The Philadelphia Eagles played their most brutal four quarters of football in a long time on Sunday, suffering a 27-6 blowout loss to the Arizona Cardinals. The Eagles are still 2-1, and tied for first place in the NFC East, but they have some major weaknesses to fix if they plan to contend for the division title.
It’s pretty clear from watching Sunday’s game that the loss completely epitomizes five of the major weaknesses of head coach Andy Reid. In no particular order, they are as follows:
1) Poor run-pass ratio.
The Eagles ran 63 offensive plays against the Cardinals. 42 of those plays were passing plays, compared to just 21 running plays. Take out Vick’s scrambles, and you have 46 passing plays against 17 runs.
The first half was one of the worst displays of abandoning the run that I’ve ever seen by Reid. He gave the ball to LeSean McCoy four four carries in the first half. The Eagles trailed 24-3 at halftime, and although McCoy carried the ball nine times in the second half (a reasonable amount), the Eagles needed to pass to catch up. The time to run was not in the second half. It was in the first half.
Almost all of the Eagles’ losses involve an extremely unbalanced combination of running and passing. The worst may have been last year, when McCoy carried nine times against the San Francisco 49ers and then three combined times in the fourth quarter against the Chicago Bears and Cardinals.
2) Wasted timeouts.
If there was a statistic for number of wasted timeouts per year, Reid and the Eagles would usually lead the league.
In Sunday’s game, the Eagles needed to burn a timeout before the first play of the second quarter. This came after a television timeout because of the end of the first quarter. Yes, literally. The Eagles had about two or three minutes during the changing of the quarter to prepare for their next play, yet they needed to call a timeout before the second quarter began. That is completely unacceptable and ended up costing the Eagles at the end of the half.
3) Red zone playcalling.
You watch the Eagles in the red zone and they truly seem as if they have no passing options on a goal-to go play from the inside the two-yard line. It was even worse without Jeremy Maclin, the Eagles’ best red zone receiver.
Vick threw incomplete on first and goal from the one, and second and goal from the one, before he lost a fumble on third down. Both times he ran around and was forced to throw the ball away. It’s as if the Eagles are playing playground football with no real idea of what either player is going to do.
Last week, Vick almost cost the Eagles a win against the Baltimore Ravens when he threw the ball away on second and goal in the final minutes. The play was originally ruled a fumble, but an official’s review overturned it. It could have been called an intentional grounding as well.
4) Clock management.
The Eagles were facing a first and goal from the 1-yard line in the final 16 seconds of the first half. But they had no timeouts, largely because they needed to waste one before they even ran a play in the second quarter. So they needed to pass, and we all know how that turned out.
With Reid, you can usually count on a disaster happening at the end of the first half at least two or three times per season. Against the Buffalo Bills last year and Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2006, the Eagles ignored a short field goal, gambled for a touchdown and ran out of time before they could add any points to the scoreboard. The Eagles lost both games by one score. Thankfully, the game against the Cardinals didn’t end in a one-score game.
5) Dominated by a dominant player.
The Eagles are frequently dominated by dominant players, especially offensive skill position players. Look at what Tom Brady has done in four games against the Eagles: 4-0 record, 31 points per game, 11 touchdowns, 0 interceptions. Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, and Drew Brees have also had a ton of success. But perhaps no player in the NFL has dominated the Eagles like Larry Fitzgerald, who has caught 35 balls for 572 yards and nine touchdowns in five career games against Philly.
He caught nine balls for 114 yards and a touchdown. The touchdown was his typical leaping 37-yard diving reception in which he skidded into the end zone.