Sifting through the wreckage of the Eagles’ 21-17 loss to the Cardinals while wondering which alarm clock manufacturers Drew Rosenhaus has contacted about hiring DeSean Jackson as a pitchman:
I have occasionally been accused of being a glass-half-empty guy. Just to show you nothing could be further from the truth, I’m going to give you some positive news about Mike Vick’s performance in Sunday’s 21-17 loss to the Cardinals.
While he completed just 47 percent of his passes, averaged just 3.8 yards per attempt, failed to throw a touchdown pass for the third time in the last seven games and recorded only the 15th multiple-interception game of his career, his 32.5 passer rating was just the seventh lowest of his career.
Now, if a second-quarter end zone interception by Cardinals safety Adrian Wilson hadn’t been negated by a holding call on cornerback Richard Marshall, his passer rating would’ve plummeted to 19.7, which would’ve moved it up to No. 4 on the list of Mike’s Bad Awful Days.
And if the Eagles’ alert video screen guy at the Linc hadn’t provided Andy Reid with incontrovertible proof that Marshall never had possession of a fourth-quarter interception (Reid used a replay challenge and it was ruled an incompletion), it would’ve dropped his rating to 15.8, which would’ve been topped only by the 13.9 he put up against Kansas City on October 24, 2004.
All kidding aside, Vick didn’t play well Sunday. Obviously, you’ve got to put an asterisk by his performance now that we’ve learned he played almost the entire game with a couple of cracked ribs. Though that only makes it a little more puzzling as to why, on a number of occasions, he elected to take off and run even before there was any actual pressure on him in the pocket. Vick’s eight rushing attempts were his second most of the season.
With no DeSean Jackson to keep the safeties back on their heels and loosen up the short and intermediate zones, and with Jeremy Maclin being sidelined for a big chunk of the game with shoulder and hamstring injuries, Vick clearly was working at a disadvantage, though the Cardinals came into the game ranked 29th in the league against the pass. I mean Eli Manning threw for 321 yards against the Cardinals and Rex Grossman threw for 291, and neither of them have DeSean Jackson or Jeremy Maclin to throw to either.
Eagles receivers dropped five passes Sunday. But Vick, who has five touchdown passes and eight interceptions in his last five starts, also made several bad throws and some bad decisions. A look at a few of them:
--An overthrow to wide-open tight end Brent Celek on a first-quarter pass that should have been a touchdown. The Eagles lined up in a two-tight end set with both Celek and Clay Harbor lined up on the left side. Vick bootlegged left with Harbor in front of him for protection, while Celek slipped across the field down the right side. There wasn’t a defender within 20 yards of him. But Vick overthrew him.
--In a play reminiscent of the red-zone interception he threw the week before against the Bears, Vick threw a pass into the endzone for Steve Smith. But he failed to see safety Adrian Wilson cut in front of him. Willson intercepted the pass, only to have it negated by a holding penalty on cornerback Richard Marshall.
--Vick threw his fourth red-zone interception of the season late in the third quarter. With the Eagles at the Arizona 18, he attempted a pass for Jeremy Maclin. But the Cardinals’ 6-foot-8 defensive end, Calais Campbell, who was being blocked by 6-9 left guard King Dunlap, jumped up just as Vick was releasing the ball and intercepted it. Worst-case scenario there, the Eagles would have had a field goal and taken a 10-point lead.
The Eagles converted just one of three red-zone opportunities Sunday. For the season, they have converted just 18 of 40 red-zone chances into touchdowns. Vick has completed just 22 of 43 passes with four interceptions in the red zone.
--In the fourth quarter, Vick almost had another interception. He either overthrew Brent Celek or underthrew Steve Smith. Marshall picked it off, but after a replay challenge by the Eagles, it was ruled that that he never had control of the ball.
--He overthrew an open Steve Smith on a second-and-10 pass from the Philadelphia 42 on the Eagles’ final possession. Smith would’ve had a first down at the Arizona 45 with less than a minute left.
--Vick was sacked just two times Sunday, and while he took a few hits, his protection was, for the most part, pretty good. But on an increasing number of plays, he seems to be reverting back to the old Atlanta Mike Vick, bolting the pocket after looking for one receiver, even before there is any actual pressure. On one play Sunday, he bolted from the pocket against a three-man rush that was nowhere close to getting heat on him.
He ran the ball eight times Sunday, which is absurd if, as Reid said Monday, he cracked the ribs on the second play of the game. The first time Vick appeared even remotely hurt was in the fourth quarter when he took a helmet to his side from linebacker Paris Lenon at the end of a seven-yard run. He left the game for one play, then returned the next series.
The Eagles were flagged for a season-high 11 penalties for a season-high 97 yards. Seven of the 11 penalties came on third down. They were penalized three times for false starts (by center Jason Kelce, wide receiver Riley Cooper and tight end Clay Harbor), including one coming out of a timeout. That brings their nine-game total of false starts to 15, including a whopping 11 at home.
One of the costliest penalties was Trent Cole’s roughing the passer penalty on a third-and-8 at the Philadelphia 49 with five minutes left in the second quarter. Skelton completed a 10-yard pass to Andre Roberts on the play. They were given another 15 when Cole hit Skelton in the head, which is a no-no in today’s NFL. That gave the Cardinals a first down at the Philadelphia 22. They scored two plays later on a 10-yard pass from Skelton to Fitzgerald to tie the game.
--The Eagles committed two penalties on their final possession. Cooper was flagged for their third false start of the day. Then, on a third-and-10 at their own 42 with 45 seconds left, running back LeSean McCoy was called for holding cornerback Michael Adams. McCoy’s penalty negated what would have been a first-down catch by Cooper that would have given the Eagles the ball at the Arizona 44.
NO SHADE TO BE FOUND
How do you stop the NFL’s leading rusher? Easy. You don’t give him the ball.
That’s what Reid and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg did Sunday. Despite the fact that DeSean Jackson had been benched, despite the fact that Jeremy Maclin had shoulder and hamstring issues, Reid and Mornhinweg still gave LeSean McCoy just 14 carries Sunday, his third fewest of the season.
You kind of had an idea they had a cockeyed offensive gameplan when the first play from scrimmage was a pass to fullback Owen Schmittt.
When McCoy lost one yard on his first carry and was stopped for no gain on his second, it apparently was enough to convince Reid and Mornhinweg that there was no reason to run the ball a lot. McCoy still ended up with 81 rushing yards and had three carries of 13 or more yards. Scored his 10th rushing touchdown of the season on an impressive one-yard power run behind excellent blocks from left tackle Jason Peters, right guard Danny Watkins and tight end Clay Harbor.
Yet, after a 29-yard run with 4:12 left in the third quarter, McCoy didn’t touch the ball again until there was 6:29 left in the game. That’s more than 12 ½ minutes.
The Eagles have been very successful running McCoy out of two-tight end sets this season. In the Eagles’ first eight games, 406 of his 825 rushing yards came out of two-tight end sets. Yet, on Sunday, he ran the ball just five times out of two-tight end formations.
--With DeSean Jackson benched and Maclin nursing shoulder and hamstring injuries, Steve Smith saw his most extensive action of the season. But he hardly distinguished himself. While he had a team-high five catches for just 47 yards, he also had two drops and committed an egregious error in the fourth quarter on a third-and-20 play. He caught a pass in the middle of the field from Vick about two yards short of the first-down marker. Instead of cutting upfield and picking up the first down, he ran to his right. When he saw linebacker Daryl Washington in front of him, he went to the ground, still a yard-and-a-half short of the first down. The Eagles had to punt.
--You saw the big difference between football and baseball in the fourth quarter after Richard Marshall’s apparent interception of a Vick pass. While Fox broke for a commercial immediately after the play, the guy who operates the Linc’s replay screen, showed a still shot that clearly showed Marshall didn’t maintain possession of the ball. After seeing that, Reid wisely used a replay challenge. The interception was switched to an incompletion. At baseball games, they seldom even show uncontroversial plays, let alone possible blown calls.
--Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie’s low comfort level in the slot showed itself again on the Cardinals’ second possession when he played outside leverage on Andre Roberts and allowed himself to get beat on a slant for 16 yards.
--Rookie linebacker Brian Rolle made a nice play on a second-and-two on the Cardinals’ second possession when he got penetration, spun away from a low block by fullback Reagan Maui’a and blew up a Beanie Wells run. Cullen Jenkins ended up tackling Wells for a four-yard loss, but Rolle was mainly responsible for it.
--The Eagles’ most successful run play this season has been the sprint draw. McCoy has gained quite a bit of his yardage out of it. He lost six yards on a sprint draw in the second quarter, though, when slot receiver Jason Avant missed a block on cornerback Michael Adams, who came in untouched and decked McCoy.
--Derek Landri had a very good game. Had a sack and three tackles for losses. On back-to-back plays in the third quarter, he forced a Skelton incompletion with pressure up the middle on a second-and-2 play. Then, out of a front featuring five defensive linemen, he broke through and sacked Skelton.
--Rolle discovered the downside to being an undersized linebacker on Skelton’s 20-yard completion on the Cardinals’ game-tying touchdown drive. He was in good position on Andre Roberts’ crossing route. But the ball sailed just over his outstretched hand. If he had been 6-foot instead of the overly generous 5-10 he’s listed at in the Eagles media guide, he would’ve had an interception. On the very next play, Rolle got run over by Beanie Wells for a six-yard gain to the Philadelphia seven-yard line.
--How is that left guard King Dunlap managed to play the entire game Sunday with an undiagnosed concussion, and quarterback Mike Vick played almost the whole game without any of the coaches, trainers or medical staff realizing he had two cracked ribs?