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Les Bowen: Eagles Further Review: Why red zone's a dead end

Bear with me here while we break down the Eagles' red-zone snaps Monday night: LeSean McCoy run, minus-1. Interception run back for TD.

Eagles quarterback Michael Vick. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)
Eagles quarterback Michael Vick. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)Read more

Bear with me here while we break down the Eagles' red-zone snaps Monday night:

LeSean McCoy run, minus-1. Interception run back for TD.

Next time down there: Bryce Brown run, no gain. Shovel pass to McCoy, no gain. Incomplete to DeSean Jackson.

Next time: Throwaway in end zone. Sack loses 11 yards. Incomplete to Jeremy Maclin at the back of the end zone.

Next time: Incomplete to Jackson. McCoy run no gain. Six-yard completion to Brent Celek. Completion to Clay Harbor, no gain, play wiped out anyway because Demetress Bell was illegally downfield. Incomplete to McCoy. False start on Bell. Sack loses 7 yards, takes Eagles out of red zone. Pass to Celek gains 14, gets them back into red zone, but he fumbles ball away.

Next time: Spike. Incomplete to Harbor. Incomplete to Avant. Incomplete to Celek.

So, the Eagles snapped the ball inside the Saints' 20-yard line 19 times, if you include the Bell penalties as snaps. They gained yardage once. The only touchdown scored on an Eagles red-zone play was scored by the Saints.

This is historic incompetence by everyone involved, starting with Marty Mornhinweg, who calls the plays, and dialed up just three runs (for minus-1 yard) out of those 19 snaps, on a night when the Eagles ran for 221 yards.

Sure, much of the blame falls on the offensive line, but there were throws Michael Vick could have made, and I'm sure Celek would agree that the o-line didn't cause him to deflect the pick to a defender, or fumble.

No wonder Andy Reid sounded dispirited Monday in his day-after news conference. Nineteen snaps. One positive play. The season is half over. Where do you start, in trying to fix that?

"You start with me and the play calls, the design of the plays against the secondaries we're seeing in the last few games and the fronts," Reid said. "Then there is the execution of those plays, you go and look at that. We've had some misses, some sacks, some turnovers.

"If it's a blitz, make sure we get the ball out quickly, make sure we have protection. You see zero-blitz, you got to know one man can't be taken care of, and the ball has got to come out.

"You just need to punch one in. That's what you need. It ends up being, if you get one in, then things end up going in your direction."

You'd think, in 19 snaps, one would go for a TD, just through random chance.


* That gimmick play on the kickoff return, where Brandon Boykin tossed to Riley Cooper, who'd been lying down in the end zone to try to fool the Saints? Worked perfectly, Cooper streaking 94 yards down the sideline for a touchdown, except for the part about the toss being a forward pass, the points coming off the board, and the Eagles getting the ball at their 3. Kind of summed up the whole Bobby April experience for me.

* Fletcher Cox got just 25 snaps, with Mike Patterson back in the defensive-tackle rotation for 15 snaps. Cox didn't do much with 'em. Looks to me like all three defensive rookies who started the season so well - Cox, Mychal Kendricks, Brandon Boykin - are sagging now. It's a much longer year than they had in college.

* Drew Brees targeted tight end Jimmy Graham a whopping 11 times, completed eight for 72 yards and a TD. Kendricks had a hand in that, but so did DeMeco Ryans. I don't know if the linebackers were really covering a lot better earlier in the season, or if it just looked that way, because opposing QBs were under more pressure. BTW, Brees in the second half: 12 of 13 for 129 yards.

* I'm pretty sure Marcus Vick will get his wish at the end of the season. Until then, he should shut the hell up. Marcus was still justifying his original tweet early Tuesday, hours after Mike Vick vowed to get that sorted out. It's amazing that a former pro athlete can be so clueless about what is and isn't helpful.

* Overall, I don't think the Eagles have quit on Andy Reid, but there are some guys on that defense who've sure quit on somebody. Reid? Todd Bowles? Themselves?


DeSean Jackson has 100 receiving yards in each of his two career appearances vs. New Orleans. The Eagles have lost both those games.


That you could run for 221 yards (on 29 carries) and lose? According to the encyclopedic Reuben Frank, of, that last happened to the Eagles in 1990.


I spent a few minutes with Demetress Bell in the locker room Monday night, partly because he was there and willing to talk. With Todd Herremans out pending the results of an MRI on an ankle/foot tendon, Bell presumably will get another shot at a starting role, despite a string of brutal, penalty-riddled appearances.

Though if Danny Watkins comes back from his ankle problem this week, I guess the Birds could move rookie Dennis Kelly out to right tackle. Kelly hasn't been great, but he seems less likely to, say, kill a drive by taking two red-zone penalties in three snaps, the way Bell did in New Orleans.

Bell seemed numb, almost past the point of despair, after the game. "I don't know. I shouldn't have had penalties. I guess I wasn't focused," he said.

Playing with a patchwork group, if necessary, "is our job," he said, "it's what we're supposed to do."

What I don't get about Bell: Apparently, he was an effective starter in Buffalo when he was healthy. And Howard Mudd is this great o-line guru. So, if Mudd is such a wonderful teacher, how is Bell so much worse a player here, midway through the season?

Lack of talent is one thing. Can't really blame Mudd for the fact that Dallas Reynolds was a 3-year practice-squad guy, thrust into a role he apparently can't handle. But Bell has size, athleticism, experience as an NFL starter. I don't get why putting him into a game has to end in disaster.

One thing I definitely will blame Mudd for: The Eagles are so thin on the o-line because they got rid of a bunch of guys who didn't fit his system. Austin Howard, Winston Justice, Mike McGlynn and A.Q. Shipley all are playing elsewhere. That's incredible, when you look at where the Eagles' line is now.