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Scouting Report - Week 14 - Bills-Eagles

Posted Dec 11, 2015

The Eagles special teams are pretty accomplished in most areas, but there is one weakness in their kicking game.


Top 3 Individual Matchups
1 – Charles Clay vs. Walter Thurmond
The Bills tight end has been a matchup problem for a lot of teams, but the cornerback turned safety has the cover skills to run with Clay.

2 - Cordy Glenn vs. Brandon Graham
Glenn got some good preparation for Graham having faced Whitney Mercilus last week. Graham leads the Eagles with 6.5 sacks.

3 – Jerry Hughes vs. Jason Peters
Buffalo’s top pass rusher leads the team in sacks, quarterback hits and forced fumbles. His approach against the former Bill known to Eagles fans as ‘the bodyguard’ will be one of the more interesting matchups to watch.

Bills Top 2 Advantages
Good advantage – Third down defense
Despite a down week in this category last week, Buffalo has improved in getting off the field on third down in the second half of the season. Philadelphia is one of the lesser third down offenses in the league converting at a rate of just 35 percent. On 3rd-and-medium the Eagles move the sticks just 32 percent.

Best advantage – Run game
Buffalo’s fourth-ranked run game is averaging 165 rushing yards per game over their last five games. The Eagles have found it tough to stop the run as they’re giving up almost 125 yards per game on the ground. That ranks a pedestrian 27th in the league.

Bills Number 1 Must
Run better
Philadelphia has a committee rushing attack that can roll up a respectable amount of yards too. Buffalo has to have the more productive ground game to not only keep drives alive, but to control the pace of the game and keep the Eagles offense from trying to use tempo to wear out the Bills defense.

Scouting Eye
Winning on teams
Everyone knows the Eagles special teams units tallied a punt return touchdown and a blocked field goal, which was returned for a touchdown in their win last week over New England. Don’t think it was a once in a while type thing for Philadelphia’s special teams. Since the start of last season, the Eagles specialists have account for 10 touchdowns with four coming on punt returns, four on blocked punts and two on kick returns. Since 2014 Philadelphia ranks first in total return touchdowns (six), blocked punts (six) and punt return average (12.9).

Demoting DeMarco?
He was one of the Eagles high-priced free agent acquisitions, but last week against New England, even with Ryan Mathews out with a concussion, DeMarco Murray got all of 14 offensive snaps and eight carries for 24 yards. Murray sat next to Eagles owner Jeff Lurie on the flight back to Philadelphia Sunday night and reportedly expressed his displeasure with his diminished role. With Mathews expected to return to the lineup Sunday and Darren Sproles and Kenjon Barner other options for the rushing attack, the chances of Murray returning to the role of feature back are very much up in the air.

Don’t blitz!
Maybe it’s because the Eagles receiving corps ranks third-worst in drop percentage. Maybe it’s because his offensive line has some injuries and had to shuffle the lineup. Whatever the reason Sam Bradford struggles against the blitz. While Bradford has cut back on turnovers with none in his last three and a half games, Philadelphia’s passer rating of 65.4 in blitz situations is the worst in football. Bradford hasn’t been horrible against the blitz, but he’s completing just 49 percent of his passes when under pressure. The league average passer rating against the blitz is just over 90.

Takeaway bandits
Philadelphia’s defense has been very productive when it’s come to turnovers. The Eagles stand third in the league in takeaways with 23 this season. Their 14 interceptions are tied for fifth-most in the league and their tied for third in forced fumbles with 15, nine of which they’ve recovered. The Eagles have scored 67 points this season off their takeaways, which is good for fifth-best in the NFL.

Welcome to the red zone
When it comes to defending the red zone the Eagles roll out the red carpet. Opponents are reaching the end zone almost 70 percent of the time they crack Philadelphia’s 20-yard line (69%). The Eagles rank 25th in in yards per play allowed in the red zone, and their 31 red zone touchdowns allowed this season is tied for second-most in the league.

Kicker trouble
As accomplished as Philadelphia’s return units are they do struggle when it comes to their place kicking. After K Cody Parkey went on injured reserve in Week 4, the Eagles signed free agent Caleb Sturgis and it’s been a bumpy ride. Sturgis missed his first ever field goal attempt for Philadelphia, a 33-yarder. Recently he’s missed two of his last four attempts and he’s also failed on two extra point attempts this season. Sturgis is a career 61.5 percent kicker from 40 yards plus. He’s a big reason why Philadelphia ranks 29th in field goal percentage. Ironically, Sturgis was the rookie kicker who put Dan Carpenter out of a job in 2013.

Buffalo Chips
Stat of the week
The Bills are number one in scoring points outside the red zone with a league-leading 152 points. The Eagles defense ranks first in points allowed outside the red zone allowing just 38 this season.

Quote of the week
“I don’t want to make this a ‘me show’ because with that type of attitude if I have a huge game and we lose how do you walk off the field? The main thing is just going in there and winning. That’s the biggest stat you could have.”
RB LeSean McCoy

Milestones within reach
With 100 yards or more from scrimmage Sunday, LeSean McCoy would become just the third running back in team history to post 100-plus yards from scrimmage in seven straight games or more (O.J. Simpson, Thurman Thomas).

Corey Graham needs seven tackles for 400 in his career.

Sammy Watkins needs seven catches and 50 receiving yards to set the mark for most receptions and most yards by a Bill in his first two seasons. (Receptions – Jerry Butler, Robert Woods – 105) (Receiving yards 1,666 – Jerry Butler).

Final note
Tyrod Taylor leads the NFL in fourth quarter passing with a rating of 117.