The Eagles were embarrassed yet again in Week 4. Let’s blame those responsible.
The title is pretty self explanatory, so I won’t waste any time with a clever introduction. I’m too angry for clever, anyway.
Degree of blame assigned from least to most:
Jason Babin: Three sacks just weren’t enough. Nine might have done the trick. Eagles need Babin to get his act together.
Michael Vick: Under threw a few deep balls early before finally finding his groove. Hopefully that sticks for the remainder of the season. Also, Vick couldn’t fly. Shame on him.
(No, I’m not serious about blaming Vick or Babin.)
Ronnie Brown: I’ll admit, I thought the, “run into the goal line mosh pit, wait for contact, then try to lateral to Owen Schmitt,” play was destined for greatness. Seeing it crash and burn like that was shocking.
You know what I think? (Of course you don’t, but listen anyway.) I think Andy Reid needed to cut Ronnie Brown on Monday. Would it have been the wisest move? Nope. Could it haunt the team later? Yep. But who cares. Reid clearly doesn’t have the full attention of the team. Cutting Brown would send a clear message to the team; “You will be held accountable.” Besides, based on Brown’s production and his lack of touches, the Eagles clearly aren’t using him to the degree that his absence would be a devastating blow. (Assuming, of course, LeSean McCoy stays healthy.) Cutting Brown would be irrational, but something needs to be done to wake this team up.
DeSean Jackson: He probably played his best game of the year. Still, he dropped a few passes and his first drop of the game led to Vick’s only interception. Jackson also made little effort on an underthrown ball early in the 2nd quarter. If he wants elite wide receiver money, he should really start trying like one. Randy Moss never really tried, but he never really had to, either. Jackson is 1/3rd the receiver Moss was. Someone needs to remind Jackson of this daily, because homeboy thinks he’s the world’s greatest.
Jeremy Maclin: Maybe the Eagles should consider benching Maclin in the final five minutes of the 4th quarter. Two weeks ago, Maclin dropped a perfectly thrown ball on 4th down. The drop cost the Eagles a chance to win. This past week, Maclin carelessly held the football out like a loaf of bread and fumbled after being hit and caught from behind… by a defensive end, no less. Can we see a little more Steve Smith, please? I’m sick of Maclin doing more to hurt the team in the 4th quarter than helping . Also, can we all admit our receivers are overrated? Neither one is worth a crap inside the red zone. The red zone is where games are won.
Nnamdi Asomugha: Confidence is key to being a great cornerback. Asomugha has none right now. He can’t tackle. He looks lost. He struggled to cover Michael Crabtree on Sunday. MICHAEL CRABTREE. Is it Asomugha or is it the scheme? If it’s the scheme (Asomugha has mostly played man-to-man coverage and now plays more zone with the Eagles), why not change it? The Eagles are paying the man $60 million. Perhaps it’s a good idea to play to his strengths? Maybe? One more bad week and Asomugha will feel the full wrath of the Eagle faithful.
Andy Reid: Nope, Andy Reid doesn’t win first place. Not today. As much as no one wants to believe it, Sunday’s loss was less about Reid and more about the players. Allow me to explain.
Predictably, the outcry after Sunday’s loss was the run/pass ratio. As usually, it was out of whack, by a mile. Instead of running the ball to shorten the game, Reid continued to throw. Here’s what everyone wants to ignore; as stupid as Reid’s philosophy may have been, it was working. The Eagles went three-and-out only once in the 2nd half. They had the opportunity to put points on the board on every single 2nd half drive except for that three-and-out. Additionally, the Eagles drove deep into 49er territory on three consecutive drives in the 4th quarter. Twice they came away empty-handed after missed field goals and once due to Maclin’s fumble. Reid doesn’t kick field goals or carry the football. A kicker missing field goals has little, if anything to do with the coach. Should Reid have kept Akers? Ehh. Akers looked shaky on Sunday, too, but I wouldn’t argue if you’d like to rip Reid for that. Just don’t blame the Eagles’ inability to close out the 49ers on Reid’s refusal to run the football. His strategy kept the offense moving and was effective enough to give the Eagles what should have been a 12 point lead before San Francisco got the ball back with 6:28 to go in the 4th quarter. How can we assume running the football would have been effective, especially considering they failed to run the ball well all afternoon? Yes, running the football burns clock but not if you go three and out over and over again. If you want to blame Reid for something, blame him for…
Red Zone Offense: I pardoned Reid for throwing the football late with a lead, but he’s going down for this. Since Brian Westbrook got old, the Eagles have been awful in the red zone. As I’ve stated 732 times before, Maclin and Jackson are too small to get anything done in close quarters. If Reid wants to fix the red zone struggles, he needs to give McCoy more touches. Or, better yet, study the Patriots. Like the Eagles, the Patriots lack a big receiver. Instead, they use bruising tight ends, a running game, and the feisty Wes Welker. Maclin and Jackson don’t have the heart or guts of Welker, so just get them off the field. Having them out there makes the defense’s job easier. Put Jason Avant – a physical receiver who can create space – in the game along with multiple tight ends. Use Brent Celek’s size and toughness. Take advantage of McCoy’s ability to find space in traffic. Allow Vick to break down a defense with his athleticism. Vick is at his best when everything has broken down. And of course, run the football. 23 points on seven red zone trips is horrible. Fix the red zone and the 4th quarter leads may be too large to blow, even for this defense.
Alex Henery: You have one job, kid. Kick the ball through the two yellow poles. I understand you’ll miss some from time to time, but two in a row from within 40 yards? Unacceptable.
Defense: For the 3rd consecutive week, the Philadelphia defense surrendered 14 points in the 4th quarter and blew a lead. (San Francisco actually only scored 7 in the 4th quarter and 21 unanswered points in the last 23 minutes, but who’s counting?) Why does the secondary play well early and completely fall apart late? I have no answers. The defense is a soft group. Even a defensive line that punishes quarterbacks still looks soft when it comes to tackling and getting big stops inside the red zone or late in games. The 49er offense abused the Eagles in the 4th quarter, taking whatever they wanted and trampling the Eagles in the process.
My first thought was to solve the offense’s red zone issues and the defense will no longer be a problem. After all, this defense was built to play with a lead. It’s designed to get after the quarterback and rely on a stellar secondary. Unfortunately, the defense sucks with or without a big lead, and they clearly can’t protect a lead.
I’m really not worried about the offense, except in the red zone. I’m not even all that worried about Andy Reid. He does this every season and eventually reverts back to a more appropriate ratio, especially come November and December. But the defense? It’s an issue that cannot be overcome. Either it gets better or the Eagles suffer the most disappointing season in the franchise’s history. There’s just no way around it. The offense has played well enough (albeit not great) to be 3-1 or even 4-0. That’s how bad the defense is. They need more than a kick in the rear. They need a savior. Or a miracle. Or both.