Scout’s Eye takes a look at
One of my favorite times of the week is when I get to visit with
Lee was impressed how quickly that Holloman had picked up things in the scheme despite not having played the position since training camp in the nickel. Lee went on to tell me how difficult it was to play against this Eagles offense because of all the dynamic skill players they have on their roster. There is a certain way that you need to play LeSean McCoy and Lee had a great understanding of that. Lee is perfect in this regard, because he is rarely fooled on plays, he reads quickly and he finishes his tackles.
In watching Holloman, I thought he started off rough and was too aggressive in his reads which caused him to miss or overshoot some opportunities in the hole. When you play McCoy, he is not that type of back that is going to run over you in the hole and if you can meet him there, there is a solid chance that you can bring him down. Holloman was just too wide on his reads and when you do that, McCoy is to and through the hole. He is a hard guy to adjust back to if you are not already in position.
After those misses on the scheme fits, I thought that Holloman did a much better job of playing with patience, getting off blocks and filling where he needed to be. You want to be quick to get to McCoy before he gets going but you also almost have to slow play him, so he doesn’t get past you. In the 2nd half, there were three times where Holloman held McCoy to a gain of just one yard because his technique was outstanding but his finish was even better.
In my conversation with Lee, he also spoke of how difficult it was for the middle linebacker in this scheme to have to make the correct reads against the Eagles in the passing game. There are screens, crossing routes by the receivers and underneath plays from the tight ends, that put a great deal of pressure on you. If there was one trait that DeVonte Holloman showed from training camp, it was his ability to be around the ball when it goes in the air. Early in the game, like in the running game, he had his struggles but was able to right the ship and be a factor in helping the defense get off the field.
The Eagles under Chip Kelly love to run crossing routes that like to cause problems when you play man coverage. In the 1st quarter, Holloman got caught in a situation where on a 3rd – 3 from the Eagles 30, Foles found Chris Polk up the sideline on a wheel route, which Holloman was late to react to because he was fighting through the trash. I would chalk this up more to Hollman’s inexperience in dealing with the formation and what the Eagles would have liked to do in that situation.
Later in the 1st half, with the Eagles holding a 10 – 7 lead and the ball on the Cowboys 49, Kelly goes with his “12” personnel by aligning Brent Celek as a wing on the right side. At the snap, Foles fakes the ball going left to McCoy and spins to his right. Celek tries to run from right to left with Holloman getting his hands on him to try and slow him up. Foles sets as far right as he can get trying to draw the coverage as Celek continues across the field. Holloman is in perfect position in the route and is tracking the ball. Holloman lays out to try and defend the ball that is in the perfect spot for Celek to catch. It was a great throw and catch. On the next play, Celek catches a pass from Foles for a 15 yard touchdown a 17 – 7 lead.
In the 2nd half, I like how Monte Kiffin started the drive by bringing Holloman on the blitz and getting him home for the sack. The call was well designed by putting
Another great example of the speed and quickness of Holloman came later in the game when the Cowboys were trying to get the ball back for their offense in the final two minutes of the game. The Eagles try some read option deception by bringing DeSean Jackson in motion, then into the backfield. At the snap, Foles fakes the ball to Jackson going to his left, while at the same time, bringing McCoy underneath working him to the flat. Holloman sees it all the way and begins to track McCoy. On the play,
For DeVonte Holloman, it was a great learning experience for him to play these last few games as the Mike linebacker for Sean Lee while he dealt with his neck injury. For Holloman he made a vast improvement from his first start against the Packers to his last one against the Eagles. What has to be encouraging to this staff is that he showed that there is some depth to his game. I believe that next season, you will see him most likely battle