Bad live, just as bad the 2nd time around.
Boy, was I wrong. I thought the Eagles were clearly the better team and could win this game comfortably if they played a clean game. The Eagles didn’t play a clean game and they got whipped. I still don’t fully buy the Cardinals as anything special. They got some breaks and took advantage of them, but I didn’t see a team that looked like a 12-win juggernaut.
The Cards had better gameplans. They executed them better. They had no turnovers. They won.
Field position was a huge factor. The Eagles only had 2 drives start beyond their own 25 and both came when the game was pretty out of hand. The Cardinals were just the opposite. They only had one drive in the 1st half that started inside of their own 35. I think the turning point in the game was Damaris Johnson’s fumbled punt return. It felt like the Eagles defense had seized control prior to that. All of a sudden the Cardinals were at our 38-yd line and they got a somewhat lucky TD a few plays later (should have been a Ryans INT). From that point on , there was no question about the better team. They whipped us.
There were times when I thought things might turn around. We had a good drive going in the late 1st Qtr that spilled over to the 2nd Qtr. We line up to run the first play, but for some reason the offense is late and the play clock is a factor. We have to call a timeout. That was coming off a TV timeout. What the heck happened? Then there was a false start. We’re back at 1st/15 and the momentum of the drive is gone. Vick fumbled a couple of plays later and that was that.
Cardinals ILB Daryl Washington was awesome. He was the best player on the field. That doesn’t mean I’d take him over Fitz or Shady or whoever. But, on Sunday he was the best. He gave Vick fits all game long and all over the field. Really amazing to see a LB cover that much ground and be that physical. He looked like vintage Patrick Willis. Maybe better.
Yikes. Andy Reid did not have a good game. I didn’t like his gameplan, but I knew what it would be. We both saw holes in the Cardinals secondary from the Patriots game. The problem is that you need an OL to play well and a QB to find the open guy quickly and get the ball out quickly as well. Vick didn’t look comfortable from the opening drive. Andy made a good adjustment at halftime, but that was too little, too late. Needed to do that in the 2nd Qtr.
One of my big complaints with Reid is that he didn’t read Vick better. Vick was under a lot of pressure and just looked uncomfortable. Reid should have seen this and adjusted the offense. Keep throwing if you must, but make them short, quick routes. Go ball control instead of big play.
As for the decision at the end of the half. Bad. Theoretically, I have no problem with running a play with :06 left. Unfortunately, Vick was not having a good game. You don’t force him to make a quick read in the Red Zone. That’s pushing your luck. The prudent thing to do would be to cut your losses and go in down 17-3. Reid rolled the dice and they blew up in his face, big time. Suddenly we were down 24-0.
The 2nd half was odd. There were times when Reid played it very normal and other times when he was in comeback mode. I felt like he should have pulled Vick late in the game and gone with Nick Foles. Get the kid some reps. Reid used our timeouts when there was 4 mins left and we were about to go down 21. 3 possessions on a day where we struggled like that? Odd. I really hated the fact that on the final play of the game he handed the ball off to Shady. Meaningless play. Why in the hell would you risk something bad happening? Give the ball to Chris Polk and let him get his feet wet.
The defensive plan wasn’t much better. I wrote on Sunday that Juan Castillo had a chance to show us how far he’d come. Oops. Kevin Kolb can be a nervous QB. You must get in his face. I felt the smart thing was to blitz early and get him on his heels. Don’t give him easy passes. Make him work for everything. Castillo stuck with the base rush mostly. That’d be great, but the Cards called short pass plays which negated our rush. When we did blitz, it was a zone blitz. Ugh.
We didn’t press the slot receiver consistently. This meant the guy got a free release and could run his route cleanly, if not catch a quick pass easily. This burned us a few times. Dumb. Again, don’t give Kolb anything. There were times when Brandon Boykin was matched up with Larry Fitzgerald. I didn’t mind this. I didn’t like playing off Fitz. Don’t let him free for a second.
This was a week to be aggressive. Press and jam receivers. Run some risky blitzes. Attack and make Kevin Kolb help you out. Instead, we let him sit cleanly in the pocket way too much. The pass rush got him some times, but the quick passes limited what they could do.
* Cards were 6-15 on 3rd downs. We were 5-14.
* We were 0-2 in the RZ. Cards were 1 of 4. And that 1 should have been an INT. That’s a good sign.
* I think we benefited more from the replacement refs. Lots of holding went uncalled. Seemed like more by us. Got away with some other things.
* We put Vick under C several times when the shotgun seemed more appropriate. Not sure why. Might have been the fact we were in a noisy dome. Could have also been fear of a bad snap from Reynolds. Shotgun would have helped on some plays.
Final Series of the half. 1st down. No one was open so Vick did the smart thing and threw the ball away. 2nd down. Harbor was to the left and came wide open over the middle. Unfortunately Vick was looking at DeSean on the right. Celek had a poor block of LB and Vick had to throw under pressure and never was able to look back at Clay. 3rd down. Slow developing play. Vick held the ball for 2 seconds and got hit. DeSean came open right as the DB hit Vick. Needed a play where Vick could make almost an instantaneous read. Great hustle by Damaris to almost chase that down. Shady did his best, but was fighting through blockers.
VICK - Not a good game. 17-37-217. No INTs or TDs. 4-28 on the ground, with 2 fumbles. Vick was under a lot of pressure. He didn’t help matters. Held the ball too long on some plays. Didn’t hold it long enough on others. Just never looked like he was in a rhythm. Some short passes or a running game might have done him a world of good.
* We ran throwback screen to Avant. Well defensed. Vick should have just thrown the ball away. Instead, he held it and got sacked. That set up 2nd/ 22. Only had a moment to get rid of the ball, but he hesitated.
* Killed a promising drive with a fumble in the early 2nd Qtr. I didn’t understand the play design. Vick rolled left, but there were no obvious receivers to throw to. Maybe a blown route? Cut back to the right. Decided to get upfield and just settle for a yard, but fumbled the ball as he made contact with someone and the Cards recovered.
* Almost threw a terrible pick in the mid-2nd Qtr. Brent flared out in the left flat. Vick was under pressure and threw his way. A Safety broke on the play and nearly picked it off. Bad read, bad throw by Vick.
* Best run came late in the half when he exploded upfield and got us down to about the 15 yd line.
* Opening drive of the 2nd half…3rd down on the drive. Vick had a clean pocket. Sat there for several seconds. No one was within 4 yds of him but he eventually took off and ran for a couple of yds. Why run? Wait and see.
SHADY - 13-70 as a runner. Blocked more than he ran or caught the ball. Such a waste. Poor pass pro on Washington blitz up the middle led to sack. Tried to block Lenon (not McCartney or Trotsky?) late in the half and got pushed to the ground. Did have some good blocks as well. Gave Vick time to throw on several occasions. Looked good when he did run. Was close to breaking a long run a couple of times, but never got more than 14 yds. Caught 3 short passes.
B BROWN - Got regular snaps. Dropped short pass in the early 3rd. Wasn’t likely to get much, but needs to make that grab. Had his best NFL play, a 17-yd run. Hit the hole hard. Looked to be about a step from breaking it. Peterson tried to strip the ball as he made the tackle from behind. Bryce held on tight. Caught pass on 3rd/short out to the left and was able to move through traffic and get the 1st down. Finished 4-28 as runner, 1-8 as receiver.
HAVILI - Quiet game on offense.
CELEK - Had one big play. Caught a 29-yd pass in the late 1st Qtr. That got us going. In retrospect, I should have booed when he failed to run it in for a TD. Took big hits on consecutive plays in the mid-2nd Qtr and wasn’t much of a factor after that. Caught screen late in the half for minimal gain. Finished 2-36. Blocked a lot. Mixed results. Very up and down in pass pro. Did a good job on our run plays.
HARBOR - Poor block of Acho on windback run led to play being held to short gain. Played surprisingly little, just 12 snaps. This was likely due to the fact I predicted he could have a big game. Reid loves to punish my predictions.
D JACKSON - Solid gme. Best catch came late in the half. Caught a pass on the move and inside the 5. Braced for a hit and got us to the 1, but couldn’t get in for the score. Some say he could have sold out to score, but Rhodes was in good position and made a huge stop at the 1. Finished with 3 catches for 43 yds. Seemed to go deep a lot, sometimes as a target, others to simply stretch the defense. Was targeted 10 times, but the Cards had him well covered. Had one very deep ball go his way, but wasn’t open. Ran a downfield route another time and spent part of the time griping to the ref about contact. Didn’t make the catch or get the flag. There was contact, but it is the kind of stuff our guys get away with so I don’t like complaining.
AVANT - 3-33. First catch came late in the half and did move the chains. Best catch was a leaping grab in the 3rd Qtr. Helped to set up a FG. Blocked well on run plays.
D JOHNSON - Good game, as a receiver. 5-84. Best play came late in the half. Ran a drag route. Vick had good protection and hit him over the middle. Damaris used a spin move to get by a tackler and then upfield for a gain of 26. Also got out of bounds to stop the clock. Ran good routes and showed good RAC skills in the game.
* Double A-gap blitz on late 3rd Qtr pass play. C, RG took one LB. LG took a DL. LB came free right up the middle. Either Mathis is at fault for not blocking down or Reynolds is at fault for not adjusting and getting the LB to his left. Could have been miscommunication. Worst part is that we had the bodies to make the block. Didn’t. Big sack.
* Later in the game the Cards were using a triple A-gap blitz. First 2 guys were picked up. 3rd blitzer chased Vick or hit him. Very aggressive tactics.
BELL- Held all game long. Got away with it a lot. Got called for holding in the mid-2nd. Had a good run block on outside run to his side. Got a false start to open the 2nd Qtr. Got away with hold late in the half when rusher used an inside move. That was actually a theme for the day. Didn’t handle inside moves well at all. Failed to make good block of LB on 3rd Qtr pass play and that guy got pressure, forcing Vick to make an errant throw. Held on 3rd/long, but didn’t get called for it. We schemed to help him quite a bit. Used Shady or TEs to block LBs and had Bell go to his inside on a lot of pass plays. Demetress had some success, but far more problems. Not a good showing.
MATHIS - Blocked 2 Cardinals on 2nd/GL play at the end of the half. Impressive. Overall, didn’t stand out as good or bad. Was playing between a couple of turnstiles.
REYNOLDS- Struggled big time with Campbell early on. Got beat and that led to a big shot on Vick. Got beat and that led to deflected pass that was almost picked off. Campbell beat him with a spin move and was in Vick’s face on downfield pass to DJax. Did have some solid run blocks. Beaten up the middle by 79 in pass pro and that forced Vick into taking a sack. He had to move up in the pocket and a LB got him. Quick moves really got the best of Reynolds. Got blown up by LB on run play and the guy got Shady from behind. The Cards attacked him in a variety of ways and had a lot of success.
WATKINS - Played his best game of the year. Solid in pass pro. Solid vs run.
HERREMANS - Played his best game of the year. Had a solid day in pass pro. Also had some good run blocks. One didn’t work so well. Tried to push aside the LB on draw play and then go upfield. Unfortunately the block didn’t work and the LB got a TFL.
* Used picks a lot on pass plays. Very effective.
* Most frustrating moment of the whole game for the D came when Ryan Williams ran for 1st down on 3rd/17 in the 4th Qtr. Defense had been lights out in the 2nd half prior to that. Got sloppy and he burned us for 25.
COLE - Had a solid game, but I’ll admit that I was disappointed. Figured he might dominate Batiste. Didn’t happen. Had 1/2 sack and a TFL. Came close on other plays. Hit Kolb on the TD pass to Fitz, but only after the ball was out. Blew by LT in the early 3rd for what should have been easy sack, but couldn’t get hold of Kolb. Almost like Kevin was covered in grease and Trent just slid off him. This led to big play that was called back by penalty on Fitz. The 1/2 sack came on an elaborate blitz where he rushed up the middle.
BABIN - Good game. Had 1.5 sacks and 2 TFLs. Played relentless football. Had great play on 3rd/14 when he blew by the RT and flushed Kolb. Jason chased him down and stopped him just short of getting the 1st down. Great, great hustle. Got a sack in the late 3rd, with some help. Came upfield and was on the outside of the RT. Saw Kolb and was trying to get to him. RG decided to hit Jason. He knocked him off the RT and right into Kolb. Odd play, but good result. Got away with a horse-collar tackle on LSH in the late 4th Qtr. Got a TFL on the play. Should have gotten a flag. This was also another game where his run defense looked improved.
LANDRI - Quiet game, I’m sad to say. TFL on run play to his side. Held his ground when they tried to run at him. They mostly kept Landri under control.
JENKINS - Solid game. Was getting some pressure. Problem is that Arizona was throwing quick passes so Jenkins didn’t get in his face. Blew by the RG on one play and forced Kolb to run and then throw the ball away. Not credited with any tackles.
TAPP - Best game of the year. Got robbed of a sack when refs made us accept strange penalty in the 2nd Qtr. Later shared half a sack with Graham. Looked very quick off the ball on those plays. Got part of TFL with Kendricks in the late 3rd. Flew around the field all game long. Might be the hardest working Eagle and that’s saying something when you think of Babin and Cole. Had 6 total tackles. Teams in need of a DE should watch this tape and call the Eagles about a deal.
GRAHAM - Rewarded for good play with extra snaps and delivered. Had 1/2 sack and 3 TFLs. Did a solid job on run plays that came his way by engaging the OT and forcing the runner to stay inside. The sacks came in the late 2nd Qtr. Used his hands to keep the RT off him and then blew by the guy to hit Kolb. Flew off the edge in the early 4th to get one of the TFLs. Played well.
COX - Quiet game. Left for a while in the 1st half due to migraines. Returned. Didn’t make any big plays. Blew up a 4th Qtr run by driving the RG into the backfield. Got part of a TFL late in the game.
HUNT - Played less than Graham. Played the run well. Didn’t seem to be on the field for many pass plays. Had 1 solo stop.
THORNTON - Looked like the best game of his young career. Got pushed to the ground on one run play when he got off balance. That seemed to fire him up. Had one run play where he fought off G and FB and then got in on tackle of RB. Got good push on pass play. Drove RG back toward Kolb. Drove the RG straight back on pass play where Tapp, Graham shared sack. It was Ced who collapsed the pocket and gave Kolb nowhere to go. Drove the LG backward in the early 4th and forced Kolb to run for short gain. Blew up 4th Qtr run by driving the RG back into the RB. Runner fought through traffic to get back to the LOS. Gamebook says just 1 tackle assist, but Thornton was our best DT on the night and played well. Fun to watch.
KENDRICKS - Roughest game of his young career. Gave up short completion to TE on 3rd/2. Was in solid position, but there was enough space for Kolb to get the ball to his TE for the 1st down. Blew a coverage on TE Jeff King on 3rd/7. King caught the pass and got 15 yds on the play. Kendricks got confused and started to go with RB to the flat. Ryans had the RB. Kendricks pivoted and went back for King, but was too late. Costly mistake. Next play was the long TD to Fitz. Fought off block of OL and tackled RB for no gain to open the 3rd Qtr. Exploded upfield in late 3rd to blow up draw play. Shared TFL w/ Tapp. Got held for a second on draw play that went for long gain. TE then let go, but the RB was already by Kendricks. Finished with 6 tackles. Just didn’t play as well as the other games. Seemed thrown off by something.
RYANS - Good game. 6 solo stops. TFL. Had one costly play. Can’t call it a mistake, but not making it killed us. Cards had 3rd/5 from our 8-yd line. Kolb threw a pass to his right. Ryans read the play and got over there. He got his hands on the ball, but could not catch it. DRC hit him and the ball bounced into the air and was caught by Michael Floyd for a TD. If Ryans gets that, we’re down 3-0, but have the ball and momentum. Failed to tackle Roberts when chasing him on a crossing route. Just not quite fast enough for Roberts. Turned into big play. Got TFL of Williams on next play. Had a nice sequence in the early 4th Qtr. Tackled Fitz on WR screen. Held him to 4 yds on 2nd/5. Next play, 3rd/1, was toss play to the other side. Ryans flew over and put Williams on the ground before he could get the 1st. Got away with shoving Williams when he was out of bounds after long gain on draw play in the 4th. Should have been a penalty.
JORDAN - Left the game with a hamstring injury. Got in wrong gap vs run that came to his side and gave up 8 yds. Had great, but hidden play on other run. Stuffed FB on Iso run and then tackled RB for short gain. That is LB 101.
ROLLE - Played most of the 2nd half. Gave up completion to TE for 7 yds on 2nd/7. Guy just had a step on Brian. Got in the wrong gap on a couple of run plays. Credited with 2 tackles.
ALLEN - Somewhat of a quiet game. Credited with 3 tackles. Didn’t seem that the ball came his way all that often. Had good coverage of TE on one pass play thrown his direction. Ball fell incomplete. Took poor angle on the draw play late in the game. Wasn’t far off, but let Williams get wide of him instead of forcing him back inside, where the pursuit was. I do wonder if Nate was caught off guard by his speed. That was Williams first play where he really got going.
COLEMAN - Up and down game. Made a costly mistake. Bit hard on run fake on pass play when Kolb hit Fitz for 37-yd TD. Nnamdi expected help over the top on that. Good in run support most of the time. Did miss a tackle on inside run. Looked like Williams’ size may have caught him off guard. Stuffed Williams on inside run and held him to just a yard. Broke up short pass play to Williams in the early 4th. Got a good break on the ball and made a nice hit. Got gift TFL in the 4th when Williams fell down and Kurt just tapped him on the back. Finished the game with 9 total tackles, PD, and a TFL. Was good against the run and solid in coverage, but the one mistake really hurt us. Tackling was sloppy on a couple of plays. He hit, but failed to wrap up.
NNAMDI - Gave up TD to Fitz. Pressed on the play. Ran tight with him for a bit, then seemed to get lost. Expected help, but I still think Nnamdi could have covered better. Very questionable effort on pass play in the early 3rd. Ryans was chasing Roberts on crossing route, but was a step slow. Nnamdi was 5 yds further upfield and watching. He was going 3/4 speed on the play. Roberts got by Ryans and started upfield. Would have been easy tackle if Nam had been going full speed. Instead, Roberts turned it into a huge gain that was called back by blocking penalty on Fitz. Nnamdi did hustle downfield after that, but never got in on the play as Roberts cut to the other side. Came up quickly in run support and got a good shot on Williams to hold him to just a 3-yd gain. Finished with 3 tackles, TFL. Did some good things in coverage, but the TD was troubling.
DRC - Good game. 3 tackles, 2 PDs. Broke up a pass that came his way on early drive. Made big tackle of Fitz on 3rd/26 play when Larry got loose in the middle of the defense. Broke up a shot pass to Roberts on drive early in the 2nd Qtr. Covered Fitz on 3rd/15. Good jam. Fitz got to the inside and caught pass for gain of 6, but had to go to the ground to get the ball and added no RAC yds. Good defense. Hustled to get downfield on play in early 3rd when Roberts got loose. Kept him from scoring. Good effort. Had one knucklehead moment. WR Floyd knocked the crap out of him on a run play, legally. DRC got up and shoved Floyd to the ground. Proved how tough he was, but drew a flag. Dumb.
BOYKIN - Brandon’s worst game so far. Struggled with Larry Fitzgerald. Played off coverage on him and had trouble tackling Fitz on a few plays. Brandon got his first taste of dealing with a 230-lb WR that can run. Covered Fitz 1-on-1 on pass play. Larry used quick, subtle move to get open and catch pass for 10 yd gain. Never looked confident, aggressive out there.
HUGHES - Played in the slot in some Dime sets. Tackled Fitz after very short gain at the end of the 3rd Qtr.
HENRY - Very good game, statistically. Averaged 49.2 yards per punt. Question is whether he did what April wanted. Peterson was able to return several punts. One went for 17 yds. I wondered before the game what April’s plan might be. Never heard.
HENERY - 2 of 2 on FGs.
KOR – Boykin was okay, but still owes us a long KOR. Finished 3-66. Nothing special at all.
PR – Damaris had a huge mistake. Fumbled a punt return and gave ARZ the ball at our 38. Critical error led to a short TD and destroyed the momentum we’d been building to that point. Later fielded a punt at the 5. Not sure what April’s policy on that is, but Bobby probably wasn’t thrilled to see that. Averaged 8 yds on 2 returns.
* Phillip Hunt made a good tackle in punt coverage.
* Chris Polk played on STs. Got pressure on a punt.
* I don’t know if it was luck or what, but the Cards dangerous return game was very limited. There was a short KOR of 12 yds and just one long PR (17 yds).
* * * * *
NFL Gimpy posted his new MAQB column. He rips Jason Witten, shares some good stats, and gives you an update on the rookie QBs.
* * * * *
In case you missed it, I wrote a long piece on tying to understand Andy Reid. Turned out pretty good I think.
* * * * *
Poet X over at BGN broke down the final play of the 1st half and offered some good thoughts. Check out his work.
* * * * *
One part of the game I didn’t get into was the bizarre sequence where Andy was seemingly forced to accept a penalty he didn’t want. Jimmy Bama covered that over at his site.