Posts Tagged ‘Stewart Bradley

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

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.

 

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.

18
Oct
10

EAGLES: Eagles Dominate Falcons in Best Game of the Year

I don’t know if I have ever been more impressed with a regular season game (taking into account all the Eagles have been through in 2010) since the 2004 season when the Eagles were one of the most dynamic teams in football. The score doesn’t justify just how good the Eagles looked on Sunday. It reads 31-17 in favor of the ‘Birds, but the Falcons were outplayed the entire game.

More drastically for the Eagles, the win was a statement game. Kevin Kolb, who has been turned inside and out all season long with the quarterback shenanigans, pretty much just said screw you to all of the doubters. He played brilliantly the entire game and without a question played the best game of his short career. After DeSean Jackson got absolutely obliterated on a defenseless hit, Jeremy Maclin stepped up and gave the best performance of his short career as well. The defense shut down Matt Ryan and Michael Turner and held the Falcons to just 293 yards of total offense.

Now for the fun part—report card:

Quarterback: A+

Kevin Kolb was on point all game Sunday

What else is there to say about Kevin Kolb? He finished with 326 yards and three touchdowns. I never once found myself questioning his throws. On top of his numbers he completed 79.3 percent of his passes and earned himself a 133.6 passer rating. The first touchdown pass to DeSean Jackson was thrown perfectly between three defenders and in stride to Jackson in the end zone. Kolb, who is mostly criticized for rarely taking risks on long passes, completed a beautifully drawn up play action pass to Jeremy Maclin that went for a 83 yard touchdown.

What does this performance mean in the long run? Check back later this week for an article about the ongoing quarterback controversy in Philly.

Running back: B

With the passing game in sync, there was really no need for LeSean McCoy against the Falcons. The only Eagles rushing touchdown came on a 31-yard end around to DeSean Jackson in the first quarter. McCoy finished with 64 yards on 21 carries, which is not his best effort, but he also complimented the passing game with four catches for 21 yards. Also important to note Eldra Buckley’s success on third down carries. From what I saw, it looked like he converted on each of his attempts.

Wide Receivers: A

Jeremy Maclin took control of this game with seven receptions for 159 yards and two scores. He is really coming into his own this season and actually has been more productive than Jackson, who has faced injuries for a lot of the season. Maclin now has six touchdown receptions, which ties him for second in the NFL, and is on pace for over 15 on the season. As noted in training camp, he is clearly Kevin Kolb’s go-to target considering they were roommates together at camp and have a good relationship off the field. He has established himself to be a viable top receiver and one of the best No. 2 receivers in the NFL.

Thoughts and prayers to DeSean Jackson. I felt my heart skip a beat after that hit. I hope Dunta Robinson gets fined for hitting Jackson so high up.

Offensive Line: A –

Can you believe it? The offensive line is getting their first true taste of an A-caliber ranking! Much of Kevin Kolb’s success had to do with the offensive lines pass protection. They only allowed one sack and Kolb barely got touched the entire game. Hats off the King Dunlap after deciding to wake up and realizing that he’s not playing at Auburn anymore. He completely shut down John Abraham, who is regarded as one of the toughest defensive linemen in the game.

Trent Cole was the most dominant player defensively for the Eagles

Defensive Line/Linebackers: A –

Isn’t it fun to watch Trent Cole do his thing? He was an absolute beast on Sunday and made a fool out of left tackle Sam Baker. Cole recorded two sacks and five tackles, but pressured Ryan on almost every play. Linebacker Stewart Bradley led all tacklers on the afternoon and notched his first sack of the season. He was also a catalyst in stopping Falcon’s running back Michael Turner all game, as he only had 45 yards and averaged three yards per carry.

The only thing that hurt the linebacker core was the lack of coverage of Tony Gonzalez in the red zone. I’m really getting tired writing about the success of opposing tight ends every week. Gonzalez has made a career out of his red zone production, but the Eagles failed to mark him well on either score.

Secondary: B

As always, the Eagles secondary relied on the big play against Atlanta. They were able to create one interception that Asante Samuel grabbed. However, they let up a couple of big plays to the Falcons, including a 42 yard reception by Michael Jenkins and 25 yard pass to Roddy White. Jenkins finished with 99 yards and White with 83. Nate Allen made a bad play on one of Tony Gonzalez’s touchdown catches. He was playing over the top but was a few seconds late in reacting to Matt Ryan’s floating pass over the linebackers where Allen should have stepped up to make a play. Luckily the big plays didn’t cost them too much.

Special Teams: B –

What happened on Sunday to David Akers? He missed three of his four field goals, which is something I can’t ever recall seeing from the longest tenured Eagle. He seemed to have a hard time judging the wind and pushed all three of his misses wide left. Hopefully this is just a one-game hiccup for Akers.

Jorrick Calvin did a great job filling in for the injured DeSean Jackson. Calvin had a monster punt return that went for 44 yards and led to an Eagles touchdown. Defensively, the ‘Birds special teams improved from past weeks and didn’t allow anything big against the Falcons.

 

The Eagles head to Tennessee to close out the first part of their schedule before hitting the bye week. This would be a huge win for Philadelphia heading into the bye week considering the Titans are a very talented team. The Eagles will most likely be without DeSean Jackson after the hit he took, so look to Maclin to fill in again for the second straight week. Also, it has been reported today that Kevin Kolb will be the starter. Is this a move by Reid to let Vick rest another week because of the bye week ahead? Or is Andy starting to realize that maybe Kolb is the answer for the Eagles future? We will have to see…

11
Oct
10

EAGLES: Eagles hold on to beat 49ers on road

It seems like the motto of “a win is a win” is starting to get redundant for the Eagles during the 2010 season. All three of their wins have come against three mediocre or sub-par teams in football, whose combined record is 4-11. Not to mention that all three of those wins came on the road.

For the most part, the Eagles played one of their better games of the year last night in San Francisco. Kevin Kolb made his best start of the season (which isn’t saying much), going 21 of 31 for 253 yards and a touchdown. His 103.3 passer rating was one of the best of his career and he showed glimpses of what he can offer the Eagles organization. LeSean McCoy, who was questionable coming into the game with a cracked rib, continued his brilliance of the 2010 season by rushing for 92 yards and a score on top of 46 yards receiving. Despite a banged up defense, they forced a total of five turnovers en route to protecting an Eagles lead that reached 17 at one point.

Even though these numbers seem good on paper, it doesn’t excuse the Eagles for allowing the game to get within three points. Any time a defense can force five turnovers, your QB have a 103.3 passer rating, and you are playing an 0-5 team, the game should be a blowout. The Eagles had several opportunities to make the game out of reach, but once again allowed big plays on both special teams and over the middle in the passing game.

This week’s grades:

Quarterback: A –

Kolb breaks two tackles before throwing a TD pass to Brent Celek

Kolb made a couple of great plays against the 49ers. The best play of his career came on his only touchdown pass when he tip toed to avoid two potential sacks and threw across his body the Brent Celek who fell into the end zone. He went an impressive 12-14 for 123 yards and a score in the first half and seemed to be in rhythm. After last week against Washington, he was mainly criticized for failing to take any risks to move the ball downfield. However, he responded this week with four passes over 20 yards, including a nice connection with Jeremy Maclin in the second half.

This was an attempted statement game by Kevin Kolb. However having a game like this only actually hinders Kolb’s future. Andy Reid already stated that Michael Vick will be the starter when he is healthy again, which means back to the bench for Kolb until Vick either gets hurt or starts throwing the ball backwards. Because let’s be honest, I don’t think Andy Reid can afford to flip flop again and announce Kolb the starter—he is now stuck with Vick.

The real question here is whether or not Kolb’s performance justifies anything for his future with the franchise. The Inquirer’s Rich Hoffman made an interesting point after the game when he wrote, “But now the dilemma is plain. If Vick plays well enough to allow the Eagles to make a long playoff run, it is hard to believe they wouldn’t re-sign him, in which case Kolb is going to have to be traded. But if Vick doesn’t play well enough, then the Eagles have just wasted what should have been Kolb’s season of development.”

But don’t worry, Andy always has a way of shocking fans so who knows what’s next.

Running back: A

As I have been saying all year, LeSean McCoy has proven that he has what it takes to be a No. 1 back in the NFL. He was questionable coming into the game and was the Eagles most valuable player on offense for the second consecutive week. I knew he was shifty, but that 29-yard touchdown where he dodged about four different 49ers was truly remarkable.

Wide Receivers: B

The Eagles wide receiver core did a good job picking apart the San Fran secondary and made a lot of crucial catches on Sunday night. Jeremy Maclin led all receivers with 95 yards, which was mostly due to his great catch on Kolb’s bomb. However, it’s quite obvious that Kevin Kolb and DeSean Jackson are struggling to make a connection. Even though Jackson left the game with an injury, he was held to just 2 catches for 24 yards. Despite catching the first Eagles touchdown, Brent Celek dropped a couple of passes that are not characteristic of the tight end.

Offensive line: D —

What else is there more to say about this group? It’s almost like they get worse every time they get on the field. Jason Peters injured his knee during the game and was replaced by King Dunlap, the largest waste of space in Eagles history. Standing at 6-foot-9 and weighing in at 330 pounds, you would think that not a single sole in the NFL would get around him, right? That was not the case as Dunlap was embarrassed (almost as embarrassed as Winston Justice was against the Giants in 2007). Todd Herremans also played terribly, committing a bad holding penalty that brought the Eagles back after a big gain.

Defensive Line/Linebackers: C

If I were grading strictly on run defense, I would have given the front seven an A minus. After giving up 169 rushing yards to Clinton Portis and Ryan Torain last week, they held Frank Gore to a mere 2.6 yards per carry on the night. However, the linebackers continue to struggle in pass coverage. It is evident that Stewart Bradley is still feeling the effects of his knee and head injuries because he does not look like the same Bradley of old. Vernon Davis, who the Eagles continuously struggle against every time these teams play, had five receptions for 104 yards and a touchdown late in the game to bring it within three points. I almost forgot that Moise Fokou played last night, as he only had two tackles and failed to make any impact in his first start of the season.

Secondary: D+

Dmitri Patterson grabbed his first interception of the year

Don’t believe the hype about the turnovers committed by the Eagles secondary. Quintin Mikell picked up a fumble for a touchdown and Trevard Linley and Dmitri Patterson both had interceptions; however the secondary was probably the main reason the 49ers came back in the game. After shutting down Alex Smith for three quarters, the team completely collapsed in the fourth and allowed Smith to go 11 of 15 for two touchdowns.

Special Teams: D —

There was nothing really good to say about the special teams. David Akers knocked down two of his three field goals, but that was overshadowed by pathetic return coverage. Ted Ginn had kick returns of 44 and 61 yards during the game, both of which resulted in touchdowns for San Fran. Offensively, it seemed like Ellis Hobbs didn’t make any effort to dodge people on his kick returns and DeSean’s habit of running east to west too often resulted in poor punt returns.

 

Don’t be fooled by the fact that Philadelphia is 3-2 and tied atop the NFC East. There are still a lot of improvements that need to be made before I am sold that this team is a contender. For one, they need to beat someone other than the Lions and 49ers. Secondly, the offensive line needs to show the slightest bit of improvement. Finally, the defense and special teams cannot give up the big plays to opposing teams. The next two weeks against Atlanta and Tennessee could prove to be the most important stretch of the season heading into the bye week. If the Eagles can get situated for those two games, there might be potential.

26
Sep
10

EAGLES: Rout of Jaguars Gives ‘Birds First Place

In the middle of August, it was the Eagles first preseason game that ended in a one point win. On Sunday, it was a completely different story that ended in a 25-point win. In August it was the debut of Kevin Kolb as the Eagles new starter. Earlier today it was the beginning of a new Eagles era–for however long it lasts—the Michael Vick era.

Michael Vick accounted for all four of the Eagles touchdowns against the Jags. The Philadelphia offensive was practically unstoppable, posting their best numbers of the 2010 season. The offensive line certainly bent but didn’t break, enabling Michael Vick to find his receivers and scramble around the field. Defensively, the Eagles held the Jags to no touchdowns, making it the first time they’ve done that since the 2008 season.

It’s always fun to give grades when the Eagles play well:

Quarterback: A –

Michael Vick proved why he got the starting job

The spotlight was on Michael Vick after Andy Reid’s decision to give him the starting job for the rest of the season. Vick delivered in dramatic fashion, throwing for 291 yards and three touchdowns. He also added another touchdown on the ground off a 17-yard rush in the fourth quarter.

For the first time in his career, Vick recorded his third straight passer rating over 100. He has made a special connection with his receivers, especially with DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin on the long ball. The only problem I had with Vick was his completion percentage on Sunday. He finished the game just 17 for 31 (54.8 percent), which really needs to come up when the Eagles start playing competitive NFL teams.

Running Backs: B

Typical of an Andy Reid offense, the Eagles didn’t let the running game develop on Sunday. LeSean McCoy continues to prove why he deserves more carries each game, as he averaged five yards per carry on 11 carries for 49 yards. What more does he need to do to win over Any Reid? He is averaging 6.7 yards per carry behind a sub-par offensive line.

Mike Bell, who has gotten little action this season, failed to convert two short yardage situations today. He was supposed to be a good compliment to McCoy’s speed, but failed to get the job done and brought the running back’s grade done because of it.

Wide Receivers: A

What a beautiful sight seeing the wide receivers exploit defenses. They are one of, if not the, most dynamic cores in the league. The speed of DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin cannot be defended by most teams in the country, which was proven on Sunday. Jackson opened the game with a 61-yard touchdown and finished the game with five receptions for 153 yards and a score. Maclin recorded his third and fourth touchdowns of the year and had 83 reception yards on four catches. To put things in perspective, Maclin only had four touchdowns all of last season. It was also great to see Brent Celek in the mix, who finished with four receptions for 42 yards.

Offensive Line: B

In the beginning of the game, the offensive line struggled to protect Vick, forcing a number of incomplete passes. Throughout the game, Vick was sacked three times, which shows that there is always room for improvement when it comes to the Eagles offensive line. However, this was definitely the best the o-line has looked this year. Once they got situated and into a rhythm, they gave Vick a lot of time to make plays happen.

Defensive Line/Linebackers: A

Stewart Bradley made his presence felt on Sunday

Maurice Jones-Drew is the type of running back that is not often held to 3.7 yards per carry. It’s amazing how much the front seven improves with the presence of Stewart Bradley in the middle of the field. On top of stopping the run, the Eagles also sacked David Garrard six times, which is the most they have all season. Trent Cole led the team in sacks (2) and tackles (8) and continues to be the staple on the defensive line.

As I mentioned in the preview post, one of the big concerns heading into Sunday was how the Eagles would defend the athletic and versatile tight end Mercedes Lewis. The linebackers did a great job preventing him from catching balls over the middle and held him to three catches for 15 yards.

Secondary: A

Any time you hold an opposing quarterback, and I don’t care who that quarterback is, to 105 yards of passing, you are doing something right. The Jaguars didn’t have an answer for the Eagles pressure from the front seven, which led to bad passes on tight coverage. Asante Samuel recorded his first interception of the season and did a great job defending Mike Sims-Walker throughout the game.

Special Teams: A —

I don’t think I’m the only one who found myself wondering who Jorrick Calvin was when he entered the game. He did a pretty solid job returning punts after DeSean Jackson and returning kicks after Ellis Hobbs. Speaking of Ellis Hobbs, he had a great kick return of 46 yards that sparked an Eagles offensive drive. Sav Rocca also continues to kill the ball, averaging over 45 yards per punt this season.

Now the easy part of the season is behind the Eagles. The highly anticipated return of Donovan McNabb to Philadelphia will take place next Sunday night, which also marks the Eagles first divisional match up. Isn’t it odd to think that after all of the controversy this past week the Eagles are the only team in the NFC East to be above 500? Funny how things work out.




The Philly Phour

August 2017
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