Though Sunday's defeat to the Denver Broncos is still fresh in the mind of many, Michael Vick and his teammates have moved on. They are focusing on the next game against the New York Giants and having an excellent week of practice. After all, dwelling on such a potentially demoralizing loss does no good for a team that understands the NFL season is a marathon and is far from over.
"I thought we had a good day of practice," Vick said. "A game like that (against the Broncos) comes and goes; you have to move on to the next week. I think the guys responded today as far as their enthusiasm in practice. What else can we do?"
Vick spoke after the Broncos game of the need for leaders to step up and help get the team back on track. He was encouraged that it did not take long to start seeing that happen, and feeling a sense of urgency from his teammates made him even more hopeful about moving forward.
"I didn't have to (talk to other players)," Vick said. "Just talking to some of the guys on the plane, a lot of guys were just enthused to get back on the practice field and get back to playing another game. Even though we have to crawl before we walk and just take it one day at a time, you want that sense of urgency and that's what you have to feel. We're excited about being back out here, and we understand that the next game is the most important game."
The Chiefs and Broncos have attacked the Eagles' offensive scheme by restricting receivers' space at the snap and playing press-man coverage. The tight coverage has made it difficult for receivers to separate while enabling the opposing pass rush that extra split second necessary to beat blockers, get pressure on Vick and disrupt the passing game.
"Man coverage is a part of playing football," Vick said. "It's our job as players to figure it out, as players and coaches, and that's what it's all about. You can't look further than that. Not to say it's an easy fix, but we have to come together and figure out ways to beat man coverage, and we will. It's all a part of playing football, and we embrace that. We embrace the competition part of it."
Both DeSean Jackson's visibility in the offense and overall production have suffered with defenses implementing man-press coverage. Compounding the issue is that other receivers are not getting open consistently enough to deter defenses from also shading a safety over the top. Since it figures that defenses will continue to play that way until the Eagles prove they can beat it, the offense will have to find other ways to get Jackson the ball, and his fellow receivers must find ways to get open.
"We just have to find ways to move him around," Vick said. "DeSean is a professional; he understands what it takes to get open and what he needs to do. We all are a work in progress and have to figure out ways to up our game and improve our game. Obviously, it's up to me to get the ball to him and find him in moments where I need him the most. We'll figure that out. We were just on the practice field talking about ways to get him the ball. But the one thing we don't want to do, we don't want to try to force it, we want to let it happen naturally, and it'll happen.
"Guys have to take pressure off DeSean. We can't rely on DeSean to make every play. We can't rely on DeSean every game to catch a deep ball. This league is tough and you have smart defensive coordinators who game-plan for him. Other guys have to step up and do their jobs and get open, and they will. I'm not worried about the man coverage. I'm not worried about the aspect of us not being able to be effective throughout the game versus man coverage. That's going to happen, and we have ways to beat that. The thing I want to do is be able to put drives together consistently and get first downs, get points, help our defense out and win football games."
Vick also intimated that the Eagles have perhaps gone away from some of the things on offense that worked over the first few games and must return to those scheme concepts in order to be successful again.
"The big plays that DeSean made earlier in the season were on different route concepts," Vick said. "We just have to get to doing the things we do naturally, getting the ball out quick and that's all in the game plan and scheme. … We're figuring it out, we went through the first quarter of the season, made some changes, went through some growing pains and now I think we understand what needs to be done in order to improve on a weekly basis. I'm looking forward to the changes that we're going to make."
In a troubling reversion to last season, converting opportunities in the red zone into touchdowns has plagued the Eagles over the last three games. Vick lamented that it has been a perfect storm of different costly mistakes each week.
"(Against the Broncos), penalties kept us out of the end zone in a game where we needed seven points, not three, especially going against that type of offense," Vick said. "And then against Kansas City we had some turnovers and against San Diego there were some plays we didn't make. It's all a part of football, we're all learning from it, and I think we have to keep building each and every day and it starts on the practice field."
At the quarter mark of last season, the Eagles were 3-1 and feeling hopeful about their upcoming matchup in Pittsburgh against the Steelers. Unfortunately, a close, agonizing defeat marked the beginning of an eight-game losing streak that effectively ended the season and brought about seismic change to the franchise. Despite three losses in a row after a euphoric victory over the Washington Redskins to begin the season, Vick is adamant in his feeling that things are different now.
"We've been there, we know what it's like," Vick said. "The one thing we won't do is we won't go in the tank. Last year, you lost three games in a row and we just felt the world was coming to an end. You just have to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and keep going. Nothing's going to be given to you, you have to go out and earn it, that's why we're professionals and nobody's going to feel sorry for you. We understand that. We have opportunities to get out of this hole and it'll take going out there, playing on Sundays and winning."
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