FanPost

Offensive and Defensive Notes From Eagles-Redskins

Offense

- The myth that the Eagles “cannot” run the ball because they have a small offensive line has been demolished when they crammed it down the throats of a very good Redskins defense even when they knew it was coming. Reid and Morninwheg just get into funks where they forget that the running game exists, or they tend to run plunges straight up the middle against larger interior linemen. The key difference vs. Washington was playing to our strengths: with athletic, smaller lineman, you want to get them moving laterally and force the less mobile defensive lineman to move with them. This means heavy use of the stretch play off tackle (see: Edgerrin James & Joseph Addai’s career resumes) and sweeps, where Shady can take advantage of his excellent vision and cutback ability and hit whichever lane opens up on the edge. Nowhere was this more apparent than during the crucial second touchdown drive at the goalline, when Vick was stuffed as usual on the QB sneak attempt but next play McCoy was able to find plenty of daylight off-tackle.

- Michael Vick proved he can be a very efficient and effective when he’s not asked to throw 50 times. Again, this goes back to the balanced playcalling which keeps the defense guessing and slows down the pass rush. In stark contrast to past weeks the Eagles were getting third-and-shorts instead of third-and-longs, resulting in a better third down conversion rate and the ability to sustain long drives. I also liked how they were rolling Vick out on the edge in passing plays especially in the first half, where he can see the whole field and his passes aren’t batted down. Their lack of offensive success in the second half was, in my opinion, largely due to the fact that they abandoned this strategy and reverted to the unsettling zombie shotgun cruise-control. Vick should have been under center more during the second half, and the playaction pass could have been utilized more effectively considering their success in the running game.

- Not to nitpick what otherwise was a great game for him, but Shady had two big drops: the first was on the shovel pass in the red zone which he probably would have scored on had he caught it. The second came when the Eagles were pinned back near their own endzone; he dropped a screen pass while he had a convoy and tons of open space in the middle of the field. Shady is already a better pure rusher than Westbrook ever was; his blocking improves every game and he just needs to start securing the football on the dump passes before turning and running. I think he has 4 or 5 drops on the season, at least. Either on the ground or through the air, he needs to touch the ball 20-30 times every single game.

- Where is Riley Cooper in the red zone? Isn’t it worth at least trying to put him on the edge and toss up a fade for him? The Redskins were playing straight man with no safety help and it would seem like a no-brainer to isolate him on a smaller corner. He’s the only missing piece in the Eagles’ offensive puzzle-- that big guy with a nice vert who can go up and grab a jump ball-- but they have him behind Steve Smith, who brings really nothing unique to the offense. He’s just a slower, older version of Maclin or Jackson with a longer injury record. Cooper is good enough to be the #2 receiver on a team like the Redskins, and he’s no worse than a #3 on many other teams. He’s currently #5 on the depth chart.

Defense

The defense finally showed up today and made some big stands, especially in the redzone.

- Coming into the season I had thought that Kurt Coleman was a good run-stopping safety who was a liability in coverage, and that Allen was a good cover safety who was a liability in run support. But both of them were very good in all aspects of the game on Sunday. We will find out against the Cowboys how much of this was due to Allen & Coleman’s ability as opposed to the Redskins’ lack of talent at WR and QB. Two of Coleman’s picks were just crap throws by Grossman, but at least he was in the right position to capitalize (hint: Page would not have been). His first INT however was very impressive; in my opinion it was the play of the game. Grossman actually delivered a decent pass so that Fred Davis could use his body to box out the smaller Coleman who was trailing behind him, but Coleman elevated over Davis and snatched the ball from right in front of his grillpiece. Frankly I didn’t know Coleman was that athletic.

- Four INTs for the D, but they should have actually had two more: Allen swooped in and got two hands on a ball thrown to the endzone which could have been his second pick of the game but wound up leading to a Washington field goal. Cromartie towards the end of the first half dropped an easy pick over the middle that he likely could have taken to the house.

- Both Grossman and Beck had too much time to throw in my opinion, and despite two sacks the defensive line failed to generate consistent pressure. Trent Cole’s return versus the Cowboys after the bye week will be absolutely crucial for both the run and pass D and should also free up Babin from being chipped.

- The Eagles LBs played much better against the run, but they were poor defending the pass, especially in the second half and against Beck. This was partially masked by the fact that the Redskins receivers dropped A LOT of passes in the flats and shallow middle of the field that could have gone for big gains and made their comeback a reality. Whether or if this is because the Eagles played more zone in the second half than man, I’m not sure. Either way that won’t get the job done versus the Cowboys, who have WRs and tight ends who can catch.

- That Vince Young+Steve Smith+Ronnie Brown cash looks like it would have been a lot better spent on a rock to man the MLB position. I think we can all agree that even during the summer while the first three big signings of Aso, Jenkins, and Babin left everyone ecstatic, those last 3 offensive signings just kind of led to shoulder-shrugs and vague apologetics. Chaney could perhaps be more effective with a reduced scope at SLB and Rolle is doing everything we could ask for at the weakside. If Allen and Coleman can play this way consistently, then the only big question marks on D this year remain the SAM and MIKE spots.

- Asomugha had his second straight solid game and Cromartie finally looked like he wanted to play too. The biggest disappointment among the CBs has been Asante Samuel. In a complete reversal of last year, teams are actively targeting him, and it’s working. He’s getting killed on hooks, outs, and slants because he gives a larger cushion than anyone else on the team, and he’s missing tackles after the catch. I also recall him getting beat downfield twice today. Samuel’s inability to be physical or play man coverage will be a huge handicap going forward. Hopefully he can make up for this by starting to rack up those INTs.

_________________________

It’s a damn shame that it took Juan Castillo five weeks to figure out that Asomugha is more effective in man coverage, and that Jarrad Page never should have been on the field. Or that Morni/Reid just woke up and finally got LeSean involved for the first time in 3 weeks. Otherwise we might not be in this large of a hole right now.

I think the birds are going to have to run the table on the 4 remaining NFC East games to secure a playoff shot. And if they start playing entire games at 100% they can beat any team left on their schedule. They just beat a 3-1 team on the road today and didn’t even play close to their potential ceiling.

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