Eagles Defense Crumbles: 3rd 2nd Half Possession – 5 Play, 77-Yard TD Drive

The third time the Niners had the ball in the second half, they lined up on the 23 yard-line with both their wide receivers on the right side of the formation, then had Michael Crabtree go back to the left side in motion.

They felt they could attack Nmandi Asomugha as long as they didn’t let him get his hands on the receiver. They also felt they could beat him with a double move because sometimes he looks into the backfield and could fooled with a quarterback pump fake. Niners head coach Jim Harbaugh was right on both assumptions as Crabtree came across from the other side and Asomugha came from a free safety position to cover him.

Due to the motion Asomugha was unable to get his hands on Crabtree at the snap of the ball. He had to play off of him. I’ve rarely seen a player become so passive as Asomugha when he’s playing off the ball. Remember how passive he was against the Giants when Eli Manning threw a jump ball to Victor Cruz with Asomugha and safety Jarrad Page right there.

Back to the Niners play, Crabtree came downfield, stutter stepped then headed down the left side line. Alex Smith hit him in stride as safety Jarrad Page came over and missed the tackle. Asomugha then missed the tackle twice. Crabtree would have scored if it weren’t for hustling middle linebacker Jamar Chaney who came over to make the tackle.

It wound up being a 38-yard play to Crabtree, who happens to be one of the slowest receivers in the NFL. I have no idea what is going on with Asomugha. He can’t cover or tackle for some reason.

On the next play from the Eagles 39-yard line, the Niners pitched the ball to Kendall Hunter on a sweep to the Eagle left side and he ran nearly untouched for 12 yards. Do these guys know anything about getting off of a block? Defensive end Phillip Hunt was hooked inside. Hunt looks terrible against the run. He’s definitely only a pass rusher.

Strongside linebacker Moise Fokou came up when he recognized the play, but he didn’t attack the blocker but was easily knocked outside and out of the way. He’s got to learn to use his hands and fight the block. He should be making that play at the line of scrimmage.

Both Fokou and safety Page were outside of the play, which is fundamentally unsound. With both of them outside, there was a wide running lane for Hunter to advance the football.

Middle linebacker Chaney was late getting there from the inside because he was slowed down by a cut block.

The guy that made the tackle was rookie linebacker Brian Rolle, who was coming from the other side. A reluctant-to-tackle Asante Samuel also had a hand in making the stop. The play equaled 12 easy yards for the Niners.

San Francisco snapped the ball on the next play from the 27-yard line. They ran a simple rub pattern to their left side with the wide receiver coming inside and trying to get in the path of the outside linebacker who was responsible for covering the running back, fullback Bruce Miller. Rookie linebacker Rolle was the target. The running back ran a simple short arrow route outside.

The wide receiver’s route forced Rolle to come inside which was a bad angle to try stop the completion. Rolle had to come underneath of the route, which made it impossible for him to stop Miller from catching the football. On top of doing a poor job on the coverage, Rolle was worse in his job of tackling Miller.

He tried to push him out of bounds like it was a game of two-hand touch. The 250-pound Miller ran through the attempt like it was a slight wind blowing on him. Safety Nate Allen came over and made the tackle, although he absorbed most of the hit from Miller. The play went for 15-yards and took the Niners down to the Eagles 12-yard line.

The rookie linebacker, Rolle, should have recognized that Miller, the running back was lined up extremely wide, which was tipping off that he was going to run a pass route. He could have cheated up before the snap, then on the snap of the ball, gone up and avoided the wide receiver rub pattern then jammed to take away Smith’s option.

Giants running back Brandon Jacobs lined up in the same spot when he ran the wheel route on Casey Matthews. Alignment is always a tipoff of what play the offense is getting ready to run. It’s the reason you study the team you’re getting ready to play.

Right now, this is not a smart defense. They don’t study the formations and the alignments, so that they see the clues of what plays to anticipate. In college ball, many times players just line up and play, but in the NFL you have to be a student and a detective. You must learn to anticipate the play based on the down and distance, the formation, along with the details of where every player is lined up.

The next play the from the twelve-yard line, Frank Gore took the handoff and ran straight up the middle for three yards. Chaney made the tackle on a run which was defended adequately by the Eagles.

The final play of the drive was a pass play to Vernon Davis from the nine-yard line. I don’t know if Chaney understands that standing near a receiver in the red zone isn’t good enough to stop completions and touchdowns. On the play, it looked like Chaney was manned-up on Davis, but he didn’t get over in his face immediately at the snap of the ball. Smith dropped set and threw a quick outside route to a wide-ope Davis, who broke Chaney’s tackle and fell into the end zone.

It was like taking candy from a baby. Does Chaney know that Davis is Smith’s favorite target? Last year the Eagles were the worst red zone defense in the NFL in 25 years, this year they’re trying to break that record. They don’t play like an NFL defense.

Chaney got near Davis without getting so close to him that Alex Smith couldn’t throw the ball to him. Chaney got torched by Tony Gonzalez by being near him but not all over him. You’ve got to be all over the receiver in the red zone or you’re going to watch him catch and touchdown pass.

When I played, our red zone coverage rule used to be you had to be close enough to the receiver to smell his breath. If you’re that close to the receiver, the quarterback isn’t going to throw the football. Being simply near a receiver or in the vicinity isn’t good enough on goalline.

You have to be all over the receiver or you’re simply going to see him catch the football.

This was a five-play drive for 77-yards, after putting together a four-play drive for 80-yards. You could imagine that the Niners were confident that they could move the ball against the Eagles.

39 thoughts on “Eagles Defense Crumbles: 3rd 2nd Half Possession – 5 Play, 77-Yard TD Drive

  1. Wow – this is a fantastic article – excellent dissection of 1) what happened 2) what went wrong and 3) how to fix it in the future –

    nicely done – the only way to make it better would be to have you clips of the play so you can see suttle things – maybe now people will understand its not as easy to just say – put CB X in press coverage – offense can counter by putting the WR in motion………….

    excellent, excellent article

  2. Nice breakdown G…
    Anyone see my Lions LB Steven Tulloch make that crucial INT versus Romo
    I stated back in July that I thought acquiring a top LB was the most important aquisition next to getting a CB and since the Eagles had acquired DCR in the Kolb Trade, the next priority should have been a LB.. and once the Eagles signed Asm,Jenkins,Babin, they made an offer for Tulloch but it was not good enough and he went to the Lions to rejoin his former Coach J Schwartz.. But LB Tulloch as I had mentioned before knows this Wide-Nine System very well playing in it for the Titans and has the athleticism, the size and strength to have been a real leader for this LB Corp, but that’s water under the bridge now..The Eagles Defense is going to have to make do with who they have and I am afraid that what they have presently at LB and Safety is just not good enough..

  3. One thing for sure, that needs to be stressed when the Eagles are on Defense down in the Red-Zone is that No Receiver (WR/TE/RB) should ever get a “Free-Release” off the line of scrimmage whether you are a CB/S/LB and to do so will usually result in an easy TD reception.. You have to be right in their face from the get go which should be Red-Zone Defense #101 for most teams,schemes and players

  4. The crazy thing is that this team is so hot and cold, I wouldn’t be surprised if they won 6 straight. It’s frustrating with this team because there is no medium. Either great or terrible.

  5. G, you are a student of the game. How is it that the Team’s coaches players don’t see what you see. Maybe it’s easier to see these mistakes from the outside looking in and the film room, than it is in the actual game. I know one thing, the CBs need to man up on the outside receivers, all game long. it also makes it kind of hard when one guy plays press and the other guy plays off.

  6. @Paulman – to go along with 12 tackles I believe….I also wanted Tulloch, but was told I have no crediibility because I’d rather had Tulloch over Nnamdi…I wanted to speak on this a while back…
    But honestly, Paul, I dont know if having Tulloch would make much of a difference, with Castillo’s inconsistencies…

  7. – and that scorp right there is my #1 criticism of the coaching staff – you nailed it – I have no probelm with slow starts – getting wormed up, building momentum… but somehow this team – this year – needs to start climbing the ladder and not coming back down any of the ladder rungs – you play a good 1st qtr – play a better second, play an even better thrid – finish strong – stop going back to square 1 – need to go from hot to warm, hot to not as hot, hotter to hot, hottest to super hot – no more ‘cold’

    now at 1-3 we need to win out next 2 to get to bye week …………

  8. Im not gonna put this on namdi, they have him playing more zone then man. I remember in the off season. They talked about turning him into a charles woodson. They need to realize he is not a charles woodson. He is a man to man cover corner, they can kill in press coverage. They also kept talking about making this more simple. The way this defense looks, it could be way to simple!

  9. Exactly Dawk….however, I think its too complicated, why the D is struggling…to your point Nnamdi is being moved all around the field, he’s in LB spot at times, safety at times, on the left on the ride side…We have our right corner in Asante, we have our left corner in Nnamdi and go from there…now utilize DRC, move him around, his quickness will mask minor mistakes he makes

  10. wow – Watkins is going to start – OK eagles fans – are we gonna get behind the rookie – senior citizen, firefighter rugby player, waste of talent low life – and actually hope the guy comes out and kicks some ass – or are we gonna spend the next 4 days mocking him and discussing what ass he is becuase it took him 4 weeks to get a shot at starting – oh –

  11. To RT777,
    You probably right making not making a big difference, but I ahave another concern for down the road.. Castillo will be a goner after this Season so next year they Bring in another DC and part of the problem still remains that the Eagles have below average LB’s. SO now they will have to get more new players to learn another new system so what does the Defense look like in 2012.. Probably more of the same.. You need Coach Coaching, no doubt, but you have to have NFL Claiber Talent and Players too and right now the Eagles are very deficient at the LB/Safety Positions no matter who is coaching them and they probably ranked in the bottom rankings as far as Talent and Playmakers at these positions versus their counterparts.. ..
    What Team has ever made a seirous Super Bowl Run with poor Safety adn LB PLay… I cannot think of one Team excpet maybe the Seahawks a few years ago, but they still had a decent LB Corps with Leroy Hill and Lofa Tatupu but not much else…..

  12. Paul, (shocker again) you’re SO SO silly to be thinking 20 steps ahead of your/ourself when steps 2-19 are dynamic, ever changing and shaky at best. It’s really moronic to worry about if + if + if + I assume + if + then I assume + Then + If;…..dude, just stick with reality can you?

  13. Tulloch – I have a new theory – we saw he CAN play successful behind the wide 0 – cause he did. But that doesn’t mean he likes doing so. If you’re tulloch, and you have a chance to play behind Fairley and Suh in the middle of that Detroit D….um…. how is that not the most attractive thing. So to me, that’s probably why the Eagles didn’t sign Tulloch. It takes two to tango, and I don’t see why Tulloch would’ve chose to tango behind a trasnitonal Dline that forces him to plug holes constantly as oppossed to the luxury of being behind an established beastly DL…..

    (navy – another unfair crticism – not signing Tulloch – if my assessment is valid…)

  14. Schill, if you feel this Current Eagle LB Corps has upside to become Potential Play-making LB’s for the Eagles in future years, then Great.. But I don’t feel the same way, in fact, I will state that 2-3 of the 6 Current LB’s on this Eagles Roster probably won’t even be on a NFL Roster come next Season
    Maybe you are just being jealous again or taking your frustrations out on me which is fine and you continue to act like the Eagles Coaching Staff and think everything is the here and now and we will worry about the future when it comes….
    I always have an eye for the future which I why I am a step ahead of you in the analysis and critique of our Favorite Team year after year.. Maybe if the Coach AR/Castillo were looking a little ahead last Spring, they may have retained some quality leadership on the Defensive side of the ball knowing full well, that with new coaches,schemes and new players and little practice time, that it may have been a real benefit to have a Q Mickell or a S Bradley around to help make the transition with DC Castillo … You are short-sighted just like this Eagles Coach AR and Front Office, which is part of the problem… You are like ‘lets play the games to determine where we are as a team” where I think a little more planning,playing the %’s and knowing your opponents tendancies better and taking them away as well as building your Team Roster that helps you match up with your potential competitiors in a better way is a better way to look at it..
    Coach AR is too much a “week by week coach” and his entire Eagle Program is built this way … What Coaching Staff would name 2 Rookies Starters from the beginning of camp when they had not 1 single OTA, or Spring Camps to know if these guys could even play at the NFL Level ( in Matthews and Watkins) What message does that send to the rest of the Team and locker room..you have to earn it and waht’s wrong about a Rookie being 2nd Team until he proves his value and earns his teammates respect by learning and playing well..
    I am tire of talking/typing about the same garbage..

  15. Schiller,
    Per my Sources, The Eagles did indeed pursue him and offered him a deal, but since they had spent a lot of $$$ for other players as well, that the offer was not as good as the Lions, If it were close , I believe he would have taken the Eagles Offer for the Chance to win a Super Bowl (which everyone was talking about with the Eagles) would outweight playing behind N Suh..
    Oooh and by the way, Nick Fairly broke his foot in Summer Camp and hasn’t even played a down yet this season for the Lions..

  16. Scorp, he didn’t rip anybody anything. ” if you feel this Current Eagle LB Corps has upside to become Potential Play-making LB’s for the Eagles in future years, then Great.. But I don’t feel the same way, in fact, I will state that 2-3 of the 6 Current LB’s on this Eagles Roster probably won’t even be on a NFL Roster come next Season” – um, I agree with all of that and never said anything to the contrary. Um, where did you get the impression I believed otherwise?

    And Paul, as for the planning, playing the %s, etc…..that’s the coaches job, not a fans. I’m not short sighted, I just don’t play ‘armchair coach/FO/QB’. You like to pretend that you are as knowledgeable as a professional at the top level of the profession, and have all the same info and resources they have. But that’s simply not the case. I also don’t try to cure aids, or prescribe medicine, or fix the economy. I don’t play ‘fantasy profession’ for anything (other than fantasy footall of course, ha).

    See I haveh humility and understand my place. I’m a fan, I can have an opinion. I can agree or disagree with what the coaches/fo/players do (as we all can). But I’m not going to sit here and pretend I know everything like you do.

    And Paul, as for your second post – let’s pretend for a moment that your sources A) existed and B) were legit —- two huge stretches…then all you got is an opinion that he’d choose the Eagles over the Lions for superbowl? Ok. we both just have opinions on that. Ok

    And was fairley injured at the time he signed? If not, it’s irrelevant to our discussion

  17. Oh yes he did….

    “Maybe you are just being jealous again or taking your frustrations out on me which is fine and you continue to act like the Eagles Coaching Staff and think everything is the here and now and we will worry about the future when it comes….
    I always have an eye for the future which I why I am a step ahead of you in the analysis and critique of our Favorite Team year after year.. Maybe if the Coach AR/Castillo were looking a little ahead last Spring, they may have retained some quality leadership on the Defensive side of the ball knowing full well, that with new coaches,schemes and new players and little practice time, that it may have been a real benefit to have a Q Mickell or a S Bradley around to help make the transition with DC Castillo … You are short-sighted just like this Eagles Coach AR and Front Office, which is part of the problem”

  18. Nick Fairley wqas the LIons TOp Draft Pick in the 1st Round and broke his foot about 1 week into Summer camp and has not practiced or played since.. He just got the cast/boot removed and has started to proactice but with no OTA,Summer Camps,PReseason, it’s anyone guess what kind of “Football SHape” he will be in to make any major contribution and like most Rookies, has a lot to learn about the NFL Game, but when he does pick it up ang gets healthy, He and N Suh will make 1 hell of a DT Tandem…

  19. G:
    I really liked the break down of the series. Good stuff. More of this, please.
    Unfortunately, I think that even if Chaney knew what Davis and/or Gonzales had for breakfast they might still have made the catch. They’re just two outstanding players. But you’re right, covering the TE has been a lost art around for far, far too long. Where is Caldwell? I’m not impressed with the results of his coaching. He may also be in over his head.
    That said, I can’t wait for next week. I’m still hoping these guys can pull it together. Losing can provide determination to avoid losing if these guys really are players.

  20. Paul, correct, there is no planning by the eagles and Reid, no look into the future, your last post schooling Schiller was spot on, you have been incorrect in the past about the Phillies, damn it would be real morose around here without the phils, but your recent posts about the eagles have been accurate, insightful and entertaining

  21. Quote from G’s article:
    Right now, this is not a smart defense. They don’t study the formations and the alignments, so that they see the clues of what plays to anticipate. In college ball, many times players just line up and play, but in the NFL you have to be a student and a detective. You must learn to anticipate the play based on the down and distance, the formation, along with the details of where every player is lined up.

    G Isn’t this what the defensive coordinator and his linebacker and defensive back coaches should be picking up from the film and teaching the players. THis is Juan Cheerleaders first ever in the NFL attempt to pick up these details but it seems that he is more concerned about fundamentals which should be addressed when drafting a player or picking up a free agent.

  22. I think the Eagles have already hired former Titan DC Tim Hauck and will wait until after the BIlls game to make an annoucement, Sources reorted seeingf Hauck arrive at Philly Airport Monday morning..
    Also it’s 1st Round Draft Pick Danny Watkins who will get the start this week at RG , I am not sure is Current Starter Devan is injured or what since there has been little info about this…

  23. Navy -You said there were approx 16 defensive coordinators worse than Juan Cheerleader. This is based on total yards allowed on defense but the difference in yardage between the Eagles and the other teams below then in many instances is not significant and these stats don’t take into account redzone defense. Also for all the yardage the Eagles racked up against the 9ers they lost. They also don’t compare defenses quarter by quarter.

  24. Schiller whe you respond to my posts and state “We all know” who is this we you are talking about is it CAIR, ACLU, JDL, PITT ALUMNI ASSN, ALL EAGLES FANS, THE PENNSYLVANIA BALLET THE GAY AND LESBIAN TASKFORCE . WHO ARE YOU REPRESENTING IN YOU STATEMENTS.

  25. Schiller saying that you speak for everone is an exageration isn’ t? You need to stop listening to those Obama pep rallies.

  26. id like to see dion lewis get ronnie browns carries especially in the red zone.. lewis is a tiny powerful runner.. which makes him hard to see he thru small wholes easy and has alot of power and extreme quickness at 5’6 he weighs 200lbs almost like an inshape maurice jones drew.. he would compliment mccoy perfectly .. even in miami wasnt ricky williams the short yardage back..

  27. Paul, you are the man! STFU, Schill! You got owned, tool! Go away & take Navy with you. You guys are sickening & nauseating! I can’t even get up the energy to argue with you two clueless, jokes anymore!

  28. DANNY PATRICK!?!? Dan Patrick used to be a ESPN analyst. Danny Watkins, dip$#!t! Read before you hit send, to criticize GCobb. LMFAO!!!!!

  29. BigE and I bet those “16 defensive coordinators worst than Juan” don’t have the same caliber of talent Juan gets to work with.

    McDermott would have done much better with these guys. He got fired after having a bad defense but if we look at those players, no wonder the defense was bad. But yet, his defense somehow wasn’t this bad with worst players.

  30. Scorp – ‘they don’t have the talent Juan gets to work with’ Really – chicago doesn’t have a couple of Pro Bowl//all pro -type linebackers – you again just blew it out your ass becuase you didn’t look at any of the teams – you just thought you would say something quick – Patriots don’t have talent – I thought they signed haynesworth…. and you actually looked at some of the talent on these teams – I think not – you are dismissed

    Big E – notice how when I make a comparison I give the standard or metirc on which I am basing my statement – now you made mention of red zone defense and stats by quarter – did you actually go look and see where the eagles red zone defense ranks – did you look – did you find it – or are you from the lazy piece of shit I will just wing it and suppose… yet again another GCobb blogger ‘just knowing’

    and again – you have a patholoigical issue with twisting words – I said there were 16 defenses, based upon total yardage, ranked lower then the eagles and I listed some of the teams (Chicago, Green Bay, Patriots) to point out to the ‘we hired an O Line coach to be the DC’ and we should have hired ‘a hard core D coach’ that in fact there are teams (like the Bears) that did JUST THAT and are not getting better results – now quick, do the GCobb shuffle and change what we are talking about – oh yeah, well, the bears won a SB in like 85 anbd Buddy Ryan had a great D— there I did it for you…. but I made no statement as to if the DC were better or worse. From my experience as a coach, I would never ASSUME to know as much as these professionals many who have been doing there thing for decades

    Dcar – dude – you know what you can do pal – I realize being faced with 1) someone of clearly superior knowledge and 2) someone who would actually truly ENJOY meeting you for a very lively dicussion on eagles football may throw you off, but I ain’t going nowhere –

    I love the passive aggressive nature of this board –

Comments are closed.

Skip to toolbar