The Arizona Cardinals exposed the Michael Vick-led Philadelphia Eagles in a Week 3 match up that left the NFL with one less unbeaten team.
Andy Reid’s team was harassed on the offensive side of the ball, and made a few costly mistakes on defense as well.
Instead of turning their attention to their Week 4 contest against the defending Super Bowl champions, the Eagles must take a step back and evaluate themselves.
If they do, here’s what they’ll learn…
The Offensive Line is a Mess
Let’s begin with the most pressing issue of this game—which in my mind, with no doubt, was the atrocious offensive line play.
Even though this was the first contest in which Michael Vick did not throw an interception, it was due to the fact that the Cardinals were constantly in his face and only surrendered short completions.
On defense, Arizona used plenty of pre-snap movement and sent extra blitzers from different levels. For the majority of the afternoon, Vick failed to identify the extra defenders and was forced into scramble mode.
Vick’s protection offered little resistance against the aggressive pass rush and allowed the quarterback to be sacked five times. This doesn’t even include the shots Vick took on runs or the number of hits he endured from within the pocket.
In the following weeks, Philadelphia will face the New York Giants, Pittsburgh Steelers and Detroit Lions. Needless to say, if the offensive line doesn’t shape up, there’s the likely chance that Vick gets injured before the bye week.
The Eagles are Turnover-Prone
This assessment is partially due to the horrid state of the offensive line, but we can’t overlook the fact that fumbles have been killing the Eagles all season.
LeSean McCoy, who fumbled only three times in over 800 touches before this year, had coughed up the ball twice in the two previous games. Today, Damaris Johnson lost hold of the ball after making some nifty moves on a punt return. This was an absolute killer for a team that was struggling on offense, and for a team that had just forced a three-and-out.
Michael Vick currently leads the NFL in interceptions (six) and fumbles (five). As the leader of his team, he sets the tone for the entire offense and his turnoveritis seems to be contagious.
As of right now, there is no logical explanation for the team’s inability to protect the ball. Hopefully Andy Reid and his staff can do something about this, or else Philadelphia will waste their perfect start.
Michael Vick Doesn’t Know How to Slide
It’s something President Obama talked about, and something Jimmy Rollins was recruited to help with. But so far, Michael Vick has shown nothing that inspires confidence in the way he protects himself in the open field.
Although he’s able to gain an extra yard or two by diving head-first when scrambling, the risk is not always worth the reward—especially when he’s exposing himself and the ball to danger.
In one instance, Arizona’s speedy linebackers chased Vick down from behind and were able to knock the ball out of his arms. If Vick were to simply slide on his backside, he would be able to give himself up safely, while tucking the ball away.
I understand that Vick’s fearlessness is what allows him to be so elusive, but if can’t contain his instincts, it might cost the Eagles in more ways than one.
The Run Defense is Legit
Ignore the fourth quarter drives in which Ryan Williams looked to be a man possessed and focus on how the Eagles contained the Cardinals’ rushing attack for the first three periods.
The team has improved leaps and bounds since last year’s embarrassing showing, and now gang-tackles collectively as a unit.
Trent Richardson received 19 carries in each of his first two games. He managed a paltry 2.1-yard-average against the Eagles, and then redeemed himself a week later against the Cincinnati Bengals for a 5.7-yard-average.
The addition of DeMeco Ryans has paid dividends in this part of the defensive attack, and should continue to show later on in the season.
There are Still Issues with Coverage
Eagles cornerbacks played aggressive man-to-man defense, but still gave up too many short completions.
Kevin Kolb wasn’t exactly comfortable in the pocket due to the pass rush, but was still able to pick apart the defense by completing 17 of his 24 passes for 222 yards. His longest completion of 37 yards went to Larry Fitzgerald, who was matched up against Nnamdi Asomugha in single coverage.
On that play, it looked like Asomugha had Fitzgerald covered underneath, and was expecting help over the top from Kurt Coleman. Coleman had been sucked in by the play-action and left the receiver open for the score.
The number one job of an NFL safety is to make sure no one gets behind you, and clearly, Coleman failed then.
If Juan Castillo wants his cornerbacks to play close to the line of scrimmage, he needs his safeties to play their position and be reliable. If not, the Eagles will continue to give up big plays against teams with a vertical threat.
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