Rough game. The Broncos are the best team in the NFL and they showed why on Sunday. They were the superior team on offense, defense and STs. The Eagles were competitive in the 1st half, but things fell completely apart after that. Good teams get better after halftime. The Eagles…might not be a good team. I don’t want to be alarmist, but we have to admit that is a possibility. But if we set aside the last 3 1/2 games and focus on the 1st half vs the Skins…I see nothing but greatness. I am not delusional. I just choose to sometimes not have sanity for a companion.
I’m not going to write as much as I usually do. There’s just not that much to say about this game. Peyton Manning just annihilated the Eagles defense. Writing thousands upon thousands of words on the game wouldn’t accomplish much.
There is one huge situation to talk about. Chip didn’t go for it on 4th/6 with the team down 21-13 late in the half. The Eagles were down at the Denver 37. Dave Fipp told Kelly that he didn’t want to try a long FG. Seemed like a no-brainer to go for it. If you fail, Peyton gets the ball inside his own 40. Instead Kelly punted and the ball went into the endzone. The Eagles got lucky that Denver committed a penalty and had to start at their own 10. They didn’t score on the drive so Chip’s idea worked.
I still don’t like it.
If you want to upset a team like Denver, you need points. That means taking risks. Denver got the ball to start the 2nd half. You had to try and score. You might have failed, but that risk is worth it. The point wasn’t to stay close. It was to try and win.
I also didn’t like Kelly’s decision to leave starters in for their final drive. I didn’t think they had any business playing in the 4th quarter. Why risk Vick/Shady/DJax? Put in Foles, Polk and Maehl. Give those guys a chance to show what they can do. I understand the players didn’t want to come out. Kelly can’t worry about feelings.
The Eagles racked up 271 yards and 13 points in the 1st half. Things weren’t so good in the 3rd quarter. The Eagles only gained 20 yards and didn’t score a point. Denver turned a one-possession game (21-13) into a blowout (42-13). I’m not sure what schematic changes the Broncos made. Their defense really just seemed to come alive. And the Eagles offense did not handle the pressure well. Blockers and skill players all had costly mistakes. Game over.
It did seem like Denver used delayed LB blitzes more in the 2nd half. Blockers would already be committed to rushers. Vick would be reading his progressions and suddenly some LB would come flying in to disrupt the play. The Broncos used more stunts and twists after halftime and they were more effective than they should have been.
Some people complain that Kelly didn’t make enough adjustments. Maybe. Seemed to me that the biggest problem was poor execution. It doesn’t matter what plays you call if the QB, blockers and runners/receivers make mistakes.
Red Zone failures in the 1st quarter definitely hurt the team. You can’t face off against someone like Peyton Manning and expect to beat him by kicking FGs. The 1st half offense was tough on Denver, especially because of the KOR score. That meant no break for their D. And the players felt it. DE Derek Wolfe said, ”That’s the most tired I’ve ever been playing football in my life. Almost made me throw up.”
Chip Kelly mixed 11 and 12 personnel in the 1st half. The 2-TE sets were Celek/Casey and Celek/Ertz.
One frustration I had was with the playcalling late in the 3rd quarter and into the 4th quarter. Kelly kept calling plays that involved play-action passes. They weren’t effective. Denver’s pass rushers weren’t interested in the run. I did like the fact that Kelly never gave up on the run. The RBs are the key to this offense right now. I’m all for getting them as many touches as possible.
* Ran the play where Vick is under Center and then goes play-action. Cooper ran the cross. DeSean went deep. DJax was being held by DRC. Riley failed to get separation on his route, although a pass out in front of him might have still worked. Vick scrambled on the play.
* 3rd/14. From the DEN 17. Not much field to work with. DJax is the only receiver who went into the endzone. Riley ran a dig route and got the pass for about 10 yds. Vick was late in releasing the ball. That allowed the DBs to close quickly and allow no RAC yards. Only one WR went beyond the sticks. I know that is limited space, but still frustrating to see such a low percentage play.
* Had to burn timeout on 2nd series due to confusion on who needed to line up where.
* Used the unbalanced line quite a bit.
* There was a screen pass where a TE and WR ran into each other downfield. Was on the backside of the play and not a factor at all, but stuff like that shows you that the players are still learning the system. Aren’t supposed to have 2 guys hitting each other 10 yds downfield while running routes, even if they’re just a distraction on the play.
VICK- 14-27-248. No TDs or turnovers. 8-41 on the ground. Awkward game. Was definitely hurt by his receivers and blockers. There were at least 3 drops. Lost one big play to a holding call. Also had lots of pressure to deal with in the 2nd half. At halftime, Vick was 10-16-170. He had led the team to 13 points. The 2nd half wasn’t good. Was 4-11-78. Didn’t lead the team to any points. Only converted on one 3rd down situation. That wasn’t all on Vick to be sure, but he didn’t help matters. Denver scored 21 points in the 3rd Qtr. The Eagles had just 20 yards.
Hit Celek over the middle with a strike to get the 2nd drive going. A couple of plays later Vick hit Celek with another laser over the middle, but Brent dropped it. Would have given the team a 1st down inside the 5.
Wanted to hit DeSean with a short pass on 3rd/3 on the next series but he was covered. Vick got some pressure so he took off and got the 1st down. Didn’t have many options on that play so it was smart to run. Tried to hit DJax in the RZ, but DRC was able to knock the ball away. Good throw, but a tight window.
Hit DJax for a gain of 20 in the early 2nd Qtr. Had a bit of pressure, but re-set in the pocket and fired the ball off to DeSean. The Broncos challenged if he held on, but it was tough to see so the initial call stuck.
Saw Shady all alone in the left flat so got him the ball quickly. Shady then got up the field for a gain of 21. Just missed Ertz for what would have been a 17-yd gain on 2nd/19. Had to throw off-balance and the ball was just a bit off-target.
Best throws after halftime were to the TEs. Hit Celek for a gain of 27 in the 4th Qtr. That was a tough throw since there wasn’t a great angle. Hit Ertz after that for a gain of 38.
FOLES – Played in the 4th Qtr. 3-4-49. 2 passes went to RBs, 2 to Maehl. Big completion to Maehl came vs blitz. Good read, good throw. Hit him for a gain of 37. TD pass to Maehl was quick screen. Accurate throw, but nothing special. It was good to see Nick play and have some success, but don’t overrate what he did. One good drive doesn’t mean he should be starting.
SHADY – Good game. 16-73 on the ground. 1-21 as a receiver. Came close to breaking some early runs, but a defender always seemed to get just enough of Shady to slow him down or to make the stop. Best run covered 15 yds. That was a 3rd Qtr play. Hit the hole hard and had a chance for that to go a long way, but the DB made a good stop. Came out for a series and a half early on. Reportedly had the wind knocked out of him. There was lots of speculation that Shady was hurt. I think the coaches simply wanted to mix in Brown and Polk more. Shady returned and the 3 RBs played a lot in the game. Dropped 3rd Qtr pass. Wasn’t necessarily going to gain much, but would have gotten a few yds and made 3rd down easier.
B BROWN – 8-19 on the ground. 2-41 as a receiver. Highlight moment came in the 2nd Qtr when he caught a screen pass and turned upfield for a gain of 35. Might have scored on the play, but he slipped about halfway through the run. Got a carry on the 3rd series. Ran outside to the right for 9 yds. Was close to breaking that for a big play. Stumbled after gaining 7 yds on outside run to the left late in the 1st Qtr. Got 6 yds on screen pass at the end of the 1st Qtr. Caught screen to the left on 3rd/11. Perfect call vs blitz and Brown raced 35 yds downfield. Stumbled about halfway or he might have scored, but was able to get control and still get down to the 4-yd line. Huge play in the early 2nd Qtr. Tight game at that point. Was tackled for a loss a few times so his overall rushing numbers weren’t good, but Brown played well.
POLK- Scored his first NFL TD. That was a 4-yd run up the middle. Finished 3-33. Besides the TD, had a 28-yd run in the 2nd half. Nothing special about the TD run. Got the ball and ran straight/hard. But that’s what you want on GL runs. Don’t dance. Don’t hesitate. Get it and hit it. Caught a dump pass on 3rd/19 and quickly got upfield for a gain of 13. Long run in the 4th Qtr was impressive. Ran through first tackle attempt. Almost got by the next guy, but got off-balance and went out of bounds. Close to breaking that for a long TD. Instead, got 28. Ran hard. Failed to make good block vs blitz in the 2nd half and that defender got part of a sack. Showed that he is worthy of getting a couple of touches a game.
CELEK – Led the team with 3 catches for 57 yds. Unfortunately the focus will be on his drop that ended the 2nd drive of the game. Celek got open down the middle. Vick threw a terrific pass and Brent dropped it. Would have put the Eagles inside the 5. Instead, had to settle for a FG. Good catch over the middle helped get that drive going. Tried to block DE Ayers on a play-action pass. Kept him occupied for about a second, then Ayers went and got in on sack of Vick. Caught pass from Vick for gain of 27 on 4th Qtr scramble. Celek was blocking initially. He then released and went upfield when Vick ran. Nice catch and run. Blocking was not good in the 2nd half, both run and pass.
ERTZ – Played more. Only had 1 catch, but it did cover 38 yds. Had an effective block on early run play. Lined up to the right and came across the formation at the snap. Sealed the DE and gave Shady an outside running lane. LB made the tackle quickly, but Ertz did his job. Played in-line TE and in the slot. Had a chance to make a tough catch on a pass from Vick, but the ball was too far out in front and he couldn’t make the grab. Showed good RAC skills on the long catch in the 4th.
CASEY – Played on the 2nd series. Lined up at right TE and ran a crossing route. Vick hit him for a gain of 12. Played some in the 4th Qtr as well.
IGWENAGU – DNP
D JACKSON – 2-34. Caught short crossing pass in the late 1st. Turned upfield and got the 1st down. Tried to slide and came down awkwardly. Had to leave the game for a play. Other catch came in the 2nd Qtr. Made tough grab as he went to the ground. DRC sorta knocked the ball loose, but you couldn’t see clearly what happened. DEN challenged, but the initial ruling was upheld. Dropped a short pass from Vick in the early 4th Qtr. Penalty wiped out another catch. Almost had a TD, but DRC was able to knock the ball away.
AVANT- One catch for 7 yds. Quiet game. Had a good block of DB on Shady run to his side in the early 3rd Qtr. Had a pass come his way on a crossing route, but the DB was able to knock it away. Just got no separation vs good man coverage.
COOPER – Had some very good blocks. There was a Shady run on 3rd/1 in the late 1st Qtr. Riley was blocking his CB 15 yds downfield. Caught pass in the RZ on the 3rd series. Didn’t move the chains or score. Just made the FG easier. Caught 15-yd pass down the left sideline late in the 1st half. Those were his only 2 grabs.
D JOHNSON – Played, but didn’t have any passes come his way.
MAEHL – Best game of his NFL career. 2-43. First catch went for 37 yds. Got the ball on the left side and was already downfield. DB tried to tackle him, but Maehl fought through it and got the ball down to the 6. The next play was a quick screen from Foles to him. Maehl got a good block and was able to get in the endzone for a TD.
PETERS – Got off to a slow start. Failed to sustain a block of Ayers on a run to his side. Ayers tackled Shady 7 yds upfield. Easily would have gone for 10 yds without Ayers. Might have been a bigger play since Shady had one DB in front of him. Had one highlight block. Put RDE Derek Wolfe on the ground on a run play to his side. That’s the kind of domination we have come to expect from Jason. Just tossed him down. Had a very good block on Brown running play to open 2nd Qtr drive. Controlled the DE so that Brown was free to the outside. Jason then got a shot on a LB. Brown gained 6 yds on the run. Got beat to the inside by Ayers on next play, a pass. Managed to not let him free, but was beaten initially. Lined up at RT to open the 3rd Qtr and had a good edge block that let Shady get upfield for 9 yds. More of a sloppy game than I would have preferred, but his run blocking was pretty good for the most part.
MATHIS – Had a good combo block on Shady run to the left side. Knocked the crap out of a DE to open the 2nd Qtr. Peters was pass blocking the guy. Evan had no one to block. Hit the DE from the side and put him on the ground. Had the key block on Brown’s screen pass in the 2nd Qtr that went for 35 yds. Kept a LB blocked so Brown was totally free. He and Peters combined to move DT off the ball on Polk’s TD run. Moved the guy down to the goal line. Got cleanly beaten by Malik Jackson on pass play late in the half. Jackson is DE/DT tweener with quickness. Went hard inside and Mathis had to tackle him to keep Vick from getting blown up. That wiped out a long pass to DeSean that had the team almost in the RZ. Allowed pressure on the next pass play when a diff DT used an inside move. Mostly a good game, but had a couple of costly mistakes.
KELCE – Took bad angle when trying to pass block Vickerson in the 1st Qtr. Let him get penetration and force Vick to scramble. Flew downfield on Brown’s screen pass in the 2nd Qtr. Didn’t have anyone to block, but showed off his wheels. I’m sure Jason will be showing that clip a few times, letting teammates know that he’s the Usain Bolt of interior blockers in the NFL. Good block of DT on Polk’s TD run. Had a terrific block of ILB on 3rd Qtr run where Shady almost broke loose for long run up the middle. Had to settle for 15 yds. Lowlight moment came in the late 3rd. Jason was pass-blocking when ILB came on delayed blitz. Just ran into Jason and knocked the crap out of him. ILB then got in on sack of Vick.
HERREMANS – Best game of the year. No clear mental mistakes. Anchored well in pass pro, which was an issue last week. Did a good job on run blocks. Pulled to the right on Brown run in the late 1st Qtr. Sealed the ILB so Bryce could get to the open space. Was good vs LBs and DL. Blocked well on the move and at the LOS.
JOHNSON – Sloppy game. Opened the 3rd series by sliding over the the left side as an extra OL. Failed to cleanly block a DT and that player helped to blow up a run play. Sloppy technique. Lane was off balance and didn’t make good contact with the defender. Called for holding on RZ run. Had a tough reach block to make on DT. Lane didn’t have his feet under him and got off balance. Very strange play in the early 3rd. DE took hard inside slant. Lane blocked him, then seemed to look outside, but there was no one to take the DE. Guy pressured Vick into scrambling. Cleanly beaten by Phillips speed rush in the 3rd Qtr. Pressured Vick, led to incomplete pass. Got beaten by Phillips for sack on 3rd/9 late in the 3rd Qtr. Just a good speed rush. Lane failed to get his hands on Phillips in time.
Just an awful day.
Oddly, I felt better and worse after re-watching the tape. I felt worse because there was always someone open. And Peyton always found that player and got him the ball. It felt like the Eagles had virtually no chance to stop them. Certainly no chance to do that with any consistency.
I felt better because it occurred to me that this wasn’t a case of everyone screwing up. One player made a mistake. And Peyton did find that guy. This was a combination of defensive suckitude and great offensive execution. Peyton always seemed to have the right play called. And the Broncos ran the play to perfection. The Eagles are definitely at fault here in the sense that they could not confuse Peyton at all. He read the defense like a bad Tom McAllister novel (as if such a thing could ever exist!).
If you can’t confuse him, load up the LOS and attack him. The Eagles generally rushed 3 or 4 guys. They mixed in some other groupings, but I don’t recall any all out attack blitzes. Bill Davis was so focused on not giving up big plays that he let Denver have the small stuff. I understand the thinking, but it seemed odd that he didn’t break from this, even as the game got away. Davis might have had the right philosophy, but he didn’t have the players to execute it.
If you want to focus on coverage schemes, you must have smart, disciplined players that fly to the ball and tackle well. Smart players can read pass plays and know who to cover and where to go. They understand rub routes and tricks that the offense use to get open. Those players understand angles. They know how to cover, which is harder than it sounds. Discipline is important because players must stick with their assignments and not be tempted to jump routes or bite on fakes. Tackling is always important, but it is critical when dealing with a team that throws short and counts on RAC yards. The Eagles had issues in all of those areas.
Not only did Manning shred the defense, he got them to jump offside several times. You just can’t give him 5 free yards.
The Eagles played a lot of 3-3-5. They used Cole and Graham at DE in this look quite a bit. Then Barwin, Ryans and Kendricks as the LBs. The DL 2-gapped to try and control the run.
* First TD. Boykin blitzed from slot. Wolff was supposed to cover Welker. Too far away (by design) and easy TD. Chip Kelly explained this issue. You couldn’t be obvious with your coverages and make life easy on Peyton, but you also had to have players in position to execute the assignment. That design was flawed. And Peyton made them play.
* Jeff McLane pointed out a 2nd Qtr play where Brandon Boykin was at OLB against a 2-TE set. This was a mistake due to the no-huddle. The problem is that you put players on the field to have certain roles against certain looks. Denver switched and Davis was caught in a bad situation.
COX – Played better than I thought, but that’s because I thought he had a terrible game initially. Wasn’t nearly as good as he needed to be. Got hit on Manning in the mid-2nd. Kendricks blitzed and forced Manning to move, which gave Cox a chance to hit him. Shed block and helped stuff RB on run near the GL in the mid-2nd Qtr. Beat the LG and got some pressure on a 3rd Qtr pass.
SOPOAGA - Did nothing of significance.
THORNTON - Solid game. Had 5 tackles and a sack. Active game vs the run. Showed strength and quickness. Tossed aside the C and tripped up the RB on opening drive. Got sack late in the 1st half. Shed block of OL and tackled RB in the late 3rd. Got in Manning’s face on pass play in the late 3rd.
CURRY - Didn’t play til late in the 3rd Qtr. Credited with TFL on run in the 4th. Got close to a sack on a pass play after that. Very frustrating. The coaches clearly didn’t trust him as a 2-gap DE.
GEATHERS - Some NT. Typical game. Flashed potential on some plays but did little.
LOGAN - LDE. Didn’t stand out at all to me.
SQUARE - DNP
COLE - Better game than I realized. Credited with 4 tackles. Got some pressure, but Peyton got rid of the ball so quickly that Trent couldn’t get to him. Got some pressure on the play where Thornton got his sack. Hustled down the LOS and got RB on the opening drive. Blew up run play late in the half. Created TFL for Ryans. Fought off LT and stuffed RB on outside run in the early 3rd Qtr.
BARWIN - Credited with 4 tackles and a TFL. Active game. Used to rush and cover a lot. Had offsides penalty on opening drive.
GRAHAM - Mostly played DE, but got some snaps at ROLB. Quiet game. 1 tackle.
KENDRICKS - Poor read on early 3rd down. Too far from his guy, got lost in traffic. Good play vs the run in early 2nd Qtr. Slid to the left, used hands to fight off blocker and stopped RB for gain of 3. Blitzed up middle in mid-2nd and had a shot at a sack, but Manning was able to slide from him. Made good tackle of RB on cutback run in the mid-2nd Qtr. 4 solo tackles. I was hoping Kendricks would stand out in this game. Didn’t happen. Left the game for a few plays after making a tackle and landing awkwardly.
RYANS - Solid game as a tackler. Had 10 solo stops. Got TFL late in the half when Cole blew up a run play. Ryans chased down the RB for the stop. Didn’t make impact plays, but got runners/receivers who were near him.
KNOTT - Replaced Kendricks late in the half. Forced RB out of bounds on outside run play.
ALLEN - Looked like a solid game to me. Tackled well. Came up aggressively. Had 8 solo stops. Didn’t stand out in coverage, good or bad. Came up and tackled Welker quickly after short catch on crossing route.
CHUNG - DNP
WOLFF - 1st NFL start. 6 solo tackles. Mix of good and bad. Tackled well at times. Did okay in coverage on some plays. At his best, was in zone and made good reads. Tackled aggressively. Other times was lost. Made a good tackle of WR after short catch in the early 2nd Qtr. Screwed up late in the half. Looked like D was in Cover 3. Earl didn’t stay deep enough, didn’t see Cary’s WR going deep. Pass play was completed down the deep middle, where Earl should have been. Missed tackle of TE in the mid-3rd Qtr.
FLETCHER - Broke up pass to WR on opening drive. Got away with grabbing the jersey, but did it subtly. Had tight coverage on RZ pass in the 3rd Qtr and it was incomplete. Manning went right back to Thomas on the next play with a fade. TD. Good coverage, but throw/catch were even better. Gave up completion to Thomas in the 4th. Missed initial tackle, then got him on 2nd effort.
WILLIAMS - Bad game. Got badly burned by double move in the early 2nd Qtr. Decker got right by him, but the pass was just a hair overthrown and the play was a noisy incompletion. Manning hit Thomas with quick pass when Williams was playing off. Failed to make the tackle and gave up at least 10 bad RAC yards. Missed tackle of WR in the late 3rd.
BOYKIN - Awkward game. Had 2 tackles. Used to cover and blitz. Struggled at times with Welker. Part of that was great play design. Part was Welker being a crafty veteran.
JONES - 4-191…on punts that weren’t blocked.
HENERY - 2 for 3 on FGs. Missed from 46 in the 4th Qtr. Had 5 KOs. 4 were touchbacks. The one that wasn’t was returned for a TD. Ugh.
– MISC –
KOR – 9 KOs for Denver. 8 of them were touchbacks. Crazy.
PR – Damaris only had one PR and it went for 21 yds.
There were 2 huge STs errors.
* Trindon Holliday returned a KO 105 yds for a TD. It looked like Najee Goode (Najee Baade?) got out of his lane and took a bad angle to the ball. Other Eagles couldn’t get off blocks. Ugh.
* There was a blocked punt in the 4th Qtr. Brandon Graham took off downfield to go cover the punt. His rusher got partially blocked by Jon Dorenbos, but mostly had an opening running lane to the punter. Ugh.
* Anderson blew up first PR, then Carmichael made the tackle.
* Boykin was virtually tackled from behind while covering a punt and there was no flag. Horrible missed call.