The Philadelphia Eagles are in serious jeopardy of letting the 2011 NFL season go right down the drain. Their game against the Giants yesterday was, in a word, brutal.
Before the season began, I predicted the Eagles would be 0-3 at this point (and 3-3 at the bye week). If the Rams were a little better than I thought, or had Steven Jackson not been injured on the first play of the game, my prediction could have been right so far.
However, I didn’t think things would be quite like this. The Eagles actually should have beaten the Falcons and the Giants game was there for the taking. And the next three games now don’t look so easy either (49ers, Bills, Redskins).
Let’s take a look at why Sunday’s game against the Giants was just a little disturbing…
First of all, the Eagles played very timid on offense. When is the last time you’ve seen the Eagles run the ball more than pass it?
LeSean McCoy had a great game in rushing for 128 yards and one TD on 24 carries. So that’s the only good part about that.
The Eagles handed the ball off to McCoy, Ronnie Brown, Dion Lewis and Owen Schmitt a total of 32 times. Between Michael Vick and Mike Kafka, they attempted 30 passes.
I’m not complaining that they ran too much, but it’s just not them. Andy Reid’s teams rarely run more than pass, especially after getting behind early in the game.
So, why did they take this approach? You could say that maybe they saw something during film study of the Giants’ defense that they felt they could exploit by running the ball, but I don’t think that was the case.
More likely, they were protecting Michael Vick.
He was coming off a concussion and maybe everybody was on edge a little bit about his health and safety. The Eagles never attempted the long ball as they usually do, and this was against the league’s 24th ranked passing defense.
To illustrate the Eagles’ timidness, consider this play sequence at the Giants’ goal line toward the end of the third quarter with the score 14-13 (Giants):
1st and goal from the two yard line, Owen Shmitt up the middle for one yard
2nd down, QB sneak with Vick, no gain
2nd down (after Giants penalty), QB sneak with Vick, no gain
3rd down, Schmitt again up the middle, loses a yard
4th down, settled for the field goal
That’s four plays from the two yard line, with two of them going to the seldom-used full back. That sequence of play calls was baffling to me. If you’re going to try and pound it in, at least use McCoy or Brown.
However, in those types of situations is when you would commonly see Vick on a roll-out with an option to run or pass. Or they would attempt at least one pass.
Were they afraid of exposing Vick to a big hit?
Seems to me that is certainly a possibilty. Had they scored a touchdown there, it’s a different game. The Giants grabbed some momentum at that point and never gave it back. Of course, the Eagles couldn’t take it back, either.
Let’s also not forget the nice sequence of plays just before halftime as well:
With 31 seconds left on the clock, no timeouts and the ball at the Giants 20 yard line…
Two consecutive false start penalties followed by a fumbled snap
Then a frantic scramble to get the field goal unit on the field and Brent Celek had to yank Vick off the field because he didn’t know what was going on.
Luckily, they got the three points but it was like watching football follies for half a minute.
However, even worse than those two sequences of plays was the fourth-quarter decision by Andy Reid to go-for-it on 4th and 1 at the Giants’ 43 yard line.
The Eagles were up 16-14 at the time and it would have seemed wiser to pin the Giants deep in their own territory. But no, Reid made another one his his timely butt-brained decisions to go for the first down.
To boot, the play call was terrible. They tried to run McCoy wide and got stuffed for a three yard loss. Then the Giants take over on downs and proceed to drive it right down the field for a TD and two-point conversion.
I was literally yelling at my T.V. when I saw them line up for that fourth down play. Between these types of things and challenge plays, Andy Reid just really does not have a feel for a game.
Why else are the Eagles in trouble? Their defense has gaping holes that teams can exploit with relative ease.
For as good as the defensive line and cornerbacks are, their safeties and linebackers are horrible.
Here are two plays that I can easily use to illustrate the example of both:
On Brandon Jacobs’ 27-yard TD catch, Casey Matthews bit badly on a play fake and completely failed to recognize and react to Jacobs releasing down the sideline. Jacobs became wide open for an all-too-easy TD for New York.
It’s time to bench Casey Matthews.
On Victor Cruz’s 74-yard TD catch, Kurt Coleman had a bee-line right to Cruz and should have tackled him and limited the play to a nine-yard gain. But, he bounced right off Cruz and Nnamdi Asomugha was juked easily and Cruz was off to the races.
Victor stinkin Cruz! How does that happen?
Oh and wait, there was another play that showed the lameness of the Eagles’ safeties:
On the 2nd quarter 37-yard run by Ahmad Bradshaw, Nate Allen came to make the tackle. He had a good angle on him but Bradshaw manhandled him and made Allen look like a toddler trying to tackle his Dad.
Brian Dawkins would never have allowed that to happen.
This also makes two straight games where the Eagles defense has given up four TD passes. Not a good sign for a team that has the “big 3” in the secondary.
After all that, I didn’t even mention the Michael Vick injury. Yep, another week, another injury to the Eagles’ $100 million man.
He will likely be out until after the bye week which means we get to see Vince Young or Mike Kafka for the next three weeks.
Where does that leave us going forward? That’s a subject for another article.