Thoughts From Eagles-RavensBREAKING NEWS, Eagles, News Sunday, September 16th, 2012
Andy Reid put his players in a great position on Sunday by calling a balanced game. The head coach took pressure off of Michael Vick by leaning heavily on LeSean McCoy and the running game. Not only did Reid give McCoy a steady flow of carries throughout the game, but he also made an effort to involve some of his other tailbacks; Bryce Brown got three carries and even fullback Stanley Havili touched the ball a couple of times.
When Reid put the ball in Vick’s hands, he called a number of plays that took advantage of Vick’s best asset, his legs. The Eagles ran a couple of quarterback draws for Vick, and had a few designed rollouts that the quarterback enjoyed some success on.
Reid also made tight end Brent Celek a focal point in the gameplan today, and he became Vick’s favorite target, finishing with eight catches for 157 yards.
How About That Defense?
Juan Castillo’s unit was strong for the second straight week, controlling an offense that lit up Cincinnati for more than 40 points on Monday. The key for this unit’s success wasn’t to shut down the Ravens, but to limit the damage they could do.
Star running back Ray Rice did pick up nearly 150 total yards, but I thought the Eagles did a good job limiting the damage he could do. The Pro Bowler didn’t have many big plays.
Joe Flacco was also limited, throwing for just 232 yards on 42 attempts. He did throw a touchdown to Jacoby Jones, but also threw an interception. The Eagles’ defensive backs did a good job shutting down the Baltimore receivers.
DeMeco Ryans turned in another fabulous performance, finishing with seven tackles, a sack, and an interception. The former Texan is performing like the player he was advertised as; a playmaking middle linebacker and a leader.
The unit as a whole was very opportunistic. They played with a bend-don’t-break mentality, and when opportunities for turnovers were there, they were able to make plays to keep the team in the game.
Best of all, the group was able to shut down Joe Flacco on the final drive in the fourth quarter. A year ago, Castillo’s inexperience combined with the lack of talent on the field would have resulted in a blown fourth quarter lead, but this time that wasn’t the case.
Michael Vick didn’t play a completely clean game, but he did play like a competent quarterback this week. He started out slow, and his worst moment of the game came on the team’s opening drive when he threw a careless pass to Clay Harbor that resulted in an interception.
Vick did finish the game with a total of three turnovers, but two of them weren’t his fault. His second interception was the result of a tipped pass that went off of the hands of Brent Celek and into the arms of Ed Reed. The quarterback was also credited for a fumble in the redzone on a botched exchange to LeSean McCoy, but I thought McCoy didn’t do a good enough job to secure the ball and was the one at fault.
I credit much of Vick’s improvement to Andy Reid’s gameplan, which as I mentioned previously put the quarterback in a better position to succeed, but I will say that Vick seemed to see the field much better, and did a better job finding the open receivers.
I’ve been as critical of Vick as anyone, but this is a week to praise him. He spent the week hearing all of the doubters (myself included) criticize his game, but he came out an executed his plays very well for the most part, and led the team on a game-winning touchdown drive for the second week in a row, and there’s something to be said for that.
His performance hasn’t changed my view of him as a player at all, but it wouldn’t be fair if I didn’t give him his dues when he deserves it. Vick is going to have his moments, good and bad. We’ve the seen the worst he has to offer, and he we haven’t seen him at his best yet. The question will always be whether or not he can sustain a high level of play, and he’s got a long way to go before he can prove that.
- DeSean Jackson made a play today that I don’t think he would have made a year ago. In the second half, Jackson caught a 49-yard pass, but had to take a vicious hit from a safety to make it. The 2011 Jackson might have shown some alligator arms, and ducked out of the way of contact to keep himself healthy. This year, DeSean made a play that required him to sacrifice his body. The speedy wideout finished with seven catches for 114 yards.
- Bryce Brown cost this team a chance for points with his fumble. I was surprised to see the Eagles stick the rookie back in the game after that, but it will be interesting to see how his performance impacts his touches once Dion Lewis returns.
- As good as Chas Henry was punting the football last week, he was pretty bad today, averaging just 32 yards a punt on five attempts.
- I thought Nate Allen played a strong game, picking up 10 tackles and breaking up several passes.
- Brandon Boykin had another solid game as the slot cornerback.
- Did you all see the play when Akeem Jordan tried to jam Dennis Pitta and was knocked to the ground? It won’t be long before someone else gets a shot at the WILL.
- Offensive line reserves Dallas Reynolds and Demetress Bell were both called on today when Jason Kelce and King Dunlap went down with injuries, and both performed admirably. We’ve seen in the past how injuries on the offensive line can really disrupt the timing of an offense, but it wasn’t an issue today.
This was a really nice win for this football team. They had to overcome a considerable amount of adversity for the second straight week, but this time they did it against a legitimate contender.
I think the best thing that Eagles fans can take from this game is the play of their defense. DeMeco Ryans is really making a difference for this unit. It’s still early, but this defense could be the best we’ve seen since 2008, Jim Johnson’s last year with the team.This unit held a powerful offense to just 23 points, and made big plays and stops when it mattered most.
As for Michael Vick and the coaching staff, it’s a week-to-week thing. You’ll have your share of games where you see the coaches put together a strong gameplan, and Vick executes well, but history says that you can’t count on this to be the case on a regular basis.
The bottom line is the Eagles now have a win that they can feel very good about, and they have a good chance to go to 3-0 when they visit the Arizona Cardinals in Week 3.
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