Oh, look, I understand the frustration of the way Sunday unfolded. The Eagles did not play a very good game in coming back to beat the Browns by a single point. There were too many penalties, too many turnovers and too much angst for an opening game.
The way of the world in the NFL is to move ahead and correct mistakes, so the coaching staff has a lot of teaching in the days ahead. There were times in Sunday's victory when the Eagles were downright ugly, and they know it.
But the Eagles lived to win the game and earn a 1-0 record which puts them at the top of the NFC East with Dallas and Washington. As our good buddy Ron Jaworski has said throughout his television analyst's career, they don't ask you "how" in the NFL, they ask you "how many."
The answer, then, is "one."
Now, I know you aren't going to accept that spin, so we can also analyze here what the Eagles need to do to improve for Sunday against a very good Baltimore Ravens team that comes to town. The answer is that they need to improve everything, but let's look at some of the particulars that I know are on the top of your mind ...
MICHAEL VICK: HOW CAN HE REDUCE TURNOVERS?
Maybe it was the rust from playing very little in the preseason, maybe the Browns had a great scheme that took away what the Eagles wanted to do, maybe the offensive coaching staff just dialed up too many passing plays in lieu of the running game, or perhaps it was some of all of the above.
Whatever it was, Vick threw four interceptions and fumbled twice. He made a lot of mistakes. He also made a lot of plays, accounting for nearly 350 yards of offense -- the Eagles rolled up 456 total net yards among their incredible 94 plays (including penalties) from scrimmage -- and two red-zone touchdowns in the victory.
Along the way, Vick also made a very real effort to do the right thing. He threw the ball out of bounds at times, which was encouraging. He hit the deck instead of taking hits -- although on a last-drive run Vick had no choice but to take punishment as he ran for the sticks and a first down to try to keep the drive alive.
The interceptions are the huge concern. What does Vick do to minimize the turnovers? He clearly either tried to force too much on Sunday or just didn't see coverage underneath. Rust could have been an issue, for Vick threw only 7 passes in the preseason. Trying to do too much could be part of the equation, something that Vick clearly needs to manage better in an offense that features many other playmakers.
It's going to be fascinating to see what the coaches do with Vick this week. Do they order more running plays early in Sunday's game against Baltimore? Do they try to move the pocket more with Vick, which seemed to work well early against the Browns?
Remember, if you will, that Vick completed his first 6 passes before throwing an interception. And, for those of you criticizing the early play calling, look back at the play by play. The offense couldn't get anything going because of all of the penalties that set the team back in the first half and after two quarters Vick had thrown 28 passes and LeSean McCoy had just 7 carries. That 9 of those 28 pass attempts came in the final two drives, both with less than two minutes remaining in the half, may not mean much to you, but the time on the clock and the game situation -- a 3-3 tie -- were significant.
Anyway, Vick needs to be better. Yeah, the playcalling needs to improve, too, along with the entire offensive performance. The Eagles can't turn the ball over 5 times and expect to win many games.
WHAT IS THE RIGHT WORKLOAD FOR McCOY?
LeSean McCoy is so good that we want him to have the football almost all the time. And despite the uneven nature of the game and of the offensive performance, McCoy had 26 touches, which is too many on a weekly basis.
The Eagles gave Bryce Brown a taste -- two carries that went for 4 yards and minus-1 yard -- so if they believe in him now that he understands the tempo of a regular-season game, he needs to get some work in, too.
There was absolutely a concerted effort to get the ball to McCoy early in the game. A screeen pass was incomplete. A screen pass for a big gain and two runs were called back because of penalties.
The right amount of touches for McCoy is probably 18-22 touches a game, right? That means Brown has to get some touches and Dion Lewis, when he is healthy, has to get some touches. The Eagles need to establish a physical mentality along the line of scrimmage using the stable of backs they have here.
IS THE DEFENSE REALLY THIS GOOD?
Juan Castillo deserves a huge high five for the way his defense played in the opening win. There were a few holes that I'm sure Castillo will pore over with his coaches and players, but for the most part the defense was awesome. Yeah, I know it was the Cleveland Browns, but ...
Middle linebacker DeMeco Ryans played outstanding football, as did everyone on that side of the ball. The Eagles had just a pair of quarterback sacks, but they held Brandon Weeden to a miniscule passer rating of 5.1. Has that ever happened? ...
I loved the aggressive play of the cornerbacks and the playmaking of the safeties. The defense played with great energy and ran to the football and was very, very physical.
Baltimore, with terrific running back Ray Rice and the big, strong quarterbacking of Joe Flacco, will be a much more difficult test. But the Eagles won Game 1 because of their defense, and that is something everyone wanted to see after the final four games of last season when so many wondered if that 4-0 record, and the defense that allowed just 11.5 points per game, was a fluke.
It was not a defensive fluke. The Eagles have a lot of good things to build on here.
MISCELLANEOUS THOUGHTS AND THIS AND THAT ...
- Chas Henry really bailed out the team with some change-of-field-position punts. He was awesome and Akeem Jordan was tremendous in kick coverage. This team could use a healthy Colt Anderson to make the coverage groups complete, though.
- The offensive line did a pretty good job, and will certainly see a tough test against Baltimore this week. Cleveland's defensive talent and its scheme is not to be downplayed, though. The Browns are good on that side of the ball.
- Don't look now, but the Eagles are perfect in the red zone offensively. Two trips, two touchdowns. Clay Harbor is a good weapon to use down close to the end zone. He has really come a long way in the last two seasons.
- Injuries: It doesn't sound too bad after such a physical first game. Cornerback Curtis Marsh has a hamstring injury which could make him questionable for this week. Otherwise, I'm not expecting bad news to develop anywhere ...