Thursday, February 11, 2016

Eagles-Redskins Second Take

By the Numbers

Eagles-Redskins Second Take

Will Witherspoon returned an interception 15 yards for a touchdown in his first agme as an Eagle. (Ron Cortes / Staff Photographer)
Will Witherspoon returned an interception 15 yards for a touchdown in his first agme as an Eagle. (Ron Cortes / Staff Photographer)

By the Numbers

* The Eagles’ 11 first downs against the Redskins were their fewest since Oct. 9, 2005, when they managed just six in a 33-10 loss to the Dallas Cowboys. They also had 11 in two other games that year, both losses. The last time the Eagles managed to win a game with 11 or fewer first downs was Oct. 17, 2004, when they had 10 in a 30-8 win over the Carolina Panthers.

* The Eagles continue to flounder on third down. After converting just 2 of 16 third-down tries against Oakland, they were 4-for-15 Monday night. Of their 31 third-down opportunities in the two games, a disturbing 23 have been 6 yards or longer. They are 1-for-21 this season on third downs of 10 yards or more. That lone conversion came on DeSean Jackson’s 57-yard touchdown catch on a third-and-23 against the Redskins.

* After trying to throw deep against the Raiders and getting Donovan McNabb sacked six times, Andy Reid and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg shortened things up Monday. Ran wide receiver screens. Ran running back screens. Ran a tight end screen. Seldom went down the field against the Redskins. Of the Eagles’ 26 pass attempts Monday (25 by Donovan McNabb and one by Michael Vick), 18 were throws of five yards or less. Just two were throws of 15 yards or more – DeSean Jackson’s 57-yard touchdown catch, which traveled 40 yards in the air, and an off-target 18-yard throw to Jackson on a crossing route.

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* If you look strictly at the numbers, Donovan McNabb didn’t have a bad night against the Redskins. Completed 60 percent of his passes. Didn’t have an interception. Hooked up with DeSean Jackson on a 57-yard touchdown pass. But the numbers don’t always tell the true story.

Truth is, McNabb didn’t play very well. A .600 completion percentage isn’t very good when 18 of your 25 attempts were passes of 5 yards or less.

McNabb had at least a half-dozen poor throws. He threw a dirt ball to an open Brent Celek on third-and-3 on the Eagles’ second possession. Threw low to Jeremy Maclin on a second-quarter sideline pass on another third-and-3.

Underthrew an open DeSean Jackson on an 18-yard crossing route in the second quarter even though he had plenty of time to deliver the ball and was able to step into his throw. Missed an open Jackson again on a six-yard throw in the middle of the field late in the third quarter. Badly overthrew Reggie Brown on a simple six-yard out route early in the fourth quarter.

Even his 57-yard touchdown pass to Jackson late in the second quarter hardly was a thing of beauty. Jackson was wide open down the field after completely suckering Redskins cornerback Carlos Rogers with a post-corner double-move. McNabb’s pass was underthrown, but Jackson still was able to catch it and make it to the end zone.

* If the Eagles are going to run the Wildcat, they really need to sharpen up their blocking schemes for it. On a direct snap to LeSean McCoy on a second-and-9 play in the second quarter, both left guard Todd Herremans and fullback Leonard Weaver went to block second-level Redskins defenders and completely ignored right end Chris Wilson, who went unblocked and easily dropped McCoy for a 2-yard loss. The Eagles ran the Wildcat/spread nine times Monday night, including four times with Mike Vick in the game. Those nine plays produced just 22 yards. LeSean McCoy gained just 5 yards on four runs off direct snaps. Vick had nine yards on three carries and had a five-yard completion to tight end Brent Celek.

* Speaking of Vick, it’s clear that he still hasn’t regained the speed he had before he went to prison. That was evident in the second quarter Monday night on an option play when he tried to get outside on Redskins defensive end Andre Carter and was tripped up by Carter for a one-yard loss.


Did You Notice II?

* DeSean Jackson’s 67-yard touchdown run on an end-around on the Eagles’ first possession was made possible by the initial play-fake to Brian Westbrook, which both right end Andre Carter and weakside linebacker Rocky McIntosh reacted to, allowing Jackson to get to the outside and turn the corner.

* Asante Samuel should replay DeAngelo Hall’s excellent tackle on Eagles fullback Leonard Weaver in the second quarter if he wants to see how defensive backs are supposed to take down bigger ball carriers.

* The holding and tripping penalties against a gassed Todd Herremans on the Eagles’ next to last possession of the game.


Just Wondering

What under-the-table deal did Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo strike with his former boss, Andy Reid, before agreeing to give up linebacker Will Witherspoon, who had an interception return for a touchdown, a sack, a forced fumble and six tackles in his first game with the Eagles Monday night? Accepting a fifth-round pick and a sixth-round rookie wide receiver for a guy of Witherspoon’s obvious quality simply doesn’t compute unless both Spagnuolo and Rams general manager Billy Devaney are idiots, which they’re not, or have been promised a tit-for-tat favor down the line.



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