Reflections on Eagles Week 1 lossby Eric Schwartz
Now that the Eagles opener against the Green Bay Packers has come and gone it’s time to reflect on what was Sunday and what could be in the future. The Eagles did a few things right and a few more things wrong in a 27-20 loss that leaves the team still searching for answers at several key positions.
Kolb struggles: After starting his career with back-to-back 300-yard passing games last season expectations were high for Kevin Kolb — maybe a little too high. Like many young quarterbacks, Kolb had his struggles on Sunday, passing for just 24 yards after having his day come to an end before halftime due to a concussion. Injury aside, Kolb looked shaky on his first game since Donovan McNabb was traded to the Redskins, going 5-for-10 and finishing with a QB rating of 56.2. The Eagles are saying there is a chance the Kolb could play this Sunday against Detroit, but with the NFL now more cautious about head injuries I would be surprised to see him active.
Vick Impresses: Sure it was against a defense that wasn’t expecting to see him for more than a few gadget plays, but it is undeniable that Vick sparked the Eagles offense. For all of the criticism that Vick has taken since arriving in Philadelphia last preseason — and rightly so — he reminded fans why he was a three-time pro bowler at the position.
With the offensive line struggling, Vick improvised his way to 103 yard rushing on 11 attempts. He also was quite accurate with the football, finishing 16-for-24 for 175 yards. No matter what way you shake it, 275 total yards for a QB in just over half of a football game is a great day.
We may also get to find out what Vick can do against a defense that game plans for him this week if Kolb can’t go.
Still no running game: I’m not sure how the Eagles are going to find out what they have in LeSean McCoy if they don’t give him an opportunity to run the football. McCoy got just seven carries on Sunday. He did factor in the passing game, as expected, with six catches and 47 yards, but the Eagles looked very one dimensional, especially in the first half. Reid has never been one to focus on the run, but for a team in transition finding out if McCoy is the right guy for the job should be a priority. It would be nice to see what McCoy could do with 15-plus carries but that doesn’t seem like a reality with this coaching staff in place.
Defensive aggression: Don’t let the fact that the Packers score 27 points fool you; the Eagles defense played well Sunday. The Bird racked up three sacks and pressured Aaron Rodgers early and often. Had the offense done a little more with the football the defense may not have worn down in the second half. I liked what I saw in terms of blitzes in this game and it was good to see Juqua Parker make a couple of big plays.
The Packers are expected to be one of the best offensive teams in the league so it is hard to scrutinize this unit too much. Holding Rodgers to 188 yards passing is something many defenses would be envious of.
Detroit will be no walk in the park: Do I expect the Eagles to win on Sunday? Yes. Do I think it will be easy? No.
The Lions look much improved from their two win 2009-10 season and would have beat the Bears if not for a controversial late call on what have been a game-winning touchdown catch by Calvin Johnson before the ball came lose from his hand on the way down.
Even if Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford can not go, which looks very likely given his shoulder injury, I don’t expect the Lions to go down easy. This will be the team’s home opener and the team is sure to be fuming after the way Sunday’s game ended.
The good news for the Eagles is that Detroit still looks very vulnerable through the air as Jay Cutler torched the Lions’ secondary for 372 yards. If Cutler can do that with only one interception, Vick or Kolb should be able to do the same.
Look for the Lions to hang in the game, but an aggressive Eagles defense to take advantage of backup QB Sean Hill and put this one away in the second half.
Overall: The Eagles have the look of a .500 squad right now. They have some pieces to be a plyoff contender but with question marks at key positions a lot will have to go right for that to happen.
Beating Detroit would be a good start.