Eagles and NFL in review – Week 2

Two weeks. Nine turnovers. 2-0.

It doesn’t really compute, but after the 24-23 win over the Ravens, the resolve of this year’s Eagles is impressive in the early going. That resolve is going to be tested even more in the coming weeks with the season ending injury to their best offensive lineman. Here’s what I saw in Sunday’s dramatic win:

4th quarter comeback #2: Vick hasn’t been a clutch late game performer in his career with the Eagles, but led a long game-winning TD drive for the second week in a row. Very encouraging.

Balance returns to offensive play calling: The Eagles called more runs than passes, and although the run game statistically didn’t deliver exceptional results, the threat of the run opened up large areas in the middle of the field for Vick/Celek to take advantage of. The Ravens pass rush was relentless and Vick took a number of big hits, but the threat of the run game (and Vick’s scrambling) kept the rush just enough at bay to allow for bigger plays down field.

Big days from Celek and DJax: Celek was Vick’s security blanket on the day making great plays in the middle of the field and racking up 157 yards. Jackson had a number of huge plays including a third quarter 49 yard reception where he knew he was going to get drilled after the catch by Ed Reed. Both guys were the key to the Eagles picking up big chunks of yardage in the passing game.

Linebackers: The Eagles defence looks like it has found its answer at LB. Ryans had his second strong game and Kendricks looks like an experienced pro. Their performance against the Browns had to be taken with a grain of salt. Helping stop the Ravens offence that looked strong last week was a great sign of things to come. Both guys play very fast and excel in getting the ball carrier on the ground.

Overall defence: This week they got good pressure on Flacco which forced some inaccurate throws.  They got generally strong coverage from DRC and Asomugha outside and Boykin and Kendricks inside. The defence looks fast and tough and I love the edge they’re playing with through the first two games.  As an aside, the Ravens forgetting they were having success in the run game and abandoning giving the ball to Rice helped along the defensive performance.

Turnovers: A very sloppy game. The lack of ball security will hurt this team if it doesn’t get cleaned up. Vick looked better this game but his two interceptions were preventable. The one in the end-zone was a clear cut mistake. The one that bounced off the hands of Celek was as a result of an inaccurate pass high over the middle – the ball needs to be lower on that throw.

Backups on the O-Line: After injuries to Dunlap (who looked pretty weak again this week) and Kelce, Bell and Reynolds filled in well in the second half. The injury to Kelce is worrisome. Losing your centre disrupts your entire line and its blocking schemes. How the Eagles plug this hole will go a long way to determining their playoff hopes. As the season goes on, Bell stepping in for Dunlap will likely turn out to be an upgrade at LT.  They’re now very thin here and further injuries will be very problematic.

Elsewhere in games I watched:

  • The replacement refs had a horrible week with missed calls, phantom calls, inconsistent application of the rules and general uncertainty about administering the game. Too many easy calls were taking minutes of discussion among the officials. Games which normally would wrap up in 3 hours were pushing 3:30. Not good.
  • The Redskins lost a chance to push their game into OT as a result of Morgan throwing a ball at an opponent after a pass reception. What would have been a 46 yr FG attempt ended up being a terribly missed 62 yard try as a result of one of the dumbest penalties you’ll ever see.
  • The Steelers looked great over the last 3 quarters of their win against the Jets. The D-line pressured Sanchez into mistakes and inaccurate throws and the offense wore down the Jets. It was a vintage performance. Roethlisberger generally had time to throw as their much maligned offensive line held the Jets pass rush in check. That may have more to do with the Jets having a very poor defensive line and their inability to blitz due to the injury to Revis this week and having to protect their backup CB in pass coverage.
  • Offensive line woes: The Bears o-line, and in particular their LT, was horrible against the Packers. The Patriots o-line threw in a stinker against the Cardinals. When talented QBs don’t get protection, they look bad. Even Tom Brady. These games were great displays that success in the passing game starts with keeping your QB upright in the pocket.

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