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How Can Eagles Pick Up Pieces?

It makes no sense to look at the big picture here. What matters is picking up the pieces and finding a way to beat the Buffalo Bills on Sunday. Tunnel vision, people. I know it's tough. I know you are down. Me, too. Shocked. Stunned. Disapppointed.

But not giving up.

The Eagles have six days to prepare for Buffalo, a high-flying offensive team and an aggressive defensive team that believes in itself and that has enough comeback wins this season to know it can win any game at any time. This is a strong test for the Eagles, who have to know -- they know, right? -- how damaging a loss is in this spot.

Here are some things to consider looking back and looking ahead at this Eagles football team ...

  • In seven trips to the red zone on Sunday in the loss to San Francisco, the Eagles threw the ball into the end zone just two times. One pass was complete to tight end Clay Harbor for a touchdown as quarterback Michael Vick ducked out of rushing linemen twice to free himself for a roll-right-throw-into-the-end-zone piece of magic. The other pass into the end zone was to Brent Celek as Vick rolled left and threw back across the formation to the right corner of the end zone, incomplete, for Celek.
  • The Eagles ran 12 plays in the red zone and LeSean McCoy had 3 touches, with a touchdown. He was a target on a pass that was incomplete as well. McCoy gained 18 yards on those three touches.
  • San Francisco had drives of 47 net yards (blocked field goal), 80 net yards (touchdown), 77 net yards (touchdown) and 77 net yards (touchdown) in the second half alone on Sunday. And get this: San Francisco's offense had seven plays of 20-plus yards. Keep in mind that the 49ers had the 32nd-ranked offense in terms of total yards entering the game. Very telling.
  • There are some serious injury concerns that Andy Reid will update shortly: Trent Cole has a calf injury that didn't look good after the game, Antonio Dixon has a triceps injury and Jason Peters has a hamstring strain.
  • Is Harbor becoming more of a receiving threat than is Celek? Just wondering ...
  • Key stat: Vick had 9 rushing touchdowns last season and he has zero in four games in 2011. This is huge. 
  • Steve Smith played sparingly on Sunday, and did not have a reception. Where is his impact? The Eagles played with a lot of three-wide receiver sets on Sunday and Smith spent most of his day on the sidelines.
  •  What does Juan Castillo do to improve the defense? He blitzed only a handful of times in the first quarter of the season, a dramatic departure from the Eagles defenses of the past. The Eagles are relying on four men to reach the quarterback and they are playing zone coverage behind the pass rush. Does he make changes to the scheme? It would help if ends Juqua Parker and Darryl Tapp can get on the field and take the reps that are suddenly open with Cole's injury.
  • Are there any personnel changes that Castillo can make? Probably not. He has used all of his linebackers. He has changed safeties. The Eagles have to be more aggressive, more fundamentally sound and tougher on defense.
  • In 2003, the Eagles were 0-2 and went to Buffalo a team in disarray. A big road win helped the Eagles turn the season around. They need the same kind of performance against a creative, hungry, very tough Buffalo team. The Bills are balanced on offense and they are going to go after Vick in the passing game.
  • Defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins suggested after the loss that the Eagles weren't stepping up and making plays, that they were instead waiting for someone else to make a play. There could be something to that. The Eagles are waiting for leadership to emerge and this is the time to find out who is the leader. A collection of talented players does not make a football team great.
  • The Eagles are 1-3. They are what they are. They need a win. I bristle when somebody talks about this team being "great." That isn't true. I hope the players understand the urgency of the situation here.
  • Philadelphia has been outscored 36-7 in the fourth quarter this season. That is unbelievable.
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