Eagles Week 3: Vick Demolishes the Jaguars

September 27, 2010

For at least one week, Andy Reid’s decision to start Michael Vick looked like the correct one, as Vick led the Eagles to an easy 28-3 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars.

This game certainly went better than the last time the Eagles played in Jacksonville.  Of course that was the 2005 Super Bowl, and the Jaguars are probably not going to qualify for this year’s big game.  Based on what I’ve seen, they might be the worst team in the NFL.

As far as Reid’s QB decision, I think he was kind of in a no-win situation.  We saw the criticism he received by starting Vick.  But if he had gone back to Kolb, he might have received even more criticism.  Reid was correct in saying that if he had gone back to Kolb and Kolb struggled, he would have been crucified.  Of course, if Reid truly had faith in Kolb, would this have even been a concern?

Reid’s critical mistake came immediately after the Lions game when he said that Kolb was his starter.  Here’s what he should have done:

When asked who the starter was after the Lions game, he should have said, “We’ll have to evaluate how Kevin is doing.  He seemed to be doing better, but it’s better to be cautious with concussions.”  Considering the criticism the team took for their initial handling of Kolb’s concussion, nobody would have questioned this, and many people would have praised Reid for looking out for his player’s well being.

By claiming caution they could have probably bought themselves two weeks of Vick as the starter.  If Vick continued to play well (as he did yesterday) then most people would have understood sticking with him.  Sure, the cliche says that you shouldn’t lose your job because of injury, but I’m sure there’s also a cliche about not benching a red hot QB who has the offense playing well.

On the other hand, if Vick struggled, then Reid would have been justified in going back to Kolb.

Regardless, Vick made Reid look good for another week.  We’ll see what happens when they finally play a team with a good secondary.

The highlights

– The Jaguars may be a bad team, but the Eagles controlled things throughout.  The offense continues to churn out big plays, and the defense did a good job in shutting down the Jaguars offense. 

– Maurice Jones-Drew had some plays throughout, but once the defense stopped overpursuing, they contained him nicely.  Mrs. Cutter pointed out (this was after she finally figured out that the Eagles were wearing white and she should stop cheering when the teal team made a big play) that the Jaguars have two key players on offense with hyphenated names.  I think it’s a secret rule that no team can be successful with two players with hyphenated names.

The lowlights

– Penalties continue to be an issue.  This team needs to become more disciplined.

– It might be nitpicking, but much like last season, the offense looks a bit too dependent on big plays.  Eventually, they’ll match up against a team that can actually cover DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin.  Will the Eagles be able to respond?

– They had another notable short yardage failure.  Part of the problem was the play call, part of the problem appears to be the blocking, and part of the problem seems to be that RB Mike Bell doesn’t appear to be the answer in short yardage situations. 

In future short yardage situations, Reid should probably stick with LeSean McCoy who has shown some elusiveness and ability to keep going after initial contact. 

Bad Andy Reid Coaching Move of the Week

Faced with a 4th and 1 situation, Reid calls for a pitch to Bell.  At first glance, it appeared that Bell gained the necessary yard, but the Eagles didn’t receive a favorable spot.  The play was challenged (I agreed with Reid’s challenge here), but replays  couldn’t overturn the call.

Reid apparently doesn’t understand physics.  Why does he call a play that gives the ball to the running back five yards behind the line of scrimmage?  Why make the back run an extra distance to pick up the necessary yardage?  Wouldn’t you want him to have to travel the shortest distance possible?  Even worse, it was a slow developing pitch play that gave the defense time to adjust.

The McNabb Report

Matched against a team that hadn’t won at home in 14 straight games, the Redskins did the one thing you should never do to a (supposedly) inferior team: Give them early hope.

Thanks to a big run by RB Stephen Jackson and a Santana Moss fumble, the Rams got off to a 14-0 start.  The Redskins were able to come back and take the lead, but left some points on the board due to a familiar McNabb problem: Failure in the red zone.

From what I’ve seen, there are two main causes for McNabb’s red zone problems:

– Poor red zone personnel: Who on the Redskins really seems like a threat close to the goal line?  Their best skill position players aren’t really suited for short yardage.  Clinton Portis doesn’t seem like he can get the tough yards anymore, and Santana Moss is much better in the open field. 

– McNabb isn’t a good red zone QB: McNabb used to be very good in the red zone.  Perhaps not coincidentally, McNabb also used to be a threat to run the ball in himself.  Once teams stopped fearing the threat of McNabb’s legs, he became much less effective. 

Also, his lack of pinpoint accuracy and reluctance to throw into tight spots don’t help him out.  With less available field, receivers are rarely wide open, and it usually takes an accurate throw to hit them.

Regardless of the cause of the failures, the Redskins gave the Rams an opening they gladly took.  In the second half, the Redskins offense was largely shut down, only scoring 3 points.  Not a great way to head into McNabb’s homecoming game.

Elsewhere in the NFL

– The two 3-0 teams are both somewhat surprising.  While the Steelers are typically a good team, most didn’t predict that they’d go 3-0 while Ben Roethlisberger was suspended.  In theory, this is a good thing, as they should only get better when Ben returns.  On the other hand, isn’t this potentially a huge disruption to a team that is on a roll?  Will Ben be able to seamlessly take over?

– I don’t think anyone expected the Chiefs to be 3-0.  While they’ve taken advantage of a somewhat weak schedule, you have to give them credit for winning the games.  QB Matt Cassel might never be one of the top passers in the league, but he has shown a knack for being able to win games.  And their upcoming schedule doesn’t look too imposing.  They have two tough games next against the Colts and Texans, but after that, they have a string of beatable teams.  Could the Chiefs be this year’s surprise team?

Eagles Next Opponent

McNabb and the Redskins make their much-hyped return to Philadelphia.  Not only will this be an emotional game, but if the Eagles can win, they’ll be in solid shape in what looks to be a close-bunched NFC East.


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