Andy Reid, Juan Castillo and the Philadelphia Eagles bought themselves a two-week reprieve with their victory over the Washington Redskins in Week 6. They head into the bye week at 2-4 and playoff hope is still alive.
The Eagles are now just two games back in the NFC East with four more division games to play. They still have a lot of work to do and issues to fix, but they can build off of this much-needed victory.
Before we start looking forward, as we’ll have plenty of time to talk about what comes next during the bye week, here are some random recaps, stats, observations and thoughts from the Eagles’ Week 6 game…
Run Forrest, run!
The game against Washington was about the run…doing it and stopping it.
For the second time this season, Andy Reid and Marty Mornhinweg actually ran a balanced offense. They handed the ball off to running backs LeSean McCoy and Dion Lewis a total of 30 times and gained 136 yards and one touchdown.
When you count Michael Vick’s runs, they actually recorded more rushes than passes (37 rushes, 31 passes). Amazingly, the Eagles are now the top ranked rushing team in the NFL with an average of 170 yards per game.
However, that includes Michael Vick’s 62 yards per game average as well. Not many teams have a QB who runs this much so it kind of skews the numbers a little bit.
That doesn’t take away from just how good LeSean McCoy is though. Last week, Redskins coach Mike Shanahan said he was “probably the best running back in the league.” Adrian Peterson might have something to say about that but I’ll take it!
The more I watch McCoy play, the better he seems to get. The guy is Brian Westbrook to 2nd-power.
On defense, the Eagles held the Redskins’ running backs to just 12 carries for 28 yards and a measly 2.3 yards per carry. Coming into the game, Washington averaged just over 101 yards rushing per game.
The reason for the Eagles’ defense looking much better against the rush was because they veered away from the wide-nine formation for much of the game. The trade-off was not as much pressure on the QB but it was the right game plan for the Redskins.
Was the Eagles defense good or was the Redskins offense bad?
As for the passing game, Michael Vick had an average game. He completed 18 out of 31 passes for 237 yards with one TD and one INT. However, that was due to the way the Eagles were running the ball.
The bigger story was the play of the Eagles’ secondary. Safeties Nate Allen and Kurt Coleman combined for four interceptions (one by Allen, three by Coleman).
While that was great to see, all four INTs came against Redskins QB Rex Grossman. Simply put, Rexy ain’t so sexy after all. So, don’t necessarily think that the Eagles have solved their safety problem.
I give them credit for the way they played yesterday, but I want to see them play that way consistently and against better opposition. Although, it was the second week in a row that Nate Allen turned in a strong performance.
The hit of the day came from CB Nnamdi Asomugha. He laid an open-field hit on Redskins tight end Chris Cooley that was reminiscent of former CB Sheldon Brown’s hit on Reggie Bush in a 2006 playoff game.
It was good to see that type of play from Asomugha. It is one of the big things that has been lacking from the Eagles’ CBs this season.
Heck, even Asante Samuel had a tackle yesterday. He made a very awkward-looking open-field tackle on Redskins tight end Fred Davis where he basically bent over, as if stretching his hamstrings, in an attempt to get low on Davis.
He took Davis down but had to leave the game briefly because if hurt his back. It wasn’t highlight reel material but hey, Samuel made a tackle!
Overall, the secondary played well against the Redskins’ not-so-elite group of receivers and below average quarterbacks. I hate to diminish what they did, but I need to see it against better competition before I get too excited.
The entire defense played well and possibly saved Juan Castillo’s job. Had they played poorly again and the Eagles lost, Castillo’s tenure as defensive coordinator may have ended before their next game.
If nothing else, at least the Eagles exposed Grossman and created a QB controversy in Washington for this week.
What happened to the Eagles offense in the second half?
In the first half, the Eagles’ offense racked up 265 yards and 20 points. In the second half, they tallied only 163 yards and zero points.
What’s worse is that, out of those 163 second-half yards, 59 of them came on the first play when Vick hit Jeremy Maclin for a long completion. Three plays later they turned the ball over and ended their only scoring threat of the half.
In a nutshell, it seemed that the Redskins adjusted their defense to what the Eagles were doing offensively in the first half and were able to shut them down in the second half.
Of course, Andy Reid didn’t change things up a little bit to counteract the Redskins’ adjustments. Surprise, surprise.
Washington does have a pretty good defense but the Eagles could have done some things differently instead of trying the same things over and over again.
Vince Young was anti-awesome in his two offensive plays
Michael Vick had the wind knocked out of him after a 20 yard scramble in the third quarter and had to leave the game briefly. Vince Young came in and it only took him two plays to make his presence felt.
Unfortunately, it felt bad for the Eagles.
Young’s first play was a two-yard run. On his second play he was intercepted on a horrible throw and set Washington up nicely at the Eagles’ 23 yard line. It would have led to a Redskins score but Kurt Coleman came up the second of his three interceptions to save the day.
If that’s what Young brings to the offense, I’d rather have Mike Kafka as the No. 2 QB.
The Eagles finally had some luck on their side
There were two plays in particular where the Eagles found themselves lucky.
Brent Celek’s incredible circus-like catch could have easily been intercepted. The catch showed great concentration by Celek but they were lucky it wasn’t picked off.
The other play was when a Vick pass was batted at the line and came down in the hands of Jeremy Maclin. That is the type of play that usually ends in a turnover.
Speaking of batted passes…
Does Michael Vick have a lot of passes batted at the line or is it just me?
Is he just too short? Maybe we should sprinkle him with miracle grow or give him a pair of 1970s platform shoes to play in, whatever it takes to get his passes beyond the line of scrimmage.
I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a QB get as many passes batted at the line of scrimmage than I have with Michael Vick.
Vick is listed as being 6′ tall, which is relatively short for an NFL QB. But I don’t recall former NFL QB Doug Flutie, who was two inches shorter, ever having that many passes batted at the line.
I’m not sure exactly how many passes Vick has ever had batted at the line during his career, but this year he has had several of them. And they’ve been responsible for some killer turnovers.
Against Washington, he had at least two (maybe three) and one was intercepted.
Batted passes are a combination of a QB not getting a clear throwing lane, not having good vision and not getting enough trajectory on the ball. His offensive linemen can help in this regard by taking their guy out of the play.
Defensive linemen are taught to always get their hands up to block throwing lanes once they know they can’t get to the QB and/or when they see him ready to pass. Every QB has passes batted at the line, but it seems to happen more frequently to Vick.
The Eagles’ brain-trust must find a way to minimize this nusaince. They have bigger problems to work on, but finding a way around this would eliminate some of their turnover problems.
Even though they won, I still feel unsure about this team
First of all, I’m happy that the Eagles won the game. They needed the victory in order to avoid a nuclear meltdown in Philadelphia.
However, I still don’t feel as good as I would have hoped. I wanted to see a more complete game and more convincing victory.
The Eagles basically “held on” yesterday instead of knocking the Redskins out. They couldn’t finish what they started in the first half.
Plus, even though the Redskins were the division leaders, they are still a questionable team. How good are they, really?
Oddly enough, I’d feel more confident had the Eagles either come from behind to win or were entrenched in a tight game and came out on top.
The Eagles dominated the first half so that set the tone and expectations for the rest of the game. The fact that they had to hold off a weak rally by a back-up QB in the second half is not exactly a confidence booster.
When they have a team down, keep hammering away at them and never let them feel like they have a chance. The Eagles need to develop a killer instinct.
However, a win is a win is a win. I’ll take it. Hopefully it serves as the confidence booster they need as a team and come out ready for Dallas in Week 8.
Next up is a week off for the players and then a three-game home stand. The road is going to get rough for these birds so they better get their rest this week.