Philadelphia Eagles: Who's Off to the Best and Worst Starts
Six games into the season, the Philadelphia Eagles are not in the position they envisioned themselves being.
Granted, they're still second in the division, behind the Giants, but they go into the bye week knowing that they could've easily been 5-1 and in sole possession of first place atop the NFC East.
Plagued by injuries, inconsistency and turnovers the Eagles' season so far has been nothing short of unsatisfactory. This team is by far one of the most talented in the league, but every week their play leaves us perplexed—asking one of two questions: "How did they pull that out?" or "How did they let that slip away?"
Their woes can be attributed to the inability to put all three phases of the game together. On both sides of the ball, there are key players who have gotten off to a great start and those who have struggled.
They are the following:
Bad Start: Michael Vick
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This past Sunday, Michael Vick added three more turnovers to bring his league-leading total to a staggering 13. Simple math would tell you that Vick is averaging two turnovers a game and is on pace to reach 32 by the end of the season.
Stop and think about that for a second.
The implications of that many turnovers are not good for Vick or the Eagles. It will all but guarantee the loss of his job, whether it's halfway through the season, or at the end of the season. Not only will he lose his job, but so will Andy Reid.
With that many turnovers by the quarterback, it's highly improbable that any team will make the playoffs. And that's certainly not good news for Reid, who won't be on the sideline next season if the Eagles don't reach the postseason.
Of course, this is all hypothetical, but with every passing week, it seems more and more probable that Vick could reach that number.
By no means are all of Vick's turnovers solely his fault. Some of the interceptions were tipped by defenders or would-be receivers. Others were forced and rushed due to overwhelming pressure.
The entire league knows that the Eagles offensive line is depleted, and Vick is paying the price. What also may be contributing to Vick's turnover rate is the play-calling by Andy Reid and Marty Mornhinweg. They haven't always put him in the best position.
However, despite the contributing factors, the brunt of the blame still falls on Vick's shoulders. At the end of the day, he's the one throwing the ball. He's the one carrying the ball. The times that he has gotten good protection, he's held the ball too long, or double-clutched and threw a terrible pass.
Vick's ineptitude and indecision is costing his team valuable possessions. He's not completely to blame for his team's losses, but he's taking points off the board with every turnover.
If the Eagles are to still make this season a success, it starts with him.
Bad Start: Nnamdi Asomugha
Nnamdi Asomugha was revered as one of, if not the best shutdown corners in the league two years ago before he signed with Philadelphia.
That's no longer the case.
In his first season with the Eagles, Asomugha struggled severely—often times looking lost and uncomfortable on the football field.
We said the lockout and the new defensive scheme were to blame for his slow start, hoping that he'd return to All-Pro form the following season.
Well, the following season is here and it's still not the case. Teams are ignoring Asomugha's reputation and throwing the ball in his direction—more times than not, having success.
Jacoby Jones, Larry Fitzgerald, Victor Cruz, Domenik Hixon and Calvin Johnson are all proof of that so far in this 2012 season.
NFC East Lead Writer Brad Gagnon writes an outstanding article on why Nnamdi Asomugha has struggled.
Bad Start: Offensive Line
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This has become such an issue that it needs to be addressed as a whole, not individually.
The Philadelphia Eagles' pass protection has been ungodly this season. It's not an exaggeration to say that Michael Vick has been on the ground every other play. Quite frankly, it's a miracle that he's started every game so far.
Vick takes more punishment on a weekly basis than any other quarterback in the league. According to Advanced NFL Statistics, he's been hit 39 times, which ranks second in the league, behind Arizona (two quarterbacks have started). He's also been sacked 15 times.
The absence of Pro Bowl tackle Jason Peters and starting center Jason Kelce has been detrimental to this team. The lack of protection has forced Vick to leave the pocket and/or make errant throws that end up as turnovers. Many times, defenses penetrate so deep into the backfield that it makes it difficult for LeSean McCoy to find a hole.
If protection persists as a problem, the Eagles will continue to have trouble moving the ball, or worse, Vick will get injured.
Good Start: LeSean McCoy
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Despite head coach Andy Reid's unwillingness to feed him the ball, LeSean McCoy is off to a good start to what seems to be another fabulous season.
Through six games, McCoy has 459 yards and a 4.1 yard-per-carry average. He leads all running backs with 25 receptions. Although, he's behind the pace to reach his mark of 20 touchdowns from last season.
Whenever McCoy has been called on this season, he's done nothing but deliver. His cut-on-a-dime (no pun intended) style makes him a nightmare in the open field. On numerous occasions he should have been tackled for a loss, but because of his incomparable agility and vision, McCoy is able to turn nothing into something.
Realistically, he makes the offensive line look better than what they are.
One can only imagine how frustrating it is to watch Michael Vick struggle all afternoon, wondering when the coach is finally going to call your number.
Maybe one day Andy Reid will actually realize what he has in LeSean McCoy
Good Start: Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie
Unlike his teammate, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie has played exceptionally well this season. He's played the way a No. 1 corner should play.
We all knew that Rodgers-Cromartie had the talent. We saw it Arizona. He just never got the chance to show it on the field last season. But now that Asante Samuel is with Atlanta, he's got his chance and is taking advantage of it.
He's tied for third in interceptions as well as passes defended. He's been an integral part to making the Eagles pass defense one of the best in the league.
Good Start: Brent Celek
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Brent Celek is quietly having himself a brilliant season.
He is second to Tony Gonzalez in receiving yards among tight ends with 357 and is tied with Vernon Davis for most catches of 20 yards or more (8).
Celek has become Michael Vick's security blanket when pressure is dialed up.
He is an underrated route-runner and is often disregarded off the line of scrimmage.
He has so many big plays because he ends up wide open downfield.
If Celek continues to experience this type of success, expect defenses to pay more attention to him.