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Fan-Demonium: Angry Birds

Posted Oct 31, 2012

Fan-Demonium

Eagles nation was tense last week, but things are at a whole new level right now. This is completely understandable based on Sunday's performance against the Falcons. The Eagles were playing the most important game of the year and came out flat. They made crucial mistakes, played uninspired football and lost 30-17. It wasn't pretty.

Some people are getting caught up in playing the blame game. Who should bear the majority of the blame? This really isn't the time to do that. Sunday was a total team effort. The defense made critical mistakes left and right. The offense struggled all day. Both coaches and players had a hand in the poor showing.

I hoped the blown 10-point lead in the Lions game was going to be rock bottom, but that wasn't the case. Now we have to hope that the Falcons game was the nadir. The Eagles are 3-4. The season isn't even halfway over. There is plenty of time left, but the team must start playing well and winning games. The biggest frustration for me wasn't the Eagles losing to Atlanta. I hated the fact the team played so poorly, especially coming off a bye.

Before we go any further, I do think we have to give the Falcons some credit. I went back and re-watched the game. They had an excellent gameplan and the players executed it perfectly. Matt Ryan was sensational, apart from the early screen pass that Fletcher Cox almost picked off. That was Ryan's one big mistake and the Eagles failed to make him pay. Linebacker Sean Weatherspoon was outstanding, especially against the run. Defensive end Kroy Biermann was in the backfield too much. He had one sack, but got pressure multiple times. The Falcons played their best game of the season.

I don't know what to make of the Eagles. The negative side of me says that the team has yet to play a good game and that's a bad sign when we're almost at midseason. Just look at Sunday. The Dolphins won by 21, the Raiders by 10 and the Bucs by 19. The Eagles this year have won games by one, one and two points. The showing against the Ravens was pretty good, but turnovers were still an issue.

The positive side of me says that the Eagles have played very up and down, but are still right in the mix. There is still time to get headed in the right direction. Losing to Atlanta and falling below .500 makes the situation more difficult, but the team has nine games to work with. There are still five division games left to play.

Another reason to be encouraged is that most of the Eagles mistakes on Sunday are fixable. If Nate Allen makes a tackle, Jacquizz Rodgers doesn't have a 43-yard run. If Nnamdi Asomugha gets a good jam on Julio Jones, he might not give up the long touchdown pass. If Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie doesn't bite on an early fake, the Falcons might have had to settle for a field goal on the opening drive.

Lawlor

Tommy Lawlor, goeagles99 on the Discussion Boards, is an amateur football scout and devoted Eagles fan. He is the Editor of IgglesBlitz.com and was a contributor to the Eagles Almanac.

Let's talk about that drive. The Eagles actually had several chances to stop it. Jason Babin covered a receiver on third-and-10 in the right flat. The pass came that way. Babin grabbed the receiver and drew a flag. If he just lets the guy catch it, the receiver is right there by the sideline and he's only at the line of scrimmage. All Babin has to do is shove him out of bounds and the Falcons are punting. There was a third down later on the drive where Mychal Kendricks was called for interference. Kendricks was just a bit too aggressive. If he lets the receiver catch the ball and then tackles him, the Falcons are kicking a field goal. If Cox holds onto the pass Ryan threw at him, that would have either set the Eagles up to score first or Cox might have run it back for a touchdown himself. That might have been a game-changing play.

Unfortunately, right now the Eagles aren't making game-changing plays. Chances are there, but the team isn't taking advantage of them. Casey Matthews deflected a punt late in the game. He wasn't able to get enough of it to send the ball backward. If he makes a clean block, maybe that is returned for a score. Kurt Coleman forced a fumble late in the game, but the Falcons fell on the ball. That would have set the offense up in the red zone. There was a third down where Jason Avant had a ton of room to work with over the middle of the field, but the Falcon defensive back was able to tip the ball away. Instead of punting, the Eagles would have been at least kicking a field goal.

The plays will come. They always do. I just don't know if they'll happen against the Saints, in a month or in the season finale. The team needs them to start happening ASAP. Once that spark happens, I'm interested to see if it wakes the team up or if it is a hit and miss thing that doesn't have a lasting effect. If the Eagles do start making plays, this team can get on a hot streak. If the Eagles fail to make plays, the season is going to be a weekly struggle. The team can still win, but every game will be that much harder.

Young DTs Highlight Positives From Game

* There were some positives in the game. Young defensive tackles Fletcher Cox and Cedric Thornton played well. The coaches had Cox with 11 tackles. Thornton had a sack and was disruptive on multiple plays. He's come a long way since the season opener.

* Brandon Graham got his most playing time of the year and played well.  He was credited with four solo tackles. He didn't have any sacks, but got some pressure and was a disruptive force off the edge. 

* Rookie Dennis Kelly did a good job in his first start. He played right guard in case of Danny Watkins. I was impressed with Kelly as a run and pass blocker. He had some really good run blocks. I also liked the fact he played smart. I didn't see him missing assignments.

* In the battle of former Cal Bears stars, Mychal Kendricks held his own against Tony Gonzalez. Kendricks didn't shut him down, but Gonzalez only had three catches for 29 yards. Last year, Gonzalez had seven catches for 83 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Kendricks broke up one pass and almost picked it off. He did have a penalty called on him, but I thought that was questionable since their feet got tangled up. Normally defenders aren't blamed for that.

* The Eagles mixed in wide receiver screens on a regular basis and had some success. Jeremy Maclin came close to breaking one play for a huge gain. King Dunlap had a couple of good blocks out in space. He's no Jason Peters, but I was surprised at how well he did on those plays.

* DeMeco Ryans is one player who hasn't been disappointing at all. He had another strong game. The Falcons’ inside run game was minimally effective and Ryans was one of the main reasons why. He also had a pair of tackles-for-loss.

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