Some incoherent thoughts, some off-the-mark conclusions and one or two astute observations as we mourn the passing of Week 4 of the NFL season:
* In reviewing the film of Sunday’s game, there are two passes Kevin Kolb really needed to complete and didn’t Sunday. The first was the deep ball to a wide-wide-open DeSean Jackson early in the fourth quarter. The second was a pass down the seam to Brent Celek on the Eagles’ final possession. You can give Kolb a little bit of a pass on the overthrow to Jackson and blame it on the wind. But not the pass to Celek. He threw it behind the open tight end who wasn’t able to turn his body and make the catch. If the pass had been on the money, the Eagles would’ve had the ball at no worse than the Washington 30 with 30 seconds to go instead of at midfield.
* LeSean McCoy put up terrific numbers against the Redskins. He had 174 yards from scrimmage and averaged 6.2 yards per touch. But his third-quarter fumble was a killer. His five-yard gain on the play would’ve given the Eagles a second down at the Washington 21. At the very worst, they would’ve walked away from that possession with a David Akers field goal that would’ve made it a 17-9 game and put the Eagles in position to only need a field goal to win the game at the end rather than a touchdown.
* Defensive coordinator Sean McDermott got too cute on that third-and-4 play late in the game when Donovan McNabb broke containment and ran for 18 yards and a first down. He called a zone blitz that had left end Brandon Graham drop back into coverage. Graham ran with a Redskins receiver toward the middle of the field, leaving McNabb a wide-open lane to pick up the first down. Linebacker Stewart Bradley tried to run down McNabb, but got chipped. And while we’re on the subject of that play, what was McNabb thinking running out of bounds?
* Speaking of Graham, while he’s bulked up some since leaving the University of Michigan, he still too small to be an every-down defensive end at this stage of his career. Keep him fresh for pass-rushing situations and get a left end out there who is better equipped to stop the run. Somebody like Darryl Tapp. The Redskins ran the ball 35 times Sunday and Graham had just 2 tackles.
* The Eagles’ difficulty in stopping the run Sunday wasn’t limited to the first quarter. They were gashed for 169 yards on 35 carries. Came up small against the run on the Redskins’ final possession. Even after McNabb scrambled for that first down with 3:45 left in the game, the Eagles, who still had a timeout left, could’ve gotten the ball back with 2-plus minutes left if they had held the ‘Skins there. But they gave up another first down when Ryan Torain gashed them for 10- and 7-yard gains.
* It wasn’t a good day for 2 of the Eagles’ defensive leaders – middle linebacker Stewart Bradley and strong safety Quintin Mikell. Mikell got run over by Torain on his 12-yard first-quarter touchdown run in the first quarter, which was preceded by a penalty for horsecollar tackle on Santana Moss a couple of plays before that.
Bradley was part of the busted coverage that resulted in McNabb’s 31-yard touchdown throw to tight end Chris Cooley and had too many missed tackles to count Sunday. On a 13-yard screen to Clinton Portis on the Redskins’ second touchdown drive, Bradley missed Portis not once, but twice. He also had a missed tackle on Torain’s 10-yard run late in the fourth quarter that gave the Redskins another first down when the Eagles needed to get the ball back.
* I still haven’t gotten a good explanation from the Eagles as to why they released wide receiver Hank Baskett last month and signed Bills practice-squad running back Joique Bell. Since cutting Baskett, the Eagles have been going with just four wide receivers on their roster. No big deal when everybody’s healthy. But rookie Riley Cooper suffered a concussion in the first quarter Sunday, leaving the Eagles with 3 wideouts for the rest of the game. It not only prevented them from using any 4-wide receiver sets, but also appeared to take its toll on DeSean Jackson, who seemed gassed at the end. Bell? He was inactive Sunday. I mean, why in the world is a team whose running backs have carried the ball a grand total of 63 times in 4 games carrying 5 running backs on their 53-man roster? Am I missing something here?
* The Eagles’ coverage units continue to give up big plays. They gave up a 53-yard punt return to Brandon Banks Sunday that set up the Redskins’ first touchdown. A week earlier, the Jaguars’ Mike Thomas burned them for a 41-yard punt return. In Week 1, they gave up a 51-yard kickoff return to the Packers’ Jordy Nelson.
* A breakdown of the 4 holding penalties on the Eagles’ offensive line Sunday:
No. 1 – By RG Max Jean-Gilles late in the first quarter. Jean-Gilles held DT Albert Haynesworth after getting beat on an inside move by Haynesworth. The penalty wiped out a 23-yard run by Mike Vick on the play Vick got hurt on. Then again, maybe Vick doesn’t gain 23 yards if Jean-Gilles didn’t hold Haynesworth.
No. 2 – By LT Jason Peters. Got beat by Redskins LB Brian Orakpo on an outside rush, then grabbed Orakpo with his left hand. The hold wiped out a 10-yard Kolb-to-Owen Schmitt completion for a first down.
No. 3—By Peters again, after getting beat by Orakpo again. Used his left hand to hold Orakpo as he was beating him on another outside rush, then, just for good measure, grabbed the back of Orakpo’s jersey with his right hand as the Redskin pass-rusher was blowing by him. Wiped out an 8-yard scramble by Kolb.
No. 4 – By LG Todd Herremans early in the fourth quarter against Haynesworth. Herremans was a little more discreet than Peters, but basically tackled Haynesworth. The penalty wiped out a 16-yard Kolb completion to Jason Avant that would’ve given the Eagles a first down at the Washington 36. Instead, they had a first-and-20 at their own 41.
* Forty-six of the Eagles’ 68 offensive plays were out of a three-wide receiver, one running back, one-tight end formation, including their last 18 plays in the fourth quarter when they were running their hurry-up offense. Rushed for 75 yards on 18 carries out of the 3-1-1. Mike Vick and Kevin Kolb were a combined 17-for-27 for 130 yards out of it. They also ran 2 plays out of a 3-WR, 2-RB set, and another play out of a 3-WR, 2-TE set.
The Eagles ran just 11 plays out of a standard 2-wide receiver, 2-running back, 1-tight end set. Rushed for 20 yards on 3 carries out of it. Completed 5 of 8 passes for 94 yards out of it, including all 3 of FB Owen Schmitt’s receptions (43 yards).
To read our earlier report, click here.