It’s tough to feel great about a team with Super Bowl aspirations beating a team it should. Obviously it’s a good thing, as Andy Reid’s track record on opening days is poor, and the Rams provided a number of problems the Eagles looked to struggle to solve. So how did they do? Let’s take a look…
The positives: DeSean was DeSean, Shady played like we expect him to, the defense got after Bradford, and the Eagles got out with a win and no major injuries, which is better than a lot of teams can say right now.
The negatives: The offensive line was over-matched, the linebackers stink, and Vick needs to play better.
To the tape….
First thing that pops out to me is that Reid won the toss and elected to receive. This team is built to score fast and then play with the lead, so it’s understandable why he would want to start with the ball.
On the first play the Rams are already wary of Vick rolling out to his left, DE James Hall is lined up wide of Jason Peters and is left alone to be blocked by McCoy. Any other QB and Hall blows through McCoy and gets him, but this isn’t any other QB. Hall comes a step forward then immediately holds contain. Vick feels pressure when there wasn’t much and nearly steps up into Hall’s grasp. The Rams stopped doing this in the 2nd and 3rd quarter, and late in the 3rd Vick would break out a couple of runs tot he left. On the next possession, they went back to it, or just completely overloaded the left side, and Vick didn’t scramble or roll to his left nearly as much.
Why is Vick running here? Robbins is pressuring him, but all he needs to do is roll or shuffle to his left and avoid the pressure.
He’s gotten out of the pocket and now he’s got no one near him that can do anything. He’s got time and space to set up and throw. Yes, he got 9 yards, and that’s a good result, but the process is all wrong. It was a needless run, Vick took a completely unnecessary risk by running. But that’s who he is, and that’s why he’s going to get hurt this year.
On the direct snap to McCoy, Howard Mudd’s preference for athletic lineman shows up: DeVan and Kelce get out fast to their blocks to give Shady the room to convert the 3rd down. And it’s to the right. This is what I was talking about with in-game chess matches. The Rams know that Vick will roll to his left a lot, so they load up on that side. The Eagles know they will do this and call a play that will punish the Rams over-pursuit. The Eagles then go back to the left with McCoy on the next play to no avail, Shady has to cut it to the right for minimal gain. Spagnuolo isn’t dumb, he’s not going to overreact to one play. Game theory in action.
Jason Peters gets called for holding James Hall, Hall wound up making a tackle for an 8 yard loss. That’s the Jason Peters we’ve become accustomed to.
Here’s that Steven Jackson TD run. Just great. It appears to me that Casey Matthews decided he wanted to get blocked on this play. He runs right at C Jason Brown. Moise Fokou gets completely bowled over by RG Harvey Dahl. Pathetic. Jamar Chaney gets rolled by rookie TE Lance Kendricks. All three Eagles linebackers played as if it was their job to get eaten up by their blockers instead of shed them and make a tackle. It’s going to be a long season if this doesn’t get fixed. Compounding matters, Kurt Coleman got blocked by Danny Amendola.
On Sam Bradford’s first pass attempt, all of the linebackers and both safeties bit on play action. If Bradford had decent receivers, it’s a big play rather than 3 yards. Later in the quarter, at the 2:07 mark, the Rams went play action and all eight defenders in the box bit. Let’s take a look:
But maybe that’s out of respect for Steven Jackson. First play of the 3rd quarter, the Eagles again with eight in the box, Cadillac Williams in, Rams again with play action, and they all bite. Nope, it ain’t Jackson.
On the 41 yard pass to Jackson, Vick had all kinds of time due to the sheer number of blockers. Herremans got aid on Chris Long with a chip from McCoy, Kelce and Mathis double teamed Fred Robbins, Peters and Celek doubled Hall. Only DeVan blocked one on one, and even then Kecle came back with a late chip after Robbins was sealed off. Oh, and the throw should have been intercepted.
The McCoy TD was another part the chess match and a thing of beauty. The Rams had been all over the Eagles offensive line, and heavy to the left. Reid made them pay with a screen to the right. Celek runs a clearing route to the left, which he half assed, moving the LB covering him completely out of the way and bringing the safety too far over to recover. McCoy sets up shop behind Herremans, James Laurinaitus reacts and anticipates McCoy going to the flat, because that is the Eagles counter to the Rams being heavy on the left. But McCoy doesn’t, and Laurinaitus has taken himself out of the play. Jackson and Maclin keep the CBs away and Jason Avant runs a slant route that allows him to seal up the other safety. The CB covering Avant has dropped into a zone.
The speed and agility of McCoy are on full display, as he beats everyone to the endzone.
Skipping ahead…. Cadillac Willams rushes for 15 yards when yet again all three linebackers are washed out of the play by their blockers and Kurt Coleman was sealed by Danny Amendola. Things are improving though, none of them were pancaked!
The Sam Bradford fumble was simply Darryl Tapp beating his man. Parker stiff arming Fokou was hilarious.
How much respect did the Rams give the Eagles pass rush? They ran 33 plays out of shotgun, exactly half the plays they ran. In the fourth quarter, they went exclusively shotgun.
Eagles caught a break on the 19 yard pass to Bajema. Somewhere there was a blown assignment but Bajema can’t keep his balance and falls down for no yards after the catch. He probably beats Coleman in a footrace.
Next play Cadillac Williams gets 11 yards when once again the linebackers are swallowed up by their blockers. Chaney got bowled over, Matthews again can’t break his block. The tackle was made by Mike Patterson, who was carrying a blocker on his back the whole time. Great job by Patterson with relentless pursuit, awful job by the linebackers.
Of course, on most good runs by any team, the line does its job blocking. That’s why the particular play is effective. This play is worth showing because the guy furthest away from the play, who carries that blocker with him the whole time, is the one who makes the tackle. Not the 5 defenders Williams runs by. That needs to be fixed, and fast.
On the next play after Babin’s first sack, in which Roger Saffold simply never blocked him, the Rams ran it up the middle with fullback Brit Miller. This is Miller’s third year in the league and this was his first career rushing attempt. He got 12 yards. Casey Matthews wasn’t even chewed up by blockers, he instead just ran into a pile of other Eagles defenders being blocked. Matthew is glaringly not ready to be a starting middle linebacker in the NFL.
There’s a lot to work on, because on Sunday the Eagles face the Falcons, who are going to be pretty fired up coming off a butt whooping and playing at home, where they are a different team than on the road.