Much of the talent on this Eagles team was here last season. They were here for the expectations and they were here for the subsequent disappointment. And they remember losing games like the one against the Browns last Sunday.
As the Eagles marched 91 yards down the field to ultimately pull out the win in Cleveland, center Jason Kelce saw a different offense. It was clean – no costly penalties; no turnovers.
"That kills drives; kills momentum and it gives the other team opportunities they shouldn't really have," Kelce said. "That's really the only thing that was different the last drive (compared to) the whole game. We just didn't turn the ball over and we didn't have a penalty."
Despite the offense's rough start, they knew they were still in the game. Nearly every player on the field for the Eagles' offense was with the team last year. They had put up big numbers and piled on points before. Now, it was just a matter of execution. And unlike so many games last season, the Eagles tightened up and pulled through when it really mattered.
Quarterback Michael Vick had time to throw the ball and a clean pocket in which to throw it. On the 16-play, 91-yard drive Vick was hit three times: one was a scramble for a first down, one was an 11-yard completion to wide receiver Jeremy Maclin. The third was a late hit the officials saw, calling a roughing the passer penalty.
"I think the offense is more comfortable with one another," Kelce said. "We've had a full season, everyone working together. It was one of things where we knew that we were the ones killing ourselves, and as long as we could put a couple drives here, without shooting ourselves in the foot, that we'll be able to come back from this."
Kelce knows that everyone on the offense shares responsibility in keeping Vick upright. And there is room for improvement going into Week 2.
"Pass protection isn't just the offensive line," he said. "It's the offensive line, it's the running backs and it's also the quarterback. And I think all three phases of those parts of the protection need to improve next week. The running backs need to be locked in more, the quarterback needs to be locked in more, and obviously the leaders of protecting the quarterback — the offensive line — need to do a better job.
"Do I think the offensive line played a terrible game? No, I do not. But we need to play better, and it starts with all phases of protection this week in practice."
The Ravens' defensive line will present a significant challenge for the Eagles this Sunday. And as the offense prepares for that challenge, they go into Sunday's game against the Ravens knowing just how good they can be.
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