Eagles vs. Dolphins: 5 Things We Learned Following Philadelphia's 26-10 Win
The Philadelphia Eagles came into South Beach facing a red-hot Dolphins team that had won four out of their last five games and had given up just 54 total points during that streak. The Eagles didn't seem to care and overcame a very early 7-0 deficit after a Chas Henry blocked punt.
The Eagles scored 24 unanswered points in the first half, and defensive end Phillip Hunt added a safety in the second half to cap off a dominant defensive performance for the Eagles in a 26-10 victory.
After such a horrible start to the season, it was nice to see the Eagles beat up on a red hot Dolphins team. They will finish the season against the Cowboys, Jets and Redskins. 8-8 still may like a stretch for this underachieving Eagles bunch, but anything is possible this season in a very hard to figure out NFC East.
1. Eagles Defensive Line Is Dominant
You think Jim Washburn should still take his Wide 9 and leave town? Hopefully, he will be here as long as he wants to be. To say his defensive line was dominant Sunday would be a major understatement. The Eagles line racked up nine sacks, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery, one safety, one goal line stand and several short yardage stops.
To give the game ball to anyone else would be a slap in the face to this eight-man rotation of quarterback killers. If only this defense could just line up with 11 defensive linemen.
This group is the key to this defense and their most talented unit. They can go eight deep without much of a dropoff, and that's with Antonio Dixon on the IR and both Juqua Parker and Brandon Graham on the inactive list. The better the front four play, the better this defense will look. The secondary and linebacking core has looked completely lost at times, but when the front four is stuffing the run and is in the quarterback's face for 60 minutes, it really doesn't matter.
2. Eagles Secondary Played Lights out
Brandon Marshall caught a perfectly thrown fade pass in the back corner of the end zone from Matt Moore to give the Dolphins an early 7-0 lead. The Dolphins wide receivers had 47 yards and a lost fumble outside of that play the rest of the game. Asante Samuel, Nnamdi Asomugha and company shut down the likes of Brandon Marshall and Davone Bess all day long.
Kurt Coleman added an interception and Nate Allen played exceptionally well in pass coverage as well. It was a complete team effort out of the secondary that kept the Dolphins from getting much of anything going through the air.
Their were no lapses in coverage and very few missed tackles from defensive backs. If this unit can play lights out like this the final three games, they have a very real shot of getting to .500 at the end of the season.
3. Despite the Win, Vick Was Awful
Michael Vick truly played a lousy game despite the win. Vick finished with a 50 percent completion percentage on 30 passes and had several passes knocked down at the line of scrimmage, a problem that doesn't look to be going away any time soon. Vick also added his 15th turnover on the season on a play where he rolled out to his left and threw across his body to his right for an easy Sean Smith pick.
Vick failed to lead the Eagles offense to any points in the second half and still has not learned how to slide while running down the field.
Vick's early season problems have not been solved. He is still taking unnecessary shots. He is still turning the ball over at least once every single week. And he is still struggling keep the Eagles offense moving for four quarters.
The Eagles defense played on a championship level Sunday but Michael Vick looked like a rookie quarterback for much of the contest. Until he becomes a more polished pocket passer and starts reading defenses better, he will continue to hold this offense back.
4. Casey Matthews
Despite picking up his first career sack, Casey Matthews had a horrible day in his new role as a nickel linebacker. Matthews was constantly getting beat in pass coverage against running backs and tight ends. Fortunately for him, neither Matt Moore nor J.P. Losman could take advantage of his coverage.
Matthews was burned on a vertical route by Anthony Fasano in the third quarter, but Losman overthrew him in the end zone. Matthews replaced Jamar Chaney as nickel linebacker this week. Chaney is the far more athletic player and is more experienced, but he has looked lost at times in zone coverage.
I expect Juan Castillo to continue to work with Matthews this week in practice and keep him in nickel packages for at least one more week. Keeping Chaney fresh on 1st and 2nd down may help him out in run support as well.
5. LeSean McCoy Has a Nose for the End Zone
LeSean McCoy had very little room to run against the Dolphins. His cutback lanes were non-existent, and Miami held him to just 1.4 yards per carry with a long run of 11 yards. McCoy still managed to reach the end zone twice and rack up 71 total yards.
McCoy ran it in from two yards and one yard in the second quarter. Despite not being a true power back, he is finding ways to finish off drives with short yardage touchdowns near the goal line. He now has 14 rushing touchdowns and 17 total touchdowns on the season. He is having an MVP like season on a losing team.
McCoy now trails the league's leading rusher, Maurice Jones-Drew, by 50 yards going into the final three weeks of the season. It should be a fight to the finish for the NFL rushing leader on two teams that probably won't have much to play for at the end of the season.