Lunch Break: Secondary concerns
Despite the growing list of miscues from from his veteran safety over the past few weeks, defensive coordinator Bill Davis seems to think Patrick Chung will get his problems ironed out.
“I bet he'll have his best game against Chicago,” Davis said.
Chung was lifted against the Vikings after two series, and although it seemed like a benching, Davis said the plan was always to rotate Chung and Kurt Coleman.
It’s safe to assume that Davis wouldn’t have gone to Coleman if Chung had picked off a pass or stuffed a running back behind scrimmage. Instead, Chung was on the wrong end of two major Vikings connections in the first quarter that enabled Minnesota to jump out to an early lead.
Here’s an All-22 look at some of Chung’s breakdowns, starting with the game’s opening drive.
The Vikings have 1st-and-10 near midfield and come out in 12 personnel, two wide receivers and two tight ends. They run out of this formation, so the Eagles have seven in the box. The Eagles are playing a two-deep coverage, with Chung and Nate Allen each about 10 yards behind scrimmage.
The problem arises when Vikes wideout Cordarrelle Patterson motions into the backfield and behind running back Matt Asiata, presenting the threat of an end-around or screen:
Even though DeMeco Ryans roams to the flat to guard against Patterson, Chung comes way down from his spot and leaves a gaping hole down the left seam. But Patterson is a decoy. Vikes quarterback Matt Cassel never even looks in the wideout’s direction. Tight end Chase Ford, from an in-line position, releases and finds the area left vacant by Chung’s overpursuit:
Chung tries to recover, but Ford has already caught the ball around the 38-yard-line and gets about six more yards after contact:
Fortunately for Chung, Blair Walsh missed a 55-yard field goal and the Vikings didn’t get any points on their opening possession.
Chung wouldn’t be so fortunate about three minutes later, with the Vikings facing 2nd-and-4 at their own 43. The Vikes come out in a three-wide formation. Interestingly, the Eagles stay in base. They keep slot corner Brandon Boykin on the bench and line up Chung against Greg Jennings in the slot.
The Eagles like Chung’s slot coverage and the base defense allows them to match up Barwin outside against Patterson in a zone coverage. Mychal Kendricks blitzes up the middle while Ryans drops to help in coverage across the middle:
With Nate Allen providing help on the outside and leaving the middle of the field open, Chung can’t let Jennings beat him to the inside and get isolated on Ryans, who doesn’t have the speed to keep up.
But that’s what happens. Chung plays a tight coverage on Jennings and gets beaten by the wideout’s inside move:
Jennings gets between Chung and Ryans and it becomes a foot race, which favors the wideout:
Cassel avoids pressure from Trent Cole and puts the ball where he anticipates Jennings will be, near the 20-yard line and to Jennings’ outside shoulder. It’s a perfect pass:
Allen, Chung and Ryans can only watch as Jennings has nothing but green ahead of him for the 57-yard touchdown.
Chung then came out for Coleman, who would injure his hamstring and be replaced by third-string safety Colt Anderson. Eventually, Anderson suffers a knee injury that forces Chung back into the game.
Given a second chance, Chung commits an egregious penalty. The Eagles are down 12 but there’s nearly eight minutes left when the Vikings, trying to milk the clock, call for an Matt Asiata run off right tackle. The Eagles have seven in the box with Chung creeping into the box:
Inside penetration by Cedric Thornton forces Asiata to bounce outside and head for the sideline. Chung races across the field in pursuit. Instead of maintaining his leverage and delivering a hit to Asiata’s waist, Chung tries to make a lunging arm tackle:
The bad technique causes Chung to graze Asiata’s helmet and then hang onto the running back’s jersey as they collide out of bounds, which gets Chung flagged for unnecessary roughness:
The extra 15 yards puts the ball at the Eagles’ 13-yard line. Two plays later, Cassel throws a touchdown to Patterson and the Vikings go up by 19 with about seven minutes left.
The rest is history.