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Fan-Demonium: The Game In Perspective

Posted Sep 25, 2012

Fan-Demonium

The Eagles lost an ugly game on Sunday. There is no shame in losing on the road to a solid team in the NFL, but going down 27-6 and getting handled is a different story. That was a discouraging loss.

That said, it was just one game. This isn't college football where a single loss alters a season dramatically. The Giants last year lost to the Saints by a score of 49-24. I think things turned out OK for Eli Manning and company.

Heck, you don't even have to look back for other teams losing. Just look at this past weekend. The 49ers went to Minnesota and got handled by the Vikings, 24-13. As of Saturday, many people considered the 49ers to be the best team in the league. The score was closer than the Eagles game, but that was actually a worse loss.

The Lions lost at Tennessee in a wild game. I didn't think Detroit would win that easily, but they are clearly the better team on paper and that's the kind of game the Lions needed to win. Did you see what happened to the Saints? They hosted the 0-2 Chiefs on Sunday. New Orleans built up a 24-6 lead by the middle of the third quarter. The Chiefs were pinned back at their own 9-yard line. Jamaal Charles took a handoff to the left side and raced 91 yards for a touchdown. The Chiefs tied the game late and then won in overtime, 27-24. The Saints were outgained 510-288. That is simply shocking.

I'm not trying to let the Eagles off the hook for Sunday's debacle. That was a bad loss. The point is that sometimes you need a little perspective to put the loss in context. The Eagles are still 2-1. They're still tied for the division lead. That's where they need to be.

Let's talk about the game. Andy Reid is famous for saying after a loss that he didn't do a good enough job. A lot of times Reid is protecting his players. This isn't one of them. Reid and the players both had a bad game.

As I watched the tape of last week's Patriots-Cardinals game, I saw some holes in the Arizona secondary. I know Reid saw them as well. I fully expected that he would try to exploit them. That's just what he did. The problem is that it was clear from early in the game that Michael Vick wasn't comfortable and the plan wasn't working. I don't blame Reid for trying what he did, but he waited too long to adjust.

The attack we saw in the second half should have been used in the second quarter. Reid stuck with his gameplan just a bit too long. That would have settled things down. The Eagles still easily could have lost the game, but there was no reason to let Vick take the pounding he did. Also, by throwing the ball so much, LeSean McCoy had far more blocks than touches. That is never a good thing.

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.

I was happy with some things. Todd Herremans played his best game of the year. Bryce Brown had a 17-yard run that he almost broke for a touchdown. He caught a short pass on third down and fought his way upfield for the first down. Damaris Johnson looked good on offense. He caught five passes for 84 yards. I liked his route running and his run after the catch skills.

Unfortunately, Johnson had a huge mistake that may have been the turning point in the game. The Cards led 3-0, but the Eagles defense had started to take control of the Arizona offense. Kevin Kolb was getting hit and pressured. Arizona punted and Johnson started to return it. Arizona fullback Anthony Sherman got his hand on the ball and knocked it loose. The Cardinals recovered at the Eagles' 38-yard line. They put together a short touchdown drive (aided by a bad luck play where two Eagles had a shot at the touchdown pass, but neither got it). The score was then 10-0 and it felt like the Cardinals were in total control.

There are times when a turnover doesn't end up costing you all that much. There are others where it seems to be the pivotal moment in the game. Unfortunately, this fumble felt like a pivotal mistake to me. The Eagles had turnover problems for two weeks, but managed to overcome them. Not this time. Vick added a pair of fumbles to the Johnson miscue and the Eagles lost their first game of the 2012 season.

I didn't have the feeling that the Eagles were overconfident, but that is possible. They certainly won't be now. The loss can be a good thing if it has the right effect on the Eagles. They need to be "scared straight," so to speak. The Eagles are loaded with talent. That doesn't mean they can continue to make mistakes and expect to win. They must play cleaner football. That means no turnovers and limited penalties. It means not blowing assignments, in blocking or coverage or run support. Do your job. Be safe, sound and smart.

Not having Jeremy Maclin proved to be a major issue. I thought the Eagles would be all right even without him, but the Cardinals played really well on defense and not having a weapon across from DeSean Jackson hurt them. Jason Avant and Johnson had some good moments, but defenses aren't scared of them.

The offensive line also had a rough day. Dallas Reynolds got his first NFL start. I wish I could say he played well. That's just not the case. He struggled all day with pass protection. His run blocking was up and down as well. In his defense, he got burned mostly by Calais Campbell, who was coming off a two-sack game against the Patriots. There is no shame in getting beaten by Campbell. Demetress Bell also had a long day. He was called for holding once, but got away with it a lot. He did have some good run blocks.

I know a lot of people are down on Vick right now. Let's not sugarcoat it. Vick didn't play well. Still, he didn't have the best gameplan, blocking or weapons to work with. I could see early on that he didn't look right. I'm sure the coaches saw that as well. It happens to all players and quarterbacks. When a guy doesn't appear to have his A-game, you help him out with safe plays that will build up his confidence and get him going. Vick was very good against the Ravens. That gameplan was brilliant and well-executed. There was a great symmetry between player and play. That was lacking this week.

I also must point out that linebacker Daryl Washington was the best player on the field on Sunday. He was amazing. He chased Vick from sideline to sideline. He tackled him downfield after a good scramble. He sacked Vick twice. Washington played the run well and was good in coverage. He had an amazing game. His speed negated some of the things that Reid wanted to do with Vick in terms of moving the pocket and getting Vick on the move.

Some fans are throwing out tough questions. Were the Eagles exposed? Does Vick need to be benched? What's wrong with the team? I think those questions are a bit premature. Let's see how Vick and the Eagles bounce back from this loss. A poor showing against the Giants could mean those type of questions are relevant. A strong win over the Giants could mean that the Cardinals game was just an anomaly. We have to wait and see. I'm betting that was a bad loss, but not the Eagles getting exposed as a bad team. Sunday night will tell us a lot.

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