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What's Up With The Explosive Offense?

Posted Oct 27, 2013

For the second straight game, the Eagles offense squandered a strong effort from its defense and was unable to score a touchdown. It would have seemed unfathomable for the offense to falter so drastically after how dynamically it performed up to this point in the season, but there is no mistaking what played out on the field at Lincoln Financial Field Sunday afternoon. After a heartbreaking 15-7 loss to the New York Giants, the Eagles have now lost 10 straight games at home and are sitting at 3-5.

“Our defense and special teams are playing great and it's kind of embarrassing right now that we're not able to put points on the board,” guard Evan Mathis said.

“No, I didn’t think that would ever happen,” guard Todd Herremans said of not scoring a touchdown on offense two games in a row. “But it did. We have to figure out what to fix and go from there.”

“It’s really hard to win games when the offense can’t come out and score points and help the defense out,” wide receiver DeSean Jackson said.“That’s totally our fault. The defense did a good job today, but we just have to figure out what’s the right thing and continue to do what we were able to do in the past. Two straight weeks have been rough on us. It’s one of those things, as professional athletes, we have to figure out a way (to get this fixed), and hopefully we can do that.”

The offense was out of rhythm once again and had trouble moving the ball. From the very first drive, it was apparent that quarterback Michael Vick, who had battled back as best he could from his hamstring injury, was not himself. On the third snap, with pressure around him in the pocket and the play breaking down, he threw behind tight end Brent Celek and had his pass intercepted by Giants safety Antrel Rolle. It proved to be an ominous sign of what was to come. Another three-and-out followed, including a sack-fumble that Vick managed to recover deep in his own territory. The Giants defense was swarming, stuffing the run at the line of scrimmage and blanketing receivers all over the field. At the end of the first quarter, the Eagles had run 11 plays for a total of 16 yards.

“I think teams are definitely keying in on a lot of things that we had success with the first part of the season,” Jackson said. “The NFL is a game where the more success you have and the more good things you do, other teams and defenses are going to key in and try to stop that. I think that’s where we’re at right now, and as an offense we’ll figure out what it is we need to do to continue to go out there and find the success we had earlier in the season.”

Vick, who re-aggravated his hamstring injury on a scramble late in the first quarter, directed just one drive in the second quarter before having to come out of the game. He finished 6-of-9 for 31 yards with the interception. His teammates appreciated his toughness in battling through obvious pain to join them on the field, but they knew he was struggling.

“I think he was OK – not necessarily 100 percent, but he was good enough to (start),” wide receiver Jason Avant said. “I can’t remember the play, but I think after a play he felt that he (re-injured his hamstring) and realized he’d be more of a hindrance than (an asset). It had to hurt him because Mike is not a guy who comes out of the game. He’s a leader for us. He shows us how to battle through injury and we respect him a whole bunch.”

“Honestly, (Vick) came in, he did what he needed to do,” Jackson said. “It’s unfortunate that he had the same injury happen again. It’s frustrating as an athlete (for that to happen), especially since you work so hard to try and get yourself back, and for him to come back and have it happen so early, it was really frustrating for him and frustrating for us. He’s our leader. He does some great things when he’s back there at quarterback.”

Matt Barkley replaced Vick and immediately led the Eagles down the field towards the end of the first half. The drive stalled at the 2-yard line, however, when Barkley was sacked and fumbled as he tried to throw the ball away. The Giants recovered along the sidelines and the Eagles came away with nothing. Barkley had some moments in which he strung together positive plays in the passing game and finished 17-of-26 for 158 yards with an interception at the end, but still the offense just could not get fully on track.

“The next guy has to step in (after injury),and I think Matt did a good job of coming in there and doing what he needed to do to give us a chance. I think he did a good job. He’s calm. He’s poised. He got the ball out and where it needed to be, things like that. He’s young, and it’s good for him to get that experience early in his career,” Jackson said.

The biggest problem, however, might have been the Eagles’ inability to get the run game going, a troubling theme which continues to plague the offense. Aside from the opening drive of the second half, when running backs LeSean McCoy and Bryce Brown combined to churn out 35 yards on seven carries, the Eagles were held to a measly 13 yards on 12 attempts. In the two games against the Giants this season, McCoy was held to 94 yards on 35 carries, a 2.7 yards-per-carry average.

“It’s definitely frustrating, and the loss is the biggest reason,” McCoy said. “The second reason is not being a factor and helping out the team. We have to find an answer and get this together. These losses are piling up and it’s not fun. It’s hard to really get together as a team when you lose like this because you work so hard week in and week out, and the results at the end of the day are not good. We just have to find an answer and get it done.

“I feel like it starts with me. I feel like, coming into the game, we wanted to establish the run and teams know that we want to run the ball. I think it starts with me. I have to get going somehow. When we’re making plays we’re an explosive offense like we were through the first six games.”

The final numbers were not pretty - 201 total yards, 3.5 yards per play, zero points. That explosive Eagles offense from the first six games that McCoy spoke about has disappeared. Coaches and players alike are now left to try to pick up the pieces and search for answers.

“We just have to figure it out offensively,” Avant said. “No matter who’s in there at quarterback, we have to be able to get things going, move the ball and score more than zero (points).”

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