Posts Tagged ‘LeSean McCoy

14
Jan
11

EAGLES: What Did Vick Accomplish that McNabb Didn’t?

Last spring, the Eagles decided to part ways with franchise quarterback Donovan McNabb. The reasons were simple: the Eagles were young and McNabb was turning 34 years old. It was time to give three-year backup Kevin Kolb his chance to shine and transform the Eagles franchise.

Under the surface, however, McNabb was driven out of Philadelphia by the fans and the front office. Even though he compiled a 92-49-1 record as an Eagle, is the franchise leader in wins, pass completions, passing yards and passing touchdowns, led the team to five NFC Championships and a Superbowl, his inability to get the franchise a Super Bowl ring ended up being his biggest demise in the City of Brotherly Love. It all started when he reportedly threw up in the huddle against the Patriots in Superbowl XXXIX and spiraled downward whenever No. 5 came up short in the following years.

In 2010, the Eagles season took an unexpected turn when Kevin Kolb suffered a concussion from a Clay Matthews hit. Michael Vick, one of the most exciting players in NFL history, took over as the Eagles captain. His ability to change games with his arm and legs took the Eagles season from a rebuilding process to contenders in the playoffs. Even though he is not the most conventional quarterback, there was an excitement that Vick embodied that brought confidence to the city. Was this the year the Eagles finally got over the hump?

I think we all know how that one ended.

What seperates Vick in 2010 from McNabb?

What is it about Michael Vick that makes him that must more trustworthy than Donovan McNabb once was in Philadelphia? The Eagles went 10-6 under Vick in 2010, whereas McNabb guided the ‘Birds to a better record in six of his 11 seasons in Philadelphia. Granted Vick was only the starter for 12 weeks, but two of those 10 wins came under Kevin Kolb’s lead.

If we are truly going to compare what Michael Vick did in 2010 versus what McNabb did in his career as the starter, then we simply cannot look at statistics. Because in the end Philadelphia, isn’t it all about winning? Isn’t getting the hardware what truly defines who is better?

Both Vick and McNabb have anchored high-powered offenses. Michael Vick did it with DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, and LeSean McCoy. McNabb still was able to do it with Terrell Owens, Todd Pinkston and Brian Westbrook. Oh yeah, don’t forget about Freddie Mitchell. Both have made multiple Pro-Bowls. However there still is no Lombardi Trophy in Philadelphia.

Yes there is a bright future for Michael Vick and certainly a great opportunity to win it all with him at the helm, but does what he did in 2010 garner more appreciation than what McNabb did in his career? The main question I propose to Eagles fans is this: what did Michael Vick accomplish this season that deserves more recognition than what Donovan McNabb did in his career?

The answer to this may be that McNabb was unable to do it year after year. He was the starting quarterback for over a decade, yet never seemed to come through when it truly mattered. Don’t take into account that he was throwing to Todd Pinkston for five years, James Thrash for three years, Reggie Brown for five years and Terrell Owens, his best receiver, for only two years. McNabb was always the easy one to hold responsible.

Michael Vick was far from impressive in the Eagles playoff game. He completed just 55 percent of his passes and posted his second straight sub-80 passer rating. On the final drive of the season, Vick gave hope to Philadelphia when he drove down the field with under a minute to play. Then, with under 30 seconds to play, Michael Vick came up short under pressure. Isn’t that the reason Philadelphia fans were ready to end the Donovan McNabb era Philadelphia?

There is a certain likeability that many Eagles fans find in Michael Vick. Based on his past actions, the irony is quite comical. Maybe it’s the fact that he has rebounded so well after those life changing events. Maybe it’s that he is more intense in the huddle than McNabb. Whatever it is, the likeability has consumed this city.

If anything, this comparison goes to show that a quarterback cannot be the only one responsible in a loss. Both quarterbacks were capable to lead their teams to the Superbowl, but the nature of the sport tends to point all fingers at them. The main difference in this situation? All fingers are not pointing at Vick. They are pointing to Andy Reid or the defense. Why? Because Donovan McNabb is no longer in town to blame.

11
Jan
11

EAGLES: Packers End Eagles Season

Another Eagles season and another heartbreaking finish. This is really starting to get old in Philadelphia.

Back in training camp when the Eagles were preparing for a season of questions behind Kevin Kolb, many fans never thought the ‘Birds would have been in this position. However, just halfway through week one, Michael Vick brought a new sense of hope to the city of Philadelphia. He brought the Eagles from a rebuilding year to a contending year. Fifteen weeks later, the Eagles faced off against the Green Bay Packers at Lincoln Financial Field.

And that’s all she wrote.

For the third straight week, the Eagles were outplayed and outcoached. You could sense it in Lincoln Financial Field, as fans showed a cautious optimism that quickly turned to cautious pessimism due to the blitzing Packers defense and the relentless Green Bay offense.

Offensively, Marty Mornhinweg’s Eagles seemed utterly shocked by the aggressive blitzing scheme of Don Caper’s Packers. They quickly abandoned the run and put all the pressure on Michael Vick to carry the team on his back. Vick, who was often given less than four seconds to get rid of the football, faced many ups and downs offensive but eventually found himself in a position to win the game.

After a 28-yard pass to DeSean Jackson with less than a minute to play, the Eagles quickly rushed to the line of scrimmage. Facing a 1st and 10 with 27 seconds remaining, many thought Vick would spike the ball and set up a play to the end zone. However, head coach Andy Reid advised No. 7 to go for the end zone and elected for a 4-go route, sending all receivers to the end zone. The play call is going to be debated until training camp next year, considering it cost the Eagles season and a potential come from behind win that echoed the Miracle in the Meadowlands a month before. Vick, who “went out swinging”, went for the end zone to Riley Cooper in single coverage. We all know where it went from there, as Tramon Williams used his positioning to intercept the pass and end the Eagles highly touted playoff run.

While it was the play that ended the season, it was not the sole reason for the Eagles loss. The Packers came to play at the Linc for the second time this season, and the Eagles came out flat for the second meeting. Between missed field goals, third down conversions, and a creative offensive scheme, the Eagles were fortunate enough to even be in a position to win the game.

For the second straight year, the Eagles failed to show up in the NFC Wildcard game. They have lost their last three playoff games, and sorry Eagles fans, there is no more Donovan McNabb to blame. Michael Vick, the replacement Eagles fans were looking for, also failed to do it. Now what changes do the Eagles need to make? I have a long list to come, but for now let’s look at the final report card of the season.

Quarterback: B –

Michael Vick dished out his second consecutive sub-80 passer rating and completed just 20-36 passes. For the seventh straight game, Vick tossed a an interception, and this one to Tramon Williams topped them all. He was criticized during the Vikings game for his lack of preparation and being unable to properly read defensive schemes. Vick was given an extra week off to prepare for the Packers, but still didn’t look 100 percent out there. He clearly seemed bothered by his leg contusion and failed to create any offensive consistency.

Fun fact: for the second time this season, the Eagles offense lost the football game despite winning the turnover battle. The only other loss occurred in the opening week against none other than the Green Bay Packers.

Why Shady did not touch the ball more is beyond me

Running backs: C+

One of the biggest problems I had with the game was that LeSean McCoy was not properly involved in the offense. Coming into the game, the Eagles offense averaged over 140 yards per game on the ground, but were held to just 84 against the Packers. McCoy has proven as much as anyone that he deserves to see more looks. He only had 12 carries on the night and most of them came early in the game. Granted he didn’t have the most productive yards per carry average (3.8), but everyone knows that Shady is always poised to break a big run. The Packers run stopping was the weakest part of their offense, yet Mornhinweg refused to make any changes and spice up the play call.

Wide Receivers: C

It certainly didn’t help that DeSean Jackson spent most of the game on the sidelines. He finished the contest with just two catches and the other Eagles receivers didn’t pull their weight to make up for the missing Pro-Bowler. Even though Jason Avant scored a touchdown, he also dropped a crucial pass on third down late in the game. Is it me or is it that Avant, the guy who was supposed to have some of the best hands in the league, seems to drop passes at the worst times?

Offensive Line: D –

The most crucial part of the Eagles success failed to show up on Sunday. The offensive line has been the Eagles biggest question mark all season and needed to hold their own against the highly aggressive Packers defense. However, they looked terrified on the line. Winston Justice tallied four penalties and miraculously managed to get two penalties on one play. Clay Matthews and B.J. Raji made Michael Vick’s day that much harder and it was quickly apparent on the opening play when Matthews sacked Vick for a loss.

If the Eagles want to have any success on offense next year (pending Michael Vick’s status), they are going to need to invest in some offensive linemen. Winston Justice, King Dunlap, and Nick Cole all showed that they can’t contain opposing defenses.

Defensive Line/Linebackers: F

I expected the front seven to have some trouble covering receivers over the middle, but never did I think the Packers would dominate the inside game. Rookie James Starks looked like Barry Sanders against the ‘Birds. He rushed for 123 yards, which was 22 yards more than he had all season for the Green and Gold. It was quite obvious that the Eagles overlooked the running game and focused solely on stopping the Packers passing game that ranked top-5 in the NFL.

Even worse than the run-stopping was the Eagles failure to stop Green Bay on third down. Led by Aaron Rodgers, the Packers were 7-9 on third down conversions in the first half. One their three scoring drives, Green Bay was 7-7 on third downs. This simply cannot happen defensively, especially when most of those conversions came on plays of more than five yards.

Donald Driver killed the Eagles on third down

Finally, the front seven did a terrible job getting to the quarterback. The Eagles only hit Rodgers twice, both resulting in sacks. When you give Aaron Rodgers all day to throw the ball, he is going to make you pay. The Eagles experienced that firsthand on Sunday night. Philadelphia’s “enforcer”, Ernie Sims, ran around the field aimlessly. He only had two tackles on the night, which is quite pathetic considering how many plays went over the middle.

Secondary: C

The Eagles secondary did a great job preventing the long ball, but still struggled when it mattered on big plays. Aaron Rodgers was 5-5 with three touchdown passes in the red zone, which is something the secondary has failed to improve on all season. On third downs, Rodgers completed 6-8 passes, all of which went for first downs.

Special Teams: F

David Akers, the longest tenured Eagle and one of the hardest workers, could not have picked a worse time to collapse. Granted there are reports that there have been some family issues, but that is no excuse when you are a professional football player, especially a kicker. Akers was having a career year, missing just two field goals heading into the game. However, No. 2 missed two gimmes that proved to be the difference maker. Is he the sole reason for the Eagles loss? No. But it certainly would have been nice to have those six points.

Gerard Lawson was absolutely terrible. Not only did he fail as the Eagles kick returner (averaged just 18 yards per return) but he also was called for a holding penalty on DeSean Jackson’s punt return at the end of the game. I have a feeling we won’t be seeing much more from Mr. Lawson.

As difficult as it is to not have a team to truly cheer for in the next month, the Eagles had one heck of an impressive season. Taking into account all of the drama that came with the quarterbacks and the injuries to the defense, it was quite impressive that the Eagles showed such signs of dominance in 2010. Even though most of us aren’t numb to this pain of losing and coming up short in big games, we still have a lot to be thankful for. There’s no need to call for the end of Andy Reid or Michael Vick because if I was a betting man, I would say there’s a bright future for both of them coming soon.

04
Jan
11

EAGLES: Many Questions Still Not Answered

Sitting players in a meaningless game makes sense for the Eagles. Realistically, why is it worth risking injury in a game that will not change the playoff scenarios? Michael Vick is banged up, LeSean McCoy has carried the load all season, and many other Eagles have been injury prone all season. So it seems like the right decision to give the players more than a week off heading into wildcard weekend, right?

 

Not in the Eagles case.

 

Which Michael Vick will we see against the Packers?

If you watched the same Eagles and Vikings game from week 16, you would know that the Eagles are far from ready to contend in the playoffs. All of their weaknesses were exposed on the chilly Tuesday night at Lincoln Financial Field. They were outplayed by a rookie quarterback and outcoached by an interim head coach. Michael Vick was horrible, strongly resembling the unprepared Vick of old that relied on his talents more than his preparation. The defense was steamrolled by Adrian Peterson and Joe Webb looked like a veteran at many times.

 

However, Andy Reid believes the Eagles are just fine heading into playoffs. Unlike Bill Belichick and Lovie Smith, who despite clinching playoff spots played their starters, Reid is comfortable with where the Eagles are at.

 

As Reid told the media, “It think it’s the right thing to do for us. Other people do it other ways, but this is what I believe in. It gives everybody an opportunity to rest up, in particular in the short amount of time we have here.” Sounds respectable, right?

 

He also justified his decision to bench all of his primetime starters by keying in on quarterback Michael Vick. Reid noted that Vick has been working with Marty Mornhinweg since before the Dallas game, studying the 3-4 defensive scheme by the Green Bay Packers. That’s all well and good, but wouldn’t it also be important for Vick to get more positive snaps and lead the offense like he has most of the season? If anything, Eagles fans saw just how bad it could be if Vick gets hurt after that performance by Kevin Kolb.

 

Philadelphia Inquirer’s Bob Ford makes a great point when he writes, “Beyond that, the message isn’t a good one. The message is that everything is just fine. We’ll get back to practice this week and suddenly a porous defense will get it together against an offense ranked among the top 10 in the league overall, and higher than that in the second half of the season.”

 

The Green Bay Packers are on a mission. They are coming off of back to back playoff-caliber wins over the New York Giants and Chicago Bears. In those two games they outscored their opponents 55-20, with quarterback Aaron Rodgers throwing five touchdowns and averaging over 300 yards per game.

 

But don’t worry because the Eagles defense, which has been oh-so reliable all season, will be well rested and ready for the test. By taking a break, they will figure out how to stop one of the most high-powered offenses in the league. And the Eagles offense, which was held to just 14 points (with Michael Vick recording a 74 passer rating, LeSean McCoy averaging 3.4 yards per carry, and DeSean Jackson being held to two catches) is ready to go in full force. They will be able to handle one of the most dynamic defenses in the league, led by a top-notch pass-rush, simply by being well rested. This is a big concern.

 

The combination of the question-marks surrounding the Eagles after the Vikings game and the Packers being red-hot could be detrimental come Sunday night. Let’s hope they are practicing hard.

21
Dec
10

EAGLES: The Miracle at the NEW Meadowlands

Eagles fans will never forget where they were at 4:30 p.m. on December 19th, 2010. Some were running around their living rooms, some were hugging and holding loved ones or complete strangers, and others just stared at the screen in shock and disbelief. No matter how you may have celebrated, everyone was asking the same question: did that really just happen?

Every emotion possible came to light in the Eagles and Giants game. The first half was everything that Eagles fans were nervous about. The Giants came out on a tear and the Eagles failed to respond. Eli Manning was controlling the offense and Michael Vick had no answer against the aggressive New York defense.

The lead continued to grow for New York and Eagles fans slumped further down into their chairs. Once again we were watching the Eagles buckle in the big game. And then something changed in the hearts of those on the Eagles sideline. With eight minutes and nine seconds left, something clicked team and they realized that in the NFL, nothing is truly over until the clock hits zeros.

Twenty-eight points and over 300 yards of offense in the final half of the fourth quarter and the Eagles ran into the locker room in celebration and disbelief. They had just pulled off one of the greatest comebacks in NFL history. It was not your average comeback, but rather one that included two 30+ yard scrambles by Michael Vick, the best onsides kick off of David Akers career, a missed challenge by Andy Reid, two three and outs forced by the Eagles defense, and most notably a punt return touchdown by DeSean Jackson to end the game. Truly unbelievable.

Now for the weekly grades:

Quarterback: A –

What Michael Vick did in the fourth was the most impressive quarterback performance I have ever seen. No other quarterback could have done what he did to bring the Eagles back into the game. The combination of big plays in the air and on the ground makes him the most dynamic threat in the league. With his 242 passing yards and three touchdown passes alongside 10 rushes for 130 yards and a touchdown, Michael Vick took the Eagles under his wing.

Vick was far from effective in the first half. Just like we saw the last time these two teams met, Vick struggled with the constant pressure put on by the Giants. He threw the fifth interception in the last five games and missed a lot of his receivers through the first 45 minutes. However, No. 7 didn’t let that affect him. He rebounded in a way that no one could have imagined. I look forward to seeing him in an Eagles uniform for the next couple of seasons.

Running back: A –

LeSean McCoy only saw 10 carries but he did the most with them on Sunday. Shady rushed for 64 yards, making it the eighth time this season he has averaged over five yards per carry (the fourth time he averaged over six yards per carry). It also doesn’t hurt the rushing offense when Vick averages 13 yards per carry.

Did that really just happen?

Wide Receivers: B

If DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin could hold onto the football, this unit would be in the B+ to A – range. Both star receivers committed costly turnovers that could not have come at worse times for the Eagles offense. However, both Maclin and Jackson certainly made up for their miscues. Maclin scored the game-tying touchdown with just over a minute to play and then Jackson answered right back with a game-winning punt return. Tight end Brent Celek scored his longest touchdown of his career when he hauled in a 65-yarder from Michael Vick.

Offensive Line: C+

It was a lot of ups and downs for the offensive line. King Dunlap got absolutely owned by Justin Tuck, who finished with 1.5 sacks, two tackles for losses, six tackles and three quarterback hits. If it wasn’t for Vick’s speed, Tuck would have made Dunlap look like the Winston Justice of 2007. On the contrary, Jason Peters did a great job on Osi Umenyiora and Max Jean-Gilles threw a great block that sparked Michael Vick’s first touchdown run.

Defensive Line/Linebackers: A –

The front seven was the biggest question mark coming into Sunday’s game; however they stepped up in a big way against a tough Giants offense. They were without defensive end Brandon Graham and middle linebacker Stewart Bradley. Rookie Jamar Chaney, a seventh round draft pick, dominated the middle of the field with 16 tackles (12 solo) and one tackle for a loss. Moise Fokou also stepped up on the linebacker core, notching 10 tackles (8 solo), a sack and two tackles for losses. The defensive line didn’t put a ton of pressure on Eli Manning, but they did a great job defending the run. The duo of Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs was held to a mere 3.2 yards per carry and the defense only allowed three rushing first downs.

The defense did a great job stopping the run on Sunday

Secondary: D+

One stat pretty much speaks to the Eagles secondary against the Giants: in the first half, cornerback Dmitri Patterson was thrown at 10 times. Of those targets, Eli Manning completed six passes for 84 yards and three touchdowns. For the game, Manning passed for 289 yards, four touchdowns (three in the first half), and in interception en route to a 105.4 quarterback rating. This marks the second time in the last four games the Eagles secondary has allowed four touchdown passes.

If this continues, the Eagles offense will need to put up over 30 points a game if the team has any choice of winning. With Nate Allen joining Ellis Hobbs on the sidelines for the rest of the season, rookie Kurt Coleman will start for the rest of the season. Defensive coordinator Sean McDermott needs to find an answer or Philadelphia is in some big trouble.

Special Teams: A+

What more do I need to say? DeSean Jackson defied all odds with his game winning punt return for a touchdown. His first touchdown return of the season could not have come at a bigger time for No. 10. Also, kicker David Akers knocked down a very clutch 34-yard field goal with less than eight minutes left in the game.

In a matter of minutes, the 2010 season has taken a turn for the better. The Eagles now control their own destiny to their sixth NFC East title in the past 10 years. If they beat the Vikings or Cowboys, the division is theirs. If the Chicago Bears lose one of the next two games and the Eagles win out, then Philadelphia could find themselves with a first round bye.

It’s pointless to play the “what-if” game. For now, it’s important that everyone enjoy and embrace this win. Christmas came six days early in the City of Brotherly Love.

Check out Philly Phour writer Josh Getzoff’s video about Philadelphia’s dominance over New York in the last week. Also check out the Eagles locker room celebration after the Giants game.

15
Dec
10

EAGLES: ‘Birds Edge Out Cowboys in Must-Win

Everyone knew it was going to be a shootout, but not many expected the Eagles and Cowboys game to go down like it did on Sunday night. It involved a 91-yard game winning touchdown by DeSean Jackson, five turnovers and even a touchdown from Todd Herremans. As far as excitement, the Eagles and Cowboys certainly didn’t disappoint.

At this point every win is crucial for the Eagles. However, the win over Dallas could not have come at a better time. If there is one thing that we learned on Sunday, it’s that you never know what you are going to get from the Eagles offense. Between Michael Vick, LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, and others, the Eagles can explode in almost every aspect of the offense.

The only downside is that the Eagles lost two of their biggest defensive players. Stewart Bradley left the game with a leg injury and is doubtful for the rest of the season. Rookie defensive end Brandon Graham, who was really starting to come into his own, will miss the remainder of the year after tearing his ACL. With a defense that is already depleted with an ailing Asante Samuel, the Eagles are certainly lacking in the leadership department. Stewart Bradley has played well the last couple of games in the middle, but now finds himself watching on the sidelines once again.

Despite losing Bradley and Graham, the Eagles pulled through in the third quarter after being down 20-14. Led by the power running game of McCoy and a big touchdown late, Philadelphia capped off its ninth win of the season.

Grades:

Quarterback : B+

Once again, Vick came through for the Eagles on Sunday night. He had three touchdowns total, but for the first time since being released from prison he had two interceptions in a game.  Despite the turnovers, his passing was pretty spot on for most of the night. What a beautiful pass on the opening play of the game, when he connected with DeSean Jackson for a  60-yard bomb.

I was not so impressed with his running game. For the first time all season he struggled to find open holes. He only averaged two yards per carry and was sacked twice trying to scramble. Vick needs to start treating himself like glass because it’s obvious that referees are not giving him the calls (such as when he was pushed to the ground when running out of bounds).

Running back: A+

What more can I say about this guy? In his second year he is already being compared to Brian Westbrook in his prime. Statistically, he has been without question the best Eagles running back through two seasons. To this point he has 2,455 all purpose yards in his first two seasons and the next closest in franchise history is Billy Ray Barnes (1956-57) with 1,715 (and McCoy still has three games to play). He has proven that he can be an every down back that can fight for yards in the trenches and be an effective pass-catcher. Shady averaged over nine yards per carry against the Cowboys and finished with 149 yards on the ground. He sealed the win for the Eagles after gaining three extremely impressive first downs on the final drive.

DeSean broke past the secondary and never looked back in the fourth quarter

Wide Receivers: A

DeSean Jackson just loves to play under the spot light. In the 15 primetime games he has played since being an Eagles, he has 61 catches for 1,252 yards and 7 touchdowns. Are you kidding me? He caught the opening bomb from Michael Vick and added on a 91-yard touchdown reception to give the Eagles a 27-20 lead in the fourth. Jackson averaged 52.5 yards per catch and did most of the work after making those catches. He stole the show from the rest of the receivers, but I don’t see many complaining.

Offensive Line: B+

Jason Peters did an unbelievable job defending DeMarcus Ware. The All-Pro Cowboy lineman only had three tackles all night and rarely got to Vick in the pocket. For one of the first times this season, Todd Herremans did something positive for the offense after catching a touchdown pass. Since the referees aren’t protecting Vick, it’s important that the offensive line step up and protect him. He was only sacked twice but took some brutal hits that need to be avoided if he plans on staying healthy.

Defensive Line/Linebackers: B

The Eagles red zone defense is the worst in the NFL and it was certainly apparent against Dallas. All of their touchdowns (counting Witten’s 22 yard catch) came in the red zone. They did hold Felix Jones to just 3.2 yards per carry and quarterback Jon Kitna to 6.8 yards per completion, but something breaks down when defending that last part of the field.

Where in the world has Trent Cole been? Through the first half of the season, Cole was on pace to break some record books and buy himself a ticket to the Pro-Bowl. However, the last couple of games he has been completely shut down. Cole only got to the quarterback once and finished with a mere two tackles.

The defensive player of the game was Jamar Chaney, who filled in for Stewart Bradley. Chaney led the team with seven tackles after coming in more than halfway through the game. The rookie is expected to be the starter in the middle this weekend against the Giants. Hopefully he and the rest of the linebackers can do a better job covering the opposing tight end though.

With the loss of Brandon Graham, the Eagles welcome back defensive lineman Derrick Burgess. A couple of years ago he was the staple on the D-line for Philadelphia and hopefully he still has some fuel in the tank.

Quintin Mikell captained the defense Sunday

Secondary: A –

Similar to the linebackers, the secondary could have done a better job covering Jason Witten over the top. Other than that, the defensive backs did a great job covering the high-powered Cowboys offense. On top of two interceptions, they held top receiver Miles Austin to two catches for 22 yards and Roy Williams to 23 yards. Even more impressive is that they did it without Asante Samuel, who missed his third straight game with a knee injury.

Special Teams: B+

At the age of 36, David Akers seems to be having his best season yet for the Eagles. He has connected on 23 of his last 24 field goal attempts and has made 11 in a row. He nailed a 50 yarder in the fourth quarter to tie the game up at 20 that proved to be one of the difference makers in the game.

On another note, I much rather prefer to have Chad Hall returning kicks than Jorrick Calvin. Hall is faster and more elusive than Calvin. Also, DeSean Jackson has hit a bit of a slump as a punt returner, which is a bit worrisome for the special teams core.

With the Giants playing a cupcake game against the Vikings, Sunday was a much needed win for the Eagles. It sets up the stage for this weekend’s game, which is without question the biggest game of the season. If Philadelphia wins, they clinch a spot in the playoffs because they will have two wins over New York. With a depleted defense, Philadelphia is going to have to rely on the elusive offense that New York did a solid job defending last time they played. It’s going to be a fun one on Sunday at 1 p.m. ET.

06
Dec
10

EAGLES: Eagles take care of business against Texans

Pinned in the heart of the Eagles second half schedule, many overlooked the matchup with the Houston Texans on Thursday night. Even though it was a non-conference game, it was a must win for the Eagles considering how tight the NFC is looking at this point in the season. Once again, Michael Vick carried Philadelphia on his back and led the Eagles to a 34-24 win at Lincoln Financial Field.

Offensively, the Eagles continued their dominance of opposing defenses. Vick led the Eagles to touchdowns on four of six red zone possessions and to a 50 percent third down conversion rate. He controlled the game and let the offense work itself out against one of the worst defenses in the league.

Defensively, the Eagles were pretty shaky. The Texans scored touchdowns on all three of their red zone trips. Coming into the game Philadelphia allowed touchdowns on 76.7 percent of red zone possessions, which is the worst in the league. Now for the grades:

Quarterback: A-

Was Michael Vick slippery or what against the Texans? He dodged a couple of tackles throughout the game that should have resulted in sacks and he instead turned them into big carries. He had his fifth game of the season with a quarterback rating over 100 and his seventh over 90. Vick completed 22 of 33 passes for 302 yards (third time in four games throwing over 300 yards).

Vick did a great job controlling the game under pressure. He had his first come from behind win as the Eagles starting quarterback. He completed 5 of 7 passes for 107 yards and a touchdown (on top of a rushing touchdown) in the fourth quarter. That’s a passer rating of 153.2. The Eagles are averaging 33.6 points per game with Vick under center and have scored over 25 points in each of those games.

I’m still a bit worried and annoyed by Vick’s refusal to slide. He said in an interview after the game that he knows how to slide, but would rather not to. He’s all smiles right now while he is healthy, but one hit can end all of the Eagles dreams with Vick under center.

Running backs: A

On the ground, LeSean McCoy only rushed 12 times for 44 yards. However, McCoy hauled in a team high eight passes for 86 yards and finished with two touchdowns on the day. On the season he has 67 receptions, which is only 23 away from tying the Eagles single season record set by Brian Westbrook in 2007. He is averaging just over five catches per game and with four games left, he is poised to contend for that record. I really cannot say enough about how much Shady has developed in the last year. He is extremely versatile and does a great job making people miss.

Even though he only had three touches on the night, Jerome Harrison had a huge third down carry that went for 14 yards. He broke a tackle and quickly moved to the edge of the field and beat out a couple of linebackers.

Wide Receivers: A –

Brent Celek saved the game for the Eagles late in the 4th quarter

This was the first game of the season that the Eagles got solid production from the big three of their receiving core: DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin and Brent Celek. Jackson finished with 84 yards, Maclin with 68 and Celek with 55. Granted they were facing one of the worst secondaries in football, but still they seemed to do a good job getting open at all points of the field. It seems like Vick and Celek are starting to get more comfortable together, as the tight end was targeted a season high seven times from No. 7. Also, hats off to Brent Celek for keeping the Eagles in the game late in the fourth quarter when he stretched for a first down on 3rd and 19. That play changed the outcome of the game.

What is the deal with Jason Avant? For the third time this season Avant dropped a touchdown pass that could have changed the outlook of the game. He is regarded as having some of the best hands in football, but seems to miss at the worst possible times. Both Avant and Celek dropped touchdown passes on a second half drive that resulted in a touchdown.

Offensive Line: B

The offensive line only allowed one sack to the Texans.  More impressively, they only allowed two tackles and one tackle for a loss to Mario Williams, who is regarded as one of the most dominant defensive ends in the country. However the line as a whole continues to buckle against the blitz. Imagine what Vick could do with more time in the pocket.

Jason Peters had a great game blocking, and impressively without any penalties. He made great blocks on almost every big passing play. Todd Herremans was really inconsistent and allowed too many defenders in the backfield.

Defensive Line/Linebackers: C –

Let’s just say that if Michael Vick had as much time as Matt Schaub in the pocket, the Eagles would average 50 points a game. The front four did a terrible job getting to Schaub all night. They only blitzed nine times, which resulted in two sacks. Brandon Graham played in 70 percent of the snaps, but was practically invisible on the field. Trent Cole, a man who seems to be able to get past any offensive lineman, was shut down for most of the game. Aside from Trevor Laws’ interception in the first half, the defensive line was very unproductive against a mediocre Texans offensive line.

Stewart Bradley had another great game for the Eagles. He has been very quiet all season, but finally showed signs of leadership on Thursday. Bradley made a couple of big tackles against Arian Foster that went for losses. However, Bradley, like the rest of the linebackers, gave up a couple of big plays to tight end Joel Dreessen.

Secondary: C+

The second straight game without Asante Samuel and the Eagles secondary was torched again. Matt Schaub passed for 337 yards, 149 of which went to Andre Johnson. The Texans star receiver was injured for most of the first half, which shows how big of an impact he had in the second half. Both Nate Allen and Dmitri Patterson were beat badly on a head fake by Johnson in the second quarter that went for 42 yards.

Congratulations to David Akers who made Eagles history Thursday

That being said, the Eagles defense still was able to pull things together late in the fourth quarter. They were in a tough spot and the offense picked them off the ground and put them on their back. The defense really needs to step up heading into Dallas and New York.

Special Teams: A

It finally happened. The Eagles returned a kickoff for the first time this season, and one of the first times in the last decade, but then it all came crashing down on a Clay Harbor holding call. Watching Jorrick Calvin celebrate after the return without knowing there was a penalty was painful. He still rebounded and averaged over 23 yards per return.

Congratulations to Eagles kicker David Akers. He became the all-time leader in starts in franchise history (184), surpassing former safety Brian Dawkins. Akers also accounted for 10 points for the Eagles on Thursday night.

Now is when things get very interesting for the Eagles. They finish the season playing the Dallas Cowboys twice, the New York Giants at the Meadowlands and at home against the Minnesota Vikings. For the first time in the last few seasons, a 10-win team might not make the playoffs in the NFC. Now is when we see what the real Philadelphia Eagles are like and how they can respond on the road in Dallas and New York.

If you haven’t seen it yet, you must watch the Eagles post-game locker room celebration

02
Dec
10

EAGLES: Must Win Tonight vs. Texans

Coming off one of the ugliest losses of the season, it will be important for the Eagles to rebound against the Houston Texans tonight at Lincoln Financial Field. Pretty much all weaknesses were pinpointed this past Sunday, including the Eagles offense that ranks second in the NFL in points per game (28.2).

I expect nothing short of a shootout tonight at Lincoln Financial Field. Behind Michael Vick the Eagles have the ability to score on every defense in the NFL. Taking into account that the Texans have given up at least 24 points in every game this season except for this past Sunday should make for an exciting Eagles offense. One of the most important things to watch tonight is the productivity of the Eagles red zone offense. They rank 19th in the NFL right now in red zone efficiency and their struggles last week against Chicago was one of the main reasons for losing. However, Houston’s pass defense ranks 31st in the league and Michael Vick has proven that he can make big plays with both his arm and legs. Case point: expect a lot of points and a lot of yards from the Eagles offense.

The Eagles need Samuel on the field against Andre Johnson

Another key matchup to watch on offense will be how the line handles defensive end Mario Williams. He has 8.5 sacks on the season and is quickly becoming one of the best in the league at his position. He will most likely be matched up with Jason Peters, aka the penalty machine. It’s going to be crucial for the line to protect Vick and let him stand in the pocket instead of running aimlessly in the backfield.

That being said, the Texans rank in the top 10 in the league in points per game (24). They garner the top-ranked running back in the NFL right now in Arian Foster, who is poised to run all over the Eagles if the front seven doesn’t come to play. Philadelphia’s defense has done a great job against the run this season so it will be important for them to continue down that path. Sean McDermott needs to make sure to stay aggressive and not allow Foster to break for big runs.

Even though Matt Schaub is not having the most productive year, he is still a play-making quarterback that has a number of weapons in Andre Johnson and Owen Daniels. The Eagles need to pray that Asante Samuel can play tonight. He is listed as a game-time decision with a knee injury and it was quite apparent how important he is to the secondary. The secondary is very young and Samuel lead’s the NFL in interceptions, so it will be important to have him on the field. If not, then the Eagles will rely on Dmitri Patterson and Joselio Hanson to cover the speedy and athletic Andre Johnson, Kevin Walter and Jacoby Jones. They will have their hands full tonight and could be the reason for keeping the Texans in the game.

This is a game that the Eagles are expected to win, but it is also a game that could really throw the Eagles under the bus in the final couple of weeks. The NFC is very top-heavy and the Eagles need to stay atop the division knowing they still have three more divisional games to play. If the Eagles offense can control the game and keep the ball away from Arian Foster and Andre Johnson, then this could be a fun highlight reel to watch.

Prediction: Eagles- 38, Texans- 17




The Philly Phour

August 2017
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