Man Up: The red zone struggles
News blogs, sports blogs, entertainment blogs, and more from Philly.com, The Philadelphia Inquirer and the Philadelphia Daily News.
Man Up: The red zone struggles
Sheil Kapadia, Philly.com
Our weekly player-by-player look at the Eagles' offense:
Donovan McNabb - I've heard some rip him for the Eagles' red zone struggles. And others are going overboard since he threw for 450 yards. McNabb discovered after two drives that the Chargers were not going to let him hit huge plays down the field, but the intermediate passes would be there all day. He did a great job spreading the ball and had more ups than downs. He threw behind DeSean Jackson once, missed Leonard Weaver down near the goal line and really could have been picked off on three separate occasions when the Chargers defenders had drops. In terms of the red zone failures, he missed the Weaver throw, but the Eagles ended up getting six on that drive anyway. On the three drives where the Eagles settled for field goals, I didn't see a throw that he just missed. But then again, that kind of thing isn't always easy to gauge on TV. On the two touchdowns, McNabb bought time and had to improvise. It's not like the plays that were called worked to perfection. In other words, I wouldn't put the red zone failures squarely on his shoulders.
Michael Vick - He was only in on one play and looked frustrated afterwards. Vick threw to Jackson, who dropped the ball. The pass was behind him, but catchable.
Brian Westbrook - He took a screen 17 yards on the play where it is believed he sustained a concussion. Westbrook also had a nice run for 11 yards in the third quarter. In a rarity, he actually missed a blocking assignment in the second, trying to pick up a blitzer. We'll just have to see where his career goes from here. Obviously the first concern is his long-term health.
LeSean McCoy - He got a chance in short yardage on 3rd-and-2, but couldn't get it done. Like last week, it appeared he had some room but bounced it outside. McCoy also missed a blocking assignment. He did make a nice individual effort on a 5-yard screen in the fourth.
Leonard Weaver - Quiet day for the fullback. Just two carries for 2 yards. The big one was obviously the first-down try from the Chargers' 1-yard line. You just knew after he didn't punch it in that he probably wasn't going to get another chance all day.
Winston Justice - Another good effort in protection, for the most part. Defensive back Paul Oliver blitzed in between Justice and Stacy Andrews in the third quarter to sack McNabb. A lack of communication along the line. Justice was not particularly good in the run game. He didn't get a good block on the failed 3rd-and-2 attempt by McCoy in the second half.
Stacy Andrews - He was OK, but had probably the most trouble of any lineman in pass protection. Andrews was beat in the third quarter, as pressure caused a McNabb incompletion. Plus the sack mentioned above.
Jamaal Jackson - He was part of weak offensive line effort on 3rd-and-goal when they ran Eldra Buckley and got no push. Jackson was solid otherwise. He did a good job on a 7-yard Westbrook run in the second and delivered a nice block on a Westbrook screen.
Nick Cole - Buckley ran right behind him and got stuffed on the 3rd-and-goal play. The Eagles' line did a good job in pass protection, but couldn't get it done in crucial running situations.
Todd Herremans - I thought this was one of his better games overall. Herremans was by himself quite a bit in pass protection. He did a good job on a 7-yard Westbrook run in the second. He did a bad job against Shawne Merriman on the 2nd-and-goal Westbrook stretch run.
Brent Celek - The trust between he and McNabb was evident when the Eagles went to Celek on 4th-and-4 in the fourth quarter. He hauled in a 17-yard pass to keep the drive alive. Overall, six catches for 47 yards and a touchdown.
DeSean Jackson - He had eight catches Sunday, more than the total in his previous three games combined. Jackson finished with 91 yards, and easily could have been up near 120 had McNabb and Vick not each thrown a ball behind him.
Jeremy Maclin - A nice bounce-back effort after he struggled against the Cowboys. Six catches for 76 yards and a touchdown. Maclin did a good job to pick up the first down and get out of bounds for a gain of 12 during the Eagles' drive at the end of the first half. I like his effort in downfield blocking. He was helping Avant along during the 58-yard play in the third quarter. It was close to a block in the back, but looked on the replay like Maclin got the DB on the side. An offensive pass interference negated a big catch in the third. Maybe he doesn't get flagged for that in a couple years.
Jason Avant - An MTC favorite, Avant led all receivers with eight catches for 156 yards. He had back-to-back 14- and 27-yard receptions in the second quarter, plus the big 58-yard gain in the third. Unbelievable catch on 3rd-and-18 for a first down. Has to be the team's best catch of the year, and among the league's best.
Reggie Brown - Let me take this opportunity to welcome Brown to Man Up. His only catch of the season had come in Week 4 against the Chiefs, but Brown made two receptions in this one, including a first-down grab on the second drive. Not sure about the plays that went deep to him with three DBs in the vicinity though.