Analyzing The First Four Games Of The 2012 EaglesBREAKING NEWS, Eagles, News Friday, October 5th, 2012
Four games of the 2012 season are in the books. Let’s go back and take a look at some of the elements that have caused the Eagles to begin the year with a 3-1 record, and look forward to what certain members of the team need to do in order to help this team enjoy continued success.
The Eagles have shown that they’re a much tougher team in 2012 than they were a year ago. They’ve had to scratch and claw for each of their three victories, and their largest margin of victory came last Sunday against the Giants by a mere two points.
Turnovers have been a major issue for this team during the first month, and it’s remarkable that the Eagles have three wins despite turning the football over 12 times already.
It’s also incredible that Eagles have three wins in spite of the level of play they’ve received from their quarterback. Michael Vick played well against the Giants, but overall he hasn’t been off to good start this season. It’s clear that all of the talk of Vick working to cut down on his mistakes and fix the flaws in his game during the off-season was a bunch of garbage. We’ve seen that while Vick is going to have his strong moments, he just can’t be counted on to come out every week and consistently play smart, mistake-free football.
Injuries have also tried to slow this team down, but the Eagles have once again responded well. They’ve lost several key pieces on the offensive line, with Jason Kelce and Jason Peters sitting on the injured reserve list, but their replacements (Dallas Reynolds, King Dunlap, Demetress Bell) have performed adequately. These three fill-ins haven’t been dominate by any means and have had their share of struggles, but they have also had a fair number of bright moments, including a solid performance against the Giants.
DeMeco Ryans Is The Difference On Defense
The Eagles defense has been a much-improved unit in 2012. Instead of blowing fourth quarter leads, they’re actually preserving them. They’ve gone head-to-head with a couple of explosive offenses (Baltimore and New York) and limited the damage that both of these elite units could do.
There’s a lot of credit to go around for the improvements made by this defenses, but the guy most responsible is middle linebacker DeMeco Ryans. The two-time Pro Bowler has been outstanding so far, and has really been a stabilizing force for this team. Ryans was billed to not only be a playmaking linebacker, but a great leader, and I think we’ve seen that his leadership skills have helped make a lot of the players around him better.
Immediate Impacts From The 2012 Rookie Class
Several key members of this year’s rookie class have already been stepping up and helping make the Eagles a better football team.
First-round pick Fletcher Cox has 10 tackles and a sack, and has been playing very well. He’s already receiving more snaps than Cedric Thornton off of the bench, and is slowly taking some plays away from Derek Landri.
Mychal Kendricks has been outstanding at the SAM position. He’s constantly around the football, and has been solid in coverage as well. Remember how badly tight ends have hurt this defense over the last five years? We’ve barely heard a peep from them through the first four games, and Kendricks has a lot to do with that. He’ll face stronger challenges (including Pittsburgh’s Heath Miller on Sunday), but he’s already shut down some solid tight ends, including Dennis Pitta of the Ravens and Martellus Bennett of the Giants.
Fourth-round pick Brandon Boykin has played a great deal as the team’s slot cornerback, but he’s been up and down. He had a couple of strong games against the Browns and Ravens, but struggled against the Cardinals and Giants. As a rookie, he’ll be a guy that opposing offenses consistently target and he’ll have his share of struggles.
Boykin and undrafted rookie Damaris Johnson have been the team’s primary return men, but neither have been very impactful at those positions.
The Next Four Games
The Eagles are about to enter a very challenging portion of their schedule in the next quarter of the season.
After visiting the Steelers this Sunday, they’ll play the Lions, Falcons, and Saints.
The Steelers are 1-2, and will be desperate for a win to avoid falling further behind the Baltimore Ravens in the division standings.
Detroit is off to bad start at 1-3, and they’ll also face the Eagles fresh off of their bye week. The Lions haven’t looked great so far, but they’ve still got some explosive pieces on their offense and can’t be taken lightly.
The Atlanta Falcons are currently 4-0, and look like the class of the NFC right now. Matt Ryan has played at an unbelievable level, and has developed strong chemistry with wideouts Julio Jones and Roddy White.
The Saints are one of the league’s major disappointments at 0-4, and their defense has looked like one of the worst in the league, but you can never underestimate what Drew Brees and his offense are capable of doing.
These are four teams that made the playoffs a year ago, three of which are in the NFC. It will be important for the Eagles to perform well against them to keep their hold in the playoff race and earn some important tiebreakers for later in the year.
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