Philadelphia Eagles News

In Big Picture, Eagles Need Team Regroup

It is the day after such a disappointing loss to Washington, with an update on the condition of Michael Vick's rib/chest injury, with the question of how a "rib cartilage injury" will affect his immediate future and about the 2-2 Eagles at the quarter pole of this season. We have so many things to talk about in the day or two before the focus turns to San Francisco and a very difficult spot on Sunday night.

Vick's injury is "up high, in the second and third ribs" where there is, according to Reid, "cracked cartilage" and a lot of pain for Vick. It is a day-by-day, week-by-week thing for Reid and for Vick and for the offense.

We have a week of intrigue ahead for both Vick and for running back LeSean McCoy, who has a cracked rib and who played with the injury for most of Sunday's game.

In the meantime, Kevin Kolb is the starting quarterback. How long that lasts, as we know around here, is not etched in stone. There is no sense looking ahead and wondering what the future holds. Go day to day with this thing. Kolb came in and moved the offense in bits and pieces on Sunday against Washington's soft coverage and he got into the flow a little bit and gained some timing back.

Kolb needs to have some success down the field, of course, and he needs to get DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin more involved in the offense. If Kolb is the quarterback on Sunday night, we will see how the offense is structured, how the Eagles attack the 49ers' secondary. The quarterback position is one to talk about at length throughout the week, depending upon Vick's health update, so let's move on to other issues.

One of the main tone setters on Sunday was Brandon Banks' 53-yard punt return after the Eagles' offense went three and out to start the game. The special teams are still looking to put it all together. There have been different mistakes in each of the four games -- penalties, return-game ineffectiveness and, against Washington, a coverage breakdown. Where has Jackson been in the punt return game? How about Ellis Hobbs on kickoffs?

Bobby April is a proven genius coaching special teams and he will continue to coach this group well. The only constants have been Sav Rocca's great punting and David Akers' precision on kickoffs and in the field goal game. Special teams have to win the battle every week, it's that simple, and that difficult. To provide a margin of victory, the Eagles need to dominate on special teams.

Sean McDermott's defense put together three outstanding quarters of football on Sunday. The Eagles limited Donovan McNabb and the Redskins' passing game to minimal yardage and just a couple of big plays. Washington was scoreless in the second half. But the Eagles did not play a complete game and McDermott has to find a way to duplicate the performance the defense put together in Jacksonville every week.

Washington scored on its first three possessions on Sunday and then controlled field position the rest of the way by running the football effectively and by converting 5 of 11 third downs. McNabb's 18-yard scramble late in the fourth quarter was a huge play. The run defense was not up to par. Nate Allen had an interception and the Eagles missed on chances to pick off a couple of more passes.

Where was the pass rush? Washington rolled McNabb out a lot and gave him time that way, but I expected a dominating performance up front and it didn't seem like the Eagles defense delivered one.

Still, the defense kept the team in the game. The offense just couldn't get untracked. Moving forward, no matter who plays quarterback, can the Eagles play well enough to score big points, especially at the line of scrimmage? There were two holding penalties on Jason Peters, one on Max Jean-Gilles and one on Todd Herremans. The Eagles clearly have questions up front, and they need those questions answered immediately. Who is the starting right guard, anyway? Is Nick Cole OK to play next week? Does Reggie Wells factor in at all? What is going on with Peters, who has been wildly inconsistent in four games?

There are also some intangibles to consider here. The NFC East is very winnable. All four teams have their issues, and all have very difficult schedules ahead. The adversity this team has faced has been extraordinary in such a short period of time after a peaceful training camp and preseason. Where is the leadership coming from? Who steps up and takes control with the quarterback position in flux? How does the defense come out smoking from start to finish? Is there a go-to player on special teams?

You get the sense that this is going to be a season of overcoming challenges. The Eagles have a tough road game in San Francisco followed by a home game against a fine Atlanta team prior to going to Tennessee. The heat of the season is here and the Eagles have yet to establish an identity.

Will the real Eagles stand up now, and stay that way? Does this team know what it is yet?

So many questions. Shortly, Andy Reid will provide some answers, the most important of which is the status of Vick's health and the status of McCoy's injury. After that, of course, Reid will have plenty more on the list as the Eagles set their sights on San Francisco.

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