I know it’s a terrible play on words but I have to get my jollies somehow. This week it was a pleasure watching the Eagles get their first win of the season. Mind you, it was against an inferior opponent, facing a backup QB (Shaun Hill), it was a game fraught with penalties and mental mistakes and it was a relatively meaningless win resulting in a 3-point margin of victory, but a win is a win in the NFL!
Prior to the game, fans and media were all fired up about who would start at QB (though there was not a question all week that Vick would start in place of the concussed Kevin Kolb). Once the game began, it became clear (at least to me) that the name on the back of the jersey was far less important than the performance on the field. Vick did exactly what was asked of him which was to execute an offensive game plan designed around his staying in the pocket and finding his receivers – that is until the pocket broke down and then Vick could spin away from would-be sackers and dazzle defenders while he played a street version of football that has not been seen since the days of Randall Cunningham! OK McNabb showed us that kind of “escapability” in his first few years but nothing like Randall or Vick. Michael Vick dodged defenders, flicked 50-yard passes and flew around Ford Field and piloted the Eagles to a 35-32 victory over the Lions. In the process the veteran QB threw lighter fluid on the already simmering quarterback controversy, which Andy Reid claims doesn’t exist.
Shortly before kickoff, the Eagles announced that QB Kevin Kolb and MLB Stewart Bradley would both be cleared to play in Week 3 at Jacksonville. Sidelined Sunday because of concussions, both will start against the Jaguars. Neither team had its starting quarterback Sunday, but the team with the better backup prevailed. As Andy Reid confirmed after the game, Vick will remain the backup. Asked if it was hard to keep Kolb as the starter, Reid said:
“Not hard at all,” Reid said. Thanks Andy for clearing that up for us.
Hard for Vick to return to the sideline?
“It’s not going to be difficult at all,” Vick said. “I’ve just got to prepare the way I’ve been preparing and make sure I’m ready within my package [referring to the Wildcard offense].” If Kolb gets hurt again, the Eagles now know they have a starter as a backup. Sunday’s victory marked the return of the Human Highlight Film. In his first start since he faced the Eagles (with Atlanta) in the final game of the 2006 season, Vick completed 21 of 34 passes for 284 yards and 2 TD and rushed seven times for 37 yards.
DeSean Jackson had four receptions for 135 yards – including a 45-yard touchdown – and LeSean McCoy rushed 16 times for 120 yards and 3 TD – the last a 46-yarder – but they were just supporting actors in The Michael Vick Show. While everyone else is focusing on the star of the show, I’d like to look more closely at that supporting cast (Kudos & Kaibash). Football is a team sport and even The Human Highlight Reel needs help.
It’s hard to argue 7.6 yards per carry and the shiftiness that was on display in LeSean McCoy’s first career 100-yard game. “Shady” has now looked exceptionally sharp in the first two games of the season and already has as many 20-plus-yard runs (1) as all of last year. In fact, McCoy would’ve had two 20-plus-yard runs on the same drive if not for a Winston Justice holding penalty. Now, if only he can improve his blocking McCoy can someday be mentioned in the same sentence as Brian Westbrook. KUDOS “Shady” McCoy.
Juqua Parker didn’t get on the field much until the second half. But in one half of football, he might have been the most productive player on the field. Officially, Parker had two tackles, a sack, quarterback hurry and forced fumble. Some of his success was on the interior of the defensive line when Brandon Graham left with a shoulder injury. Really, Parker did it from everywhere. His sack came from the right defensive end spot on the one series Trent Cole received a rest. The biggest play Parker made might have been when the Eagles stuffed Jahvid Best (who ran rampant over the Eagles in the first half) on fourth-and-one early in the fourth quarter. Parker came off the left edge and grabbed Best’s foot as the penetration from Antonio Dixon in the middle of the line slowed the play. It was all part of a huge second half for Parker and may have preserved the Eagles victory. KUDOS Juqua Parker.
Diminutive cornerback Ellis Hobbs held his own when asked to blanket Lions top WR Calvin Johnson, despite giving up eight inches. Hobbs also provided solid run support and finished with six tackles and an interception on a pass intended for Johnson. After an opener where he played pretty well until getting beat deep in the second half by the Packers’ Greg Jennings, Hobbs played a full 60 minutes against the Lions. It was a strong game for him and Asante Samuel, who limited Johnson to just four receptions on the 11 passes thrown his way. KUDOS Ellis Hobbs.
Dimitri Patterson was used more on defense Sunday as defensive coordinator Sean McDermott brought in an extra defensive back instead of a linebacker (largely due to Stewart Bradley sitting out with a concussion). Getting penalized on third-and-long is NOT the way to earn the trust of the coaches. Patterson picked up a foolish holding penalty on third-and-long in the second quarter. He also made a poor decision while trying to down a punt near the goal line in the second quarter. With the ball bouncing at around the 5-yard line, Patterson caught it and his momentum carried him into the end zone. He threw the ball back and it landed on the goal line for a touchback. Simply batting the ball back rather than catching it in the first place would have pinned the Lions deep in their own end. Instead, three plays later, Jahvid Best went 75 yards for a TD. KAIBASH Dimitri Patterson.
Backup tailback (and now part-time fullback) Mike Bell just doesn’t appear comfortable yet in the offense. After a training camp where he struggled with hamstring and calf injuries, Bell appears to still be playing catch-up with the offensive schemes. That was evident Sunday in Detroit when the veteran RB had four carries for zero yards and dropped a third-down pass in the fourth quarter that would have moved the chains. He also stumbled to the line of scrimmage on one play and almost took out Jason Peters’ knee. It’s not what anyone expected from a back who runs hard, rarely gets taken down at first contact and averaged close to 4.0 yards per carry last season. KAIBASH Mike Bell.
This is a tough assessment on Nick Cole because he made key blocks on two of McCoy’s touchdown runs and was matched against a defensive tackle who appears destined for superstardom. Regardless, the Lions lined Ndamukong Suh opposite Cole most of the afternoon and the results were not positive for the Eagles. Suh not only made plays (sack, two tackles for a loss and a QB hurry), but he was in the backfield all game. Even on plays when he didn’t appear on the stat sheet, Suh had Cole pushed back into Vick. From start to finish, Cole just couldn’t handle the brute strength of the No. 2 overall pick in this year’s draft. Maybe we’ll give Cole another chance before we offer him the KAIBASH!
Overall, this game is the perfect example as to why an NFL game lasts 60 minutes and is usually won by the team that makes better adjustments. You hope that the good plays outweigh the bad ones and every possession is important. The Eagles gave up 444 yards to an offense led by a backup QB. The Lions offense which in fact changed from featuring all Jahvid Best all the time in the first half to a no-huddle, quick underneath pass scheme featuring Calvin Johnson in the second.
NEXT WEEK: EAGLES VS. JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (1-1). Kevin Kolb returns to the starting lineup as well as Stewart Bradley. Expectation is that Kolb faced Jacksonville in the preseason and should be less rattled. Since Jacksonville is a less threatening opponent, Coach Andy Reid wants to build Kolb’s confidence and make the debacle against Green Bay a distant memory. So the Kolb Era begins again…Go Green!
About the Author
Written by Christopher Rowe
Contributing writer Comcast Sports, NY Times contributing stringer 1996-2000, Contributing writer Yahoo Sports (2001 World Series). Contributing writer Newsday Long Island (1992-1994, Jets Training Camp) and Newak Star Ledger. Freelance Copywriter, Editor/Founder Atlantic Times Weekly (1993-2003) fantasy football magazine, produced screenwriter and general humorist. Hofstra University grad, Marist College honorary alum, Salesian; Purveyor of the Value and Valor of Philadelphia Eagles 1960 NFL Championship; Adrent believer that Eagles could have won Super Bowl XV...and Super Bowl XXXIX...plus modern decade of Eagles 5 NFC Championships... Believer in the Broad Street Bullies and the 1983 Sixers... Witness to Philadelphia Phillies World Series championships 1980 & 2008, Suffered Phillies first pro sports team to reach 10,000 losses,witnessed "1980 Cardiac Kids," 1983 "Wheeze Kids," 1993 "Macho Row" and many, many, many not-so-memorable seasons in-between... until the Philadelphia Baseball Renaissance of 21st Century, Five NL East division titles 2007-2011, 3 NLCS appearances 2008-2010, 2 consecutive World Series berths 2008 & 2009. 2008 World Champions of baseball [miss ya Harry and Richie]; "collector" of MLB ballparks (42 stadiums including 15 which are gone); Fantasy Football & Baseball player since 1992. Always a sports fan... Tenui Nec Dimittam Contact me firstname.lastname@example.org