The first six games have been a struggle for Michael Vick and the offense. Inconsistent play up front, a lousy early-game production ledger and a rash of giveaways have marred some of the things the offense has done, namely fourth-quarter scoring and the time-to-time success in the ground game.
A few days off to comb through the scheme and find out what works and hasn't will aid the coaching staff. Believe that. The week of self scouting has always been important and productive for Andy Reid and his coaching staff, and with so much season ahead, we should see an immediate difference.
The first order of business is to establish a personality for the offense, a go-to menu of what works for the Eagles. What, exactly, might that be? Based on what we saw against Detroit, more short routes, more slants and skinny posts, could be ahead for the wide receivers. If Atlanta's cornerbacks, for example, prefer off coverage, the Eagles could try to gain some big plays in that short pass-and-run game. Jeremy Maclin caught a pair of short slants against Detroit -- on one he would have scored in the red zone had he not stumbled and on the other Maclin went 70 yards for a touchdown. Of course, he was wide open on the critical third-and-4 play that was knocked down at the line of scrimmage late in the fourth quarter, running the same slant route on which he scored earlier in the quarter.
Too, the Eagles would be well served to get the tight ends back into the passing game. Brent Celek has been a staple of the offense and that needs to continue. Using Clay Harbor more would also help to create favorable matchups down the field.
And if the Eagles want to incorporate more crossing routes and short throws into the passing game, they need to look Jason Avant's way just a little bit more. He's the best the Eagles have in traffic, in the middle of the field, and he just doesn't get enough looks.
As for the running game, well, it's more complicated than hoping the Eagles hand off the ball more to LeSean McCoy. It's the design of the running game, coupled with the performance of the offensive line, that allows a running game to work. When to dial up a run and against a certain defense matters, of course, but the internal study the Eagles conducted this week dealt more with the blocking scheme and the run design than situational running.
Do the Eagles need to overhaul the running game?
We'll see when they line up against Atlanta next Sunday. The Falcons have a strong defense that is playing confident football in a 6-0 start. Maybe the Eagles will want to play keep-away from the explosive offense by running the ball all game ...
We'll know how successful this bye week was very quickly. The Eagles are in the thick of things in the NFC East, of course, and they know they need immediate results. They have huge games against Atlanta and at New Orleans staring them in the face.
It's time to get back to Eagles football. It's time for the offense to find itself ...
- The window is open for the Eagles to have defensive tackle Mike Patterson and offensive tackle Jason Peters join practice. Patterson is much closer to returning to the practice field -- reports indicate that he could be back on Monday -- and the Eagles have until Week 9 to either add the players to the active roster or put them on Injured Reserve for the season.
- I know, I know: Baltimore's Terrell Suggs returns from his Achilles tendon injury, so does that mean Peters won't be far behind? No, unfortunately it doesn't work that way. Peters had two surgeries to repair a ruptured Achilles tendon. He remains a long shot to return this season.
- How can the Eagles incorporate fullback Stanley Havili more into the offense? It isn't quite that simple. I've just asked for more touches for Harbor, Avant and Havili, right? How can that possibly be realistic? Still, I'd like to see the kid on the field more. He's a good young player.
- Are there times when you look at Vick and he's been hit so much that he looks like he just emerged from a boxing match? The man is as tough as they come and he is just taking too many hits. And he yet he's come back in late-game situations so often this season. It's pretty remarkable.
- I anticipate changes along the offensive line, but I'm not sure what exactly to expect. The Eagles have a 10-10-10 practice on Monday and some of the answers will emerge then, I'm sure.