ReFo: Panthers @ Eagles, Week 10
It is becoming clear that close primetime games are going to be something to cherish this season, and not just Thursday Night games. After the Packers’ demolition of the Bears, the Eagles were the next NFC team to lay down a marker in front of a national audience as they thumped Cam Newton and the rest of the Panthers in Philadelphia last night.
The offense and defense vied for the limelight with Mark Sanchez looking comfortable, though not mistake-free, in his first start for the Eagles while the defense piled the pressure on Newton. The Panthers’ turnover in personnel on the offensive line and at wide receiver was exposed last night by a ferocious Eagles defense that showed no mercy in exploiting their advantage until the game was well in hand.
Carolina Panthers – Performances of Note
Andrew Norwell, RG, +3.2
Breakdown: Positives were few and very far between for the Panthers last night but one of them was to be found on the offensive line of all places where Norwell put in the best display of his rookie season. After three starts at left guard he flipped sides last night and looked much more comfortable, producing a series of solid run blocks in the first half against the likes of Bennie Logan and Cedric Thornton.
Signature Play: Picked up two blocks on one play at Q2 8:57; first helping on a double team Cedric Thornton to drive the Eagles’ left defensive end outside and off the line before driving Malcolm Jenkins downfield at the second level.
Kelvin Benjamin, WR, -2.3
Breakdown: A game of contrast for Benjamin who only came alive late in the game with those two touchdowns showing his potential. However, his work early in the game showed the growth required for him to be the go-to man in this offense. Cut off too easily for Newton’s first interception and putting a crosser down late in the third quarter, his two touchdowns were impressive but far too little and far too late.
Signature Play: Exploited some weak effort from the Eagles’ defense for his first touchdown with 9:11 left in the game running through an arm tackle by Casey Matthews before driving into the end zone for his sixth score of the season.
Wes Horton, DE, -3.5
Breakdown: Pressure can be hard to come by against the Eagles due to a combination of their scheme and their offensive line, even for the best of pass rushers, and Horton suffered more than most last night. In another ineffective display Horton was shutout as a pass rusher for the sixth time this season and the fourth time in the last five games, also failing to register a tackle for the third time this season.
Signature Stat: On 133 pass rushes this season Horton has just six pressures (2 Sks, 2 Ht, 2 Hu), only Jacksonville’s designated run stuffer Red Bryant has a lower Pass Rushing Productivity rating than Horton’s 3.8.
Philadelphia Eagles – Performances of Note
Brent Celek, TE, +6.0
Breakdown: After a rocky start to the season with his run blocking against Jacksonville, Celek has hit a fine vein of form with last night his fifth straight positively-graded performance of the season. Contributing as a receiver for the first time in a meaningful way this season, he didn’t let that contribution stop him putting in the dirty work on run and screen plays.
Signature Play: Left the game after injuring his ankle on a 37-yard gain at Q4 12:48, first shrugging off the attentions of Thomas Davis before stiff-arming Thomas DeCoud to work up the left sideline.
Bradley Fletcher, CB, +5.6
Breakdown: Only Buster Skrine has been targeted more than Fletcher has this season. Fletcher put an end to a run of five straight games of surrendering at least 60 yards. Targeted nine times (for the fourth time in 2014) he only surrendered two catches for 18 yards getting his hands to four passes with one of those a pick-six and another chance at an interception spurned late in the game.
Signature Play: Capitalized on a miscommunication and wayward throw for his pick-six at Q2 2:21, gratefully accepting the throw inside of Jerricho Cotchery to run back the score that all but put the game out of Carolina’s reach before half-time.
Jordan Matthews, WR, +3.1
Breakdown: A popular candidate for Offensive Rookie of the Year before the season, this was the sort of display that many have been waiting for from Matthews. Grabbing all but one of his targets aimed at least 10 yards downfield, Matthews still got most of his yards on short targets. The rookie picked up 62 yards after the catch on his four receptions caught within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage.
Signature Play: Exploited a well-designed release from a stack with Zach Ertz at Q2 3:32 to get into space with a de facto lead blocker, breaking upfield away from multiple defenders for his longest gain of the night.
PFF Game Ball
Tight ends are all too easily forgotten when they don’t contribute in the passing game, Brent Celek’s big night as a receiver drew attention to the fine work he has been putting in this season without the ball in his hands.
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