Philadelphia Eagles Report Card: Performance Vs. 49ers
The Eagles leave the Bay area with a 3-0 record on the road, and Kevin Kolb's first win of the season. The 49ers advance to a 0-5 record, despite Alex Smith's impressive bounce-back performance.
This is a tough win on the road, considering San Francisco was bumping after the 49ers' counterpart, the Giants, winning another game in the NLDS.
This is a clutch win, keeping the Eagles tied with the Redskins and Giants atop the NFC East. This keeps the Eagles in the running, considering both the Giants and the Redskins are showing they can win against quality teams.
So overall, how did the Eagles stack up against the 49ers?
Honorable Mention: Alex Smith- B-
Alex Smith may have had two interceptions, and a fumble. So a QB totaling three turnovers in a game is never a good thing. I admit that if Kolb would have had three turnovers this game, I would be drilling him and complaining about it.
But Smith showed excellent potential. After several drives of little movement, and then a Smith fumble, which led to Quentin Mikkel picking it up and returning it for a touchdown. Granted, the fumble should have never happened. But following the turnover the 49ers crowd began to chant 'CARR, CARR, CARR.'
This is the most demoralizing thing that could have happened to Smith, hearing his home crowd begging for the backup QB to take over. On top of the crowd pouring on the boos, as soon as Smith was on the sideline, he immediately was drilled by Mike Singletary.
It appeared as if Smith would not come back onto the field for the next offensive series, but Singletary decided to give Smith one more chance.
Immediately following the high-pressure chants from the crowd, and the reaction of Singletary on the sideline, Smith jogged onto the field and led a perfect touchdown drive. Smith did not miss a single receiver and led the 49ers 60 yards to a touchdown score, bringing them within three points of tying the game.
The 49ers did lose. You could make the case that the 49ers lost the game entirely because of Smith.
My opinion is simply this: Smith came on to the field in one of the worst possible situations a starting QB can be in.
Instead of collapsing under pressure and throwing another interception, or going three and out, he responded by slamming the Eagles defense with a touchdown drive. This in its self deserves recognition.
Offensive Grade: A-
Is it possible that Kolb may have just reignited the QB controversy in Philadelphia?
Although, Kolb did play very admirably. He showed that he could react under pressure and made very impressive downfield passes. But most importantly, he picked up the win.
Finishing up the game with 21 completions, for 253 yards, and one touchdown. Finishing with a very impressive 103.3 QB rating. (For comparison, that is higher than Peyton Manning this week).
Kolb had some serious help on the ground game, LeSean McCoy ripped up the 49ers' tough defense, and most importantly Patrick Willis. McCoy finished the game with 18 rushes, for 92 yards, and one touchdown.
Considering that McCoy's was questionable to even play in this game with a tender rib, that's very impressive.
Leading the Eagles in receiving yards was, Jeremy Maclin. Kolb and Maclin seem to be developing very nice chemistry. Kolb connected with Maclin six times, for 95 yards, and no touchdowns.
Not surprisingly, Kolb was able to find Brent Celek for a touchdown. However, Kolb is still having a hard time getting the ball to Jackson, which is very disappointing.
The only reason the Eagles' offense is not a higher grade, is for a problem I have watched consistently, failure to complete drives.
This is the same problem the Eagles have always had, except for with Vick, who can seem to convert those difficult third-and-longs.
Also, the offensive line continues to struggle. It's just painful to watch, penalties and missed blocks, that's about it.
Other than that, Kolb looked sharp, McCoy played like an MVP, and the receiving set was able to get some big gains. Nothing to be disappointed about here, Eagles fans. Except maybe that offensive line.
Defense (Rushing): A
I separated the defense into two categories, rushing and passing. Mainly because I could not develop a composite grade for both aspects of the defense.
The rush defense, which I believed to be the Eagles' biggest weakness going into this game, turned out to be one of their biggest strengths. Who would have guessed that Frank Gore, one of the best RBs in the NFL, would be held to 52 yards? The only score Gore was able to muster was a dump off pass on the five-yard line.
The Eagles' defensive line really stepped up their game, getting to Gore quickly and holding him to minimal gains. Then to back up the defensive line, the linebackers hit Gore quickly and held him to almost no gains.
This is a huge turnaround from what the Eagles showed last week against the Redskins, giving up way too many yards on the ground. It looks likes it seems to be a totally revitalized defensive unit, and least in one aspect.
This is a key game, considering the 49ers are a rushing team, and Gore can destroy defenses, the Eagles hang tough with the best. Containing Gore and forcing the 49ers to rely entirely on the passing game, and Smith.
By the way, did I mention the Eagles defense had two forced fumbles on Gore?
Defense (Passing): C+
Sure, the Eagles' passing defense did force two interceptions. That is without Asante Samuel as well, which makes the interceptions even more impressive. But realistically, the passing defense was very spotty and was burned deep several times.
Smith torched the Eagles defense, finishing with 309 yards, three touchdowns, and two interceptions. Even with the two turnovers, Smith's QB rating was still a very impressive 92.8. Although winning the game, mainly because of one of the interceptions, the passing defense needs to step it up.
Smith and Vernon Davis were consistently able to throw the ball deep down the middle of the field, gaining 20- to 30-yard chunks at a time. The 49ers ran this play several times, and had very good success with it, and when it's working, why stop?
The reason this play was working so well, is Davis was lined up with Stewart Bradley, who is just not fast enough to keep up. For some reason the Eagles tried this match up, several times and were burned every single time.
Davis finished the game with five receptions for 104 yards and one touchdown. That is only one yard away from leading the team in receiving yardage.
The Eagles also had a very hard time covering Michael Crabtree, who seemed to be open almost every play, and once catching the ball, made huge plays with his feet. Much like DeSean Jackson, the tackling on Crabtree was, poor at best.
Eagles defenders often missed several tackles before finally being able to drag him to the ground. Crabtree finished the game with, nine receptions for 105 yards and one touchdown.
This simply must improve if the Eagles want to win games.
Special Teams: B-
David Akers was automatic as usual. Hitting 2/3. The missed field goal was a ridiculous 53 yards, so you can hardly blame him for missing the kick.
The problem was on kick returns. Ted Ginn Jr. burned the Eagles on almost every kick return. The Eagles just lost containment, and allowed way too many yards on second chance opportunities. Ginn may be fast, and it is hard to contain speed, but when Ginn finishes the game with, 181 yards, averaging 36.2 yards.
On the flip side, the Eagles kick returners had trouble even reaching the 20. In fact, the Eagles had two chances on one kick, due to a penalty, and it made no difference.
Barley reaching the 20, is not exactly great field position to start a drive. The Eagles had 126 return yards in total, averaging 25.2 yards.
See the problem?
Punt containment was great, only allowing nine yards the entire game. So good job there.
But the Eagles punt returns were poor. Just give Jackson some room, and good things will happen. But they just couldn't, allowing Jackson to muster only, 23 yards on two punt returns. This is something that could make or break the Eagle offense this season.
Jackson has the ability to get the Eagles into great field position, but without help from his blockers, he can't do anything. There is also always the higher chance of Jackson getting drilled, and then sustaining some injury from the hit.
The Eagles need to improve on special teams coverage, but Akers, keep up the good work.
Andy Reid historically is a good coach, and he knows how to win tough road games. That is exactly what he did in this game. The Eagles came into this game well prepared, and were ready to win the game. That contributes a lot to Reid's coaching experience, and his expertise in difficult situations.
Very good offensive play calling, to get the ball moving without Vick as the starter. A very big question going into the game, how will the play calling change with Vick not starting? Reid responded well and was able to get some very efficient drives going.
Calling a nice blend of passing and running plays, something that the Eagles are finding great success with this year. Andy, isn't that crazy that when you run the ball it opens up receivers down the field?
On defense, the Eagles did a great job of calling zone blitzes to contain Gore, but also keep control down the field if the play action arose. Also, a very good job of playing aggressively and blitzing the LBs and secondary, to keep the offense off balance.
The only fault I really found, on offense Reid continues to resort to the pass on third and short. When clearly a running play just makes more sense in the situation. Then on defense, the match up of Bradley vs Davis. It was clearly a miss-match, so why they continued to run the defense, just puzzles me.
Other than that, very solid coaching without Vick starting, and a very good job containing Gore.
Conclusion: Final Average: B+
Overall, the Eagles played a very solid game. This was not an easy win, and their was a lot riding on this game for both teams. The fact that the Eagles came out victorious is a big win, keeping them even with the rest of the NFC East.
As for the 49ers, they sink to 0-5. I still can't figure out a reason why a team with so much talent continues to struggle so much. Maybe the turnovers?
Either way, congratulations Philadelphia. A well-earned win, against a very tough opponent.