After watching Sunday’s 35-32 win over the Lions, there’s only one thing I can say: I’m glad I’m not head coach Andy Reid.
While on the surface the impressive performance by Michael Vick was good for the team– giving them their first win of the season–it went about as badly as possible in convincing the team and fans that Kevin Kolb is still the go-to guy. I still believe it and I stand by my previous post about why Kolb is the right guy for the job, but according to Sports Nation yesterday, over 70 percent of fans believe that the Eagles should start Michael Vick this upcoming week against Jacksonville. However Reid is sticking by his prized possession and going with a healthy Kolb in week three, a decision that Vick rightfully accepted (on the surface and to the media at least).
The Eagles first win of the season was much more of a story than Michael Vick’s first start since December 31, 2006. It was a story of rookie Jahvid Best, who torched the Eagles for 232 all purpose yards (78 on the ground and 154 in the air). It was a story of a struggling offensive line and a still developing defense that forced the offense to be in tip top shape against one of the least successful franchises since the days of Barry Sanders. Before I delve too deep into analysis, let’s hand out the second report card of the season.
QB: A –
As I mentioned earlier, Vick stepped up in ways that many advocates for hoping for and many haters were cringing about. He dropped back over 50 times during the game and completed over 60 percent of his passes for 284 yards and two touchdowns. The 284 passing yards is the fifth-most yards he’s thrown for in a game since he joined the NFL in 2001. He also recorded 37 yards on the ground.
I still have a problem with how Vick misses passes. While he does make some passes that most quarterbacks cannot make, he does tend to miss badly. Lucky for him none of them turned into interceptions on Sunday, but I still feel he needs to improve his passing and make it more consistent.
On a completely separate note, did anyone happen to see Donovan McNabb’s performance? He went 28 of 48 for 426 yards and a touchdown. The Redskins should have improved to 2-0 on the season but a missed field goal in the closing seconds cost them the game. In his effort, McNabb passed Hall of Famer Steve Young (33,124) and Phil Simms (33,462) for 20th place on the NFL’s all-time passing list. But no, he’s still not a good fit as an Eagles starter…right Andy?
This was the breakout game from LeSean McCoy that the coaching staff and Eagles fans have been waiting for since he was the primary back last season. If anything, Shady proved that he deserves at least 20 carries a game. Why not give it to him? I can’t remember the last time the Eagles consistently gave a running back 20 carries a game since the Duce Staley era. The best teams in the league function with a dynamic running game that helps balance their offense. McCoy had 16 carries for 120 yards and three touchdowns. It was his performance, not Vicks that enabled the Eagles to prevail on the road in Detroit. Case point: give Shady the ball.
It’s a beautiful feeling to see the DeSean Jackson of last year. With his speed, all the Eagles quarterbacks need to do is get him the ball in the open field and let him make people miss. Vick did just that in the first quarter and it resulted in a 45 yard touchdown. On the day, Jackson finished with 135 yards receiving and a touchdown.
Eight different receivers were incorporated into the Eagles offense on Sunday. Outside of Jackson, Jason Avant was second in yards with 33 on the afternoon. Jeremy Maclin hauled in his second touchdown of the season but only finished with three catches for 26 yards. My big concern for the receiving game is in tight end Brent Celek. In his first two games, Celek only has 5 receptions for 57 yards. He was expected to be one of the most prolific receiving tight ends in the league this season, but has failed to make much of an impact thus far in 2010.
Offensive Line: C –
When a defense has five sacks on Michael Vick, that’s like saying a defense would have had 10 sacks against Kevin Kolb. The Lions defensive line, led by Kyle Vanden Bosch and Ndamukong Suh, embarrassed the offensive line this past weekend. Once Jason Peters went down with a knee and ankle injury, the Eagles were forced to have King Dunlap guard one of the best in the game. He held his own for a little, but Vanden Bosch still managed 1.5 sacks and two tackles for losses in the game. Suh added a sack, two tackles for losses, and led all tacklers with eight.
The revolving door Eagles offensive line continues to cripple the Eagles high powered offense. The ‘Birds were able to get away with it on Sunday because they were playing the Lions, but that won’t happen come divisional play. With Jackson out for the year and the rest of the starters dealing with nagging injuries, this part of the team is a big concern moving forward. If they don’t get healthy and continue to get worked by opposing defensive lines, the Eagles need to make a move to improve their line or Kevin Kolb might have some more concussion problems to deal with.
Defensive Line/Linebackers: C –
The Eagles front seven gave up 109 rushing yards in the first half alone. To make matters worse, the Eagles defense as a whole has given up 59 yards in the first two games this season, the most in the NFL. Without Stewart Bradley in the mix, it’s amazing how much the run defense changes. Detroit finished with 115 on the ground, but only ran the ball nine times in the second half. It will be a beautiful sight to see No. 55 back on the field this week.
Outside of the 75-yard touchdown to Jahvid Best, the secondary didn’t play too horribly on Sunday. Shaun Hill (who threw for 335 yards) did torch them in the last five minutes of the game, going 10-12 and throwing a touchdown to Calvin Johnson to bring the game within three. Safety Nate Allen notched his second interception of the season, becoming the first Eagle with two interceptions in his first two games since Brenard Wilson in 1979. Joselio Hanson also made a great play on the ball to prevent the Lions from a first down that would have prolonged the game and took years away from the lives of many Eagles fans.
Special Teams: C
Sav Rocca had another monster game for the Eagles, averaging over 48 yards per punt and landing two within the 20-yard line. However, the rest of the special teams was pretty pathetic. Rookie Kurt Coleman was called for back-to-back penalties on punt plays. Both Ellis Hobbs (averaged only 19 yards per kickoff) and DeSean Jackson (only 5 yards per punt return) had sub-par outings. That’s the second straight game the Eagles have failed to make any significant impact on kick and punt returns.
All eyes and pressure is now on Kevin Kolb. Even though I foresee Reid sticking with Kolb regardless, there is a lot of pressure on No. 4 to get the job done. Not only does he have a microscope for being the heir to Donovan McNabb, he now has to prove that he is a better fit than Michael Vick as the starting quarterback for the Eagles. Luckily for Kolb, he is playing the 0-2 Jacksonville Jaguars who just gave up 38 points to the San Diego Chargers and finished the game with six turnovers.