Saturday, September 20, 2014
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Memo to Andy/Marty: Run the ball!

On a night when Michael Vick injured himself on the first play from scrimmage, when the offensive line could do nothing to protect the quarterback from Minnesota's all-out blitz, when LeSean McCoy's number was called only 13 times out of 71 plays from scrimmage, the Eagles did not run the ball anywhere near enough.

Memo to Andy/Marty: Run the ball!

On a night when Michael Vick injured himself on the first play from scrimmage, when the offensive line could do nothing to protect the quarterback from Minnesota's all-out blitz, when LeSean McCoy's number was called only 13 times out of 71 plays from scrimmage, the Eagles did not run the ball anywhere near enough.

The end result was as to be expected: a brutal 24-14 home loss to the Vikings. Andy Reid and his Eagles are normally good for one of these stinkers a year (e.g. Raiders, 2009), and the 2010 edition just so happened to come Tuesday night. Typically, those losses come when the run-pass ratio is way out of wack.

"It was a totally pathetic job on my part of getting my team ready to play," Reid said. "We didn't coach well and we didn't play well. It was a complete tail-whipping right there."

The Eagles' offensive modus operandi is to pass and pass and pass some more to get ahead, and then, only then when they're ahead, to run more than they pass. This philosophy has worked splendidly for years under Reid and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg -- well, at least for the most part.

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But there was no explanation for the disparity in pass-run plays against the Vikings. Vick dropped back to pass, by my count, 56 times. The other 15 times, the Eagles ran the ball -- McCoy's 13 traditional run plays, an end-around to DeSean Jackson and Vick's sneak into the end zone for a 10-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter.

Vick said he suffered a quad contusion on the first play from scrimmage. He could be seen limping throughout the game and afterward had a hard time hiding his injury. It's all but certain that he won't play in a meaningless game next week against the Cowboys.

"I just tried to tolerate it throughout the game and I did," Vick said.

It's hard to say if the injury impacted Vick's performance, but he was not the same quarterback as he was for almost the entire season that preceded Tuesday night. He was errant with his throws. He tossed one interception and could have chucked two others. And he coughed up fumbles twice in crucial moments.

He also had to run behind a porous offensive line. All those factors would seem to suggest that maybe the Eagles needed to dial down on dropping Vick back play after play. Reid was asked if the Eagles have become too accustomed to relying on Vick this season.

"I expect everybody to execute the offense the way it's supposed to executed, and for the coaches to coach it the way it's supposed to be coached," Reid said.

Playing from behind typically calls for more passing, but Minnesota's defensive scheme, in which they seemingly blitzed more than half of the time, called for more draws and screens. The Eagles didn't call a screen to McCoy until the fourth quarter.

Vick, thus, was left to try and win the game on his own and he just wasn't up to the task. He completed 25 of 43 passes for 263 yards and was sacked six times. He did throw and run for touchdowns.

"That wasn't Michael Vick at all," McCoy said. "We didn't protect him."

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Vick wasn't the only Pro Bowler to have an off night. After the Eagles trimmed the Vikings lead down to 17-14 in the fourth quarter, David Akers shanked the ensuing kickoff out of bounds. The kicker said he was trying to kick a low liner into the wind.

"I didn't execute it the way I wanted to and got a bad roll," Akers said. "Everything coulda, woulda happened and I take responsibility for that."

 

Jeff McLane Inquirer Staff Writer
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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
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