Sunday, September 12, 2010

Eagles lose injury-filled season opener

How does one even begin to describe the Eagles first game of the season? The first half was brutal, probably the worst possible way they could have started the season. The second half, though, was filled with enough bright spots that the Eagles look like they might have something they can build on. The fact that they only lost the game 27-20 to one of the best teams in the NFC gives you some hope that the Birds be competitive this season.

The game couldn't have started off any uglier, though. From a mountain of injuries to an ineffective offense in the first half to a bunch of stupid penalties, just about everything went wrong for the Eagles as they fell behind by 10 points. The offense was brutal, finishing with under 50 yards in the first half. From Michael Vick and Jeremy Maclin being the top two rushers to Brent Celek and DeSean Jackson being held catchless, absolutely nothing went right. The first half defense, on the other hand, looked good as they made a habit of getting after the quarterback and forced Aaron Rodgers to rush a number of his throws.

Of course, the inept first half offense was overshadowed by a ridiculous number of injuries. Both Kevin Kolb and Stewart Bradley suffered concussions but inexplicably stayed in the game for the rest of the half. Kolb and Bradley then were removed from the game at halftime, meaning Michael Vick took over at QB and Omar Gaither was back in the middle. Center Jamaal Jackson was also injured, missing the rest of the game with an arm injury. The early word from the Eagles on Jackson is that he tore his bicep and could be lost for the season. And, perhaps worst of all, Leonard Weaver's knee was destroyed early in the second quarter and all indications are that the Pro Bowl fullback will be done for the year. No matter how you look at it, losing both Jackson and Weaver will hinder the Birds offense. The drop-off to whoever the Eagles get to start in their place will make things difficult for the Birds to protect the quarterback.

Things went very differently for the Eagles in the second half after Michael Vick took over. While there isn't expected to be any quarterback controversy in Philly (Andy Reid has already said that Kolb will remain the quarterback if healthy), Vick put together quite a game, completing 16 of 24 passes for 175 yards and a touchdown while rushing for 103 yards. Much of the yards Vick compiled were against a Packers defense that was in prevent mode, so don't expect that kind of accuracy from him should he be playing full time. Frankly, the Packers didn't have any kind of gameplan to stop him, not even bothering to shadow Vick when he escaped the pocket. While some will call for Vick to be the new starting quarterback, Kevin Kolb has to be given more of a chance than one half of a football game. If Kolb is going to be the long term answer at QB in Philly he needs to be given more than just 30 minutes to prove it.

The defense also continued to play well in the second half. While they did give up a pair of touchdowns, they showed a ton of heart in the 4th quarter as they shut down the Packers offense and kept the Birds in the game. Much like the offense, it was difficult to get too good of a read on the defense because the Packers closed up the playbook after they got a big lead. Regardless, Nate Allen deserves mention for an interception in his first game with the Eagles.

Expect a week filled with a ton of Eagles news, from whether Bradley and Kolb will be able to play next week to how long Jackson and Weaver will be out. The Eagles will also need to look into signing another fullback to replace Weaver and get Mike McGlynn ready to start at center. While the Lions appear to be a weak opponent next week, when you have as many injuries as the Eagles do, no game is an easy win.

After just one game, it's clear this is going to be one crazy season, Eagles fans. Strap yourselves in, things are bound to get bumpy.
(Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

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