Monday view: Blitz, Samuel, formations and more

Michael Vick showed his elusiveness while under constant pressure from the Detroit blitz. (David Maialetti/Staff Photographer)

Some day-after random thoughts and old-guy ramblings following Sunday’s 35-32 Eagles win over the Lions:

* Well, that Murder’s Row back-half of the Eagles’ schedule is starting to look a little less daunting now that the Cowboys (Weeks 14 and 17) and the Vikings (Week 16) both are 0-2. But this is September and those games are in December and a lot can happen between now and then.

* So much for thinking the Lions might go with a mush rush against Mike Vick on Sunday and try to pin him in the pocket. Lions defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham threw one blitz after another at the Eagles’ offense, which really shouldn’t have come as a surprise to me if I had done my homework. In ’04, Cunningham was the defensive chief for the Chiefs when they laid a 56-10 whoopin’ on Vick and the Falcons. The Falcons ran 50 offensive plays in that game and Cunningham called blitzes on just about every one of them. Vick completed just 7 of 21 passes for 119 yards, no touchdowns and 2 interceptions in that game. He was considerably better yesterday.

* Paging Brent Celek. Paging Brent Celek. The Eagles tight end had a team-high 76 receptions last year, but has just 5 for 59 yards through the first 2 games. He had 3 catches for 27 yards against the Lions.

* I’m really, really not trying to pick on Asante Samuel, but the cornerback’s got to give a better effort than he did on that second-quarter screen pass to running back Jahvid Best that the Lions rookie took 75 yards to the house. Samuel looked like a spectator at a parade on the play. There were other fingerprints on the TD, including middle linebacker Omar Gaither, who just flat-out failed to make the play, and strong safety Quintin Mikell, who wasn’t able to get off a downfield block by tight end Brandon Pettigrew. But at least they made an effort. Samuel didn’t even do that. The Lions also picked up 9 yards on a screen to the left side to Best late in the third quarter. Best lined up wide left on that play with the Eagles’ other corner, Ellis Hobbs, on him. Hobbs was cut down by tight end Tony Scheffler, springing Best. The Eagles had better get those screens buckled down. Because they’re going to be seeing them a lot until they prove they can stop them.

* Not including 3 game-ending kneel-downs, the Eagles used 3- and 4-wide receiver sets on 36 of 65 offensive plays Sunday. Their most successful formation was a 3-WR, 1-RB, 1-TE set. Ran out of it 25 times for 209 of their 409 total net yards. LeSean McCoy, who had a career-high 120 yards and 3 touchdowns on 16 carries, rushed for 77 yards and 2 TDs on 7 carries out of the 3-1-1. It also was the most productive formation for Vick and the Eagles’ passing game. He completed 8 of 13 passes for 98 yards and rushed for 40 yards on 4 carries out of the 3-1-1. The numbers on the other sets the Eagles used Sunday:

4-WR, 1-RB, 0-TE: 6 plays-60 yards
2-WR, 2-RB, 1-TE: 21 plays-88 yards
4-WR, 0-RB, 1-TE: 3 plays-13 yards
3-WR, 2-RB, 0-TE: 2 plays-33 yards
1-WR, 2-RB, 2-TE: 1 play-10 yards
2-WR, 1-RB, 2-TE: 7 plays-(-)1 yard

* Rookie defensive end Brandon Graham wasn’t used inside quite as much Sunday as he was in Week 1. And when he did play inside, it usually was on passing downs. He lined up at tackle 12 times in the first 3 quarters before leaving the game with a shoulder injury. Seven of those were third-down plays. Three others were second-and-longs. I understand what McDermott is trying to do by playing Graham a lot inside. Just not sure it’s a good thing to do with a rookie if you don’t want him hitting the wall in late November.

* After doing a good job on Packers tight end Jermichael Finley in Week 1, the Eagles didn’t do such a good job on Lions tight end Brandon Pettitgrew. He had 7 catches for 108 yards. Six of those receptions and 98 of those yards came in the second half. Part of the problem was the absence of middle linebacker Stewart Bradley. His replacement, Omar Gaither, got beat by Pettitgrew on a few of those 6 second-half catches, including a 21-yarder when Samuel ran into Gaither on a pick play.

* The Eagles have done pretty well in the red zone the first 2 games. They’ve converted 5 of 6 trips inside the 20 into touchdowns. McCoy has 3 of those touchdowns and wide receiver Jeremy Maclin has the other 2. McCoy has 47 yards on 5 red-zone carries.


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