10 Things We Learned from the Philadelphia Eagles Game: Week 3
1. Arguably the gutsiest decision of Andy Reid's career appears, after one week, to be the right move.
Michael Vick dominated the Jacksonville Jaguars, just like he did against the Detroit Lions, and in the second half against the Green Bay Packers. Vick tossed three touchdowns and rushed for a fourth, without committing a turnover. He averaged over nine yards per attempt and continued his dominance on third down, completing 7 of 11 passes for 129 yards and a touchdown.
2. Bobby April has been a big disappointment as special teams coach, especially on punt and kick coverage.
Bobby April is a two-time Special Teams Coach of the Year winner, but his performance with the Philadelphia Eagles has been disappointing. In the season opener, the Eagles allowed five kick returns for 156 yards (31.2 average) and we all just thought it was a bad game. Then Detroit's Stefan Logan had some nice returns in Week 2, and Jacksonville's Mike Thomas busted loose for a 41-yard punt return.
This season, the Eagles have allowed 13 kick returns for 332 yards (25.6 average), and 9 punt returns for 106 yards (11.8 average). Not terrible numbers, but definitely a disappointment for a team which ranked among the best in the NFL in return coverage last season.
3. Nobody misses a kick against the Eagles. Nobody.
This is ridiculous. Four field goal attempts against the Eagles this season, all successful, for an average distance of 51.25 yards. Mason Crosby even set a Packers franchise record with a 56-yard field goal.
4. The defense is wildly inconsistent.
The Eagles allowed 27 points to the Green Bay Packers in week one, but actually contained Pro Bowl quarterback Aaron Rodgers, forcing two interceptions. Then Shaun Hill and Jahvid Best led the Detroit Lions to 32 points, their highest total against an NFC team in nearly three years. And then David Garrard of the Jaguars turned in one of the worst games of his career, as the Jaguars scored three points.
Overall, the Eagles' defense ranks 20th in the NFL in points allowed (62). As usual, they're forcing a lot of turnovers (5), all interceptions.
5. Juqua Parker is playing like a man fighting for more playing time.
I was surprised when 32-year-old Juqua Parker, the team's oldest non-special teams player, made the team. He's done a lot in three games though, collecting four sacks and forcing a fumble. Parker probably won't ever beat out Brandon Graham for a starting job, and he'll never beat out Trent Cole, but the Eagles defensive line is rotated so frequently that Parker will receive a significant amount of playing time.
6. Mike Bell has done nothing to earn his wings.
Bell led the Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints in carries last season (172) but he has been a big disappointment with the Eagles. Bell carried four times for zero yards against the Lions' 28th ranked run defense. Against the Jaguars, Bell carried five times for 14 yards against the NFL's 24th ranked run defense. His season stats? Nine carries for 14 yards. Not exactly what Andy Reid expected.
7. Trevor Laws can do more than take up a roster spot.
For the first time in his two-plus years with the Eagles, Laws turned in a great game, with six tackles (two for a loss), a sack, two passes defensed, and two hits on quarterback David Garrard. Laws, who was in danger of being cut in training camp, just turned in the game we've been waiting for since 2008.
8. Jorrick Calvin has potential as a punt returner.
A sixth round pick in 2010 by the Arizona Cardinals, 23-year-old cornerback Jorrick Calvin was acquired by the Eagles in a trade for fullback Charles Scott on August 30. Calvin displayed some nice moves on his three punt returns in Sunday's game, averaging 10.7 yards per return. If Calvin can return punts instead of Jackson, the Eagles won't have to worry about an injury to their best receiver.
9. Michael Vick can lead a two-minute drive.
To say that Donovan McNabb has struggled on two-minute drives is an understatement. As Eagles fans, we haven't really witnessed many solid two-minute drives right before halftime or the end of a game.
Yet on Sunday Michael Vick provided a beautiful two-minute drive right before halftime, leading the Eagles 53 yards in seven plays. The final play, a 16-yard touchdown strike to Jeremy Maclin, occurred with no timeouts on the clock for the Eagles and just four seconds until halftime. The play gave the Eagles a 14-3 lead, putting the Eagles up two scores instead of just one at halftime.
10. The Eagles, as of now, are the best team in the NFC East.
The Redskins, Cowboys, and Giants are all 1-2. The Redskins don't look much better than their 2009 team. The Cowboys could easily rebound but as of now, they've been wildly inconsistent. And the Giants looked brutal in blowout losses to the Colts and Titans.
By default, the Eagles are the division's best team, and I think anyone would agree. An early lead in the division race would be great for the Eagles, who finish with one of the toughest second-half schedules in the NFL.
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