Despite injuries, inconsistency and a final score that looked more like an Arena League contest than an NFL tilt, there are actually a few positives that can be plucked out of the Eagles’ performance on Sunday.
I know, that might sound ludicrous given the 48-22 pounding New Orleans put on the Birds.
But in that morass of problems, there were a few bright spots. And, of course, with their bye week looming, the Eagles will have a chance to at least move further along on their biggest issue (injuries).
So instead of three strikes, here are “four balls” that the Eagles collected on Sunday.
Young quarterback making his first career start? Check. Only four receivers active because of injury issues elsewhere? Check. DeSean Jackson pulling his groin? Check.
Kind of sounds like a recipe for disaster, right? Instead, Brent Celek used it as a recipe to show exactly why he is the top tight end in Philadelphia.
As much of a breakout game as the NFC Championship Game was for him last year, Sunday was Celek’s coming out party for 2009.
Celek caught eight balls for 104 yards, turning a couple of short passes into huge gains in the process. Kolb looked his way a dozen times—including on the interception by Darren Sharper that iced the game for the Saints—and until that final pick, New Orleans didn’t seem to know how to stop him.
The first-year starter will be very important going forward, especially if Donovan McNabb’s injury keeps Kevin Kolb in the lineup for an extended period of time.
With three speedsters and a quality slot receiver on the outside, his ability to get open underneath will be integral to the Birds’ success.
Consider the first test of that a success.
Hard to believe I just wrote that, right?
But hey, he did have a good game, numbers be damned.
New Orleans’ defense is porous, sure, but you don’t put up nearly 400 yards by accident.
Kolb showed a grasp for the offense that he hasn’t shown in two years, or even in the second half of the season opener. Whether it was pressure to perform, a week of working with the first-teamers or whatever, he actually looked like a functional NFL quarterback for the first time.
That’s good news for everyone, from himself to Donovan McNabb…and even to Jeff Garcia and Michael Vick.
Yes, Kolb threw three picks, but looking at the situations he threw them in, it’s not like they were all egregious mistakes.
The first was a Hail Mary at the end of the first half that was basically a jump ball, and the third was in the final minutes when the Eagles were going no-huddle and Darren Sharper simply jumped Brent Celek’s route.
Kansas City’s defense isn’t even in the same stratosphere as New Orleans (which isn’t very good as it is), so he should be just fine against the Chiefs this weekend.
When you think of defense, think of Akeem!
Okay, corny "Coming to America" references aside, Jordan has certainly grown into his role as the WILL linebacker. And he’s going to need to continue to do so.
With Omar Gaither—the man he replaced as the starting WILL last season—now entrenched in the middle once again due to Stewart Bradley’s injury and Joe Mays’ ineffectiveness, Jordan is going to be counted on heavily as a three-down backer.
He had a big game in Carolina (six tackles, one sack and an interception), but that was against a weak team in a dominating performance.
But Jordan followed that up with an equally impressive game against the Saints, recording eight tackles and his second pick of the season.
He’s shined in pass coverage and been very good against the run, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if he finishes the season with 100 tackles and half-dozen notches in both the sack and interception columns.
He usually struggles early in the season, his leg strength is iffy and he’s terrible on kickoffs.
Thankfully for the Eagles, none of those three statements applies to David Akers this year.
Yeah, okay, he’s only 3-for-4 on field goals this year. But that was a 51-yarder that was blocked against Carolina, so it’s not totally his fault. And besides, he hit from 49 against Carolina.
On Sunday Akers was perfect against the Saints, hitting two chip shots and consistently reaching the end zone on kickoffs.
Oddly enough, this was the first year in quite some time that the Eagles didn’t even bring in a second kicker to camp. Usually, there’s a rookie free agent floating around to push Akers, but not this summer.
Maybe they should stop doing that altogether?
Special teams are going to be a very big part of the Eagles’ game plan this year, and if Akers can keep it up, he can have a renaissance season.