Situational football. NFL training camps dedicate blocks of practice time to short-yardage, goal-line, red-zone, two-minute, etc. You name it and the team runs through X's and O's for those very situations.
The Eagles' struggles in some of those areas were well-documented last season and head coach Andy Reid opened training camp last month by saying the team would focus on improving in those areas as well as eliminating the mistakes and execution problems that plagued the team in 2008.
Of course, doing it in practice is one thing and doing it in a game is something entirely different.
There were hits and misses in the preseason opener with the Patriots and Thursday night against the Colts. Here's a closer look ...
Eagles-Colts: Situational Ups And Downs
THIRD AND SHORT- On at least three occasions, the Eagles failed to convert third-and-1 or third-and-2 plays. The team's opening drive ended abruptly on an incomplete pass from Donovan McNabb to Kevin Curtis on a third-and-1 from the Eagles' 43. Later, fullback Kyle Eckel was stuffed for no gain on a third-and-1 at the Colts' 40. And A.J. Feeley threw incomplete for Brandon Gibson on a third-and-2 from deep in Eagles' territory.
RED ZONE- A sack of McNabb and subsequent fumble negated a scoring opportunity as Dwight Freeney brought down McNabb on a third-and-4 play from the Indy 13-yard line.
- Two defensive plays helped limit the Colts to field goals instead of touchdowns.
First, cornerback Dimitri Patterson beautifully read a short toss to Chad Simpson on a third-and-6 play from the Eagles' 7. Patterson stuffed the play for no gain and forced a fumble which the Colts recovered.
Later, rookie Moise Fokou held Lance Ball to just 1 yard on a third-and-2 from the Eagles' 14, forcing a Colts field-goal attempt.
- Also worth noting was a pass play from the Colts' 21, when Curtis Painter was intercepted by a leaping Tracy White down near the goal line.
TWO-MINUTE OFFENSE- Late in the first half, Feeley moved the ball downfield efficiently before completing an ill-advised throw over the middle to Eldra Buckley with less than 10 seconds remaining and no timeouts.
- In the game's final 1:10, Adam DiMichele orchestrated a 4-play, 40-yard drive which resulted in a touchdown pass to Gibson, followed by a successful two-point conversion to put the Eagles within eight at 23-15.
Eagles-Patriots: Situational Ups And Downs
THIRD AND SHORT AND RED ZONE- Last week against the Patriots, fullback Leonard Weaver picked up 5 yards on a third-and-1 from Philadelphia's 35-yard line. Unfortunately, the drive stalled when rookie LeSean McCoy was held to a 1-yard gain on a third-and-3 from the New England 26-yard line.
- Later, Feeley converted a third-and-3 from his 38-yard line with an 8-yard completion to Danny Amendola. But that drive stalled when Feeley and Shaheer McBride failed to connect on a pass play over the middle on a third-and-2 from New England's 18-yard line.
On both occasions, the team settled for David Akers field goals.
- Feeley and the offense later rebounded as he connected with Buckley on a 1-yard scoring toss on third-and-goal from the Pats' 1-yard line.
- Defensively, the unit stood tall on a pair of short-yardage plays. Fokou wrapped up Sammy Morris for no gain on a fourth-and-1 play from the Pats' 35. Later, linebacker Tank Daniels dropped BenJarvus Green-Ellis for a 2-yard loss on a third-and-1 play from the Pats' 34.
- Against the Patriots, Feeley was effective in leading the two-minute offense and getting the team into scoring position, both at the end of the first half and at the end of the game. Unfortunately, the team came up empty both times. Akers had his 44-yard field goal attempt blocked in the final minute of the first half. He then missed wide left on a 43-yard attempt with one minute remaining in regulation.
- It's important to note that on the third-and-1 play prior to Akers' miss, from the Pats' 25-yard line, Buckley was stuffed for no gain on a run up the middle.
-- Posted by Bob Kent, 2 p.m., August 21