The Philadelphia Eagles are now 1-2 after three weeks of football and Michael Vick is injured. What can we expect going forward from this team?
Is it time to hit the panic button? Is the season lost already? Are their problems correctable? Will they turn things around?
My answers are no, no, some, and yes.
In my last article, I claimed that this team is in serious trouble. It’s true, they are. But there are ways in which they can get things turned around and all is not lost…yet.
Before hitting the panic button, consider this:
The Eagles beat the Rams pretty good, should have beaten a good Falcons team, and if not for some questionable decisions yesterday, should have beaten the Giants.
Plus, you have to keep in mind that they are still trying to gain offensive and defensive cohesiveness. We knew coming into this season that it would likely take time for this team to come together.
There were simply too many changes in players, coaches and schemes to overcome in a shortened offseason.
They have the talent, they just need the time to gel. As much as we don’t like it, Eagles fans need to be patient right now.
Andy Reid’s teams are also notorious for getting off to slow starts.
In 2010, the Eagles were 2-2 after Week 4. In 2008, they were 2-3 after Week 5. Back in 2003, they were also 2-3 after Week 5. In all three of those years they made the playoffs and the Conference Championship game in two (’03, ’08).
It was also in Week 4 last season when Vick was injured. Of course, the Eagles had Kevin Kolb but this year they have Vince Young. As long as Young is ready to go, he is good enough to keep the ship afloat for the next three weeks.
That is the exact reason why all is not lost at this time.
The season is only three weeks old and the Eagles are 1-2. They’ve been here before and have fought their way out and gotten stronger as the year goes on.
We all pretty much expected that Michael Vick would get hurt and miss some time this year. Well, at least I did. It has always been when and for how long rather than if he would get hurt.
The Eagles brought in Vince Young for a reason. That reason is because of Vick’s fragility. Even though there are some questions surrounding him, Young is 30-18 as a starter in the NFL.
The big question right now is whether or not Young is recovered from a preseason hamstring injury. He hasn’t been practicing and has not been active on game days so far.
The Eagles haven’t let out much information regarding his injury and when he should be ready to return. Rest assured, that question will be answered soon.
I’m hoping that Young will be ready this week. If not, Mike Kafka needs to step up. If I’m being honest, my confidence level drops a bit this week if Kafka is the starting QB come Sunday.
But for now, I’m assuming Young will be the guy. And if so, he is good enough to win at least two of the next three games for the Eagles.
That would put the Eagles at 3-3 entering the bye week with Vick ready to return afterwards.
*As I was writing this, news broke that Vick’s hand is NOT broken, just
severely bruised and his status is “day to day.” The Eagles might not need
Young or Kafka just yet…or at least not for the next three weeks.
Besides quarterback, are the Eagles’ other problems correctable? Well, all problems are correctable but unfortunately sometimes they take time to correct.
With the Eagles, right now they can fix some but not all of their problems for this season.
Problem No. 1: Turnovers in the red zone. The Giants game marked the third time in three weeks the Eagles turned the ball over in the opponents’ red zone.
Turnovers are easy to correct. Just be more careful with the ball!
Problem No. 2: In-game management. This is one of Andy Reid’s commonly talked about flaws. Against the Giants, Reid made two serious blunders that cost them the game.
The play-calls during the Giants’ goal-line stand in the third quarter (four straight runs from the two yard line) and his decision to go for it on fourth down in the 4th quarter when they were up by two points.
They were simply bad decisions that can be corrected. The question is, when will Reid ever learn? Can he? Yes. Will he? Who knows. But my point is, this problem can be corrected.
Problem No. 3: The linebackers. Unfortunately, this problem can’t be corrected this year. The Eagles have who they have and it’s their own fault for fielding a weak unit here.
Teams are easily exposing this gaping hole in the middle of their defense. The Eagles can try to improve the unit’s overall play by benching Casey Matthews and inserting Brian Rolle, but that’s like putting lipstick on a pig.
They need to fix this problem by acquiring better players and that can’t happen now until the offseason.
Problem No. 4: Pass defense. After acquiring Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, the last thing I thought would be a problem is pass defense.
The Eagles have allowed four TD passes in each of the last two games. Though, I will point out that only three have gone to wide receivers. Most of the damage can be traced back to poor coverage by the linebackers.
However, it’s still a problem nonetheless. Plus, they made Victor Cruz look like a stud yesterday.
This problem is correctable to a degree. They will need to devise a scheme that helps the linebackers in coverage.
If teams are getting easy yards by hitting passing to their running backs, the Eagles need to counter by dedicating a safety to shadow them in coverage.
They could also blitz a little more often than they have been. That might leave linebackers in coverage but it should also help by pressuring the QB into errant throws and mistakes.
Problem No. 5: Protecting Michael Vick. Nobody will say that Vick isn’t tough, but he does get hurt…a lot.
That’s because he is constantly taking hits. There are various reasons as to why he takes so many hits. Offensive line protection, Vick holds the ball too long, he scrambles and the Eagles are a pass-happy team most of the time.
That can be corrected by more balanced play-calling and design plays so that Vick can get rid of the ball faster.
The play of the offensive line will get better as the year goes. Once they gain confidence and cohesiveness, they will protect Vick better in the pocket.
Last but not least, the Eagles will turn their season around. Andy Reid is a master at getting the most out of his teams and for keeping his team calm in the midst of controversy.
It is times like these when Reid really shines. Remaining calm and staying the course are what Reid has always done. The players generally see that and react accordingly.
I’m sure he imposes on them a sense of urgency to get things right but he never calls out his players publicly (except David Akers). He puts all the blame on his shoulders.
As fans, we get sick of hearing that but privately the players appreciate that aspect of the coach.
The Eagles have too much talent to fade quietly into the night. They just need time to reach their full potential as a team. Of course, this is a double-edged sword because they can’t take too much time (and losses) before things become out of reach.
We can look at a football season in one of two ways right now. One, is that this the season is a marathon and we haven’t even reached the quarter mile mark yet. The other is that every game counts when you only play 16 games.
Right now, I’m taking the marathon outlook.
They still have time to right the ship. They will make some necessary adjustments and work out some kinks.
There are no games on the Eagles’ schedule that they can’t win. And it starts this upcoming Sunday against the 49ers.
No matter who is playing QB this week against San Francisco, the Eagles will get the win and gain some much-needed confidence back.