Some incoherent thoughts, some off-the-mark conclusions and one or two astute observations as we mourn the passing of Week 6 of the NFL season:
* The Eagles are 11-0 the week after their bye, which is a good omen for their Nov. 7 game against the Colts. But they have struggled the week leading into the bye, which is bad news for Sunday’s game against the Titans.. They are 5-6 before the bye and have lost 6 of their last 9 pre-bye games..
* A lot of Eagles fans are calling for the head of Falcons cornerback Dunta Robinson for his hit on DeSean Jackson. But I have a bigger problem with safety Thomas DeCoud’s late-second quarter shot on Brent Celek. Robinson’s lick on Jackson wasn’t premeditated. He correctly got a penalty because he dropped his head at the last second and caught Jackson under the jaw with his helmet. But he wasn’t head-hunting. DeCoud, on the other hand, was. He was a full 5 yards away from Celek when Kevin Kolb’s pass was tipped by linebacker Curtis Lofton. He had plenty of time to pull up, but opted to follow through and level the Eagles tight end.
* Speaking of Jackson, too much was made of reports that DeSean Jackson suffered memory loss Sunday after his collision with Dunta Robinson. So what? So did Stewart Bradley when he had his concussion in Week 1. The concussion was severe, but the fact that he didn’t remember the hit afterward simply is a concussion symptom. That said, while I’m not a doctor and don’t even play one on TV, I think Jackson’s going to be out for a while. When I say a while, I mean a lot longer than Sunday, a lot longer than the Week 9 game against Indianapolis.
* Michael Vick became the NFL’s top-rated passer Sunday without doing anything. He went into the weekend ranked second behind the Patriots’ Tom Brady. But after throwing 2 interceptions in the Pats’ 23-20 win over the Ravens, Brady’s passer rating nosedived from 109.0 to 98.5, leaving Vick and his 108.8 rating at the top.
* After a shaky start, the Eagles’ run defense has been much improved the last 2 weeks. They held the Falcons and 49ers to a collective 3.4 yards per carry. In their first 4 games, they allowed 4.4 yards per carry. In their first 4 games, they gave up 6.1 yards per carry in the first quarter. The Niners and Falcons managed just 2.0 yards per carry in the first quarter.
* With the exception of the drive-killing personal foul he picked up in the second quarter for grabbing defensive end Kroy Biermann’s facemask, left tackle King Dunlap played surprisingly well. But the coaches gave him a lot of help. On Kolb’s 34-yard first-quarter touchdown pass to Jackson, McCoy chipped John Abraham. On Kolb’s 83-yard touchdown pass to Maclin, fullback Owen Schmitt, who lined up on the right wing on the play, came across and took Abraham out of the play, giving Kolb the necessary time he needed. And when they used their favored 3-wide receiver, 1-back, 1-tight end set, they usually had running back LeSean McCoy line up to Dunlap’s side. Something else that helped Dunlap was the solid play of the Eagles’ interior line, which didn’t allow a lot of inside push, enabling Kolb to step up when he needed to.
* Best Blitz: Middle linebacker Stewart Bradley’s perfectly-timed rush through the A gap on third-and-3 on the Falcons’ first possession. Bradley didn’t give it away too early, then split center Todd McClure and right guard Justin Blalock and got to Matt Ryan before he had a chance to dump the ball off.
* Michael Vick and Kevin Kolb have combined for 5 100-plus passer-rating performances in the first 6 games. The most 100-plus rating games in a season by the Eagles during the Andy Reid era is 9 by Donovan McNabb in 2004. McNabb and Jeff Garcia combined for 8 in ’06.
* The Eagles, who had just 3 touchdown drives of 4 plays or less in the first 5 games, had 2 Sunday.
* LeSean McCoy has had 48 touches in the last 2 games while playing with a broken rib. He’s had 20 or more touches in 4 of the Eagles’ firsat 6 games.
* The Falcons only converted 4 of 14 third-down opportunities against the Eagles, but 2 of the ones they converted were 8 yards or more. In the last 3 games, opponents have converted 8 of 18 third downs of eight yards or less against the Eagles.
* Just two quarterbacks have completed 60 percent of their passes against the Eagles this season – the Packers’ Aaron Rodgers (61.3) and the 49ers’ Alex Smith (64.1).
Did You Notice?
* On the Eagles’ first play from scrimmage, they ran a 3-wide receiver, 2-tight end set, but with Chad Hall as the third wideout, rather than Jason Avant. They put the tight ends on the wings and kept both in to block. Hall, who lined up in the left slot, ran a clearing route down the middle. Maclin crossed underneath him and hauled in a 22-yard pass from Kolb.
* LeSean McCoy rushed for 25 yards on his first 3 carries, then had just 39 on his last 18 rushing attempts.
* The lone sack of Kolb came on an attempted screen. Center Mike McGlynn didn’t hold his block on DT Peria Jerry quite long enough and he got to Kolb before the screen could develop.
* The first-down saving play by defensive lineman Darryl Tapp on Matt Ryan late in the first quarter. Ryan had to take off on a third-and-5 after getting pressure from Trevor Laws. Tapp ran him down after held him to a 3-yard gain.
* The Eagles occasionally used 5 defensive linemen on passing downs. Most of the time, one of the linemen would drop off into coverage.
* Return man Jorrick Calvin’s knack for making the first man miss. He effectively sidestepped the Falcons’ Eric Weems on his 44-yard second-quarter punt return.
* The lack of inside safety or linebacker help on Tony Gonzalez’s 1-yard touchdown catch at the end of the first half. Cornerback Ellis Hobbs, who was giving up 8 inches and 60 pounds to the Falcons tight end, was matched up against Gonzalez all by his lonesome. Not a real good idea.
* To offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg for his best game plan of the season. The Eagles took advantage of the Falcons’ aggressiveness with a lot of misdirection plays, starting with Jackson’s end-around for a 31-yard touchdown less than 3 minutes into the game. Right end John Abraham failed to contain on the backside on the play, allowing Jackson to get around the corner and take off.
* To cornerback Asante Samuel, who had far and away his best game of the season against the Falcons. Yeah, he had a missed tackle or two. But he was superb in coverage. Had a near-interception on the Falcons’ second possession when he jumped an out-route by Michael Jenkins. Broke up another pass to Jenkins on third-and-10 on the same possession. Broke up yet another pass to Jenkins in the third quarter. Recorded his second interception of the season in the second quarter when he was in the right place at the right time to pick off a pass that went off of Gonzalez’s hands. It hardly was luck, though. Samuel left his man, Roddy White, when he realized where Matt Ryan was going with the ball, which allowed him to be in position for the interception. If he had stayed with White, that pass goes incomplete.
* To defensive end Trent Cole, who collected 2 of the Eagles’ 3 sacks Sunday. Cole gave Falcons left tackle Sam Baker fits all day. He is on pace for his third double-digit sack season in 4 years.
To read our earlier post, click here.