Hey the Eagles found their second win of the season. Yes, the NY Giants might not be able to beat the Little Giants at this point, but who cares the Eagles won. That’s two road wins in the division for the Eagles, now if they could find a way to just win one game at home considering the last time they did so was September 30th of 2012. The home win will come at some point this season. Now that we are five weeks into the season the teams have begun to sort themselves out and now the Eagles schedule doesn’t look too daunting going forward. There are really only two games the Eagles are sure to lose at Green Bay and home against Detroit. At no point during this season will we be calling the Eagles defense adequate so when they face offenses like those two a loss is all but certain. Every other game on the schedule though is winnable. And most importantly the Eagles, despite being 2-3, are tied for the division lead with the Cowboys. Granted that’s like saying the Eagles are the best team in Singapore, but whatever Philadelphia will take what it can get at this point since the four professional sports teams made a pact sometime two years ago to purge themselves of all talent and ability to win. But before I keep going down I’m A Battered Philly Sports Fan Lane lets finish up looking back at this Eagles Giants game.
For the first time this season a team was successful in slowing down Lesean McCoy. He was limited to just 46 yards on 20 carries for a season low 2.3 ypc. He was able to contribute 46 receiving yards and a touchdown, but this was clearly the least effective he’s been all season. According to nameless-Fox-sideline-reporter the Giants defensive game plan was geared toward selling out to stop McCoy and it worked. They routinely had 7 players in the box and even 8 numerous times intent on not letting McCoy into the open field where he can embarrass average safties like Antrell Rolle (burn). This defensive game plan though opened up things for the Eagles other two weapons. Before Vick got hurt he had 79 rushing yards on 7 carries. After Chip saw the Giants scheme, Kelly made a good adjustment in running some designed runs for Vick, like the one where he ran a sweep to the corner. Vick even avoided a ton of contact, but couldn’t avoid pulling his hamstring. In addition to Vick’s rushing yards Jackson added 132 yards and a touchdown through the air. For what is already the 1,200th time I’ve said this the offense works with the right personnel in place.
Once again Vinny Curry showed up and made plays happen. He had Eli sacked, but before he could get him down Eli flung the ball to the most desolate part of the field resulting in an intentional grounding penalty. That was Manning’s third such penalty of the game, which attributed to 3 of the 8 total “Eli Faces” in the game. Curry’s pass rushing ability showed up a second time when he collapsed the pocket forcing Manning to rush a throw that ended up being picked off by Brandon Boykin, that of course led to another Eli Face.” Curry was responsible for 25% of the “Eli Faces” in the game. That’s a good thing and should definitely be a stat counted at ESPN and NFL.com. Every time the Eagles have a team in an obvious passing situation Curry should be in there, cause his pressure is about the only thing that is going prevent the team from picking up the first down.
The Giants came into the game having allowed 14 sacks and have what many analysts have called one of the worst offensive lines in football this season. The Eagles managed just one sack at the end of the game by rookie Bennie Logan. It was swell to see Logan end up on the stat sheet, but I just wish he wasn’t the only one. And to be fair pressure from Boykin & Cole and Cox & Curry led to two of the three interceptions thrown by Eli. The defensive backs for the Eagles are average at best, and played as well as they will play all season against the Giants yesterday. So if the defensive has any plans to get out of the bottom five defenses in the league (and that is all we can ask for realistically) they are going need to create more pressure to either get some sacks or force some turnovers. The other option is finding a way to play Eli Manning every week for the rest of the season.
We’re In The Black
For the first time since the 2010 season the Eagles are going into Week 6 with a positive turnover differential. My friend Tanner asked me on Sunday, what is different about this Eagles team compared to the recent ones under Reid. Well here is something. In 3 of the 5 games this season the Eagles haven’t turned the ball over. That might be the most impressive of the 2013 season considering Vick has been the quarterback almost the entire time. The previous two season in only 23 games Vick had 24 interceptions and lost 12 fumbles. That’s 36 turnovers in 23 games. So at least for now Kelly can point to that as a sign he has positively changed this team for the better.
Pink and Yellow Pink and Yellow
So as it turns out the color of the flags doesn’t matter, if the ref is holding a flag the Eagles are going commit a penalty. I’ve found my stat that I’m going harp on all season. Add the 8 more penalties the Eagles committed this game and you have a grand total of 39 on the season. That’s good enough to be tied for the 4th most with Seattle. The “well coached” NY Jets have a commanding lead at 50 so far. Yes the Eagles are tied with Seattle and are a few behind San Francisco, but the Eagles talent level in more in line with Buffalo (tied with S.F. at 42 penalties) than with the 49ers and Seahawks. Vick should shoulder some of the blame for the poor scoring efficiency, but the penalties are doing him no favors.
Time For a Change
It’s got to be time for a switch. If Eagles fans are calling for a change at QB then they also should be calling for a change at WR. Vick has been much more effective this season than Riley Cooper, who still has a starting job as of today. Yesterday Cooper recorded zero catches on 1 target. The Eagles threw the ball 39 times in the game and Cooper was looked at once. That’s ineffective. For the season he has 8 catches for 93 yards and a touchdown. Jackson beat those numbers on Sunday alone, and that’s with teams knowing he’s the biggest threat to score through the air. Maehl received playing time just once, and granted it was in mop up duty, but he has 2 catches for 43 yards and a score. He can’t be any worse than Cooper, and the “he doesn’t know the offense” excuse doesn’t work cause he played at Oregon for Kelly. So before we start demanding a QB change lets demand a WR change.
2012 Draft Class
I’m putting my support behind Howie Roseman as GM. His first draft that he was in control of was 2012, and while it is still early, it looks like he has done a better job drafting talent than Reid towards the end of his tenure in Philly. This definitely wasn’t his best game, but Fletcher Cox was a part of the pressure along with Vinny Curry that led to Brandon Boykin’s interception. Meanwhile Mychal Kendricks bounced back nicely this week to record 4 tackles recover a fumble, bat down a pass, and tally an interception. Some players are inexplicably a magnet for the ball, and Kendricks is one of those players. Maybe you can attribute speed and ability to cover a lot of ground as a reason for his success at ending up with the ball. But the point of this paragraph is all the players mentioned above were part of the 2012 draft class. And as mentioned in previous posts it’s been a long time since the Eagles drafted impact talent on defense. Add in Foles, who people are calling for to start, promising rookie offensive players TE Zach Ertz and Lane Johnson along with Bennie Logan defensively and the Eagles look like they are finally replenishing their talent supply.
Vick versus Foles
Now to address the 900 pound Napoleon Dynamite lookalike in the room. Foles stepped in for Vick yesterday and was very effective. For starters, as great as Vick was rushing yesterday, he was equally poor passing the ball completing just 6 of 14 passes for 105 yards against a Giants defense that only rivals the Eagles in poor play. Vick got the Eagles in scoring range on the Eagles second possession due to his legs and not his arm. And in typical 2013 Eagles fashion the offense stalled just inside the red zone. After a second Eagles punt followed by a solid defensive stand, starting with good field position Vick got the Eagles down to the Giants 9 yard line and again the offense stalled ending in a field goal. At that point the score was 7-6 Giants. Vick’s next drive ended in the Eagles first touchdown, but again it was due all thanks to the 70 yards Vick gained on the ground adding nothing passing. You can’t discount Vick’s running, because that is part of what makes him effective, but he needs to complete at least some passes if the offense is going put up the points needed to win. Vick’s final possession ended in another red zone field goal giving him 4 trips to the red zone and just one touchdown.
Foles cam in during the 2 minute offense and completed 7 of 9 passes to get the Eagles into FG range with 4 seconds to go. Most importantly on the drive Foles was able to use McCoy, Brown, Ertz, Avant, and Jackson in the passing game. All of a sudden the Eagles receivers didn’t look as bad as they had previously. I’d be interested to see the percentage of passes Vick completes to Jackson versus everyone else. In the second half Foles led the Eagles to one field goal and two touchdowns. The caveat being both touchdown drives started inside the Giants 40 yard line thanks to Eli turnovers. Foles does deserve credit for being able to get touchdowns. I almost wish the Eagles could use Vick from their own end zone to the opposing team’s 20 and then insert Foles. Foles has the the more accurate arm and in the red zone that is important since the coverage is tighter thanks to the shorter field.
As for who should be the starter when both guys are healthy, I’m not entirely sure. The running game wasn’t there when Foles was in, but that could have more to do with the Giants scheme, we just don’t know yet. I don’t think we can look at Foles numbers from last season as an indicator really either. He was inserted into the starting lineup when the team had collectively checked out. And due to injuries the personnel he was playing with wasn’t what he has now. Foles had just one game with Jackson and only two with McCoy before both went down with injuries for the remainder of the season. And that is not even mentioning the OL, which was decimated all season. Most importantly, for both guys, this is an entirely new offense so both should be judged only by their play starting with the Redskins game in Week 1. The long term answer probably doesn’t involve either as the QB and it will likely be someone from the upcoming draft. I know the Eagles have to say differently to the media, but this year is a throw away. It’s more about development than anything else, but winning is part of development so if Kelly believes Vick gives him the best chance to win then so be it.
Eliminating Super Bowl Contenders
Buffalo – E.J. Manuel is out and their new starting QB is Johnny Moxon maybe? Shane Falco? Johnny Utah? Saracen? They were bad to start and just got that much worse.
Carolina – There was a chance they were decent and had run into some bad luck. They played Seattle tough and had to go up against New Orleans. But losing to Arizona is never a good sign. Ron Rivera it is probably time to find a realtor.