For over eight months, Eagles fans have been waiting for tonight’s matchup with the Green Bay Packers. It marked the beginning of a new era under Kevin Kolb and resurgence of a young and athletic defense. However, you must be crazy if you could have predicted how Sunday’s matchup ended up playing out.
As Kolb took the field, I felt myself taking deep breaths in anticipation for a new beginning. I had mixed emotions of excitement and anxiety. A quarter into the game, it was hard to control my frustration at the Eagles offense and by Kolb’s performance. It was exactly what Eagles fans were afraid of—Kolb not being able to handle the pressure of the big stage and adjusting to the defensive pressure put on by the Packers. He finished the game with only five completions thanks to a crushing hit by Packer’s linebacker Clay Matthews that forced him to the sidelines with a concussion. Even though he tried to come back, Kolb soon left the game and put the ball in the hands of Michael Vick.
Even though Vick has several years of experience as a starting quarterback, the Eagles front office put all of their eggs in the Kevin Kolb basket. They believe that Kolb is the future of the franchise and that Vick is simply another addition to an already dynamic offense. Well Vick did his best to prove them wrong after filling in for Kolb during the second half. He looked like vintage Vick, changing the game with his versatility and speed on the ground. It didn’t prove to be enough though for the struggling Eagles offense, as their 10 unanswered points in the 4th quarter left them a score short.
The biggest concern was not necessarily the loss to the Packers, but instead the Eagles losses suffered throughout the game. The Eagles lost Pro-Bowl fullback Leonard Weaver most likely for the rest of the season due to an ACL tear. After making his first start in 10 months, center Jamaal Jackson might be spending the rest of 2010 season on the bench after allegedly tearing his bicep. Finally, Stewart Bradley, the captain of the Eagles defense who missed last season with an ACL tear, suffered a concussion in the first half of the game. Both Kolb and Bradley are doubtful for next week’s game against the Lions.
Now it’s time to hand out grades to each of the positions:
To make it fair, I averaged the performances by Kolb (D -) and Vick (B+). Obviously Kolb didn’t spend much time on the field, only throwing ten passes, but still struggled to get anything going against the Packer’s defense. He couldn’t handle the pressure and only created more questions for the Eagles offense with his abysmal performance.
If it wasn’t for Vick, the Eagles would have lost by 20 points. He took the struggling offense and did what he does best—tuck the ball and run. He rushed for 103 yards in the game and completed 16 of 24 passes for 175 yards and a touchdown. At the same time however, Vick threw a couple of passes into the ground and seemed scared to throw the ball. His biggest problem is that he refuses to let plays develop and is too quick to commit to running.
I loved what I saw from LeSean McCoy tonight. He only got seven carries during the game, but finished with 35 yards (5 ypc) and a touchdown. McCoy also led all receivers with five receptions for 47 yards. With Weaver going down early in the game, McCoy did a good job adjusting to the workload and taking care of his tasks.
Just wondering, who is going to play fullback now? Eldra Buckley?
Much of the receiving trouble had to do with the struggles at quarterback and offensive line. It’s never good when Mike McGlynn, the Eagles second string center, had more catches than DeSean Jackson at halftime. Maclin and Avant had respectable outings, but the absence of tight end Brent Celek and DeSean Jackson is a big concern.
Losing Jamaal Jackson was certainly no help, but it is a familiar situation for the Eagles offensive line. Jason Peters had another false start penalty, making it his third in three games of action (including preseason). The o-line had no solution to the Packer blitzing schemes, especially when it came to linebacker Clay Matthews, who was the player of the day for the Packers. The revolving door of an offensive line is way too concerning to me if the Eagles offense wants to reach its potential.
For a very young and unknown front seven, the Eagles held their own against a high powered Green Bay offense. In the first quarter and later in the second half, the Eagles put a ton of pressure on Aaron Rodgers and helped to force two interceptions. Juqua Parker and Trent Cole both tallied sacks and combined for eight tackles. The only weak spot was how the front seven seemed to take running back Brandon Jackson for granted. He filled in well for Ryan Grant and compiled 63 yards on 18 carries. As strong as the Eagles defense looked at times, they still showed signs of weakness without Bradley in the game…just like they did all of last season.
Despite accounting for two interceptions, the Eagles secondary still let up two touchdowns and were beat badly on a few plays. It seems like Asante Samuel still doesn’t know how to tackle. He missed at least two tackles that led to another five to ten yards by the receiver. Also, even though it practically was thrown to him, it was great to see Nate Allen get a turnover in his first official start as an Eagle.
Special Teams- A-
I can’t recall ever seeing Sav Rocca punt the ball so far on consecutive kicks. David Akers also went perfect during the game, hitting field goals of 45 and 24 yards. Ellis Hobbs averaged just over 23 yards per kick return and DeSean Jackson didn’t really get a good opportunity to make an impact with the punt game.
Andy Reid- D
Reid’s playcalling woes continued on Sunday night. In the first quarter, I was confused of who the starting quarterback actually was considering Kolb and Vick practically split time behind center. How is a first-year starting quarterback and a shaky offensive line supposed to get in any consistent flow when there are new quarterbacks and offensive schemes going on every play?
The Kolb and Vick debate was the least of Reid’s concerns. On the last play of the game (after Vick had rushed the ball 5 straight plays and still hadn’t thrown the ball on the drive), Reid and Marty Mornhinweg elected to have Vick rush the ball on a 4th and 1 in the Packers zone. I don’t necessarily have a problem with Vick holding onto the ball, but Reid needs to be less predictable in that type of situation. I just feel like Reid buckles in pressure situations when it comes to playcalling and becomes way too predictable.
There’s really no beating around the bush on this game. The Eagles were terrible. Their offense has yet to improve since failing to produce anything respectable in the preseason. I still refuse to believe that Vick is the quarterback of the future, but how injured is Kolb? Bradley? Can the Eagles rebound without their captains on the offensive and defensive side of the ball including two of their best offensive starters for the season? A season filled with questions only added a few more to the list after the loss to the Packers.