Friday, December 26, 2014

Dissecting Sunday's 27-6 Loss To Cardinals

Surveying the wreckage of the Eagles’ 27-6 loss to the Cardinals:

Dissecting Sunday's 27-6 Loss To Cardinals

Michael Vick points out a new protection scheme during the Eagles loss to the Cardinals. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)
Michael Vick points out a new protection scheme during the Eagles loss to the Cardinals. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)

Surveying the wreckage of the Eagles’ 27-6 loss to the Cardinals:

--This isn’t exactly a revelation, but the Eagles didn’t block very well Sunday. The three biggest culprits were left tackle Demetress Bell, center Dallas Reynolds and running back LeSean McCoy.

Bell struggled in his first start with the Eagles. He allowed defensive end Calais Campbell to get past him and flush Vick out of the pocket on the Eagles’ very first play from scrimmage, which set the tone for the rest of the game.

He had a nice block on a first-quarter stretch play by LeSean McCoy that picked up eight yards, and did a good job of blocking Campbell on Michael Vick’s 20-yard scramble late in the second quarter. But aside from that, it was hard to find many positives in his performance.

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He was called for two penalties – a false start on a first-and-10 at the Arizona 38 early in the second quarter, and a holding on first-and-10 at the Philadelphia 25 right after the Cardinals went up 17-0.

In the fourth quarter, on the intentional grounding by Vick, Bell was badly beaten to the inside by Campbell, who flushed Vick out of the pocket.

Reynolds played even worse than Bell. He was responsible for a third-quarter sack of Vick when he got beat by Cardinals nose tackle David Carter, who forced Vick into the arms of linebacker Quentin Groves, and had problems all day dealing with the Cardinals’ A-gap blitzes.

On one of the two third-quarter sacks of Vick, he left linebacker Daryl Washington in untouched, curiously choosing instead to block Paris Lenon, who already was being blocked by right guard Danny Watkins.

McCoy has developed into an adequate pass-protector. But he had a godawful day on Sunday. His most costly mistake came on Vick’s late-second-quarter fumble at the Arizona one-yard line that Cardinals safety James Sanders returned for a back-breaking touchdown.

McCoy, who was the lone back on the play, went to the strong side, thinking Sanders was going to be coming on a blitz there. But with tight end Brent Celek over there, he should’ve been able to see that the Eagles had enough blockers on that side to account for Sanders if he came. But there was no one to account for Rhodes on the other side. He came clean, drilled Vick and forced the fumble that pretty much made this game, set and match.

Earlier in the second quarter, McCoy failed to block Washington when he came up the middle on a blitz.

--While his protection often wasn’t very good, Vick again didn’t help matters by holding on to the ball too long and showing a lack of pocket awareness. On the Eagles’ second possession, he was staring right at Calais Campbell and O’Brien Schofield as they charged at him. Yet, rather than throw the ball away, he took an 11-yard sack. Instead of a second-and-10 near midfield, the Eagles had a second-and-21 at their own 35.

And while McCoy made the wrong decision on Vick’s fumble at the end of the first half, the quarterback also should’ve been able to see pre-snap that Rhodes might be a problem. Same thing with one of his third-quarter sacks. He should’ve been able to notice in his pre-snap read that linebacker Sam Acho was unaccounted for. Yet he still ran a play-action bootleg to Acho’s side. Washington ended up sacking him for a 12-yard loss on the play.

--While the Eagles opted to play Larry Fitzgerald straight up rather than have Nnamdi Asomugha shadow him, it turned out Asomugha was on him a good part of the time anyway in the first half when Fitzgerald recorded seven catches for 105 yards and a touchdown. Fitzgerald lined up wide left (Asomugha’s side) on 13 of the Cardinals’ 33 offensive plays in the first half and had three catches for 70 yards, including his 37-yard touchdown catch. He lined up wide right nine times and had one catch for six yards. Lined up in the left slot seven times and had two catches for 20 yards. Lined up in the right slot four times and had one catch for nine yards.

--Fitzgerald’s touchdown wouldn’t have happened if the Eagles had been able to get off the field the play before. A miscommunication between linebackers DeMeco Ryans and Mychal Kendricks allowed the Cardinals to convert a third-and-seven as Kevin Kolb completed a 15-yard pass to tight end Jeff King. The Cardinals had two tight ends in the game on the play. King lined up on the right side of the line and the other tight end, rookie Rob Houslerm lined up in the backfield. At the snap, Housler came out of the backfield to the right side. The Eagles were in their two-linebacker nickel package. Ryans, who was in the middle, went to cover Housler even though Kendrick already was over there. That left King unguarded. He came off the line and was wide open in the middle.

--Defensive end Brandon Graham got his heaviest workload of the season Sunday and made the most of it. Graham played 17 snaps, shared in a sack and had four tackles, three for losses. The snap breakdown for the Eagles’ defensive linemen against Arizona: Derek Landri 39, Jason Babin 33, Trent Cole 32, Fletcher Cox 31, Darryl Tapp 28, Cedric Thornton 28, Cullen Jenkins 28, Graham 17 and Phillip Hunt 12.

--Rookie corner Brandon Boykin had a couple of costly missed tackles Sunday. He had missed tackles on Larry Fitzgerald on a pair of 16- and 22-yard receptions.

--On Fitzgerald’s 37-yard touchdown catch, Asomugha clearly expected over-the-top help from strong safety Kurt Coleman. But Coleman had bitten on a play-fake and wasn’t able to get back and help out on Fitzgerald. The Eagles’ other safety, Nate Allen, had stayed with the Cardinals’ other wideout, Andre Roberts, leaving Asomugha to fend for himself.

--Brent Celek continues to take a beating. He took two vicious back-to-back shots from Cardinals safety Kerry Rhodes in the second quarter, one on a short incompletion in the flat and another on a ball down the field that likely will be earning Rhodes a fine for an illegal hit on a defenseless receiver.

--On the second-down play at the Arizona one-yard line right before Vick’s costly fumble at the end of the half, the quarterback had tight end Clay Harbor wide open in the end zone, but never saw him. He got pressure on the outside from the ever-present Daryl Washington, who got around Celek, and threw the ball out of bounds in the general direction of DeSean Jackson.

BY THE NUMBERS

--Of LeSean McCoy’s 13 rushing attempts Sunday, just one was to the left side. He ran six times to the right side and six times up the middle.

--Michael Vick was just 5-for-21 for 109 yards against the blitz Sunday. That’s a .238 completion percentage and 5.2 yards per attempt. Two of his five sacks came on Arizona blitzes.

--Vick was 5-for-11 for 82 yard on third down against the Cardinals. The Eagles converted just five of 14 third-down opportunities.

--The Eagles were 0-for-2 in the red zone. They’re just 2-for-7 in the last 2 games.

--The Eagles are fifth in the league in total offense, but are averaging just 3.76 points per 100 yards. The Cardinals are 31st, but are averaging 8.48.

--DeSean Jackson has just 2 catches for 23 yards in the fourth quarter this season.

--Vick completed just one of three passes in the red zone Sunday. He’s 1-for-6 in the red zone in the last two games.

Paul Domowitch Daily News NFL Columnist
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