The Eagles have had a bad year on both sides of the ball. Juan Castillo’s defense has taken most of the heat, but the offense hasn’t helped the cause.
The offensive line has been shaky. Michael Vick has been careless. DeSean Jackson has quit. Michael Vick has been injured. LeSean McCoy has been excellent. Andy Reid has underutilized LeSean McCoy. They have turned the ball over way too much.
These are all of the reasons why the offense has underachieved this season. As bad as the defense has been, make no mistake, the offense has been a huge problem as well.
On the season, the Eagles have turned the ball over 35 times in just 14 games. The offense is giving the ball away more than twice a game. That's unacceptable.
You can gain as many yards as you want, but when you just give possessions away, you aren’t going to win. Over the last two games though, things are starting to look up.
Against Miami it was a rather pedestrian offensive effort as the team scored 24 points, but they all came in one quarter. They did turn the ball over once as well on a Vick interception.
The truth is, Vick was coming off a month-long layoff due to a rib injury which still isn’t fully healed. Rust was evident even though many fans, including this writer, were ready to write him off.
The running game was also ineffective, but the good news was Andy Reid stuck with it, taking pressure off his ailing quarterback and making the defense at least think about what the Eagles may do.
Despite only averaging 1.4 yards per rush, Reid still called 30 running plays in addition to 36 pass plays. That's a very balanced 54.5 percent passes to 45.5 percent runs.
Fast forward to this past Sunday, at home against the New York Jets. The Eagles offense was firing on all cylinders.
They did have four more turnovers, but two were on special teams—one was a rare LeSean McCoy fumble, and Vick’s interception was on a last-second throw to end the first half.
Vick’s performance may have gone unnoticed in the wake of McCoy’s record-breaking touchdowns and Jason Babin’s three sacks, but he was quietly sensational.
In the first half, he led six drives for the offense. They scored touchdowns on three of them, punted once and had two turnovers. One was McCoy’s fumble, and the other was the meaningless interception.
Vick moved the team for at least one first down or a touchdown on all six possessions. Excluding two spikes to stop the clock, he completed 7-of-11 passes for 133 yards with a touchdown and the interception.
The team converted 3-of-4 third-down opportunities. On third down, Vick was 2-of-3 for 39 yards. He also pulled the ball down and ran for 32 yards and a touchdown on four carries.
Better yet, the Eagles didn’t allow a sack in the first half.
That brings the total number of called pass plays to 15. On those plays the Eagles gained 133 yards through the air plus Vicks 32 scrambling yards for a total of 165. That's an amazing 11.0 yards per called pass play.
In an even better twist, Reid called 14 running plays which totaled 68 yards. That’s an average of 4.86 yards per play and a 52 to 48 pass-to-run ratio.
With the Eagles leading 28-13 at the half, they managed to keep their success going after the break.
Up until the point where the starters sat down, the offense took the field four times. They scored two touchdowns and a field goal with one punt. They didn’t turn the ball over and Vick was never sacked.
In the second half, Vick was on fire, completing his first eight pass attempts and only missing on his final throw of the day. Vick was 8-of-9 for 141 yards with no turnovers.
There were six running plays called in that time, gaining 42 yards and netting two more touchdowns.
On the day Vick completed 15 of his 20 actual pass attempts, excluding the two spikes. He piled up 274 passing yards, 32 rushing yards and added two total touchdowns against the one interception.
On 24 called passes, the Eagles gained a total of 306 yards, averaging 12.75 yards per play.
Reid stuck with the running game again, calling 20 rushes in just a shade over three quarters. Those plays went for another 110 yards, averaging 5.5 yards per play.
In all, the Eagles gained a total of 416 yards on 45 plays in just 45 minutes and 11 seconds with the first unit on the field.
The pass-to-run ratio ended up at 54.5 percent passes to 45.5 percent runs—the exact same total as the prior week in Miami.
With Vick staying upright and taking care of the ball, McCoy being used properly and receivers getting open in the middle of the field, it’s a whole new ballgame for this offense.
Sadly, the fix may have come too late, but if they continue this trend in Dallas, they may stay alive for another week.
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