Sunday, September 21, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Witherspoon's blitzes; Andrews' playing time

The Cowboys have allowed 13 sacks this season. Only three NFC teams have given up fewer.

Witherspoon's blitzes; Andrews' playing time

Linebacker Will Witherspoon was the Eagles´ most frequent blitzer last weekend against the Giants. (AP)
Linebacker Will Witherspoon was the Eagles' most frequent blitzer last weekend against the Giants. (AP)

The Cowboys have allowed 13 sacks this season. Only three NFC teams have given up fewer.

So a major question facing the Eagles Sunday night is: How should they go about getting pressure on Tony Romo?

I went back and took a look at the Eagles' defensive performance against the Giants to see how often they blitzed Eli Manning and company. A breakdown of that is below.

But first, a quick note on the offense, and specifically Stacy Andrews. You probably noticed Andrews on the field more last week, rotating with Nick Cole at right guard. That might have had something to do with the fact that the Eagles were up big, and Andy Reid wanted to get Andrews work.

Or maybe it means Andrews is progressing and could be ready to take over the starting spot soon.

Reid rotates the guards on a possession-by-possession basis. Cole and Andrews each played five possessions against the Giants. During six first-half possessions, it was Cole for four and Andrews for two. Andrews played the final three drives of the game, with the Eagles protecting a big lead.

Just something to keep an eye on this week against Dallas.


Now on to the blitzes. Eli Manning dropped back 43 times. Here's a breakdown of how many players the Eagles rushed on those plays:

Four (23)
Five (11)
Six (7)
Seven (1)
Nine (1)

So overall they sent just four guys after Manning on 53 percent of the Giants' passing plays. But numbers don't tell the whole story, given the way the game played out. Some notes:

** The Eagles rushed four defenders on 11 of the Giants' final 13 plays, when the game was already in the bag. Perhaps a more accurate number to look at would be the first half. Manning dropped back 17 times before halftime. Here's how it broke down:

Four (7)
Five (5)
Six (5)

So in the first half, the Eagles sent four men after Manning on 41 percent of the plays.

** Linebacker Will Witherspoon was the Eagles' most frequent blitzer. He blitzed on 14 different plays. Interesting that a guy who was lauded for his skills in coverage when he arrived is being used so frequently as a blitzer. It's only been two games, but Sean McDermott has not been shy in using Witherspoon in a variety of ways.

** Sean Jones was the DB who blitzed the most. He went after Manning six times.

** The Eagles only rushed four on Asante Samuel's first-quarter interception.

** On a couple plays, the Eagles rushed five, but no linebackers or defensive backs. In the first half, they had a line of Jason Babin, Mike Patterson, Antonio Dixon, Trevor Laws and Trent Cole. In the second half on one play, the line looked like this: Juqua Parker, Dixon, Jason Babin, Darren Howard and Cole.

** Chris Clemons dropped back into coverage on a play in the first half as Witherspoon, Jones and Joselio Hanson blitzed Manning.

** The Eagles rushed five on the Quintin Demps interception.

** The nine-man rush was when the Giants had the ball inside the Eagles' 1-yard line in the second half.

** The seven-man rush was Jones, Akeem Jordan and Witherspoon.

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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Sheil Kapadia Philly.com
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