The Philadelphia Eagles have a lot to think about over the next 12 days following their disappointing 26-23 overtime loss to the Detroit Lions at Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday. The Eagles limped into the bye week with a two-game losing streak. The team is now 3-3, a record that could be much worse.
There’s certainly enough blame to go around. Of course, it seems as if everybody is putting most of the blame on Eagles quarterback Michael Vick. Admittedly, Vick hasn’t played well overall this season. He has completed 136-of-231 passes for 1,623 yards with eight touchdowns and eight interceptions. He has lost five fumbles and is responsible for 13 total turnovers.
Despite his shortcomings, Vick has performed extremely well in clutch situations. Moreover, he has given the Eagles defense the lead late in the fourth quarter the last two games against the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Lions respectively.
“We have to learn how to win football games as coaches and players,” said Andy Reid, Eagles head coach. “That’s my responsibility, and obviously we didn’t get it done. You have a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter, particularly after the slow start that we had offensively, then you have to care of it. We didn’t do that.”
The defense was lackluster in the fourth quarter and in overtime against the Lions. They haven’t produced a sack in the last three games. Eagles’ defensive coordinator Juan Castillo must find a way to get some pressure on the quarterback. He needs to start blitzing more and should take a page out of former defensive coordinator Jim Johnson’s book. Johnson blitzed all the time. If Castillo doesn’t make the necessary adjustments, he needs to take some heat.
Speaking of adjustments, Reid’s play calling still has many scratching their heads. He still wants to throw the ball on almost every down. He has LeSean McCoy, one of the best running backs in the NFL. McCoy should carry the ball at least 25 times a game. He averages 18.5 carries a game. That’s not enough. McCoy has gained 459 yards on 111 attempts. He averages 4.1 yards a carry. McCoy made a very astute observation heading into the break pertaining to this loss.
“This could be a game that might come back to haunt us late in the year,” McCoy said. “This wasn’t any easy win, but I felt like we had the game in control. To lose like this gives you a sick feeling. We have to get better and come off the bye week and ready to go.”
McCoy is the ninth leading rusher in the NFL. Reid has to establish the run first. The run game will not only help the offense, but Vick as well. Vick has been sacked 17 times this season. In addition, he gets hit on nearly every play. A good running game would slow down the pass rush.
The Eagles have some time to figure things out. After the bye week, they face the Atlanta Falcons at Lincoln Financial Field on Oct. 28. The Falcons (6-0) are probably the best team in the league at this point. The Eagles certainly have their work cut out for them.
“Yeah, I think it’s a good time for a bye,” Vick said. “I think we need to just kind of figure out what we need to do to finish games. Try to start a little faster on offense and not make so many mistakes early in the game. You just can’t do that in this league. The opposition is just as good as you are. So the mistakes have to be eliminated.”