I was extremely disappointed with the Eagles in yesterday's season opener. Extremely disappointed.
I expected to lose, and I actually didn't think the score would be as close, but I never imagined needing our backup quarterback to singlehandedly lead our offense to our only two touchdowns.
I was more disgusted with the first offensive play of the season than anything I've seen in a long, long time. The Eagles attempted to use a trick play, sending out Michael Vick as a wide receiver, but were called for an illegal formation. Eight months to plan for the 2010 season and an inexcusable offensive penalty is called on the first offensive play of the season? Absolutely unacceptable. Unbelievable.
Below, in no particular order, is a list of ten things I learned from the first game about the 2010 Eagles.
1. Leonard Weaver and Jamaal Jackson are two of the most irreplaceable players on the Philadelphia Eagles. Their season-ending injuries will haunt the Eagles for the rest of the year. Weaver emerged as a superstar last season and was rewarded in the offseason with the largest contract for a fullback in NFL history. Jackson tore his ACL last year against Denver in the season's 15th game and his presence was missed tremendously as Donovan McNabb was physically harassed by the Dallas Cowboys in consecutive games. To lose both of these players in the same game is absolutely devastating.
2. Kevin Kolb is not the next Aaron Rodgers. Not yet at least. After failing to lead the Eagles on a touchdown drive during the preseason, the 26-year-old quarterback completed 5 of 10 passes for 24 yards while leading the Eagles to three points in the first half. Kolb looked lost and couldn't even finish the game, taking a massive hit from Clay Matthews, which resulted in a concussion.
3. Ellis Hobbs has the potential to turn in a disaster season at cornerback. Yes, he started all season for the 16-0 2007 New England Patriots, the same season he scored the then-longest touchdown in NFL history (108 yards). He's clearly not the same player now. He was burned for a 32-yard touchdown by Greg Jennings in the third quarter. The decision to let go of Sheldon Brown is one that I haven't been able to understand yet.
4. Michael Vick can still play. Yes, the Packers didn't game plan for Michael Vick, and he had the element of surprise on his side for most of the time. But nobody expected 175 passing yards, a touchdown, and 103 rushing yards. According to the Player Game Finder at Pro-Football-Reference.com, Vick's performance was just the sixth in NFL history in which a quarterback passed for 100 yards, rushed for 100 yards, and posted a triple digit rating. (By the way, Vick has done it four times now; everybody else twice.)
5. Opposing kickers will not miss against the Eagles. Ever. EVER. I highlighted the Eagles' misfortunes in an article in November of 2008, during which kickers had converted 28 consecutive field goals against the Eagles. Yesterday, Mason Crosby successfully kicked a 49 yard field goal against the Eagles, before nailing a franchise record 56 yard kick before halftime. Unbelievable.
6. Special teams coverage on kick returns were an absolute disaster and new coach Bobby April has some serious work to do. Five kick returns for 156 yards, including a 51-yard return, is not acceptable. I'm not sure why the Eagles traded Tracy White, who led the Eagles with 18 special teams tackles in 2009, to the New England Patriots last week. His presence was clearly missed in yesterday's loss.
7. Eldra Buckley won't last on the Eagles if he can't hold onto the football. It's no coincidence that Reid fell in love with Brian Westbrook, who fumbled at the rate of one fumble every 144 touches, the best mark by a running back in NFL history (minimum 1500 carries). Buckley carried 15 times last season without a fumble, but lost the ball after a 10 yard reception yesterday. A fumble every 16 touches? Not in Andy Reid's system.
8. The Eagles still boast one of the top defensive lines in the NFL. Trent Cole, arguably the Eagles' best defensive player, picked up a sack, while 32-year-old Juqua Parker, the oldest defensive player on the team, ensured much more future playing time by notching two sacks. Cole and Parker each added two tackles for a loss as well.
9. The offensive line for the Eagles is potentially going to be a disaster. With Michael Vick's tendency to scramble, Kevin Kolb's lack of anything resembling pocket presence, and the loss of Jamaal Jackson, expect the Eagles to give up as many as 50 sacks this season.
10. 4th and 1 is still a glaring issue for the Eagles and will continue to be a problem because of the loss of Weaver for the season. In 2008, the Eagles failed to convert key 4th and 1 plays against the Bears and the Giants, both late in the fourth quarter, resulting in heartbreaking losses.
Preseason Eagles pick: 10-6
Updated Eagles pick: 7-9
Next week's prediction: Eagles 26, Detroit 17
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