August 14, 2007

Shaky Start For Birds

Not much went right in the Eagles 29-3 loss to the Baltimore Ravens. The starting offense stalled on their only two drives, and the defense gave up a touchdown on the Ravens first possession.

The backups did not fair much better, as poor play, and mistakes filled the rest of the game. The team just appeared flat, and got their butts whipped repeatedly. Luckily it is only the pre-season, because there are many things for the Eagles to improve on.

The Good:
Brent Celek- The rookie tight end was impressive in his Eagles debut, catching 4 balls for 59 yards, including a nice 30 yard catch and run. It was nice to see some good play from the tight end position, because of the questions about L.J. Smith's health. Celek did have one drop on a short pass from Kevin Kolb.

Brodrick Bunkley- While the Eagles defense overall was poor, Bunkley made a few nice plays, and that was good to see. He deflected a pass, made a tackle for a loss, and clogged up the middle on a run play.

Matt McCoy- A guy who is considered by many to be on the bubble, made a statement, by putting together a solid effort. He had five tackles, and one nice hit on QB Kyle Boller. You can see that he is really going to fight for his spot on the team.
Jeremy Bloom- Did a pretty good job in the return game. Fielded every punt, and got every kick return past the 20. He also made a few good grabs at WR, Including one for a first down. He did leave the game to get his toe x-rayed, but the results were negative.

Rashad Barksdale- Made some really nice open field tackles, and helped out well against the run. Had a near interception, and came up with 6 total tackles.

Stewart Bradley- Lead the team with 8 tackles, and played a lot yesterday. He made a very nice play in the run game, and was visibly very vocal on the field. He did have a penalty on punt coverage.

Brian Westbrook- Westbrook looks to be in mid season form, as he made an exciting 23 yard catch, and run.

The Bad:
Jeremiah Trotter- Trotter whiffed on a tackle he should have made on Ravens RB Willis McGahee. Trott has talked a lot this off season, but that play reminded me of the Colts game last year. It was a stretch run, and Trotter has to be able to move better than that, as he was late getting to the ball carrier.

Will James- Another big talker this off season, James got turned around by Ravens receiver Derrick Mason. A critical third down play that a starting NFL CB must not give up so easily.

Tony Hunt- Hunt had 5 carries for no yards. The offensive line did not help at all, as many times the Ravens defense got into the backfield untouched. Hunt also got Kelly Holcomb sacked, with a very weak block on a DB. He did have two catches for 11 yards.

Kevin Kolb- Very rough start for Kolb. His receivers did not help out very much, with a number of drops, but Kolb looked very much like a rookie in his debut. He completed 11 of 20 passes, for 77 yards. Kolb fumbled the ball, on a pass play that he thought was a run.

Tank Daniels- Got sucked into a block by the Ravens FB, which sprung RB Willis McGahee for 16 yards. If you want to make the team, you have to do a better job of shedding that blocker, and containing the back.
David Akers- Missed a 43 yard FG, and has been inconsistent since 2004. I think a lot has to do with Akers not being comfortable with a new holder, and long time long snapper Mike Bartrum has retired.

Offensive Line- From the starters, to the backups, to the third stringers, this group played poorly all game long. They did not get much push in the running game, and had many break downs in protection. The backups especially seemed lost vs the Ravens 3-4 front. Trying to pick up the right guys in pass protection was an adventure the entire game.

The Ugly:

Ryan Moats- Broke his ankle on his second carry during the third quarter. Moats will be placed on the Injured Reserve ending his season. A tough break for Moats, as he really wanted a chance to prove himself this pre-season. He had been considered by many, to be another "bubble guy", and has been having fumbling issues in Training Camp.

Sav Rocca- The Aussie punter welcomed to the NFL in a rude way, as he was the recipient of a violent hit from Ravens LB Antwan Barnes. Sav showed his toughness, as he jumped right off, shook it off, and smiled.

Overall it was a very weak showing from the team, and I am sure the Eagles coaching staff is not very thrilled. The Birds were missing a lot of key players, including Donovan McNabb, Brian Dawkins, Shawn Andrews, L.J. Smith, Lito Sheppard, and others. Not making any excuses for the terrible play, but getting these guys back for the regular season will make a huge difference.

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