How Mike Vick and the Philadelphia Eagles Trounced the Jacksonville Jaguars
While defeating a team of the Jaguars caliber is not necessarily an accomplishment, defeating any team in the NFL 28-3 certainly is.
That's just what the Eagles did to the Jaguars on Sunday. Leading 14-3 at halftime, Vick and the Eagles put the game away before the fourth quarter even started, scoring two touchdowns within a five-minute period late in the third quarter.
It was an impressive all-around performance by the Eagles.
Even though the Jaguars had possession for nearly 33 minutes of the game, the Eagles' defense limited the Jaguars to 184 yards of total offense.
On the other side of the ball, the Eagles racked up 373 yards of total offense in just over 27 minutes of possession.
So how did the Eagles trounce the Jaguars so thoroughly? Was it because they played so well, or because the Jaguars played so poorly, or perhaps both?
Read on to find out...
Has Donovan McNabb Lost Weight?
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The Philadelphia Eagles have a problem that 31 other teams in the NFL would love to have.
After three weeks, Michael Vick has posted a quarterback rating of 110.2. He has completed 60.7 percent of his passes, a career best so far, for 750 yards and six touchdowns with no interceptions. He has also added 170 yards rushing and a touchdown run.
Four of those seven touchdowns came this weekend against the Jaguars, as Vick was responsible for all 28 points the Eagles scored. Vick completed 17 of 31 passes for 291 yards and three touchdown passes and ran four times for 30 yards and a touchdown.
While the resurgence of Michael Vick is a hot story, the important thing to note about the Eagles' offensive performance on Sunday was that Vick was able to run Andy Reid's offense as if he was the quarterback Reid selected with the second overall pick in the 1999 draft.
It looked as if there was a faster, fitter Donovan McNabb running the Eagles offense. As in year's past, the Eagles' running backs received limited carries (only 16 runs from LeSean McCoy and Mike Bell combined) while the passing game was able to get a couple of big plays.
A 61-yard touchdown catch and run by DeSean Jackson and a 45-yard bomb to Jeremy Maclin accounted for two of Vick's touchdown passes. He added another 16-yard touchdown pass to Maclin and a 17-yard touchdown run toward the end of the third quarter to ice the game.
Vick totaled 321 yards, which is a hair over eighty-six percent of the Eagles total yards.
Meanwhile, Kevin Kolb remained on the Eagles bench as a backup quarterback that would probably be a starter on nearly half a dozen other teams in the league. Poor Kolb thought he had supplanted McNabb only to find himself behind a sleeker version.
The Only Thing the Jaguars Did Well
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The Jaguars were able to run for 130 yards on 33 carries, which would explain why they held the ball for a longer time than the big play offense of the Eagles.
While that line only equates to a 3.9 yard per carry average, the Jaguars ability to grind out yards on the ground is the continuation of a bad trend for the Eagles defense. While they seem to be in control of the NFC East, at least early in the season, the Eagles have allowed 125.7 yards per game on the ground.
Although the Cowboys and Giants rank 26th and 14th, respectively, in terms of rushing yards per game, both teams possess talented runningbacks. With four key divisional games against these two teams, the Eagles have to solidify their run defense.
Doing the damage for the Jaguars was Maurice Jones-Drew, quarterback David Garrard, and Rashad Jennings. Jones-Drew lead the way with 88 yards on 22 carries. Garrard added 23 yards on eight runs and Jennings totaled 19 yards on three carries.
This Jaguars offense is anemic. They are one-dimensional, but they aren't even that good at the facet they supposedly excel at. While the Jaguars 111.7 rushing yards per game is good for sixteenth in the league, they have proven to be woefully inefficient when they do run it.
On 91 carries they have run for only 335 yards, which is a paltry 3.7 yards per carry. Their longest run of the year is just 18 yards.
When your passing game is as bad the Jaguars, you need a more explosive running game. Then again, as we will see next, the problem might be with the Jaguars offensive line.
The Eagles Pass Rush Vs. Jaguars Offensive Line
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Usually when you run for 130 yards, even if you only average 3.9 yards a carry, you will score more than three points.
But Jaguars quarterback David Garrard was repeatedly hassled by the Eagles pass rush. Despite throwing for 105 yards, the Jaguars only netted 54 yards passing after accounting for the Eagles' six sacks.
Trent Cole lead the way with two sacks, while defensive tackle Trevor Laws, free safety Nate Allen, and defensive ends Darryl Tapp and Juqua Parker added one each.
The Eagles aggressive defense had Garrard running for his life as they more than doubled their sack total for the season in this one game. In this young season defensive ends Cole and Parker have teamed up for seven of the Eagles eleven sacks.
Meanwhile, the Jaguars offensive line was thoroughly embarrassed. They neither protected Garrard nor opened up solid running lanes for their running backs.
Second year tackle Eugene Monroe, the eight overall pick in the 2009 draft, had a particularly rough day. He routinely got beat by the veteran Cole.
Vick Must Be Protected
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How desperate do you have to be to trade for an offensive lineman from the Buffalo Bills?
Jason Peters, the erstwhile Bills left tackle, is probably the most accomplished offensive lineman on an Eagles offensive line filled with unaccomplished veterans.
The Eagles have the seventh ranked rush attack, averaging 139 yards per game. While that is probably more a product of Michael Vick's running ability, even if the line's run blocking was a weakness, it wouldn't be that big of a problem, as the Eagles don't depend on it to win games.
However, the Eagles do depend on the health of their quarterbacks, and their offensive line has not done a good enough job protecting the quarterback.
Just ask Kevin Kolb.
He lost his starting job when he suffered a concussion on a Clay Matthews sack in Week 1. Matthews, the NFL sack leader, blew right by Eagles' right tackle Winston Justice on the play that opened the door of redemption for Michael Vick.
The only problem is Vick's comeback won't last long if the Eagles' offensive line can't keep him upright.
So far the Eagles' offensive line has allowed 14 sacks this season: six against Green Bay, five against the Lions, and three on Sunday against the Jaguars.
That number probably would be higher if the Eagles were actually facing a team with a better pass rush. Including this game, the Jaguars have just seven sacks on the season despite compulsively spending draft picks on defensive ends over the last three years (two first round picks and five out of their last 20 picks overall).
Time To Pillage the Quarterback Scrap Heap
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The primary reason the Philadelphia Eagles were able to defeat the Jacksonville Jaguars 28-3 was the performance of David Garrard.
The Jaguars running game might not have been too efficient, but it was good enough that Garrard should have been able to make something happen in the air.
And sure the Eagles sacked him six times, but four of those sacks came in the second half when the Jaguars were so far in the hole the Eagles knew Garrard would be throwing.
In the first half Garrard was 5 for 12 for 38 yards. That is not going to cut it.
If Shaun Hill of the Lions is capable of putting up 335 yards and two touchdowns against the Eagles secondary, David Garrard needs to be benched for what happened on Sunday.
Garrard is now a 32-year old quarterback who is 31-31 as a starter but only 13-22 in his last 35 starts. He is nearly three years removed from his only good season as an NFL quarterback.
When your stat line reads 13 for 30 (completing only 43 percent of his passes) for 105 yards (an abysmal 3.5 yards per attempt) and one interception, it's time you take a seat.
Garrard's supporting cast on the Jaguars are no longer good enough for his best asset, not throwing interceptions, to make up for his complete inability to make plays through the air.
It's time for the Jaguars to throw something or someone up against the wall and hope they stick. Recently they signed Keith Null, formerly of the Rams.
Maybe they can give Trent Edwards a call? He might not be better than Garrard, but he can't be worse.
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Next week the Jaguars will welcome the Colts to EverBank Field where they'll hope to reverse their fortunes. Considering they've lost their last two games by a combined 50 points against lesser teams than the Colts, and have no hope of finding a suitable quarterback by next weekend, it would be shocking if the game resulted in anything but a Colts rout. Then again the Jaguars are at home and this is the NFL, where anything can happen on any given Sunday.
Far more interesting is the Eagles matchup with former franchise quarterback Donovan McNabb.
McNabb returns to Lincoln Financial Field for the first time since the Eagles traded him to the Washington Redskins, their divisional rival.
A myriad of questions can be asked just from looking at the game from the Eagles' perspective. Can their offensive line stop Brian Orakpo? Can they stop Clinton Portis?
No matter what the answers to those questions are, the most important will be who will win in this battle of current and former Eagles' quarterbacks, McNabb or Vick?
That's difficult to answer. What we do know is that the only real loser in this entire situation is Kevin Kolb...at least for now.