The biggest disappointment of the game for the Eagles was the play of the special teams. Eagles head coach Chip Kelly spent substantial amounts of his practice time each day during the offseason and training camp working on the special teams. He was confident the Birds would be able to move the ball on offense and score points. He was also confident the special teams would do a good job. The defense was supposed to be the biggest problem.
On Sunday, the special teams were horrible.
They gave up a 105-yard kick off return to Trindon Holliday, who was never touched on his way to the end zone. The biggest culprit was Eagles linebacker Najee Goode, who went out of his lane without being blocked and Holliday ran right through it on his way to a touchdown. The returner caught the ball deep in the end zone and rocketed out, then cut to his left through a big hole in the coverage, where Goode was supposed to be and outran everybody to the end zone.
Kicker Alex Henery who didn’t have a good day, wasn’t able to cut Holliday off, but simply dove as the return man flew by him. He should get a radar gun.
We went into the game thinking Henery would have been able to kick the ball out of the end zone in the high altitude, so the kickoff team wouldn’t have to deal with Holliday. It didn’t work out that way.
The kickoff return was hard to take, but the punt block was worse. Eagles backup linebacker and former number draft pick Brandon Graham didn’t block his guy before going down to cover the punt. His guy was Steven Johnson, who went in to block the punt. The Broncos didn’t have a punt block call on. Johnson went in and blocked the punt because nobody blocked him.
Graham took it for granted that Johnson wasn’t going to rush because he didn’t rush on the earlier punts. Unfortunately for Graham, punter Donnie Jones and the Eagles, he decided to rush the last time and blocked the punt.
The other bad news for the special teams was the fact that Henery missed another field goal. This is getting to be a usual thing. He doesn’t seem to be keeping his head down and following through.