PHILADELPHIA, PA - NOVEMBER 27: Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots is congratulated by head coach Andy Reid of the Philadelphia Eagles after the Patriots won 38-20 at Lincoln Financial Field on November 27, 2011 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
This year, veteran Eagles beat writer and current Comcast sports NFL columnist Jordan Raanan will be joining us every week with a review of the previous Sunday's Eagles game. This week he offers his notes and thoughts on the Eagles blowout loss to the Patriots
Watching the Patriots stomp on the Eagles' grave the first time around was painful. And if watching the game the first time around was like getting your teeth pulled, the second time was like getting them knocked out. It was gross and painful.
The 38-20 loss to New England was reminiscent of the parochial powerhouse high school program playing the undermanned, devoid of talent public school. The poor little Eagles, with their scrap heap cornerbacks and seventh-round linebackers and safeties, had no chance. They wouldn't have slowed Tom Brady and the Patriots' offense even if Buddy Ryan was running this defense.
For that reason, by the third quarter Sunday afternoon, it was ugly. And their was plenty of blame to pass around.
Regardless, I focused on the area that left the Eagles with no chance of winning - the pass defense. After dissecting all of Brady's 24 completions and assigning blame on each one (some to multiple players when the Eagles were in zones or the safety failed to help deep), here's how it was distributed:
Joselio Hanson: 9 catches, 122 yards, 2 TDs
Nate Allen: 5 catches, 119 yards, 2 TDs
Brandon Hughes: 4 catches, 97 yards
Brian Rolle: 4 catches, 56 yards, TD
Kurt Coleman: 3 catches, 48 yards
Jamar Chaney: 2 catches, 25 yards
Asante Samuel: 2 catches, 19 yards
Clearly, it was a rough afternoon for Allen and Hanson. Allen was also flagged for a holding penalty and missed three tackles in his worst game as a professional. Hanson couldn't stay with Wes Welker in the slot. He completely left the league's leading receiver on a play-action pass in the second quarter. Hanson wasn't within 20 yards of Welker as Brady's top target pranced into the end zone for the easiest 41-yard score he'll ever get in the NFL.
It quickly became evident that Nnamdi Asomugha, limited with a knee injury, and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie sidelined with an ankle injury, were sorely missed. In spite of their struggles this season, the Eagles would have been in better shape had they been on the field.
The debacle also silenced those who wanted Hanson to supplant DRC as the slot corner. Some believed that maybe Joselio was the answer? No way, Jose.
The Eagles have bigger problems. Namely, the entire middle of the field.
Other Notable Observations:
• It was easy to look at the numbers after the game and say the Eagles' best player on the field, LeSean McCoy, didn't get the ball enough. He had just 10 carries for 31 yards in the game. But when you look deeper, the Eagles did try to feed him the ball. Of the 14 plays they ran in the first quarter, seven went to McCoy (3 runs, 3 incompletions, 1 reception). And even when the Eagles were down 21 points in the third quarter, McCoy ran three times (for four yards) on a 10-play drive. One of the only points where you can really say they should have given him the ball was on the 4th-and-1 from the 2-yard line incompletion that essentially ended the game in the third quarter.
• Speaking of the crucial 4th-and-1 from the 2 play with the Eagles down 21 points midway through the third quarter, quarterback Vince Young had two wide open receivers on the play. Todd Herremans, a pass-eligible tackle, had slipped unguarded into the shallow part of the end zone directly in front of Young. Also, even more open with no defender within five yards of him, was Clay Harbor a few steps in front of the field goal posts. Harbor raised his hand futilely. Young never looked off his first target, a tightly covered Brent Celek, and the pass fell incomplete out of the end zone.
• The Eagles were flagged for 12 penalties - too were declined - that cost them 60 yards. Six were defensive offsides or offensive false starts. That is a ridiculous number, especially at home.
• Defensive end Jason Babin was flagged for the sixth time this season for defensive offside/encroachment /neutral zone infractions. The four players ahead of him in the sack race (DeMarcus Ware, Jared Allen, Von Miller and Jason Pierre-Paul) have eight such penalties combined. Babin has been flagged for a team-high 10 penalties this season.
• Defensive end Trent Cole hasn't been the same since he returned from a calf injury last month. He has just two sacks in five games and didn't appear on this week's stat sheet. That means despite two early pressures on Tom Brady, he did not make a single tackle. It's only the second time in seven seasons since Cole became a starter that he played an entire game and didn't record a tackle.
• It was a rough game on Sunday for DeSean Jackson. He was responsible for three of the Eagles' seven drops, including two touchdowns. Jackson is now third in the NFL with nine drops this season, according to STATS. Brent Celek is tied for 18th with five.
• CBS analyst Dan Diedorf never once mentioned that Jackson alligator-armed a second-quarter pass in the end zone. It was if it was a normal, run-of-the-mill drop according to the announcer. Clearly, it wasn't. Diedorf also continually insisted that defensive back Sergio Brown might have knocked the deep pass to Jackson out of his hands. Diedorf was extremely generous in his analysis throughout the game. Perhaps, too generous.