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.

Stay or Go Part 8: Ryan Mathews to Steven Means

Stay or Go Part 8: Ryan Mathews to Steven Means

In the eighth of our 12-part offseason series examining the future of the Eagles, Reuben Frank and Dave Zangaro give their opinions on who will be and who won't be on the roster in 2017. We go alphabetically — Part 8 is Mathews to Means.

Ryan Mathews
Cap hit: $5M

Roob: The Eagles have to get better, younger, faster, healthier, more durable and more reliable at running back. I love the way Mathews runs when he’s healthy. The guy runs hard and he runs physical and he runs aggressive. Then he always gets hurt. Mathews actually has the third-highest per-carry average among running backs in Eagles history, but they just can’t rely on him anymore. How can you count on a running back who misses significant time every year? Time to move on. Factor in the cap savings — $4 million if the Eagles release him — and it’s a no-brainer.

Verdict: GOES

Dave: The Eagles can save $4 million in cap room to cut the running back who needed serious neck surgery after his season was ended in the Giants game. Mathews played pretty well in his two seasons with the Eagles, but, as has been the case during his career, health was an issue. And now he’s 29 and will turn 30 early into next season. Time to move on. 

Verdict: GOES

Jordan Matthews
Cap hit: $1.57M

Roob: Matthews is going into Year 4 and I’d still like to see him make a jump and become a 1,200-yard type of receiver. Maybe it will happen with another year under his belt with Carson Wentz. Matthews has the 11th-most catches in NFL history by a player in his first three seasons — 225, or 75 per year — but his 2,673 yards are 50th most. Matthews is as hard a worker and as committed a player as you’ll see. He'll get the most out of his ability. I’d just like to see him take his game up one more level, and I think he will.

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: It’s a shame the Eagles don’t have any legitimate threats at their outside receiver positions, because if they did, so much of the burden wouldn’t fall on Matthews. No, he’s not a great receiver, but he’s a very good one who has been solid in his first three years in the league. In his first three seasons, Matthews has 225 catches for 2,673 yards and 19 touchdowns. There have been just 10 receivers in the league to put up those numbers or better: Antonio Brown, Julio Jones, Demaryius Thomas, Odell Beckham Jr., DeAndre Hopkins, Emmanuel Sanders, Doug Baldwin, Mike Evans, Randall Cobb and Brandon Marshall. Matthews isn’t going anywhere and it’s time to think about an extension. 

Verdict: STAYS

Alex McCalister
Cap hit: $557K

Roob: McCalister, a seventh-round defensive end, spent the year on injured reserve but considering the Eagles’ lack of pass-rush potency, he’ll definitely get a look this summer. McCalister had 17½ sacks at Florida, so he’s got that going for him. Still a long shot.

Verdict: GOES

Dave: This is tough because McCalister was a seventh-round draft pick who was placed on IR with a injury that didn’t appear to be serious. The last year was a redshirt season for the defensive end who has some pass-rush ability but needed to work on packing more muscle onto his frame. Haven’t seen enough to think he sticks. 

Verdict: GOES

Leodis McKelvin
Cap hit: $3.45M

Roob: The Eagles have to do better than McKelvin. He made a few plays, gave up a lot more, and as far as I’m concerned, the Eagles should hang onto Jalen Mills and get rid of all their other corners. Not to mention the $3.2 million in cap savings the Eagles would gain if McKelvin is released. See ya.

Verdict: GOES

Dave: The Eagles can save $3.2 million by cutting McKelvin, which will probably happen. If it doesn’t, it’ll be because the Eagles think his lingering hamstring issue played a big role in his play and because defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz goes to bat for him. Ultimately, I think McKelvin’s days in Philly are over. 

Verdict: GOES

Rodney McLeod
Cap hit: $5.6M

Roob: McLeod played really well most of the season, tailed off the last few weeks, and goes into next year a question mark because of that inconsistency. When he’s right, McLeod is a sure tackler, willing run supporter, big hitter and capable in coverage. But those last few weeks raised some eyebrows. There were times you just wondered what he was doing out there. If the Eagles can have the first-10-games McLeod for a full season, they’re fine. But he has to be consistent. He’ll be here through 2017 but after that is anybody’s guess. Another mixed year will likely spell the end here for McLeod.

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: There were a few plays that showed questionable effort from McLeod this season, which was shocking based on his past. He was an undrafted rookie who worked his way into the league and into a contract with the Eagles. This ended up being a pretty good signing; he had a nice season. He’s under contract through 2020 and the Eagles hope he hasn’t yet fulfilled his potential. He and Malcolm Jenkins should only get better after more time playing together. 

Verdict: STAYS

Steven Means
Cap hit: $690K

Roob: Means, a veteran journeyman defensive end, played only 36 snaps all year. He did pick up one sack against the Vikings, but as far as his future? Most likely, he won’t be back.

Verdict: GOES

Dave: Means did everything in his power last training camp to make the 2016 roster. He flashed every day and in the preseason games. But in 2016, he didn’t get to play very much and was clearly buried on the depth chart behind Connor Barwin, Brandon Graham, Vinny Curry and Marcus Smith. The Eagles need to upgrade at the defensive end spot, which might be bad news for Means if more bodies come in. But for now, he's a good depth piece. 

Verdict: STAYS

Temple names Keith Gaither wide receivers coach

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USA Today inage

Temple names Keith Gaither wide receivers coach

Temple head coach Geoff Collins on Monday added two new members to his coaching staff.

Keith Gaither will take over as the wide receivers’ coach and Kyle Lane is the new video coordinator. 

Gaither comes to Temple with 21 years of coaching experience. He spent last season as Army's wide receivers coach. Prior to that, he spent time with Tusculum College (1998-99), Thomasville City Schools (2000-04), Winston-Salem State (2005-08), Elon (2009-10) and Ball State (2010-14).

Gaither spent his collegiate career at Elon, where he was a four-year starter and voted all-region at defensive end before graduating in 1997. Collins originally had retained Frisman Jackson from the 2016 staff, but Jackson was hired by the Tennessee Titans. 

Lane is a Temple alum who spent time with Kansas during the 2016 season as its assistant video coordinator.