Video rewinds are always fun, and a kind soul has posted a few of the Eagles vs. Rams highlights on YouTube already. Let’s break them down a little bit, shall we?
Here’s Brian Westbrook in a 2006 shovel-pass touchdown… er, I mean LeSean McCoy in an updated version of the same play. The key to this working is the offensive line. Jason Peters and Evan Mathis let their guys come up the field, while Todd Herremans, Kyle DeVan, and Jason Kelce engage forward immediately like on a run.
DeVan (the newest CamelCased addition) knocks his defensive tackle to the ground and proceeds to lie down on top of him. That Rams defender should be glad Howard Mudd likes relatively skinny linemen. Also notice the speedy Kelce run a circle around Herremans, trying to catch the middle linebacker. No way Jamaal Jackson comes close to making that play.
Above is the Quintin Mikell strip-sack. The offensive line actually does a good job here, and so does LeSean McCoy in blitz pickup. But Brent Celek had to choose between a linebacker and Mikell. Ultimately this mistake is probably on Michael Vick, who needs to see the safety blitz and anticipate DeSean Jackson getting open in the end zone. If he let the ball go instead of waiting for Jackson to get open, that would have been a touchdown instead of a fumble.
Here again DeSean lines up in the slot. I don’t remember much of this from last season, but it’s smart down in the red zone, where his quickness can still be deadly without the threat of the deep ball. And here it works again to get Jackson free. He ends up paired off with Mikell, who simply can’t keep up once he’s beat.
Rolling Vick out gives him four options: run himself, dump off to McCoy, pass to Jackson, or try to sneak one in to Celek. The Rams linebacker Poppinga reads it well and closes on Vick, almost breaking up the play.
On this one you’ll notice the Rams brought seven defenders, but the Eagles only had six blockers. Celek slips out of the backfield and is wide open underneath. But such is the downside to having a quarterback who’s only six feet tall: there’s no way Vick could see Celek in that spot.
So this is destined to be a sack. Herremans gives a weak push to the blitzing safety and McCoy struggles to pick up the linebacker coming up the middle. Meanwhile the rest of the Rams defenders are keeping pretty solid containment around the pocket. Then again, I guess no one can really account for Vick, who proved that you can trip, slip, and stumble your way to the first down if you want it badly enough.