Last week, I re-watched the Eagles' win over the Panthers and wrote separate, player-by-player entries for both the offense and the defense.
Some of you seemed to enjoy the posts so I decided we'll do them every week.
The feature will be called Man up as we go man-by-man, dissecting how pretty much every active Eagles player performed in the previous week's game.
As you know by now, I am a blogger for the people so if you have suggestions, feedback, etc. for this feature, let me know.
By the way, I'll take the Colts (-3) over the Dolphins tonight.
On to the breakdown:
Kevin Kolb - Have to start with him, right? Overall, he had good spots and bad spots, but exceeded expectations. Let's start with the good. When the game was still in hand, Kolb did a good job of taking care of the ball. Two INTs came in the final 1:16. He displayed good toughness in the pocket. On a third down in the second quarter, Kolb absorbed a blow from blitzing DB Randall Gay but still delivered a strike to Jason Avant for a first down. He did the same thing when DE Will Smith was in his face, finding LeSean McCoy. Kolb's 71-yard pass to DeSean Jackson on the Eagles' first drive was pretty. On the final drive of the first half, he made quick decisions and good throws to set up a field goal. Now on to the bad. Late in the second quarter, bad decision on the 14th play of the Eagles' drive. He was looking in Celek's direction and should have been picked off by Anthony Hargrove. That would have been a devastating turnover, but Hargrove couldn't hang on. Kolb struggled throwing the slant, once missing Brian Westbrook and once missing Jackson. For his first start in the NFL, Kolb played well. Andy Reid is right to give him the start next week if Donovan McNabb can't go.
Leonard Weaver - He made a nice block to cut down Saints DE Charles Grant in the second quarter on a 16-yard run by Westbrook out of the Wildcat. Had an opportunity to make a nice TD reception on the pass from Westbrook, but the ball was behind him. Weaver still had a chance but couldn't reel it in.
Brian Westbrook - Rare for a guy to still be able to impress week after week at this point in his career. Westbrook left the game in the fourth quarter, and easily could have sat out, given the score. But he tried to test his ankle before eventually realizing he couldn't go. That's why he's probably the most respected guy on the team and an all-time Eagles great. As for his performance, Westbrook carried 13 times for 52 yards. As usual, he did a good job picking up the blitz on multiple occasions.
Winston Justice - He was a major bright spot on an otherwise dim day. By my count, Justice got significantly less help than a week ago. In the second half, particularly, he was on his own, mostly lined up with Grant. In the run game, Justice looked powerful on the Eagles' second drive, moving Saints defensive lineman Bobby McCray out of the way on a 6-yard Westbrook run. He created space for a 4-yard Westbrook run in the third quarter and a 6-yard gain by McCoy in the fourth. Good recognition and execution in picking up a blitzing Scott Fujita on a second-quarter completion to Jeremy Maclin. Even more encouraged by Justice than I was last week.
Max Jean-Gilles - He was probably the Eagles' best offensive lineman in the first half. Jean-Gilles delivered a punishing block on a 16-yard Wildcat run by Westbrook in the second quarter. When asked to get to the next level on a shovel pass, Jean-Gilles did a decent job, although he didn't look as athletic as some of the team's other linemen. MJG got beat once by Hargrove on a passing play in third quarter. And he looked like he released too early and got Kolb nailed on a screen attempt in the fourth. Jean-Gilles got beat by Hargrove again in the fourth quarter on a pass play where Kolb got rid of the ball just in time to avoid a sack.
Jamaal Jackson - Did a nice job early on in the run game, opening holes for Westbrook on a 4-yard gain and a 6-yard gain. Didn't perform as well on plays like screens that required more athleticism. There was also some miscommunication along the line (see below), some of which has to fall on the center, but more fairly is probably due to the lack of continuity.
Nick Cole - He did not play as well as Week 1. Cole did a good job early, opening a hole for a 7-yard run by Westbrook out of the Wildcat. But he was also whistled for a false start and completely whiffed on a block late in the second quarter as the Saints stuffed Westbrook for no gain.
Jason Peters - For the most part, a very solid performance. Peters did not let his man get anywhere near Kolb until the fourth quarter when he was beat badly by McCray, who picked up a blindside sack. Peters did not get to show the athleticism we saw in the run game against the Panthers, but he did open up a nice hole for Westbrook on a 7-yard run early on out of the Wildcat.
Brent Celek - Maybe someone on the Saints' defense made fun of him as a kid or stole his girlfriend in high school because Celek was playing like a man possessed. As a receiver, Celek caught eight balls for 104 yards. On 2nd-and-6 in the second quarter, he caught a pass from Kolb at the line of scrimmage, met Saints CB Jabari Greer 2 yards short of the first down and just battled his way to the marker. On 3rd-and-7 in the second quarter, he did the same thing, but this time to linebacker Scott Shanle (6-2, 245). Reid patted him on the backside after the play, and a pumped up Celek seemed unsure of what to do. He ended up delivering a rather tame first-down signal. Celek also did a better job as a blocker, specifically on a couple Wildcat runs by Westbrook and Jackson.
DeSean Jackson - Four catches for 101 yards and the big 71-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter. Out of the Wildcat, Jackson had multiple plays where he simply beat the Saints defenders with his speed. Overall, three carries for 15 yards. Seems to really have a knack for getting to the first-down marker as a runner. On the downside, Jackson was whistled for a false start and made a bad decision fielding a punt inside the 5 at the end of the first half.
Jason Avant - Another good performance from the MTC favorite. Avant had seven catches for 79 yards. Great job on the touchdown to get his hands underneath the ball on the low throw. Had his usual big third-down catches, two by our count. And Avant did a nice job blocking on a Wildcat run by Jackson in the second quarter.
Kevin Curtis - It was tough to tell whether he dropped a pass in the first quarter or if CB Tracy Porter deflected it. Overall had three catches for 44 yards. Two of those came on the Eagles' final drive of the first half, which set up a field goal. For some reason the Eagles took a couple shots deep to him down the sideline, even though he didn't look like he could go full speed because of the injury and didn't get much separation.
Jeremy Maclin - Made his first career catch on the Eagles' first offensive play from scrimmage and had two overall for 12 yards. Also was involved in the Wildcat although he did not have any carries.
** Really liked seeing Kolb's teammates mob him after the early touchdown pass to Jackson. McNabb, Sheldon Brown, team trainer Rick Burkholder. Everyone was patting him on the helmet. That kind of thing is tough to fake. His teammates looked genuinely excited for him. A great sign for any young quarterback.
** As I mentioned above, some miscommunication along the offensive line, likely due to a lack of continuity. Roman Harper came up the middle untouched through the gap between Jackson and Cole to sack Kolb in the second quarter. In the fourth quarter, Kolb felt immediate pressure from a blitzer who rushed through the gap between Peters and Cole.
** Overall the Eagles had success in the Wildcat, but one play to get rid of is the one where Maclin handed off to Westbrook, who pitched it to Kolb, who was then supposed to find a receiver. Takes way too long to develop and seems like a turnover waiting to happen.