Thursday, November 27, 2014
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McLane's Game Review: Grading the Eagles vs. Redskins

A position-by-position review of the Eagles after their 33-27 win over the Redskins Monday night:

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

Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)
Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)

A position-by-position review of the Eagles after their 33-27 win over the Redskins Monday night:

OFFENSE

Quarterback – Grade: B

Michael Vick was not without error in the Eagles’ 33-27 win over the Redskins, but he managed to avoid major mistakes. The throw that was ruled a lateral and fumble was likely a forward pass based upon re-watching the broadcast of the game. Other than that, Vick did not turn the ball over. The main concern was the amount of hits he took. By this count, Vick was hit 19 times in and out of the pocket. On three occasions, he acted as a blocker for LeSean McCoy, something coach Chip Kelly said was not by design.

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What grade does the Eagles defense get for the opener?
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B.
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F.

First the good: Vick stood in a clean pocket and floated a perfect 25-yard pass to DeSean Jackson in the first quarter. His 28-yard touchdown completion to Brent Celek was a fastball. A series earlier he stood in against the blitz and hit Jackson on third down. Vick was 6 of 12 for 60 yards when blitzed, per Pro Football Focus. Vick ran 9 times for 54 yards, including a 3-yard touchdown. He took a hit every time he ran.

Now the bad: Vick wasn’t especially sharp early on. He missed a wide open Celek on the first drive and a few plays later threw across his body into double coverage. A series later, he overshot Jason Avant and missed an uncovered Zach Ertz a play later. Vick struggled against extra pass rushers and was sacked three times. He was late to pick up a blitzer in the second quarter and desperately tossed an incomplete pass to Riley Cooper. In the third, he was flushed outside and took a sack when he ran out of bounds rather than throw the ball away. Vick could have a done a better job of selling the read option and “riding the running back.”

Running back – A

McCoy was spectacular. A few of the highlights, magnified by the replay: 1. His 13-yard first quarter run when he skipped out of tackle attempts by cornerbacks E.J. Biggers and Josh Wilson. 2. A 7-yard run in the second in which he spun out of would-be tackle for loss. 3. An 8-yard rush when he left linebacker London Fletcher’s jock on the grass. 4. His 34-yard touchdown dash in the third when he hurdled Biggers and jetted through the secondary. There was lots more.

Bryce Brown had a few strong runs in the first half, including picking up a first on third down when he shook linebacker Perry Riley. He did miss a block when he tried to cut linebacker Brian Orakpo and Vick hurriedly had to throw an incompletion. Chris Polk didn’t have a snap on offense.

Wide receiver -- A-

Jackson finished with 107 yards receiving, 70 of which came after the catch. He was targeted nine times and caught seven, including a 25-yard TD. Jackson ran a post to the middle, was wide open and tap danced in the back of the end zone. On third and eight in the second, he ran a shallow cross route and ran for the first down.

Cooper had several strong downfield blocks that appeared on the broadcast. He played 80 of 80 snaps. Avant was called once for holding on a bubble screen and had the costly fumble in the fourth. But he bounced back and converted on third down when he reached for the sticks.

Tight end – B

Eagles tight ends weren’t as involved as they had been in the preseason. So there weren’t many two tight end sets and James Casey was on offense for only two plays. Celek had two catches for 56 yards, half of which came after the catch. Safety Bacarri Rambo bounced off Celek as he ran in for a 28-yard touchdown in the second. He had a few issues blocking and was called for holding in the third. Ertz dropped an early third down pass and finished with one reception for 11 yards.

Offensive line – B+

The unit was strong for most of the game, but there seemed to be some confusion with assignments at times. They cut blocked a number of times. Left tackle Jason Peters was his usual stalwart self, playing in his first regular season game in 20 months. He kept Orakpo in check for most of the game. Predictably, rookie Lane Johnson had his ups and downs. He let linebacker Ryan Kerrigan get around him once in the first. His worst moment came in the second when he looked confused by a defensive alignment and was late to block linebacker Ryan Kerrigan, who sacked Vick. Johnson is typically a strong run blocker out in space, but he missed his guy in the second and McCoy was dropped for a short gain. He made no apparent mistakes in the unbalanced line formation when he lined up inside Peters. Johnson had a false start penalty.

Evan Mathis had a key block on McCoy’s fourth down conversion on the first drive. The left guard may have gotten away with a hold. He was penalized for holding on a Vick option keeper. He was otherwise solid. There were a few moments when right guard Todd Herremans appeared to choose the wrong assignment. When Vick was sacked in the second, Herremans let Kerrigan run past him. Center Jason Kelce had some strong moments, including second level blocks on a McCoy 16-yard run and a 12-yarder when he pancaked a Redskin. He did get beat by nose tackle Barry Cofield in the fourth and McCoy was dropped for a loss.

Allen Barbre played two snaps at left tackle when Jason Peters left briefly with a hand issue.

DEFENSE

Defensive line -- B

Defensive end Cedric Thornton was active. He dropped running back Alfred Morris for a two-yard loss in the third and batted a pass in the fourth. He did miss tackling running back Roy Helu on a third and 1 in the third. Fletcher Cox picked up a one-armed sack in the fourth. He also rushed quarterback Robert Griffin III into an incomplete pass that quarter. Nose tackle Isaac Sopoaga drew a holding penalty in the third and clogged the middle, although he didn’t face many double teams.

The second team line played, on average, about 18 snaps. Bennie Logan drew a hold in the third and helped flush Morris into the arms of linebacker Mychal Kendricks in the third. Clifton Geathers got decent push, but didn’t finish many plays. Damion Square wasn’t involved in many plays.

Outside linebackers – A-

Trent Cole had his best game in three years, despite the move to a new position. He set the tone with a forced fumble of Morris on the first play from scrimmage. He had a tackle for loss on another Morris run and was credited with easy safety when Morris fumbled the pitch. Cole had a few other strong plays against the run and drew a flag for a hold in the second. He got pressure on Griffin a few times. Connor Barwin showed his versatility. He shook a blocker early and forced Morris out of bounds with Kendricks. He dropped into the flat later and made a good read to stop a short screen pass. Barwin’s best play came when he pass rushed off the edge, beat his man and ran Griffin down from behind after a short gain.

Brandon Graham played 16 snaps and was relatively quiet. Casey Matthews was on the field for four plays at a new position. He made no plays or mistakes of note.

Inside linebackers -- A

Kendricks had a coming out party. He was credited with a team-high ten tackles, a tackle for loss and a recovery. His best moment game when the Redskins had a screen set up with three blockers, but Kendricks eluded two and stopped Morris. He reached Griffin on two of his blitzes, once forcing grounding. The other time he forced the quarterback to throw it away. He wasn’t perfect in coverage, but the Eagles were playing a soft zone for much of the second half.

Despite concerns about his preseason play, DeMeco Ryans had a strong outing. He got off to a slow start and was tied up on a 16-yard Morris run. But Ryans got great push when he rushed. He finally got the Griffin in the third with a sack. Rookie Jake Knott gave Kendricks a rest for two plays.

Cornerbacks – B+

Cary Williams was a playmaker. He nearly decapitated Griffin with a blindside blitz in the second and recorded a sack. He had good coverage on a deep pass to receiver Pierre Garcon. Williams had a diving interception in the third and show great body control to maintain possession. And he broke up a fourth down pass in the fourth that stopped the driving Redskins. Bradley Fletcher was OK before he left with a concussion. He finished with seven tackles and didn’t let a receiver get by him, but he struggled when asked to play off receivers.

Brandon Boykin recorded his first career interception when Griffin threw into triple coverage in the first. He blitz once a quarter later and nearly got to the quarterback. He broke up a pass in the fourth. He played soft when the defense went into prevent mode in the second half. Jordan Poyer played some in the slot for Boykin and when Fletcher left. He looked like a rookie as the Redskins attacked him. There was a 17-yard screen to Garcon that he overplayed, a third down conversion that he underplayed and he was victimized when Griffin hit tight end Fred Davis for a 10-yard TD in the fourth.

Safeties – B-

Patrick Chung was helpful against the run and wrapped up with his tackles. But he made a poor read and mistimed his leap late in the game when Griffin hit receiver Leonard Hankerson for a 24-yard TD. Nate Allen was quiet. He didn’t make any mistakes, but also didn’t make any plays. Earl Wolff played eight snaps, but was absent from any action.

SPECIAL TEAMS – A

Dave Fipp’s special teams were excellent. The cover units didn’t allow any returners to break loose and a host of players – Casey, Polk, Poyer, Boykin – took turns making strong stops. Donnie Jones had four punts inside the 20 including a 61-yarder. Kicker Alex Henery knocked in a 48-yard field goal and 3 of his 6 kickoffs were touchbacks.

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.

Jeff McLane Inquirer Staff Writer
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