Sunday, September 19, 2010

Vick, McCoy help Eagles edge Lions

A win is a win, even when it has an ugly finish. In a game that shouldn't have been close, the Eagles were guided by strong efforts by Michael Vick and LeSean McCoy as they just barely edged the Lions, 35-32. The final score is a bit misleading in this one, however, as the Eagles were leading 35-17 before they went into cruise control mode just a bit too early.

The story of the game and for the next week will be whether Michael Vick did enough to earn the starting quarterback job for the Eagles. Vick certainly played well, evading pass-rushers left and right to complete 21 of 34 passes for 284 yards and 2 touchdowns and also added 37 yards rushing. Given how poorly the Eagles offensive line blocked, Vick had to do a lot of dancing in the pocket but still couldn't avoid getting sacked five times. If the Eagles line doesn't start blocking better, the Eagles may be forced to start Vick due to his scrambling ability.

Of course, in my opinion, there isn't a quarterback controversy for the Eagles until Kevin Kolb plays at least a full game of football. Given that he was cleared to practice for the week, barring a setback, Kolb will be the starting quarterback next week against the Jaguars. I'm sure there will be plenty of fans calling for Vick to start but Kolb has to be given a chance to prove himself.

Vick wasn't the only standout Eagle, though: LeSean McCoy also had a great game, rushing for a career-high 120 yards and 3 touchdowns on 16 carries. While it was hard to tell if he was that good or the Lions are just awful against the run, McCoy looked like he was running on another level as he averaged 7.5 yards per carry. No, McCoy is never going to get 20+ carries a game and be a chain-moving running back but his big-play ability makes him a tremendous weapon for the Eagles.

Defensively, the Eagles had some major issues with the ground game against the Lions, especially on a first quarter touchdown drive where the Lions ran for 76 yards on 6 carries. While Lions rookie Jahvid Best has some serious speed, the Eagles looked completely inept without Stewart Bradley manning the middle of the defense. Luckily, Bradley will be back next week against the Jaguars strong running game but it would be nice if someone else stepped up should he miss more time down the road.

The early issues stopping the Lions ground game gave way to 4th quarter issues with stopping the Lions passing game. I know the Eagles went into prevent mode after they got a big lead but there is no excuse for letting backup quarterback Shaun Hill pass for 335 yards. It's hard to say who deserves the blame for letting up all the yards; it's likely a combination of not getting enough pressure on the quarterback and a few blown assignments in the secondary.

Expect all the talk for the next week to be about who should start at quarterback for the Eagles. Last time I checked, though, neither Vick nor Kolb played defense, so I'm not sure either of them will help with the Eagles biggest problem right now. The offense has proven it can score points; it's on the defense to prove they can make plays, too.

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