Anatomy of a Collapse: Heath Evans vs. the Eagles
At the half, the New Orleans Saints led the Philadelphia Eagles 17-13. The Eagles were playing without their star QB, Donovan McNabb, but they were still in the game. On the kickoff, Eagles DB Ellis Hobbs returned the kick up the ride side. Hobbs, a former Patriot, ran into Leonard Weaver, a former Seahawk and proceeded to be stripped from behind by Saints rookie Malcolm Jenkins. The ball was scooped up by New Orleans.
The Saints were committed to keeping the Eagles off balance. They mixed pass and run plays well throughout the day. They also demonstrated trust in all of their playmakers. Exhibit A: Heath Evans.
Let’s take a look.
Part 1: Fullback Heath Evans in motion.
Part II: Heath Evans chips on the DE and heads into the flat vs. the LB.
Part III. Heath Evans beats the LB and faces three Eagle defenders, plus 1. This clearly does not look like a play in which a fullback should score a touchdown. Look at the Eagle defensive linemen. They’ve stood up and are not in a sprint to finish off Evans. Only #75, Juqua Parker appears to be fully engaged.
Part IV: Heath Evans shows what he is made of. Two of the Eagle defenders have crumpled into a heap — together. Evans is overpowering the smaller Macho Harris (all 187 pounds of him). Parker has slowed and now looks like the rest of the defensive linemen. Quintin Mikell, who had a great angle to cut Evans off, never bothers to get himself in the play. In the time it took the New Orleans fullback to blast through 2 Eagle defenders at the 9 yard line and move to the five, Quintin Mikell has moved about 15 feet — and now has a worse approach angle.
Part V: Heath Evans begins the 2nd half March of the Saints
As these pictures demonstrate, the Eagle defenders simply had no desire to tackle Heath Evans on this play. This is not championship-caliber defense. There were a great many reasons why the Eagles dropped this game, but a lack of defensive intensity and special teams focus allowed the Saints breathing room and encouraged them to open up their playbook, all while discouraging the Eagles from running the ball more.
The Saints number of elite offensive threats already included Marques Colston, Jeremy Shockey, Devery Henderson, Robert Meachem, Lance Moore, Mike Bell, and Reggie Bush. Adding Heath Evans to the list only added insult to injury.