Philadelphia Eagles News

Observations From Get-It-Done Victory

You look back and think about 33-14 and what a win like that over a struggling Tampa Bay team means and you just accept it. Embrace it and accept it. Too many times the Eagles have been in position to beat an inferior team and they have struggled, or lost. This time, the Eagles went out and took care of business in a sometimes-thrilling, sometimes-dragging game to move to 3-1 at the quarter pole of the season. What did we learn on Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field? I'm not sure, but here is what I saw ....

  • First things first, Donovan McNabb looked really good throwing the football. He missed Jason Avant running a post pattern on the second possession for the offense, but there were very few mistakes. I'd say there was a chance on a third-and-long throw to go to Avant in the second quarter, and instead McNabb checked down for LeSean McCoy. Otherwise, McNabb was right on. Really accurate. He was decisive with his decisions. He showed a lot of trust in his young receivers, particularly Jeremy Maclin (more on him later). Tampa Bay doubled DeSean Jackson with coverage underneath and a safety over the top, so McNabb threw to the other side where Maclin went against Aqib Talib. Look at the numbers: McNabb was 16 of 21 for 264 yards and 3 touchdowns, compiling a passer rating of 157.2. And he ran for 30 yards, including a 17-yard scamper. It was a great welcome-back-to-the-lineup performance by McNabb.
  • As for Maclin, he is going to continue to improve. For the first time, he made plays deep down the field and he looked great. Maclin has superb body control and terrific, strong hands. He isn't as flashy as is Jackson, but Maclin has a chance to be every bit the playmaker. His 142 yards ranks third among Eagles rookie receivers (behind Don Looney (180 yards, 1940) and Hank Baskett (177 yards, 2006) and Maclin is only four games into his NFL career. There is a lot more coming. The Eagles can afford to give Kevin Curtis time to heal his balky knee because they have Maclin, and because they have Reggie Brown, who is a talented receiver aching to get some playing time.
  • Jackson had one catch for one yard and the Eagles scored 33 points. Ever think that would happen?
  • The running game still isn't there and the Eagles need to work on it. Brian Westbrook looked pretty good, gaining 18 yards on 6 carries. He just had nowhere to go. The Eagles ran for 76 yards on 21 carries, and 30 of those yards came on McNabb scrambles.
  • Max Jean-Gilles continues to start at right guard. I didn't see a rotation with Stacy Andrews, but that isn't official. That is just what I observed, and I have been known to be wrong a few million times. Andrews played late in the game.
  • Winston Justice played pretty well, but gave up one sack when he dropped his head and end Jimmy Wilkerson got around the edge and got McNabb. Jason Peters, as I see it, is playing lights-out football at left tackle. Peters is getting better and better.
  • The defense blitzed on nearly every down and really put a lot of pressure on quarterback Josh Johnson. The young, agile and blindingly-fast quarterback completed 26 of 50 passes for 240 yards and also ran 5 times for 40 yards. He tossed three interceptions, but handled himself pretty well. Why did the Bucs draft Josh Freeman? Anyway, Trent Cole (8 tackles, 1 sack, 2 tackles for loss, 2 quarterback hurries) was a beast, and Darren Howard played in the Tampa Bay backfield all day.
  • Did you notice that Trevor Laws, a second-round draft pick last year, was inactive? The Eagles kept young Antonio Dixon up and he played with some power inside. If Dixon can ever get his technique down, he could be a force. Meanwhile, what is going on with Laws?
  • Jeremiah Trotter played 20 snaps and it looked like he moved well when he had the chances to run sideline to sideline. Trotter didn't blow up the line of scrimmage, but it was a good welcome-back-to-the-NFL game for him. And it was a very impactful moment when the Eagles had Trotter introduced as the 12th starter -- the last player introduced with the defense -- before the game. The crowd at Lincoln Financial Field responded with a huge ovation.
  • The Wild Eagle wasn't much to talk about in this game. I actually thought the Eagles forced it a bit when they didn't have to do so. The game plan was fine without the Wild Eagle. They used it about 8 times and didn't make much hay with the formation or the approach, whether it was Michael Vick or McCoy taking the direct snaps. "It wasn't blowing up my blouse out there," said Andy Reid, in one of his more memorable quotes.
  • Sav Rocca was the bright spot, a tremendously bright spot, of another so-so day on special teams. Rocca averaged 48.8 yards gross and 43.4 yards net on 5 punts. Awesome. David Akers kicked off great and made four PATs and a 44-yard field goal. But there were too many penalties and the return game wasn't dynamic to be satisfied with the special teams.
  • How weird of a season is this? Sunday's game was the closest margin of the four games the team has played.
  • The Eagles had 5 plays of 20-plus yards in the game -- 51 yards and a touchdown to Maclin, 40 yards and a touchdown to Maclin, 38 yards to tight end Brent Celek, 20 yards to Leonard Weaver (3 touches!) and a touchdown and 20 yards on a pass to Westbrook when he was matched up one-on-one with a linebacker to set up Westbrook's 7-yard touchdown run.
  • What the coaches will harp on, rightly so, during the week is the high number of penalties in Sunday's win. The Eagles committed 10 penalties and lost 111 yards in the process.
  • Josh Johnson's 40 yards and McNabb's 30 yards led their respective teams in rushing. Very unusual.
  • Tracy White remains the team's nickel linebacker, replacing Akeem Jordan. Now, Jordan played a lot, and he blitzed well. The Eagles blitzed so incredibly much in the game. On the first series, they even had Dimitri Patterson lined up in the "B" gap to show blitz and, unfortunately, jumped early in the neutral zone.
  • Kellen Winslow, Jr. gave the Eagles fits. He is a very athletic tight end who makes plays. All things considered, though, I'd rather have Brent Celek. Celek is so reliable, and his catch and run -- and leap -- in the first quarter was an indication that he is more athletic than many believe.
  • The depth on the defensive line is showing. Victor Abiamiri, Juqua Parker, Cole and Darren Howard dominated outside. I think that Brodrick Bunkley is having a fantastic season. He is making a bunch of plays.
  • It is so crucial that the Eagles keep playing with urgency with games against the struggling Raiders and Redskins next. The Eagles can't afford to let up and lose a game the next two weeks. After that, the schedule gets nasty. It would be nice to be 5-1 heading into the Giants game on November 1.
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