There haven’t been many beatings handed out in the NFL worse than the one the Denver Broncos gave the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 4. Their 52-20 trouncing of the Birds served as a reminder this is very much a rebuilding team in Philly, while Denver is a Super Bowl contender.
That being said, even by rebuilding standards, Sunday was difficult to watch. The defense was predictably picked apart by a Hall of Fame quarterback, but what we weren’t necessarily counting on was an offense that couldn’t put points on the scoreboard, or special teams that would allow the opponent to score multiple times.
The Eagles were humiliated and annihilated, failing or almost failing in every facet of the game. This report card isn’t going to come with any special privileges—in fact, a good grounding would probably be in order if I were the head coach.
I suppose there’s always time to hit the books and pull those grades up next week. After all, for most of the Birds, there’s no place else to go but up.
Look at the bright side: no turnovers for Michael Vick this week. The most important task of any quarterback is ball security, and he improved in that aspect this week.
Unfortunately, try as he might, the Eagles’ signal-caller was not able to put the offense on his shoulders and go toe-to-toe with Peyton Manning. Vick was sharp early and picked up yards with his legs where he could, but the game clearly got away from him at some point.
Vick finished 14-for-27 for 248 yards, with another 41 on the ground. He did not move the football over the goal line.
Nick Foles got into the game late in the fourth quarter and threw a touchdown pass, although the drive in garbage time had no impact on the outcome or this grade.
This wasn’t LeSean McCoy’s best day. Shady carried 16 times for a very mortal 73 yards—still a 4.6 average. He also had a 21-yard reception.
McCoy seemed to be battling some nagging injuries though and was in and out of the lineup, ceding opportunities to Bryce Brown and Chris Polk. Both backs made the highlight reel, Brown with a 35-yard catch and run that might have gone for six had he not stumbled and Polk punching in a touchdown on his first NFL carry.
It’s good to know the Eagles have a pair of competent backs if anything serious were ever to befall McCoy, even if it doesn’t help them much in games like this.
It’s always hard to tell during a live broadcast whether receivers simply aren’t getting open, or the quarterback can’t find them/doesn’t have enough time. It was no doubt some of all three on Sunday.
That said, it’s not difficult to figure out what’s happening a good portion of the time. Defenses are either doubling DeSean Jackson or putting a safety over the top, forcing the likes of Riley Cooper and Jason Avant to beat the coverage.
The end result of that is two catches for 34 yards for DeSean and three catches for 32 yards for Cooper and Avant combined. Special teamer Jeff Maehl miraculously had the best day of any receiver, hauling in two passes for 43 yards and a touchdown from Nick Foles in garbage time.
I wouldn’t be comfortable handing out an F without first seeing what’s going on downfield or at least some dropped passes, but it wouldn’t be all too surprising to go to the film later and see there legitimately was no one open much of the time.
It was nice to see Chip Kelly have the tight ends a bit more involved this week. There were more two-tight end sets, and all three got involved. Unfortunately, I’m not sure their impact was felt.
Brent Celek had three receptions for 57 yards but also a crucial drop in the red zone during the first quarter that forced the Eagles to settle for a field goal. Zach Ertz had one catch for 38 yards, but that was all, and the game had already slipped away by then.
Hey, at least James Casey made a catch to move the chains.
Perhaps this group isn’t as dynamic as we thought. Ertz is a rookie so he deserves somewhat of a pass, but Celek and Casey haven’t been anything special to say the least.
Chip Kelly was already laying much of the offensive struggles on the offensive line after the game. I thought in the first half in particular they actually did a good job. Vick usually had a pocket and time to either throw the football or escape.
The pass protection withered as the game went along though, perhaps because the Broncos’ rushers could pin their ears back and get after the quarterback once they got out to a 15-point lead. Regardless, it’s hard to launch a comeback when the quarterback is under that kind of pressure.
Of course, quick routes/releases could help with that as well.
It also happened to be the Eagles’ least impressive performance running the football. Denver was strong up front, holding Philly’s backs to a long gain of 15. Not an all-out poor effort from the O-line, but this unit hasn’t quite lived up to the offseason hype.
No secondary stands a chance against Peyton Manning as long as he is comfortable in the pocket. You can guess how the defense fared—and the defensive line by extension—simply by looking at the quarterback’s line: 28-for-34, 327 yards, four touchdowns, zero interceptions.
Some of the blame rests on outside linebackers who were unable to pressure the passer, but it all starts up front where there was almost no push at all. Cedric Thornton got to Manning once for a sack, and Fletcher Cox hit the QB once as well, but that was it.
Nobody else laid a hand on Peyton for the Eagles all game.
In addition to the absence of a pass rush, the defensive line was unable to stop Denver’s ground attack as well. Broncos backs carried 31 times for 138 yards (4.5 AVG) and a touchdown, which only made Manning’s job easier. Thornton had his moments, but there weren’t many other bright spots here.
Connor Barwin and DeMeco Ryans each had a tackle for loss.
Okay, now that we got the quality plays out of the way, Trent Cole was ineffective once again rushing the passer. Ryans racked up 12 tackles (10 SOLO), but most of those were downfield after decent gains were already made. Mychal Kendricks didn’t even rack up the empty tackles this week, just four in all.
Jake Knott and Casey Matthews played. Knott actually made a nice play to force a runner out of bounds. Matthews was there I guess.
Manning makes everybody on defense look worse obviously, but now that it’s after the fact, the best way I could describe it is the linebackers for this team were rendered meaningless on Sunday. No impact from this unit.
No point in grading the cornerbacks and safeties separately when the opposing quarterback has a passer rating of 146.0.
As expected, it was an inopportune start for rookie Earl Wolff to make his first career start at safety. Hey, nobody is accusing Nate Allen of being a playmaker or anything opposite Wolff.
The Eagles left corners Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher on an island at times on the outside. Williams got burned his fair share. Fletcher fared only slightly better, breaking up one pass but drawing two pass interference penalties (one of which was bunk).
Fact is, the defensive backfield—nickel corner Brandon Boykin included—were unable to cover Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker and Eric Decker. I’m not sure anybody can for that matter, but that doesn’t mitigate the fact that the Eagles had no answers.
If this were a real report card, Philadelphia’s special teams would be in serious jeopardy of being held back a year.
This is the second week in a row special teams marked a solid ‘F,’ and it’s not difficult to explain why. A kick return and a blocked punt for touchdowns would probably be enough to do it alone.
Alex Henery also missed a field goal for the third consecutive week and wasn’t even booming all of his kickoffs out of the end zone in the Mile High altitude. Even the ordinarily reliable Donnie Jones was punting balls into the end zone for touchbacks.
In the grand scheme of things, the kickers didn’t matter much because the other 10 guys weren’t doing their jobs anyway. Just a terrible job by everybody basically.