Did you find it was easier to get up this morning? Notice how today
wasn’t quite as bad as other Mondays? Make it into work with a little
extra pep in your step? If so, relax. It is not the end of times
(Soon, though. Soon). No, it is simply the Monday after an Eagles win!
When all seems right with the world. It’s a glorious day, indeed. So,
without further ado, here’s this week’s Off The Top.
The Defense Takes Baby Steps
Without a doubt, the defense played better. Since I am a realist who
enjoys raining on umbrella-less parades), it must be noted that the
Birds were playing the lowly, lowly New York Giants. Eli Manning is
having a very bad season, which means the other offensive weapons are,
too. Having said that, it was a perfect storm of mediocrity that the
Birds took advantage of (for the most part).
After the initial Giants’ drive that resulted in a Wilson TD run, the
defense, particularly decided to wake up. The Birds thwarted the
Giants run game, turning New York into a one-dimensional team.
Ordinarily, this would be fine. But this is 2013. And it did not bode
well for the boys up I-95. Manning decided to test CB Fletcher, and
often. 19 times to be exact. By and large, Fletcher made some very
good plays, including some key breakups.
However, there were obvious signs that this team is still a work in
progress. Unnecessary penalties. Continued inability to consistently
defend crossing routes. Defenders beat far too many times. If Manning could have found an iota of accuracy, the outcome could have been very different. But the football gods had mercy on Eagles’ fans Sunday, and allowed Manning to continue in his terrific rut. So much so, that the Birds’ intercepted Manning not 1,
not 2, not 3….ok 3 times. 3 times. For a defense that had been in a
turnover drought, it must have felt like monsoon season. Kendricks,
Boykin (who probably had the most impressive interception), and
Williams, all received gifts from Eli. And just when the Birds
were in the midst of an implosion, it was right on time. Thanks for
everything, Eli. You’re the best.
The Offense Gets Its Grove Back..Sort Of
It was tough sledding for the first quarter. In addition to not
scoring a touchdown, and settling for field goals (but at least Henery
made them. So there’s that), Vick did not complete a pass.True, he didn’t have that many attempts, but that was very hard
to watch. Incomplete. Incomplete. Incomplete. It reminded me of my
report cards (HA! Yeah, right. I am a genius.).
Things picked up in the 2nd quarter, thanks in large part to
Vick’s legs (we’ll get back to that in a moment). Still, promising
drives were stalled by penalties (false starts, holding). Shady ran in
for a TD, and after that, the offense started to roll, thanks to
Henery’s revigorated leg). It was this momentum that was propelling a
growing Eagles lead when disaster struck. Vick, on another long
scramble, pulled up limp while heading out of bounds. Stop me if you
heard this before. Before I continue, an aside: I must take a second
to grieve for Vick. My heart broke for him. Damn it, he tries and he
means well, but the injury bug loves itself some Michael Vick. End of
aside. Vick immediately grabbed his left hamstring. At the very same
time, all of Eagles Nation sighed, rolled their eyes and/or grabbed
for their beverage of choice. Although Vick would try to return, it
was obvious that he was hurting, and Chip pulled him out.
So, in comes Nick Foles, patron saint of Vick antagonists, who leads the team down the field for a last second field goal before halftime. Foles would be the QB for the second half, and overall, he had a good game. In the 4th quarter He found Celek for a spectacular leaping grab in the end zone, and later connected with Jackson for 7
(Jackson, much to everyone not a Giants fan’s delight, mocked Cruz and
his infamous salsa). It was fabulous. Even more wonderful was the
realization that, even after surrendering the lead and having to come
from behind, the Eagles were once again on the road to victory. A bumpy, pothole infested, with sporadic street lights, and unpaved at times, road. But a road, nonetheless.
Odds and Ends
Even when Shady is not eating up large chunks of yards, he’s still a
very dangerous man. Having the ability to make something out of
nothing, a skill often utilized by Philly sports writers, cannot be
overstated. A yard is better than none. And certainly better than a
loss of one. McCoy can make you reach for your inhaler on a 2 yard
gain, even if you’re non-asthmatic. He’s that good.
Still, the run game was largely ineffective in the 2nd half. Kelly stated that it disappeared due to the play-calling and what the Giants were doing. I
think the latter is probably the likely culprit, and the former is a
consequence of the latter. There is no doubt that defenses will play
the Birds differently with Vick as QB than foles. Vick has gotten
plenty of rushing yards so far this season, and teams must try
to prevent it. Foles, on the other hand, suffers from a mild form of
Heavy Legs Syndrome, so he does not pose the same threat on the
ground. Therefore, with Vick out, teams only have to account fo
Shady, which makes it easier to slow down the run. My name is not
Sylvia Browne, but methinks Shady may not be as productive as he was
in previous weeks.
It seems whenever Curry gets in, he gets pressure. Surely, this is not
a coincidence. Whatever else ails him, he is proficient at rushing the
passer. At this point,I am seriously considering stalking DC Davis
until I get some answers as to why we don’t see more of the second
year player (remember the movie Better Off Dead? “Where’s my two
dollars?!”). Yeah, you’ve been warned, Davis).
Kudos to Bennie Logan for recording his first sack.
Sopoaga actually made a play. Yet another miracle at the Meadowlands.
Damaris Johnson still seems a bit confused about this whole punt/kick
returner thing. Several times he called for a fair catch when he had
plenty of room to navigate. Other times he took off when he probably
shouldn’t have. Is Johnson secure as the PR/KR this year because
there’s no one else? I’d like to think that if the Eagles had a viable
option, that person would be in by now. Maybe this is something that
the team will address next offseason. Maybe. We’ll see. No promises,
though. No promises.
The tight ends (Was Casey even in North Jersey yesterday?) actually
caught some passes. Progress!
Riley Cooper. Really? Really? Is it not time to give Mahel a shot?
Surely, he can be no more irrelevant.
Did y’all see those crayoned play calling signs on notebook paper the
Giants were holding? lmao It’s 2013, boys. Let Chip upgrade you.
Was Eli also calling “Omaha,” or was I just reliving last week’s
nightmare? Has he always done that, or did he figure it would give the
Birds fits, like saying Bloody Mary in a mirror? Just curious.
Oline had a better game. It still needs to work on consistency. But it
was a better all around game for the unit. Gotta crawl before you
walk..then baby steps.
Uhm, when the play clock reads “00,” does that mean the opposing team still has time to hike the ball? Is “00″ subjective, like Tom Coughlin’s hue in the midst of a meltdown? Because I almost lost what ever mind I have left screaming “That’s a delay of game” angrily, over and over again. Officials, do better!
Speaking of officials, how exactly does a guy run backwards into the end zone on his own, disengage from tacklers, run a bit more before he’s ultimately brought down in said end zone, NOT a safety? I’m asking for a friend.
Just how many variations of “Manning Face” is there?
Over/under on how many people Jason Tuck will have to engage in fisticuffs during the week? I’m going with 10..
Was Manning just flagged for another intentional grounding?
Can Boykin get the game ball for ensuring that the only salsa I saw was in fact, the one my chips took a dip end (notwithstanding Jackson’s)?
Friends, like all good things, the euphoric high from a win must come to an end. Tampa Bay awaits!
Until next time…