I've watched this game backwards and forwards and the best I can figure is that the ineptitude was fully a team effort. Read the below and draw your own conclusions. For some of these you'll want to click to zoom in. You also may want to have the gamebook open in another tab to keep track of where we are.
Very first play of the game, the Eagles come out firing. QB boot left off play action, three receivers open:
Except Vick doesn't have time to find any of them because Bell misses his block (won't be the last time):
Second play, Eagles stay aggressive with three double moves across the field. One has to work, right?
We'll never know:
Third play, Vick just wants his seven yards to move the chains. Cornerback is off and playing inside leverage against a guy running an out route, what's not to love:
Well, for starters, the safety is going to walk down and invert with the cornerback, so that out just became incredibly dangerous:
Let's throw it anyway:
Too bad we never noticed the other safety bailing off the line, opening up the midde of the field for that crossing route Avant is running (it's more of a dig and less of a post, bad drawing).
Next series, after a run stopped for no gain, how's this for a beautiful screen setup:
Damn, that's pretty. All he has to do is stay outside and follow that wall of blockers. It doesn't get much better than that.
Surely you're not thinking about cutting that inside Shady? Look at all that room! I even drew you a line!!!
%$#@! &*@% SHADY.
I was discussing with Gabe earlier this week the irony of how well we used to run screens back when Castillo was our coach and we had a bunch of lardbutts on the line, and now that we have the Mudd Gazelles we can't seem to run a screen to save our lives. Sometimes I really miss Brian Westbrook.
Ok, this is neat. Trips right, then we'll motion Shady outside, pulling the cornerback with him and giving us great match-ups inside:
Even on the very worst days, some things work.
Don't worry, we'll give most of it back on the next play:
Because for reasons passing understanding, the slot receiver, who happens to be DeSean $#@!ing Jackson will run his little "clear out the safety post" route blissly unaware that the guy next to him has no chance of getting separation:
DeSean is wide open in the middle of the field, but 1) he never looks back at Vick:
and 2) Vick never looks at him:
Look, I understand the play design. DeSean holds the safety and Johnson wins outside. The problem is that it was clear as soon as Vick hit the top of his drop that Johnson wasn't winning. He needed to come off him more quickly, even if that wouldn't actually have mattered that much because Avant and Celek were mixed up in the trash and DeSean was Doing His Job.
Skip a couple runs and an incomplete pass and we get to a much better example of running off the safety. We didn't just hold him in place. Moved him and then opened up room for someone else, like so:
Next pass was that bizarre rollout (first left, then right) that I thought might have been a trick play. Nope, just good coverage on Vick's first roll:
So he bought some time by coming back right, which is great, but boy did he miss somebody when he decided to run for one yard and fumble instead:
I'm not being unfair to Vick here. He rolled right for awhile and definitely had the space to a) see Harbor and b) make this throw:
Speaking of plays left on the field, next was the bomb to DeSean Jackson. This was the series where the offense came out pinned at its own nine yard line and Andy took over the playcalling for a bit (that part is speculation).
Anywho, on the first one, Vick had him and just missed the throw:
DeSean had a step. And Vick actually had time to throw because Arizona only brought four:
The next play really bugs me. We've just gone deep. Vick had tons of time because Arizona called off the dogs for a play. It almost burned them. Is it really time to take another shot downfield? Andy says yes:
Those routes were actually deeper than that, but that's as far as the all-22 zooms out. Look how much open space is in the middle of the field. Grrrr.
And this was the play where the Cardinals started to give us some trouble in the A gaps. Cross fire action on this one:
Shady picked it up, but it wasn't easy. Note too that he has to come across the formation to do it. We saw an awful lot of that in the rewind.
Last play of the series:
Screw it, let's chuck it deep again! Although, to be fair, DeSean was held going down the sidelines. On the other hand, after what we saw Monday night, it's hard to make too big a deal about something like that.
Next series started off great. Outside coverage playing over the top -- mainly because we're bombing away every play -- so we've got two outside comebacks underneath them:
Vick has to pull the trigger on one of those. Don't care which. He didn't, though, which meant his line had to block a bit longer, and really that's just asking Demetress Bell to hold someone. Which he did.
So we back it up and try again. How about a trick play to Brent Celek:
Not only was the linebacker not fooled, but that standup rusher was actually zone dogging off the line and he ended up chasing the ball to Celek too. And then on the other side, with the safeties all walked up and everyone crowding the line, Damaris actually got open on a beautiful post route deep down the middle. You can tell he's a rookie because he still runs his decoy routes to get open.
Not really Marty's best playcalling day, but you can't blame him for the next one:
Celek is wiiide open. Surely not even an off-his-game Vick can bring that safety into play?
Sorry Brent, that's gonna hurt.
Another punt, then a new set of downs, which actually starts with a completion:
Not a huge gain, but a positive start. Marty comes right back to Shady with a screen:
Not quite as pretty as the last one. He still has to beat one man. But we'll take those odds. Unless ...
Nah, Bell has his man totally out of the play. There's no way he could lose that block, let his man get back to chase Shady, and then watch him clean up after the backer just gets a finger on McCoy?
Moving on, a nice, late hit on a crossing route under that trips bunch formation, proving Vick will find open receivers if you give him some damn time for a change:
Got something going now. How about a tight end screen:
Ohhh, I like it. We've got the line upfield, Celek's gonna shake free, and we've got two linemen ready to take on the only two defenders in the area:
Surely not eve--
HOW THE $#@! DO YOU BOTH #$@!ING MISS?!?!
Brian covered the red zone plays at the end of the first half earlier this week, but I do want to add a few points. On the first play, DeSean comes across the formation pre-snap and then runs a quick out route under Johnson:
At the moment he makes his break outside, he is obviously and lengthily held:
About which he informs the official after the play:
None of this would have mattered, of course, if the ENTIRE DAMN PLAY hadn't been set up to get the ball to DeSean Jackson. Cheaters.
On second down, I really think Vick has to see/hit Harbor here:
And on third down, the only thing I want to add to the discussion is that Brent Celek was trying to run a route and was getting jammed. He wasn't blocking anyone and Shady didn't "accidentally" try to block his man. That wasn't the mistake there.
Second half. The whole, "oh yeah, we forget to be patient in that first half" thing pays off on the first pass:
Vick hits Johnson, but he could have gone to DeSean too.
The next play, Vick just about gets killed. The hit comes off a tackle/"end" stunt:
I was all ready to give Watkins hell of this, but from the end zone view, the play looks awfully suspicious. Watkins is blocking his man normally and then all of a sudden he gets yanked to the left, away from the hole into which the stunt is coming:
I think holding by defensive linemen is something else the replacement refs aren't seeing, especially with the umpire standing in that useless position behind the quarterback. Can't really blame Watkins for that.
That damn cross fire blitz came again on the next play:
But with two backs in the backfield, we have plenty of bodies available to pick it up. Might not be a bad idea to consider more two-back sets if just for that reason.
Next play was a completion, but it wasn't a fine moment for Vick. He's getting robber action again on both outside routes (see first third down above):
Avant in the middle is the obvious counter, but he takes forever to come off his first two (should have been easy) reads to finally get to him.
I tweeted already about the next play. Fitzgerald ran some great routes in this game, but I'm not sure any better than this one by DeSean.
Vick has a sack coming up next, since he had a bit of pressure and only one guy was open. See if you can spot him:
Late in the game and we're still busting out trick plays. This was a fake-WR-screen-and-double-go:
Might have fooled someone, too, if we ever actually ran successful WR screens.
Things started to get really ugly at the end. Like this play action boot where Mathis and Bell both blocked the same guy:
Vick never had a prayer:
Sure, run fake, crash down, blah, blah. Everyone playing defense against Vick keys on Vick. You're not surprising anyone with that, especially if you don't bother blocking them.
Here's another odd one. LBs are going to fake the double A-gap blitz and then drop out:
They'd been bringing it a lot, though, so our protection has to shift to account for it. Both Watkins and Herremans use hand signals to say they'll be blocking inside, leaving that outside rusher for Shady:
And he seems to be aware of it, which makes what he does at the snap incredibly puzzling:
He finally gets over and sells out to keep Vick clean, but the initial hesitation means he's late and the play gets jacked up.
Back to the theme of It's Not Your Day As A Playcaller When, Marty puts Celek back in the backfield:
He and Brown are going to run cross action on their pass releases, which is supposed to screw with those linebackers in man coverage. Except they're in zone and they laugh at our feeble plans.
Couple more and then I'm done. Hard to see why Vick stays on DeSean for so long on this play, since there's literally coverage all the way down the field on his side:
Meanwhile, Avant is streaking towards open space, but ...
Yeah, I don't know. I used to think Vick liked Avant.
Another pic I tweeted earlier:
Facing an unrelenting series of end-of-game blitzes, Marty doesn't call a single blitz beater on this play. Hoping that this is finally they play where we block everyone and give Vick time isn't really a strategy.
And the blitz that was giving us so much trouble at the end wasn't just a double A-gap:
That's right, it's a triple A-gap blitz. Somewhere Jim Johnson is smiling right now.
And probably telling Andy to run the damn ball.