Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Man Up: Big plays kill Eagles' defense

We start this week's edition with a text I received from friend and MTC reader Joe Monte. It came in at 10:33 p.m. Sunday night:

Man Up: Big plays kill Eagles' defense

Cowboys wide receiver Miles Austin beats Sheldon Brown for the 49-yard game-winning touchdown against the Eagles. (Ron Cortes / Staff Photographer)
Cowboys wide receiver Miles Austin beats Sheldon Brown for the 49-yard game-winning touchdown against the Eagles. (Ron Cortes / Staff Photographer)

We start this week's edition with a text I received from friend and MTC reader Joe Monte. It came in at 10:33 p.m. Sunday night:

I think instead of breaking down each defensive player, just break down Fokou and his 13 penalties.


And with that, the player-by-player breakdown of the Eagles' defensive performance against the Cowboys:

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Juqua Parker - He was probably the Eagles' most effective pass rusher. Parker sacked Tony Romo in the first quarter and nearly had a second one before halftime, forcing an incompletion on third down.

Jason Babin - I remember when Babin was introduced at Lehigh, thinking he probably wouldn't be on the team when the season opened, but he's proven he can get to the quarterback. Babin got good pressure on Romo to force an incompletion in the first. And in the second, he lined up inside and sacked Romo. Babin has 2.5 sacks in his last three games.

Chris Clemons - He lined up all over the place, sometimes rushing the QB, other times dropping back into coverage. Clemons got good pressure up the middle on a 3rd-and-17 in the first quarter.

Mike Patterson - Not usually a threat to get to the quarterback, Patterson got pressure up the middle in the first, but Romo was able to escape and dump it off to Marion Barber. He also got good pressure up the middle on Sheldon Brown's interception in the third. Patterson made some nice plays against the run as well and delivered a good all-around performance.

Trevor Laws - He was double-teamed on Tashard Choice's touchdown run and didn't look particularly effective at any point against the run.

Broderick Bunkley - He anchored the Eagles' strong effort against the run, stuffing Barber and creating disruption on multiple plays. The Cowboys averaged just 3.3 yards per carry.

Antonio Dixon - As usual, he was part of the Eagles' defensive tackle rotation. Good hustle by Dixon to chase down Choice on a screen play on third down in the first quarter.

Darren Howard - He did not look good on a few plays against the run. Howard was blocked on a 9-yard Wildcat run in the second. Obviously, his primary role is to get to the quarterback. Howard got good pressure on Romo in the fourth to force a rushed throw and a field goal attempt, but he's having a fairly quiet season and hasn't notched a sack since Week 1.

Trent Cole - The Cowboys did a very good job on him. This was one of Cole's quietest games this season. Dallas got the better of him on a couple run plays, specifically an 8-yard carry by Barber in the third. He did have a sack (7.5 on the season) but didn't get the consistent pressure from the edge we're used to seeing.

Akeem Jordan - He led the Eagles with seven tackles and delivered another solid performance, both in coverage and against the run. Jordan broke up a pass intended for tight end Martellus Bennett in the first and later stopped Barber after a short gain in the second.

Tracy White - He played quite a bit in the nickel, alongside Will Witherspoon. On the 64-yard pass to Patrick Crayton, White ran into Clemons as he slid across the formation. Joselio Hanson was initially lined up on Crayton in the slot, but blitzed. White showed great hustle (and speed) to eventually bring down Crayton down the field. He also made a nice play against the run late in the fourth quarter.

Will Witherspoon - He was used as a blitzer quite a bit but never really got to Romo. Witherspoon did a nice job against the run overall. In coverage, he got beat by Jason Witten on a third down in the first quarter. I'll provide a more in-depth look at the Eagles' blitz schemes later today or tomorrow.

Moise Fokou - The Eagles' rookie had a rough go in his first NFL start. Fokou was blocked by Cowboys fullbacks and tight ends all day: on the end around to Kevin Ogletree, on the Choice touchdown run, on a Wildcat run in the second, on Barber's 16-yard run on the final drive. And so on. He wasn't effective when called on to blitz either.

Sheldon Brown - Not a good day for Brown. He of course got beat by Miles Austin on the game-winning touchdown, but that wasn't all. Roy Williams beat Brown on a slant in the first quarter, and the Cowboys could have had one or two other big plays against him, but Romo couldn't connect.

Asante Samuel - I like Cris Collinsworth, but did I really hear him say that Samuel is "usually a decent tackler"? Samuel could not bring Crayton down on the 64-yard reception, but was rescued by White. He was blocked on the 17-yard screen to Ogletree before halftime. He got away with pass interference in the end zone before halftime.

Joselio Hanson - Do we want to call his last-second pass deflection in the end zone before halftime luck or great instincts? Hanson was blocked on the screen to Ogletree that went for 17 yards before halftime.

Ellis Hobbs - Only memorable play on defense was when he got burned by Williams for 22 yards in the third.

Sean Jones - He had some lapses, missing a tackle on a 21-yard catch and run by Ogletree on third down in the first quarter. Jones was up at the line of scrimmage, but was a non-factor on Choice's touchdown run. In the second, he was waiting for Barber to go out in his route, but by the time he did, Romo was scrambling, and Jones showed good instincts, picking up a sack.

Quintin Mikell - He was blocked, allowing Ogletree to pick up 21 yards in the first quarter on third down. Coming on a blitz, Mikell got good pressure on Romo in the first, forcing him to get rid of the ball on third down. Mikell also made a nice play to knock the ball away on a pass intended for Williams in the end zone before halftime.

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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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