Thoughts From Eagles-LionsBREAKING NEWS, Coaching Staff, Eagles, News, Quarterbacks Sunday, October 14th, 2012
I don’t know what happened today.
I was ready to write about a solid Eagle victory. I was ready to compliment the team for fighting through another tough, grinding game to get a huge win over a playoff contender in the NFC. I was ready to praise Nnamdi Asomugha for his best game as an Eagle.
But instead I need to talk about another blown fourth quarter lead. I have to talk about a defensive coordinator who didn’t learn from his failures last week in Pittsburgh. I’ve got to talk about a vaunted pass rush that now hasn’t gotten a sack in nearly a month. I have to talk about poor playcalling in the most crucial moments of the game. I’ve got to talk about a quarterback that is still not interested in protecting the football, and continues to kill this team with turnovers.
Ladies and gentleman, this was without a doubt the worst Eagles loss of the season. A golden opportunity to go into the bye week at 4-2 slowly slipped away from this team in the final minutes of today’s game. Instead the Eagles limp into their off week at 3-3. They’ve now lost three of their last four games, and will be face the 6-0 Atlanta Falcons when they return in Week 8, and the New Orleans Saints in Week 9.
The wheels may not have come off yet for this football team, but they’re very loose at the moment.
Castillo And His Defense Blow Another Lead
Against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Juan Castillo’s unit only allowed 16 points, but fell apart when it mattered most, allowing Ben Roethlisberger to march his offense right down the field for a game-winning field goal. Castillo was criticized during the week for a much too passive approach. There was no creativity or aggression during the team’s final stand, as the Eagles four-man pass rush was unable to do anything to disrupt Ben’s timing.
When the defensive ends and defensive tackles aren’t getting the job done on their own, you have to help them out with a blitz. That’s very simple.
This week, the hope was that Castillo would learn from his mistakes in the previous game and provide a healthy dose of blitzes to aid a struggling pass rush. While the Eagles defense performed very well through three quarters, the pass rush was once again a non-factor. For the third straight game, the defensive line failed to record a sack.
There were some positives from the defense. Nnamdi Asomugha played a strong game, and had a big hand in limiting the damage that Calvin Johnson was able to do. The former Raider broke up a couple of passes, and came down with an interception in the first half.
However, any positives from this unit were all for not. The fourth quarter performance put a huge black eye on this unit that overshadows all of the good that they had done. The Eagles defense allowed 20 points in the final 15 minutes of the game. The lack of a pass rush allowed Matt Stafford to get in sync with his wideouts, and the Lions were able to move the ball at will in the fourth quarter and in overtime.
Juan’s defense is very simplistic. His approach seems to be to give his players the most basic of assignments, and hope that everyone can limit their mistakes. He plays not to lose, instead of making aggressive defensive calls to try and close out games.
Reid’s Playcalling Hurts The Team…Again
Playcalling is usually a pretty big issue when the Eagles lose a game, and today was no exception.
Andy Reid and Marty Morhinweg saw a weak Detroit secondary that they felt they could take advantage of. They made their primary focus to put the ball into Michael Vick’s hands as much as possible, and take as many shots down the field as they could. They wanted to try and reestablish this offense’s lost identity as a big play unit. Several years ago the Eagles were able to regularly rip off pass plays greater than 50-yards, but this year the deep passes have practically disappeared from the offense.
The two offensive coaches didn’t seem to realize that their offensive line just wasn’t up to the challenge of blocking a ferocious Detroit pass rush. Michael Vick had very little time to throw the ball throughout the game, and spent a good deal of it on the ground after taking some vicious hits.
The coaches were also unable to establish a running game, and gave LeSean McCoy just 14 carries. To give your best player such a limited amount of touches in inexcusable.
Reid’s team is now 3-3, and he’s got to do much a better job of putting players in position to succeed over the final 10 games if he hopes to remain the coach of this team for another year.
Offensive Redzone Failures And Lingering Quarterback Issues
Errors and missed opportunities devastated the Eagles today.
Offensively, the Eagles failed to capitalize on several redzone opportunities, and left eight points on the field while settling for a pair of Alex Henery field goals. Touchdowns put a game out of reach, field goals allow your opponent to hang around. By failing in the redzone again, the Birds kept the window open for the Lions to make a comeback.
Michael Vick also continues to kill this team with costly turnovers. Vick was guilty of two costly interceptions this afternoon. His interception in the fourth quarter helped spark the Lion rally in the final 10 minutes. And yes, Vick made his share of positive contributions, and he isn’t the most guilty party in the loss, but each week he continues to prove that he’s far from a great quarterback. I don’t care if your offensive line isn’t blocking well, a quarterback who truly belongs in the elite category finds ways to overcome his team’s issues. A great quarterback doesn’t regularly turn the ball over three times a game.
Vick has never been and will never be a quarterback in the class of a Drew Brees, Tom Brady, or Peyton Manning. He isn’t a guy that strikes fear into a defense, and makes the other players around him better. He’s an above average NFL starter that will perform as well as the talent around him. His wild inconsistency will produce a good number breath-taking, highlight reel plays, but all of the great plays he produces will be nullified by his reckless mistakes that he doesn’t appear seriously interested in correcting.
- Alex Henery connected on all three of his field goals, including a 49-yarder. He hasn’t missed a kick since Week 1.
- Although I rip Vick pretty hard every week, I do have to give him a lot of credit for his toughness. The man does show a lot of heart after taking a beating every week.
- Bryce Brown saw his snap count increase after LeSean McCoy injured his ankle. Brown had a couple of nice moments, including a play where he picked up a blitz that bought Vick time to complete a pass.
- Speaking of the backup running back situation, what has happened to Dion Lewis? Once thought to be the clear number-two back behind McCoy, the second-year runner has been inactive for all but one game.
- Strong game from Jeremy Maclin, who finished with seven catches for 130 yards and a touchdown. It looks as though he’s finally getting over the hip injury that has limited him for most of the season.
- This offensive line has just been brutal. It’s more than just injury impacting this group, regular starters Evan Mathis, Danny Watkins and Todd Herremans haven’t been playing very well. No one on this line has been able to get any push on opposing defensive ends and tackles.
- Terrible offensive pass interference call on Brent Celek. That cost the Eagles four points.
- Another very active game for DeMeco Ryans, who led the team with 13 tackles.
- Colt Anderson came in to play safety for an injured Nate Allen. I need to watch the game again to see what (if any) impact he had on the game, but it’s nice to finally see him get a shot to play with the regular defense.
- Akeem Jordan made a nice play to force a fumble on Stefan Logan in overtime, but the Eagles were unable to capitalize as the ball took an unfriendly bounce right back into Logan’s hands.
- It’s been an awfully quiet year for defensive tackle Derek Landri. I’ve seen very little from him in the first six weeks.
- Riley Cooper made his return today, and caught two passes for 18 yards.
- Maybe it’s time to activate Vinny Curry to give the front four some fresh blood? The current group just isn’t getting it done. Jason Babin and Trent Cole haven’t looked the same, Darryl Tapp and Brandon Graham have been quiet, and preseason star Phillip Hunt has fallen out of favor and seen his snap count fall dramatically. No sacks in three weeks means something has got to change.
I can’t stress enough how bad of a loss this was for the Eagles. You really have to question this team’s playoff chances right now.
The NFC is a very deep conference right now, and I don’t think the Eagles can get into the playoffs unless they win the division. Right now they’re one game behind the New York Giants, who hold a 4-2 record after thrashing the San Francisco 49ers.
There are many surprise teams in the NFC this year. No one expected the Minnesota Vikings, Seattle Seahawks, or Arizona Cardinals to be any good, and yet each of these teams are very much in the playoff picture with 4-2 records.
The Lions (2-3), Chicago Bears (4-1), Dallas Cowboys (2-3), and Green Bay Packers (2-3) are three talented teams that will also be in the hunt until the end. You also can’t forget about the New Orleans Saints and Carolina Panthers, a couple of teams with high expectations that are off to slow starts.
There are no bad teams in the NFC right now. Even the Washington Redskins and Tampa Bay Buccaneers have the potential to rise up and beat any opponent on any given Sunday.
The Eagles have very little room for error, and they’ve already lost the tiebreaker to Arizona and now Detroit. Andy Reid has a lot of work to do with this group, and he doesn’t have much time to get it done. But this is Reid’s time to prove whether or not he deserves to be the coach of this team. If he’s worthy, he’ll find a way to kick this team into high gear and save his job. If not, we’ll be looking at the end of a 14-year era.
We’re going to find out a lot about how legitimate this team’s playoff chances are in two weeks when the undefeated Atlanta Falcons arrive in Philadelphia.
Denny Basens is the editor of GCobb.com. Email him at email@example.com, and follow him on Twitter.
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