Posts Tagged ‘Nate Allen

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.

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

23
Nov
10

EAGLES: Eagles hold off Giants to gain control of division

There’s a reason the Eagles have been tagged the “Cardiac ‘Birds” this season. Outside of last weekend’s beat down over the Redskins, the Eagles were met with a tough test against the New York Giants on Sunday night.

It mimicked a typical Eagles Giants matchup, full of the chippiest of plays, hair pulling and one that goes down to the wire. Both teams showed their vulnerability, but it was the Eagles that prevailed in one of their most important wins of the season.

The Eagles relied heavily on their big-play style of offense and defense. They have always struggled to grind out close games under Andy Reid, but were able to get away with a win against a very good Giants team that is known to make teams beat them. Philadelphia came out firing in the first half, but missed a number of crucial opportunities to put the game out of reach. The offense failed to convert on three-straight red zone opportunities, thanks to two drops in the end zone and a failed third and short.

By halftime, the score should have been about 24-3 in favor of the green and white. However, things felt all too similar to the previous home game against the Indianapolis Colts, where the Eagles had a number of opportunities to put them away and instead let the game go down to the wire. Soon after the half, the Giants scored 14 unanswered points to take a one point lead in the fourth quarter.

A few gray hairs later, the Eagles found themselves in a 4th and 1 situation at midfield. After running a terrible third and one play that ended in an incomplete pass (which should have been a running play), Michael Vick snapped the ball and pitched it back to LeSean McCoy. Fifty yards later the Eagles were back in control of the game after McCoy exploded for his best and most clutch run of the season. From there on out the Eagles looked like the Eagles from the first quarter and the Giants had no answer.

For the grades:

Quarterback: B –

For a majority of the game Michael Vick had no answers for the Giants defense. They had a game plan and did a good job sticking to it by negating Vick from beating them with his feet. He was only held to 34 yards on 11 carries Sunday night. Throwing wise, Vick didn’t seem to click as well with his receivers as he did against the Redskins. Regardless of the fact that Vick couldn’t get help from his wide receivers in the first half (dropped touchdowns by Jackson and Avant) he still struggled to hit his receivers when he was facing pressure.

My other big problem with Vick on Sunday night was his run-first mentality on a number of plays. This was one of my biggest concerns about him as a quarterback because he often fails to let plays develop and tries to scramble for yardage instead. He fumbled the ball twice on Sunday, one of which was recovered by the Giants during their third quarter comeback.

Also, Vick has to realize that he only weighs 210 pounds. With all of this scrambling, he continues to risk himself for injury every time he takes a hit from an opposing defense. He was only hit three times in the pocket, but another ten or so times when he went to rush. He doesn’t slide and he rarely runs out of bounds, which means he is getting hit that many more times each game. His health a big concern if the Eagles are going to make him a franchise quarterback.

Runningback: A –

McCoy is a special runner

For about the fifth time this season, LeSean McCoy has taken the game into his hands and acted as a catalyst to an Eagles win. He struggled at the beginning of the game (8 rushes for 4 yards), but exploded for two runs over 40 yards in the fourth quarter to seal the win for the Eagles. It continues to baffle me that Andy Reid does not look to McCoy more often during the game. He averages less than 16 carries per game, yet has four games over 90 yards rushing and six games over 100 all purpose yards. I would say that merits more touches every game.

I was also shocked to see the limited role by Jerome Harrison against the Giants. I guess his 100+ yard performance from last week didn’t justify more time.

Wide receiver: B

One ball. In all of training camp Jason Avant allegedly dropped one ball. However, he dropped one of the easiest touchdown catches of all time against the Giants, and one that would have changed the outlook of the game. He is not the only one to blame. DeSean Jackson, while not as bad as Avant, dropped a touchdown pass from Vick in the first quarter. However, both receivers made up for the drops with great catches throughout the game. Mistakes happen, but it’s how the receivers respond to those mistakes that matters.

Jeremy Maclin continues to impress each week. He finished with 120 yards, which is his second highest total of the season, and made a number of great catches down the stretch. He also tied a career high with nine receptions.

By the way, where in the world is Brent Celek? Let me know if you have an answer.

Offensive Line: C –

Penalties, penalties, penalties. That was the story of the day for the Eagles offensive line. Jason Peters, who is usually good for at least one penalty a game, accounted for multiple flags against the Giants. Todd Herremans, who has really improved over the last few weeks, was called for two penalties that came at inopportune moments. Also, they allowed three sacks all to Justin Tuck, who dominated the outside tackles all game.

Defensive Line/Linebackers: B+

The story of the game was the ability to create turnovers from Eli Manning. If there’s one thing Eagles fans know about Eli, it’s that he is very vulnerable and prone to make mistakes. His three interceptions and the offense’s two fumbles were the story of the night. The Eagles front seven did a phenomenal job stopping the running attack of Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs. Bradshaw only netted 29 yards on 12 carries and Jacobs averaged just two yards per carry. My one concern (and reason for the B+ grade) was the lack of pressure on Eli Manning. For the first time since the 2008 season, the Eagles failed to register a sack. Shawn Andrews, the once crazed Eagles lineman, completely shut down Trent Cole on the right side of the line. Brandon Graham forced a fumble but struggled to get to Manning all night. It was also great to see Stewart Bradley get an interception, but I’m still waiting for his breakout game.

Secondary: A–

Samuel may have finally learned how to hit too

I don’t know if it’s his speed or his impressive anticipation, but Asante Samuel was everywhere on the field against the Giants. He intercepted Manning twice, recovered a fumble and even recovered a fumble that was eventually overruled by the referees. He has seven interceptions in the last seven games and it probably having the best season of his career. Not to mention that he finally showed he can hit people instead of his usual push-tackle technique. The only ironic thing is that his first big hit ended in a penalty and most likely a fine from the league.

Dmitri Patterson also showed up to play for the second consecutive week. He did a great job shutting down Mario Manningham.

Special Teams: B+

After missing three field goals in one game against the Falcons, David Akers has been on a tear this year. He is practically automatic on field goals, making four of five against New York (one was blocked to end the half). It was a scary period of ten minutes watching Ellis Hobbs being carted off the field, but thankfully he is in stable condition. He will miss the rest of the season with a neck injury. With Hobbs out, the Eagles are in search of another consistent kick returner. Eldra Buckley filled in for a return and ran hard but only gained 20 yards. Jorrick Calvin has struggled recently so that part of the roster is going to need to be figured out soon.

 

There is certainly an optimistic buzz coming from Eagles fans in Philadelphia. I urge them to sit back and let the season play out before booking tickets to Dallas in late January/early February. It has been fun to watch this team come together under Michael Vick, but there are still six weeks left in the season that can change the entire outlook of the year. Philadelphia has proved that they are the team to beat in the NFC East, but can they continue this winning streak for the rest of the season? If they keep playing like this, they are going to be one tough team to beat in the NFL.

 

08
Nov
10

EAGLES: ‘Birds Hold on to Beat Colts

It wasn’t pretty, but the win Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts may have just defined the Eagles season. It was extremely back and forth, but it seemed like it was mostly the Eagles game to lose.

The Eagles missed a number of crucial opportunities to put the game out of reach against the Colts. The most concerning aspect of the game was the offensive red zone woes. Philadelphia was unable to convert a touchdown on three-straight red zone chances that would have completely changed the outlook of the game. Even though the offense struggled a bit in the red zone, it was the Eagles defense that ended up being the main reasons for the victory.

For the third time this season, the Eagles defense was able to close out the victory in the final seconds of the game. In the second game of the season, they forced quarterback Shaun Hill into throwing four incomplete passes on the final drive for the Lions. In week five, Trevard Lindley intercepted an Alex Smith pass in the final minute of the game against the 49ers. And then yesterday cornerback Asante Samuel intercepted Peyton Manning’s pass in the last few seconds to drain the rest of the clock and give the Eagles their fifth win of the season. Say what you want about the troubling defense and the status of defensive coordinator Sean McDermott, but this unit has come through in the clutch a number of times this season.

Sunday’s game also welcomed back quarterback Michael Vick and wide receiver DeSean Jackson. I think it’s safe to say that Eagles fans were excited to see their two most explosive players back on the field, as they accounted for 109 yards and a touchdown together. Vick did a great job controlling the game and more importantly keeping Peyton Manning off the field.

Grades:

Quarterback: A—

Michael Vick did it all with his arm and legs on Sunday

I think it’s pretty safe to say that a healthy Michael Vick gives the Eagles a better chance of winning this season. As we saw on Sunday, he adds a completely different dimension to every game with what he is able to do with his legs. He rushed for 74 yards and converted a number of third down plays by scrambling around the field.

It is also obvious that there is a special connection between Vick and wide receiver DeSean Jackson. Much like Kevin Kolb often found Jeremy Maclin, Vick and Jackson work extremely well together. A lot of this has to do with Vick’s ability to throw the long ball, something that worked very well for the Eagles last season with Donovan McNabb and Jackson.

Running back: B+

I love what I’m seeing from the running game. Another positive of having Vick behind center is that he helps take the pressure off LeSean McCoy. Even though McCoy only had 16 carries on the afternoon, he still averaged 5.9 yards per carry and finished with 95 yards on the ground. The only concern here is that 62 of those yards came on the opening run of the game, so that means that he had 33 yards in the final three quarters.

If Shady continues at this pace for the second half of the season, he will finish with close to 1,200 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Wide Receivers: B

I can’t say enough about how much DeSean Jackson changes the game and the rest of the receiving core. He finished with seven receptions for 109 yards and a touchdown on Sunday. However, a receiver like Jackson is supposed to create better numbers for the other receivers who aren’t seeing as much coverage. This was not really the case on Sunday as Jeremy Maclin, Jason Avant, Owen Schmidt and LeSean McCoy combined for the same number of yards as Jackson. What’s even more troubling is that Brent Celek did not record a catch against the Colts. He was only targeted once so I don’t know if that speaks to his inability to get open or Michael Vick’s unwillingness to look for his tight end option.

Offensive Line: C+

There was a tale of two different offensive lines on Sunday. In the first half, the line did a great job protecting Michael Vick and LeSean McCoy. The offense was clicking (until the red zone) and it seemed like the offensive line was headed in the right direction. In the second half, the Eagles were unable to get much going due to the lack of time Vick had in the pocket and how much McCoy struggled to get past the line of scrimmage. The Colts finished the game with three sacks, six tackles for losses and two pass deflections at the line of scrimmage. Those numbers need to improve.

Defensive line/Linebackers: A–

Even though the Colts were without Joseph Addai and Mike Hart, the Eagles front seven did a spectacular job defending the run. They held the Colts to 62 yards on the ground and a mere 3.3 yards per carry on the afternoon. They have definitely stepped things up in the last four weeks, holding opposing running backs to an average of 3.2 yards per carry.

The linebackers are still struggling when it comes to defending the tight end. If anyone has watched Peyton Manning in his long career, they would know that he loves to throw it to his tight end (just look at Dallas Clark’s numbers). In just his second game of the season, tight end Jacob Tamme led all receivers with 11 receptions for 108 yards and a touchdown. That is now the third time this season the Eagles defense has given up over 100 yards to an opposing tight end.

Asante Samuel recorded two interceptions, including the game-ending interception

Secondary: A

Similar to the Colts’ running game, Peyton Manning did not have much to work with on offense when it came to his receiving core. However, the Eagles secondary did force two interceptions from Manning, which matches the number of interceptions he has thrown through the first seven games of the season. Manning completed less than 60 percent of his passes for just the third time this season and his passer rating of 65.7 was the second worse this year.

It looks like the days of Ellis Hobbs starting are officially over. In his first start of the season, Dmitri Patterson did a great job and accounted for six tackles. Rookie Kurt Coleman also did a nice job filling in for the injured Nate Allen. Reports today say that Allen has a sprained neck and most likely will not play next week against Washington, so look for Coleman to potentially make his first start of his career.

Special Teams: B

David Akers is back on track as one of the most consistent kickers in the National Football League after knocking down all four of his field goals. Punter Sav Rocca did a great job punting and forcing bad field position for the Colts all game. I would still like to see more production from Jorrick Calvin on kick and punt returns. He averaged 30 yards on kick returns, but his only punt return went for a net loss of one yard.

Check out this video to see the Eagles locker room reaction after the win.

Even though it may have drained a year or two off my life, the win against the Colts could not have come at a more opportune time for the Eagles. They are relatively healthy now and seem to show strides towards one of the best teams in the NFC. The tough second half schedule continues on Monday night when they attempt to get revenge against the Washington Redskins.

In other exciting Philadelphia Eagles news, the Dallas Cowboys have just fired Wade Phillips, furthering the already dreadful Cowboys season.

31
Oct
10

EAGLES: What We Have Learned from the Eagles This Season

A lot has happened in the first seven weeks of the Eagles season. Between the transition of the franchise from the Donovan McNabb era and 13 draft picks in April, the Eagles have had to deal with a lot of changes in their young roster.

Philadelphia is 4-3 on the year and sits one game behind the New York Giants in the NFC East. Luckily for the Eagles, they play in the NFC East which has been one of the biggest divisional busts of the season. Many believe that the Eagles are lucky to even be in the hunt at this point in the season, considering how inconsistent the team has been and how much drama has surrounded them on and off the field.

We have learned a lot about the Eagles through the first seven weeks. Anyone that follows the Eagles knew coming into the season that it was going to be a year full of questions. Many have coined this year’s team as a “rebuilding process”, whereas others still believe that the Eagles can contend with any team in the NFL. Heading into the second half of the season (and the hardest part of the season), the Eagles have a lot to improve on if they want to be taken seriously in the very up-in-the-air NFC.

So what exactly have we learned this season?

1) The Eagles have two very capable quarterbacks

Andy Reid got his wish. Much to the dislike of fans and the media, Reid has flip-flopped between starters Kevin Kolb and Michael Vick all season. They have both proven that they can lead the team to wins, but it’s their dissimilarities that make this an interesting core. They have very different styles (which I have argued in previous posts is not beneficial to the future of the organization) and have accounted for two wins each on the season. Vick played hero at the beginning of the season, but took a brutal hit on the goal line, sending Kevin Kolb back to the starting role. Kolb answered back in dramatic fashion, leading the ‘Birds in back to back wins over the 49ers and Falcons. They have combined to one of the best passer ratings in the league and I think any Eagles fan can feel comfortable with Vick or Kolb as the starter.

2) The offensive line is a joke

Much of the Eagles success on offense relies on the offensive line. They are one of the most inconsistent units in franchise history. Barred by injuries to Jamaal Jackson and Jason Peters, the Eagles have had to rely on young players such as King Dunlap and Mike McGlynn to carry the weight on the line. They are tied for second in the league for sacks allowed per game (3) and rank high in QB hits allowed. There have been flashes of potential, but week in and week out the offensive line finds a way to keep the opposing defense in the game.

3) Brent Celek hangover

Can Brent Celek re-establish himself as a go-to receiver?

For the most part, the Eagles receiving core has been pretty impressive. DeSean Jackson took one of the biggest hits of the season that has put him out for a couple of weeks. Until this past week against the Titans, Jeremy Maclin has been the most impressive receiver for the Eagles. He leads the ‘Birds with 30 receptions for 458 yards and six touchdowns and has done a sufficient job as the top receiver (with the exception of the Titans game).

More importantly for the success of the Eagles has been the lack of production from tight end Brent Celek. Coming off a Pro-Bowl caliber season, Celek was expected to be one of the best in the league at his position. He only has 21 receptions for 229 yards and two scores on a pass-happy offense that loves to go to the tight end. In the last couple of weeks he has faced problems with dropping balls in crucial moments and is losing his reputation for being a big play tight end. With DeSean Jackson now on the concussion watch list, Celek is going to need to fill in as a go-to receiver.

4) LeSean McCoy has established himself as a No. 1 running back

Without McCoy, the Eagles would probably have a losing record. He has played with cracked ribs the last couple of weeks but continues to carry the workload for the running game. He is averaging 4.5 yards per carry and more impressively he leads the ‘Birds in receptions. One of the biggest questions for the second half of the season is whether or not McCoy can handle the heavy workload during the long season. The Eagles lack a sufficient backup that can compliment McCoy. Hopefully Jerome Harrison can make more of an impact than Mike Bell.

5) Vulnerability of the secondary

Since the Brian Dawkins era, the Eagles secondary has primarily been a big-play unit. They like to take risks with the hopes of not giving up too many big plays. The problem this season is that they have given up too many of those plays. A case point would be last week’s performance by Kenny Britt, who torched the Eagles for 225 yards and three touchdowns in three quarters of play. Ellis Hobbs has been a cancer at cornerback and Asante Samuel has been relatively quiet this year. Despite recording three interceptions in the first three weeks, Nate Allen still has a lot of growing up to do. Quintin Mikell leads the team in tackles, but has been vulnerable to the long ball and tends to get beaten over the top. The Eagles defense is allowing over 22 points per game, ranking them 19th in the league. Sean McDermott is on the hot seat now and improving the secondary is the first thing he needs to do to improve his image.

Where is the Stewart Bradley of old?

6) Where is Stewart Bradley?

Two years ago, Stewart Bradley seemed like he was going to the future of the Eagles defense. Since Eagles Flight Night in 2009 when Bradley suffered a season ending ACL tear, he has not provided the same presence in the middle as he did in 2008. He is fifth on the team in tackles and has yet to create a turnover this season. At least the Eagles have Trent Cole to pick up his slack.

7) The schedule is only going to get harder

The biggest concern for the Eagles moving forward has been their inconsistency against mediocre and subpar teams. Three of their four wins have come against teams with losing records, but more importantly their losses have been ugly. All three of their losses have come to teams that are .500 or better. This is a big concern for Eagles fans considering that seven out of the next nine opponents have even or winning records. It also doesn’t help that the Eagles face the Colts coming out of the bye, a team that Andy Reid has yet to beat in his tenure.

Philadelphia has a lot to work on if they want to continue to compete in the division. They face five more NFC East games, including two against the Giants and Cowboys. Let’s see what this young team’s got.

Happy Halloween and more importantly happy Phillies World Series Parade day as it was two years ago today that Broad Street was flooded with red.

25
Oct
10

EAGLES: ‘Birds Meltdown on the Road Against the Titans

What a difference one play can make.

The Eagles needed three yards, just three yards, to most likely improve to 5-2 heading into the bye week. LeSean McCoy fumbled on the Titans three yard line in the third quarter and the Titans never looked back. They went on to score 30 points after that play and outperform the Eagles in practically every statistical category.

The complete and utter destruction that came in the second half was contrary to how the Eagles played in the first half. The defense stepped up and made plays in the first half, especially when it came to stopping the most dynamic runner in the NFL in Chris Johnson. The offense could have extended the score, but still controlled the possession for most of the first half. In the second half, the Eagles didn’t seem to have anything going. Aside from the fumble on the three-yard line, the defense could not contain a mediocre wide receiver at best in Kenny Britt. He torched the Eagles with seven receptions for 225 yards and a touchdown (159 in the fourth quarter alone) … and he didn’t even play the first quarter. This marked the most receiving yards the Eagles have EVER given up.

It was a loss the Eagles could not afford to have heading into the bye week. They were riding a two-game winning streak, but the team proved that they still have a lot of weaknesses and loopholes in their talent to really be considered one of the top teams in the NFC.

Grades:

Quarterback: C+

After back-to-back passer ratings above 100, Kevin Kolb looked far from efficient on Sunday. He completed just 26 of 48 passes for 231 yards, had one touchdown, but also tossed two interceptions. The first interception was a panic-pass that Kolb just aimlessly threw into the air. He made a number of good passes, but they were overshadowed by his lack of play-making ability. It was a setback in Kolb’s effort to prove himself as the future of the Eagles organization.

But it’s not like Kolb is playing for anything because Andy Reid already named Michael Vick the starter for the Colts game in two weeks.

Running back: C+

LeSean McCoy had probably his worst outing of the season against the Titans. They stopped him a number of times at the line of scrimmage and didn’t seem to get anything going outside of the hash marks. For the second straight game he was held to just three yards per carry, and he finished with 48 yards total. On a positive note, McCoy did have six receptions for 54 yards.

Wide Receiver: B –

Riley Cooper proved to be a threat against Tennessee

Despite a solid outing by Jason Avant (6 receptions for 60 yards), this game proved just how important DeSean Jackson is to the Eagles offense. He creates an entirely different matchup for opposing defenses and in turn improves the production of the other receivers. Jeremy Maclin was shut down by the Tennessee secondary and showed that he is still far away from being able to handle the top job. The most exciting aspect of the receiving game came from rookie Riley Cooper. He recorded his first touchdown in an Eagle uniform and averaged 17 yards per catch.

Offensive Line: C

Just when the offensive line finally looked like they were coming together, they went back to their old ways. They only allowed one sack, but Kevin Kolb got hit seven times during the game. They failed to open up good holes for McCoy as he was stopped multiple times behind the line of scrimmage. On pass defense, the Titans recorded six pass deflections which had a lot to do with the space they created from the Eagles offensive line.

Defensive Line: B

The Eagles front seven actually had a solid outing on Sunday afternoon. Trent Cole, Quintin Mikell, and Antonio Dixon all sacked Kerry Collins. More impressively, the Eagles completely shut down the running game Chris Johnson. He only had 66 yards on the ground and averaged a mere 2.8 yards per carry.

Further, the linebackers finally shut down an opposing tight end. Bo Scaife only had one reception for seven yards, which is the worst production by a tight end against the Eagles all season.

Secondary: D –

Kerry Collins, really?

The complete collapse by the Eagles was mostly due to the secondary. Any time that a 50+ year old quarterback throws for three touchdowns in the second half (after coming into the half with a 40.7 passer rating), there are serious problems. Rookie Nate Allen and veteran Quintin Mikell provided no help over the top against Kenny Britt. Defensive coordinator Sean McDermott tried to put Asante Samuel on Britt, but not even he could stop the Titans receiver.

The Eagles defense as a whole was penalized 10 times for 100 yards. It was a tale of two different Eagles defenses. In the first half they shut down the Titans in every aspect of the game, and in the second half they watched the game slip away in one quarter.

Special Teams: C

The collapse was capped off by the punt return fumble by Jorrick Calvin. He was relatively productive all year for the Eagles but committed a turnover in the worst possible moment for the Eagles to try and amount a comeback late in the fourth quarter.

Aside from that game-changing play by Calvin, the Eagles special teams did a good job against the Titans. David Akers was four-for-four on field goals, Sav Rocca had a 63-yard punt, and Calvin averaged over 31 yards on his kick returns.

This was not exactly the way the Eagles saw themselves entering the bye week. They beat themselves against the Titans and have to rely on the rest of the NFC East to help them out. After the bye week, Philadelphia takes on the Indianapolis Colts and their schedule doesn’t get much easier after that. They have to play five more divisional games and almost every other game is against a team that is .500 or better. Let the Michael Vick show continue once again.

04
Oct
10

EAGLES: McNabb’s Return to Philly Highlighted by Poor Play and Injuries

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.

McNabb came away with a win in his first game back at the Linc

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.

McCoy was one of the only bright spots in the Eagles offense

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.

Rarely do Eagles fans see Jason Avant miss a catch. This was the wrong time for it

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.




The Philly Phour

April 2017
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