Thursday, April 24, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Live from St. Louis: Red zone D is OK

The Eagles had historically one of the worst red zone defenses last season. So how did new defensive coordinator Juan Castillo's unit hold up on Sunday?

Live from St. Louis: Red zone D is OK

The Eagles had historically one of the worst red zone defenses last season. So how did new defensive coordinator Juan Castillo's unit hold up on Sunday?

 Pretty good, all things considered, although there was only a small sample. The Rams didn't drive inside the 20 until late in the third quarter when they advanced to the Eagles 1. But the Eagles defense held and forced a chip shot field and kept the Rams from getting within one score. -- McLane

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Some of the blame can be attributed to the dome and the noise and the rookie center and the first game, but clock management woes plagued the Eagles again.

In the first half, they had to burn three timeouts because, it appeared, plays weren't coming in quickly enough. Those timeouts would have come in handy late in the first half when Michael Vick led the offense into the Rams' red zone.

Rather than try one more time for the end zone with nine second left, the Eagles had to kick a field goal on third down and settle for three points rather than seven. -- McLane

***

There was some question about DeSean Jackson's state of mind coming into the opener.
The Eagles wide receiver still doesn't have the contract extension he wishes for, leading to speculation that he may not give a 100-percent effort. At least according to a pair of press box eyes, Jackson looked fully integrated into the game.
He had a splended 41-yard grab in the first quarter that got the Eagles offense on track, and he added three shorter catches before the break. He was back to field two punts but didn't get an opportunity to return either.
Too bad he couldn't hold onto what would have been highlight-worthy catch in the end zone before the break. Maybe even the Eagles front office would have been impressed. -- McLane


***

Dion Lewis later took a second quarter kickoff back from roughly six yards deep and got stopped at his own 13. Andy Reid had a little chat with the rookie after that. -- Tamari

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The Rams' hands are helping the Eagles a lot. Sam Bradford fumbled from deep in Eagles territory, allowing Juqua Parker to scoop it up and return it for the Eagles second touchdown. Later, wide open tight end Lance Kendricks dropped a pass that would have been a sure tying touchdown. The Rams instead had to settle for a field goal. -- Tamari


***

After Dion Lewis ran the opening kickoff back from six yards deep, the Eagles put Riley Cooper back with him for their second return. Cooper looked like he was ready to tackle the rookie to stop him from returning this one. Lewis took a knee. -- Tamari

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The Rams exploited the middle of the Eagles defense on their very first play, running Steven Jackson between the tackles for a 47-yard touchdown. As we wrote today, when the Eagles defensive line sets up wide, it leaves big gaps and allows blockers free passes to the linebackers. An offensive lineman took out Moise Fokou, and Jackson was gone. -- McLane

***

Jason Kelce showed early on what the Eagles like in him. On a third and one on the first drive of the game, LeSean McCoy took a direct snap and followed blocks by Kelce and Evan Mathis, who each pulled to get out in front of the back. Kelce blocked a linebacker in space, opening room for Shady. -- Tamari

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Ex-Eagle Quintin Mikell might have saved a touchdown on the Eagles first drive. On a first down run, McCoy reversed field and beat every Ram to the sideline - except for Mikell who dragged Shady down after a three yard gain. If he didn't make the stop, McCoy might have gone all the way. -- Tamari

***

Jeremy Maclin and Mike Patterson were two of the Eagles three team captains Sunday, along with Jon Dorenbos. Maclin and Patterson, of course, both had significant health scares in the offseason. Maclin is back in his hometown for his first game since the end of last season. -- Tamari

***

Wide receiver Steve Smith will at least dress for the Eagles today, nine months after microfracture surgery. He said this week he has a package of plays he has been working on, so perhaps we'll see him on the field for a few snaps.
Smith was not on the Eagles inactive list, but the Eagles top two draft picks, Danny Watkins and Jaiquawn Jarrett, both were. Watkins, projected as a starter as late as last Sunday morning, instead won't even be in uniform today. He has struggled adjusting to playing guard in the NFL, and Jarrett has also yet to make much of an impression.
Other inactives are: Vince Young (who has been trying to come back from a hamstring injury in the final preseason game), Curtis Marsh, Julian Vandervelde, Winston Justice and Philip Hunt.
That means the Eagles have just two backup offensive linemen today: Jamaal Jackson (who can play center or guard) and King Dunlap.
It also shows that the team really likes Brandon Hughes, who will dress ahead of Marsh, though with Joselio Hanson back he probably won't see much playing time.
If anything happens to Mike Vick, Mike Kafka will get the call, and perhaps throw his first regular season pass.
If things really go badly, Jason Avant is probably the third QB. He was almost put into the last preseason game after Young was hurt and Kafka got dinged. -- Tamari

 

 

About this blog
Birds' Eye View is the Inquirer's blog covering all things Philadelphia Eagles and the NFL.

Jeff McLane Inquirer Staff Writer
Zach Berman Inquirer Staff Writer
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