When we sent out more than 1 tight end, the Eagles responded with a 4-3 and usually inserted a Safety into the box:
In an effort to get the ball out on the perimeter we positioned a Bunch/Triangle set tight to the line:
The Bunch (top of the screen) afforded us quick throws outside and also allowed us to crack down on edge defenders and pull lineman out wide to get them matched up on defensive backs.
We also plugged in Nsekhe (top of the screen) as our 6th offensive lineman on half a dozen snaps:
Otherwise it was variations of our 11 versus their Nickel and a few I-Formations.
Depth Chart (Snap Count in parenthesis):
- LT: Williams (74)
- LG: Lauvao (74)
- C: Long (74)
- RG: Scherff (74)
- RT: Moses (74)
- TE: Davis (72), Paul (14), Nsekhe (6)
- WR: Garcon (60), Crowder (56), DeSean (50), Grant (20), Ross (9)
- RB: Thompson (36), Jones (30), Kelley (8)
- FB: Paul (8), Kelley (1)
With Reed out, the preferred personnel was 11 with Davis and Crowder followed by heavier formations involving Paul (22) and/or Nsekhe (6).
Grades & The Show
O-Line Run Chart:
A dominant day for everyone except Morgan Moses who finished with his lowest score of the season. His main issue was letting guys get under his pads and disengage at will:
Moses’ 2nd issue was being lined up across Brandon Graham, a guy who PFF ranked the 2nd best defensive end in the league entering this game. On our 4th drive, Graham set a hard edge against Moses that left Kelley with nowhere to go outside and funneled him into a swarm of bad guys:
Brandon Scherff had a commanding display of combo and second level blocks. It’s hard to see at this angle but before he takes off to abuse a linebacker for 10 yards, he does a subtle punch to the chest of the lineman positioned inside of him. That punch stalls the lineman’s momentum and helps Spencer Long reach his block and seal out. You can see Scherff stall before releasing to the linebacker level, that’s when that quick punch to the chest takes place:
That strength at the line plus the ability to target in space, followed by the effort to dominate a guy 10 yards downfield will get a +2 from me. He also showed quickness when he was able to get around a blitzing linebacker, seal him out:
and latch onto him through the first down marker.
Spencer Long displayed quickness coming off of combo blocks. On this play, he released inside of the linebacker, then repositioned himself to the outside of the backer and sealed him off to help spring Matt Jones free:
Long was also able to work in a couple of 'reach' blocks which are probably the hardest blocks to do since you have to first fight to get around the lineman and then try to seal them out.
Shawn Lauvao had his best game of the last couple of weeks. On the Wham (or Trap) play we ran he was tasked with blocking the guy in front of him long enough for Vernon Davis to be in position for a Wham block, and then had to execute a Wham block of his own against the defensive end. Against the Eagles’ 4 man front, the blocking assignments were as follows:
Lauvao and Davis hit their Wham blocks, and Williams and Long released to the second level and formed an alley. Everything was executed perfectly except for DeSean not even trying to block or stand in the way of the corner:
That right there is why Crowder and Grant are usually lined up in the slot instead of DeSean. Which is a shame because DeSean could see more mismatches in the passing game that way. Going back to the play though, Lauvao was the crux of the concept that allowed the play to spring Kelley into the 2nd level:
I’ve given out +2’s for plays where offensive lineman executed assignments above and beyond the call of duty, but Trent Williams earned this blog’s first ever +3 when he blocked 2 defenders via throwing one into the other:
That’s just…I mean, I’m not even sure if that’s legal.
Tight End Run Chart:
Niles Paul divided up his snaps 65%/35% between tight end and fullback, his best showing came at the goal line when he set the edge for a Matt Jones walk-in touchdown:
Most of Ty Nsekhe‘s snaps came on the last drive, one of which included the game sealing 57 yard run:
That run had zone blocking to the backside and gap blocking play side:
Cousins: Out of 41 charted drop backs
Pass protection was superior as usual but sometimes that wasn’t enough as Cousins would hesitate and pad the ball even when the route was open as soon as he hit the top of his drop.
Kirk for the year:
Struggles continued in the red zone including one series where Krik threw 4(!) incompletions in a row. Thankfully a pass interference call gave us a fresh set of downs and a do-over in the play calling department.
Misreads for touchdowns struck twice, exhibit A:
which, ok you can argue that DeSean (bottom of the screen) was working that rookie all game long so it’s understandable that Kirk pre-determined his throw to him when he saw one-on-one coverage. But this next one is OMFG what are you doing:
At the end, the video shows even the receiver was unable to contain his frustration:
If you want to put a positive spin on Cousins’ game you could go the Gruden route and focus on how he extended a couple of plays. Which he did, no doubt.
A positive note for the coaching staff came when Kirk was able to connect with Vernon Davis on a nice concept where the underneath route sucks up the linebacker and allows the seam route (Davis) to get open behind the zone coverage. It’s like a play action, but without the play action:
McVay and Gruden are drawing up concepts that are able to overcome Kirk’s deficiencies with scanning the field (last week against Baltimore we dialed up a fake WR Screen-Go route combo for a touchdown.) In these types of concepts, Cousins is able to know where the bait is and what should be open deep before the ball is snapped–the slant-slant-wheel concept on the Crowder touchdown is another example of this. The play calling has been giving Kirk some clear and defined reads.
- Moses struggled this game, but overall the offensive line was phenomenal.
- DeSean could see more snaps in the slot if he would just attempt to throw some kind of a block. Or even just try to stand in the way.
- With 7.0 yards per carry, pass pro grading at +23, and clever play calling: we can probably continue to win games despite mediocre quarterback play
- Crowder, Davis and Niles Paul all stepped up in Reed’s abscence.