Monday, September 1, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Man Up: Watkins' development becomes key

The Eagles' offense managed just 10 points on Sunday against the Cardinals, and 3 of those came off a turnover, which gave them the ball at the Arizona 26 yard line.

Man Up: Watkins' development becomes key

Jeremy Maclin had two catches for 6 yards against the Cardinals. (Ron Cortes/Staff Photographer)
Jeremy Maclin had two catches for 6 yards against the Cardinals. (Ron Cortes/Staff Photographer)

The Eagles' offense managed just 10 points on Sunday against the Cardinals, and 3 of those came off a turnover, which gave them the ball at the Arizona 26 yard line.

Here's the player-by-player breakdown of what went wrong:

Michael Vick - He suffered a pair of broken ribs on the second offensive play of the game. I know half of you will say that's no excuse for his play, while the other half will say it's a valid reason, so I'll let everyone form their own opinions. I'll have the full breakdown in Mike Check Wednesday, but this was easily Vick's worst performance as an Eagle. He completed just 16 of 34 passes for 128 yards, averaging 3.8 yards per attempt and turning it over twice. It’s tough to tell what happened on the play where he broke his ribs. The Cardinals showed seven men in the box, but only rushed four. It looked like they overloaded the right side as linebacker Daryl Washington came unblocked. Given the Eagles’ protection, the only player who had a chance to block him was LeSean McCoy, but he went straight into his route. Vick actually did a good job of getting rid of the ball quickly to Brent Celek for 13 yards, but he obviously paid for it. For the record, this was another injury that occurred while Vick was IN the pocket. Overall, he was inaccurate and careless with the football. The receivers didn't make plays, but Vick missed his share of throws, including one to Celek in the first that could have easily been a 66-yard touchdown.

Vince Young - He came in for one play and handed the ball off to McCoy. Young could make his first start as an Eagle Sunday against the Giants if Vick can't go.

LeSean McCoy - Later Tuesday, I'll try to take a deeper look into why he only got 14 carries, including only six in the entire second half. McCoy was effective, carrying 14 times for 81 yards (5.8 YPC). He had runs of 13 and 14 yards in the first. He picked up 7 on 3rd-and-1 in the third. And he gave a great individual effort on a 29-yard run in the third. As a blocker, this was as bad as McCoy's looked in awhile. He did a terrible job in blitz pickup, letting Washington go right around him as Vick was forced out of the pocket in the first. Washington got past him again in the third as Vick was forced to scramble for 6 yards. On the final drive, McCoy did a poor job of picking up Adrian Wilson on a Vick incompletion. He then had a holding penalty on the very next play, trying to block Michael Adams. McCoy needs to be better as a blocker than he was on Sunday.

Ronnie Brown - He played four snaps and had a 4-yard carry.

Dion Lewis - He played two snaps and had a 2-yard carry.

Owen Schmitt - He had an 8-yard catch on the first play and played four snaps overall.

Jason Peters - I'll admit I have not studied every offensive tackle in the league, but my guess is Peters ranks at the top as a run blocker. Once again, he was the Eagles' best lineman. Peters shoved Stewart Bradley out of the way and then got to Washington, clearing the way for McCoy’s 14-yard run in the first. He had a good block on Calais Campbell on McCoy’s TD run. And Peters did an excellent job blocking Campbell on McCoy’s 7-yard run. In the third, McCoy ran right behind him for 4 yards. In protection, on third down in the first, the Cardinals only rushed four, but Peters and King Dunlap blocked the same guy, allowing Washington to come untouched and hit Vick. It’s tough to know who was at fault without knowing the protection call, but whatever it was, it didn’t work. And later, Peters was called for illegal hands to the face on the deep ball to Jeremy Maclin in the fourth that was incomplete. Overall, another very good game.

King Dunlap - I barely noticed him, which is a good thing, considering Dunlap was making his first start at guard and suffered a concussion at some point in the game. He did a decent job on Vonnie Holliday on McCoy’s 14-yard run. On McCoy's touchdown, Dunlap moved in between Danny Watkins and Todd Herremans on the right side. Overall, he was fine in protection, until the final drive when Dunlap was slow to pick up a linebacker, who got pressure on Vick and forced him to take off and run. Dunlap, who is in the final year of his contract, has added value if he can serve as a backup at both tackle and guard in Howard Mudd's system.

Jason Kelce - He's put together a couple of good games against the Bears and Cardinals. Early on, Kelce completely whiffed on his block of Washington, as the Cardinals linebacker brought McCoy down for no gain in the first. And he was also called for a false start. But other than that, he played well. Kelce got his hands on Washington on McCoy’s 14-yard run in the first. He got to Washington on McCoy’s 13-yard run in the first also. Kelce took out a defensive back on the screen to Celek that picked up 20 yards. And he had a good block on the 9-yard screen to McCoy.

Danny Watkins - One of the key storylines the rest of the way is the development of Watkins. Can he get to a level where he's an above-average starter by the end of the season? That would mean a lot for this offensive line going forward in 2012. In this one, Watkins had more issues in protection than any other lineman. Darnell Dockett beat him and got pressure on Vick on the first offensive play. Dockett beat him again, forcing Vick out of the pocket on third down in the first. He had trouble with Dockett on the play where Vick scrambled and picked up 14 in the second. And Sam Acho got by him in the fourth as Vick scrambled and threw incomplete to Maclin. Watkins' best moments every week come in the run game. He did a good job on Dockett on McCoy’s 13-yard run. He had a key block on McCoy’s touchdown run. And he blocked Dockett to the ground on McCoy’s 4-yard run. Needs to get better in protection though.

Todd Herremans - If you're looking for a bright spot going forward, it's that the Eagles have themselves two very good tackles. Herremans got his hands on three different defenders, helping to clear the way for McCoy’s 13-yard run in the first. He blocked Washington, clearing space for Celek to pick up 20 yards on the tight end screen in the second. He had a good block on Washington on McCoy’s 9-yard run. And Herremans did just enough on Acho on McCoy’s 29-yard run to the right side. There were a couple issues in protection. Clark Haggans got around him in the second, although he was way upfield; Vick took off and ran for 14 yards on the play. Acho got around him in the fourth, but Vick held on to the ball for awhile before scrambling.

Julian Vandervelde - He was active for the first time and played left guard on McCoy’s touchdown run.

Jeremy Maclin - He dealt with a shoulder injury early and a hamstring injury late, finishing with just two catches for 6 yards on five targets. Maclin got crushed over the middle, suffering the shoulder injury, on the Eagles’ ninth offensive play. He dropped a screen in the second, but it didn’t look like he had much room anyway. And he did a good job blocking Patrick Peterson downfield on McCoy’s 29-yard run in the third. Maclin couldn't hold on to a deep ball late, but Peters was called for a penalty on the play anyway.

Steve Smith - We have to start with the play everyone remembers. On 3rd-and-20, Smith caught a ball from Vick but dove to the ground short of the first-down marker, showing no awareness of where he was. Plays like that get a team to 3-6. Earlier, he dropped a ball near the sidelines for what would have been over a 25-yard gain in the first. And Smith couldn’t come down with a high throw from Vick near the sidelines in the fourth. Overall, five catches for 47 yards on 10 targets, and an unimpressive performance.

Jason Avant - Very quiet game. Avant had just one catch for 2 yards, getting tackled short of the end zone. He also drew an 8-yard pass interference call in the third.

Riley Cooper - The NFL is about capitalizing when given the opportunity, and Cooper did not do that. He dropped what would have been an 8-yard gain on first down in the first and was only targeted one other time. Cooper was called for a false start on the final drive. It says something about the coaches' confidence (or lack thereof) in him that Cooper played only 20 snaps, and Smith played 55.

Brent Celek - He was the Eagles' leading receiver with 53 yards on four catches. Celek had a nice catch and run for 13 yards in the first. He was wide open on what could have been a 66-yard touchdown in the first, but Vick overthrew him. He picked up 20 yards on a tight end screen in the second, the Eagles’ longest pass play of the day. And he did a good job as a blocker on McCoy’s TD run. Celek was one of the few Eagles who played well, and even he had a drop on the final drive, which would have picked up at least 15 yards.

Clay Harbor - I have him down for 18 snaps. Harbor delivered a good block on McCoy’s 7-yard run on 3rd-and-1 in the third. But he was also called for an under-the-radar penalty. Harbor’s false start on 3rd-and-1 gave the Eagles a 3rd-and-6 before the Vick interception in the red zone. To be fair, it looked like several Eagles jumped, but the refs announced Harbor's number. He was targeted once and didn't have a catch.


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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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