Sunday, December 28, 2014

Eagles-Cardinals observations

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Here are some observations and ruminations about Sunday's Eagles 27-6 loss to the Cardinals:

Eagles-Cardinals observations

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Here are some observations and ruminations about Sunday's Eagles 27-6 loss to the Cardinals:

It's hard to pin much blame on the offensive line for the deficiencies of the Eagles offense in the first half. Michael Vick was horrendous; Marty Mornhinweg's play-calling was just as hideous. But with center Dallas Reynolds and left tackle Demetress Bell getting their first starts as Eagles, the line struggled to get into a rhythm. Bell was whistled for two penalties in the first half - a false start and a hold. Reynolds looked a little steadier, but the Eagles had trouble picking up the blitz and you had to wonder how much of that falls on the center, who is partly responsible for protection calls.

Season of giving continues
The Eagles could point to turnovers as one of the main reasons why their offense failed to put up points in the first two games of the season despite leading the NFL in yards. But on Sunday, they had trouble moving up and down the field and the turnover issue dominated again. reared its ugly head again.As of halftime, the Eagles had 12 turnovers for the season - eight by Vick. He had six interceptions entering the game and fumbled twice before the break, including one that went to the house for a 24-0 lead for the Cardinals. A Damaris Johnson fumble during a punt return led to the Cardinals' first touchdown.

Starting to make difference
One of the by-products of turnovers is field position, which is so important in a game that had the potential to be marked by defense. The Eagles' average starting field position in the first half was their own 20-yard line. The Cardinals' average starting field position was their 39-yard line. The starting field position on Arizona's scoring drives was the Cardinals' 35-yard line, the Eagles' 38-yard line and the Cardinals' 45-yard line.

Hits but no runs
The pass/run ratio has been a controversial topic through Andy Reid's entire career in Philadelphia, but the first-half numbers on Sunday were especially staggering. The Eagles handed the ball to their running backs only five times. Vick, meanwhile, attempted 19 passes, and that doesn't even include the times he was sacked or forced to scramble. That was one of the reasons it was difficult for the Eagles to develop an offensive rhythm during a miserable first half.

Giving 'em Fitz
Kevin Kolb
's 37-yard pass to Larry Fitzgerald for a second-quarter touchdown was a beauty, but the wide receiver was wide open because the Eagles had a breakdown in coverage. Nnamdi Asomugha had Fitzgerald off the line, but he let the receiver go, thinking he had help from safety Kurt Coleman over the top. Coleman, though, appeared to bite on a Kolb pump and no one was home in center field; Coleman later took the blame for the mistake.

Going for 6, the wrong way
One play call that will receive much attention was the Eagles' decision to try another attempt for a touchdown at the 1-yard line with six seconds remaining in the first half and no timeouts. The previous two plays took five seconds each, so the Eagles ran the risk of an incomplete pass using the entire clock. The best-case scenario was scoring a touchdown; the safest scenario was kicking a field goal. Instead, the worst-case scenario occurred: a sack, forced fumble and return for a touchdown. Six seconds was enough time to run a play and the Eagles could have used seven points over three, but it was a close call - and the risk outweighed the reward.

Getting rooked in desert
It was bound to happen at some point, but Brandon Boykin and Mychal Kendricks looked like rookies on Sunday. Not many cornerbacks are going to shut down Fitzgerald, let alone slow him down, but Boykin was abused by the receiver in the first half. It seemed nearly every time Fitzgerald lined up in the slot, Kolb went at the slot corner. Kendricks had a great first two games as a pro, but the linebacker struggled against the Cardinals when he dropped into coverage. He got mixed up on one play when Kolb went to tight end Jeff King for 15 yards. And he got beat by tight end Rob Housler on a key third down in the second quarter.

Third down was a charm
After Damaris Johnson fumbled a punt return in the first quarter and the Cardinals started a drive at the Eagles' 38, the Eagles had two opportunities to limit the Cardinals to a field goal. But Arizona converted both third downs on the drive - including a third and 8 and a third and 5 that resulted in Michael Floyd's touchdown. Though Floyd's touchdown off a deflection might have appeared a stroke of good fortune, the Cardinals dropped a potential touchdown pass on the previous play.

 

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

Jeff McLane Inquirer Staff Writer
Zach Berman Inquirer Staff Writer
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