Eagles-Ravens was the only NFC East game I saw yesterday, so I have some catching up to do on the Cowboys, Giants and Redskins. I have some initial thoughts on Eagles-Ravens, which I’ll get into now, but we’ll come back to this game again with some film breakdowns. There is a lot more good than bad to take away from this game. In this post, we’ll start with the bad, and mix in a little good. Once I re-watch the game, we’ll go a little deeper into some more of the good. My notes:
• Back in training camp, here’s what I wrote about LeSean McCoy, and his propensity to hold the football away from his body:
LeSean McCoy has 5 fumbles in his 3 year career on 801 touches. That’s a minor miracle to me. He is almost reckless the way he holds the football so far away from his body at times. It’s amazing that opposing teams don’t seem to make that a point of emphasis when tackling him. Perhaps it’s just because he’s so elusive that if you try to go for the football you can forget about tackling him? Whatever the case, I think that at some point LeSean is going to start losing some footballs. I can’t see how that isn’t going to happen.
Two games, two fumbles lost for him. Neither of the two occurred because he was holding the ball away from his body, but they both occurred because he wasn’t holding the ball tightly. High and tight, Shady. If that means that the occasional cut won’t be as effective, so be it.
• Michael Vick has to stop throwing across his body. Here’s a still shot of his first pick:
Vick sees a small window where he can fit it over the Ravens defender and into Clay Harbor in the back of the end zone. The problem is he’s being chased by Ravens defenders while rolling to his right, and he has to throw across his body as he’s running out of room on the sideline. The degree of difficulty on this throw is simply too high to attempt on the opening drive. In desperation mode? Sure. Bad decision, and another case of Vick trying to do too much to the detriment of the team.
Otherwise, I thought Vick had a great game. His other pick was more of tough luck kind of deal. He did a much better job of setting his feet before he threw and was much more accurate. 23 of 32 (71.9%). 371 yards. 1 TD passing, 1 TD rushing. Game winning drive. Big time bounce back performance from Vick.
• With just over a minute left in the 2nd quarter, Damaris Johnson fielded a punt at the 3. He was tackled at the 6. The ball would have almost certainly gone into the end zone if he just let it go. That put the Eagles in a situation where they had to be conservative. They ran 3 times burning off as much clock as they could and forcing the Ravens to use their 2 timeouts. On the Eagles’ ensuing punt, Jacoby Jones returned the ball to the Eagles 38, and the Ravens’ ridiculously good rookie kicker drilled a 56 yarder to head into the locker room at the half. Now, I’m not averse to breaking the “never field a punt inside the 5″ adage if the punter has out-kicked the coverage and you have a mile of room to work with on the return… or if you’re Deion Sanders. But Johnson didn’t have any kind of room to operate, and he was pinned in the corner:
Bad situational football that cost the Eagles 3 points.
• I wrote about this after the Cleveland game, and will do so again, because it’s just so awesome in it’s absurdly hyperbolic glory. Philadelphia Daily News beat writer Paul Domowitch had an interesting piece in which he spoke with a scout, who gave his thoughts on various Eagles. Great piece by Domo. The scout was particularly harsh on DeMeco Ryans:
“I watched the tape of the Cleveland preseason game. Ryans played something like 15 snaps and didn’t make a single play. Meanwhile, Ryan Rau goes in there and blows up a running back on the second play and forces a fumble. Ryans bites on everything he sees. And when you do that, you take yourself right out of the play a lot of times.
“DeMeco just isn’t the same player he was before the injury, and I don’t think he’s ever going to be. I can’t see any scenario where he’s going to be successful, particularly behind this line.
“The only linebacker they’ve got who can play in this scheme right now is Mychal Kendricks. Because he’s got unusual speed and unusual instincts to really get through traffic and sort things out and get to the ball carrier.
Yesterday, Ryans had 7 tackles, 2 TFL, a sack, an INT, a PBU, and every Eagles defender in the locker room went out of their way to say Ryans did a great job leading the defense in crunch time. So I guess that scout didn’t envision this scenario in which Ryans has been extraordinarily successful through two games.
• Brandon Boykin has been stellar for a rookie in the slot through two games. I talked with him after the game, and he broke down the two big plays he made on the Ravens’ final drive. More on that later.
• Jason Kelce MRI today. Huge loss if it’s something serious like an ACL.
• The Eagles only dressed 7 OL. They lost Kelce and King Dunlap. If the Eagles had lost one more player, either Cullen Jenkins or Darryl Tapp would have played OL.
• Here’s what Brandon Weeden did this week:
And Trent Richardson:
Anyone still want to dismiss the Eagles performance on D Week 1?
• I’m really surprised how butt-hurt the Ravens are over this loss. This is supposed to be a mentally and physically tough team. Vonta Leach complained after the game that the Eagles are dirty, and specifically blamed their coaching staff for coaching them to play that way. Then Ray Lewis chimed in, complaining about what he thought should have been a fumble late in the game:
“For Haloti to make that play and for the ball to be coming out, clearly, if you watch the play you can watch it a thousand times…how can you overturn that?” Lewis said. “You have to have certain type of evidence. You can’t overturn that because somebody tried to push the ball with their hand.
“I believe if the regular refs here, that call doesn’t get overturned.”
Except that it wasn’t a fumble, by any definition or stretch of the imagination:
Man up, Ravens.
That’s all for now. More on the Eagles at some point over the next couple days.