This game essentially summed up the Eagles' season. The Eagles game plan going into the game was excellent, they were the better team throughout and deserved to win the game. However, there's one major reason they didn't win - they gave up too many big plays on defense and didn't create many big plays on offense. That's what happens when you play a team with a ton of playmakers and you don't have any yourself. It's been that way for the majority of the season since the first 3 games and it's hard to win that way.
Anyway, there was some good film from this week. So let's get to it!
This was the best game of the season from Carson Wentz. He was really, really good. He read coverages quickly, was decisive in his reads, got rid of the ball quickly and accurately and his mechanics were spot on. I said last week his mechanical flaws weren't serious and they weren't fatal flaws. This week proved me right. You can't fix a fatal flaw with your mechanics in one week. Which is why I said comparing him to Blake Bortles was bizarre.
I wanted to focus on Wentz' pocket presence this week because it was so good. He's got traits in the pocket that you simply can't teach. He's willing to stay in the pocket first off which is really important and he's also got a great feel for pressure.
These two plays show off his pocket movement and athleticism really well. On play 1, he feels pressure from his right and evades the pressure and makes a great throw to Jordan Matthews. On play 2, he waits till the last second before spinning away from the defensive tackle and he makes a decent throw to Paul Turner considering he's off balance. Turner should probably catch it but it wasn't easy. One reason why I wanted the Eagles to move on from Bradford and trade up for Wentz is the ability to create a play out of nothing like he does here. Bradford just can't do that.
Here he stands in the pocket and makes a tough throw. Yes it's a little throw, but you have to have the courage to stand in there, knowing you're going to take a huge shot, and deliver a ball on time and on target.
Here again the pocket movement is beautiful. On play 1, he shifts to his right to create a better throwing lane and delivers a simple throw to Burton. Play 2 is a really good play. Firstly, check out Burton in the slot moving like a wide receiver! He's been really good the last two weeks, I like how he uses his size and hands to gain separation here too. Now just watch Wentz carefully on this play. Watch the really subtle shift to the right in the pocket to create a good throwing lane and potentially buy himself an extra half a second if he needed it. That's really nice subtle pocket movement. The last couple of plays from Wentz I'll show involve Nelson Agholor who flashed on Sunday.
On play 1, Agholor runs a really good route. He fakes the stop and go and creates separation. Why did he create separation? He FINALLY used his hands in the middle of route. Maybe that shows that he's learning by the end of year 2! If he keeps up this rate of development, by 2020 he might have a 100 yard game. In all seriousness though, this was a great route. Play 2 is a simple go route but he uses a subtle shift to the inside when running straight which causes the cornerback to start to drift inside. This allows get by him deep and this is a perfect throw by Wentz too.
On to some other notes: The offensive line struggled in pass protection, mainly because Allen Barbre couldn't really handle being the right tackle. Also, when Sproles went off injured, Ryan Mathews showed his weakness in pass protection.
I thought Jason Peters and Isaac Seumalo played really well. You have to bring back Peters next season at this point don't you? I don't get how you can release him when he's playing like he is currently. He's not the same guy he once was, but he's still a good left tackle. I was impressed by Seumalo. I don't have any particular clips to show, but I'll probably do an offseason review of him (I know you all secretly love offensive line breakdowns more than anything).
Not much to show here as the Eagles couldn't consistently get the ground game going. Pederson probably bailed from running the ball a little too early, but I think he believes the best way of winning games right now is Wentz throwing the ball a lot and he's probably right to be honest. Anyway, Mathews showed some juice and the Eagles had success running from a 3-tight end look as you can see below.
As you can see, both Mathews long runs came from running to the side of the 3 tight ends. On play 1, Mathews shows good vision and patience to wait for his blocks to develop. Peters gets a great block to seal the edge and the tight ends do enough to create a lane for Mathews. On play 2, Barbre makes a really nice block on the second level and once again the tight ends do a good job. Ertz takes a lot of criticism for his blocking but I've said for a long time his run blocking isn't bad and comparing him to Celek is unfair.
Interesting to note that the Eagles used a lot of 12 or 13 personnel this game. They clearly think right now the best way to win the game is to have 2 tight ends on the field and I think that's a smart decision by Doug.
Nothing to really note here. I just think this is an awesome play by the ageless Darren Sproles.
I don't have much to add here. The Eagles played the run well except for 2 or 3 big runs where they lost contain and missed tackles. Most of them happened when they had backup defensive lineman on the field too. Cox and Logan were excellent against the run as always when on the field.
Fletcher Cox is back! He had 2 sacks so he's elite again! To be honest, he played as well as he has all season really. The difference was however, that the rest of the defensive line got some pressure at times which collapsed the pocket and allowed Cox to clean up. You can see this below.
On play 1, Smith gets a decent rush around the edge and Graham collapses the pocket from the other side. This forces Cousins to step up where Cox is waiting for him. It's a good rush by Cox, but he gets the sack due to help from Smith and Graham. Play 2 is the same thing, but Curry forces Cousins to his right and then Graham once again collapses from the other side. Graham also stops Cousins from releasing the ball. Cox then beats his man and cleans up at the end. Unless you're an elite edge rusher, you will need help from your defensive lineman in order to get sacks consistently.
The 2 sacks weren't the best plays from Cox in the game in my opinion. Play 1 here is awesome, he sheds the double team but sadly no one else really gets any pressure and Cousins is just about able to release the ball in time. On play 2, I love the hustle and athleticism showed. Nothing fancy about it, but he's giving 100% each and every week.
The Eagles couldn't consistently get a pass rush though. Graham was good at helping to collapse the pocket, but far too often the Eagles (once again) got no pressure from the left side of the defensive line. Trent Williams is an excellent left tackle, but the Eagles should get more pressure. The backup defensive line isn't getting pressure when on the field which is a problem. They only have one defensive tackle who can rush the quarterback at this point. When they didn't get pressure, DeSean Jackson made them pay.
On play 1, Cousins has pretty good protection. Graham nearly gets home but they can't get any pressure from the edges which means Cousins doesn't have to step up. The defensive tackles were collapsing the pocket but without edge pressure it means nothing. That's why I like Marcus Smith on the field, he gives you a guy you can bend the edge occasionally. This is an unbelievable catch by DeSean too, his ball tracking skills are incredible. Play 2 is a great example of the right side of the line (Cox and Graham) getting pressure but the left side getting nothing. That means Cousins has an easy throwing lane and delivers a strike to DeSean, who makes another incredible catch.
The difference between the weapons the Redskins have is absolutely massive. Garcon, Jackson and Crowder each made incredible catches in this game, including a few ones on the sideline. Jordan Matthews failed to get his feet in-bounds on a pretty routine catch. That's the difference between the two teams really.
The cornerbacks weren't awful this game but they gave up big plays. Leodis McKelvin did get burned on the deep DeSean touchdown, but it wasn't his fault. The Eagles were playing quarters coverage and the Redskins called the perfect play. Malcolm Jenkins was next to McKelvin but he followed the deep crosser across the field. That left McKelvin scrambling to keep up with DeSean, and he simply had no chance. McKelvin played really well actually, I'm not joking!
It's worth nothing the Eagles changed up their nickel package too, with Mills moving to the slot and Jenkins back at safety. Mills played okay, I find it really tough to evaluate his game right now. When he gets beat deep he looks so so slow but he didn't get beat a lot this game so. Last week I asked for this Jenkins to go back to safety and for Barwin to play less. Both happened, maybe Schwartz is reading this post? If so, hi coach, please stop running stunts on 3rd and long and blitz Mychal Kendricks more. Thanks coach.
Let's end by having a look at the pick 6 so we can laugh at Kirk Cousins again.
Cousins doesn't have the arm to throw from the far hash to the other side of the field. Which is fine, but you can't keep trying it like he does. He cannot make that throw. McKelvin also makes a lovely break on the ball and plays this with perfect technique. Also, you can have an interesting debate about blitzing here. I like blitzing more because I philosophically believe it makes things happen. That can be negative and positive things. Schwartz seems anxious to blitz because he doesn't want it to fail and then his coverage to be limited. But on this play for example, McLeod blitzes. Does Cousins see him coming? Does that make him throw the ball away? It's impossible to tell, but I wish we brought pressure more often to make opposing quarterbacks uncomfortable. We did it so well against Sam Bradford earlier in the year.
Anyway, that's all for this week. As always leave any comments if you have any questions. Also, hopefully the numbering of plays makes it easier to follow because I know some of you have asked for that and I've been doing it recently so yeah! Thanks guys.