Monday, December 22, 2014

Man Up: Avant's toughness sparks offense

Here's the player-by-player breakdown of the Eagles' offensive performance against the Redskins:

Man Up: Avant's toughness sparks offense

Eagles wide receiver Jason Avant was huge for the offense in the fourth quarter. (Clem Murray / Staff Photographer)
Eagles wide receiver Jason Avant was huge for the offense in the fourth quarter. (Clem Murray / Staff Photographer) Clem Murray / Staff Photographer

Here's the player-by-player breakdown of the Eagles' offensive performance against the Redskins:

Donovan McNabb - He looked out of sync at times, but McNabb was at his best when it mattered most, going 5-for-8 for 115 yards on the team's final two drives, leading the Eagles to a comeback victory for the second straight week. His best throw was probably the 6-yard pass to Jeremy Maclin that picked up a first down on the game-winning drive. Had that ball been off even a little bit, it would have been batted down. His 35-yard toss to Maclin late was also a beauty. Overall, McNabb completed 21 of 35 passes for 260 yards, a touchdown and an interception. He does not look comfortable down near the goal line when he rolls out and looks for a tight end or receiver in the corner of the end zone. Nice job by McNabb to escape pressure and find DeSean Jackson for the first-half touchdown.

Michael Vick - He wasn't a factor and wasn't the answer in short yardage, even though he did a good job in those situations last week. Vick had a 4-yard run down near the goal line, but couldn't pick up the first on a 3rd-and-1 later in the quarter, in what was a very awkward-looking run. He attempted a pass once again but couldn't connect with Brent Celek.

LeSean McCoy - A really impressive effort. Fun to watch this guy improve on a weekly basis. Seventeen carries for 76 yards and four catches for 25. His standout play was the shovel pass on the 2-point conversion. McCoy tripped over Todd Herremans at the 3, but somehow stayed on his feet and found the end zone. As a blocker, McCoy didn't have to do a ton, but he did miss one in the fourth, allowing a linebacker to hit McNabb, who was still able to complete a 20-yard pass to Jason Avant.

Leonard Weaver - Six carries for 44 yards. Probably should have gotten the ball more. Weaver had a nice 18-yard run in the first and gained 12 yards on a fourth-quarter carry to set up the Eagles' touchdown. He also picked up a first down on 4th-and-inches. Not sure why he's not the guy in every short-yardage/goal-line situation.

Eldra Buckley - He curiously got a couple carries down near the goal line in the fourth quarter. Buckley was stuffed on first down but got in two plays later for the touchdown.

Winston Justice - After getting the contract extension, Justice had some miscues we haven't seen all season. He was called for holding in the second quarter and false started at a bad time when the Eagles had a 3rd-and-goal from the 5 late in the second. In protection, he had some trouble with Philip Daniels in the first half, and Chris Wilson beat Justice to get to McNabb and force the interception in the second half. He had some good moments in the run game, although it was not the dominant performance we saw a week ago.

Nick Cole - He struggled throughout in pass protection. He was beat by Daniels in the second, which led to Andre Carter's sack of McNabb. Cole was pretty good as a run blocker, making a nice block on a 6-yard McCoy run in the first and doing a good job on Weaver’s 18-yard carry.

Jamaal Jackson - He had his ups and downs. Jackson did a good job on Weaver's 18-yard run early, and also on a couple McCoy runs in the fourth quarter. But he couldn't block a Redskins linebacker on Buckley's failed goal-line run in the fourth and was beat on another play that got stuffed in the second.

Todd Herremans - He was probably the Eagles' most impressive offensive lineman. Herremans was very good in the run game, making key blocks on a 19-yard run by McCoy and an 18-yard carry by Weaver. He was also a factor on Buckley's touchdown run in the fourth. Just a great job throughout from Herremans.

Jason Peters - He turned in an OK performance, although Peters struggled at times with Redskins rookie Brian Orakpo, who lined up all over the place. Like the rest of the linemen, he played very well late as the Eagles had success on the ground in the fourth quarter. Peters' holding call in the fourth was offset by a Redskins penalty.

Brent Celek - I think I caught the play where he got injured. Celek caught a ball over the middle early in the third quarter, and then was hit. The ball popped loose, but he held on. After that, we saw him really struggle, although give Celek credit for his toughness. Even though he was injured, he made a nice block on a linebacker during Weaver's 12-yard run that set up the touchdown. Early in the game, he was flagged for a questionable pass interference call, which negated a touchdown to Jackson.

Alex Smith - Don't have anything to say about him, other than that he was on the field. If Celek misses next week's game against the Falcons, he'll be asked to step up.

DeSean Jackson - I'm sure he was surprised to be so wide open on the 35-yard touchdown. And that 29-yard punt return was ridiculous. Jackson should never call for a fair catch again. Now we wait and see how things go with his health.

Jason Avant - A long-time MTC favorite, Avant came up with a huge 46-yard catch in the fourth quarter to spark the sputtering offense. After making the grab, he absorbed a blow from LaRon Landry before picking up about 20 extra yards. On the very next play, McNabb went back to Avant for 20 yards. Avant caught the ball with both hands in the air and then shifted it to his right hand so he could brace himself for the fall. And did you see him try to tell Andy Reid he could stay in the game after he was banged-up on the play? Avant's the perfect slot receiver for this city and this fan base.

Jeremy Maclin
- Big-time plays during the Eagles' game-winning drive. The most important part about that is McNabb and Maclin have formed a trust. He caught a 35-yarder down the sideline and then got open to convert a 3rd-and-5. Maclin may have to take on an even bigger role next week if Jackson is out. Overall, five catches for 94 yards.

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Reggie Brown - McNabb complimented his blocking. Brown was on the field opposite Maclin after Jackson went out, but he did not have a catch.

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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