We the fans of the Philadelphia Eagles, in order to form a more perfect football team, establish a running game, ensure offensive line tranquility, provide for the improved defense, promote the general welfare and continued health of our quarterback and secure the balance of power to our team and our posterity, do ordain and establish this constitution for the united organization and fanbase of the National Football League.
Wins in the NFL are tough to come by and so you take the ugly ones right along with those resembling poetry in motion. Just enjoy the win – but learn from your mistakes as the NFL is a league of adjustments. What worked last week may not work next week as opponents will adjust on offense and defense. Everyone sees the same coaches film so any coach worth his salt understandsstagnation is worse than death in the NFL.
We implore head coach Andy Reid and his talented staff to focus forthright in order to present a stronger football team and establish ourselves as an NFL elite franchise. Each of these problems could prove problematic in Week Two.
They are as follows:
ARTICLE 1: RUN DEFENSE
Blame Juan Castillo or Jim Washburn but the onus of responsibility must be on the Eagles run defense. One game does not define a season and overreaction is a mistake for many in the rough and tumble NFL but how much evidence do you need to see the glaring errors? We had 11 defenders on the field but we rarely matched up with what the Rams offered on offense, which was mostly an effective rushing attack.
Steven Jackson broke off his 47-yard score by plowing through what was left of the Eagles defenders after the overzealous linebackers overpursued. Jamar Chaney, Moises Foukou and rookie Casey Matthews would be the first to tell you they didn’t fill their gap assignments because they were too busy biting on their first look at the blocking scheme. Believe it or not this is a good thing because they reacted so quickly to first recognition and couldn’t recover. That is teachable and fixable but Michael Turner is due this week along with TE Tony Gonzalez and a formidable Falcons defensive line.
Once the 230 LB freight train knifed through the gaping hole in the line (a hole which Andy Reid admitted even he might have squeezed through), “Action Jackson” saw a lot of desperate DB chasing in his rearview mirror.
Overall the Eagles defense surrendered 169 rushing yards on 25 carries by Rams rushers (Jackson left the game after his second run so 110 yards were by other Rams RB). That 6.7 YPC average proves that Washburn’s “Wide 9” Scheme may have been a tad too wide. 116 of those 169 St. Louis rushing yards came in the first half. There was noticeable improvement as the game continued but that might have been due to the Rams need to pass the ball more ardently in the second half.
ARTICLE 2: DEFENSIVE PENALTIES – ESPECIALLY THIRD DOWN
Penalties kill defenses. Flags benefit the opposing offense and they almost always result in allowing the opposition extra downs. Three times the Eagles lent the Rams a penalty on third down where they should have stopped and forced St. Louis to punt. Fourth down should mean that the defense wins and the offense punts to fight another day. Not this time.
- Illegal use of hands on Jason Babin
- Illegal contact by Asante Samuel (who was away from the ball at the time)
- Roughing the passer on Trent Cole
Fortunately the Eagles were not playing a superior offense and the Rams failed to capitalize on these situations. Sam Bradford and later AJ Feeley failed to take advantage of these gift first downs for more than a field goal thanks to dropped passes and stalled drives. Handing a fresh set of downs and scoring opportunities to an efficient and capable offense might have resulted in the score being Rams 34 Eagles 31 rather than 31-13.
ARTICLE THREE: OFFENSIVE LINE
This one gets all of the blame and for good reason. Given the circumstances of the dome, noise level and rookies (Jason Kelce, Danny Watkins) with reshuffling (Herremans, DeVan, Evan Mathis), the result could have been far worse. In the first half, Eagles linemen were getting blown off the ball and were unable to open rushing lanes. Don’t blame LeSean McCoy (27 yards on 11 rushes) or Ronnie Brown as Barry Sanders would have had trouble scratching out rushing yards in the first half. Vick and Kelce struggled with the line calls and snap counts in the NoiseDome but Kelce toughed it out and never gave up. Vick used all of his talents to escape the rush but took one for the team 11 times.
By the second half, there was marked improvement as McCoy broke out for his 95 yards and long scamper and Vick stopped running for his life (90+ rushing/scrambling yards) and could remain upright in the pocket for more than two seconds! The fact that the offense put up 31 points (the defense scored one TD) with virtually no up-front blocking means that any improvement will be welcome.
Expect Howard Mudd to be offering 100% improvement from his linemen week to week as they learn to play their new positions and play together.
ARTICLE FOUR: DELAY OF GAME ISSUES
Don’t blame the reshuffled offensive line for this one! Any Eagles fan knows that clock management has always been an issue for Andy Reid – but 45 seconds between plays and burning timeouts on 2nd and 5 with 12 minutes left in the quarter… that’s just Reid being Reid. It frustrates the hell out of Eagles fans and it has not improved in 12 seasons.
We used to blame Donovan McNabb but he is Minnesota’s problem (39 passing yards and he played the entire game?) so now we have to place blame squarely on the shoulders of Marty Mornhinweg and Coach Reid (former offensive lineman whoneeds Flavor Flav for clock management help).
Five separate instances could be flagged where the offense was late getting a play off. Three of those five resulted in delay of game penalties. Those other two occurrences required the Eagles to burn timeouts. One of those penalties could be directly blamed for killing a drive but no one should put up with this from a professional football team. New offensive line playing in a dome or not Mornhinweg and Reid are not new to the game nor is offensive line coach Howard Mudd, QB Michael Vick or the other professionals who earn large sums of money to actually do this for a living. None of these guys are picking up extra shifts waiting tables at Overbrook Country Club in order to make rent so get it together and fix this – NOW!
ARTICLE FIVE: INTRODUCE BRENT CELEK TO MARTY MORNHINWEG
Blame the offensive line for Brent Celek’s disappearance from the offensive scheme or blame Michael Vick’s mobility (running for his life) or whatever you like. Celek is a weapon not being used. All of 2010 and into 2011, Celek has been a non-factor in the Eagles passing game.
In 2009 Celek caught 76 passes for 971 yards and 8 TD… so was that an aberration or an example of what Celek could do? Incorporating some release options for Celek would afford Vick a safety valve. Imagine Brent Celek and LeSean McCoy as outlet receivers on either side of the field drawing linebackers or safeties to cover the flat for a quick screen pass after Vick has drawn the pass rush behind the line of scrimmage.
Reid refuses to establish the running game in the first half anyway so better to use the weapons at the Eagles disposal. Use fullback Owen Schmitt to block and put Celek and McCoy out in the passing game as additional targets to spread the defense.
Week Two sends the Eagles and Michael Vick back to the Georgia Dome for a Prime Time Sunday Night Football Media-Fuelled Frenzy. They will face an Atlanta Falcons team that was the #1 NFC seed in 2010 but was embarrassed last week against Chicago.
While the Falcons and Eagles don’t have much animosity toward one another this matchup will provide ample drama. Michael Vick vs. his old team (which Vick downplays calling it “just another business trip”). Michael Turner vs. Eagles linebackers. Matt Ryan vs. the Bermuda Triangle. Let’s see how many times Michael Turner has to run up the middle to take on the Philadelphia linebackers before Matt Ryan is compelled to take to the air attack. Turner and Tony Gonzalez will define the effectiveness of the Eagles defense – and the growth of their linebacking corps.
All five teams will likely make the playoffs, but seedings will become important for bye weeks and home field advantage. This avian grudge match should prove one of the more interesting tilts of the young season.
Eagles 33 Falcons 24
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