ReFo: Eagles @ Buccaneers, Week 6
We’ve seen Chip Kelly’s Philadelphia offense with Michael Vick running the show, and this week we got to take a look with Nick Foles ‘under center’. I put under center in inverted commas because the Eagles spend almost the entire time in shotgun, but you get what I mean. Foles faced Bucs QB Mike Glennon, now the starter this season with Josh Freeman sent packing.
Though both passers put up pretty impressive raw statistics, there was a notable difference between the two (which we shall get to later), and in the end the Eagles came out winners as Tampa Bay were unable to get anything going in their final desperate drive needing two scores.
Let’s dive a little deeper and see who stood out.
Philadelphia – Three Performances of Note
Putting it Behind Him
It’s been a rough couple of months for Riley Cooper with the whole racism storm surrounding him, but he broke out with a career day in receiving yardage, and a mark that actually would comprise a decent portion of a full season in any year of his career so far. Cooper was thrown at five times, catching four passes for 120 yards and a touchdown. What will be especially pleasing for him is the variety of catches contained in those four receptions. He scored his touchdown on a deep ball over rookie CB Johnthan Banks, out-muscling him for position before bringing it in for the score. He also broke off a big gain on a short hitch route, making a pair of Bucs miss tackles before scampering up the sideline for a big gain. Who knows where the Eagles’ locker room stands with Cooper these days, but performances like that can’t hurt in building bridges.
Not This End
Fletcher Cox is the big name among the Eagles’ defensive ends and the guy they look to for the big performances, but he was joined in an excellent game this week by Cedric Thornton (+4.0). While almost all of Cox’ +5.1 grade came in pass rushing — he amassed two knockdowns and five hurries — Thornton did his work in the run game, controlling the point of attack and collapsing running lanes all game long. It’s less glamorous work, and usually sets up other defenders making the play instead of himself, but Thornton was a big reason the Bucs couldn’t get a huge amount of success on the ground outside of a couple of plays. The pair of Thornton and Cox each played 47 or more snaps on defense while the rest of the DE rotation combined to play just 48.
The Running Game
It’s becoming clear that Chip Kelly’s offense is all about the run game. They’ll certainly use the run to set up the pass, and they’ve shown already this season that if you over commit to stuffing the run they will take advantage of the single-coverage on the outside and hurt you that way. However, they want to pound the ball all day long, and that is definitely what they are best at. Their offensive line is far better at run blocking than they are in pass protection, with every starter except LT Jason Peters (who picked up an injury) grading at +1.6 or higher in the game. Conversely, only Jason Kelce at +0.9 was able to escape a negative grade for pass protection despite the run helping them out. It’s only the fine blocking from the line, and the sheer weight of touches that is holding LeSean McCoy back from some very impressive grades. Again he was shifty, sudden, and effective on his 25 carries, rushing for 116 yards and making five people miss along the way. He was a touch unfortunate on his fumble too, finding the ball flying from his grasp as he was flipped airborne by the tackle of two Bucs.
Tampa Bay – Three Performances of Note
Tape from this game should be sent to everybody that still argues Davin Joseph is a top quality player. His -4.1 grade represents a player that was beaten in every facet of the game, surrendering a sack, two knockdowns, and two further hurries for a -2.5 pass blocking grade and then combining that with a -2.9 run blocking grade for a complete performance of ineptitude. To be fair to him, he wasn’t alone, with C Jeremy Zuttah (-6.7) and Ted Larsen (-4.6) completing an unholy trinity on the interior of the Tampa Bay offensive line that played poorly enough to practically prohibit a win. The trio was abused all day long by Philadelphia, especially the defensive ends, and they made life difficult for a young quarterback who felt consistent pressure and was unable to rely on a strong running game. Zuttah and Larsen are relative journeymen players, but Joseph is a Pro-Bowl guard, and held up by many as a shining example of the position. Players like that should not play at this level.
We all know about Revis Island, but at the moment Gerald McCoy finds himself on an isolated island in the Tampa Bay defensive line with little help around him. He was excellent again in this game, with even All-Pro OG Evan Mathis struggling to contain him at times, but there was little help coming from anywhere else. McCoy notched two knockdowns and three hurries, which is a third of the total pressure the Bucs were able to record in the game and almost matched the combined total of the rest of the D-line rotation who combined for six total pressures. He was occasionally shifted from the point of attack as he shot gaps, but McCoy needs to be given some help by the Buccaneers if he is to be as effective as he could be.
Bypassing Revis Island
Part of what made Revis so great with the Jets is that they would use him almost exclusively in man coverage to track the opponent’s top receiver. Even when he didn’t track anybody he was still isolated on a single receiver to take him out of the game and allow the defense to focus on everything else. Tampa Bay seems to have just plugged him into their defensive scheme and changed nothing, essentially wasting arguably the best cornerback talent in the game. Revis played very well in the game, but he was thrown at just twice, allowing only 6 receiving yards. When the Eagles wanted to free themselves from his coverage they simply ran routes that broke out of his zone. Revis may be perfectly capable of playing zone, but the rest of the Tampa Bay defense seems to struggle with it, leaving Revis to fume at the safety combination of Goldson and Barron when he passed off players to empty spaces as they were moved out of position. Revis may still be an island, but unfortunately now nobody is coming to get stranded there in the first place.
– When Nick Foles felt pressure his passer rating was still 106.6 (down from 145.8), but when Mike Glennon felt pressure his rating fell off a cliff: 11.8 down from 124.9
– Bradley Fletcher did a good job on Vincent Jackson, limiting him to just one catch of 24 yards into his coverage.
– Lavonte David was all over the field, earning a sack, knockdown and hurry as a blitzer and making seven stops from eight tackles.
PFF Game Ball
Fletcher Cox and Cedric Thornton have good cases at DE, but with both showing well I’m giving the game ball to Riley Cooper, who’s TD was the big difference between the two sides in the end.
Follow Sam on Twitter: @PFF_Sam