November 19, 2013 |
BILL DAVIS is an accentuate-the-positives guy, and right now, the biggest positive about his defense is the fact that since that 52-point, 35-first down, 472-yard debacle in Denver in late September, it has held seven straight opponents to 21 or fewer points. Yes, the Eagles still are giving up a lot of yards, including 427 to the Redskins in yesterday's 24-16 win. Yes, they're near the bottom of the league in sacks per pass play. And yes, it got a little hairy there in the fourth quarter when the Redskins scored two touchdowns and very nearly sent the game into overtime before Robert Griffin III made like the Bad Brett Favre and threw a careless, up-for-grabs pass into the end zone that Brandon Boykin intercepted.
November 18, 2013 |
Now that Nick Foles has quelled the outcry for a franchise quarterback - OK, not exactly - the look-ahead crowd has set its sights on the Eagles' next biggest need: An outside pass rusher. But is it as simple as looking at the total number of sacks generated by outside linebackers this season (five) and coming to the conclusion that the Eagles need to add a pass rusher either via the draft or free agency? Or is the argument more nuanced? Is the sack overrated, as defensive coordinator Bill Davis suggested recently?
November 9, 2013 |
By the start of the 1999 season, new Eagles coach Andy Reid had whittled the 60-or-so-man roster he was handed in January down to 24 remaining players. By the start of his second season, that number had been trimmed to 17 - about half of whom were part of a core that reached the playoffs in each of the next five seasons. But many players who were an integral part of the Eagles in the late 1990s - not exactly an era to remember - didn't make it that far as Reid discarded many pieces and built the team to his tastes.
November 8, 2013 |
THE EAGLES' DEFENSE has been thrown at more than any defense in the NFL this season, 45 times per game, yet the team is in the bottom third of the league in sacks. It remains their most significant issue on that side of the ball. Tackling is a thousand percent improved over the last few years. The big passing plays have been minimized - opponents have completed only four passes of more than 40 yards. The run defense has been consistent and solid, again affected by the improved tackling.
November 5, 2013 |
Maybe it was returning punts once again. DeSean Jackson was electrifying against the Raiders, catching five passes for 150 yards and one touchdown and returning three punts for 13 yards. It looked like Jackson may have got his punt return job back for good. Damaris Johnson was active and also had his kick return duties yanked. He was back to return a fourth quarter punt. On Jackson's first return, he meandered his way through the Raiders cover team for 35 yards. A personal foul penalty on the receiver, because he grabbed the punter by the face mask, brought the return back 15 yards.
October 18, 2013 |
BEFORE THE real games started, Trent Cole was emphatic about adjusting well to becoming a 3-4 outside linebacker, after eight seasons as a 4-3 defensive end. He told reporters to just watch, if they didn't believe him. Half a dozen sackless contests later, Cole remains confident that he can do the job, but he's willing to acknowledge the adjustment hasn't been easy. He got caught flatfooted in coverage at least once on a long pass play Sunday at Tampa. As a rusher, he seems to be around the quarterback a lot but not quite able to get there in time for a sack.
October 9, 2013 |
THE TURNING point of the Eagles' victory at the Giants Sunday probably was Mychal Kendricks' interception of Eli Manning early in the fourth quarter, the play before Nick Foles hit Brent Celek for a touchdown. Kendricks' grab started a flurry of three fourth-quarter Manning picks. If you were watching on TV and saw the replays, you know that the turning point easily could have turned the other way. Though Eagles defensive end Trent Cole said afterward he didn't know what happened, Cole clearly raked a hand across Manning's helmet as the QB let go of the ball, which caromed off the Giants' center and blooped to Kendricks.
October 4, 2013 |
FALL BOW SEASON opened Sept. 14 in New Jersey. Trent Cole already has downed two deer. Quarterback season opened Sept. 9. Cole has yet to bag a QB. He hasn't even scared many. As a matter of fact, Cole hasn't recorded a sack in six games, dating back to 2012. He has been credited with only two hurries this season. Mention this to him, and . . . he flashes his million-dollar smile? Sure. He has been waiting for this issue to arise; and, like any good huntsman, he is prepared.
October 3, 2013 |
OF ALL THE FAITHS the Eagles beseech from their following, the hardest to practice is faith in Michael Vick. No quarterback in the NFL today is more difficult to quantify, to grade, to measure by effectiveness and performance. Predictably, Michael Vick lacks a No. 1 receiver. Alarmingly, he lacks a viable offensive line. Remarkably, as the quarterback of a 1-3 team outclassed in its last two games, he lacks bad stats. Vick's 93.2 passer rating after four games not only is more than 10 points higher than his career rate, it would be the second-best rating of his nine seasons as a starter if it remains that high.
September 26, 2013 |
THE LAST TIME the Eagles went to Denver was the final game of Terrell Owens' Eagles career, though nobody knew it that day. The Birds lost, 49-21, on Oct. 30, 2005, though Owens took a Donovan McNabb pass 91 yards for a touchdown. Later that week, Owens would give an ESPN interview that would reopen his rift with McNabb, and stuff just seemed to snowball from there. But that was probably the game that showed us the defending NFC champions, though they came home 4-3, weren't going back to the Super Bowl.