This one hurt, as the Eagles lost to the Broncos and dropped to 1-3, including three losses to the AFC West. Even though it was an extremely tough matchup for the Eagles on the road, a lot seemed to be in their favor.
They were sure to have fresh legs after a 10 day rest, while the Broncos were playing on a short week following their appearance on Monday Night Football.
The Broncos were beaten up. They had lost Ryan Clady to injury, had yet to see Champ Bailey take the field, and were still without the suspended Von Miller. The Eagles, on the other hand, saw only a minor blip on the injury front with Patrick Chung not making the trip to Denver.
The whole league was wondering if any team could keep up on the scoreboard against the great Peyton Manning, and if any offense could, why not the Eagles? They showed flashes of brilliance against the Redskins and Chargers and seemed primed for a big outing against a banged up Broncos secondary.
In the end, the Eagles looked terrifyingly similar to last years squad. The offense failed to convert on crucial opportunities in the redzone, and the defense failed to get to the quarterback quick enough, leaving gaping holes in coverage for Welker, Decker, and Julius Thomas to rack up the yards after the catch.
Michael Vick played the game that we can hope to expect from him. He used his legs efficiently, threw the ball with accuracy, and avoided turnovers. A few costly drops from Celek and Ertz halted very impressive drives lead by number 7.
Shady McCoy did not seem like himself. He had to leave the game early because he allegedly had the wind knocked out of him. We did see a few magnificent open field cuts from McCoy, but he tried to bounce too many runs to the outside and couldn’t hit the holes with enough speed to break any big runs. He came so close on several occasions, but was tripped up or arm tackled before he had a chance.
When Bryce Brown saw time, he looked much improved. He finally got to the corner on a run like he’s been trying and failing to get all season, and he was a big part of TD drive where Chris Polk came in and vultured his touchdown. He also shined as a receiver, which was an area where he did not impress during the summer.
DeSean saw a lot of man coverage thrown his way, but he just wasn’t able to seperate as usual. I’m looking forward to seeing the All-22 and finding out if Chip had him working underneath most of the time, or if he just wasn’t getting out of his cuts quick enough.
The offensive line had some of the same issues as last week, which was disappointing. The interior was solid in pass protection, but Peters and Johnson struggled at times. Evan Mathis also had a bonehead holding penalty which negated a big gain through the air to DeSean.
No one thought that the defense would shut down the Broncos, but a few stops seemed realistic. The only way they could stop Peyton was with the help of personal fouls after the play.
Billy Davis did as we expected and did not bother disguising much, and the defense was just out-executed. Peyton had the defense under control, seemingly able to pull Fletcher Cox offsides at will. He welcomed the Eagles pass rush and got the ball out quickly to his receivers in the flats, letting them run for first down after first down. Aggressive tackling was nowhere to be seen, as DB’s were back pedaling and allowing first downs to save bigger plays.
How about the newest starter in the Eagles long line of safeties since the departure of Brian Dawkins? Earl Wolff showed his athleticism, but still took some extremely bad angles to the ball. We’ll analyze his play closer once the coaching film is released.
Overall, the defense proved to us that the first 3 quarters against the Chiefs was an anomaly. They still struggle to get off blocks in the run and screen game, and the DB’s will not let up big plays but will allow accurate QB’s to move the chains all day long.
Oh, and the special teams was atrocious. Alex Henery continues to struggle, the coverage team allowed a 105 yard TD return, and Donnie Jones had a punt blocked for a TD. What a day.
The Eagles showed a lot of their limitations today, and it is safe to say that it will be a while before they can beat a team with a great quarterback a.k.a. win a playoff game.
On the bright side, the NFC East still stinks, as the Cowboys dropped a winnable game to the Chargers, the Giants got crushed again, and the Redskins beat the Raiders, that still counts as a win, right?