Eagles-Ravens initial thoughts, with visuals: Week 2

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.

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  1. Patrick says:

    Seriously Ray? I have all the respect in the world for you but I think this SVP tweet sums it up perfectly.

    Vick with the rare “spiral fumble that goes forward”. Honestly. This is pitiful


  2. Joe says:

    Big, powerful DL, Gnata, pushes the “undersized” QB, Vick, backwards and the ball comes out with a forward trajectory of approx 8-10 yards? That’s a modern miracle. Against the laws of physics. Unless, of course, the arm was going forward, which it was, and it was a forward pass, which it also was. Ask Ray how he feels being tossed around like a rag-doll by the undersized QB.
    Also, I think the “scout” should be losing his job as said “scout”, if he has not already. I don’t want him working for my club. He bases his decision with regard to Ryans on: 1) The preseason 2) “like 15 snaps” (in the preseason). Good idea. Hang your hat on that! Now that he’s actually played some meaningful snaps, what do you think?

    1. Brian says:

      Eh, the scout was erring on the side of caution. He didn’t like what he saw, and he said so. Sometimes you’re going to be right, sometimes you’re going to be wrong.

  3. Dan in Philly says:

    Vick’s first INT was a really fantastic play by Pollard. The NFL is full of guys who make fantastic plays, but still you wouldn’t predict that kind of INT even throwing across your body. I have little problem with the throw, to tell the truth, you are going to strike out sometimes when you try to hit home runs.

    1. ATLeagle says:

      i just hated the situation. Vick could have gotten 2 more yards on the ground on his way to the sideline. He wouldnt have to take a hit, and then try again. If that had been a better result then the conversation wouldnt be happening, but there has been an absurd amount of risk taking for TDs that result in interceptions, going back to Riley Cooper in the endzone against green bay. Im glad the defense can take the ball back so well, but I would prefer not watching this so often that I dont get upset anymore, i just kind of shrug as it is part of the package.

    2. Iskar36 says:

      I disagree. To me, that play took some effort to make, but it was far from a fantastic play. He was there in coverage and simply had to adjust to the throw. I think most defenders either get that pick or at least bat the ball away. Vick didn’t do it the rest of the game, but throwing into coverage across your body is high a risk throw as it gets and in that situation it was not worth the reward.

    3. slandog says:

      It wasn’t that great of a play by Pollard. Vick made a bonehead play again. We were sitting on 3 points already and he had to be stupid and try for i high risk play. Run out of bounds, throw it a way and we’ll play another down.

      Vick said he’s going to play smarter this season, after two games I think he’s getting worse and worse. He played well in the second half but that first drive was terrible way for it to end.

      I’m not sure how you don’t have a problem with the throw. Pollard was right there and just had to extend his arms to catch it. Yeah you strike out sometimes as you put it but that was a terrible decision by Vick.

      1. Brian says:

        One of the problems with “trying to play smarter” is that you’re constantly fighting your instincts, which leads to the dreaded in between double clutch. It’s something that gets worse before it gets better. Hopefully this is the worse before it gets better.

      2. Dan in Philly says:

        I looked for a replay online, so I may be mistaken, but I remember Pollard having to dive for the ball and being pretty impressed with the play. not a superhuman effort, but I didn’t fault Vick for thinking he had 6 right there.

  4. Anders says:

    I still cant believe defenders are allowed to spear Vick with the crown of there helmet 2 weeks in a row now and no penalty

  5. KJ Brophy says:

    Kinda surprised Ray said that, like Jimmy said it obviously wasn’t a fumble & if the real refs were here I highly doubt that gets called a fumble

    I wasn’t paying 100% attention to him but it seemed like Bell was doing good out there. I wonder if he starts next week even if King is healthy?

    1. Well… King played well too, so I don’t think he’ll lose his job. The Ravens don’t have a good outside pass rush, so we need to be careful not to make too much out of Bell’s performance there.

  6. nicolajNN says:

    It’s easy for an Eagles fan to say since we won, but while the refs were bad it was both ways, bad calls on us and them.

    Also please don’t blame the refs too much. There’s a reason they’re replacements, they’re not supposed to ref these games. Blame the NFL for letting it happen. oo

    1. deg0ey says:

      Mmmhmm…biggest missed call of the game in my opinion was when Vick got taken out around the knees after he’d handed off to Shady. Not that it would’ve made much difference with the TD anyway, but it would’ve been nice to see a flag.

  7. TylerD says:

    Eagles and their fans can no longer complain about luck and calls going one way. How was that Vick forward pass not intentional grounding ball didn’t look like it made it pass the line of scrimage right. And the Offensive Pass interference Lucky calls.

    1. On a play like that, when the pass is affected by the QB getting hit, that’s never going to get called for intentional grounding. Never.

      And the OPI call was totally legit. The WR pushed off.

      1. Todd B says:

        I thought it should have been a non-call. Both teams were pulling, grabbing, and pushing off all game. That seemed a bit weak to call that one at that time.

        Not complaining. I’ll take it. But it was still a weak call.

      2. McMuffin says:

        Besides, it was initially ruled a fimble, when it was overturned later I don’t believe that a ref can call a foul on a challenge or replay.

      3. Brian says:

        “On a play like that, when the pass is affected by the QB getting hit, that’s never going to get called for intentional grounding. Never.”

        The fact that some people don’t realize that is astounding. That shit literally happens like once a game.

    2. Tommy K says:

      There was a receiver about five yards from where it landed. I’m pretty sure it was either Johnson or Avant.

  8. the baltimore beatdown SBnation blog this morning


    “Unfortunately, on the other side of the ball quarterback Joe Flacco and the high flying Ravens passing attack was grounded by a secondary using every cheap shot, illegal trick in the book to keep them from lift off. I’ll give the Eagles credit. they knew what kind of calls the refs would see and what kind they would not. Pass interference calls were mistakenly called illegal contact or not called at all until the Baltimore Ravens scored the game winning touchdown by Jacoby Jones with a man hanging all over him. Yes, he pushed off, but what else are you supposed to do when being held and face-guarded by the defender not even turned to the ball.”

    I guess they crying epidemic isn’t limited to the players lol such large quantities of butt-hurt

  9. T-rade says:

    Maybe we can please the scout by calling Meco for DeMeco Ryans Rau?

  10. Derf Diggy says:

    Ravens have been finesse for a few years now, to tell you the truth.
    As a MD resident, the city bleeds “hard hat”, the football team these days…Not so much. Ask Steelers fans how much crying Baltimore does when they lose. It’s sad….There’s one Harbaugh in the league that is in charge of a smash mouth, hard hitting, non-finesse team…and he’s located on an entirely different coast.

    Great Eagles win…pains me to say. That offense still has some issues, Vick being one of them. The defense looks disgustingly good though.

    1. Our TO rate is not sustainable if we want to keep winning. The issues are fixable. Obviously sooner than later would be great. Its good to have a D that we can depend on. Castillo made some really good adjustments after the half.

  11. Extremely butt-hurt. I was watching this game with Ravens fans and every single one of them couldn’t believe it was ruled a fumble in the first place.

  12. Jalarsen says:

    On a Cowboys note, did you read KD Drummonds BTB front page write up where he complained that the hit on Lee should have been illegal b/c Lee was a “defenseless receiver”?!? Seriously?!?

    1. I saw that lol he might wanna recheck the rule book so he doesn’t come off as a rule ignorant homer, as opposed to a regular homer next time.

      1. Derf Diggy says:

        Mike peirara…(spelling?) Tweeted that the hit was illegal. Tate launched into Lee with his helmet.

        The problem wasn’t so much the hit, but more so on that very same play Bruce Carter got charged with the call for playing 2 hand touch when Wilson was running out of bounds.

        Just adds insult to injury at that point. A no call there and you probably wouldn’t be hearing so much about Tate laying out Lee.

        I’ll leave my comments on the game for Jimmy’s write up…as should Eagles fans. I’ll just say Seahawks played physical football and the boys were no match for that brand of football.

        1. That Seattle D is no joke. It was pretty obvious watching their Week 1 game, even if they were only playing the Cards. Could be a Top 5 NFL defense. I agree the hit was illegal, by the way. That and the Cowboys’ busted coverage on the TE are the only two things I’ve seen from that game so far, but it sounds like tat game was a mess from start to finish.

          1. Derf Diggy says:

            No joke whatsoever…really the entire NFC west is playing smash mouth..run it down your throat, hit you in the mouth branded football right now. Wouldn’t be surprised to see 3/4ths of that division in the top 5 for defense at the end of the year.

            Hawks secondary may be the best in the league.

            They popped the boys in the mouth and then shifted into another gear in the 2nd half.

            1. Yep, Cardinals are overlooked too, although maybe not anymore after what they did to NE. Calais Campbell, Darnell Dockett, Daryl Washington, Adrian Wilson, Patrick Peterson. Really talented group. Looking forward to watching their tape this week. That’ll be another tough game for Philly in Week 3.

        2. that PF was garbage, but coaches don’t say “head on a swivel” for nothing. you can’t call that as a penalty. Was he just supposed to let him run by? Or would you rather he went low and blew out his knee?

          1. Anders says:

            This hit is the reason why that type of hits are now illegal

          2. Derf Diggy says:

            Lee is the first person to tell you that it’s part of football. Again, I don’t think anyone that saw the game is really THAT upset about Tate’s hit. It was “almost” legal. The rules state you gotta go between the head and legs….it was close enough for it to go overlooked..I guess.

            The uproar is moreso from a personal foul being called on Bruce Carter at the end of that play for “pushing” Wilson out of bounds. If you’re going to let them play “big boy” football…at least be consistent. Is all.

            You guys(and I can go back and look, I think Spencer did it on Vick specifically), are QUICK to call out defenses for going at Vick right before he steps out of bounds…if you can’t see how launching your helmet upwards at a defenseless player on a crack back isn’t equal to or worse than getting pushed OB…then we need to have a discussion.

            1. slandog says:

              He got hit on the numbers, it wasn’t a high or low hit. Was it a huge blow, yeah of course. But that hit is legal. Like someone said above, is the guy supposed to let him just run right by him.

              He hit him in the chest, his head snaps because it’s a huge blow, but it’s not an illegal hit. He was hit in the front, not the back, and was hit in the numbers. Just becasuse it’s the Boys everyone comes crying.

              1. RogerPodacter says:

                the complaint to me is that he appears to leave his feet which could constitute “launching” himself at the opposing player.
                To me, though, it looks more like he left his feet *after* he made the hit and was just a result of him having upward momentum from the hit and being off balance.

                i agree that it appears that he hit him below the neck right in the numbers and that the force of the impact drove the hitter upwards and lee’s head downwards like in a whiplash. this makes it look like he was hit in the head.

                i didnt see the other side of the play where the ‘boys player was flagged for pushing a guy out of bounds. dont have an opinion on that part of it.

    2. slandog says:

      Completely legal hit. He didn’t hit him with his helmet first and he’s not a receiver. It’s nobody’s fault but his own that his head isn’t on a swivel!! THat’s on Lee for getting lit up, he should know better.

      He just got owned on that play!!

      1. Tommy K says:

        I think Tate being off his feet is just the result of his momentum continuing after contact, like a huge hit in hockey, where the player making the hit is almost always in the air after the hit, despite the fact that he made the hit with his feet still contacting the ground.

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