10 Things We Learned From the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 3
So much for the Philadelphia Eagles winning every game close and late. There was no final defensive stop and final touchdown drive in week three.
An embarrassing 27-6 loss to the Arizona Cardinals brought the Eagles back to reality, dropping them to 2-1, tied for first place in the NFC East.
It also completely humiliated them, as former Eagles quarterback Kevin Kolb torched the Eagles for two touchdowns and no interception. That makes the Eagles 0-2 in the last couple of seasons when they face one of their former quarterbacks. Donovan McNabb led the Washington Redskins to a 17-12 victory over the Eagles in week 4 of the 2010 season, although he completed just 8 of 19 passes for 125 yards in the win. That was also the game in which Michael Vick tore rib cartilage and missed the next three games.
So here we are. The Eagles are 2-1, facing a big game against the New York Giants on Sunday Night Football. But I'm not here to talk about the Giants. We need to focus on the game last week, which really exposed a lot of the weaknesses for the Eagles in the 2012 season.
It's only three weeks into the season, and I already have to retract a few of my "things we learned" about the Eagles from previous articles this year.
So, here we go: 10 things we learned about the Eagles. For those of you who are new to this series, I try to do 10 new things each week until I reach a point where I need to repeat things we've learned.
1. Eagles can't score without Jeremy Maclin.
Courtesy of CSNPhilly's Reuben Frank, the Eagles are 7-0 in their last seven games with Jeremy Maclin and 0-3 in their last three games without Jeremy Maclin. They score 27 points per game when he does play and 18 points per game when he does not play. He's that valuable to the team's offense. When he doesn't play, the Eagles don't have a versatile receiver who can stretch the field and open up deep plays for DeSean Jackson.
2. ...Especially in the red zone.
The Eagles are a complete disaster in the red zone without Maclin. The playcalling from the one-yard line last week was absolutely brutal. A physical red zone receiver is definitely on the to-do list for next season. If Maclin was on the field last week, I don't think Vick would have lost a fumble on third and goal.
3. Chas Henry was NOT the answer.
This is ironic because I wrote after week one that the Eagles clearly made the right choice by choosing Henry as their punter. That's because he set a single-game franchise record for punting average. But he was been wildly inconsistent over the last two games, which led to Andy Reid releasing the 23-year old in favor of 33-year old former two-time Pro Bowler Mat McBriar.
4. Damaris Johnson is a major disappointment as a punt returner.
Before the season, the Eagles' fan base was buzzing over rookie punt returner Damaris Johnson, who set the NCAA record for total all-purpose yards despite playing in only three seasons. But Johnson has been a major disappointment as a returner. He's made some stupid decisions on catching the ball inside the 10-yard line, he's lost a fumble, and he's averaged just 5.3 yards on his six punt returns. He might have one more game to keep his job before the Eagles decide to go with Brandon Boykin or DeSean Jackson.
5. Looks like Andy Reid hasn't learned to effectively manage the run game.
I wrote after last week's game against the Ravens that Reid has learned, finally, to balance the run and the pass. I truly thought that. But it took one week for him to go back to his own ways. LeSean McCoy carried the ball just 13 times against the Cardinals, and only four came in the first half. Not only does McCoy need to get his touches but they need to be consistent.
6. Talk about an extreme defensive line rotation.
Before the season, defensive line coach Jim Washburn told Trent Cole to expect to be rotated like he never has before. Washburn wasn't kidding. There have been 196 defensive snaps this season. Cole has played 124, the most on the team. Jason Babin has played 120. Fletcher Cox 113, Derek Landri 110, and Cullen Jenkins 105 are the only other defensive linemen to have played more than half the plays. All five are having great seasons.
7. Demetress Bell still has a lot of work to do.
Following last week's game against the Ravens, I wrote that Bell might be the answer for the Eagles at left tackle. Yeah, not exactly. He played extremely poorly against the Cardinals, allowing a ridiculous seven hurries on Vick. Reid said that Bell will still be the starter in week 4 against the New York Giants, and when Dunlap returns, but if he doesn't step up his game soon, I wouldn't be surprised to see the Eagles give rookie fifth-round pick Dennis Kelly a shot at starting.
8. Dominated by a dominant player, as usual.
The Eagles frequently get dominated by dominant players, even more so than other teams. Check out Tom Brady's insane numbers against the Eagles (11 touchdowns, 0 interceptions), or Peyton Manning's (37 points per game in four games). Larry Fitzgerald has been no exception. In five career games against the Eagles, he has caught 35 passes for 572 yards and nine touchdowns. That's absolutely unbelievable.
9. The sky is not falling.
The Eagles are not one of the worst teams in the league. They are 2-1, coming off a very bad loss to a very good team on the road. It happens. The turnovers are a major issue, yes, but the defense has been exceptional and I have faith that the offense will improve. This isn't going to be a 15-1 team but they will make the playoffs.
10. But Vick better step it up.
Vick's performance this season has been unacceptable. Actually, Vick's performance over the past 19 games (16 of which he has played) has been unacceptable. He is in danger of losing his starting job if he doesn't step up his game, and that's no joke, even with Reid's attempt to defend Vick this season. If Vick plays poorly over the next three games, he could be the backup when the Eagles face the Atlanta Falcons after their bye week.
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