Monday, April 21, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Man Up: Taking stock of the Eagles' O-line

If you missed my Monday posts, here they are:

Man Up: Taking stock of the Eagles' O-line

The offensive line struggled to protect Michael Vick in the second half of Sunday´s game. (Charles Fox/Staff Photographer)
The offensive line struggled to protect Michael Vick in the second half of Sunday's game. (Charles Fox/Staff Photographer)

If you missed my Monday posts, here they are:

What they're saying about the Eagles
Man Up: Where to begin with the D?

Also, if you're interested, I do a weekly spot on Mondays on 97.3 ESPN Radio in South Jersey. You can listen to that here. Any other radio/TV people reading, I'm always happy to come on. Just e-mail me.

And before I get to the player-by-player breakdown, I want to do what Michael Vick did at the start of his post-game press conference: give credit to the 49ers.

The Eagles' offensive line had played pretty well through the first three weeks, but San Francisco had a lot of success, specifically in the second half, getting to Vick and confusing the Birds. The line did a good job at times, as Vick hit on a lot of big plays downfield. But I'd say the second half was the most the Eagles' line has struggled all season. And it didn't help that Andy Reid and Marty Mornhinweg called 54 pass plays and 12 runs. I'm sorry, make that 54 pass plays, 11 runs and one pass-run option.

I have questions about their secondary, but the 49ers have a lot of good players in their front seven: Patrick Willis, Navorro Bowman, Aldon Smith, Justin Smith, Ahmad Brooks and Ray McDonald. I might be wrong, but I think this group is going to give a lot of offenses problems this season.

By the way, while Danny Watkins was inactive for the third time in four games, 49ers first-round pick Aldon Smith was giving the Eagles fits, to the tune of 1.5 sacks and three quarterback hits.

Keeping that in mind, here's the player-by-player breakdown.

Michael Vick - You probably know the numbers by now: 30-for-46 for 416 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. Vick also was the Eagles' leading rusher with eight carries for 75 yards. His deep attempt to Jackson on the Eagles’ first offensive play was a little bit underthrown, even though Vick gave Jackson a chance. He underthrew Jackson on the interception, but had two defenders in his face. The first touchdown was classic Vick, as he got away from two 49ers defenders and found Clay Harbor in the corner of the end zone. He made a great throw to Harbor over the middle for 27 yards in the second. And Vick's throw to Jackson was on the money for 29 yards. The interception probably wasn't his fault, but before Alex Henery's missed field goal, Vick was nearly picked off on his second-down throw to Jeremy Maclin. Overall, Vick made plays, but I think he and the coaches would tell you the offense left points on the field. He probably could have thrown for 500 yards or more had a couple things gone his way. The 49ers blitzed Vick on the final drive, and he was 5-for-6 for 43 yards before the Maclin fumble. I'll have the full breakdown of his play tomorrow in Mike Check.

LeSean McCoy - I rarely complain about the pass/run ratio, but only getting McCoy nine carries (18 yards), considering how he had played in the first three weeks, doesn't make much sense to me. McCoy didn't have much success when he did carry the ball - his longest run gaining only 5 yards, but he should have got more touches. He was inches away from the end zone before the infamous Ronnie Brown play. The Eagles broke out the old shovel pass as McCoy scored from 5 yards out in the second. He picked up 15 on a screen in the fourth. As a blocker, he did a good job helping Kyle DeVan in protection on Vick’s 45-yard completion to Jackson. McDonald bought the play-action in the second and collided violently with McCoy, who tried to block him. He appeared to be injured at first, but only missed one play. McCoy had six catches for 34 yards. 

Ronnie Brown - I’ve watched the fumble play about 30 times and still have no clue what he was thinking. Yes, Harbor went out into a pass route, but he was covered. Owen Schmitt was standing to the side, but I can’t imagine that Brown was looking for him. Really just a mind-boggling play all around. As a runner, Brown picked up 15 yards on a first-quarter run. As I've said before, I have not been impressed with Brown as a blocker. He was slow to help DeVan on Aldon Smith, who sacked Vick in the second. 

Owen Schmitt - He had a catch and run for 11 yards in the first. Didn't notice him otherwise. No goal-line carries this time around.

DeSean Jackson - After a quiet two weeks, Jackson had six catches for 171 yards. As I stated before the game, Jackson is going to have down weeks. He's also going to have explosive weeks like this one. He had a shot to make a big play on the first offensive snap, but couldn’t hold on to Vick's pass. He had a chance on the interception, but Carlos Rogers made the play. On the third try, he came down with a 45-yard grab. He also made a nice 19-yard grab in the third and came up with a 61-yard catch on 3rd-and-19 in the third. What I said about Vick rings true with Jackson. He easily could have had an even bigger day had he come down with one or both of those early deep attempts.

Jeremy Maclin - He finished with seven catches for 74 yards. Maclin ran a nice route over the middle and picked up 19 in the first. Vick overthrew him on what would have been a big gain in the second. He took a wide receiver screen for 11 yards in the second. Of course, the play we'll remember is the fumble at the end. The Eagles were driving, but Justin Smith made a great hustle play and knocked the ball loose. Maclin's having a good season overall, but he's made mistakes late in two of the last three losses.

Jason Avant - It was a classic Avant game. He made tough catches in traffic and finished with six catches for 69 yards. He made a nice grab for 11 yards in the second. He made a 19-yard reception in the fourth. And he had a 20-yard catch on 3rd-and-9.

Steve Smith - I haven't done snap counts yet. Smith played, but was not targeted. He gave good effort as a blocker on the 11-yard screen to Maclin in the second.

Brent Celek - Last year, he improved as a blocker, but still got beat fairly often. This year, Celek has been really good in that aspect. He did a nice job on Vick’s 27-yard completion to Harbor and again on Vick’s 19-yard completion to Jackson in the third. As a receiver, he was targeted four times, but had just one catch for 2 yards. Vick looked for him on the throwback in the red zone, but the 49ers weren’t fooled.

Clay Harbor - How about Mr. Harbor? Unless I'm mistaken, he's having more of an impact than any of the Eagles' 2010 draft picks. Harbor was targeted three times and finished with three catches for 55 yards. He made a nice 12-yard grab in traffic in the first. He also had a 27-yard catch over the middle and the 16-yard touchdown. The Eagles are going with more two tight end sets this year, and while it was only one game, Harbor looked like he had good hands and could make plays over the middle of the field. Celek hasn't always been reliable as a receiver. I'll look at the numbers later this week, but maybe that means Harbor will be running more pass routes going forward.

Jason Peters - Peters battled with Justin Smith and Aldon Smith, winning some and losing others. He was slow to pick up Justin Smith on the play-action rollout where Vick looked deep for Jackson and was intercepted. He had some trouble with Aldon Smith on McCoy’s 3-yard gain in the first. He got beat by Justin Smith on the edge, but Vick got rid of the ball for a 7-yard completion to McCoy. Vick hurt his finger(s) on the play. Peters was called for a false start in the second. Aldon Smith beat him with an inside move and pressured Vick on an incompletion in the third. And again on a third down in the fourth, forcing Vick to take off and run on third down. The good? Peters did a nice job on Vick’s 45-yard completion to Jackson. Good hustle and a good block on the 11-yard screen to Maclin. He blocked Justin Smith one-on-one as Vick completed a 20-yard pass to Avant on 3rd-and-9 in the fourth. And he was doing a great job blocking out in front before injuring his hamstring on the final play where Maclin fumbled. We'll find out later this week how long he's going to be out for.

King Dunlap - He came in to play right tackle on the Brown play near the goal line. And Dunlap could soon have a larger role at left tackle. By the way, I think he's found his calling with that field-goal block of David Akers. They should sign more 6 foot 9 guys for Bobby April's unit!

Evan Mathis - As was the case with Peters, Mathis had an up-and-down performance. He got moved by Justin Smith on McCoy’s 3-yard run in the first. He and Peters let a blitzer go between them untouched on a third down in the red zone. Vick threw incomplete and took a hit. I'm not certain the blitzer was Mathis’ responsibility, but Peters was blocking Justin Smith one-on-one while Mathis and Jason Kelce double-teamed the nose tackle. He had some trouble with Aldon Smith on a stunt in the second. Justin Smith went right between him and Peters as the 49ers blitzed Vick in the third. And Justin Smith bull-rushed Mathis in the fourth, getting in Vick’s face as he completed a short pass to Maclin. He was called for a holding penalty in the fourth in the red zone. The good? Mathis had an excellent block on Brown’s 15-yard run in the first. He did a good job of picking up a blitzer on a 14-yard run by Vick in the second. And he made a nice block on McCoy’s 4-yard run in the third.

Jason Kelce - I thought he played a pretty good game. Kelce made a good block on McCoy’s 5-yard run on 2nd-and-1. He did a nice job on nose tackle Isaac Sopoaga on the 12-yard completion to Harbor. Kelce made a very good block on Brown’s 15-yard run in the first. And he did a good job of picking up a blitzer up the middle on Vick’s 7-yard completion to McCoy in the second. Kelce did a good job on Justin Smith on a McCoy 4-yard run in the third too. There were a couple miscues. He had some trouble with Ricky Jean-Francois in the second, but Vick took off for 11 yards. Sopoaga pushed him right back into Vick on an incompletion in the fourth.

Kyle DeVan - DeVan probably struggled than any other offensive lineman, as 49ers defensive lineman Ray McDonald just gave him fits. It seems like on the slow-developing plays where Vick takes his time or waits for receivers to get open deep, DeVan has trouble sustaining his blocks. He and Todd Herremans had trouble with a stunt on the play where Vick escaped the pocket and found Harbor for the touchdown. He tripped and ended up at Brown’s feet on the fumble near the goal line. Later, the Eagles ran a play-fake, and DeVan was pulling, but was responsible for Aldon Smith, who went right around him to sack Vick. On a second-quarter blitz, Willis burst right past DeVan, who was double-teaming Brooks with Herremans. He had some trouble with McDonald in the third on a third down, but Vick held onto the ball for awhile before escaping the pocket. He had trouble with McDonald on a Vick sack in the third. I don’t know the play design, but McDonald went right past him and Kelce to hit Vick as he handed the ball off to McCoy in the third. Then McDonald went right by him and forced Vick to take off for no gain in the third. DeVan was also called for a holding penalty on the play.

Todd Herremans - Outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks gave Herremans more issues than he had in his first three games. Like a couple of the guys above, he won some battles and lost others. Herremans did a good job blocking Brooks one-on-one on the 19-yard completion to Maclin. He did an outstanding job of leading the way and taking out Willis on Brown’s 15-yard run in the first. Herremans did a nice job of picking up a blitzer on Vick’s 14-yard run in the second. He shoved Brooks out of the way, clearing space for McCoy on the 5-yard touchdown in the second. He blocked Brooks one-on-one as Vick hit Avant for a 20-yard completion in the fourth. The issues? He got beat by Brooks on the play where Vick escaped and found Harbor for the touchdown. It looked like he wasn’t sure who to block in the second. Aldon Smith went right by Herremans to pressure Vick, who took off and ran for 5 yards before Willis dragged him down. He had some trouble with Brooks on a slow-developing play-action pass in the third. Vick escaped and ran for 7 yards. Brooks went right around him and hit Vick, who got rid of the ball for a 19-yard completion to Avant. Brooks went right around him and stopped McCoy after a 1-yard gain in the fourth. Did you notice Herremans snuck over to left tackle on the Ronnie Brown play?


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Sheil Kapadia Philly.com
About this blog
Sheil Kapadia is in his fifth season writing about the Eagles and the NFL for philly.com. His earliest memories as a sports fan include several trips to Veterans Stadium with his Dad. He's not a beat writer or an Insider, but is here to discuss the NFL 365 days a year. E-mail him at skapadia@philly.com or by clicking here

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