Eagles vs. Cardinals: 5 Things We Learned from Philadelphia's 27-6 Loss
The Eagles looked impressive against Baltimore but looked completely awful against the Cardinals. The team had problems all across the board and fell flat on their faces against a less talented opponent.
After the loss, the Eagles are now 2-1 which is, by no means, an insurmountable hole. However, it is less what the record is and more what the Eagles exhibited in the loss that is cause for concern. The Eagles will need to turn things around quickly if they wish to make the postseason this year.
And there is much that the Eagles have to fix. Here are 10 things we learned from Philadelphia's loss.
1. The Eagles Are Still a Turnover Machine
The Eagles found a way to get by for two games while turning the ball over nonstop but not this time. Against the Cardinals, the Eagles fumbled on special teams and on passing plays. By the time they stopped turning the ball over, they were already down 24-0.
The defense bailed the team out in previous games but not this time. The Eagles simply cannot expect to turn the ball over three or more times a game and still win. Unless they fix this problem quickly, 8-8 would be a very generous turnout.
2. The Offensive Line Is a Mess
Many of the game's problems can be attributed to Vick, but in his defense, the O-Line was horrendous. It failed to pick up blitzes effectively and gave the quarterback little time in the pocket. Demetress Bell struggled, and Dallas Reynolds showed his inexperience.
It wasn't just pass blocking. LeSean McCoy made many plays based upon his elusiveness and athleticism and did not often have good blocking.
The Eagles are stacked with offensive talent, but it is difficult to execute explosive plays without good blocking.
3. Michael Vick Is Still a Question Mark
Vick is not entirely to blame for today's loss. But, there is plenty of blame that he must shoulder nonetheless.
He is still careless with the football and fumbled the ball consistently. On his second fumble, he took far too long in getting rid of the football. On a passing play near the goal line, it should have been a quick drop back and pass. Instead, he allowed himself to be blindsided for the fumble that cost the Eagles the game.
At other times in the game, Vick showed impressive poise, completing pass after pass to keep the chains moving. But at other times, he struggled.
Part of this is due to poor pass protection, but in other situations, he had multiple seconds in the pocket and held onto the ball too long, allowing himself to be sacked, losing yardage.
He must play much better than he did today if the Eagles are to beat the Giants next week.
4. The Defense Is Still a Work in Progress
On the bright side, the defensive line is still clearly the best in the league. However, it sadly seems to be the only consistent position on the team.
The linebackers made some good plays but were too inconsistent overall. In many instances, they could not shed blocks and allowed the mediocre Cardinals running game to have success.
The cornerbacks also took a huge step back. Brandon Boykin was targeted often, and he struggled, allowing too many completions and giving his receiver too much space.
After two solid games overall, Nnamdi Asomugha has once again showed himself to be a disappointment of a signing. Overall, he is still one of the better corners in the league, but he is no longer a shutdown corner and no longer the All-Pro he was in Oakland. He was matched up against Larry Fitzgerald on a streak pattern and was completely burned for the score.
This defense can bounce back, but prior to this game, the argument could have been made that this was the best defense in the league. That's clearly no longer the case.
5. Andy Reid Is Still a Poor Game-Day Coach
Andy Reid, not known for being a good game-day coach, once again made poor decisions that contributed to Philadelphia's loss.
Despite the O-Line's struggles and McCoy averaging over five yards per carry, he chose to call 37 passing plays and only ran the ball 17 times. Most notably, when Vick had found a way to get the ball within just a few yards of the end zone, he called four consecutive passing plays, despite only needing a couple yards for a touchdown.
And then, when he failed on third down, he chose to go for the touchdown. A field goal would have made the game 17-3 and a two-score game with two quarters to play.
When the Eagles made an effort to rally in the second half, he chose to kick a field goal on fourth down to make it 24-6, despite being short on time. That decision made it virtually impossible for the Eagles to mount a comeback.
It would be unfair to hold the head coach entirely responsible, but Reid's decisions certainly didn't help the Eagles' chances today.
This Eagles team can still be very good in 2012. Despite the struggles today, their defense is still a much better one than in previous seasons. The O-line is a question mark, but it is possible to overcome poor O-line play.
The team must find a way to limit turnovers and adjust their game-planning to account for their weak O-line. This might mean running the ball more and using more play-action passes, but the coaching must make some adjustments. When teams make careless mistakes, coaching is partially to blame. Reid must find a way to get his team to play disciplined football.
Finally, Vick must play better. He cannot be careless with the football and must play more like a game manager. If he continues to try to force big plays, he will continue to turn the ball over, and the Eagles will continue to struggle