Thursday, November 27, 2014
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Eagles-Browns observations

Here are some observations and ruminations about the Eagles' victory over the Brown on Sunday:

Eagles-Browns observations

Eagles head coach Andy Reid signals on the sidelines during the second<br />quarter. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)
Eagles head coach Andy Reid signals on the sidelines during the second quarter. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)

Here are some observations and ruminations about the Eagles' victory over the Brown on Sunday:

CLEVELAND - Let's face it, the Eagles had no right winning Sunday's game at Cleveland. Michael Vick should have been intercepted at least three times during his game-winning drive. The quarterback's worst throw came when he lofted a pass to Jeremy Maclin in the corner of the end zone and the ball went right through the hands of Browns linebacker L.J. Forte. Vick had already thrown four interceptions, but Forte could not hold onto a gimme interception at the end of the game. To be fair, Eagles cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie should have had a three interception but he let a Brandon Weeden pass in the end zone go through his hands as well. Vick did make the most of his second chance. He hit tight end Clay Habor for a four-yard touchdown on the next play and the Eagles escaped Ohio with a 17-16 win. "I have to get out of Cleveland," Vick said.

-- Penalties continued to plague the Eagles, and they cannot use replacement officials as an excuse. The Eagles accumulated seven penalties in the first half. Four were offensive holding calls. Jason Babin, who led the team with 13 penalties in 2011, was charged with a neutral zone infraction. Maclin was hit with an offensive pass interference and holding, although that drew the ire of an Eagles sideline that seemed to collectively raise their hands in disbelief.

-- With Dion Lewis inactivated, the No. 2 running back was Bryce Brown. It was a move anticipated during the week, and Brown said believedhis blocking had improved enough to be used in the game. It did not appear so on Sunday when Brown couldn't protect Vick on a third down, and Vick ended up on the grass. Brown did not receive any rushing opportunities in the first half.

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-- DeMeco Ryans' uneven preseason prompted concerns about whether the two-time Pro Bowler was still productive. Ryans pledged that he'll be fine, and the team offered the same confidence. He looked like it on Sunday, appearing all over the field stuffing the run and remaining strong against the pass. The Eagles seldom took him off - he was not in the dime but was in every other formation - and he helped fortify the middle. The most impressive play was stopping Trent Richardson for a one-yard loss on 3d-and-1 in the second quarter when the game was still, 3-3.

-- LeSean McCoy fumbled only once all of last season. That was 321 touches for the running back, and he only coughed up the football once, in the Seattle game. It took all of one touch - a carry on the seventh play of the game - this season for McCoy to fumble when he was striped in the backfield by Browns safety T.J. Ward.

-- Andy Reid said Friday that he was going to play all six of his linebackers on defense against the Browns. But as of halftime, neither Jamar Chaney nor Casey Matthews had seen any time. Ryans, Mychal Kendricks and Akeem Jordan were the base defensive linebackers. Ryans and Kendricks played in the nickel D, and Brian Rolle was the lone linebacker on the field in the dime.

-- It was a surprise that the Eagles offense's run-pass ratio was heavily slanted toward the air in the first half considering Vick hardly played in the preseason and the Browns defense was considered weak against the run. Vick dropped back to throw 33 times - he ran three times and was sacked twice - and only eight run plays were called. McCoy rushed seven times for 50 yards, and DeSean Jackson took an end around five yards. McCoy had three carries for a total of 30 yards called back because of penalties. He also had a 24-yard reception negated by a Maclin pass interference penalty.

-- Chas Henry showed that the Eagles kept the right punter, at least he did after Game 1. Henry booted six punts for an average of 55 yards and had a 42-yard net. He kicked a career-long 62 yarder and also dropped one punt inside the 20. Henry looked as if he was going to lose his job when the Eagles signed free agent Mat McBriar during training camp. But Henry withstood the challenge and has now gotten off to a strong start in his second season.

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Birds' Eye View is the Inquirer's blog covering all things Philadelphia Eagles and the NFL.

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