Eagles Film Study: O-line far from finished product
December 11, 2012, 7:00 am
Here’s what we learned about the Eagles’ offensive line Sunday against Tampa Bay: It’s an improved unit but not even close to reaching its potential.
The offensive line looked more unified -- and therefore more productive -- against Carolina and Dallas, especially as rookie halfback Bryce Brown broke NFL rookie rushing records and as Nick Foles managed to get sacked just once in each game.
But the Buccaneers are young and extremely athletic up front. They frequently stunted and moved around at the line of scrimmage to avoid getting pushed around by the Eagles’ linemen. The Bucs were overpowering at times with basic four-man rushes and really brought the heat with some six- and seven-man schemes.
Left tackle King Dunlap and right tackle Dennis Kelly had their hands full all game against defensive ends Michael Bennett, Da’Quan Bowers, Daniel Te’o-Nesheim and Aaron Morgan. On the inside, defensive tackle Gerald McCoy gave center Dallas Reynolds fits.
Bowers beat Dunlap and McCoy stunted past Reynolds on the third play from scrimmage to drop Foles for a 10-yard loss, setting an early tone. Foles was sacked six times, second highest for an Eagles quarterback this season.
The Bucs were also stout against the run, which was no surprise since they carried the NFL’s top-ranked rush defense into the game. The Eagles tried to spread out their offense to keep Tampa from crowding the box but it didn’t work. Even with just six-man fronts the Bucs swarmed Brown, who had few lanes to run through.
The Bucs were in nickel on Brown’s first carry, but Bennett beat Dunlap inside and Bowers overpowered Kelly to slow down Brown in the backfield. Bennett made the tackle four yards behind scrimmage.
On the next play, against another nickel formation, the Eagles tried to run Brown out of the shotgun. The Bucs blitzed slot corner Anthony Gaiter, who raced past receiver Jason Avant and then Dunlap to make the initial hit on Brown five yards behind scrimmage. Brown slipped away but was slowed up and held to no gain.
Foles’ mobility and pocket awareness helped him escape from at least a half-dozen other sacks. On 2nd-and-6 of the game-winning drive, Kelly allowed Bennett to breeze past him en route to an eight-yard sack that set up 3rd-and-14 with two minutes to play. The Bucs then rushed five with a delayed safety blitz. Kelly and right guard Jake Scott were each pushed back to collapse the pocket around Foles, who avoided the rush by stepping up and hitting Jeremy Maclin over the middle for 23 yards.
Tampa Bay entered the game with just 18 sacks. The Bucs increased their total by one-third, which doesn’t bode well for the Eagles in Thursday night’s game against the Bengals. Cincinnati leads the NFL with 42 sacks, much of them coming from defensive tackle Geno Atkins, who has 10.5.
Here are some other observations after reviewing the film of the Eagles’ 23-21 win over Tampa:
Foles against the blitz
The Bucs threw also sorts of pressure schemes at Foles and the rookie did a nice job picking them up and picking them apart. He completed 4 of 5 passes against a five-man rush, 5 of 8 against a six-man rush and 1 of 3 against a seven-man rush. In total, he was 10 of 16 (63 percent) when Tampa blitzed. Against basic four-man rushes, Foles completed 23 of 35 passes (66 percent).
The ditching of Jim Washburn’s wide nine in favor of Tommy Brasher’s read-and-react scheme is probably why the Eagles weren’t nearly as vulnerable on screens or short passes to the flat.
Without defensive linemen surging upfield, the Bucs couldn’t execute slow-developing plays or misdirections. Defensive end Brandon Graham tackled running back Doug Martin on a first-quarter screen that held Tampa to a four-yard gain on 1st-and-10. In the second quarter, defensive tackle Fletcher Cox dropped Martin for a six-yard loss on a 1st-and-20 screen.
While we’re on the subject, the Bucs lined up in the wide nine on an Eagles’ 3rd-and-4 at the Tampa 49-yard line with two minutes to go before the half. Morgan and Bennett beat Dunlap and Kelly to converge on Foles about 10 yards behind scrimmage, but Foles took a few steps forward, rolled right and kept his eyes downfield to strike a 39-yard pass to Avant, who was left wide open as safety Mark Barron came up to play Foles’ scramble.
Missed sack, wide-open receiver, big play downfield. It’s like the Bucs had stolen a page from the Washburn playbook.
No turnovers (again)
You almost get the impression that the Eagles are destined to go the rest of the season without forcing another turnover. They had a few chances to get their first interception since the Detroit game on Oct. 14 but came up empty.
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie batted down an underthrown pass to Vincent Jackson in the first quarter that easily could have been picked off. In the second quarter, a Josh Freeman pass that was tipped at scrimmage by Trent Cole floated toward the left sideline and was caught by Mychal Kendricks -- until he barreled into Curtis Marsh and lost handle of the ball.
Even still, the ball floated in the air again, this toward safety Colt Anderson -- who lunged for the ball but couldn’t secure the catch. Later in the second, Kendricks jumped in front of Dallas Clark in the right flat to put him in position for an easy interception. He just dropped it.
Kendricks missed another potential pick-six in the third when he jumped in front of Freeman’s terrible pass to fullback Erik Lorig in the right flat. Kendricks couldn’t make the shoestring catch.
Face it: They’re cursed.
Anderson, starting for an injured Kurt Coleman, made some nice stops in run defense. His best tackle came against Martin on 1st-and-10 at the Tampa 33, when Anderson came all the way from deep to slam Martin at scrimmage for no gain.
In fairness, the entire secondary looked more comfortable without having to execute difficult run reads behind the wide nine. Coleman might have also tackled better under the new scheme.
Asomugha vs. Marsh
Credit cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha for coming back into the game after he went head over heels and fell hard on his upper back and neck area, but he once again struggled in man coverage and didn’t make any play on the ball in the end zone on Mike Williams’ one-yard touchdown catch. Earlier on the drive, Asomugha had a chance to break up a 13-yard pass from Freeman to Williams but also didn’t make an aggressive attempt to break up the pass.
Marsh played 18 snaps -- his most this season -- and looked good at times. He got burned early by Jackson on a big gain but hung with Jackson later to help Fletcher Cox pick up a coverage sack. On the next play, Marsh jumped high to break up a pass from Freeman to Williams deep down the left side. He deserves more time.
Kendricks blew up slot receiver Chris Owosu and pulling left guard Ted Larsen to slow up Martin on a 3rd-and-1 pitch that allowed Vinny Curry to come from the backside and make the tackle for a loss of one yard. … Te’o-Nesheim badly beat Dunlap with a speed rush for his six-yard sack. … The offensive line did a nice job against Tampa’s seven-man rush on the pass from Foles that Avant one-handed on the sideline, one of the greatest catches you’ll ever see. … Foles’ three-yard scramble on 4th-and-1 on the game-winning drive was made possible by left guard Evan Mathis’ seal block on Te’o-Nesheim, the only Bucs defender who could have stopped Foles behind scrimmage.
E-mail Geoff Mosher at email@example.com.
1 reply to this topic
Posted 11 December 2012 - 08:56 AM
Posted 11 December 2012 - 09:12 AM
Nice article now please review all Tampa scores second half and Grade Nate Allen who was not mentioned in your article? He could of helped Asomugha in corner but jogged over late after play to busy guarding grass again....would of been a nice play if he crashes into WR same time as ball gets there or jumps in front to help make a play.....nope that only happens on other teams....Marsh did have a sweet jump to break up pass play down side line....at least rookie Kendricks breaking up pass plays all season. Why was Chaney covering Vincent Jackson one play in pass coverage??? which Nate Allen muffs tackle at goal line. At least Bowles moving player's around like the LB switch, so hoping for a safety switch as well! Just love the play where Allen trying to tackle again on his knee's must practice that a lot in drills??? hate to be so negative did see a lot of good things from the whole team, sweet Win in the end!!!! Think 4 of the 5 starting O-Line still out of line up...yeah current O-Line a work in progress you think??? Peters, Herrmans, Kelce, Watkins....Mathis only starter....so O-Line play not a surprise, Peters,Kelce, Herrmans all going down, hell that hurt....Jake Scott not bad in there.....So Dunlap ends up better than Bell, Dallas just not a strong blocker, and a rookie in Kelly at RT who is not bad for just being throw in there ....not sure if Watkins played Sunday.....did love the Washburn reference and the 39 yard completed pass to boot...LMAO....took two seasons and two DC's to figure out that Philly Gaff!!!! AR I prefer a greater push up the Middle from Excellent DT play any day and DE to contain, QB forced back or out the sides, then the sacks come or meet RB in backfield! Patterson out of Line up just killed us..Big Boy tires out those Guards and Centers for your fresh guys...missed him didn't ya!!!! GOD what a joy to see Patterson take down Cam Newton for a sack....people wonder what happened to D-Line play this year, clueless....with 3 games to go why not throw in Marsh, will give up in tackling ability, but would love to see Anderson and Coleman at the Safeties spots for one game....Cincy will be a better challenge and test this week for sure!!! Like what I see so far in Foles but not surprised he threw for 60% completions in college behind sub-par O-Lines....long ball needs work, protection needed to make those plays work, tall boy needs space to step up and set those feet....Bryce Brown for Assante SWEET,SWEET.....now if Marty can figure out what a FB is and Run North/ South....LOL....and how to utilize play action.....Hell MM clueless for years....LMAO!!!! So with 7 rookies of 2012 draft playing a lot this year and a shot at 7-9 what have we learned??? LMAO!!!! After watching 39 season's yeah the brutality is justified!!! My 1st QB with this Team was Roman Gabriel....1973....can I get A SB win in my Life Time, on my Bucket list at this point!!!! LMAO!!!!