The Eagles' title drought is now at 50 seasons.
I had hoped that with a new quarterback, the result might be different. Yet, this game ended the same way that so many other Eagles playoff games have ended: Needing a last minute score, the quarterback makes a questionable decision and doesn't get the job done.
There was a lot of blame to go around in this one. There was a lot that went wrong for the Eagles. But in the end, I think the Packers won the game simply because they were the better team, and outplayed the Eagles.
What Went Right?
Despite looking like the inferior team, and making many mistakes, the Eagles were still in position to win this game at the end.
The Packers offense looked like it might tear apart the Eagles defense, but that never really happened. The defense forced a turnover to set up the Eagles' first touchdown, and in the fourth quarter, they tightened up just enough to give Vick and the offense a chance to win it.
I was confused as to why the Packers ran the ball so much. They had pretty good yardage on the ground, but it also seemed to limit them. Were they trying to keep the ball out of Michael Vick's hands as much as possible?
What Went Wrong?
- For the most part this season, as DeSean Jackson goes, so goes the Eagles offense. So it certainly wasn't good that he missed most of the first half with an injury and was clearly slowed when he returned. With a healthy Jackson, does this game turn out differently?
- Not that it was a huge surprise, but the offensive line played poorly. Winston Justice was so bad that he was pulled in favor of King Dunlap. If Dunlap is the solution, then you've got a problem that can't be fixed.
- While the defense did tighten later, it was quite disheartening the way that they let the Packers march down the field after the Eagles had finally scored a touchdown. The Eagles finally had some momentum, and they handed it right back. The defense also seemed unable to generate more than a token pass rush.
- David Akers' first field goal attempt was into the wind, so that's somewhat excusable. But there was no way that he should have missed the second one. That is the type of field goal that Akers simply does not miss. And sadly, if he hits either of them, they probably win the game.
- After the Eagles second touchdown, Brent Celek needlessly stepped out of bounds before catching the two-point conversion pass, negating the score. Not only did this cost them two points, but on the second attempt, Vick suffered an injury which might have affected his play on the final drive.
- Vick played decently, but was unable to carry the team to victory. Going for the end zone in that situation is questionable, but I can understand why he tried it. However, I don't think that throwing a jump ball to Riley Cooper was the right move. They weren't desperate, so why put the game in the hands of your untested fourth receiver?
Bad Andy Reid Coaching Move of the Week
Some may find fault with Reid opting for a field goal in the fourth quarter. The Eagles needed those points, and there was no reason to think Akers wouldn't be able to make it. So I really can't complain about that decision.
On the other hand (yes, I know this is a familiar complaint), this seemed like the type of game where more rushing attempts would have been beneficial to the Eagles offense.
LeSean McCoy has shown he can get the job done, but he never had the opportunity to establish himself on the ground. The Packers were often rushing only three men (and yet still generating some pressure) and the Eagles were missing Jackson.
Yet, aside from some sporadic attempts, the Eagles never tried to attack on the ground.
Then again, I could have written the same thing about pretty much every playoff loss under Reid.
Final Analysis of the Game
It didn't look like a good matchup for the Eagles, and in the end, it probably wasn't. The Packers definitely looked like the better team. Of course, had the Eagles simply taken care of business against the Vikings, there was a good chance that they would have had a bye and could have avoided yesterday's game altogether.
The Season in Review
The defense did not have a strong season. They hoped that bringing in a lot of new faces would cause improvement, but instead, they seemed to take a step backwards.
The return of MLB Stewart Bradley and the trade for OLB Ernie Sims was supposed to solidify the linebackers, but neither one of them played up to expectations.
They brought in a bunch of new players for the defensive line, but as it turns out, the guys they got rid of (Chris Clemons, Jason Babin) had much better seasons than they guys they brought in. By the end of the season, the team struggled to generate much of a pass rush.
Cornerback was also an adventure. Ellis Hobbs played poorly and then got injured. He was replaced by Dmitri Patterson who looked good for a few games, and then struggled as teams were able to scout him.
Results were mixed for their top two rookies. DE Brandon Graham didn't look especially impressive, while FS Nate Allen showed some promise. Unfortunately, both suffered season-ending injuries, and their physical status will leave them as just as big question marks headed into their second seasons.
On the other hand rookie safety Kurt Coleman and linebacker Jamar Chaney both filled in admirably when the team suffered injuries. Neither player might have star potential, but they at least looked like capable NFL players.
Perhaps the biggest question mark of all on defense is coordinator Sean McDermott. Maybe he was hindered by lack of personnel, but the defense seems to be getting worse under his watch. Assuming he returns for next season, I'd have to say that he is on the hot seat.
On the offensive end, it appeared that the Eagles had great talent at the skill positions, and a shaky offensive line. Those expectations turned out to be accurate.
DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin and Jason Avant may be the best set of receivers in the league. RB LeSean McCoy was still a bit of an unknown heading into the season, but he now looks like a star in the making.
On the other hand, the offensive line was a mess. There were frequent breakdowns in protection, and they seemed clueless as to handle when a defense blitzed. This unit will require a major overhaul in the offseason.
All of those factors should have equaled somewhere between six and eight wins. But Michael Vick covered up a lot of flaws. He may have faded at the end (and that was probably partially due to the punishment he received behind that offensive line) but he still had one of the best seasons ever by an Eagles quarterback.
In the end, I can't really be disappointed by this season. I had expected an 8-8 season, so the fact that they went 10-6 and won the NFC East was a very pleasant surprise. And even though the end result was the same, as I mentioned before, at least things felt somewhat fresh this season.
So, as Eagles fans have been saying for the past 50 years, I guess we'll just have to wait until next year.
Originally published on my blog: Stranger in a Strange Land
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