Finally got a chance to take an extended second look at the first half of Sunday's Eagles loss at Arizona. Here are a few thoughts, before the whole thing gets beaten more thoroughly into the ground than Michael Vick was by the Arizona defense:
*Daryl Washington, who broke Vick's ribs on the second play of last year's Eagles-Cards game, got a hit on Vick on the very first snap of this game. Boy, is Washington good. So is LB Sam Acho.
*The Eagles' first two series ended with batted-down third down passes.
*The Cards' series that led to their first TD, off the Damaris Johnson punt return fumble, Arizona was aided when Larry Fitzgerald got free for a catch across the middle courtesy of a blatant pick set by tight end Jeff King. Not the hard to call, "oops I stepped in front of the cover guy while running my route" kind of pick, but an "I'm gonna pop this guy and spring Larry" pick.
*Vick made an odd decision scrambling to lead to his first fumble. Had Bryce Brown with him to the outside. Instead of directing Brown to try to get a block so he could turn the corner, Vick cut inside Brown, staight into the Acho hit that knocked the ball loose. We're just not seeing the "field sense" Vick used to have, even on running plays. Hard to envision what he thought was going to happen there.
*I think I finally understand that whole mess that led to the five-down Arizona series in the second quarter. On the tape, after the Cards' first down run and subsequent dead ball foul on Anthony Sherman, it should have been second down. But the ref, in announcing the penalty, says it "will remain first down," as if the penalty had wiped out the play. Then came the Darryl Tapp sack on which Tapp was held. Ref initially announces "first down" again. Eagles clearly decline penalty. Andy Reid is holding up fingers, talking to officials, trying to get the right down. Ref announces "third down" and Fox puts third and 24 on the screen. Cards coach Ken Whisenhunt argues with sideline official. I think Whisenhunt's argument must have been that you can't go from first to third down to correct a previous error. So the ref decided it was second down, after all, and pretended the Eagles had accepted the penalty. Easier than announcing "We've had the wrong down on the sticks since the dead-ball penalty."
*On the game-defining sequence at the end of the first half, the first down throw, one reason no one is open is that Patrick Peterson grabs DeSean Jackson from behind and holds him. Sscond down throwaway, Clay Harbor springs open, but Vick is clearly throwing to the right by then and it's hard to tell if the defender just saw that and stopped running with Harbor. Paris Lenon could have been called for a late hit on Vick there. Third down, you probably know what happened by now.
Overall, I'd say the first 20 minutes or so were closer than I remembered them. The Eagles' defense was just about as effective as the Cards', despite working on shorter fields. The 17-0 touchdown, to Larry Fitzgerald, really shifted momentum bigtime.
Kevin Kolb did a great job getting the ball out, negating what I thought beforehand would be a huge advantage for the Eagles, their ability to bring pass rush pressure. Of course, getting the ball out quickly for completions is a lot easier when you have Fitzgerald. Still, the ball Kolb threw into DeMeco Ryans' chest could have been a game-defining moment, as big for Arizona as the second Vick fumble was for the Eagles. But it was that kind of day for the Eagles; in fact, the second Arizona TD drive came after a Chas Henry punt hit a Cardinal in the back, then was recovered by Arizona.
As others have noted, Demetress Bell did nothing to make his case for unseating King Dunlap. Dallas Reynolds wasn't terrible, wasn't great. There were several instances where the line did a great job initially, but the ball just didn't get out of Vick's hands, and pressure eventually arrived.
It will be very interesting to see what the offense looks like against the Giants this week.