2012 Eagles Week 1 Report
Get That Rust off Your Shoulder
Michael Vick went 29/56 for 317 yards in the season opener versus Cleveland, but in the process he threw 4 interceptions and had a quarterback rating of just 51.0, according to ESPN’s box score.
Adding an uncharacteristic fumble by McCoy, the Eagles had 5 turnovers–not what Eagles fans want to see against one of the worst teams from 2011. And Vick almost topped it off with a fifth interception in the Eagles final drive. Lucky for us, that ball was dropped, but Vick’s rustiness was apparent from start to finish.
So how did the Eagles even manage to squeak out a 17-16 win?
For those of you who were fortunate enough to miss this mess of a game, we can thank Cleveland’s rookie starter Brandon Weedon for stinking more than Vick. Weedon through 4 interceptions of his own, and would have had 5 but Cromartie was so surprised to be thrown the ball that he barely missed a pick hat trick for the day. Even when Weedon wasn’t throwing it to the Eagles secondary, he looked horrendous, throwing for just 188 yards with a dismal 5.1 quarterback rating. Some of his passes bounced into the turf what seemed miles from any receiver. Even his completed passes looked clumsy.
Still, Solid Defensive Effort by the Birds
Give much of the credit to the Eagles defensive line, which put steady pressure on the Browns offense throughout the game. They only had two sacks (one for Babin and one for Cox), but they had Weedon rattled on most plays. On top of that, the Eagles had clearly prepared for Trent Richardson, who they held to just 39 yards on 19 attempts.
Key Questions Starting to Be Answered
More good news for the Eagles was the solid play of DeMeco Ryans, who had 5 tackles, including a couple of big ones. He also seemed in position and was moving well. Although the Eagles weren’t playing a tough offense, the early positive signs help ease the preseason questions surrounding Ryans.
Other big questions surrounding the Eagles involved the secondary and left offensive tackle. With respect to the former, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Nate Allen came out strong. Each had a pair of picks, and Cromartie almost had a third. Nnamdi Asomugha also stepped up with a huge hustle play to prevent a touchdown in the second half. Whether the Eagles secondary will hold up against better offenses will only tell in the next few weeks.
The Eagles have gone with King Dunlap to fill the painful hole left by Peters at left tackle. Dunlap has beastly size, but on several plays in the first half, he seemed to lose his leverage. He was often caught standing straight up, and despite having height and weight advantage, was run through. Hopefully as the season goes on his positioning and technique will improve.
Still Not Enough Love for Shady
Although the Eagles came away with a win today, there are several alarming signs for Eagles fans. First, McCoy only had 20 touches, despite the clear struggles of Vick. It looks like the constant cries to give the ball to Shady more have not been heard. He ran for a buck ten, averaging 5.5 yards per carry (and the average could have easily been higher but at least one long run was called back).
Personally, I love how Michael Vick plays. He brings an intensity and potential for big plays. But McCoy is a bona fide star as well. He should be getting 25+ touches in a normal game, but when Vick is struggling, that’s even more reason to use him. Reid finally did shift in this direction in the final drive, but it was almost too little too late, leading to plenty of Fire Andy Reid chants on Twitter throughout the game.
Another continuing question is the Eagles red-zone offense. Although the Eagles were barely even near the red zone today, it was nerve wracking to watch them when they were. In the final drive, Vick made a nice pass to Celek for a solid gain, and after the near pick in the end zone, made a safe pass for the winning touchdown. Those two plays looked so effortless, that it only makes you wonder why the Eagles continue to force long, risky passes instead of using their tight ends and running backs more.
Looking Forward to Week 2
The bottom line is that the Eagles pulled out a win, which is important because we lost a lot of those close games last year. The defense was solid but of course wasn’t tested very much, at least in the passing game. The offense was simply sloppy. Except for McCoy and a mostly solid game by Maclin (96 yards but a couple of key mistakes), it’s hard to see how the Eagles will manage much at all next week against the Ravens’ stingy defense.
Of course, it’s not too surprising that Vick was making mistakes–when you don’t play in the preseason, the first few games become your preseason. Hopefully he can get that rust off his shoulders by getting in plenty of reps this week.
But it’s not just that some of his throws were mechanically questionable (a couple of shaky sidearm attempts were especially notable). Most alarming was that Vick was throwing into double and triple coverage throughout the game, throwing across his body, and forcing too many passes. If he doesn’t sharpen up soon, it’s going to be a long game next week.