Eagles and NFL in review – Week 4

So that’s what an Eagles game without turnovers looks like. Philly stretched its record out to 3-1 with a mistake-free 19-17 win over the Giants. They’ve become the first team ever to win each of their first three games by two points or less. Fun television watching for me, but I look forward to a blowout win sometime soon to enjoy.

There was a lot of positive in the game, but I’ll start with a couple of the negatives. The Eagles’ kick and punt coverage was downright horrible. The Giants returners had huge lanes for every return. The Eagles are really missing Colt Anderson – special teams specialists don’t grab much attention – getting him back from injury will be a big addition. Secondly, Philly had an old nemesis show up on Sunday night: their inability to score TDs in the red-zone. If they score on half of their red-zone possessions, the game doesn’t come down to a last second missed FG by the Giants to secure the win. Thirdly, Asomugha doesn’t feel like the same dominant CB as he was with the Raiders. He’s still really good, but he gets burned too often looking for help in coverage from a safety over the top. On Sunday he lost a lot of one-on-one battles at the line of scrimmage. Lastly, the O-Line had struggles (especially early). Bell at LT looked really over-matched.

Over on the positive side, there was a lot of good:

  • The o-line got great push in the run game in the 2nd half and were knocking the Giants D-line a couple of yards off the line of scrimmage. The right side of the line was outstanding. Herremans picked up his play after a rough first half. Watkins was great start to finish. The production in the run game changed once the Eagles started running to he right. That will be the stronger side of the line this year.
  • Speaking of the run game, it was great to see the play calling stick with the run after a rough first half. The Eagles are a great 2nd half run team (when the coaches call run plays). McCoy was dynamic and the threat of the run opened up the full playbook in the second half for a great balance of successful pass and run plays.
  • No turnovers. Enough said. About time.
  • Vick had his third 4th quarter game winning drive of the season. He looked calm through most of the game and looks more settled in tight games this year. I hold out no hope of a “careful” or mistake free Vick – that’s not how he is successful, but not being a turnover machine is a good start.
  • Overall, the defence looks like it will be the strength of this team. They held a potent Giants passing game in check. I liked the pressure they got on Manning even though they didn’t break through for any sacks.
  • I didn’t like the team having to settle for 3 FGs after getting into the red zone, but the overall performance of Henry in making all four of his FG attempts was enormous in a close game.

The Eagles are lucky to be 3-1 after winning three close games where they’ve made a lot of mistakes. I’m enjoying this much more than last year where they arguably played better but couldn’t hold a lead in the 4th quarter.

Elsewhere, a couple of things caught my eye:

  • The Patriots have an outstanding passing offence, but it’s interesting to see them turning to the run more and more. I think their o-line is a better run blocking line than pass blocking line. I think they’ll be more balanced run/pass than in any recent year.
  • The Jets need a spark. Their offence is terrible. Although Sanchez is getting most of the blame (and he should take his share), this roster has the least talent of any recent Jets team. They can’t run, have no WR threats and have a very weak line. This will be a very long season.
  • I’m enjoying watching the Rams play. Not a lot of “name” talent, but a lot more grit this year with a change in coaching. That division is stronger than many anticipated and the Rams look like they’re finding their way back after a number of very poor seasons.
  • The Panthers suffered two horrible coaching decisions in the last 2 minutes of their loss at Atlanta. With just under two minutes to go and facing a 4th and inches at the Atlanta 45, they elected to punt. Debatable strategy, but with a 6’5″ QB, sneak it for the first down and the game is over. Even worse, after the punt, the Falcons had the ball on their own 1 with a minute to go and no timeouts. First play and the Panthers have 8 (!!!) men in the box and bite on a run play fake. There was no chance Atlanta was running and their only hope was to complete a few deep passes. Carolina seemed to miss this basic fact and it cost them the game.

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