Thoughts From Eagles-BrownsBREAKING NEWS, Eagles, News Sunday, September 9th, 2012
Mike Vick showed us a lot today.It’s clear that he’s made significant strides in his development, and he understands the importance of playing smart, mistake-free football.
In all seriousness, what a joke. This is why in my predictions article last week, I had serious doubts that he had made any kind of effort to change. I stated that even when he’s on the field, his issues protecting the football were an even bigger concern. He was just flat out brutal today. Four, count them, four interceptions. He played one of the worst games I’ve ever seen him play today. The quarterback’s most egregious error came in the second half when he threw an interception that was run back for a touchdown to give Cleveland the lead. Can you imagine if he played this poorly against a quality opponent? What’s also scary is that he could have thrown at least one more interception on the final drive, though the Cleveland defender dropped the pick in the endzone.
Vick just can’t handle blitzes. Whenever the Browns sent extra pressure his way, he became unsettled, and made mistakes.
I’m sorry Eagles fans, but none of you can possibly convince me that this quarterback is going to lead this team to the playoffs, let alone the Super Bowl.
Many Vick and Eagles apologists have pointed to the fact that the Eagles have had record-setting offenses in terms of yardage during the last few seasons. I hope you all took notes today, because the Eagles outgained the Browns by over 200 yards, and managed just a one-point victory while scoring only 17 points. It doesn’t matter how explosive an offense is if it isn’t efficient and turnover-free.
The Defense Shows Up
We just reviewed the most alarming/negative aspect of the game. Now let’s talk about the positive.
Juan Castillo’s defense was a key to today’s win. They weren’t exactly facing a competent quarterback in Brandon Weeden, but they were able to shut the Cleveland running game down and came up with some big stops when they needed it most.
Castillo’s unit played the run very well throughout the game, it was nice to see one of the serious questions on this Eagles team receive a positive answer in the first week.
With the Browns threatening in the redzone in the second half, the Eagle defense tightened up and got off of the field on third down, forcing Cleveland to settle for a field goal.
On the final drive of the game, Kurt Coleman was able to seal the victory with his second interception of the game.
They also got a number of great individual performances from guys like DeMeco Ryans and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Ryans turned in what was easily his best performance as an Eagle. He was around the football, and made a great play to stuff the run on a third and short. For the first time in years, I felt that the defense was being competently run by an effective middle linebacker.
DRC also had his best game in green. His coverage was superb throughout the game, and he recorded two picks off of the rookie Weeden.
I also have to give Nnamdi Asomugha some credit. He struggled early in the game, but finished strong was broke up several passes.
Reid Falls In Love With The Pass…Again
Well, it didn’t take us very long to have issues with the run-pass ratio. One of the most highly debated subjects in the Andy Reid era became an issue once again. Even though he held a lead through most of the game, the head coach had completely abandoned the run, repeatedly entrusting the team’s fates to an erratic Mike Vick.
Early the fourth quarter, the Eagles had called just 18 rushes to 41 passes. It wasn’t until Vick was at the height of ineptitude (following his pick-six) that Reid finally decided that getting the ball to LeSean McCoy would be a wise idea. The Pro Bowl running back finished the game with 110 yards, but could have had much more had the offensive line not been called for so many penalties.
It says a lot about how bad Vick was today that Reid switched the offense to a run-first mindset on the final drive with the game on the line.
- Alex Henery did his part to help the Cleveland Browns in their attempted upset by missing a 45-yard field goal in the fourth quarter. The second-year kicker was very fortunate that his miss didn’t come back to haunt the team. Meanwhile Henery’s predecessor David Akers tied the record for the longest field goal in NFL history with a successful 63-yard attempt for the 49ers.
- The Eagles got some quality contributions from rookies Fletcher Cox and Brandon Boykin. Cox picked up his first career sack, and Boykin performed well as the slot corner, breaking up a pass to kill a Cleveland drive.
- Solid game from Jeremy Maclin, who finished with seven catches for 96 yards and a touchdown.
- Chas Henry had a nice game punting the ball, averaging 42 yards on six punts.
A win is a win, but Eagles fans can’t possibly feel good about this one. While we know Michael Vick isn’t really this bad, he had a lot to prove in this game and all he did was give his doubters a boatload of ammo to use against him. The only thing I can offer in Vick’s defense is that I do think the fact that he missed all of the preseason clearly had some impact on his game. He just wasn’t prepared to play at a high level.
What is clear though is that there has been no dramatic change to the way he approaches the game. He’s the same old Mike Vick he’s always been. And the same old Mike Vick is made out of a lot of hype and little substance.
Much steeper challenges await this football team, and they’ve got a lot of work to do if they plan on meeting their lofty expectations. A legitimate Super Bowl contender will play on Lincoln Financial Field next week, and it isn’t the Philadelphia Eagles. The Baltimore Ravens are up next, and I’m not feeling particularly optimistic about the Eagles’ chances right now.
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