Thursday, December 25, 2014

Man Up: What went wrong for Eagles' offense?

Where to begin with the Eagles' offensive struggles against the Cowboys?

Man Up: What went wrong for Eagles' offense?

Nick Cole turned in an encouraging performance at center, replacing Jamaal Jackson. (Ron Cortes/Staff Photographer)
Nick Cole turned in an encouraging performance at center, replacing Jamaal Jackson. (Ron Cortes/Staff Photographer)

Where to begin with the Eagles' offensive struggles against the Cowboys?

We go player-by-player like we do every week. Enjoy.

Donovan McNabb - After turning in one of his best performances of the year in the first half against the Broncos, McNabb has struggled in his last six quarters. I know some will point to the lack of balance on offense, but the Eagles had opportunities for big plays in the passing game and just didn't get it done. The one he would like to have back is the deep ball to DeSean Jackson early in the second quarter. McNabb overthrew his receiver, and it also looked like he turned Jackson around with the pass. He struggled with the crossing routes throughout, throwing behind Jackson and Jeremy Maclin. The fumbled snap was huge, and after viewing the replay, it was a little low, but certainly one that McNabb could have handled. McNabb made good reads and took shots deep, trying to let his receivers make plays. But was just off-target all day, and his receivers weren't able to help him out. 

Leonard Weaver - Two weeks ago, he had a season-high 19 touches against the 49ers. On Sunday, Weaver had just one carry for 2 yards and no receptions. He was on the field for just 16 snaps. That's no good. As a blocker, Weaver was solid, chipping and picking up blitzers multiple times to give McNabb time. He had a drop in the third, but there was no room on the play anyway.

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Brian Westbrook - He was on the field for 28 snaps, carrying five times for 17 yards. The 8-yard run in the third quarter was his best of the day. The Eagles used Westbrook in a variety of ways. He was split out wide on multiple occasions, finishing with four catches for 20 yards, including a nice 11-yard gain. And he was outstanding as a blocker. Westbrook was flawless, chipping and picking up blitzers throughout. His blocks gave McNabb time on several throws, including a 25-yard completion to Brent Celek in the second quarter.

LeSean McCoy - McCoy played more than Weaver, but less than Westbrook, getting on the field for 19 plays. A season-low one carry to go along with two receptions. It looked like he tripped on the screen pass in the first. Like they did with Westbrook, the Eagles split McCoy out wide at times. As a blocker, he was called for holding in the fourth.

Jason Peters - As a blocker, Peters did a good job, keeping DeMarcus Ware away from McNabb for most of the day. He got beat once in the fourth quarter, but that was pretty much it. Peters got the better of Ware in both matchups this season. However, a pair of penalties from Peters hurt - a personal foul for hitting Mike Jenkins out of bounds and a false start in the second quarter. 

Todd Herremans - In the run game, Herremans turned in a solid outing, making nice blocks on a Westbrook 8-yard carry, a McCoy 4-yard gain and a Westbrook 3-yard pickup. He had some trouble in protection. On the first McNabb sack, Herremans was confused and didn't block anyone. In the third, Anthony Spencer started outside, but then rushed between Herremans and Nick Cole for a sack, as neither guy picked him up. Did you notice that he moved to right tackle when Winston Justice missed a play with an injury?
 
Nick Cole - I thought he really did a nice job, starting in place of an injured Jamaal Jackson. Cole helped neutralize Jay Ratliff, both in the run game and in pass protection. Cole and Max Jean-Gilles kept Ratliff away from McNabb on the 31-yard completion to Jeremy Maclin in the second. And Cole did well against Ratliff on Westbrook's 3-yard run on 2nd-and-1 in the third. As I mentioned above, neither he nor Herremans picked up Spencer on the third-quarter sack. And Cole did a bad job on a screen to Westbrook in the fourth. But overall, a very encouraging performance.
 
Max Jean-Gilles - He struggled, stepping in for Cole at right guard. At times, he combined with Cole to do a good job on Ratliff, but Jean-Gilles definitely had his lapses. He was beat in protection in the second and had a tough time on a couple of run plays. Jean-Gilles was also called for a pair of penalties - a false start and illegal hands to the face. When Justice went down for the one play, he moved over to left guard.
 
Winston Justice - Not one of his better performances. On the first McNabb sack, Justice looked confused about who to block and ended up not picking up anybody. Marcus Spears and Spencer got the better of him on several plays. Spencer got by Justice and forced a McNabb fumble in the second half, but the Eagles recovered.
 
Stacy Andrews - Well, he was active for a change. Andrews saw one snap at right guard as the Eagles shuffled their line when Justice went out for a play.
 
Brent Celek - He was the Eagles' leading receiver with seven catches for 96 yards. Celek converted a 3rd-and-7 for 18 yards in the first and a 3rd-and-8 for 22 yards in the second. He also had a 25-yard reception in the third. Celek was not perfect though. He had a big drop on 3rd-and-2 that could have extended the Eagles' drive in the second half, but they instead settled for the field-goal attempt. Celek had a second drop in the fourth. According to STATS.com, only three players have dropped more balls than Celek this season.
 
Alex Smith - He was on the field for 10 snaps. Smith did a good job as a blocker on the 18-yard pass to Celek in the first.
 
DeSean Jackson - Not sure how I feel about the Eagles using him on the end around. Like the idea of getting the ball in his hands. Don't like the idea of risking injury. He had a step on Newman in the second, but McNabb overthrew him. Jackson had a drop in the first half and couldn't hang on to another ball which was thrown behind him, but which he had a shot at. Three catches for 47 yards. Six for 76 in two games against Dallas this season.
 
Jeremy Maclin - Count me among those who think he should have made that catch on the ball thrown behind him in the second quarter. Not a good throw, but a play Maclin is more than capable of making. It would have given the Eagles a first down in Cowboys territory. I do like that McNabb went right back to him on the team's next offensive play for 31 yards. Don't want to kill the guy, but he didn't even look up for the ball on the Eagles' final offensive play when Ken Hamlin was headed in his direction.
 
Jason Avant - Quiet day for Avant. One catch for 8 yards at the end of the first half. According to game stats, he was targeted just twice.
 
Reggie Brown - He once again got the nod over Kevin Curtis as the team's No. 4 receiver. Brown was on the field for seven plays. He did a poor job as a blocker on the 8-yard Westbrook carry in the third, which probably could have been a bigger gain.

 

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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