State of the Eagles: Five thoughts
Here are five thoughts on the Birds as they prepare for Sunday's matchup in Jacksonville against the Jaguars.
State of the Eagles: Five thoughts
Last week, for the Friday State of the Eagles post, I went position-by-position with thoughts on the Birds.
This week, though, I'm switching it up. Here are five thoughts/nuggets/opinions on the Eagles as they prepare for Sunday's matchup with the Jaguars.
1. When talking about the Eagles' execution against the blitz yesterday, Marty Mornhinweg said the offense has been "feast or famine." In other words, they've hit some big plays, but have also had some disastrous moments. I wanted to take a closer look to see if that's really been the case.
Last week against the Lions, Michael Vick completed three passes of 25 yards or more - all to DeSean Jackson. But none of those completions came against the blitz, so no real feast there as far as I can tell (although the 9-yard touchdown pass to Jeremy Maclin was against the blitz).
Vick completed 7 of 16 passes for 81 yards when the Lions brought extra pressure, but three of the Eagles' drops came on those attempts, so the completion percentage could have been higher. Three (and arguably four) of the Lions' sacks came on plays where they blitzed. Overall, Detroit blitzed on 21 of 43 (48.9 percent) Vick dropbacks.
Against Green Bay, Vick completed 8 of 11 passes for 95 yards against the blitz.
2. I did a radio interview yesterday and was asked if I had to bet, who would I predict as the Eagles' starting quarterback in Week 1 of the 2011 season. What a tough question. Two points here. One, I have heard people say there's no way Kevin Kolb can have a future here after the way things played out this week. Normally, I would agree. But I'm reminded of a Sunday afternoon in Baltimore when Andy Reid benched Donovan McNabb in favor of Kolb. At the time, many of us said the Reid/McNabb era was over. But McNabb returned the next week and led the Eagles to the NFC championship. He returned the following season and won 11 games. In other words, I'm not ruling out the possibility of Kolb being the guy in the future, as unlikely as it might seem right now.
On the other hand, what happens if Vick sustains this level of play the rest of the season? The Eagles would have to look seriously into re-signing him. And look at it from Vick's point of view. Where else would he rather be? The Eagles are the team that gave him a second chance, and the team that is apparently giving him the type of instruction he never received in Atlanta. If the Eagles want him back as the starter, you'd have to think Vick's first choice would be to return.
Which brings us back to Kolb (it's quite the game of musical chairs, isn't it?). He could be stuck for not only this year, but next year as well. Kolb is under contract for less than $2M in 2011. Conceivably, the Eagles could bring him back as Vick's backup. In fact, why would they not do that? It would save them the trouble of signing a backup, and they'd have a guy who could fill in for Vick if he were to get injured. I know I'm getting way ahead of myself, but just some thoughts on how things could play out.
3. LeSean McCoy is averaging 6.7 yards per carry. Of NFL running backs with at least 20 carries, only the Cardinals' Tim Hightower is averaging more (7.0). What will be interesting to monitor as the season progresses is how McCoy holds up. He's been on the field for 104 of 124 offensive plays. The Birds are thin at running back and need him on the field. McCoy talked about strengthening his lower body in the offseason, and so far it looks like that's paying off. Keep in mind that he had 308 rushing attempts during his final season at Pitt in 2008. Only three backs in the nation had more.
4. The beat guys report today that Nick Cole did not practice on the turf because of knee inflammation. To be honest, I thought there was a chance of the Eagles mixing Reggie Wells in at right guard anyway. Cole had quite a bit of trouble last week, and Wells has now been here for a few weeks. As for the offensive line as a whole, I'm interested to see how they perform Sunday. It's clear that some guys will have a chip on their shoulder after taking so much heat this week. The Jaguars have four sacks through two games and were dead-last in that category last season with 14. The talent is there on the offensive line. The continuity has not been.
5. Two defensive players to mention here: Akeem Jordan and Juqua Parker. I asked Sean McDermott how Jordan's been doing so far at the SAM linebacker position, and the word he used was adequate. Not exactly a ringing endorsement. The Eagles linebackers as a whole have been disappointing through two games. I really thought they had a chance to be the defense's strongest unit. Of course, Stewart Bradley have only played two quarters.
Parker, meanwhile, has been great. The sacks don't tell the whole story. He's been bringing pressure on other plays too. Parker has three sacks in two games. But maybe more impressive is that he's done so on just 51 plays. Parker has played less than 38 percent of the Eagles' defensive snaps, but been extremely productive. It will be interesting to see if McDermott increases his playing time. Through two games, Antwan Barnes has not shown much that would suggest he should be the defensive end in nickel situations over Parker.
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