I realize it’s only Week 3, and I fully expect the Eagles to iron out many of their kinks by midseason, but let’s talk for a moment about what is keeping them from being as great as many fans believe they should be.
Hopefully, we can look back at this list of current shortcomings later in the season and gauge how they’ve improved.
Before we start, you need to realize that the offense sets the tone for how the game will go.
If Vick and the Eagles can come out flying high, it puts the pressure on the opposing team to match them point for point, and thus, pass the ball. This plays right into the hands of the Eagles defensive line, which is fine-tuned to steamroll quarterbacks.
It also benefits the Eagles secondary, which is more than capable of covering just about any wide receiver they will face and even intercept bad throws forced by the aforementioned defensive line. This shows why it is so important for the Eagles offense to come out scoring.
The Eagles offense played well in the season opener in St. Louis, but after the fireworks we saw last season, no one would say they played up to their potential. The Eagles should have won in Atlanta, but they didn’t. But why not? Surely, this high-flying offense should be able to outscore anyone.
I put much of the blame on Offensive Coordinator Marty Mornhinweg. He gets too crazy with the play calling, especially early in games, which I feel may hurt Vick’s ability to get into a rhythm.
They end up wasting downs on long shot plays that just don't work (I have to say if I see that bubble screen pass behind the line of scrimmage one more time, I might go crazy).
Marty can script some beautiful plays, but why does it seem that for every immaculate play he calls, he has to throw in five worthless, gimmicky plays? I’m sure Andy Reid’s aggressive play consulting is influencing some of that.
What it seems to boil down to is this team is good enough to win without all the gimmicks, it’s as if they still call plays to aid the ineptitude of McNabb’s turf thumping ball cannon. McNabb’s gone now, this is the most talented team you’ve ever had, let the talent speak for itself.
I’m not opposed to the occasional DeSean end-around, etc. But they need to march those players out on that field and win like it’s expected. Use your speed, stretch the field, exploit resulting gaps with passes or runs up big lanes, occasional screen passes, and good old-fashioned designed runs.
It’s all too clear that the Eagles need to run the ball more. They have a lot of success running the ball, but rarely feature the running game unless they are trying to close out the game in the fourth quarter of a blowout win.
But if the Eagles aren’t ahead by a couple scores, then it’s as if Reid has to slam on the gas pedal until they are, exposing Vick to hit after hit after hit. If Andy Reid really wants to win the Super Bowl this season, he is going to have to take some of the load off Vick and give it to LeSean McCoy.
If running the ball more will slow down that ridiculous blitzing, then that's what needs to happen.
If they want Vick to be hitting his stride going into the playoffs, he's gotta stay healthy. Running more doesn’t mean they have to abandon the pass. If they can find any kind of consistent working balance between run and pass, they will find big plays in both ways.
Imagine trying to play defense against this offense. “I gotta stay deep or DeSean will blow right past me, but if I get back too far than LeSean is gonna gain 20 yards, juke me, and blow right past me.” Scary stuff right?
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not one of those people who believe that passing teams just can’t win, after all, look at what the Packers did last year. But Aaron Rodgers doesn’t face insane blitzes on practically every play, like Mike Vick does.
This team has so much going for them, but as we saw in the fourth quarter in Atlanta, it all means nothing without Vick on the field.
It’s all too clear now, that every single team is going to blitz Vick endlessly. Though Vick has been sacked very few times so far this season, he’s still getting hit way too much, and with all this crazy blitzing, it seems Vick is now less safe in the pocket then he would be sprinting down the field. This calls for two things, Vick padded up like a hockey goalie and extra backfield blocking.
Word coming out of Philadelphia this week is Vick had his helmet reinforced with Kevlar (good to know his helmet is now bulletproof) this should provide great cushioning of blows to the head.
With how paranoid Andy Reid is, I would be surprised if he ever let Vick take off the flack jacket that protects his ribs. If he wasn’t wearing it in Atlanta, you can be assured he will wear it for the rest of forever per Andy Reid.
Any hit on Vick isn’t good, regardless of whether it’s a sack. This calls for more blocking in the pocket. They need to have LeSean McCoy and Ronnie Brown lined up beside Vick more times than not (heck, why not put some athletic offensive lineman back there).
I want Vick to feel more comfortable in that pocket than he does while he’s watching TV in his favorite chair. If the Eagles can keep Vick clean and make positive yardage on every play, that is a win, every time.
I’m not saying they need to talk up a storm like the New York Jets, that’s just not how the Eagles do it.
The Eagles offense has displayed an apparent confidence so far this season, especially LeSean McCoy, Jeremy Maclin and DeSean Jackson, but I haven’t seen fire in the eyes of Mike Vick yet.
He did well in St. Louis, but in Atlanta, I felt that Vick came up very short.
He struggled early, and before too long, he just seemed to be stuck in quicksand and sinking deeper by the minute. I do feel he was pulling himself out when he was suddenly injured. It’s really tough to put any of the blame on Vick at all.
The first fumble was hardly his fault, and the interception should have been challenged and overturned, the only thing Vick really did wrong was carry the ball too loosely and fumble. But things aren’t always gonna go your way; you have to be able to gain control of every situation and not sink deeper into the sand.
But it all comes back to Vick; if he could’ve been more productive, than the Falcons efforts would have been in vain. If Vick gets into a rhythm early in that game, I think the Eagles would be easily sitting 2-0 right now.
I’m not saying Mike Vick lacks swagger; the Eagles offense should be sweating out swagger like a byproduct, but they aren’t. Defenses should be helplessly scrambling to stop this offense’s stockpile of weapons, but they aren’t.
I feel it’s a combination of lack of rhythm, constantly dealing with the blitz, and just general early-season kinks to work through. I keep forgetting they’ve only really played two games. If Mornhinweg can put his offense in the best position to succeed, I think they could really get this thing going.
Maybe it’s too early to categorize it as a lack of swagger, but how else do you describe how poorly the offense started in Atlanta? Some of the blame must go on the play calling.
The Eagles need to come out with the same fire they had against the Redskins last year on Monday Night Football. Confident teams dictate how the game will be played. We should all be able to feel overwhelmingly confident in this offense, but it seems like I always feel uneasy on the offense’s first drive.
Why can’t they turn this offense into a well-oiled machine, and start it up on the first play of every opening drive? We’ll have to give them time, after all it’s only Week 3, hopefully we’ll be flying high sooner than later.
The Falcons were 5-5 in the red zone on Sunday. All five visits to the red zone ended in touchdowns. All this tells me is the Eagles defensive kryptonite is a pass-catching tight end.
It’s gonna take serious scheming to stop such a mysterious problem. I say double team the tight end with Nnamdi and a linebacker. If that doesn’t work, nothing will.
It goes without saying the Eagles run defense is too inconsistent. Though there were times against Atlanta where they looked downright fearsome, but any big run is a failure on their part.
The big news this week is that the Eagles have rotated their linebackers around to better suit their natural positions and skill sets.
They’ve put Jamar Chaney back in the middle, which is the best news of all. Chaney is an incredibly instinctive player who knows where to be and when to be there (much more so than Matthews). He’s quick and agile enough to man the position, but still tough enough to stuff the run.
They also moved Moise Fokou back to the strong-side and put Casey Matthews on the weak-side, where he can quietly develop his NFL skill set. I expect a noticeable difference on the Eagles defense this Sunday.
Even though the Eagles lost in Atlanta, they were never really outplayed, with the exception of a couple defensive letdowns. I actually feel better about the Eagles defense than I do about the offense. The defense is becoming more solid every game, and the linebacker switch should help dramatically.
It’s time for the Eagles offense to stop flirting with greatness and just be great. This week is the Eagles home opener, and also happens to be their first game in divisional play; and it happens to be against the Giants, a team the Eagles despise.
There will be a lot of emotions flowing in this game, hopefully somewhere in the heat of the battle Vick can develop a rhythm and really start heating up.
What do you think? What does the Eagles offense need to do to bring all their potential to life?
What else can they do to protect Vick and keep him fresh and healthy for the race to the postseason?
What do you think of the LB rotation; will it work?