Les Bowen: Further Review: LeSean's and DeSean's strip lessons

LeSean McCoy fumbles as Charles Tillman punches ball free.
LeSean McCoy fumbles as Charles Tillman punches ball free.
Posted: November 24, 2009

ALL THE YOUNG dudes, carry the ball carelessly, boogaloo dudes.

I'm guessing Shady McCoy and DeSean Jackson wouldn't know Mott the Hoople from Mott's applesauce, but they know now that defenders will just haul off and punch the ball out, while they're wrestling with you. McCoy expressed surprise over that dynamic, following the Eagles' 24-20 victory over the Chicago Bears Sunday night.

"As I put it away, he punched it out!" McCoy said. "I've never experienced that."

The rookie running back's fumble, after a 17-yard run early in the fourth quarter, gave the Bears the ball with a 20-17 lead at the Birds' 37. Disaster was averted when the defense held, then Antonio Dixon blocked a 48-yard Robbie Gould field-goal attempt, setting up what turned out to be the game-winning touchdown drive. McCoy, the ball well-secured, was the guy who knifed through the left side 10 yards for a touchdown, on first-and-goal.

Earlier, Jackson, who had been shouldered aside on a slant for a pick and then fumbled the ball away after a catch, recovered with a 48-yard touchdown catch that was the Eagles' first sign of life in the second half.

It seemed significant that the Birds went back to Jackson and McCoy, repeatedly, after the mistakes. As offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg and quarterback Donovan McNabb said afterward, that's just part of the cost of doing business when your primary weapons are this young. It would be nice to be able to hand the ball to Brian Westbrook, or even to be able to throw it to Kevin Curtis every now and again, but that just isn't happening any time soon.

"Well, you have to [come back to them], because many of our players are young, and/or new, and they're going to make a mistake here and there," Mornhinweg said. "Now, we've got to get over that. We've got to get better. We're past midway through the season; we have to be a little bit more efficient that way and give ourselves a chance to score points . . . But those guys that you go back to [after mistakes], that's important. Then you end up having a little mojo down the stretch."

McNabb suggested that his "must-win" declaration last week was less a reflection of the true circumstance - given the way contenders are bunched up, it wasn't technically a must-win - and more of a prod to the young guys, a way to evoke a sense of urgency at a point in the season when perhaps energy is flagging.

"I thought as a team, we needed to come out with that [must-win] attitude . . . I thought our attitude was where it needed to be today," McNabb said.

Asked about the fumbles and other miscues, McNabb, who could be seen correcting McCoy on the field after a pass-route snafu led to an incompletion, said: "You know it's going to happen. You try to eliminate it happening in the tough situations, the third-and-shorts, third-and-mediums, [and] where it could possibly mean a touchdown. The communication aspect [among] all of us has definitely grown from Week 1 . . . When you have young guys like that, talking about the age of 20 to about 23 years old, that haven't been in this league and haven't been through a 16- or 20-game season, they're going to hit a wall. You expect that to happen . . . You just have to make certain they're on the same page with everyone, and able to make the right play at the right time."

One thing about fumbling that McCoy discovered Sunday, he said, was that "people kind of forget about it once you score."

Developing story lines

* The no-huddle offense gave the Eagles tempo and flow offensively.

* One measly sack against a struggling Bears o-line and Jay Cutler was disappointing. Looks like we're back to Trent Cole being the only guy on the d-line who can get pressure. Cole had that lone sack.

* Sav Rocca's 16-yard punt nearly cost the Eagles the game. This is happening too often.

* The Eagles had been 0-7 in Sunday-night NBC games. Good to bury the peacock jinx.

* Defensive tackle Antonio Dixon was a really strong pickup at the final preseason roster cutdown, from this week's opponent, Washington. "He came through bigger than big with the blocked field goal, such a powerful guy and a very likable guy, too," coach Andy Reid said yesterday. "He's developed into one of our favorites here."

* Memo to Asante Samuel: The word is out on the route-jumping, dude. You were really fortunate that Jay Cutler overthrew the receiver for that sure touchdown late in the first half. You looked silly. Again.

Who knew?

That 10 games into the season, Stacy Andrews would not be one of the Eagles' top 45 players? Andy Reid continues to talk about the ACL recovery. But they dressed King Dunlap on Sunday, and then didn't even use him, instead of continuing to try to find guard reps for Andrews.

Obscure stat

I really don't know what to make of the fact that the Eagles are 4-0 without Brian Westbrook this season. I still think Westbrook's veteran leadership, his blitz-pickup savvy, the fact that he pretty much never fumbles - these are things the Eagles must have to win in the postseason. But there is considerable young talent here, obviously. No other Eagles team I've covered could have gone 4-0 without Westbrook.

Extra point

This, finally, was the sort of thing we envisioned when the Eagles signed Michael Vick. A 34-yard run on third-and-1. A handoff to LeSean McCoy for another third-and-short conversion. The check-down pass to Brent Celek didn't go anywhere, but first downs on two of three Vick snaps is huge progress.

The Vick experiment is never going to amount to a huge percentage of the Eagles' plays, as Donovan McNabb noted afterward. But two key first downs, from the guy who essentially is the third-string quarterback, that's worthwhile, if you get it every week or even every other week. Not when you get it every once in a great while, though.

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