Filmroom Friday: Scoring Vick vs. Lewis, Plus a Look at Calais Campbell and Arizona's Special Teams

Filmroom Friday: Scoring Vick vs. Lewis, Plus a Look at Calais Campbell and Arizona's Special Teams

Last week, we used our first look at All-22 coaches film to break down the Michael Vick vs. Ray Lewis match-up. Needless to say, we were pleased with the outcome, not only during the game, but with our research. Lewis may be a future first-ballot Hall of Famer, but against the Eagles he showed little of the range and instinct in the middle that led to two of Vick's four interceptions in Cleveland.

Look no further than the impact Brent Celek had in the passing game. Celek torched the Ravens defense to the tune of eight catches for 157 yards, and while not all of that production came at the expense of any one defender, it appeared Lewis was on the hook multiple times.

Before Lewis shows up at my house and checks me into a wall, he had his victories, too. Tight coverage on one attempt may have disrupted Celek's concentration, causing the ball to bounce off of the receiver's hands and into Ed Reed's. Lewis would get his own mit on a Celek target earlier, but was slightly out of position, and the pass fell to the turf for a harmless incomplete instead of going for another pick.

That was the difference between Lewis and D'Qwell Jackson one week
earlier. Simply put, Jackson was better at reading Vick's body language
than Lewis. On the near miss, Lewis easily could have slid into the
passing lane as Jackson did twice in Week 1, but here he overshoots for
whatever reason, nearly running himself out of the play entirely. It's
not as if Vick looks him off, or there are any other receivers over
there. He just missed some subtlety in the quarterback's motion.

Nor was he as adept at diagnosing the action as Jackson, as the first snap from scrimmage illustrated perfectly. Lewis appears to be in a zone designed to take away the middle, but he's so worried about the threat of Vick taking off, behind him Celek is allowed to run free 20 yards down the field. To his credit, Lewis may have spy responsibilities, or thought he had help from Bernard Pollard, who is doubling a wide receiver. Jackson was much more active and instinctual in these situations though.

It didn't seem to be a question of whether or not Lewis has lost a step, though a younger 52 probably could've made up more ground some of the time. Mostly he was content to let the action develop around him, which is why he wound up chasing on multiple occasions. Whether that is scheme or on Ray-Ray, we can't say, but the coaches film told us beforehand this was something we could expect.

Unfortunately, the lesson for this week is watching the film doesn't automatically provide that level of insight into your next opponent.

At first I considered examining how the Eagles tightened up against the Ravens ground attack in the second half, but the Cardinals are only averaging 2.8 yards per carry to begin with, so chances are it won't be a huge factor. Then I went and looked at DE Calais Campbell, who won Defensive Player of the Week honors for his 10 tackle, two sack performance against the Patriots, and how he would prove problematic for an offensive line with two new starters. It turns out Campbell typically lines up over the left guard, in Philly's case Evan Mathis rather than Demetress Bell or Dallas Reynolds.

For as disruptive a performance as it sounded like he had in New England, Campbell was surprisingly boring to watch anyway. He usually draws some sort of double team, and it's not as if he was routinely blowing through blockers. A healthy number of the plays he was in on were a result of Campbell standing his ground or filling a hole with his one free arm, and both sacks were effort plays where the quarterback was already on the run. None of which is to say this isn't an impressive player we're talking about. Arizona uses a 3-4, which means they will blitz to generate pressure, so having a guy up front that can occupy two blockers certainly sets up the pass rush.

But one of the biggest things that stands out about Campbell is, well, he's big... enormous actually. We saw him go sky high to pick off a Vick pass in last season's encounter -- it hit him in the belly as I recall -- and it's a wonder more passers haven't had similar trouble. His arms are up on every attempt, and he's always trying jump into the throwing lane. Take a look at how 93 works his way back to the middle.

Campbell spun right into Brady's face, and it's not like there was only one example to pick from where he nearly got his hands on a ball. Even when he's not getting to the quarterback, he can still ruin a perfectly good play.

The same principle applies on field goals, too. You may think the Eagles are about to add three points, but the Cardinals have led the league in blocked tries three years running, and Campbell has them out on the fast track for a fourth. He's so tall, there isn't even all that much penetration required -- although here against Seattle in Week 1, he's about four yards deep.

Turning the tides with dynamic talent on special teams isn't limited to blocking field goals though. They already had a devastating punt returner in Patrick Peterson, and last week they added punt blocking into the mix as well. The Cardinals didn't really do anything special, either. Looks like New England simply had a one-on-one breakdown protecting the left edge.

The Eagles can't allow something similar to happen on Sunday. That play changed the course of the game, giving the Cardinals the ball on the 2-yard line for an easy six -- and even their offense can score from there.

Aaron Grymes waived/injured by Eagles

Aaron Grymes waived/injured by Eagles

Aaron Grymes was making a serious push to be on the Eagles' 53-man roster until the cornerback's right shoulder slammed into the ground at Heinz Field after an interception.

Grymes hasn't practiced or played since and the Eagles waived/injured the 25-year-old corner on Monday.

Before coming to the Eagles this spring, Grymes spent three successful seasons in the Canadian Football League and won a Grey Cup as an All-Star for the Edmonton Eskimos in 2015.

There seems to be a decent shot that the Eagles might want to put Grymes on their practice squad.

After the Pittsburgh game, when he had the interception and suffered the injury, Grymes was asked if he would prefer to be on a practice squad or head back to Canada, where he's already a proven star.

“I’ve thought about both of them," Grymes said on Aug. 18. "Both of them are great opportunities. I know that there are teams in Canada that are willing to bring me in and let me play. But then again, you can’t really compare it with this NFL dream I’ve had forever.

"To sign to a practice squad … injuries happen every day, and I think an opportunity could be there. It will be something I sit down with my wife and talk about, sit down with my agent and talk about. We’ll just make the best decision for us from there.”

Nelson Agholor unlikely to play Eagles' preseason finale, even if he could use the work

Nelson Agholor unlikely to play Eagles' preseason finale, even if he could use the work

Starters typically don't play much if at all in the final preseason game, but what does that mean for the Eagles and Nelson Agholor?

Agholor may be a starter by default, but the second-year wideout has followed up a disappointing rookie campaign with an uninspired summer thus far. More reps might be of value for a young player in Agholor's position.

Doug Pederson apparently disagrees, telling reporters on Monday that Agholor "probably" won't make an appearance in the Eagles' preseason finale this Thursday against the Jets. When pressed for an explanation, the head coach gave a curious response.

"One, I don't want to risk an injury necessarily," Pederson said. "Two, he's right on track with where he needs to be, so I'm not concerned with Nelson."

Any assertion that Agholor is "on track" is debatable. The 2015 first-round pick has just two receptions for 30 yards in preseason action. To make matters worse, he's also dropped three passes, including a costly deflection that went for an interception against the Colts on Saturday.

Minimal production and lapses in concentration plagued Agholor throughout last season, and there's little evidence those issues are behind him. Regardless, Pederson sounds unconcerned.

"Every day he comes out here and puts in a quality day's work," Pederson said. "He works extremely hard, and I've seen what he can do in practice.

"Is there the occasional drop here or there? Yeah. What he did after the drop (against the Colts), you probably didn't notice the blocking downfield, the things he did away from the ball. More than being a receiver — obviously, catching the ball is number one — but we pride ourselves in being physical in the run game and blocks down the field, and the things he did in this football game put him in a really good position going into the regular season."

To his credit, Agholor has shown a willingness to contribute without the ball in his hands. The 23-year-old threw a key block on Josh Huff's eight-yard touchdown run on Saturday.

Of course, Agholor wasn't taken 20th overall for his ability to pancake defensive backs. The Eagles are hoping he can become a viable target in the passing attack.

Agholor has dealt with questions about his production and confidence going back to last year. He knows as well as anybody that he needs to improve, although he doesn't necessarily feel that growth needs to take place in an exhibition game.

"The most important thing to me right now is practice, and I got an opportunity to go out here and practice and progress from the game to today," Agholor said. "We went over some corrections from the game, so that was a step, and now when I go out here, I have to show signs of progression.

"(Coach Pederson's) decision is his decision. For my mind, I need to make sure I go out here today and get better as a football player."

But are Agholor's troubles holding on to the football correctable through practice? Drops are often attributed either to a receiver's hands or his concentration, both of which tend to be difficult flaws to overcome.

Concentration has been more to blame in Agholor's case. If there's a positive, he realizes that. Agholor looks at a drop like the one he had against the Colts that wound up going for an interception and tries to figure out exactly what broke his concentration on that play so that he won't make the same mistake again.

"As a wide receiver, when you watch that, the end result, the drop, isn't on my mind," Agholor said. "It's 'What was my route?' to go to that. Did I do too much to take my focus away from receiving that football? And I felt like I did.

"I felt like my pattern to get to the football — I made man moves and they were actually in a zone — and all those stairsteps made my eyes and my hands not be in the right place to receive the football at the right time."

Nobody is putting more pressure on Agholor to eliminate these mistakes than he is.

"That's what you have to do in this league, and that's what you have to do for a football team, especially when they count on you," Agholor said.

"My teammates count on me to be explosive with the football and without the football. I want to always do it with the football because that's my job. I'm a wide receiver. But as a player on the field, I have to make sure I'm explosive and I have to make sure I make plays without the ball in my hands too."

Perhaps that's why Pederson is showing so much faith in his young receiver. Work ethic has never been an issue for Agholor, and he's going to do whatever he can to become a reliable weapon for the Eagles. When he comes up short, it's not for lack of effort or preparation.

Fortunately, there's still time for Agholor to turn things around. If he can give the offense somewhat steady production in 2016, nobody will remember the preseason or even how he struggled as a rookie. Agholor realizes that too, so he's worried only about getting ready for opening day against the Browns on Sept. 11.

"I have a responsibility because I will be a guy that's out there," Agholor said. "In my mind, my number's going to be called multiple times and I need to answer the phone. That's how I look at it."

Eagles LB Myke Tavarres reportedly changes mind, will stand for national anthem

Eagles LB Myke Tavarres reportedly changes mind, will stand for national anthem

Several hours after telling ESPN that he would join Colin Kaepernick in not standing for the national anthem, Eagles rookie linebacker Myke Tavarres has apparently changed his mind. 

Tavarres' agent told FOX29's Chris O'Connell Monday afternoon that the linebacker will stand for the national anthem Thursday in the Eagles' preseason finale against the Jets.

All right then. 

Eagles head coach Doug Pederson released the following statement regarding Tavarres' decision(s):

For what it's worth, Crossing Broad found this picture from Tavarres a few weeks ago, when he certainly seemed to be pro-America.

Happy Independence Day!! 🇺🇸

A photo posted by Myke Tavarres (@myket14) on