Breaking it Down: The Eagles Red Zone Struggles

For the second game in a row, the Eagles first-string offense failed to score a touchdown.  The Kevin Kolb-led starters had just one trip to the red zone, coming at the end of the first half.  The Birds ran four plays inside the 20, starting from the eight yardline and ending at the eight yardline.  This week we break down all four plays to find out what went wrong.

Eagles head coach Andy Reid at the start of Flight Night.

Eagles head coach Andy Reid, shown here on Flight Night, needs to get better execution out of his red zone offense.

1st and Goal at the 8: The Eagles came out in a Wildcat formation with LeSean McCoy prepared to take the direct snap.  While many Eagles fans have questioned the teams use of the Wildcat, this was an ideal game situation for the formation.  Despite all of the hype around Michael Vick in the Wildcat, it’s a running formation first and foremost, giving the offense an extra blocker.  Unfortunately for the Eagles, missed blocks and poor timing doomed this play from the start.

At left tackle, Jason Peters was pushed backwards off the snap.  This altered the path of fullback Leonard Weaver, who was unable to find  a defensive player to block.  LeSean McCoy was quick to the spot where the hole should have been, but would have been better off waiting a half step to let the blocks develop.  Right guard Stacy Andrews pulled and came across to block on the left side, but couldn’t maneuver laterally quick enough to make a block.  This is certainly a play on which the blame could be spread around.

2nd and Goal at the 7: Pass protection has been an issue for the Eagles, so they kept LeSean McCoy in to chip a defensive end.  The extra blocker proved necessary, as McCoy bought Kolb some time.  This time, no receivers were able to get open and Kolb tried to force a ball to DeSean Jackson, which fell incomplete.  While Kolb was under some pressure as he threw, he could have bought a little more time by rolling to the right.  A split second might have been enough to allow a receiver to find some open space.

3rd and Goal at the 7: This was a well-executed play all-around, or so it seemed.  Kevin Kolb stepped up in the pocket and found the sure-handed Jason Avant over the middle for what looked like an easy six points.   As it turned out, Jason Peters had lined up off the line of scrimmage resulting in an illegal formation.  The Birds were penalized five yards.

3rd and Goal at the 12: Kevin Kolb had some time in the pocket, but as soon as he felt pressure he dumped it off underneath to Avant.  The Eagles receiver was tackled at the eight yard line, never really having a chance to get to the end zone.  Kolb had space to slide to his left in the pocket, which would have allowed the routes to develop further.  On a play calling note, the routes seemed to take too long to develop, making things tougher on Kolb.

Conclusion: The diagnosis matches that of Andy Reid after the preseason opening win over the Jaguars.  Reid said the blame can be shared, “It’s a little bit of everything. You get down in there and everything’s a little faster and tighter and there are some different things defenses can do.”  The Eagles head coach went on to say the offensive line has to execute, receivers have to be more aggressive, and the quarterback needs to make quick decisions.  All of those factors contributed on the Eagles lone red zone series against Cincinnati.  The real question is whether or not the Eagles can fix the small mistakes in time for the regular season.

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Topics: Philadelphia Eagles, Red Zone

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