Sunday, September 12, 2010

Eagles- Packers: What We Know, Don't Know

What We Know:

Andy Reid loves the wildcat, McNabb didn’t- Vick in on the first play from scrimmage? Eagles running the wildcat 4 plays out of first 14? That would never have happened with McNabb on this team. While Reid ran the wildcat with McNabb, it was clear that McNabb was not as ok with it as Kolb is. It was like tag team QB’ing out there. When the Eagles went into the locker room at half time, Vick had more carries then McCoy. The wildcat is an effective play, like when Vick scrambled for the first down on 3rd and 1 play in the second quarter. But to pull Kolb out of the game (roughly) every 4 plays is not the way to get him going. This was not Kolb’s first start, but there’s no question that the pressure was on him today to prove he belonged. Reid killed any chance he had by constantly putting Vick in.

Same Old Andy Reid: To have no time outs, and be unable to stop the clock after the two minute warning is simply put, unacceptable. His horrible clock management over the years has been discussed, and this game was just another example of it costing his team a shot to win a game. The quarterback has changed, but the same infuriating Eagles are still here.

Eagles Defense is Fast, Can Get Pressure- Looking for a positive in this game? Look no further then the front 7 of this Eagles defense. The front 7 got after Rodgers early and often, sacking Rodgers 3 times and forcing him out of the pocket. Juqua Parker, benched in the preseason in favor of rookie Brandon Graham, finished the game with 2 sacks. Stewart Bradley got in Rodgers face consistently. They made Ryan Grant a non factor. They held TE Jeramichal Finley to only 4 catches. Only after Bradley left the game did they start to get run over. But with Bradley in the game, this defense looked like some of the Eagles defense of old. If it wasn’t for the defense, this game would have been over early. They kept the team in the game.

Eagles’s Are Better Then They Look- It couldn’t have gone worse for the Eagles. Their Quarterback, center, middle line backer and fullback all go down- in the first half. Those positions right there are the heart and soul of your team. If you told Eagle fans that in the first half, the Eagles would have 0 yards passing and they would loose Kolb, Bradley, Jackson, and Weaver, but only be down 10, they would have taken it.

But this team didn’t give up or get blown out. This game could have gotten ugly. But they fought back. The Packers are, if you listen to the experts, one of the best teams in the league. Many people think they will come out of the NFC, and Rodgers will be MVP. The Eagles played with this team. And for a young team, that is saying something.

This Offensive Line is a Mess- Remember when the Eagles thought they had one of the biggest, best lines in the league? That the Andrews brothers and Jason Peters would anchor the line for years to come? Those days are long gone. Kevin Kolb was running for his life from the start. Packers ran into the Eagles back field early and often. The Eagles were able to get nothing on the ground. Only once Micheal Vick came in the game, and was able to run away from the pressure, did they offense get anything going. Even then, Vick was running for his life. They couldn’t have even get enough push to get the most mobile quaterback in the league 1 yard when the game was on the line. There’s no question Kolb was not sharp (to say the least). But the O line did not help him one bit.

Bobby April Has His Work Cut Out- Special teams is something that will come with time. Only a week ago did April find out who his special teams players would be, when the final cuts were made. But it was not a good showing for his unit. When the Eagles were mounting a comeback, the Eagles gave up returns of 51 and 40 yards when team was mounting come back. Eldra Buckley had a brain fart of epic proportions when he nailed the returner in the 4th quarter.

Those Kelly Green Jerseys are Amazing- The fans waited for it, sat through the hideous blue/yellow debacle, and they finally got it. The jerseys were worth the wait.

What We Don’t Know:

Whos fault was this? Is Kevin Kolb really this bad? It’s clearly too early to tell. But the difference between this team was night and day once Vick entered the game. Kolb was lucky to only have the one interception and threw multiple balls into tight coverage. For as much as he talked about being a distributer this off season, he sure wasn’t able to get any of the Eagles weapons into the game. DeSean Jackson, this teams best player, was invisible when Kolb was behind center. Only once Vick came in did Jackson have a catch. It could be the offensive line or the play calling, but the numbers don’t lie- the Eagles outscored the Packers 17-14 in the second half. Was it all Kolb’s fault? Was this the coaching staffs fault? We don’t know yet. But we’ll find out next week and the upcoming games if Kolb’s performance this week was his fault or Reid’s.

What were they doing during training camp? On each unit’s first series on the field, they had a penalty for illegal formation. To practice those first plays of the game for the whole week, and to be coming off of training camp where the defense is taught, and then have those penalties is unacceptable. As much as it falls on the players, it’s the coaches who are supposed to “put their players in position to win the game”. And they didn’t do that.

Who’s going to play fullback? Has anyone ever felt worse for a player then they did watching Leonard Weaver be carried off the field. You have to respect him getting to the sideline and not taking the cart to the locker room. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports Weaver will be out for the season wit a torn ACL. While he could be wrong, no body watched that injury and thought he would be back this season. Coming off of a Pro Bowl season, you have to wonder if it’s not Weaver who gets that ball on 4th and 1 to end the game. Luckily, this team has practice playing with no fullback. While Weaver did not play a big role in the offense, I saw what he ment to the team at training camp and in practice. Weaver was one of the offensive leaders, and a calming voice to Kolb. He won’t be there anymore, and it’s going to hurt this team. But Joe Banner and the coaches have their work cut out for them in replacing a player of Weavers status.

How Long till DeSean Jackson Blows? It’s no secret Jackson is not happy about his contract situation. His mood in the locker room when the media is around it not a positive one. When fans yelled at him during training camp about his contract, he played along and let it be known he wants to be paid. So how long till he starts to yell back? DeSean Jackson thrived last year with McNabb’s strong arm, but if this is how it’s going to look with Kolb under center, Jackson may never get paid. The fact is, the NFL is a league that values the future, not the past. Joe Banner will not care Jackson paid the Pro-Bowl last season if he doesn’t make it this year. Jackson knows how he plays this year, and his numbers, will decide his future. If Kolb doesn’t get him the ball, and Jackson’s numbers start to fall, how long till he calls for Vick? Or start to complain publicly about his contract? We don’t know yet, but I can imagine his mood is even worse today then it was before kick off.

How will this team bounce back? It’s been written about how this is a young team. These are not your Eagles of old who had veteran leadership ozzing from the locker room. How will the team bounce back from a loss where their leader (Kolb) was beaten and battered? How will the locker room respond to Vick playing so well? Will they support Kolb? This loss clearly makes the next two games, against Detroit and Jacksonville, must wins. Good teams in the NFL beat the teams they are supposed to. At the end of the day, the Eagles were not supposed to beat the Packers. But they should beat the Lions. We don’t know yet how they will bounce back, but we will learn a lot about this team during this week and next Sunday.

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