By Matt Vensel, The Baltimore Sun
9:18 PM EDT, September 11, 2012
Each week, Baltimore Sun reporters Aaron Wilson and Matt Vensel will look back at the previous game of the Ravens and their next opponent. The Ravens will play the Eagles at 1 p.m. on Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field.
Eagles 17, Browns 16
Strategy: Offensively, the Eagles moved the pocket with quarterback Michael Vick on rollouts and bootlegs off play-action, but Vick displayed poor accuracy and worse decision-making. They had a lot of success running LeSean McCoy to the outside. He is fast, but can hit the brakes and be patient while looking for running lanes. Defensively, they crammed eight men in the box when the Browns used two-receiver sets and rattled Brandon Weeden without blitzing a bunch.
Personnel: The Eagles used McCoy, wide receivers DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin, and tight end Brent Celek more than 80 snaps apiece. They shuffled various players in as their fifth skill-position player. Celek was used in a lot of different ways, and was a receiver more than half the time. Their defensive line rotation is impressive, with eight players getting at least 20 snaps. Rookie Brandon Boykin did a passable job as their nickel cornerback.
What went right: The Eagles were able to move the ball on offense when they weren't turning it over to the Browns, and McCoy averaged 5.5 yards per carry. After struggling in this area at times a year ago, the Eagles tackled well, especially new middle linebacker DeMeco Ryans. They only recorded two sacks, but they hurried Weeden several times and picked off four passes.
What went wrong: Where do I begin? Vick got hit about a dozen times, though most of it was the result of his freelancing in and out of the pocket. The Eagles were flagged for 110 yards in penalties, including four holding calls. Those issues put them in a lot of third-and-long situations. Vick threw four interceptions — one when he sailed a short throw over McCoy and two more when he was slow to recognize double coverage — and could have easily thrown six or seven.
Turning point: As Vick led the Eagles on a 16-play, 91-yard drive to take a late 17-16 lead, he threw a pass directly to Browns linebacker L.J. Fort. Fort dropped it, though. And a play later, Vick zipped a rare accurate pass to second tight end Clay Harbor for the 4-yard touchdown.
X-factor: Eagles defensive ends Trent Cole and Jason Babin combined for 29 sacks last season, with 18 coming from Babin, and their speed on the edges could cause problems for Ravens offensive tackles Michael Oher and Kelechi Osemele. Cole used his speed to beat left tackle Joe Thomas, perhaps the NFL's best, on one play. And Babin, who had a sack and a few hurries Sunday, causes problems for most veteran right tackles. He'll test Osemele, a rookie.
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