 3 had good depth and were well-covered.
- MISC -
KOR – Damaris returned one from deep in the endzone and got 27 yds on that. He was desperate to take a chance. Other KOs he showed good discipline and stayed in the endzone. DeSean returned the free kick after the safety and got 10 yds on that.
PR – There was one fair catch and a couple of punts that went out of b0unds.
* Anderson, Casey combined for good stop on punt return in the early 2nd Qtr.
* Chris Polk made a great tackle in KO coverage. That pinned the Skins at the 9-yd line.
* Najee Goode and Brandon Boykin combined for a good tackle in KO coverage late in the half.
* Brandon Boykin had a good night as a gunner on punts.
* Brandon Graham flew downfield to make a good tackle in punt coverage.
* Jordan Poyer made a good stop in punt coverage.
* The onside kick at the end of the game was nerve-wracking. Jason Avant had the ball come right to him, but he couldn’t make a clean grab. He did get control of the ball as others got to him. Jake Knott flew over and jumped on Avant, to shield him from Skins players. Not pretty, but effective.