Can the Philadelphia Eagles Succeed Without the Big Play?

By Joe Doris
The Star-Ledger-US Presswire

Over the past few seasons the Philadelphia Eagles have been well known for their ability to win games relying primarily on the ‘big play’.

Whether it was RB LeSean McCoy pulling away on a long rushing touchdown or WR DeSean Jackson sprinting past defenders on a monster catch and run, the Eagles showed the fire power necessary in order to break a game wide open.

In 2012 these plays have completely disappeared.

Even with arguably the fastest offense in the entire NFL, the Eagles just can’t break away from their opponent’s secondary. I believe this a huge factor in their lack of offensive production this season and is a very worrisome trend.

The Eagles’ longest rush of the season is just a 34-yard dash by McCoy in Week 4, with their longest pass completion coming on a 49-yard grab by Jackson in Week 2. The only other 40+ yard completion of the season came on a 46-yard reception by WR Jeremy Maclin in Week 1.

So while QB Michael Vick is more than capable of slinging the ball far down field, he has only completed two passes of more than 40 yards in five complete games.

To put Vick’s lack of home run throws in further perspective, 23 of the other 31 starting NFL quarterbacks have season-long completions equal to or greater than Vick’s, while the overwhelming majority of these passers do not possess nearly the same arm strength.

Vick has certainly taken shots down the field in recent weeks, but it seems like every time he tries, the ball is thrown into double coverage or is thrown yards beyond the receiver’s reach.

Jackson and Maclin just can’t seem to get any separation from coverage, when it seemed so easy for them in recent years.

To put the spotlight on Jackson, who easily exhibits the most big play potential in the Eagles’ offense, let me throw some stats your way.

In 2009, Jackson already had touchdowns of 71 yards and 64 yards in Weeks 2 and 3, respectively. In 2010, Jackson had receptions of 53 yards and 61 yards (a touchdown) also in Weeks 2 and 3. Even in Jackson’s very forgettable 2011 campaign last year, the receiver hauled in a 61 yard completion in Week 4.

Given these numbers, the fact that he has not been able to pull in one reception of over 50 yards in the first 5 weeks of the season brings about great concern.

Is Jackson losing his step already? Is Vick losing his confidence in the deep ball?

Whatever it is, the Eagles need to start converting on these home run plays in order to spark their offense, and in essence, their entire team.

Sitting at 3-2, the Eagles have been highly, let me repeat, highly unimpressive. Their 3 wins were squeaked out in the 4th quarter, and their 2 losses were just plain ugly.

If the Eagles can not revive their big play ability, they have absolutely no chance of winning the NFC East this season.


Please follow Joe on Twitter @JoeD_Rant for all Eagles/NFL insight.

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