Thursday, April 24, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Man Up: Is Watkins improving?

Since the player-by-player review is late this week, I changed things up a bit.

Man Up: Is Watkins improving?

Is Eagles rookie Danny Watkins improving (File photo)
Is Eagles rookie Danny Watkins improving (File photo)

Since the player-by-player review is late this week, I changed things up a bit.

Below you will find notes on each player's performance against the Seahawks, but I also took a bigger picture look. What should we keep an eye on the rest of the season? What about in 2012? Will we learn anything from the final four games?

Here's the breakdown:

Vince Young - It's quite possible Young has played his last snap as an Eagle. If Michael Vick returns against Miami Sunday and stays healthy the final four games, Young will remain on the sidelines before looking for a starting gig elsewhere in the offseason. Against Seattle, he threw four interceptions (three were his fault) and was off-target on several other throws. Young made a bad throw to Clay Harbor on a tight end screen attempt in the second. He threw behind Chad Hall on third down n the second. He had Brent Celek wide open on a third down in the second, but misfired. And he waited too long before looking for Jason Avant in the end zone in the third. Young's best moment came when he threw a good block as LeSean McCoy reversed field and picked up 10 yards on 3rd-and-2 in the third. The effort was there from Young, but the execution was not. This offseason, my guess is Andy Reid and Marty Mornhinweg will field a few calls from potential suitors for Young, asking about his attitude, practice habits, etc.

How will the return of Michael Vick affect the Eagles’ chances of making the playoffs?
A lot. The Eagles can win out and make the playoffs with Vick running the show.
Not at all. Even Vick at his best can’t save this team from missing the postseason.

LeSean McCoy - In a season of disappointments, McCoy continues to be the bright spot. He was a gametime decision because of a toe injury, but McCoy played well, carrying 17 times for 84 yards. He also had four catches for 49 yards. McCoy had a nice 20-yard run to the left side in the first. He found the end zone for a touchdown in the second. He had catches of 15 and 24 yards, respectively, and had back-to-back runs of 11 and 10  yards in the third. As a blocker, McCoy did a poor job trying to pick up a blitzing linebacker, who threw him out of the way and forced Young out of the pocket for a 1-yard run in the first. He's the league's leading rusher with 1,134 yards.

Ronnie Brown - His run/pass option against the 49ers might be the most symbolic play of a season full of miscues for the Birds. Against the Seahawks, Brown spelled McCoy and picked up 7 yards in the third. He followed that run up with a nice 4-yard gain and a first down. Overall, Brown played just five snaps. He'll be playing elsewhere in 2012.

Dion Lewis - He did not play at all. Don't be surprised if Lewis sees the field more in place of Brown down the stretch. The Eagles need to figure out if Lewis can be their primary backup to McCoy in 2012 or if they need to add a veteran.

Owen Schmitt - His role has been reduced this year. Schmitt played only five snaps. He made a good block on the 8-yard screen to McCoy in the fourth. The fullback is not a big part of this offense, but Schmitt is not under contract in 2012.

Jason Peters - He continues to be the Eagles' best offensive lineman. I'm convinced the Eagles' most reliable option on offense might be to just run McCoy behind Peters on every play and see what happens. He made an excellent block on McCoy’s 20-yard run in the first. Peters Lined up between Todd Herremans and Danny Watkins and blocked Red Bryant on McCoy’s first-quarter TD run. Nice job on McCoy’s 7-yard run in the second. He threw Chris Clemons upfield and then blocked a linebacker on McCoy’s 11-yard run in the third. In protection, Peters was solid overall. He had some trouble with Clemons in the second, but Young escaped and found Riley Cooper for a big gain.

Evan Mathis - Very good game from Mathis. He's the only member of the Eagles' current offensive line who is unsigned in 2012. If Howard Mudd is back, my guess is Mathis will very much be interested in returning. He made a good block on McCoy’s 20-yard run in the first. Good job picking up a blitzer on Young’s 16-yard completion to Cooper in the second. Great job finishing his block on Bryant on McCoy’s 7-yard run in the second. And Mathis blocked his man to the ground on McCoy’s 4-yard run in the third. He had some trouble with Clinton McDonald in pass protection in the second, but Young escaped and hit Cooper for a big gain.

Jason Kelce - He had quite a few issues in pass protection earlier in the season, but Kelce has shown improvement and will look to keep that momentum going down the stretch and into 2012. He looked confused on a first-quarter play, allowing a linebacker to go right past him on a blitz that forced Young out of the pocket. And he had trouble with Alan Branch on a third down in the second, but otherwise, Kelce played well. He did a good job on McCoy’s 20-yard run in the first. He made a nice block on McCoy’s 4-yard run in the third and again on the 8-yard screen to McCoy in the fourth.

Danny Watkins - I am no offensive line guru, but it sure looked to me like Watkins had his share of issues against the Seahawks. All season, he's been much better as a run blocker than a pass blocker. Watkins has been inconsistent in pass protection, and the Eagles need to make sure he's getting better and playing a high level by the start of the 2012 season. Like I mentioned above, Mathis is the only starting offensive lineman who's a free agent, and this unit has a chance to be a strength next season if Watkins improves. Against Seattle, he had some trouble with Bryant on the first play as Young rolled to his right before throwing the interception. Watkins had another issue in protection on third down in the first. He got thrown to the ground by Branch on a McCoy run in the second that lost 4 yards, and was called for a false start on third down in the first. Raheem Brock beat him and pressured Young on a third-down incompletion in the second. Brock beat him on a run play, but McCoy picked up 7 yards with a great individual effort. And Watkins did a poor job handling a stunt on Young’s fourth interception, as the defensive end went right past him. There were good moments too for Watkins. He did a decent job on McCoy’s 13-yard run in the third. He made a good block on Brown’s 7-yard run in the third and again on 4th-and-1 in the fourth. Watkins cleared some space on the shovel pass to McCoy that scored in the fourth also.

Todd Herremans - He's had a very good season and should start at right tackle in 2012, but Herremans did not play well Thursday night. He had some trouble in pass protection on third down in the first. Bryant later went right past him to pressure Young on a second-down throw. He got beat by Bryant again in the second, forcing Young to step up and run for 1 yard. Brock beat Herremans badly and forced Young to throw the ball away in the second. He had trouble with Clemons off the edge in the third, as Young took off for 6 yards. Herremans missed his block in the third, but McCoy still picked up 4. The good? Nice block out in front on the 15-yard screen to McCoy in the third. And another one on the linebacker on the very next play as McCoy picked up 13 yards. Herremans did a good job on Brown’s 7-yard run in the third and opened up room for McCoy on 4th-and-1 in the fourth.

Jamaal Jackson - He came in at left tackle on McCoy’s touchdown run. Jackson is under contract for two more seasons, but I'm not sure there's a good reason to bring him back if the Eagles aren't going to play him (unless they can't find a backup center elsewhere). There have to be teams in the NFL Jackson could start for.

DeSean Jackson - He was a non-factor with four catches for 34 yards. In case you missed it, I wrote more about his effort/attitude on Saturday. I don't know if Jackson will be here in 2012, but I do know how much better this offense is when he is playing well.

Riley Cooper - He's gotten a chance with the injury to Jeremy Maclin, but Cooper has been up and down. He had a couple drops against Seattle. On third down in the first, he couldn’t hang on to what would have been at least a 26-yard gain down the sideline. The Eagles were driving in the third, down 17-7, when Cooper let the ball bounce off his hands and into the hands of Brandon Browner. It was a third down, and a catch would have put the Eagles in the red zone. Big drop at a big moment. Cooper made some plays earlier in the game, finishing as the team's leading receiver with 94 yards on five catches. Still, if I'm the Eagles, I'm much more comfortable with him as my fourth receiver than as a starter.

Jason Avant - He was a non-factor. One catch for 10 yards on two targets. Avant is more effective when defenses have to worry about Jackson and Maclin. He'll be back next season as the slot guy.

Chad Hall - He played 12 snaps. Young targeted him once, but threw behind Hall on a crossing pattern over the middle on third down in the second.

Steve Smith - He was shut out once again. Zero snaps for Smith, who has been a disappointment all year and will be playing elsewhere in 2012.

Brent Celek - Even if the numbers haven't always been there, Celek's had a good season. He made a nice block on Brown’s 7-yard run in the third. And Celek delivered great effort in the third, fighting for every last yard and picking up 11 on 3rd-and-12.

Clay Harbor - Harbor only played 14 snaps. Young threw his way twice. One was a tight-end screen, which was off-target. The other was a drop by Harbor. He did a nice job on Bryant one-on-one on Young’s 16-yard completion to Cooper.


You can follow me on Twitter or become a fan of Moving the Chains on Facebook.

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

Follow Sheil on Twitter. And become a fan of Moving the Chains on Facebook.

Download our NEW iPhone/Android app for even more Birds coverage, including app-exclusive videos and analysis. Download it here.

Reach Sheil at skapadia@philly.com.

Sheil Kapadia Philly.com
Latest Videos:
Also on Philly.com:
Stay Connected