Chiefs shut down DeSean

RON CORTES / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER DeSean Jackson reels in a long ball in front of Chiefs defender Brandon Flowers, one of his three catches for 62 yards.
RON CORTES / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER DeSean Jackson reels in a long ball in front of Chiefs defender Brandon Flowers, one of his three catches for 62 yards.
Posted: September 20, 2013

In the Eagles’ first two games, Michael Vick and DeSean Jackson had a nice little game of pitch-and-catch going.

Jackson, who had spent the better part of the previous 2-1/2 seasons as an underperforming shell of the guy who had frightened the hell out of opposing defensive backs his first two years in the league, was back to frightening the hell out of them again in Chip Kelly’s spread offense.

With Kelly moving Jackson all over the formation in “11”’ personnel packages (one tight end, one running back, three wide receivers) Vick targeted Jackson 24 times in the Week 1 win over Washington and the Week 2 loss to San Diego.

He caught 16 of those 24 passes for a league-best 297 yards, 14 first downs and two touchdowns. Five of those 16 receptions went for 25 yards or more. He was as close to unstoppable as any wide receiver in the league.

“We give them different looks the whole game,” Jackson said before last night’s 26-16 loss to the Chiefs. “In the past, I’ve always been the outside receiver, and that’s where I’ve been the whole game.

“Being able to be in the slot, being able to be in motion and not always be the outside wide receiver, it puts stress on linebackers and safeties.

“A lot of times, I come to the line of scrimmage and they don’t know where I’m at. That definitely helps me pop big runs, big plays, big passes. For a defense not knowing where I’m going to be lining up each time is more where it is right now. I’m constantly being moved around. Hopefully, throughout the year, it will be the same way, to always keep defenses off guard.”

Kelly moved Jackson around last night just as much as he did in the first two games, when he had seven catches for 104 yards and a touchdown against the Redskins and nine catches for 193 yards and a touchdown against the Chargers. But the Chiefs not only did a much better job of locating him, they also did a much better of shutting him down when they found him.

With Pro Bowl cornerback Brandon Flowers spending much of the evening with him, Jackson was held to three catches for 62 yards and no touchdowns in the Eagles’ turnover-plagued loss to Andy Reid and the Chiefs.

Forty of those 62 yards came on one catch late in the third quarter, when Jackson was able to get behind Flowers and the Eagles’ protection held up. But they squandered that big play when the drive stalled and their suddenly undependable kicker, Alex Henery, missed a 48-yard field goal attempt.

Jackson was targeted seven times by Vick, just twice in the first half when Flowers and the Chiefs held him to one catch for nine yards as they built a 16-6 lead with the help of four Eagles turnovers, including two Vick interceptions.

The pressure the Chiefs were able to get on Vick – he was sacked five times and completed only 13 of 30 attempts – was a big factor in the quarterback’s difficulty in getting the ball to his go-to guy.

But Kelly also said the Chiefs rotated a safety over the top toward Jackson to give Flowers or whatever corner was covering him, some help.

“They rotated a safety over the top a lot against him,” Kelly said. “We got him free on that one play. But if you watch, they were leaning heavily toward him.”

Flowers was listed as questionable for the game with a knee injury. But he played and did an outstanding job on Jackson.

“We had a great game plan,” said Flowers, who left the game in the fourth quarter after aggravating the knee. “The coaches did their homework, all the players bought in. We just executed the game plan.”

With the Chiefs blanketing Jackson, Vick had to look elsewhere for open receivers. Jason Avant had his best game of the year, catching five passes for 87 yards and the Eagles’ first touchdown, a diving 22-yard catch on one of Vick’s few good throws of the night. Even on that pass, the quarterback was leveled by Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson just as he got the ball away to Avant.

“It was the same [coverage] as we saw in the first two games,” Avant said. “It was just one of those games where you had to beat a man. I think we did for the most part. But we didn’t do it well enough or consistently enough.

“As soon as we had to the opportunity to do something, the ball would be on the ground [a fumble] or in their hands [an interception]. It was one of those things that played into their hands because they made it a passing game, with [us] being down so many points and not being able to run the ball [as much].”

The Eagles actually ran the ball on 28 of 63 offensive plays, including 20 carries for 158 yards and a touchdown by LeSean McCoy.

Jackson said the Chiefs’ coverage strategy wasn’t all that much different from what the Redskins and Chargers did.

“They had one safety deep and one in the box some of the time,” he said. “They were bailing on me a bit, backing up and not letting me get over the top on them. It was similar to last week in that they were not in my face the whole time.”

One difference is Flowers is much better than Shareece Wright, the Chargers’ corner Jackson repeatedly torched last week.

“I still felt I got open a few times,” Jackson said. “But it just really didn’t happen tonight. It was a tough loss.”

At halftime, Kelly and the Eagles apparently decided that they weren’t going to let the Chiefs dictate where they threw the ball, because Vick started looking Jackson’s way more in the final two quarters.

He completed a 13-yard pass to Jackson on a second-and-4 play early in the third quarter, right after a 30-yard run by McCoy. Those two plays kick-started a 10-play, 70-yard drive that ended up stalling at the Kansas City 11 and forcing the Eagles to settle for a 29-yard Henery field goal that made it a 16-9 game.

Jackson’s biggest catch of the game came later in the third quarter when the Chiefs played a single high safety and left Flowers all alone on Jackson on the right side. Jackson beat him deep down the right sideline and hauled in a 40-yard pass from Vick that gave the Eagles a first down at the Kansas City 28-yard line.

But much as it did most of the game, the Eagles’ offense stalled again. Two McCoy runs lost 2 yards. A third-and-12 pass by Vick to McCoy fell incomplete. Then Henery, who missed a costly 46-yard field goal attempt in the three-point Week 2 loss to the Chargers, missed a 48-yarder with 2:42 left in the third quarter.

Asked about his difficulty getting the ball to Jackson, Vick said, “It was one-on-one. They played off a bit more. They didn’t just press. When we did get some press opportunities, we took advantage of them downfield. We have to take advantage of those opportunities all the time and execute on all cylinders. We just didn’t play well tonight, by any stretch.”

* Defensive lineman Vinny Curry was activated for the first time this season. He replaced Damion Square. Square played 12 defensive snaps and eight special-teams snaps in the San Diego game.

* Michael Vick stared down tight end Brent Celek on his first-quarter interception, allowing Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson to step in front of Celek and deflect the ball to Eric Berry, who returned it for a 38-yard touchdown.

* The Linc crowd gave Damaris Johnson an ovation when he successfully executed a fair catch on Dustin Colquitt's second punt in the first quarter.

* Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles leveled Eagles rookie safety Earl Wolff on a second-quarter blitz. Took him right off his feet with a shoulder shot to the chest.

* On his second-quarter sack of Vick, Tamba Hali got around left tackle Jason Peters. It was the first sack Peters gave up this season.

* The problems rookie right tackle Lane Johnson had with outside linebacker Justin Houston. Houston had two sacks of Vick in a three-play span late in the second quarter. Both came at the expense of Johnson.

* All of the missed tackles by the Eagles in the first half. They had just three in their Week 1 win over the Redskins, 13 last week and at least eight in the first half alone.

* On a second-quarter deep pass to Riley Cooper, who was closely guarded by cornerback Sean Smith, Vick had running back Bryce Brown wide open 15 yards behind Cooper.

* Andy Reid is just the third coach in NFL history to coach against a team he coached for 14 or more years. The other two: Curly Lambeau and Hank Stram.

* The Eagles have scored just three times on their first possession in the last 19 games. They've had seven turnovers on their first possession during that span, including last night.

* The Chiefs converted a third-and-19 and a third-and-15 in the first half.


Email: pdomo@aol.com

On Twitter: @Pdomo

Blog: ph.ly/Eagletarian.com

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