Just when you think everything is starting to fall into place, it all ends up backfiring. The Eagles, who were coming off of one of their best all-around performances in the last few years against the Jaguars last week, completely collapsed when the Redskins came to town on Sunday. There was really only one positive to take away from the game, and that was the fact that the Eagles fans did the right thing and gave Donovan McNabb a standing ovation when he came out of the tunnel.
Four key Eagles players suffered injuries. Starting quarterback and the MVP of the NFC coming into Sunday, Michael Vick, was hit near the goal line after a 25-yard scramble and ended up damaging cartilage in his upper rib cage. Running back LeSean McCoy, who has been the Eagles most consistent offensive player this season, reportedly cracked one of his rib cages and is listed as day-to-day heading into next weekend’s matchup with the Giants. Finally, cornerback Asante Samuel and wide receiver Riley Cooper both suffered concussions and will be monitored accordingly. If you didn’t notice how hard the Redskins hit on television, then just look at the Eagles injury report.
The Eagles got off to a terrible start against the Redskins. Donovan McNabb led the maroon and gold to two touchdowns and a field goal on their first three drives of the game. The Eagles defense looked terrible and couldn’t contain Washington’s offense for a majority of the first half. If the defense was bad, the offense was horrendous. With Vick going down early in the game and LeSean McCoy battling an injury the whole game, the Eagles were left in the hands of once-starter Kevin Kolb. Every time he gets on the field it seems like he further digs his own grave. Even though he was thrown into a very tough position in a game with a lot of emotions, Kolb failed to get anything going for the Eagles offense. I’ll save the analysis for the grades.
Andy Reid: F +
To this moment I still can’t figure out what happened at the end of the first half when the Eagles were penalized for a delay of game. Reid said that he “goofed” and didn’t realize that the actual spot of the ball was a foot or so behind his original planned spot. Because of that, he scrambled to call a play and the Eagles were then called for a delay of game that forced them into a field goal instead of a potential game-changing touchdown. As Matt Mosley of ESPN.com writes, “I’m always amazed that a man who’s so revered by his peers in the profession can appear so clueless at critical moments.” Mosley couldn’t have put it any better.
Time and time again we find Reid looking clueless on the sidelines and failing to make necessary adjustments at halftime. Both the Eagles offense and defense looked terrible for most of the afternoon, yet Reid didn’t seem to make many changes throughout the game. I don’t know what goes on in his head sometimes.
Quarterback: C –
After filling in for Vick, Kevin Kolb completed 63 percent of his passes for 201 yards and a touchdown (also had an interception on the hail mary to end the game). On the surface that seems like more an a sufficient outing for a backup quarterback filling in for a starter. However, what those numbers don’t show are Kolb’s unwillingness to move the offense down the field.
He couldn’t connect on either of his bombs down the field. He was efficient in his short passing, however 20 of his 27 passes were for five yards or less. On pass attempts over six yards, he was a mere 2 for 8. Those are not the type of pass attempts and conservative play that is going to effeiciently run an explosive Eagles offense. With the talent of Jackson, Maclin, McCoy and Celek, a conservative offense just doesn’t seem to fit. I understand that he wants to be smart and limit turnovers, but these wide receivers need to be able to run free and get space from their receivers. Defenses, just like the Redskins, can easily adjust to a conservative offense under a conservative quarterback. Case point: taking risks wins football games.
Running backs: B+
LeSean McCoy was the best offensive player for the Eagles on Sunday night. He rushed for 64 yards on 16 carries and led all receivers with 12 receptions for 110 yards. A lot of his receiving success had to do with Kolb’s “short-passing” but it was still very impressive to see Shady play that well with an injury most of the game. His only fault of the game came when he fumbled in the Redskin’s zone that would have led to at least three points for the ‘Birds.
Wide Receivers: D
DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin, one of the best 1-2 wide receiver tandems in the NFL, only accounted for 4 catches for 34 yards combined. Tight end Brent Celek scored his first touchdown of the season in the fourth quarter, but still continues to remain quiet.
Isn’t it also ironic that Jason Avant, the same Jason Avant that only dropped ONE pass all of training camp, was the one who dropped the hail mary pass on the last play of the game.
Offensive Line: D
Penalties were the main fault by the Eagles offensive line. Jason Peters and Todd Herremans both committed crucial false start penalties. The unit only allowed one sack, but still has yet to string together a complete game together this season.
Defensive line/Linebackers: D +
The Redskins ran all over the Eagles front seven on Sunday. Second year running back Ryan Torain rushed for 70 yards and a touchdown and Clinton Portis added another 55 yards on the ground. There is no excuse for allowing that many yards on the ground, especially to a second year no-namer from Arizona State. Reid’s plan of a speedy and undersized defensive line has not proven to work out because they are getting overpowered by opposing offensive lines. They aren’t getting nearly enough pressure on the quarterback and are not making plays in the backfield.
In the second half the front seven did a lot better of a job, but a lot of that had to do with Washington’s plan to sit back and make the Eagles earn a win. Head coach Mike Shanahan played a very conservative offense after the Redskins jumped out to an early lead, relying on his defense to win them the game.
Secondary: B –
Even though McNabb only threw the ball 19 times, the secondary did a pretty solid job defending. He only completed 8 of those passes, including a touchdown where tight end Chris Cooley burned the secondary and caught a ball over the top. It was, however, great to see Nate Allen with another interception. He is the only consistent thing this defense has going for them except for Trent Cole.
Special Teams: C +
The Eagles defending of the special teams continues to struggle. Brandon Banks returned a punt for 53 yards, which is something that cannot happen. Offensively, the Eagles had a pretty solid outing from both their kick and punt returners. David Akers was two-for-two and Rocca continues to kick the hell out of the ball.
With the loss, the Eagles are .500 sit in a three-way tie with the Redskins and Giants atop the NFC East. Michael Vick most likely won’t be back until after the Eagles bye week and the uncertainty of the offense and defense leaves many Eagles fans worried about the future. Kevin Kolb is back to being the starter for now and we find ourselves back to square one heading into San Francisco this upcoming weekend.