Before I get to the player-by-player notes on the defensive performance against the Redskins, there are a couple items worth mentioning.
The Redskins scored on their first three possessions and then were shut out the rest of the game. Some will look at that as a positive, but I don't really see it that way. It was clear from the outset that Washington felt it could be more physical than the Eagles.
The Redskins ran the ball on their first five plays and nine of their first 12. When Washington did throw the ball, it used screens and play-action. Consider that Donovan McNabb did not target a wide receiver until the 15th offensive play from scrimmage and did not complete a pass to a wide receiver until the 17th play.
The Eagles are still a blitzing defense, but their blitz did not factor in this one. The Redskins neutralized it with a strong running game, screens, play-action and McNabb's improvised runs.
This isn't the first time an opposing offense has found success running the ball right at the Eagles early. Two weeks ago, the Lions put together a 76-yard drive on six run plays in the first quarter. Sean McDermott and company should be ready for more of the same in the coming weeks.
Now to the breakdown:
Brandon Graham- Quiet game for Graham. He was blocked on a 7-yard Clinton Portis run in the first and taken out by fullback Mike Sellers on an 8-yard Portis run in the third. In the first quarter, Graham was completely fooled on a play-action pass, but McNabb could not connect with a wide open Fred Davis. A bright spot was the Nate Allen interception in the third, which Graham helped create with pressure off the edge. He dropped back into coverage three times and played mostly (if not all) at defensive end. Graham was on the field for over 74 percent of the snaps.
Juqua Parker- He was only in the game for a quarter of the snaps, but Parker looked better than Graham against the run. He stopped Ryan Torain for no gain on the Redskins' second drive and stopped Portis after a gain of 1 in the third. Parker had a chance to drop Portis for a loss on the 14-yard screen pass early, but couldn't make the play. It was the first game all season he went without a sack.
Mike Patterson- Many of the Redskins' runs were to the outside, but the tackles did not have great games. Patterson missed a tackle on the 13-yard Torain run in the first and missed another tackle on a Portis 8-yard run in the third. He and Akeem Jordan combined to drop Torain for a 5-yard loss in the third, and Patterson combined with Quintin Mikell to stop Torain after a gain of 2 in the third. The Eagles were in their base defense a lot, meaning Patterson played over 74 percent of the snaps.
Brodrick Bunkley- Quiet game for Bunkley. It seems like I've said that quite a bit this year. He had a chance to stop Portis after a short gain but couldn't make the play on a 14-yard screen pass. He also had a chance to sack McNabb in the second, but missed him. A bright spot was when Bunkley got good pressure up the middle on a play in the third where the Eagles rushed five linemen and Mikell nearly came away with a pick.
Trent Cole- He did not get a lot of opportunities to rush the passer for the reasons I mentioned at the top of the post. The Redskins were starting backup tackle Stephon Heyer against him, and they gave him help, double-teaming Cole on multiple run plays early on to the left side. Cole made some plays, dropping Portis for a 3-yard loss in the first and helping to cause a 5-yard Torain loss. But it wasn't his best performance. Cole was blocked one-on-one on a 5-yard Torain carry, and he got his hands on Portis, but couldn't bring him down on an 11-yard run in the third. On the 57-yard McNabb completion on third down, Cole dropped back in coverage. He got good pressure and a hit on McNabb on a third down in the third.
Darryl Tapp- He played less than a quarter of the snaps, but had some good moments. Tapp dropped Brandon Banks for a 5-yard loss in the red zone on a wide receiver screen. He dragged McNabb down from behind on a 3rd-and-goal in the second, forcing a field goal. McDermott used him in some different ways. Tapp dropped back on one play, and on the 57-yard completion, he started outside of Graham on the left side before rushing on the interior.
Trevor Laws- Quiet game for Laws, who was on the field for just over 27 percent of the plays. He showed good discipline on the play where McNabb tried to scramble and Sims ended up with a sack.
Antonio Dixon - Only on the field for 11 plays. Good effort on a 5-yard Torain run. That's the only time I noticed him.
Stewart Bradley- The Eagles' linebackers did not look good on those first three drives where the Redskins took control of the game. Bradley couldn't shed the block of an offensive lineman on Torain's first-quarter TD. He was also blocked on an 11-yard Portis run and a 13-yard Torain run. Bradley somehow missed two tackles on the same play on the Portis 14-yard screen pass. In the third, Sellers blocked him on another 11-yard Portis run. Bradley had a chance for a game-changing play in the fourth with 10 minutes left, but couldn't come up with an interception. A turnover would have given the Eagles' offense the ball inside the Washington 20.
Ernie Sims- Similar description on Sims. He was blocked on an 11-yard Portis run and a 13-yard Torain run. He was slow to get off his block on a 12-yard screen to Portis and called for roughint the passer on a third down in the third. In the first quarter, Sims was completely fooled on a play-action pass, but McNabb couldn't connect with tight end Davis. There were some good moments. His blitz in the third allowed Cole to rush freely and hit McNabb. And Sims picked up his first sack of the season, chasing McNabb down in the third.
Akeem Jordan- I'm still trying to figure out whether he was on the field or not. Too harsh? You noticed Mikell getting run over by Torain on the touchdown run in the first. But you might have missed Jordan getting trucked by Sellers. Jordan combined with M. Patterson to drop Torain for a 5-yard loss in the second. Otherwise, he was invisible.
Asante Samuel- I don't remember McNabb throwing at Samuel at all. He got kneed in the head by Sellers in the fourth and left the game with a concussion.
Ellis Hobbs- He was called for illegal contact on a 3rd-and-9 in the third, but replays never showed what he did. Hobbs made a nice play to break up a third-down pass, but Sims was called for roughing the passer. Santana Moss did not have a catch, but credit him for giving a really good effort blocking in the run game.
Quintin Mikell- Horrible start for Mikell. He was called for a 15-yard personal foul penalty for a horse collar on the Redskins' first offensive play. Then Mikell got run over by Torain on the TD run. He played up at the line of scrimmage quite a bit and had some good moments in run support.
Nate Allen- He came up with his third interception of the season in the third quarter. I didn't see a lot of pass plays in Allen's area. He looked OK against the run.
Joselio Hanson- He was called on to fill in after Samuel left the game, but the Eagles only needed a nickel corner on 10 plays.
Dimitri Patterson- He came in for nickel situations after Samuel went out. Patterson was beat by Joey Galloway on a third-down conversion in the fourth.
Kurt Coleman- There was the blown coverage on the 57-yard completion in the first half. It looked like that was on Coleman, but I didn't get a chance to ask him about it after the game. He was only on the field for two snaps by my count.
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