After five weeks and a 1-4 record, the wheels are falling off of the “Dream Team’s” bandwagon. At the beginning of the season, the Philadelphia Eagles were given 6/1 to win the Super Bowl, but after losing to the Buffalo Bills on Sunday, their odds have plummeted to 100/1.
While they did have some impressive performances in this game, the Eagles had some glaring problems on both sides of the football. At times, their defensive scheme seemed to be lost,as Buffalo was able to force the Eagles into their nickel package, which allowed them to exploit the gaps along a defensive front that Philadelphia expected just two linebackers to plug up. In the end, that and some mistakes at pivotal moments swung the game’s momentum into Buffalo’s favor.
On the other hand, Buffalo moved to an impressive 4-1, and are a legitimate contender in the AFC East, as they continue to get impressive performances out of their key players. In addition to that, they have also maintained a run of forcing turnovers, something that is always guaranteed to help win football games.
Philadelphia – Three things of note
1) The Eagles need a full week of tackling drills
We always knew that Asante Samuel can’t tackle his way out of a wet paper bag, but that problem seems to be catching on amongst the Eagles’ defense. Samuel, along with three other Philadelphia defenders, missed a pair of tackles that would have gone a long way in crushing Buffalo’s momentum. While this isn’t an unusual mark for Samuel, it was Jarrad Page that took the top billing, missing four tackles and winding up with an awful -3.9 grade.. In addition to that, Page also took some pretty awful angles on running plays, especially on Fred Jackson’s touchdown run in the first quarter. A week of some basic and fundamental tackling instruction would go a long way to help improve this underperforming defense.
2) Jason Kelce was bad, not the O-line
I put this distinction as the headline because at the moment, it seems that everyone points out that the Eagles’ offensive line is a disaster and that Michael Vick can’t possibly be expected to operate behind that kind of protection. Well in this game, Evan Mathis (+3.1) and Danny Watkins (+2.1) didn’t allow any pressures, and King Dunlap, who filled in at left tackle, allowed just a single pressure. Todd Herremans allowed some heat around the edge, but was impressive run blocking for Lesean McCoy. However, rookie centreJason Kelce (-4.4), allowed a pair of hits including one that caused a Vick’s four interception, as well as another pressure. He also found himself beaten in the run game as well, which made for an all-around difficult day.
3) Asomugha might not be the only one ill-suited to zone coverage
Nnamdi Asomugha’s rough start to the season has been well documented, and the Eagles aren’t helping him out with what they’re expecting him to do in a new scheme; but he was actually OK in this game (perhaps because he was only thrown at once). On the other hand, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (-3.1) seemed to look entirely disinterested in his zone throughout the course of this game. Rodgers-Cromartie was thrown at six times and allowed five completions for 45 yards, but the concerning aspect was the manner in which he seemed to act as a spectator until after the catch was made. When the receiver caught the ball, Rodgers-Cromartie would run up to make the tackle, rather than reacting to the receiver in his zone and making a play on the ball. Only once did he do that, on a play where the receiver slipped, and then he dropped an easy interception.
Buffalo – Three things of note
1) George Wilson was as good as he looked
Just because you hear a guy’s name called a lot during a game doesn’t necessarily mean that he’s doing a particularly good job, but this was not one of those occasions. George Wilson’s +4.5 grade was the top mark amongst Bills defenders, and he was all over the field making defensive stops, batting passes, notching interceptions and knocking passes away. The Bills certainly relied on some luck to win this game, but Wilson was definitely deserving of being on the winning side as he contributed as much as anybody on Buffalo’s roster to securing the win.
2) Kyle Williams was blanked
Zero pressures, zero tackles, zero assists. Kyle Williams (-1.9) did not show up on the stat sheet at all. That’s not to say he was disastrous, but there were a couple of plays where he got Evan Mathis moving backwards, but this is yet another game in a much more modest start to the season for Williams, who has been far from the dominant force we saw week-in and week-out last season. Perhaps he’s carrying some nagging injury that we don’t know about (pre-dating the ankle injury he picked up in this game), or maybe the big-money extension he signed in the off-season has dulled his motivation, but we’re starting to miss the old Kyle Williams
3) Fred Jackson is carrying the Bills
Every time I’ve analyzed the Bills I’ve mentioned Fred Jackson’s performance, and I really tried not to in this one. However, when he racks up 196 yards from scrimmage, scores a touchdown, and forces seven missed tackles from the opposition, there really isn’t an option. Ryan Fitzpatrick is deservingly getting praised for his play and leadership in Buffalo this season, but it’s Jackson that is making helping them win and move the chains. Without him, their offense would be struggling a lot more.
● The Eagles missed a total of 14 tackles on defense, a ridiculous amount.
● Did Ronnie Brown’s bizarre throw-away play cost him? He saw just a single snap in this game, fewer than Dion Lewis who seemed next in line.
● Fitzpatrick attempted just three passes over 10 yards in this game.
PFF Game Ball:
George Wilson, SS, Buffalo Bills
Wilson was making plays all over the field, and if he continues to compete at this level, opposing quarterbacks will stop throwing in his direction altogether.