Eagles fans and writers are both clamoring to see more of Vinny Curry. After not being activated for games 1 and 2, he played 12 snaps against Kansas City and had a very impressive outing. Officially he had a sack and a quarterback hurry; I think he contributed even more than that. The big question is, why doesn't he play more?
The simple answer is, he is playing left defensive end in the 3-4, which means he's competing for playing time with Fletcher Cox. So if you want to see more Vinny, you need to see less Fletcher, or find one of them a new position. Cox is doing pretty well himself, so this is a non-trivial problem.
Because he only has twelve snaps all season, I examined each one and will discuss them in some detail. There is no clear situation (like 3rd and long, or passing downs) where Vinny is being slotted in. He played two 3-down series, a first and second down only, a first and third down, and two single third downs -- one short (2 yards) and one long. It's hard to understand the logic.
Curry first appeared with 5:06 left in the first quarter. On first down, he was double-teamed -- in his first snap all season, which indicates the respect that Kansas City has for him -- and held at bay. A procedure penalty made it first and 15; Bill Davis pulled Curry out. On second and 15, Vinny went back in, got past his blocker, and forced Alex Smith to thrown the ball away. Yet on third down, Davis pulled him again. (In fairness to the coordinator, Fletcher Cox came back in, tossed his blocker aside and forced a quick screen pass to Donnie Avery, which was successful.)
Curry was out the next series, then appeared on 3rd down and five of the following series, with 10:18 left in the second. He pushed his blocker back several yards but was kept the the left of the quarterback, and Smith threw a short pass to Avery again for a huge gain (51 yards).
On the next drive, Curry was out for the first four plays as the Chiefs got two first downs, despite a Fletcher Cox sack. Curry then came in for three consecutive plays with 3:53 left in the second. He was double-teamed on first and second down, though he broke through with a spin move on second and Smith immediately ran up the middle for very little gain. On third down, he broke through almost immediately and forced Smith into his only reckless thrown of the night. The ball went right into Connor Barwin's raised arms but he couldn't hang on and dropped it.
Despite this success, Curry sat out the next two series and came in for another three downs with 6:22 left in the third. This was his most successful stretch. On first down, he sacked Smith with a one-handed jersey grab. Second down saw him push through two blockers, forcing Smith to scramble; Trent Cole sacked him. And on third and 25, the Chiefs were forced to hold Curry; the penalty was declined since the pass was incomplete, and KC punted.
The next drive began with 11:31 left in the fourth. On first down, Curry pushed his blocker back and tossed him aside, but fell to his knees before he reached the quarterback. He went out on second, and came back in for that crucial 3rd and 10 at the Chief's 5. Curry pushed his blocker way back but couldn't get to Smith, who completed the a back-breaking pass to extend the drive. Curry was out for the next 6 downs (3 first and seconds), then came back in for one more play on 3rd and 2. He got good penetration but couldn't reach the QB, and saw no more action that game.
There is no real pattern (that I could detect) to Curry's deployment, except that there were no run plays. (With Andy Reid coaching, though, that tells you nothing.) Vinny was a consistently disruptive force and made even more plays than the scorekeepers gave him credit for. Curry played left defensive end in 3-4 alignments, exclusively. Hopefully Billy Davis can find a different position for Curry (or Fletcher Cox) to play, and get both men into the game at the same time. We could use some serious pass pressure on Peyton Manning this week.