See if this sounds familiar: The Philadelphia Eagles are 3-2 on the season after losing in the final seconds of an error-riddled game where the team had four fumbles, including one as Michael Vick broke into the end zone on what would have been a six-point gain.
Yes, it was Week 5, Eagles vs. Pittsburgh Steelers, but it has become such a common refrain in Eagles’ recent history that is beginning to be known as The Philadelphia Story.
The three Philadelphia wins this year have been by a sum of just four points, pretty much as tight as they come.
Is it always déjà vu in Philadelphia?
There are four key areas where the team has to break its own broken record of erratic play and mistakes.
Someone tell Vick: The ball is the golden ticket. Don’t drop it.
Vick has fumbled eight times in five games, losing five of those.
Even though the Eagles got the win over the Giants in Week 4, Vick's fumbles against Pittsburgh were costly, one leading to six points for the Steelers.
"Things happen," Vick said. "I wish I could take the fumble back on the goal line but you can't. Ultimately I think we put ourselves into a position to win this game and we didn't win.”
Vick still holds the seventh place in the league for passing yards (1,321).
Oh, what could be if he could just hold onto the ball. If not, Vick’s lack of ball security could impact his job security.
For Eagles to rack up points and subsequent wins, the offensive line has to know and execute their assignments. Sounds basic, right?
Obviously not given the players who’ve gone missing in action. According to B/R's Bob Cunningham, new center Dallas Reynolds missed five key assignments in the final quarter of Game 5 alone.
Left tackle Demetress Bell has progressively created a stronger wall around the pocket, but he must solidify his space earlier and continuously to give Vick what he needs to work. On the whole, there are numerous missed assignments with the line where Vick or LeSean McCoy have been dropped.
Call it communication or call it confusion but there are no maybes about it. The Eagles need to get this line straight.
The Running Man.
After the loss to the Steelers, coach Andy Reid addressed team issues, citing their running game.
“We need to punch it in there and not make this game quite so close,” Reid told the media.
The fist inside the Eagles punch is McCoy, now ranked fifth in the league in rushing at 437 yards. The Eagles got 3.4 yards per rush against Pittsburgh, picking up only 78 yards for the entire game. McCoy rushed for 53 yards and averaged just 3.3 yards per carry.
McCoy averages 4.6 yards per carry when the Eagles win.
The offense has to open the field for McCoy to produce his best punch.
See Offensive Line.
Turn off Turnovers.
Factor in Vick’s other numbers—like two critical turnovers and three sacks—and you see see why Roethlisberger was able to pull up almost 100 yards more for his efforts than Vick. Roethlisberger turnovers and sack scores for the game were zero and zero.
In his Monday media conference, Reid addressed the Eagles’ turnover trouble.
"We're the second-lowest-scoring team in the National Football League right now" because of turnovers, Reid said. "We've got to make sure we fix that ... We've done well with the interception part of it, we're doing a better job with the protection part of it, and the decision-making part of it, [now] we've got to take care of the football.”
Some may debate Reid’s additional comments on protection and decisions, but at least he appears to know the team cannot give away the ball and turn in wins.
"We haven't been stopped as much as we've stopped ourselves," he said.
Reid described Vick's no-turnover game against the Giants in the September 30 post-game conference as if the QB was recovering from an illness.
“He had the interceptions at the beginning, then he had the fumbles, now he had the no turnovers. That’s a good thing. We’re making progress in the right direction,” Reid said.
Don't look now, Coach, but it may be time to break out the vaccine.