Reid should have challenged and more
The Philadelphia Inquirer Blog - Eagles
Reid should have challenged and more
Jeff McLane, Inquirer Staff Writer
Here's a few takeouts after watching a replay of the Eagles' 35-31 loss to the Falcons on Sunday night:
-- A lot was lost in an otherwise gut-punch loss to the Falcons and one those things was Jason Peters' beasting almost the entire game. The Eagles left tackle was mauling Atlanta defenders left and right. Chris Collinsworth was fawning all over Peters during much of the game, but it was well-earned. There was his pulling block on defensive end Lawrence Sidbury on a first quarter run on second-and-one when LeSean McCoy picked up a first down. There was his down field lead block on the short pass to Jeremy Maclin that the receiver took 36 yards for a score in the third quarter. And there was a lot more. "To get a big guy playing tackle that can pass protect like he does and work his way down field," Collinsworth said, "God didn't create many people like him."
-- The early big gainers from Falcons running back Michael Turner were like replays from the week before against the Rams. On an 8-yard run, Atlanta center Joe Hawley gobbled up Eagles linebacker Casey Matthews. On the 15-yarder that followed, Justice Blalock cut off an over-pursuing Matthews.
-- On Cullen Jenkins' first quarter sack of Matt Ryan, the defensive tackle could have easily been whistled for a helmet-to-helmet collision with the quarterback, but was not.
-- Matthews did have two nice stops of Turner when the Falcons advanced to the Eagles 2 -- both for no gain. But the Falcons scored anyway when Ryan hit receiver Roddy White in the back of the end zone in between the zone coverage. It looked like Kurt Coleman should have made the play, however.
-- Center Jason Kelce was solid throughout most of the game but had a few breakdowns on the Eagles ensuing drive. Defensive tackle Peria Jerry beat him inside on back-to-back plays. It didn't matter on either play as Michael Vick was able to hit DeSean Jackson and McCoy ran for five yards. Kelce bounced back, though, with a nice down field block as McCoy took a screen pass 10 yards.
-- The Eagles' offensive execution when they advanced to the Falcons' 3 and faced a second- and third-and-one was shoddy. McCoy was dropped for no gain when Ray Edwards raced in off the edge untouched. It didn't look like Peters missed his assignment when he went after the guard, but there was no one there to block Edwards. On third down, Vick rolled to the left, but he had defenders in his face and threw an ill-advised pass to Brent Celek that was nearly intercepted. The Eagles settled for a Alex Henery chip shot field goal.
-- Trent Cole had a phenomenal game. His effort was the primary reason the Eagles were able to slow Turner for the next two quarters. On run downs, Cole wasn't as much in the wide-nine technique -- more in the seven -- and was able to often slap away tackle Sam Baker and rush inside to stop the tailback.
-- Eagles coach Andy Reid said the first Vick fumble at the Falcons 4 was his fault and he was probably right. The play-call had Vick faking a pitch to Ronnie Brown and then handing off to McCoy. Jerry, though, didn't bite on the fake. So Peters, who was supposed to pull and seal off Jerry, was late. Jerry made a nice play but the call was a bit risky that close to the goal line and on first down.
-- Whether NBC had shown a timely replay on the Vick interception or not, Reid should have probably challenged the call on the field based on its importance and Jason Avant signaling that it was an incomplete. That being said, he and his coaches in the booth were really hamstrung by NBC. It's crazy that something so important rests on the whims of a TV producer, but it does. It wasn't until the Falcons scored, NBC went to a commercial and Atlanta kicked off that we saw the replay that showed Kevlin Hayden trapping Vick's pass. It wasn't a slum dunk, but it was pretty much conclusive. Sunday Night Football producer Fred Gaudelli sent an e-mail to the Eagles apologizing for the error.
-- Jarrad Page had a rough night against Tony Gonzalez, as did linebacker Jamar Chaney. They aren't the only ones that have had trouble covering the future Hall of Famer. Click here for my post on Nnamdi Asomugha saying that the original game plan called for him covering Gonzo more often, but that Dominique Rodgers-Cromarti's early-week ankle sprain made Juan Castillo scrap those plans. Nevertheless, when it became apparent that DRC could go why couldn't Castillo have adjusted and assigned Nnamdi to Gonzalez after it was apparent he was beating the Eagles' zone coverage?
-- For those that devalue Asante Samuel's worth, watch his third-quarter interception again. Amazing. He caught the ball even though it had already traveled a few feet beyond him.
-- Even though the Eagles trailed by 11 points, Eagles offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg didn't abandon the run, which was encouraging. He had Vick hand off to McCoy on first down, which the running back took 23 yards. And then on second-and-two when McCoy picked up the first with a 3-yard run. A play later Maclin scored on the 36-yard screen pass.
-- McCoy received two great blocks on his 8-yard score a drive later. First, right tackle Todd Herremans rag-dolled John Abraham and then Jackson held off cornerback Brent Grimes at the goal line.
-- Dunta Robinson's hit on Maclin will likely draw a fine and maybe a suspension since he's a repeat offender. The Eagles, obviously, were privately livid about his head-hunting.
-- Celek's drop on Vick's pass on second-and-eight would have advanced the Eagles to the 2. Vick had to throw it slightly behind the tight end but he should have caught it. A play later, Vick suffered his concussion.
-- McCoy missed the block from a blitzing Hayden on the Vick concussion play. Hayden spun Vick around and his helmet hit Herremans'.
-- After McCoy's 2-yard TD run that gave the Eagles a 31-21 lead, the disparity in total yards favored the Eagles, 350-152. In the final 17 minutes of the game, the Falcons gained 166 yards to the Eagles' 129.
-- The Ryan-to-Gonzalez conversion on third-and-12 was a killer. Page almost had his hand on the ball. If he makes a play there, it's hard to imagine the Falcons coming back.
-- The Juqua Parker high ankle sprain forced the Eagles to go to Phillip Hunt at defensive end. He hadn't played up until that point. They were essentially using a three-man rotation with Cole, Jason Babin and Parker with Darryl Tapp already out with a pectoral strain. Whether they were gassed or not, the pass rush was pretty much non-existent down the stretch. The Falcons also started to go no-huddle which probably also didn't help matters.
-- Reid was very critical of his play-calling when Mike Kafka took over, saying it was "way, way too conservative." Two third down calls stand out, both of which were short passes thrown to Maclin well short of the sticks.
-- Turner's back-breaking 61-yard run developed like this: Chaney had responsibility for that gap, but he was handled by Blalock. Matthews could have helped, but tackle Tyson Clabo drove him back five yards. Coleman also could have lessened the damage, but he was blocked to the ground. Page got in DRC's way as the speedy corner tried to run down Turner. He eventually did.
-- Chaney had another woeful moment when he failed to wrap up Turner on the 3-yd TD run that put the Falcons ahead, 35-31.
-- Aside from Maclin's drop on fourth and 4 and a Hail Mary, Kafka was perfect passing, completing 7 of 7 passes for 72 yards. If Vick can't go Sunday, he will likely get the start against the New York Giants.