Another week, another unexpected disappointment from the Eagles offense. I did not expect that. It was certainly one of the poorest offensive performances I've seen from an Eagles offense in a long, long time. Very little encouragement to take out of this one.
We all know Chip Kelly's Eagles as a run-first team. That's the way it's been since he's been here. So it shouldn't be surprising that when the Eagles can't get the running game going, it bogs the whole offense down. As I suggested on the weekend, I expected Chip to mix things up in the running game a bit more, but unfortunately, we did not see that on Sunday. Once again, it was a ground game based mostly on inside zone and sweep. He did run a bit more from under center this week presumably to try disguise the direction of the run play. It didn't work against the Cowboys but it was mostly because of poor run blocking up front. Now this doesn't excuse the play of Sam Bradford and the WRs, more on that later, but for now the Eagles have a ton of issues along the offensive line with the run game and they must get it sorted out. I wish I could just lay the blame on the two biggest question marks of the offseason like I did last week, but Andrew Gardner and Allen Barbre were hardly the biggest culprits on Sunday. I'm afraid this game is going to look even uglier when the All-22 comes out, but a number of blocking issues could be seen miles away on the TV feed.
For the 2nd straight week, the Eagles just couldn't get their inside zone running game working. There isn't one main culprit but the chemistry along the line just isn't there right now. Take this one for example. Gardner takes on the initial combo block with Kelce and its his job to get off the block and peel down on the second level LB. He even has his eyes on him here:
But Gardner just does not get off his block and a LB comes clean into the hole to tackle Murray.
On the next one, Gardner gets a terrific block paving a nice lane for Murray but the Cowboys disrupt the LOS with an A gap blitz that Jason Kelce just cannot handle:
The blitzer is able to stay low and penetrate past Kelce and trips Murray before he can hit the hole:
On this one, it appears Peters is at least expecting an initial double team from Barbre. But Barbre instead releases immediately to the second level and Peters get beat to the inside. Once again, Kelce gets beat through the A gap and there is a Cowboys defender immediately in the backfield:
Barbre gets a nice second-level block, but it doesn't much matter. Because Peters and Kelce's men beat them, Matthews has to cut it outside into an unblocked waiting force defender:
As bad as the inside zone execution was, it was even worse on the Eagles sweep play. Here they introduce a nice wrinkle on a packaged concept we will cover later. They motion Sproles into the backfield with Ryan Mathews. Here Mathews will be used as an H-back or lead blocker along with a few pulling OL. There are a couple of huge problems on this play. Watch Jason Kelce and and Brent Celek specifically below. Kelce stumbles off the line and as a result can't get to Sean Lee. However, Brent Celek, who is supposed to execute the "pin" block on this pin and pull completely whiffs on his man:
It doesn't get any better. The Cowboys again wreak havoc with A gap pressure on Kelce. This time, Kelce is designed to pull on the sweep. As he snaps the ball the DT is going to attack Kelce aggressively. With Kelce coming out of his stance, he gets blown up by the DL and the play is dead in the water before it really begins:
With Kelce blown up, there is no one to lead the way for Murray and Sean Lee is once again free to make a tackle in the hole:
An ugly couple of plays here from Celek who has been a tremendous blocker for Chip Kelly the last few years. He's been excellent on this pin block in the past, but struggled mightily on Sunday:
On this last one, it's really a shame that Celek blows his block because you see the rest of the line execute their assignments well. This is the problem with the Eagles this year. It seems on every play someone is making a mistake, and unfortunately, it's always a different guy.
It's not as simple as benching someone and giving someone else a shot. I think Chip needs to stick with his 5 guys and hope they can start eliminating mistakes and start to develop some chemistry. It didn't appear on first glance that the Cowboys did anything schematically to take away the Eagles ground game. They dominated the LOS and the Eagles had poor execution across the board. We'll review the All-22 a bit later this week.