Man Up: Eagles can't get DeSean going
Here's the player-by-player breakdown of the Eagles' offensive performance Tuesday night against the Vikings.
Before I get to the player-by-player breakdown, a couple notes.
First of all, big thanks to reader Joe H. who got me video of the first 7-plus minutes of the Eagles-Vikings game. I had a DVR malfunction, reached out for help and Joe came through. If it weren't for him, this would be a pretty weak Man Up.
Below you'll find notes on every offensive player that had a part in Tuesday night's loss. But it's worth noting that Eagles coaches had their fingerprints all over this one. The players appeared to be caught completely off-guard by the Vikings' blitzing and didn't adjust until the second half.
There were plays where Minnesota looked like it knew exactly what was coming. That's been the case quite a bit in the past two weeks. There's no question in my mind that the Vikings were the more prepared team, which is really inexcusable considering what each team had at stake.
Sean McDermott has been criticized for his zone blitzing where Trent Cole and other linemen drop back into coverage. But the Vikings dropped linemen into coverage all game, and did so successfully. At other times, they overloaded one side to the point that the Eagles couldn't get everyone blocked.
The offensive line didn't play well, but pass protection was a team problem. Coaching and preparation was a factor. The running backs did not do a good enough job picking up blitzers. And Michael Vick needs to be better at recognizing pressure and getting rid of the ball. The offense just looked confused and uncomfortable for much of the game.
Some things to keep in mind as you read below:
Michael Vick- He turned it over three times - two fumbles and an interception. I counted three more occasions where Vick could have been picked off. The significance of the fumbles cannot be overstated. Minnesota's offense had four punts and a fumble in the first half. The Antoine Winfield sack/fumble return for a touchdown completely shifted momentum and tied the game at 7. The second fumble was big too. The Eagles trailed by 10 and were in field-goal range when Vick coughed it up. The offense actually moved the ball better in the second half. The Eagles drove into Vikings territory on four of five second-half drives. I'll have the complete breakdown of his performance as a passer in Mike Check tomorrow.
LeSean McCoy- I'm usually not a Run the ball! guy, but he needed more touches. McCoy finished with 13 carries for 44 yards and four catches for 41. Good strength to pick up 5 yards on a 4th-and-1 in the fourth. And McCoy picked up 28 yards on a screen pass. He was up and down as a blocker. There were multiple times where McCoy identified the right Vikings defender to pick up, but just got overpowered. That happened against linebacker Chad Greenway and E.J. Henderson. Two such plays led directly to sacks, and one forced Vick to escape for 6 yards. McCoy had other good moments as a blocker: on the 22-yard completion to Brent Celek and on a 9-yard completion to Jeremy Maclin.
Jerome Harrison- Didn't see him on the field for a single snap.
Owen Schmitt- He played 19 snaps. Outstanding lead block on McCoy's 10-yard run at the start of the second. The Eagles will need their running backs to be virtually flawless in blitz pickup if they want to make noise in the playoffs.
DeSean Jackson- Not a good game for Jackson. He was targeted 12 times but finished with just two catches for 32 yards. Jackson got open deep early, but Vick overthrew him. The Eagles tried a toss to him in the first, but Jared Allen blew it up. They tried a WR screen, but Jackson dropped it. There were several occasions where the coverage was good, and it looked like Vick was trying to force the ball to him. There were also instances where it looked like Jackson had a shot, but was outmuscled by the Vikings defensive back. I usually try not to read too much into body language, but it was hard not to notice Jackson's. Throwing his hands in the air, shaking his head, looking visibly frustrated after Vick's pass intended for him in the end zone was broken up. Jackson was limited to three catches and 14 yards in last year's playoff loss to the Cowboys. The Eagles need him and Vick to get back on the same page.
Jeremy Maclin- He finished with six catches for 74 yards and also drew a 24-yard pass interference penalty on the first scoring drive. Maclin did a nice job to keep his feet in bounds on a 3rd-and-15 completion for 28 yards in the first. He showed good burst on a screen that went for 14 yards in the third. And he picked up 1 on a 3rd-and-9 in the fourth.
Jason Avant- Quiet game for Avant. He had two catches for 16 yards and was targeted four times. Avant picked up a first down to set up the field-goal attempt at the end of the first half.
Riley Cooper- He was on the field for 14 snaps, but Vick didn't throw his way.
Chad Hall- Unless I missed something, he didn't get on the field except for special teams.
Brent Celek- He has 42 catches on the season, and 10 of them (23.8 percent) came on Tuesday. Celek had a nice catch and run for 12 yards and a first down in the first quarter. He got open for a 22-yard completion at the end of the first half and made a decent block on the 28-yard screen to McCoy.
Clay Harbor- Great job to keep his feet in-bounds on the first-quarter touchdown. Harbor played 12 snaps.
Winston Justice- He had trouble on a couple occasions, but was fine overall. Justice was beat by Ray Edwards in the second as Vick escaped and ran for 7 yards. He gave up a sack to Letroy Guion in the fourth.
Max Jean-Gilles- Ups and downs for Jean-Gilles. Kevin Williams beat him in the fourth, leading to a Jared Allen sack. Jean-Gilles was beat badly on the 4th-and-1 carry that almost turned into a disaster, but McCoy powered his way for a first down. The postives were his blocks on McCoy's 10-yard run in the second and 5-yard run in the third. Jean-Gilles also did a good job taking out Winfield on a 6-yard completion to Celek in the third. Winfield was much less of a factor in the second half as a blitzer.
Mike McGlynn- He struggled more than any other Eagles offensive lineman. Or at least that's how it looked from my perspective. Williams went right past him on the first play of the game as Vick escaped and ran for 14 yards. Williams went past him again on a stunt and got a hit on Vick on third down of the first drive. McGlynn was called for holding in the third.
Todd Herremans- The Eagles still struggle with stunts. There was confusion on the interior in the third as Jimmy Kennedy delivered perhaps the biggest hit of the night on Vick as he air-mailed a throw to Celek. Herremans looked like he was trying to pass Kennedy off to McGlynn, but McGlynn stayed with the guy he was initially blocking. Herremans was called for a false start on 3rd-and-10 in the second. He made a nice block on McCoy's 10-yard run in the first.
Nick Cole- He came in as an extra lineman down near the goal line in the first. Hey, here's my out-of-the-box idea of the day. Why not bring Cole in as a sixth lineman more often? That takes a player away from going out into his route, but the Eagles could still send Jackson, Maclin, McCoy and Celek into pass patterns. Wouldn't those guys be able to get open regardless of coverage if Vick had time? Has any team ever played with six linemen consistently? Just a thought.
Jason Peters- Jared Allen had a big game. Sometimes that was Peters' fault. Other times, it wasn't. He didn't do enough to slow Allen down on the toss in the first quarter, but it looked like Avant was supposed to help him out. Allen would often use his speed to rush outside, and since Vick takes such deep drops, pressure would get to him. However, as Cris Collinsworth pointed out, that sometimes opened running lanes for Vick.
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