It seems like the motto of “a win is a win” is starting to get redundant for the Eagles during the 2010 season. All three of their wins have come against three mediocre or sub-par teams in football, whose combined record is 4-11. Not to mention that all three of those wins came on the road.
For the most part, the Eagles played one of their better games of the year last night in San Francisco. Kevin Kolb made his best start of the season (which isn’t saying much), going 21 of 31 for 253 yards and a touchdown. His 103.3 passer rating was one of the best of his career and he showed glimpses of what he can offer the Eagles organization. LeSean McCoy, who was questionable coming into the game with a cracked rib, continued his brilliance of the 2010 season by rushing for 92 yards and a score on top of 46 yards receiving. Despite a banged up defense, they forced a total of five turnovers en route to protecting an Eagles lead that reached 17 at one point.
Even though these numbers seem good on paper, it doesn’t excuse the Eagles for allowing the game to get within three points. Any time a defense can force five turnovers, your QB have a 103.3 passer rating, and you are playing an 0-5 team, the game should be a blowout. The Eagles had several opportunities to make the game out of reach, but once again allowed big plays on both special teams and over the middle in the passing game.
This week’s grades:
Quarterback: A –
Kolb made a couple of great plays against the 49ers. The best play of his career came on his only touchdown pass when he tip toed to avoid two potential sacks and threw across his body the Brent Celek who fell into the end zone. He went an impressive 12-14 for 123 yards and a score in the first half and seemed to be in rhythm. After last week against Washington, he was mainly criticized for failing to take any risks to move the ball downfield. However, he responded this week with four passes over 20 yards, including a nice connection with Jeremy Maclin in the second half.
This was an attempted statement game by Kevin Kolb. However having a game like this only actually hinders Kolb’s future. Andy Reid already stated that Michael Vick will be the starter when he is healthy again, which means back to the bench for Kolb until Vick either gets hurt or starts throwing the ball backwards. Because let’s be honest, I don’t think Andy Reid can afford to flip flop again and announce Kolb the starter—he is now stuck with Vick.
The real question here is whether or not Kolb’s performance justifies anything for his future with the franchise. The Inquirer’s Rich Hoffman made an interesting point after the game when he wrote, “But now the dilemma is plain. If Vick plays well enough to allow the Eagles to make a long playoff run, it is hard to believe they wouldn’t re-sign him, in which case Kolb is going to have to be traded. But if Vick doesn’t play well enough, then the Eagles have just wasted what should have been Kolb’s season of development.”
But don’t worry, Andy always has a way of shocking fans so who knows what’s next.
Running back: A
As I have been saying all year, LeSean McCoy has proven that he has what it takes to be a No. 1 back in the NFL. He was questionable coming into the game and was the Eagles most valuable player on offense for the second consecutive week. I knew he was shifty, but that 29-yard touchdown where he dodged about four different 49ers was truly remarkable.
Wide Receivers: B
The Eagles wide receiver core did a good job picking apart the San Fran secondary and made a lot of crucial catches on Sunday night. Jeremy Maclin led all receivers with 95 yards, which was mostly due to his great catch on Kolb’s bomb. However, it’s quite obvious that Kevin Kolb and DeSean Jackson are struggling to make a connection. Even though Jackson left the game with an injury, he was held to just 2 catches for 24 yards. Despite catching the first Eagles touchdown, Brent Celek dropped a couple of passes that are not characteristic of the tight end.
Offensive line: D –
What else is there more to say about this group? It’s almost like they get worse every time they get on the field. Jason Peters injured his knee during the game and was replaced by King Dunlap, the largest waste of space in Eagles history. Standing at 6-foot-9 and weighing in at 330 pounds, you would think that not a single sole in the NFL would get around him, right? That was not the case as Dunlap was embarrassed (almost as embarrassed as Winston Justice was against the Giants in 2007). Todd Herremans also played terribly, committing a bad holding penalty that brought the Eagles back after a big gain.
Defensive Line/Linebackers: C
If I were grading strictly on run defense, I would have given the front seven an A minus. After giving up 169 rushing yards to Clinton Portis and Ryan Torain last week, they held Frank Gore to a mere 2.6 yards per carry on the night. However, the linebackers continue to struggle in pass coverage. It is evident that Stewart Bradley is still feeling the effects of his knee and head injuries because he does not look like the same Bradley of old. Vernon Davis, who the Eagles continuously struggle against every time these teams play, had five receptions for 104 yards and a touchdown late in the game to bring it within three points. I almost forgot that Moise Fokou played last night, as he only had two tackles and failed to make any impact in his first start of the season.
Don’t believe the hype about the turnovers committed by the Eagles secondary. Quintin Mikell picked up a fumble for a touchdown and Trevard Linley and Dmitri Patterson both had interceptions; however the secondary was probably the main reason the 49ers came back in the game. After shutting down Alex Smith for three quarters, the team completely collapsed in the fourth and allowed Smith to go 11 of 15 for two touchdowns.
Special Teams: D –
There was nothing really good to say about the special teams. David Akers knocked down two of his three field goals, but that was overshadowed by pathetic return coverage. Ted Ginn had kick returns of 44 and 61 yards during the game, both of which resulted in touchdowns for San Fran. Offensively, it seemed like Ellis Hobbs didn’t make any effort to dodge people on his kick returns and DeSean’s habit of running east to west too often resulted in poor punt returns.
Don’t be fooled by the fact that Philadelphia is 3-2 and tied atop the NFC East. There are still a lot of improvements that need to be made before I am sold that this team is a contender. For one, they need to beat someone other than the Lions and 49ers. Secondly, the offensive line needs to show the slightest bit of improvement. Finally, the defense and special teams cannot give up the big plays to opposing teams. The next two weeks against Atlanta and Tennessee could prove to be the most important stretch of the season heading into the bye week. If the Eagles can get situated for those two games, there might be potential.