The Eagles went down to Jacksonville and flat out whipped the Jaguars. The final score was 28-3, but even when the game was just 7-3 it felt like we had a solid lead. We pulled away in the second half and I could finally relax. That was a pleasant change from the first two games that each went down to the wire. Close games are a lot of fun, but I do enjoy a blowout from time to time. It certainly cuts down on my throwing of objects and potential heart attacks.
It was good to see the young team flex its muscles in Jacksonville. Last week we got up on Detroit 35-17. That felt good, but the team lost its edge in the fourth quarter. The Lions took advantage of that and next thing you know the lead was just three points and Detroit was lining up for an onside kick. Uh oh. We managed to hang on for the win, but it was too close for comfort. Based on Sunday, the players learned their lesson. This is the NFL. You must stay focused and play hard for 60 minutes.
The defense on Sunday was relentless until the final whistle. They weren't about to let another team make a comeback. Sean McDermott did a great job of rotating his players to keep them fresh. That helped us to keep pressure on Jags quarterback David Garrard the whole game. He never was able to get comfortable in the pocket. We sacked him six times and hit him on plenty of other plays.
Trent Cole led the way with a pair of sacks and numerous hits. He is playing the best football of his career, and that is really saying something. It could be that getting better pressure from up the middle and the other end spot is the key difference. Teams right now cannot focus on Cole. They have to account for the whole defensive line. That is when a pass rush is really working well.
Brandon Graham didn't have a sack, but did get a big hit on Garrard. Juqua Parker is no longer a starter, but he's more productive than ever. Playing fewer reps has helped him be more of an impact player. Think about what a crazy notion that is. Imagine a basketball player playing fewer minutes, but scoring more points. That's wild, but it is exactly what's happening. Parker already has four sacks this year. He's been close to getting others. The thing that I love about him is that Parker isn't a true speed rusher. He actually uses technique, leverage, and power to get most of his sacks. The roster lists him at 6-2 and 250 pounds, but watch how many times he will get the offensive tackle off balance and move the guy around. Parker isn't big, but he is a powerful, physical player when he wants to be.
Darryl Tapp was very quiet this summer. Fans and the media started to question exactly why the Eagles made the deal for him. We found out on Sunday. Tapp had a sack and a tackle-for-loss. He played both end spots and defensive tackle. He looked like a natural fit no matter where he lined up. Tapp spelled Cole at right end and that helped both players to stay fresh even on the final couple of drives. Tapp also played the run very well. He is a really smart player. He understands the importance of staying outside and keeping the edge so that runners can be bottled up.
We have to talk about Trevor Laws. He played well against Detroit, but had nothing to show for it on the stat sheet. He played well against Jacksonville and now has the proof. Laws recorded his first NFL sack and probably should have had another. Garrard threw a pass as he was going to the ground. Laws had gotten to him and it sure looked to me like Garrard's knee was down, but the officials ruled that the pass did get away legally. Laws was credited with six solo tackles and he deflected a couple of passes. He had a tackle-for-loss on an early run play. This game could be a tremendous boost for Laws. He finally got a taste of success. I'm sure he was ready to play again on Monday.
Laws had two disappointing seasons in 2008 and 2009. He dealt with some nagging injuries. He wasn't an ideal fit for our system based on his build. He was struggling to get into games, let alone offer any impact. That all changed this summer. Laws bulked up to over 300 pounds. He finally had the bulk and power that was needed for our system. Laws didn't lose his quickness or athletic ability. All of that showed on Sunday.
Laws was able to hold his ground against the run. He's still not great when he gets double-teamed, but only massive defensive tackles are really adept at that. When faced with a single blocker, Laws now can control his gap and find the football. He used a spin move a couple of times to get off blocks and into the backfield. He pursued plays well. He stayed active from snap to whistle. Laws didn't do anything crazy that he can't duplicate. This was his best game so far, but it's the kind of performance that he can deliver several times a year. That is very encouraging.
The offense was explosive and delivered a lot of big plays. That was fun, but I do wish we had done a better job of sustaining drives. We've been a big play attack the last few years and that is great when things go well. We need the short passing game and running game to get better.
Michael Vick had another strong performance. He made some great throws. His pass to DeSean Jackson for the opening touchdown was a thing of beauty. He made good downfield throws to Jackson and Jeremy Maclin later on that were impressive. I was most impressed with his overall play on the final drive of the first half.
Vick threw a beautiful pass to Brent Celek down the middle on a third and 8 that moved the chains and got us into scoring range. That pass had touch, but was also firm and accurate. You don't want softballs in the middle of the field that just anyone can get to. Vick then made a good sideline throw to Maclin to get us closer to the end zone. Vick didn't panic on the drive. We didn't have any timeouts left, but Vick stayed calm and went up and spiked the ball. On our final play of the half he did scare me a bit. Vick looked left. No one was open. He started to drift right. I worried that he might try to run and that would kill our chance at an easy field goal. Instead, Vick found Maclin over on the right side for a touchdown. That gave us a 14-3 lead and probably was a back-breaker for the Jags.
Back to Jackson for a second. He was explosive. He finished the game with five catches for 153 yards. Jackson is a true impact player, despite his limited touches. He literally flips the field every time he touches the ball. He is averaging almost 25 yards per reception.