Sunday's loss was a miserable experience. The Eagles lost to a bad team and played poorly in doing so. You can't point to one player to blame. You can't pick out one moment that cost us the game. That loss was a total team effort. Somebody please tell the Eagles not to take the ""all for one and one for all"" thing so literally.
While the game was a mistake-filled slopfest we have to be careful about making too much out of it. Would a 42-3 blowout have meant the Eagles would win the Super Bowl? No. A bad loss doesn't mean the season is over. It doesn't mean Andy Reid can't coach. Or that Donovan McNabb isn't a good quarterback. The loss just means that we had a bad day. It doesn't define the season or the team.
Think back to last year. What is your lasting memory of McNabb? I don't think about his 30 incompletions and three picks against the Bengals. I don't remember his 59 first half passing yards in the Ravens game where he was benched. My memory from last year comes from the Wild Card game in Minnesota. The Vikings had pinned us deep with a good punt. McNabb dropped back to pass in the end zone. He stood in the pocket calm, cool and collected. He saw Jason Avant come open over the middle and put the throw right on the money. That moved the chains. I'll never forget that image of McNabb in the end zone. Fox had a camera behind him and you could feel the pocket closing. You could see Avant running his route. McNabb stayed focused and played like the high quality veteran quarterback he is.
Back to Sunday's game. As much as I want to forget about it, let's talk about a few things. Many people felt this was a game the Eagles couldn't lose. I wrote last week that the Raiders could win if it was an "ugly defensive struggle."" Well, guess what. That's exactly what happened.
</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Tommy Lawlor, goeagles99 on the Discussion Boards, is an amateur football scout and devoted Eagles fan. He's followed the team for almost 20 years. Tommy has been trained by an NFL scout in the art of scouting and player evaluation and runs www.scoutsnotebook.com.</td> </tr> </tbody>
David Akers missed a pair of field goals. The defense was sloppy and made some costly mistakes, but this loss was mainly due to the offense having its worst game of the year. Think about this. We came into the game as the No. 2 scoring offense in the entire NFL, but we failed to get the ball inside Oakland's 15-yard line once in the entire game. Not one single play. That is pretty staggering.
The Raiders threw us a curveball early in the game. They came in as one of the lowest-ranked teams in blitz percentage. They try to rely on the defensive line for pressure. This week they decided to blitz. That was very effective for a couple of reasons. We had a vertical passing attack planned. That required McNabb to hold the ball an extra second or so. Schematically, their new wrinkle hurt us. We made matters worse by not executing. Brent Celek whiffed on an early pass block that led to a sack. Max Jean-Gilles missed a read and failed to block a rusher on a play. Nick Cole did the same thing. Rookie LeSean McCoy had a couple of missed assignments in pass protection. Give the Raiders credit for catching us off-guard initially. There's no excuse for why the problems continued. We face the blitz just about every week. Experienced linemen should know who to block.
Jason Peters got hurt and had to leave the game. That turned over the left tackle spot to King Dunlap. This was Dunlap's first extended playing time in a regular season game. He was up and down in the game. Dunlap is a tall guy. He has pretty good feet and athletic ability. His weakness is that he lacks ideal bulk and strength. You need a tackle to be able to move laterally with rushers and block them. He also must be able to anchor. This is when he plants his feet and the rusher comes right at him, hoping to drive the blocker backward. The tackle must be able to hold his ground, or anchor. Veteran Richard Seymour had great success with driving Dunlap back. That was a bad matchup for Dunlap and Seymour played an inspired game. He also dominated us in the Super Bowl. I'll be just fine if I never see the Eagles face Seymour again.
The heavy pressure, either from blitzes or good defensive line play, bothered McNabb all game long. He never got comfortable in the pocket and was erratic with his throws. There were some great passes. McNabb hooked up with DeSean Jackson a deep ball that got us 51 yards. McNabb's best pass was a throw to Celek on a seam route. He threw into tight coverage, but gave Celek a chance to make the play. That pass went for 42 yards. There were also some bad throws. McNabb didn't have good accuracy with his deep balls most of the day. He threw a pass at Leonard Weaver's feet that would have gained a few yards. McNabb short-hopped Jackson on fourth down late in the game.
The rest of the offense also contributed mistakes of their own. McCoy dropped a pass and fumbled. Celek dropped a pass late in the game that would have really helped us. Backup tight end Alex Smith dropped a pass and screwed up while trying to block. He shoved a defender to the inside. That shove sent the guy to a gap in our blocking and the defender came free for a sack. It was that kind of a day.
I was happy to see Brian Westbrook pile up more than 140 yards of offense. He averaged almost 10 yards per touch. We need to get him going. Our offense is at its best when the running backs are productive. McCoy is a talented rookie, but Westbrook is still the key guy. Among the receivers, only Jackson had a good day. He failed to get into the end zone, but caught six passes for 94 yards. Most of the catches came on short or intermediate routes. That's good. The deep balls are a lot of fun, but you can't count on everything being a big play.
One of the big points of discussion is the run-pass ratio. We had 53 called pass plays and only 11 runs by running backs. That's just not a healthy way to run an offense. We'll always be pass heavy with Reid running the show. I can live with that. It is his style and has been successful for us. We do need to have a better mix.
The defense held Oakland to 13 points and came up with a pair of interceptions. On most days that would be good enough to win. Trent Cole had a sack and pair of tackles for loss. According to NFL.com, Chris Gocong led the team with 10 solo tackles.
I do have a couple of beefs with the defense. Oakland only completed two passes to wide receivers. We lost to a team that basically only threw to their fullback and tight end (11-of-17 completions went to Gary Russell and Zach Miller). How does that happen? We also did a very poor job of tackling. Miller's 86-yard touchdown should have been stopped for a reasonable gain. Cornerback Asante Samuel made a terrible attempt and whiffed. Samuel is a ballhawk to be sure, but his sloppy tackling cost us on a few plays on Sunday.
Pro football is a marathon sport. One game won't make or break a season if the team takes care of business. The key for the team is to put the Raiders in the past. Only lose a game once. Focus on the upcoming game against Washington. Nothing can be done about last weekend. The Eagles still have a very talented roster of players. Reid is still one of the best coaches in the league. Winning games should not be a problem if the team plays up to its potential and eliminates the sloppy play and mistakes, but there are no guarantees in the NFL and the schedule certainly gets tougher starting this week. We'll find out pretty quickly just how good the Eagles are and what kind of a team we have. I'm certainly hoping to see more of the Eagles than beat up the Panthers, Chiefs and Bucs rather than the one from Sunday.