Thoughts From Eagles-FalconsBREAKING NEWS, Eagles, News Sunday, October 28th, 2012
Andy Reid took a long look at this football team following their loss to the Detroit Lions, and decided that the major shakeup he would make would be to fire Juan Castillo and promote Todd Bowles to defensive coordinator. While I support the move and believe it was the correct decision, it sure didn’t pay any immediate dividends against the Falcons.
In fact, this was the worst we’ve seen the defense play all season. The Eagles gave up a season-high 30 points, and were just no match for Matt Ryan and the Atlanta offense. The defense allowed the Falcons quarterback to complete 22 of 29 passes for 262 yards and three touchdowns. The defensive lineman were once again no-shows, and applied little to no pressure on Ryan throughout the game. Yes, Cedric Thornton and Cullen Jenkins picked up sacks in the second half, but the game was already out of reach by then. When it mattered, no one made any plays.
Atlanta opened up the game with a 16-play, 80-yard drive that ended with a touchdown. On the next Falcon possession, they drove 51 yards on just eight plays for another seven points. On their third drive, Julio Jones burned Nnamdi Asomugha for a 63-yard score.
The Atlanta offense got to the Eagles early and often, and built a lead early on that proved to be insurmountable.
The lack of production from the defensive ends for the fourth straight game begs the following question; why can’t second-round pick Vinny Curry get on the field? After three games without a sack, a shakeup was necessary on the defensive line. Trent Cole, Jason Babin, Brandon Graham, Phillip Hunt, and Darryl Tapp haven’t gotten the job done as a unit, and some fresh blood could have made a difference. I’ll be shocked if Curry doesn’t suit up next week against the Saints.
The failures of the defensive line only made a struggling secondary look even worse. It was absolutely critical for the defensive line to pressure Matt Ryan to disrupt his timing with receivers Julio Jones, Roddy White, and Tony Gonzalez. Instead, Ryan was given all of the time in the world, and the defensive backs were torched. Nnamdi Asomugha didn’t have the speed to keep up with Julio Jones, and rookie Mychal Kendricks was overmatched by the future Hall-Of-Famer Gonzalez.
What this game showed us is that it isn’t going to matter if Juan Castillo or Todd Bowles is in charge of the defense, if the key figures on this unit don’t perform, they won’t be able to stop anyone.
This Team Has No Heart
On paper, the Eagles have a lot of talent. Their offense has some nice weapons, and some highly paid (and highly drafted) offensive lineman. The defense has a line that was near the top of the league in sacks a year ago, they’ve got a couple of talented linebackers, and some big names in the secondary.
In reality, this is a team will never realize their potential because the majority of the players have poor mentalities. It’s all bark and no bite with this team. Before and after games, players do a lot of talking, but no one can ever seem to back up their talk with play on the field.
This is a team that had two weeks to sit and think about their 3-3 record, and the fact they had blown two straight fourth quarter leads. They had an opportunity to prove themselves at home against the 6-0 Falcons, but instead of rising to the challenge like men, they rolled over died like dogs.
This team doesn’t have a stable foundation of leadership that can bring all of their talent together to produce results on the field. The Eagles aren’t playing like a team, they aren’t playing for each other, and they aren’t playing for their coach. Over the last four years, the atmosphere around this team has slowly transformed from a group that always fought to the bitter end (with guys like Brian Dawkins, Jeremiah Trotter, and Brian Westbrook leading the charge) to a unit that talks a big game, but flat out quits when things go south.
It’s a reflection of the poor job that the head coach and his front office have done at evaluating talent. When Andy Reid took over this team in 1999, he inherited some excellent leaders on the defensive side of the ball (Brian Dawkins, Troy Vincent, Jeremiah Trotter, Bobby Taylor, Hugh Douglas) that helped bring his early teams a great deal of stability. Reid has never been able to sufficiently replace those players as time has gone on, and as a result the Eagles are a team that has for the most part been stuck in mediocrity since 2005.
What Can Be Done To Fix This Mess?
The Eagles are going to spend yet another week going back to the drawing board as they try to come up with solutions for a team that has now lost three straight games.
But what more can they do than they’ve already done?
Short of trading for a couple of established veterans, there isn’t a solution available for this offensive line. They’ve already tried switching up the lineup on several occasions. They’ve gone back and forth between King Dunlap and Demetress Bell at left tackle, and they’ve now tried out Dennis Kelly at right guard, but no matter what they try they won’t improve this line much.
Defensively, I’m practically begging for them to give Vinny Curry an opportunity to prove that he can give you more than the five underachievers that have been suiting up all season, but such a change would only be very minor and won’t have a great impact on the defense as a whole.
The well is dry at safety. Whether you think Kurt Coleman and Nate Allen should be benched or not, David Sims and Colt Anderson just aren’t options.
To save the season, the veterans on this roster are going to have step up and begin to perform at high levels. And based on what we’ve seen from this team in the last year and a half, that’s not going to happen.
- We didn’t see much to evaluate Michael Vick on this week. The quarterback didn’t have a strong game, but I don’t think you can fairly judge his game because of the situation he was put into this week. The Eagles wanted to come out and change their offensive approach this week, but never got a chance to settle into a rhythm because the defense couldn’t get off of the field. Then as the game went on, the weather conditions worsened making it more difficult for the Eagles to pass the football. It wasn’t a good spot for Vick to be in this week, but he did manage to avoid turning the ball over for the second time this season, and he made a couple of nice runs to keep drives alive.
- LeSean McCoy was unable to receive a high volume of touches due to the poor defensive performance, but he was productive with the opportunities he received. The running back picked up 67 total yards, and scored two touchdowns.
- The weather conditions really prevented the Eagles from throwing the ball downfield. Throughout the game, the Birds only utilized short and intermediate routes.
- What will Brandon Graham’s excuse be this week? The former first-round pick spent the week essentially ripping Juan Castillo while refusing to take responsibility for his own disappointing play. Now another Sunday has come and gone, and we’ve still gotten nothing from number 54.
- I thought the offensive line was improved a little bit with King Dunlap and Dennis Kelly in for Demetress Bell and Danny Watkins. That isn’t saying much and the line was far from good, but any kind of improvement is good news at this point.
- Did anyone else see Asante Samuel’s interview after the game? Classless. I’ve seen few players more caught up on themselves than this guy.
October was a brutal month for the Eagles. After a 19-17 victory over the New York Giants, this team was 3-1 and many people thought that they were headed in the right direction. Now they’ve lost three straight games, and there isn’t a lot of reason for optimism.
This defense was helpless against one of the better quarterbacks in the league, and they’ll get an even steeper challenge next week when they visit Drew Brees on his home turf. The offense is anything but explosive, and struggles to score more than 20 points in a game.
At 3-4, the Eagles aren’t finished by any means, but given the level of play that we’ve seen through six games and the quality of opponents remaining on the schedule, its hard to sit here and say that they’ve got a good chance for a playoff spot in a very competitive NFC. I’m not ready to declare the Eagles dead, but each week it seems as though we’re stepping closer and closer to the end of the Reid era.
Denny Basens is the editor of GCobb.com. Email him at email@example.com, or follow him on Twitter.
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