The Eagles traveled to the desert in Week 3 and got steamrolled by Kevin Kolb and the ferocious Cardinal defense. Everything went poorly for Michael Vick and the Eagles. Want a list? Done. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Let’s start with what the Eagles did well. Patrick Peterson didn’t do any significant damage against the Eagles special teams. (Bravo.) The Eagles won the 2nd half 6-3. (Way to close.) The offense committed only three turnovers, which is less than four and definitely less than five. (At this rate, the Eagles will be turnover free in Week 6. Look out, Detroit.) Well, that was fun. Now, let’s move on to what they didn’t do well.
First and foremost, how does LeSean McCoy finish a game with 16 touches? Houston’s Arian Foster has finished a game with 16 touches or less only three times since the 2010 season kicked off. Ray Rice six times in that same stretch. McCoy? Ten times. I know the Eagles were down three scores the entire 2nd half, so it made sense not to run the ball excessively then, but you still have to find a way to get your best player the ball. And here’s a crazy idea: Maybe start the game by establishing the run? After all, most teams go to their strengths early and work off those strengths to establish other parts of the offense. If the Eagles don’t drop Vick back to pass right out of the gates, several positive things happen. A. McCoy gets more touches and softens the defense. B. Vick isn’t getting hit. C. Vick isn’t turning the ball over. D. A potent running attack always slows an aggressive pass rush. E. Vick isn’t getting hit. F. The offense gets into a groove. G. Vick isn’t getting hit.
Here is where a lifelong Eagles fan like my dad chimes in with, “Yeah, but Andy Reid is a dope.” True, but we at least know Reid is aware that leaning on the running game is an effective game plan because we’ve seen him use it before. Just last week against Baltimore Reid maintained a balanced offense. In the biggest of games throughout the Brian Westbrook era, Reid fed Westbrook until he couldn’t walk. It’s time Reid puts the offense on McCoy’s shoulders. Vick is a better quarterback when the running game is going, and what offensive line doesn’t prefer run blocking to pass protection? The running game must be the focal point of the offense. The offensive line is too banged up, Vick isn’t good enough, and the Eagles best player is a running back. Sadly, this makes way too much sense for Reid to even consider changing his offensive approach.
Second, didn’t DeSean Jackson get paid this summer? Then why is he still playing like a pansy? We all seem to enjoy blaming Reid and Vick for the disaster just before the half, but let’s not forget who put the Eagles in that situation. Three plays prior to the fumble, Jackson caught a 1st down pass from Vick and was tackled around the one yard line. However, Jackson could have easily scored had he run through the ball. In other words – run full speed into the catch and continue into the end zone. But no, Jackson caught the ball and immediately curled up in preparation for a big hit. Only, no hit was immediately coming and by the time Jackson realized it, he was tackled before scoring. Football and fear go together like Lindsay Lohan and alcohol. Had Jackson done his job in that scenario, the Eagles go to the half down 17-7 with momentum. Instead, the Eagles went into the locker room in a 24-0 hole. Though he thinks he’s an elite player in the NFL, Jackson is a full-fledge wuss. Grow a pair, DJack, or shut up.
Third, Andy Reid obviously deserves plenty of blame for this loss, so let’s spout off the questions that went through every Eagles fans head on Sunday afternoon. Why was Reid continually dropping Vick back to pass when the Cardinals were teeing off on the Eagles offensive line? What happened to the Eagles being one of the NFL’s premiere screen teams? If your quarterback has been getting killed and there are six seconds on the clock and you have no time outs, why are you even putting him into a position that could result in no points? Why is it that Reid refuses to run the football every year until a significant injury occurs or the Eagles are embarrassed in a blowout? Why is the offensive line so bad even though Reid places so much emphasis on having solid lines on both sides of the football? Why can’t the Eagles ever make in-game adjustments like the Packers did Monday night? (Whew, that was therapeutic.)
Fourth, while the defense wasn’t awful, it wasn’t good, either. The Eagles needed their defense to keep them in contention on Sunday. Instead, the Eagles secondary again surrendered big play after big play to Larry Fitzgerald. Additionally, the Eagles defensive line couldn’t consistently create enough pressure to force the usually unstable Kevin Kolb into some turnovers. Finally, it was Kevin freaking Kolb. The guy has been awful for over a year now and the Eagles can’t prevent him from scoring on three of the Cardinals first four drives? I get it; Kolb was going to play his best game of the year because he wanted to stick it to the Eagles, but still, not one turnover?
Fifth, I would appreciate it if the Eagles would stop feeding us nonsense about how Michael Vick’s ability to read and dissect defenses has improved. Vick is an athlete, not a quarterback. He reads a blitz about as well as I read mandarin. He has absolutely no pocket presence and his decision-making is suspect at best. My favorite play of the day came in the 3rd quarter with the Eagles inside the red zone. Vick dropped back to pass and, for what was probably the first time all day, had endless amounts of time. After about four seconds, Vick panicked and took off running. The guy finally has some time to find an open receiver and instead of A. waiting for a receiver to get open or B. waiting for the defense to close in on him, Vick runs for it. Was he concussed early in the game and we just missed it? When you finally have time in the pocket, make the defense pay for it, don’t play into their hands. At this point, I’d rather watch Nick Foles develop and the Eagles finish 6-10 than watch Vick torture us to another disappointing 8-8 season. I’m done with using “Vick” and “potential” in the same sentence. Dude flat out sucks.
Obviously, this list could extend into the twenties, but I’m depressed enough for now. Last week I took the glass half full approach to the Eagles struggles throughout the first two weeks of the season. After Sunday’s debacle, the glass appears to be in the same condition as Michael Vick’s body; broken.