Here are some observations and notes after re-watching the Eagles' 27-6 loss to the Cardinals on Sunday:
ON SECOND THOUGHT
There has been a lot of assessing of blame for Michael Vick’s fumble just before the half. But the simple fact is that the quarterback has to be responsible for picking up the blitz, which Vick did not do when Cardinals safety Kerry Rhodes rushed from the slot.
Arizona sent six pass rushers after Vick on third and goal on the Cardinals 1 with six seconds left. The Eagles had seven to protect Vick. Running back LeSean McCoy made the wrong read and went to block safety James Sanders. Problem was Sanders was tight end Brent Celek's assignment. McCoy should have picked up Rhodes. That being said, Vick could have pointed out Rhodes to McCoy before the snap. But he didn’t see him and was blindsided even though Rhodes blitz from his left.
Who was most responsible for James Sanders’ fumble return TD vs. the Eagles on Sunday?
The Cardinals were able to send the house on three successful plays after DeSean Jackson caught a pass down to the one because the Eagles were out of timeouts. Reid inexplicably blew one to start the second quarter, but the second one falls on Vick’s shoulders.
On second down and 10, Vick scrambled for 20 yards and was pummeled from behind by Cardinals linebacker Daryl Washington. Vick, whose helmet hit the ground fairly hard, was slow to get up so the Eagles called their second timeout. If Vick had slid, or even dove to the ground after he picked up the first, he could have popped up, called the offense to the line and spiked the football with more than 25 seconds and two timeouts remaining.
REWIND THE TAPE
Demetress Bell had a rough game. On the Eagles’ first play from scrimmage, the left tackle completely whiffed blocking Cardinals defensive end Calais Campbell, who flushed Vick out of the pocket and eventually into a short three-yard gain. But the Eagles left much more out of table because Jackson was wide open downfield, according to the coach’s tape, for what would have likely been a home run to open the game. It ended up being a missed opportunity and the beginning of a long day for Bell and the Birds.
IN THE SPOTLIGHT
1. It’s a woulda, coulda, shoulda, but if Kurt Coleman didn’t blow his assignment when Larry Fitzgerald caught a 37-yard touchdown in his absence, the safety would have had a standout game. He made many plays against the run, including sniffing out Patrick Peterson as the Wildcat on the Cardinals first drive, and led the Eagles with nine tackles. But focusing on the run is what got Coleman out of position when he bit on a play-fake and offered Nnamdi Asomugha no help over top when Fitzgerald scored.
2. Dallas Reynolds struggled, as you might imagine a center making his first start in hostile grounds may. He couldn’t contain nose tackle Dan Williams on McCoy’s first carry of the game. He later missed a block on linebacker Paris Lenon and Vick was forced to throw a short pass to Celek that nearly got him decapitated. There were other mistakes, but Reynolds did have a few fine moments in the run game.
3. After a strong first two games as a pro, Brandon Boykin had a forgetful third game. The cornerback had a difficult assignment covering Fitzgerald and receiver Andre Roberts when they lined up in the slot. But it wasn’t so much the completions that came against the rookie, it was the two missed tackles and the soft coverage on third down and eight and Roberts caught a 12-yard pass that were problems.
With Reynolds and Bell starting on the offensive line, Cardinals defensive coordinator Ray Horton blitzed Vick on 24 of 46 drops, according to Pro Football Focus. The Eagles quarterback, his offensive line and various other blockers struggled to pick it up. Vick completed just 5 of 21 passes for 109 yards and was sacked twice when Arizona sent extra pass rushers.
THIS AND THAT
-- Down 10-0 early in the second quarter and backed up, Vick tossed bombs to Jackson on first and third downs that fell incomplete and the Eagles were forced to punt.
-- The play-action worked against Coleman because the Cardinals actually ran the ball as much as they passed. Whenever Vick faked a handoff it didn’t appear to ever fool Arizona’s defenders.
-- The Cardinals appeared to get away with two picks set on Fitzgerald crossing routes. It looked like Peterson got away with holding Jackson on the second of those two bombs. And Asomugha should have been called for holding in the first quarter.
-- Tight end Clay Harbor played only 11 snaps, his least amount of the season, and a surprising number considering the Eagles were light at wide receiver with Jeremy Maclin out.
-- Defensive end Darryl Tapp had one of his best games as an Eagle. He was credited with six tackles and half a sack in 28 snaps. Tapp also had a sack taken away when the officials forced the Eagles to accept a Cardinals holding penalty.
-- Andy Reid spoke about the timing of his offense being off and one area in which it seemed most out of sync was in the screen game.
Now is not the time for Reid to bench Vick. While the coach gave his quarterback a lukewarm endorsement on Monday, there’s no way he promotes rookie Nick Foles with the New York Giants coming to town Sunday night. It’s a scary enough thought thinking what Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul might do to Vick with Bell at left tackle. But Reid could scar Foles for life by placing him in that situation. The same will likely hold true for the following week against the Steelers and then the Lions after that. But if Vick doesn’t get his act together in the next three weeks, all bets are off after the bye on Oct. 21.