In games that Michael Vick started last season, the Eagles got excellent play out of the RT position, far better than they had in 2010. I went back and took a look at all the sacks Michael Vick took in 2011 (there were 24 of them), and found just one instance in which RT Todd Herremans gave up a sack that Vick didn’t see coming. In fact, on more than half of Vick’s 24 sacks, you can very easily attribute the cause of the sack to something other than poor OL play. In many cases Vick simply ran away from a clean pocket, the defense designed a blitz that the OL had no chance of blocking, or the Eagles simply employed questionable scheming (one example being that they tried to block guys like DeMarcus Ware 1 on 1 with a TE or a RB). Here’s video of all 24 of them, with my analysis on what I see on each play after the jump:
|Sack||Game||Mark||How’d they get him?|
|1||Rams||0:00||Steve Spagnuolo obviously watched some film of the Eagles-Vikings Tuesday night game in 2010, in which the Vikings were able to get the slot corner on a free run at Michael Vick, and they were able to get 3 sacks in this game employing blitzes from defensive backs. All three sacks were breakdowns in scheme, not necessarily the fault of any of the offensive linemen. On this play, it’s Bradley Fletcher that gets to Vick from the slot, and Chris Long cleans up after the initial hit.|
|2||0:35||Just a beautifully timed blitz here by Quintin Mikell, who gets the blindside strip sack. Doesn’t matter who your RT is, this is just a perfect blitz.|
|3||1:21||Another blindside DB blitz. LeSean McCoy chooses the wrong defender to block, and Justin King is able to chase down Vick.|
|4||Giants||1:53||Jason Pierre-Paul is special. That’s really all I can say about this play. The Giants are only rushing 3, and JPP gets a huge jump at the snap, and not only beats the best LT in the league around the edge, but he also somehow gets around the edge on McCoy before McCoy can react. He misses Vick initially, falls, pops right back up, hustles to get back into the play, chases down Vick, and even gets a nice shot in on him. A+ play by an A+ player. If you’re of the thinking that you should put your best OT on the left side, where he’ll face the opponent’s best pass rusher, no matter what hand your QB throws with, here’s Exhibit A of your argument.|
|5||Niners||2:31||This is just a baffling blocking scheme here. The Eagles have Peters block down on the DE and ask their worst offensive lineman (Kyle DeVan) to come all the way across the line from RG to try to trap stud rookie Aldon Smith. Smith beats DeVan easily and gets the sack.|
|6||2:48||The OL gives Vick a reasonable amount of time to throw, Vick doesn’t trust the pocket, takes off, doesn’t make it back to the line of scrimmage.|
|7||Bills||3:19||Kyle Williams makes the play here. He gets a good rush on Mathis’ outside shoulder. Mathis is able to keep himself between Williams and Vick, but bumps into Vick. Vick, feeling contact, aborts and takes off running. Shawne Merriman cleans up. There a thinking out there that Mathis didn’t give up any sacks on the season, and while his guy techincally didn’t get the sack in the stat sheet, his man made the play here.|
|8||Redskins||3:35||Brian Orakpo is completely unblocked. Bad adjustment at the line of scrimmage pre-snap. This was the game that Herremans played LT for Peters, and while he largely dominated Orakpo for the better part of this game, this was a bad job by the line as a whole. It’s pretty clear Orakpo should have been Herremans’ man, Mathis should have had the DE, and Jason Kelce, who wound up blocking nobody, should have had the LB. Vick is able to escape Orakpo, but Rocky McIntosh does a good job on outside contain, and Barry Cofield cleans up.|
|9||4:07||This play looks a little bit like the opening play of the game in 2010 when the Vick threw the 91 yard bomb to DeSean Jackson in the 59 point shellacking. It’s a little play action to the right, half roll left, and likely bombs away. The Skins, however, have the right play call on (a safety blitz right into the area where Vick is rolling), and he’s meat.|
|10||Cowboys||4:48||Gerald Sensabaugh comes on the blitz, and McCoy doesn’t quite get enough of him. Vick is forced to step up, still has some time anyway, and decides to salvage what he can before diving into DeMarcus Ware’s lap for a gift sack.|
|11||5:17||I’m not quite sure what Vick is doing here. He has a perfectly clean pocket that he abandons. Maybe he thought Ware was going to rush wide, take himself out of the play, and leave an enormous running lane? Whatever the case, he unnecessarily gave up a good looking pocket. Gift sack #2 for Ware in this game.|
|12||5:28||Again, what is Vick doing here? The interior DL gets no push whatsoever, and Vick has a beautifully developing pocket. His first read is a little 5 yard stop by Jeremy Maclin on the outside, who is covered well, and he never looks for the next read. For no good reason, he bolts, running directly into the far too wide pass rush of DeMarcus Ware. Ware does a good job capitalizing on Vick’s mistake, gets the strip sack, but Herremans is able to pounce on the football. Most people looking at this play are going to put that sack on Herremans, but they shouldn’t. The line of scrimmage is the 42.5 yard line. Herremans shuffleboards Ware all the way back to the 33. Your QB shouldn’t ever be 9+ yards behind the line of scrimmage when th interior DL has gotten no push whatsoever.|
|13||6:12||The Eagles try to leave Clay Harbor 1 on 1 against Ware. Yeah, that’s not going to work. Ware picks up his 4th sack. Listen to what Al Michaels has to say about Ware’s 4 sacks.|
|14||Bears||6:40||The Bears show 6, send 5. OL confusion. Peters is left to decide whether to block Peppers on the outside or Amoki Okoye on the inside. He takes Okoye (and whiffs on him), while Peppers is unblocked and cleans up.|
|16||7:34||Cards send 5, Vick has a clean pocket, can’t find anyone. Coverage sack again.|
|17||Dolphins||8:04||Vick slips, but Jason Taylor might have gotten him anyway. He showed a speed rush, was able to get Peters off balance and came underneath of him for the sack.|
|18||8:34||The Dolphins send Vontae Davis on a delayed inside corner blitz, which gets through, causing Vick to have to tuck and run. I’m not even sure they lost any yardage here.|
|19||9:09||The Eagles shift their line to the left here at the snap to move the pocket, and Vick has a reasonable amount of time. #96 Paul Soliai gets in the way of Vick’s throwing lane, before #78 Tony McDaniel tries to rip Vick’s head off.|
|20||10:12||Peters and Mathis block the same defender, and two Miami DB’s get through. It apears that McCoy fakes a block on the blitzing safety, and leaks out into the flat, where he’s wide open. Peters is partially to blame here, and possibly McCoy depending on what his assignment is. Also, not the best of recognition here by Vick.|
|21||Cowboys||10:42||The Eagles try to block DeMarcus Ware 1 on 1 with LeSean McCoy. McCoy can pass protect, but that’s not a battle he’s going to win very often.|
|22||11:17||Just like in the first matchup against the Cowboys, the Eagles try to block Ware 1 on 1 with Clay Harbor, with the same result.|
|23||Redskins||11:46||Brian Orakpo simply beats Todd Herremans around the edge. Badly. This is the only play all season in which the RT was at fault for giving up a blindside sack.|
|24||12:17||Vick has some time, but Orakpo gets home on a stunt. Orakpo starts this play on the left side of the Eagles’ line side, and loops around to right side. Danny Watkins recognizes the stunt, but trips and falls, leaving Herremans to try to block both Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan. Orakpo gets free and gets the strip sack. On PFF, they gave this sack to Herremans, incorrectly. This one is on Watkins.|
When Jason Peters was lost for perhaps the entire season by rupturing his Achilles tendon, one of the initial reactions was that Todd Herremans might be forced to move to LT. The LT, after all, typically faces the opposing team’s best pass rusher, even if your QB is a lefty. Here’s a sampling of the opposing pass rushers the Eagles’ LT will have to face in 2012:
- DeMarcus Ware twice: 66 sacks and 15 FF the last 4 seasons.
- Jason Pierre-Paul and Osi Umenyiora twice: JPP was, in my opinion, the best defensive player in the NFCE last year. Umenyiora is a strip sack master, with 12 of them the last 2 years.
- Brian Orakpo twice: 28.5 sacks in his first 3 seasons as a pro.
- John Abraham: 22.5 sacks the last 2 seasons.
- Terrell Suggs: Last year’s Defensive Player of the Year. 25 sacks, 9 FF last 2 seasons.
- Carlos Dunlap: 14 sacks in his first 2 seasons as a pro.
- Will Smith: Beginning to slow down. 12 sacks the last two seasons.
- James Harrison: 2008 Defensive Player of the Year. 9 sacks, 2 FF in a down year in 2011.
- Kyle Vanden Bosch: Jim Washburn’s all time favorite defensive lineman. 8 sacks, 4 FF last year.
- Adrian Clayborn: 7.5 sacks and 3 FF as a rookie
- Sam Acho: 7 sacks, 4 FF as a rookie.
My initial thinking was that if the Eagles didn’t bring in a legitimate starting LT, it was a no-brainer to move Herremans over to LT to block the best of the best. However, a lot of memories (mine included) are very short-term in nature. I was only remembering the good play the Eagles got out of their RT in 2011. 2010, however was a different story. I began to remember this:
That caused me to go back and look at some more tape, and I found these:
I think I had forgotten just how bad the RT position was in 2010, and how much it hurt the Eagles that year. I had minimized the importance of protecting Vick’s blindside, because it wasn’t an issue last season.
Today the Eagles signed Demetress Bell away from the Bills. While he’s not Jason Peters by any stretch, he’s good enough to park at LT, which will enable the Eagles to keep Herremans right where he is at RT, and continue to build upon the continuity along the right side of their line.