Archive for September 20th, 2010


Philadelphia Eagles Week Two: Eagles Win the Backup Bowl

September 20, 2010

The Eagles got themselves into the win column with a 35-32 victory over the Detroit Lions.  While it’s always nice to get a win – especially on the road – this game did not leave me feeling especially optimistic about the rest of the season.

While the Lions may be somewhat improved (Not that improving from 0-16 is difficult) they still do not appear to be a good team.  Both teams were without their starting quarterbacks, but that tradeoff was clearly a win for the Eagles.  Lions backup Shaun Hill is pretty much a journeyman, while Michael Vick is a former Pro Bowler who would surely be a starter if not for his legal troubles.

And because of Vick’s play, no matter what Andy Reid wants, the Eagles appear to have a quarterback controversy on their hands.

The highlights

– The offense looked strong.  Vick moved well in the pocket, escaping multiple times from what appeared to be sacks.  He was able to spread the ball around, and put DeSean Jackson in position to make some big plays.

– LeSean McCoy looks like the real deal.  I’m sure we’re due for about a million “Real McCoy” puns now.  Some claim that those running lanes were only available because teams were too concerned with Vick.  And yet, McCoy seemed to move through the hole well, and kept going after initial contact.  So far this season, he’s shown the ability to find the end zone, which can be tougher than you’d think.

– The defensive line looks capable of putting pressure on opposing quarterbacks.  They were in Shaun Hill’s face on many passing attempts.

The lowlights

– Despite the offense’s big day, the line continues to be a question mark.  If not for Vick’s mobility, the Lions would have had at least two more sacks.

– The defense played bizarrely soft in the fourth quarter and almost allowed the Lions to make a huge comeback. 

– Really, the defense looked bad for much of the game.  They made rookie RB Jahvid Best look like Barry Sanders.  Actually, that’s not entirely true as the Eagles were usually able to shut down Sanders.  They didn’t seem to have any answer for Best.  There were huge holes for him to run through, and once he got to the second level, they couldn’t seem to bring him down.

– The penalties were a problem once again.  Both of the Eagles’ games have been ugly affairs with lots of penalties and injuries.  Perhaps the worst offenders were on special teams which looked awful for the second week in a row.  They have now tried to tackle a punt returner making a fair catch in both games.  This is inexcusable. They made such a big deal about bringing in special teams coordinator Bobby April, and yet the units are a mess.

Bad Andy Reid Coaching Move of the Week

Midway through the second quarter, the Eagles had begun a modest drive.  On third down, with the play clock winding down, Vick called for a timeout.

Under normal circumstances, I can’t stand when the Eagles do this.  I feel that unless it an absolutely critical situation, timeouts should be saved for the end of the game.  The 40 seconds they can save are much more valuable than the five yards they would lose from a delay of game penalty.

The Eagles appeared to be spared the timeout, as before it could be called, the Eagles committed a false start penalty.  So the clock was stopped and they lost five yards.  And yet, Reid still opted to take the timeout!

Of course, the next play resulted in an incomplete pass and the Eagles were forced to punt.

The McNabb Report

Each week, I’ll take a look at how former Eagles QB Donovan McNabb fared with his new team.

Through three quarters, things were looking quite good for McNabb and the Redskins.  They had a 27-10 lead, and McNabb was having a fine game.  But the fourth quarter was a different story.

The Texans offense came alive, as WR Andre Johnson made some huge plays.  Still, with a 17 point lead, a team should be able to put away their opponent in the 4th quarter.  The Redskins couldn’t seem to run the ball effectively, and they made several crucial mistakes.  Costly penalties killed offensive drives, and they had a field goal blocked.  They gave the Texans a prime opportunity to make a comeback, and the Texans took advantage.

The game eventually went into overtime.  It appeared as if kicker Graham Gano had won the game with the field goal, but the Texans called a timeout immediately before the kick.  Forced to re-kick, Gano missed, and the Texans drove down the field for a game winning field goal of their own.

This game was oddly reminiscient of another game McNabb played in:

Elsewhere in the NFL

– There are six 2-0 teams, and some of them are quite surprising.  Are teams like the Buccaneers and Bears for real, or have they just taken advantage of weak opponents to start the season?

– At the opposite end of the spectrum are seven 0-2 teams.  While an 0-2 start isn’t hopeless, it can’t be a good feeling for supposed Super Bowl contenders like the Cowboys and the Vikings.

– Speaking of the Vikings, Brett Favre had a miserable game.  If the Vikings continue to struggle over their next few games, would it shock anyone if Favre suddenly quit?

– Peyton Manning won the “Manning Bowl” as the Colts defeated the Giants 38-14.  It is possible that people may have been a little too quick to trumpet the demise of the Colts. 

Of course, the rule of NFL analysis is that in week one, everyone overreacts.  And in week two, everyone overreacts to the overreactions.  It’s way too early to tell exactly who is good.

Eagles Next Opponent

The Eagles travel to Jacksonville.  Jacksonville has not been kind to the Eagles in the past.  They are 0-3 all-time there, including their Super Bowl loss to the Patriots.

I don’t think this year’s Jaguars team is especially strong, although they did beat the Broncos in week one.  Yesterday, their offense got shut down by the Chargers.  They committed six turnovers en route to a 38-13 defeat.  The Eagles defensive strength appears to be forcing turnovers, so this is a good sign.

On the other hand, after watching the tapes of the Lions game, I’m sure Jaguars’ RB Maurice Jones-Drew is going to be salivating for his chance to go against the Eagles defense.

Final Analysis

Reid says that Kolb is still his starter.  And I think that’s the right move.  But after the criticism the team received for handling his (and Stewart Bradley’s) concussions last week, Reid better be sure that Kolb is completely ready to return.  Especially since the offensive line doesn’t look capable of keeping defenders out of his face.

I’m sure Reid hopes Kolb is ready.  If Vick starts and has another big week, it will be a very tough sell to take him out of the lineup, especially if Kolb struggles upon his return.  Reid can talk all he wants about needing to give Kolb a chance, but if Vick gives the team the best chance to win, will the fans (and his teammates) accept Kolb being the guy playing?