10 Things We Learned From the Eagles Game: Week 7
1. Riley Cooper has finally emerged as a potential playmaker.
I love Riley Cooper. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because he was drafted professionally by both the Phillies and the Eagles. He has only caught one pass this season, but grabbed three passes today, including his first NFL touchdown. He also made a sensational grab on an underthrown pass near the end zone, after the Eagles executed their wildest trick play of the season. For the game, Cooper caught three passes for 51 yards and a touchdown.
2. Antonio Dixon is a more-than-capable backup defensive tackle for Brodrick Bunkley.
I have heard nothing but praise for Antonio Dixon’s play during the last three weeks. Playing for the injured Brodrick Bunkley, the mammoth run stopper racked up seven tackles today, including two for a loss. He also notched a sack and two passes defensed. In fact, largely because of Antonio Dixon’s solid play…
3. The Eagles’ run defense has shut down three straight Pro Bowl running backs.
Chris Johnson turned in one of his worst games as a pro today, carrying 24 times for 66 yards and zero touchdowns. His yards per carry was the fourth worst of his career. This was also the first time he carried at least 20 times with fewer than three yards per carry. I cannot say enough about the ability of the Eagles’ defense to stop Chris Johnson. He essentially did nothing today to contribute to the Titans’ victory.
4. David Akers’ leg may the answer to the Eagles’ poor kick coverage.
The Eagles had to be nervous about facing Marc Mariani, who is averaging 28 yards per kick return, including a touchdown, this season. So David Akers completely eliminated Mariani from the game. He booted all five of his kickoffs deep into the end zone, resulting in five touchbacks. The only Titans’ kick return was a three-yard return on a squib kick at the end of the first half.
5. Jorrick Calvin has displayed potential as a return man, but the fumbling isn’t going to cut it in Andy Reid’s system.
I have been a big supporter of rookie Jorrick Calvin through the season’s first six games. He finally earned the punt and kick return duties after his standout performance last week. Today he returned a kick 41 yards in the second half. But he fumbled away a punt with under four minutes remaining, essentially costing the Eagles the game. His fumbled punt return is reminiscent of JR Reed’s fumbled punt in the final minute of the 2007 season opener against the Green Bay Packers, which led to Mason Crosby’s walkoff 42-yard field goal.
6. Kerry Collins still can play, a little, and I should not have called him a senior citizen.
I poked fun at quarterback Kerry Collins before the game, calling him a senior citizen. I should not have done that. Never make fun of a player who is playing your team this week. I have no doubt that head coach Jeff Fisher saw my remarks online and passed along my comments to Collins. As a result, Collins did everything he could to prove me wrong, tossing three touchdown passes to Kenny Britt. He won his first game as a starter since the 2008 season. With Vince Young returning from his injury next week, Collins will return to the bench.
7. The Eagles can win the third down battle consistently, but if you turn the ball over four times, you’re still going to lose.
10 for 18 on third downs is fantastic. How do you convert 56 percent of third downs and still lose? Easy. Four turnovers, including one on the goal line and one on a punt with under four minutes remaining. A well-timed turnover can easily cost a team a game, such as Calvin’s fumbled punt. Throw in three more, and it’s easy to still lose.
8. Kevin Kolb may be an underrated runner, but he struggles against blitzing lineman.
Kolb had another brilliant third down run today, scrambling for 15 yards on 3rd and 14, but he struggled mightily against the Titans’ pass rush. He can’t run like Michael Vick does so he is forced to react quickly and dump off a pass. If LeSean McCoy is around, everything will be fine because McCoy will pick up seven yards. But if nobody is open, Kolb will thrown the ball out of bounds. That probably happened four times today.
9. The Eagles are not one of the NFC’s elite teams.
I thought we were the NFC’s best team after last week’s victory against the Atlanta Falcons. I really did. But not anymore. I don’t know who the NFC’s best team is, and I really don’t care right now, but I know for sure it’s not the Eagles. We’re 4-3 and on the verge of becoming like 4-4. We may be an above average football team but I don’t think we’re a playoff team.
10. The Eagles just cannot beat the Tennesse Titans.
15-13 in 2000, by an Al Del Greco 50-yard field goal in the last few seconds. 27-24 in 2002, with the Eagles squandering a 24-10 halftime lead. 31-13 in 2006, with McNabb suffering a torn ACL. And 37-19 in 2010, behind Kenny Britt’s historic performance.
Losing to an AFC team really frustrates me because it’s going to be four years until you face them again. I’ll be 24 next time the Eagles play the Titans. I like being able to say that the Eagles have beaten every other NFL team in my lifetime. But I can’t, for at least four more years.
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