Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Dallas - Game Review ... Offense & Overview


Where do you start with a classic like this? Great game, horrible ending.

The Eagles played brilliantly in the 1st half and led 30-24. The Cowboys were the better team after halftime and won the game. We've seen this dynamic before. In 2006 the Eagles led the Giants 24-7 at halftime and lost the game in OT. Our offense can get into a rhythm and be really good, but then goes flat for seemingly no reason. A mistake here or there and that's it.

Can't be too mad at Donovan or the offense when we lose the game 41-37. Clearly a loss like that is on the defense. The lack of a pass rush was compounded by sloppy coverage. We did play the run well for most of the night. Marion Barber broke off a couple of good runs after halftime, but never took control of the game. The problem is that 3rd down would roll around and we couldn't stop them. Dallas was 6 of 10 on 3rd downs. That really killed us.

My immediate reaction is to be mad at Donovan for a couple of key mistakes. His sloppy handoff to Westy killed a drive that was already in scoring range. Then Donovan played poorly on the final drive. However…we scored 37 points. It isn't fair to blame him. We had a 3 point lead with 9 minutes to go in the game. The defense has to step up and hold Dallas to a FG or outright stop them.

Don't be too hard on the defense. Dallas has a great offense. Our D only gave up more than 28 points twice last year, once to Dallas and once to the Pats. Let's see how the guys do this weekend against PIT.


* We won the field position battle. I think the one drive they started inside the 5 skewed that stat.

* We won the TOP battle. Once again, TOP can be the most misleading stat in football.

* We really focused on pass protection. Andy and Marty were very creative. They kept backs in to block some of the time. They kept in TEs. They even used WRs to block. We ran a lot of bunch sets, where WRs line up close to each other and close to the formation. We did this so they wouldn't give blitzers open space to run in. We also had them chip on DEs and LBs. There were times when Avant and Baskett blocked initially, then released into a pass route. Where the hell was this game plan when Winston Justice needed it?

* Ran draw plays from the shotgun a few times. Spread out the Dallas D. This was done for effect and to set up a fake. More on that later.

* Dallas had 3 OL at least 5 yards downfield on the TE screen to Bennett. The officials will give you a couple of yards (we get away with that all the time), but 5? Very generous of the zebras.

* Both OLs got away with a lot of holding.

* We had 14 points off turnovers. Big help.

* This was a nightmare game for Jim Johnson. We gave up pass plays of 72, 42, 32, and 25. We had poor Safety play on 3 of those. We didn't register a sack. We couldn't stop them on 3rd down or in the Red Zone.

* Our offense did execute in the Red Zone. We were 3 of 5.

* Owens caught 3 passes in the first half, but none in the 2nd.


* DeSean Jackson catches a bomb and is headed straight for the endzone. Easy 61-yard TD…except...he drops the ball casually at the 1-yard line. WTF???? Celebrate after you score!!! EaglesNation was ready for blood. Luckily the mistake didn't cost us. Westy went over the top for a short TD run and all's well that ends well.

Back to the play itself, which was beautiful. We lined up with a TE on each side. The WR to the left was tight to the formation. DeSean was off to the right, slightly close to the formation. Westy was the RB. We lined up shotgun and Donovan faked to Westy. McNabb then went back a couple of steps and unleashed a perfect pass to Jackson. Hit him in stride at the 10-yard line. Just hold onto the damn ball, Peanut.

* We ran a WR screen to Westy. He lined up wide left with Baskett and Avant inside of him. Westy takes a step inside at the snap and the other guys go upfield to block. The timing is crucial. They can’t block until he’s caught the ball. The play worked perfectly and gave us a short TD. We ran a variation of this last year in Dallas. Didn’t work. We also ran it at NYG in 2006. I think that one worked.

* Dallas had a possession start inside the 5. Tony Romo fumbled the ball as he attempted a handoff. He picked up the ball and started to his left. Dawk was attacking the line at the snap to play the run. He nailed Romo and the ball popped loose. Gocong got on it for our first defensive TD since 2006.

* McNabb and Westy had a couple of botched handoffs. The first was caused by defensive penetration. Brian was able to fall on the ball and keep the drive alive. The second was due to McNabb double pumping the handoff. I don't know what exactly caused that. McNabb was watching the WR coming on a fake End Around. Of all the times to have a 1/2 second brain lapse. We were at the DAL 33. They recovered the fumble and then marched downfield to score the go-ahead TD.

* 2nd/22 from the DAL 46 late in the 3rd quarter. McNabb gets pressured and moves up in the pocket. Ware comes after him so Donovan goes right. As he approaches the line of scrimmage, McNabb underhands the ball to Westy, 7 yards downfield. Brian gets an additional 10 running after the catch. Tack on 15 more with a facemask penalty. All that gave us 1st/10 at the DAL 15. Key play for us.

* The final drive: We moved the ball out to our 48 with a couple of runs and a facemask penalty. Donovan got sacked on 1st down, setting up 2nd/13. He was about to throw the ball over the middle and felt Ellis about to hit him. Taking the sack was probably smart instead of risking the ball getting knocked loose or deflected. 2nd down was a downfield attempt to Avant. Jason didn't look all that open. Donovan had room to run and should have taken off downfield to make 3rd down more manageable. 3rd/13...Donovan dropped back and looked downfield. He didn't see anyone and drifted to his right. Ware chased and Donovan stupidly took a sack. He should have run upfield to get a yard or two and stepped out or thrown the ball away. Instead he lost yardage and gave us 4th/17. We tried the hook and lateral play, but ran it too close to the sideline and Westy went out of bounds short of the line to make. Not a good drive.



DONOVAN – Played brilliantly for 3 quarters. Got sloppy in the 4th Qtr and it cost us. For most of the game he played like a great QB. He threw the ball well. He used all of his weapons. Donovan dumped the ball off at times, but also threw downfield. He hit DeSean in stride for a big play. Almost connected with Greg Lewis for a huge play. Didn't focus on any one receiver. Was able to play small ball when needed and move the chains.

Ran the ball 5 times for 20 yards. Scrambled in and around the pocket on many other plays. His legs were a big help in this game.

*Good read on short pass to Buck. Went through his progression and got the ball to the open guy.
*Threw a beautiful pass to DeSean to set up the final FG of the half. Sat in the pocket for several seconds and gave his guys a chance to get open.
*Had DeSean open on a slant on the final play of the half, but was looking to the right side and didn’t see him.
*Overthrew Westy on late 3rd down. Ball was a foot too high or we’d have gotten the 1st.


WESTY – Solid game. Ran for a pair of TDs and caught a scoring pass. Best run of the night may have been a draw play that he bounced outside to the left. Got tripped up in the backfield, but put his hand down, re-gained his balance, and took the play outside for a gain of 6. Plunged over the top for a 1-yard TD after Jackson’s "play”. Landed awkwardly on his neck/back and I thought he might be hurt. Later they showed him on the sideline getting rubbed along his lower back. I was ready to kill DeSean if anything was wrong with Brian. Might have had the best 1-yard TD run of his career early in the 4th quarter. Got hit at the LOS, but he was on some bodies. Turned and stretched the ball forward to break the plane and give us the go-ahead score. Didn't post big numbers, but came up with key 1st downs and scored 3 TDs.

BUCK – Had to play both RB and FB. Best play was an 8-yd catch. Stayed in to block, then saw everyone was under control so he released into the right flat. McNabb got the ball out there and Buck made a nifty catch and got a 1st down. Dropped one pass, but it would have been a minimal gain. Caught his other pass in the 3rd quarter. Just a short dump over the middle to pick up positive yards. Solid lead block on Spencer on 3rd/1 run to the outside right.

LOBO – Caught 2 passes. The long one was a slant for 8 yards. Other catch went for no gain. Caught a short pass inside the 10 and had no room to work with. Made a bone-headed decision to go out of bounds. That stopped the clock. Would have been good to burn extra time and not leave so much for Dallas.

HUNT – Left with an injury. Saw little PT.

KLECKO – Got put at FB on a GL series. Drew a penalty when he went in motion and started forward before the snap. I think Dan was anxious to block someone. Did get to block on Westy’s 1-yard TD. Good job.


L.J. – Initially I was upset at LJ for the lack of production. After watching the tape I understand what was going on. Stayed in to block a lot of the time. Andy and Marty really focused on protection. Gave up a sack to Ellis on one pass play. Had a couple of passes thrown his way on seam routes, but wasn’t all that open. Had 1 catch for 10 yards.

CELEK – Caught one pass in the game. Interesting play. He and LJ doubled on a pass rusher on 3rd/6. The guy went wide. Brent gave him a shove, then released upfield. Caught a short pass and got 11 RAC yards.



PEANUT – Another good game, with one small exception (covered above). His 6 catches and 110 yards were a big part of our offensive success. By my count, we threw 8 passes to him. DeSean caught 6 and dropped 2. The first drop was costly. It came on a 3rd down play inside the 10. He had the ball initially, but bobbled it and the ball came loose. Almost a catch, but he never clearly showed control. That forced us to settle for a FG. The other drop came early in the 3rd quarter. It would have given us a 1st or at worst, 2nd and short. Caught the ball well and showed excellent speed in the game.

AVANT – Had 2 catches for 28 yards. The key catch came on 3rd/11. Ran a Dig route from the right slot. Got the ball crossing the middle. Took a big hit from S Pat Watkins. Fell to the ground and the ball was loose in midair. The ball fell to him and Jason grabbed it. Just your normal 12-yard catch on 3rd/11. Excellent awareness and concentration. Went low to catch a 16-yard pass on our final drive of the 1st half.

BASKETT – Great hustle to recover "fumble” in endzone on DeSean’s pass play that was ruled a drop. Had a good block on an early run to his side. Sealed a DB and gave the edge to Westy. Dropped a short pass in the left flat. Caught a pass on the next play and gained 9 yards.

GLEW – Solid game. Finished with 3 catches for 36 yards. Got open on a deep route late in the 1st quarter, but the CB closed on the play and knocked the ball away. Created a bogus Pass Interference call after Samuel’s pick. Grabbed Anthony Henry’s jersey and pulled the CB toward him as he went up for the ball. Trick worked and the flag came out. 1st/goal for us. Set up another short TD with a catch in the early 4th quarter. Caught a pass on a crossing route and turned upfield for a gain of 14. Just missed getting into the endzone. Bobbled a pass along the sideline on the final drive, but we got a 1st down a couple of plays later, so that mistake didn't hurt too much.


TRA – Solid game. Had a good block on Ware on a Westy run that went outside to the left. Sealed the edge on the play. Did a good job in pass pro for most of the game. Generally kept McNabb’s backside clean. Was badly beaten by Ware on a draw play when DeMarcus took a hard inside move and got Westy in the backfield. DeMarcus really turned up the heat after halftime and got more pressure.

TODD – Up and down game. Good seal on Ratliff on Westy run. Good double on a Westy run up the middle. Helped drive Tank Johnson several yards off the ball. Picked up Ware on an inside stunt on a pass play that got us a good gain. Whiffed on Chris Canty on a run play that turned into a TFL. Good seal block on Bradie James gave Westy a good running lane in the late 3rd quarter. Drew a dumb flag for blocking in the back on a screen pass late in the game. That hurt.

JAMAAL – Below average game, but did have some good moments. Terrific block on Zack Thomas on Westy’s 14 yd run. Made contact at the 44 and drove him back 4 or 5 yards. Picked up Ware on an inside stunt on 3rd/6 and gave McNabb time to throw. Gave up a bad sack to NT Jay Ratliff in the 2nd quarter. Ratliff used a simple grab and pull move and went right by JJ. Got away with holding Ratliff on a late 3rd quarter pass play. Got blown up on a run play when Tank Johnson fired off the ball at the perfect second. That led to the first awkward handoff/fumble between 5 and 36. Missed a block on James on late screen pass that hurt us.

ANDREWS – Solid game. Good in pass pro. Got driven back by Ratliff on a run play. Very surprising to see that. Did a good job of getting to LBs on run plays. Hurt his back and left at halftime. There was one play in the 2nd quarter when Shawn was on the ground and Westy landed right on his back after going airborne. Not sure if that was the cause or part of it.

RUNYAN – Okay game. Got a lot of help in pass pro from TEs and WRs. Did a solid job when he did face guys alone. Struggled late in the game when DAL knew we were passing. Gave up a sack to Ellis on the final drive. Was beaten on another play. His run blocking was okay, but didn't stand out.

MAX – Filled in at RG after halftime. Beaten by Ratliff for a TFL on the first play we ran. Got better as the game went on, but got a lot of help.

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