September 30, 2007

Giants Sack Eagles

Giant Loss Puts Birds In 1-3 Hole

Under Pressure:

"It's frustrating," said McNabb, who finished 15-of-31 for 138 yards. "For an offense that has had so much success over the previous years, for us to come out and play the way we played today is embarrassing."

Embarrassing? No. Embarrassing is when you accidentally let one rip when you are on a date. This was atrocious, mind boggling, horrific, and just disastrous.

The Eagles offense did not even have a chance today, as they were outplayed, out numbered, and flat out out coached.

The Giants sacked Donovan McNabb 12 times, tying an NFL record. Former Eagles linebackers coach Steve Spagnola called a brilliant game, and he kept heavy pressure coming all night. The Giants who have tremendous depth at defensive end, knew they would get a good pass rush from the edges, and blitzed the Eagles A gap constantly, to get after Donovan from all angles.

One of those great ends, Osi Umenyiora lead the way with six sacks, and was a Giant pain all game. Even when Donovan was not getting sacked, he was being chased, or forced out of the pocket. This lead to many of the sacks, rushed throws, and errant passes. The pass protection scheme definitely failed tonight, and the Eagles game plan was very poor. Early in the first quarter, on a 3rd down play, Reno Mahe was responsible for picking up Umenyiora blitzing from the linebacker position. That is a match up I hope I never see again, as Osi easily pushed Mahe away to get a sack.

The Eagles offensive line was supposed to be a strength of the team, but tonight it was a major weakness. You will not see many victories with pass protection this poor. Throughout the game, the Eagles used a shotgun spread formation, that had minimal pass protection, and this seemed to play right into the Giants blitzing defense. It seemed like the Eagles were getting beat by their own defensive scheme.

Another thing that the Birds offense tried, was switching to a no huddle offense. They have used this several times this year, and it has failed miserably. When you have an offense as complicated as the Eagles, it is very difficult to operate this way, because you are constantly changing personnel packages for different plays. Teams like the Colts can run it so efficiently, because they will use the same exact personnel, and the same exact formation for an entire drive. Using the no huddle has killed a lot of Eagles drives this year, and they need to just give up on it.

Justice Was Not Served:

The Eagles streak of 19 straight games with the offensive line intact, was broken Sunday. With Tra Thomas sidelined for the game, second year tackle Winston Justice got his first career start, and it is sure to be one he would like to forget about. To be blunt about his performance, he was just absolutely terrible.

To make matters worse, John Madden made sure to point out how bad 74 messing up. Then ripped the Eagles for not helping him out more in pass protection. If only Andy had listened to that advice, because Justice was responsible for four of the six sacks that Osi Umenyiora had. Osi ran around him, ran inside, and bull dozed him to get to McNabb. Everybody knew this would be a big test for him going into the game, but nobody expected he would get schooled this bad.

Justice also did poorly in run blocking. The Eagles had tremendous success running the ball to the left last week, and this week they were very inconsistent. Justice was not holding the point of attack, and a few runs got blown up for no gains.

As the game progressed Justice even seemed rattled, as he was repeatedly called for false starts, and possibly was lined up incorrectly one play. (could have been Brent Celek, one of them messed up

The only positive thing I can say for this lousy debut, is that things can only go up from here. It can't get any worse. Osi seemed to agree.

"It was like a video game out there," Umenyiora said. "Winston Justice is a very good football player. Tonight was just one of those nights. He'll learn from that experience."

Justice accepted responsibility.

"I am going to shoulder the loss for the team," he said. "I got out of my technique, tried to make adjustments and they just didn't work."

Strange Miscue Costs Birds:

With one minute, and fifty six seconds to go in the third quarter, McNabb took the snap from under center, and then it appeared that he just dropped the ball. Which was then recovered by New York linebacker Kawika Mitchell, and returned the ball seventeen yards for a score.

With a slow motion replay, you could see that as McNabb was about to hand the ball off to Correll Buckhalter, Thomas Tapeh accidentally bumped into the ball, and created the biggest play(mistake) of the game.

Andy Reid tried to challenge the play, but to no avail. The play would stand, and this would be a back breaker for the Eagles, as they were unable to comeback from a 16-0 deficit. The Picture I found, shows that Schobel contacted him, with his knee down. Way to go refs. After further review you blew it!

I am not sure if the mistake was on Donovan, or Tapeh, but with the way the Eagles offense was sputtering, I knew the game was over right there.

Injuries Keep Piling Up:

Now I know it is lame to use injuries as en excuse for an NFL loss, and I will not do that. However it is alarmingly scary at how many of the Eagles better players are injured.

None scarier than Brian Westbrook's torn abdominal muscle. When Michelle Tafoya described in detail how Brian's ribs would actually poke through the tear, It became clear to me that Westbrook's injury was very severe.

My guess is that Brian will be on the shelf for a long time, and not just a few games. There is no way he is going to be able to perform with this type of injury, and if he does, it will only get worse. The only realistic solution is probably going to require surgery, and a long rehab process. This could mean no Brian Westbrook for most of the remaining season.

As shown tonight Westbrook is sorely missed on this team, and without him they are just not the same team.

Other players out include Brian Dawkins(neck), Lito Sheppard(knee), L.J. Smith(sports hernia), and Tra Thomas(knee). Sheldon Brown suffered a stinger in the first quarter.

The Eagles desperately need these guys back soon, because the team is not performing without them. You will not see this offense be explosive with Brian Westbrook wearing a tee shirt.

Does Plax Own Sheldon?:

Don't get me wrong, I am a huge Sheldon Brown fan. He is one of my favorite players, and I even have his jersey. There just seems to be a huge mismatch problem with Brown covering Plaxico Burress.

He has beaten Sheldon Brown for a Touchdown as least once in each of the past three seasons. I feel like Brown is one of the most fundamentally sound corners in the game, but Plaxico just seems to have his number. His size, and speed make him extremely difficult to defend. On many of the plays Brown even has pretty good coverage on Burress, but Burress, just uses his size to out jump Brown.

Brown also seemed to be getting picked on after he suffered an injury early in the game. He did not have one of his better games, but I know Sheldon will put in the work to improve.

Will James Is Horrible:

Will James is the worst corner back on the Eagles roster, and he is the worst current starter on the team.

James once again got torched deep, and this time he was penalized for blatantly taking Amani Toomer to the ground. The penalty lead to a Giants field goal, but more importantly it once again showed the NFL that James is a bum.

Every QB in the league will pick on number 21, when they see him lined up on the field.

The Eagles would be better off sticking a traffic cone on the field, because at least maybe the receiver would accidentally trip over it. With Will James there is no maybe, he is going to get beat every game.

Rest Of The D Was Solid:

The Eagles did a pretty good job for the most part on defense. Offensively the Giants only scored ten points, and only gave up the one TD to Plaxico.

There are some areas that could still be improved, like some missed tackles, more pressure on the QB, the ability to cover the short pass, and they could work on stopping the bootleg some in practice.

One time NFL sack leader Trent Cole, did not get any sacks, and I expected a big game from him. Juqua Thomas did very little, and Darren Howard was invisible except for a tipped pass.

The one lone sack came from Jevon Kearse of all people. Imagine that. Kearse actually made several nice plays, and that was good to see.

The defensive tackles had another very solid game, and the Eagles defense went another game without allowing a hundred yard rusher. Besides an offsides penalty, Mike Patterson played very well.

Omar Gaither got his second career interception off Eli Manning in the second quarter, and returned it 49 yards the other way. Great play for Omar, but I thought he should have scored on it. He looked really slow running with the football, and Manning was able to get an angle on Gaither, and force him out of bounds.

The defense shows a lot of promise, but there is still work to be done. Rod Hood is also sorely missed. That could be the biggest mistake the front office made this off season.

Not So Special Teams:

This has to be the worst special teams play of any team under Andy Reid. There is no aspect of special teams, that the Eagles excel at, and they can rarely even play a game without a barrage of mistakes.

"Sure handed" Reno Mahe fumbled on a punt return, J.R. Reed dropped the ball on a kick return, the always dependable David Akers missed a field goal, and almost every "decent" return had a stupid penalty.

Sav Rocca had a terrible game, and I am wondering what happened to this great leg? This guy was pinning teams deep in the pre-season, and was thought to be a weapon. Well now he is getting terrible distance, and hang time, and killed the Eagles field position all game.

Former Eagle Jeff Feagles completely outplayed Sav, and showed that he is one the best in the game. Feagles is the best in the game, at directional/pouch punting, and he pinned the Eagles deep twice on consecutive possessions.

The Eagles kick/punt coverage teams still sucked. I don't know if it is Rory Segrest, or the players, but this special teams this year just flat out suck.

At Least The Phillies Beat New York:

If the Phillies had blown the division title, that was handed to them on a silver platter by the Muts, there might be some people ready to jump off the Walt Whitman Bridge today.

You know it is really bad when the Phils are having more success than the Birds.

Props to the Fightins for managing to get through all that adversity, and still win the NL East.

It's been 14 years since the Phillies last made the playoffs, and there is a great buzz in the city about it.

Doom And Gloom:

What a disastrous start to a season filled with so much promise. The only reason I have even the slightest bit of hope, is because of what the 2003 Eagles team overcame. However is Brian Westbrook is required to go under the knife, then you can be sure that the season is over for sure. Westbrook is the teams most dangerous weapon, and without him this teams' offense is mediocre at best.

Andy Reid better have some miracles up his sleeve, or else it will be time to look at college mock drafts soon.

1 comment:

sixersshawn said...

In today’s Daily News, Rich Hoffman has a Brian Westbrook quote in his reporting on last night’s 16-3 debacle in NY. The first part of the quote is a response to the usual, ridiculous “What would you have been able to do to make a difference in this game?” speculative newspaper filler. What 36 adds after is the meat.

Westbrook added, “Osi, he’s a Pro Bowl player. Winston hasn’t played much at all . . . but we have to do some things to protect him.”

That says it all. If adjustments to help Justice in his first start were made, Giants Defensive Coordinator and former Eagles’ coach Steve Spagnuolo had an answer to every one of them, and appeared to know what they were in advance. Were there any suspicious Giants cameramen running around in the swamp last night??When a team has been as successful as the Eagles during Andy Reid’s tenure, as a fan, I can rest on a certain confidence, that when things get bad, the head coach and his assistants will be able to work things out. The depth of knowledge on the Eagles’ staff is immense. None of it was on display on the offensive side of the ball last night.

“Against that defensive line, I need to give a little help and I didn’t do that,” Eagles coach Andy Reid said, trying to take Justice off the hook. “It wasn’t one guy, it was a team effort.”

Why not? I don’t understand. The first quarter of the season is gone. It is a dung heap of wasted opportunities and strategic planning mistakes, with the Lions game now just a wildflower throwing scant cover on the scent.

One sign of a bad team is the habit of throwing away opportunities. Omar Gaither picked off an Eli Manning pass in the red zone, late in the second quarter and returned it 49 yards into Giants territory. Suddenly, down 7-0, the Birds had a prime opportunity to get right back into it. They promptly pissed it away with penalties and marched backwards and into a missed field goal by David Akers. According to the CBS broadcast team, the Eagles had been averaging 3 penalties per game. Yesterday they had 15 for 132. Is this a bad team?

Correll Buckhalter had 103 yards on 17 attempts. McNabb had only 138 yards on 31 attempts, was sacked 12 times and lost 62 yards on those sacks. McNabb’s longest pass play was for just 15 yards. Buckhalter had a 6.1 yard average and a longest run of 17. When your STILL RECOVERING QB is being pounded, and you are making gains on the ground, why not put it in the hands of your running backs and try to back up the blitzing pass rush with a load of misdirection runs? I noted after game 2 that Andy Reid’s preparations seemed ill conceived . Last night’s mess is more evidence of the same. I have the utmost respect for the head coach, but a disturbing pattern has emerged. Two games was a bad start, but 3 of 4 means I am really worried. Is the personal turmoil of the last year showing in the Andy’s, and the team’s, performance?

I want to note one other observation. The defense is pretty good. They held the Giants to 16 points and kept the team in it. Any offensive production from the Eagles and it is a nail biter. That is reassuring. If they maintain the defensive success, and are able to become a decent offensive team, they could again make themselves a contender in a weak NFC.