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McLane's Game Review: Grading the Eagles vs. Chiefs

Position-by-position grading of the Eagles following their 26-16 loss to the Chiefs on Thursday night:

McLane's Game Review: Grading the Eagles vs. Chiefs

Kansas City Chiefs´ Alex Smith runs past Eagles´ Trent Cole. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)
Kansas City Chiefs' Alex Smith runs past Eagles' Trent Cole. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)

Position-by-position grading of the Eagles following their 26-16 loss to the Chiefs on Thursday night:

OFFENSE

Quarterback – Grade: C-

After two above average outings in the first two games in which he did not toss an interception, Michael Vick regressed and played like he often did last season. He threw two interceptions that were of his own doing, had four passes that were batted down at the line and misfired on several other attempts. Vick also held onto the ball too long on a few drops. He got little help from his offensive line, though.

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Vick made some nice throws, and ran effectively, but overall his mistakes were costly. Here’s a more detailed look of his night:

Good: Vick ran five times for 95 yards but he took off only once in the read option, darting for a career-high 61 yards in the first quarter. He read the numbers right, sold the fake and showed he still had burst. He scrambled for 24 yards later in the first and had a 14-yard rush in the fourth. Vick’s best throw came in the first when he stood in against linebacker Derrick Johnson’s blitz up the middle and lofted a perfect pass to Jason Avant for a 22-yard touchdown. The Chiefs blitzed on only 6 of 37 drops. Vick was 4 of 6 for 56 yards against the blitz. In the third quarter, he hit Avant for a 31-yard pass even though right tackle Todd Herremans was pushed into him. He finally hooked up with DeSean Jackson deep when he floated a 40-yard pass to the receiver in the third. He zipped a few more throws to the intended target, but many passes were either telegraphed or errant.

Bad: Vick stared down tight end Brent Celek on his second drop and didn’t see Johnson underneath. Johnson tipped what was already a wide throw into the hands of safety Eric Berry, who ran 38 yards untouched into the end zone. There were moments when Vick had enough time and just missed his receivers. He threw behind Riley Cooper in the second, and then later in the quarter when he tossed an interception to cornerback Sean Smith. He overthrew Jackson in the end zone in the third and a wide open Celek in the fourth.

He didn’t get help from Cooper, who could have reeled in two tough, but catchable throws. On the second toss, Vick was flushed out of the pocket and missed an open Bryce Brown underneath. Chip Kelly had Vick throw on consecutive plays in the red zone in the third, but the first pass was incomplete when Berry knocked down a telegraphed pass to Celek.

Running back – A

LeSean McCoy was clearly the Eagles’ best player. He ran for 158 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries, despite playing on a sprained ankle in the second half. He often picked up yards even if the blocking was ineffective. There were a few times when maybe he danced too much and hit the wrong hole, but McCoy kept the Eagles in the game. It’s a wonder he didn’t have more touches.

McCoy did have to leave late in the second quarter after his injury. He ran for 57 yards on four carries running behind left guard Evan Mathis, but on this play the left guard had trouble with defensive end Tyson Jackson. McCoy, though, cut outside and picked up 18 yards before he rolled his ankle. When McCoy returned in the third quarter after missing a series, he zoomed 30 yards up the middle on his first tote. A quarter later, after the Chiefs went ahead, 23-9, Vick hit Avant for 20 yards. The Eagles took only 15 seconds to run the next play in the read option and McCoy zipped 41 yards through a hole on the left for a touchdown.

Brown had all three of his carries when McCoy left. He couldn’t overcome the poor run blocking and gained just seven yards.

Wide receiver – B-

Jackson finished with three catches for 62 yards. He was targeted only seven times. He said he saw a lot of double teams. The Chiefs played mostly man-to-man defense in the secondary which took away the Eagles’ bubble screen game. Jackson ran in motion and out of slot during the early portion of the game, but to little avail. He caught a 9-yard pass on the second play from scrimmage, but didn’t have a grab until the third when Vick hit him on an outside curl for 13 yards. Their 40-yard hookup a series later came on a straight go route in which Vick hit Jackson after he beat cornerback Brandon Flowers down the sideline.

With Jackson being shadowed, the Eagles needed Cooper to step up. He finished with two catches for 29 yards, but was targeted five other times. Aside from the passes he could have pulled in, Cooper failed to get much separation in man coverage. He also had a false start in the third.

Jason Avant had a good game. He led the team with five catches for 87 yards. He made the touchdown catch over the shoulder, showed good body control on a 31-yard reception in the third and the 20-yard grab before McCoy’s touchdown was spectacular. Avant tipped to ball to himself and made a diving catch.

Jeff Maehl played three snaps and wasn’t targeted. Damaris Johnson didn’t get any snaps on offense.

Tight end – B

Eagles tight ends have seemingly been underused, but there are only so many snaps to go around. Brent Celek has taken the majority of snaps whenever the Eagles have gone with one-tight end personnel. He was thrown to only five times, catching two passes for 18 yards, but he had arguably his best blocking game this season. Celek had an effective seal block on a 7-yard run by McCoy in the first and contained Tamba Hali the few times he was matched up against the Pro Bowl linebacker. He also drew an illegal contact penalty in the red zone in the third, but the Eagles failed to get into the end zone on the drive.

Zach Ertz played often early as the Eagles went with two tight ends, but there were extended periods in which the rookie stood on the sidelines. He played 15 snaps overall and caught one pass for five yards that converted on first quarter third down. Ertz had a 19-yard reception that was brought back late in the fourth by a Herremans hold.

James Casey’s only official snap on offense came when the Eagles went for two in the first quarter.

Offensive line – C-

The line’s best moment came on McCoy’s 41-yard score. Left tackle Jason Peters, Mathis and center Jason Kelce all held their blocks on the left and Herremans got to the second level to spring the running back free. The unit had success on the ground, but its pass protection was subpar.

Kelce was up and down as a blocker, mostly against 346-pound nose tackle Dontari Poe. But he had a forgetful night snapping the football. He fumbled one when he thought Vick was under center and not in the shotgun, and fired another off target and through Vick’s hands in the third. Kelce had an injured hand and wore tape, but he did not use the injury as an excuse.

As for his matchup against Poe, Kelce was driven back several times in the run game and McCoy had to either improvise or was held to one yard (first quarter) or no yards (third). Kelce did get Poe off his anchor when McCoy ran for six yards in the second and on the tailback’s 41-yard score.

Peters had a tough assignment against Hali, but he lost the battle of Pro Bowlers. The Penn State alum got around the left tackle multiple times -- in the first, forcing Vick up out of the pocket before he overshot Cooper, in the second when Hali sacked the quarterback, and four other times in which Vick had to escape and throw on the run. Peters wasn’t completely at fault. Receivers didn’t get open enough and Vick sometimes held onto the ball a click too long. He also had some strong moments in the run, including a kick block on Vick’s 61-yard run.

Herremans was inconsistent. His main issues were in pass protection. Tyson Jackson bull rushed him back into Vick in third and again later in the quarter on a crucial third down and three at the Chiefs 11. Vick was forced to throw and missed Avant. Herremans had more success in the run game and opened up a hole for a McCoy 7-yard dart in the third.

Right tackle Lane Johnson struggled against linebacker Justin Houston for much of the game. Houston finished with 3-1/2 sacks, all of them coming against the rookie. Johnson seemed to have technical issues with leverage in pass protection. Houston beat him outside, inside and straight through him for three individual sacks. He’s been a better run blocker this season, but had problems there, as well. He also missed a blocking assignment on the two-point try when he failed to pick up Hali.

Mathis was the most consistent of the linemen, but he also wasn’t perfect. He had the key block at the second level on McCoy’s 30-yard run. He used his hands effectively when he chipped a d-linemen and then sealed another defender on a McCoy 8-yard run in the second. Poe got around Mathis and recorded the Chiefs’ first sack in the first, but that negative play may have been on Vick. He appeared to have missed an assignment on a short Brown run in the third and was called for a false start in the third.

DEFENSE

Defensive line – B+

The line was disruptive for much of the game without the assistance of a steady blitz. The Eagles sent extra pass rushers on only 12 of 47 Alex Smith drops. Defensive end Fletcher Cox had his best game so far this season. He was quiet in the first quarter, but picked up a sack in the second when he blew by rookie tackle Eric Fisher. Cox showed great closing speed. In the third, he ran running back Jamal Charles out of bounds after a 1-yard pickup. He also drew a holding penalty on Fisher. Cox wasn’t as effective getting off blocks in the run game.

Cedric Thornton set the tone early against the run. He showed his motor by driving a blocker back and diverting Charles for a short gain in the first. He shed another lineman in the quarter and dropped Charles after four yards. Thornton had two impressive individual efforts when he spun out of blocks and stopped Charles on a third down and short and later in the second for no gain. He was quiet for the next two quarters, but stood his ground to stop Charles at the goal line near the end of the game.

After two games on the inactive list, Vinny Curry made the most of 12 snaps. The defensive end forced Smith out the pocket in the first. He sacked the quarterback in the third after the tight end blew his block. And he drew a hold in the third, although the penalty was declined.

Nose tackle Isaac Sopoaga made a few tackles against the run in space, but he was less effective in clogging the middle. Chiefs running backs had two 10-plus-yard runs when he Sopoaga was blocked to the ground by the center.

Bennie Logan played 26 snaps but he didn’t make the snap sheet. The rookie defensive lineman has had a quiet start to his career. Defensive end Clifton Geathers played eight snaps and dropped Charles for a short gain on one rush and hustled downfield when Charles broke several tackles and gained 17 yards.

Outside linebackers – B

Connor Barwin was active throughout. He applied pressure on Smith on the first play and hit him. He had good coverage on the flat two plays later and again when Charles dropped another short pass. Against the run, Barwin stretched Charles out of bounds after a short gain and read a Smith keeper and stopped him after one yard. In the third, he read a screen and jumped up and knocked down the pass.

Trent Cole wasn’t involved much in the first half, but he forced Charles inside and into another defender when he came through unblocked in the third. And later he recorded his first sack of the season when he fought off a lineman and a running back.

Brandon Graham had 17 snaps and was active. He got pressure on Smith during a second quarter three-man rush and then picked up his first sack in the fourth. Casey Matthews played seven snaps and was credited with a hurry.

Inside linebackers – C

DeMeco Ryans was his usual self in the run game, but had problems in coverage. He was credited with seven solo tackles, all against the run. He had trouble getting off blocks against Kansas City’s screen game and especially whenever they ran the successful short crossing route with receiver Donnie Avery. He lost tight end Sean McGrath on a key third and four in the fourth. A series later, he was late to pick up receiver Dwayne Bowe after safety Nate Allen blitzed off the edge on third down and short. And later in the drive, he couldn’t make a shoestring tackle of Charles on a 17-yard run.

Mychal Kendricks started off well when he pursued receiver Dexter McCluster on an option pitch and dropped him three yards behind the line. He did a good job of containing Smith during a scramble later in the first. But the wheels started to come off when he overran and missed Charles on three short passes in the first half. He had good coverage on receiver Chad Hall in the end zone in the second. But he, too, failed to tackle Charles on his 17-yard fourth quarter rumble.

Jake Knott played one snap.

Cornerbacks – B

The reluctant-to-pull-the-trigger Smith aided the Eagles cornerbacks, but they also did a fine job on Bowe, who had only one catch. Cary Williams wasn’t tested much. When he was he had good coverage on a short A.J. Jenkins completion. Bradley Fletcher didn’t surrender a catch and defended an early pass to Bowe. He missed a tackle in the first and allowed himself to get sealed on Avery’s 26-yard catch in the third.

Brandon Boykin was back exclusively in the slot. He came on several blitzes, although he never got home. He had solid coverage when he dropped. He was part of the secondary that couldn’t get off blocks when Avery picked up 26 yards.

Safeties – C-

The Eagles safeties once again were the Achilles heel on defense. They didn’t deserve all the blame for busted coverages over the middle, but Patrick Chung, Nate Allen and Earl Wolff each had a significant role. Chung missed four tackles including one on special teams. He took a poor angle on Avery’s 51-yard third-down conversion in the second and again on a 23-yard reception in the third. He did draw a holding penalty in the second when he blitzed off the edge. He left in the fourth with a shoulder contusion.

Allen was better than he was against the Chargers, especially early on. He sacked the scrambling Smith and made an open field tackle on McGrath in the first and McCluster in the third. He made a costly error, though, when he was late to react to Avery in a zone and the receiver converted a huge third down and ten in the fourth.

Earl Wolff made an open field tackle of Charles in third, but missed the running back on his 17-yard run. He was also blocked to his rear during a second quarter blitz.

SPECIAL TEAMS – D

Alex Henery missed his second field goal this season when he was way wide left with a third quarter 48-yard attempt. Damaris Johnson muffed a punt and didn’t do much else in the return game. Donnie Jones averaged 37 yards on four punts. A few were shanked. Dave Fipp’s cover unit allowed a 57-yard kick return to open the game and a 36-yard return in the third.

Jeff McLane Inquirer Staff Writer
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Birds' Eye View is the Inquirer's blog covering all things Philadelphia Eagles and the NFL.

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