Philadelphia Eagles Need Their Big Names to Step It Up in 2011: Vick, Nnamdi & DeSean

By Bryn Swartz

There are a number of reasons why the Philadelphia Eagles are 1-2 this season.

They have had horrendous play from their linebackers and safeties. Their offensive line is still struggling. And their defensive coordinator hasn’t yet figured out what to do with his incredible collection of defensive talent.

But the biggest reason why the Eagles have not been winning games this season is because of the performance by their star players, notably Michael Vick, DeSean Jackson, and Nnamdi Asomugha.

Let’s look at each player so far this season.

1) Michael Vick.

The Eagles quarterback signed a six-year, $100 million deal in the offseason, making him one of the highest paid professional athletes. Yet so far in 2011, it appears that the Eagles made the wrong move signing Vick to such a ludicrous contract extension.

Vick has completed 49 of 83 passes for 605 yards, four touchdowns, and two interceptions this season. His 87.7 passer rating is barely above average. His 24 rushes for 153 yards are impressive but his seven fumbles are absurd. Oh, and he has failed to finish each of the last two games he started, both of which the Eagles lost in the fourth quarter.

The Eagles quarterback has a badly bruised hand but will still start against the San Francisco 49ers this Sunday. In fact, Vick said that he is not coming out of this Sunday’s game regardless of what happens and “they’ll have to cart me out for the next 13 weeks”.

The pressure in on Vick to play through pain, and play well. The Eagles cannot afford to lose to the San Francisco 49ers. Dropping to 1-3 would put their season in serious jeopardy, especially in the highly competitive NFC East.

2) DeSean Jackson.

Give credit to DeSean Jackson for the way that he has played hard this season, despite a contract situation that has gone unresolved.

He played extremely well in week one, catching six passes for 102 yards. But he has caught just four passes for 51 yards in the past two games, both Eagles losses. And his big plays from 2009 and 2010 are nowhere to be found.

I would like to see the Eagles take some more shots down the field. When the Vick-to-Jackson combination is on, the Eagles are as unstoppable as any team in the National Football League.

3) Nnamdi Asomugha.

When the Eagles landed star cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha with the biggest free agent signing of the offseason, experts said that the Eagles were the team to beat in the entire NFL.

But the Eagles, who allowed 31 passing touchdowns last season, haven’t improved at all with their pass defense. They’ve allowed four touchdown passes in back-to-back weeks, and they’re on pace to allow 43 this season.

The safeties definitely haven’t helped and the benching of Kurt Coleman for Nate Allen should help some, but Nnamdi hasn’t been doing his job.

In week one, he was thrown to twice, allowing a 31-yard completion and committing a 41-yard pass interference penalty. He was dominant in week two, allowing a single completion on four pass attempts (for 14 yards) and intercepting a pass. But he regressed in week three, and was beaten badly by no-name wide receiver Victor Cruz, who outjumped Nnamdi for a 29-yard touchdown catch that gave the Giants the lead in the fourth quarter on Sunday. He also completely whiffed on a tackle attempt, allowing Cruz to score a 74-yard touchdown.

So far this season, the stats against Nnamdi are: 4-10, 82 yards, 1 touchdown, 1 interception, 63.3 passer rating. Those numbers are actually decent. But they don’t tell the whole story.

Nnamdi was supposed to be a shut-down cornerback and so far this season, he hasn’t played like it. He’s been slightly better than average.

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