A quick review of the Eagles' 26-10 win over the Dolphins while wondering what to get Andy and Tammy for Christmas:
When Juan Castillo has deserved criticism, which has been often in his first season as the Eagles' defensive coordinator, I have criticized him. And when he's done a good job, I haven't hesitated to point that out either. On Sunday, Juan did a very good job.
He had an aggressive and creative game plan against the Dolphins. Mixed up his coverages, attacked the Dolphins with a variety of blitzes, moved his front four around, occasionally lined up with just two players with their hand on the ground.
The result: they sacked Dolphins quarterbacks Matt Moore and JP Losman nine times, allowed a season-low 11 first downs and 204 yards and held an opponent under 14 points for just the fifth time this season.
The last time the Eagles had nine sacks in a game was Week 3 of the '09 season when they took down Ben Roethlisberger nine times in a 15-6 win over the Steelers. The last time they had more than that was Week 3 of the '07 season when they recorded 10 sacks in a 56-21 win over the Lions.
--Eagles linebackers had just one sack in the first 12 games, but rookies Brian Rolle and Casey Matthews had the first two on Sunday. Matthews, who has played almost exclusively on special teams since being benched in Week 4, played in all of the Eagles' nickel packages Sunday, while Rolle, who is the team's starting weakside linebacker, rotated with Keenan Clayton at the other linebacker spot in nickel.
Rolle's first-quarter sack actually came out of the Eagles' base defense. He read a sprint-out by Moore and came on a delayed blitz, nailing him for a six-yard loss on the play preceding Moore's 16-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Marshall that put the Dolphins ahead, 7-0.
On Matthews' second-quarter sack, the Eagles showed the Dolphins a look that included just two down linemen and left end Jason Babin standing up in the ``A'' gap. The Eagles brought six rushers, including Matthews, on the play.
The sack was the highlight of Matthews' day. While he played more snaps than any other linebacker because the Eagles were in nickel for almost the entire second half, he and Rolle both struggled against the run in the second half when Reggie Bush gained 86 of his 103 rushing yards. Bush had eight runs of eight yards or more in the second half. Seven of those runs came against the Eagles' nickel package.
Rolle also let Bush get away from him on a 16-yard catch-and-run on the Dolphins' second possession. Rolle was more effective as a blitzer. Besides his early sack, he also knocked Moore out of the game late in the third quarter when he came free on a blitz and hit him just as he was releasing the ball. He forced an incompletion and knocked Moore into another player. Moore left the game with concussion symptoms.
Bush is the sixth running back to rush for 100 yards against the Eagles this season. A look at the Eagles' numbers against the run through 13 games:
Rushing yards allowed per game: 115.1
Yards allowed per carry: 4.4
1Q: 95-495 (5.2)
2Q: 73-319 (4.4)
3Q: 78-342 (4.4)
4Q: 93-340 (3.6)
1stD: 184-828 (4.5)
2ndD: 118-500 (4.2)
3rdD: 34-167 (4.9)
4thD: 3-1 (0.3)
First 5 games: 140.2 per game, 5.0 per carry
Last 8 games: 99.4 per game, 4.0 per carry
--The Eagles' 42 sacks are the second most in the league. Only the Ravens have more, with 45. But the Eagles are first in the league in sacks per pass play. Five of their nine sacks against the Dolphins came on first down, and five came in the fourth quarter. A breakdown of the Eagles' 42 sacks by quarter and down:
BY QUARTER BY DOWN
1Q: 7 1stD: 15
2Q: 13 2ndD: 10
3Q: 8 3rdD: 15
4Q: 14 4thD: 14
--Nnamdi Asomugha had another un-Supermanlike day. The cornerback gave up that 16-yard first-quarter touchdown pass to Marshall and later gave up a 24-yard fourth-quarter completion to Brian Hartline. Matt Moore threw a perfect pass to Marshall, but Asomugha appeared to be in position to make a play on it and didn't. Last year with the Raiders, Asomugha gave up just 13 completions the entire season.
Not a particularly good day for the Eagles' offense. Michael Vick completed just 50 percent of his passes, LeSean McCoy managed just 38 yards on 27 carries though he did score two touchdowns, and the offensive line turned in one of its poorest performances in a while. They gave up four sacks for only the second time this season, though Vick and McCoy had a hand in a couple of them. But with the exception of a handful of runs, including McCoy's two short-yardage touchdowns, they didn't do a very good job of blocking for him. Thirteen of his 27 carries went for zero or negative yards. McCoy's yards-per-carry average (1.4) against the Dolphins was the second lowest of his career.
--By my count, Vick, who had four more tipped passes and completed 15 of 30 passes, threw just seven really good balls the entire game. Five came in the first quarter, including a 14-yard completion to DeSean Jackson on the Eagles' first possession and a 13-yard completion to Jeremy Maclin on their second possession that he managed to thread through small windows. He completed a nice 26-yard pass to McCoy on a perfectly executed bootleg left-throwback right play and had another nice throw into a small window on an eight-yard completion for tight end Brent Celek on the Eagles' first scoring drive.
--Vick continues to be impatient in the pocket. While he was pressured several times Sunday, there were other times when he was bolting out of a clean pocket after going through only his first or second progression. A perfect example was a play early in the fourth quarter. The Dolphins only rushed four defenders. They got no inside push at all from the tackles and all he had to do to avoid the outside rush was step up and he could've bought another couple of seconds to find an open receiver. Instead, he took off. He gained just four yards on the first down play and took a lick from Dolphins defensive end Cameron Wake. The same thing happened on a third-and-11 play later in the fourth quarter. Neither his first or second progressions were open. He still had a clean pocket, but got antsy and took off right into pressure and had to throw the ball away.
--The Eagles did manage to convert two of their three red-zone opportunities into touchdowns. Vick completed two of three passes in the red zone, including an eight-yard hitch screen to DeSean Jackson. It was Jackson's first red-zone reception since the first week of the season. Vick has completed just 24 of 46 passes in the red zone this season and has thrown four red-zone interceptions. A look at the Eagles' red-zone receiving numbers this season:
Rec. Yds. TD
Jeremy Maclin 7 50 4
Brent Celek 7 48 2
LeSean McCoy 7 16 2
Jason Avant 4 25 1
DeSean Jackson 2 14 1
Clay Harbor 1 16 1
Steve Smith 1 14 1
Riley Cooper 1 8 1