When the Philadelphia Eagles went on their off season spending spree they were planning how to beat the Green Bay Packers to become the dominant team in the NFC. They loaded up on talent that could get in front, unleash their pass rush, and make the kind of splash plays that would take them to glory.
It hasn’t worked out, and in a game against a motivated Seattle Seahawks team all of their problems came to the fore. You got the traditional bad play from the linebackers, missed tackles all over the place, and an inability to deal with the somewhat inevitable injuries to Michael Vick. The scoreline didn’t flatter a Seahawks team who, outside of the opening play of the game, knew what they had to do to win; run the ball, not turn it over and minimize the number of big plays allowed.
What this means for the Eagles going forward is hard to tell. New personnel on defense? A new defensive coordinator? Possibly even the end of the Andy Reid regime? While we leave the Eagles to ponder these questions let’s not forget the Seahawks have already had to answer some tough ones of their own, and while plenty remain, they appear to be moving in the right direction.
Philadelphia – Three Performances of Note
Contrasting fortunes on the line
Going into this game Todd Herremans (-5.7) was flying high as our fifth ranked right tackle on the year. After a game where he gave up pressure constantly, he’s no longer in such a lofty position. Herremans gave up seven hurries all in all, with both Raheem Brock and Red Bryant picking up three on him, as along with Danny Watkins (-3.4), the right side of the Eagles line had a tough day. A stark contrast to their left side of the line that had another dominant game, leaving both Jason Peters (+2.3) and Evan Mathis (+2.6) at the top of their respective positions in the PFF rankings. Two pressures they gave up between them, while both earned positive grades in the running game. One feature of Mathis’ play this year has been his ability to get into position quickly and a great example of this was on LeSean McCoy’s 20 yard burst (5:49 left in the first quarter). Lining up over the DRT the left guard had to slide rapidly outside and seal in Red Bryant. Perfect execution of the most difficult (and most important) block on the play.
For all the faults of the Eagles, one player who has really stepped it up this year is running back LeSean McCoy (+3.2), jumping up to third overall in our running back rankings. McCoy picked up 84 tough yards with some inconsistent blocking on his right side, forced five missed tackles and made some big cuts to turn runs going nowhere into chain movers. Add an extra 49 receiving yards (including a TD on a shovel pass) and you have to think the Eagles need to do a better job of making McCoy the focus of the offense. Not just a bigger part, but what they build it around entirely.
If it’s good enough for Vince Lombardi to say it’s good enough for me; football comes down to blocking and tackling, and tackling is not something the Eagles are very good at. Here they missed another 12 tackles, further reinforcing the fact that if it wasn’t for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, they would be the worst tackling team in the league. They managed to spread the missed tackles around, with only Jamar Chaney (-0.1) missing more than one as a sign of just how deep the problem lies. You take away those missed tackles and life becomes a lot harder for the Seahawks.
Seattle – Three Performances of Note
Almost Beast Mode
He didn’t quite cause the earth to move as he did against New Orleans in the playoffs last year, but Marshawn Lynch (+3.3) was a constant thorn in the side of the Eagles. His 148 yards included 100 after contact, and came partially as a result of breaking six tackles. His signature run may have been his first touchdown but his burst with 1:55 to go in the first quarter was almost as impressive and indication of how talented a back he is. Forced to bounce outside because of upfield penetration, he makes a nice cut to leave Jamar Chaney grasping at air, before avoiding the tackle attempt of Kurt Coleman and pick up 16 yards.
Letting the line down
One of the reasons Lynch had to do so much was the collective poor performances of his offensive guards. Paul McQuistan (-3.2) reverted to type after a great game against Washington, while Robert Gallery (-5.2) made a mockery of the money the Seahawks paid him this off season. He had more than his fair share of issues with Cullen Jenkins and Derek Landri, who had very little problem getting off his blocks. Landri was particularly dominant, making plays like he did with 10:53 to go in the game, where he breezed past the inside shoulder of Gallery and forced Lynch into making a big cutback to break even on the run.
Dominant Defensive Ends
It was an interesting day for the Seattle defensive ends. Red Bryant (+0.6) was strangely absent against the run but picked up four pressures, while Chris Clemons (+2.6) spent a significant amount of time (36.4% of all passing plays) dropping to coverage. The star performer was neither of these; instead it was Raheem Brock (+3.7) who managed to turn his 12 pass rushes into five hurries. It’s not the kind of display that is going to earn him many plaudits, but given Vince Young went 4-of-11 with three interceptions when pressured, it’s hard to argue with the impact it had.
– For the first half the Seahawks showed a degree of contempt for the Eagles passing attack. Instead of responding to their three receiver set with their own nickel, they simply turned their 4-3 base into a 3-4 defense on 1st and 2nd downs by Clemons playing with his hand up.
– Tarvarris Jackson went 4-of-5 on passes thrown 20 yards or more downfield, and only had two incompletions on aimed passes (one a throw away).
– The Eagles had two players who played one snap on defense; Jaiquawn Jarrett and Curtis Marsh. Though both were on the field for separate plays, they were both in on plays when the Eagles gave up touchdowns (with Jarrett actually to blame for Lynchs’ second touchdown due to a quite horrendous angle as Kurt Coleman fixed his helmet.
He wasn’t always given a lot to work with, but he made plenty happen. Marshawn Lynch earned this.