Philadelphia Eagles: 5 Players Who Performed Best in Week One Against the Rams

WesAnalyst ISeptember 12, 2011

Makes it look easy.
Makes it look easy.Jeff Curry/Getty Images

Before we look at who played well in the season opener we need to thank those who put together the NFL schedule this year.

Ready? All together: Thank you Mr. Schedule Maker.

Getting the Rams and the rest of the NFC West might be more important to the Eagles than any post-lockout acquisitions. Okay, maybe that's a little much, but I think you get the point.

The Rams, hyped up as being a young team ready to break through, looked like an overwhelmed team that broke down.

The Seahawks and 49ers played in one of the worst games of the weekend and the Cardinals made Cam Newton look like a quarterback going through seven-on-seven drills.

The Rams did scare the bejesus out of Eagles fans when they overmatched the offensive line and pressured Vick on the game's opening drive.

Things got worse when Steven Jackson scampered 47 yards into the end zone to give the Rams a 7-0 lead in what sounded like a raucous Edward Jones Dome. It was cute to see the underdog put up a fight, but then it all fell apart as the Eagles held the Rams to only six more points the rest of the game en-route to a 31-13 win.

The score suggests the Eagles dominated and played well throughout the game. The truth is the Rams got in their own way by dropping passes, and carelessly handling the ball. It all fell apart in the third quarter when it looked like the Rams mailed it in. However, like every good team should do, the Eagles made the Rams pay for their mistakes.

St. Louis tried to expose the Eagles' O-line throughout the game, but Michael Vick refused to let it stop the offensive from putting up 404 yards of offense.

Vick was not accurate as he went 14-of-32, but he found ways to keep plays alive when he was under duress. I'm not willing to say Vick's best play of the game came when he threw a six-yard touchdown pass to DeSean Jackson in the third quarter, but it proved how easy Vick makes certain plays look.

As pressure quickly approached Vick on a bootleg, he simply took a step back and to the left. It bought him enough time to lead Jackson in the back of the end zone and give the Eagles a 24-10 lead. It's incredible how these plays are now routine even though few players could have avoided the pressure with an explosive move only to throw a great ball.

On a side note: If Vick didn't kneel the ball twice for minus two yards, he would have finished the day with 100 rushing yards and 187 passing yards.

DeSean Jackson's touchdown was clutch, but it wasn't his biggest play of the day. His marque moment came in the first quarter when the Eagles needed to respond to the Rams only touchdown.

Vick threw a pass in traffic to Jackson 41 yards down the field and No.10 somehow emerged with the ball.

At that moment, I wondered how many people said, "Pay this guy."

As hard as I've been on Jackson I have to admit that play made me realize how wrong I have been in bashing Jackson and not defending him in his pursuit for a bigger pay day.

Yes, Jackson dropped a touchdown and a deep ball from Vick, but he still showed everyone how explosive he can be and how valuable he is to the offense. Oh yeah, he also had six catches for 102 yards and a touchdown.

I wanted to add the offensive line to my list of players who played the best, but they were inconsistent and Vick and LeSean McCoy bailed them out.

How many times did McCoy, cut back and pick up a couple yards after the offensive line got beat? Not all of the runs were game changers, but they allowed the Eagles to stay in manageable down-and-distance situations.

It's hard to think that someone has replaced Brian Westbrook so quickly, but that's the case with McCoy. Against the Rams, he looked like the former Eagle great as he found the end zone twice using a unique ability to escape defenders guaranteed to wrap him up.

McCoy's 49-yard touchdown run put the game on ice, but the effort he showed in the first quarter to tie the game at 7-7 showed everyone how illusive he can be.

It seemed like he was going to pick up four or five yards on third-and-goal from the Rams' seven on a pass from Vick but before I could say, "Andy, what are you doing?" McCoy launched himself into the end zone.

As the offense put  up points, the defense was trying to figure out how to stop the run. It didn't look good, but at the end of the day they kept the Rams out of the end zone after the first quarter.

As the game unfolded I watched Nnamdi Asomugha on passing downs and I don't remember seeing Sam Bradford challenge the highly regarded cornerback, except for one play.

Asomugha did get flagged for pass interference in the end zone. But, everyone had their mistakes including Vick, who missed some open targets, and Jackson, who dropped passes. If I had to search for those who played great I don't know if anyone would be on the list.

The thing about Asomugha is he literally shut down his side of the field and made it incredibly difficult for Bradford to get into a rhythm. I can only imagine how difficult it will be for Rex Grossman and Eli Manning to throw the ball against the Eagles. Those games should be wildly entertaining for Eagles fans and include a couple picks for Asante Samuel thanks to Asomugha negating one side of the field.

Trent Cole and Jason Babin deserve some credit for their play, but the last guy on my list is Andy Reid.

The coach I can't stand actually did some good things out there.

He made a terrible call with Ronnie Brown taking a direct snap in the red zone and he may have left Vick in the game too long. But like I said earlier, everyone had their mistakes.

Reid decided to run the ball a little more than usual and finished the game with 31 runs against 31 passes. Those numbers are kind of skewed considering Vick had two kneels and a majority of his 10 rushing attempts came off of pass plays.

But here's what I liked about Reid on Sunday: He moved Vick and the pocket around often.

Reid knew the offensive line was the weak link and he accounted for it. He didn't let Vick drop straight back on every pass play. He called plays for Vick to roll around to give everyone more time.

The danger of rolling your quarterback is you essentially cut the field in half since it is dangerous to throw the ball across the field. The risk in this scenario outweighs the reward, which was a passing game designed to hide the flaws of the o-line. 


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