Philadelphia Eagles Report Card Week 10: Grading Each Unit
At 3-6, the postseason is still a mathematical possibility. But let's just face it. From what we have seen so far this season, the Eagles are not making the playoffs this year. Losing to the Cardinals, and the John Skelton-led Cardinals, is inexcusable and this team still needs to play teams such as the New York Giants, New England Patriots, and New York Jets.
How did the Eagles wind up in this mess? Instead of entertaining Super Bowl dreams, we are now considering 2012 draft prospects.
The most popular reaction is to blame the coaching. And there is plenty of blame to go around for them. It is their responsibility to get the players up to speed and ready to win ball games.
But it is not just the coaching that has led the Eagles down this hole. It is also the players themselves.
Now past the mid-season point, it is time to evaluate each unit and how they have done.
Last season, Vick had a passer rating of over 100. This season, he has one below 80 (79.8) and has as many touchdowns as interceptions and a shocking eight interceptions.
Vick has not been playing great, that much is certain.
But the struggles of the Eagles cannot be placed entirely on his shoulders. Just two weeks ago, Vick had a passer rating of above 90 and had the majority of his interceptions be the result of tipped and dropped passes.
And factor in his improvements with getting rid of the football, alongside a poor Eagles offensive line, and Vick has not played as poorly this season as his statistics show.
His last two performances were awful, but Vick is clearly the best option the Eagles currently have, as neither Kevin Kolb nor Donovan McNabb could be expected to be in his situation and to not struggle.
But still... The turnovers have been killing this team...
The running game is perhaps one of the lone bright spots on this entire team so far.
LeSean McCoy has scored a touchdown in every single game this season, is averaging 5.5 yards per carry, and already has 906 yards. That is phenomenal.
And in his limited playing time, Dion Lewis has shown promise as well.
Ronnie Brown has so far been a big disappointment (especially in the 49ers game). But that his poor play is heavily overshadowed by the dominant play of the other running backs.
The Eagles are ranked the best running offense in the NFL and it seems that the running game can be trusted far more than the passing attack this season
There have been a few games where the o-line has looked dominant and has given Vick plenty of time to get comfortable in the pocket and to find his receivers.
But most of the time, this o-line has looked completely overmatched.
Jason Peters and Todd Herremans have played phenomenally at left and right tackle, but the rest of the line is laughably bad at times. Jason Kelce, Evan Mathis, and Danny Watkins have all looked lost out there at times and completely overwhelmed by opposing pass rushes.
And the line must, of course, be judged as a unit. And not by the play of its individuals.
As a whole, the line has done a terrible job protecting Vick. Vick is constantly pressured and forced to get rid of the ball quickly. He rarely has a chance to get comfortable in the pocket.
Poor pass protection makes for a bad combination with wide receivers that rely primarily upon speed to get open.
Jeremy Maclin has 46 catches for 612 yards and four touchdowns. Solid numbers.
Too bad the rest of the team seems to be struggling heavily.
DeSean Jackson's numbers are way down, and he is only averaging 17.3 yards per carry with two touchdowns, looking little like the dynamic threat he once was. Jason Avant is little involved in the offense. And Steve Smith has been a complete failure of a signing.
In fact, some of the most reliable receivers on the team appear to be the non-wide receivers, such as tight end Brent Celek and running back LeSean McCoy.
And Maclin has consistently failed in the 4th quarter when his team needed a big catch from him.
Overall, this receiving corps is very good. But are they play up to expectations? The answer is a clear and definite "no."
Together, Jason Babin, Trent Cole, Cullen Jenkins, and Mike Patterson have all combined for 20 sacks, with Babin accumulating nine sacks already all on his own.
It would appear that out of all the free agent signings, those addressing the d-line are the only ones that appear to have clearly paid off.
The defensive line for most of the season has consistently pressured opposing quarterbacks and has been a sack machine.
But where was it the past two games? Against a very weak Chicago Bears offensive line? And against Arizona, it also failed to generate the same amount of pressure it did in weeks past?
The failure to get to the quarterback in those games would prove costly, and reflect on the grading of this unit as a whole.
This secondary has had many highlight reel moments, such as amazing interceptions by Nnamdi Asomugha, Asante Samuel, and Kurt Coleman.
But while this pass defense may be ranked decently on paper (11th) it is actually performing way worse than the stats suggest.
First of all, the ranking should theoretically be number one by far. The secondary boasts three Pro Bowl cornerbacks and should be shutting down any attempts to pass.
But the schemes that are being forced onto these players have taken their toll on the performance. First year defensive coordinator Juan Castillo plays the ridiculous amount of talent he has to fit his philosophy, rather than creating a philosophy to match their strengths.
By not consistently placing Asomugha in press coverage against the opposing team's best receiver, Castillo has neglected to use the best weapon he has on defense. And by forcing Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie into playing the nickel corner role, a role had never played before, it forced his weaknesses or poor tackling and lack of physicality to become exposed.
And while Nate Allen and Kurt Coleman have had good plays here and there, they have been very inconsistent.
The pass defense also consistently gives up plays in the fourth quarter, when a critical stop is needed, which has largely contributed to the lowly 3-6 record of the team.
Yeah, the Special Teams has seen its fair share of tough moments.
These include missed easy field goals by Alex Henery and a failed should-have-been-touchdown pass from Chaz Henry to a wide open Colt Anderson.
But overall, this unit has been reliable and pretty solid.
Henery has completed 15 of 18 field goal attempts this season, which is overall very solid.
And the Special Teams has shown good tackling and formation when kicking off and punting, rarely allowing dangerous Special Teams units, such as the Chicago Bears (Devin Hester) and the Arizona Cardinals (Patrick Peterson) to take advantage of their dangerous returners.
For the most part, Special Teams is not to blame for the struggles of this team this season.