Prediction: Eagles Win
Outcome: Eagles Win
So here we are at last, the start of the NFL season. After all the hype around the Eagles and the “Dream Team” nonsense, we got to see just how the team would fare under the magnifying glass of gameday.
It’s hard to not be happy about the victory, but the Eagles didn’t make it easy on themselves. This Defense, while holding the Rams to 13 points, was far from spectacular. They were weak against the run, and it was a lucky break that Steven Jackson suffered an injury so early in the game. Not that it stopped the Rams from using Cadillac Williams to good effect. Penalties were also a problem. There’s got to be more discipline on this Defense, since a few times the Rams would have been off the field after a 3rd down had the Defense not committed penalties.
There were bright spots, like holding off a potential Rams touchdown at the goal line (granted, the Rams shot themselves in the foot with a penalty that set them back 5 years, but still…) and the interception returned for a touchdown. But the cynic in me can’t help but wonder how much the Eagles benefited from poor playing by Rams quarterback Bradford, who looked off the entire game.
On the offense side of the ball, the Eagles fluctuated between electric and scary. You live and die on every play with that offensive line. Sometimes they’d be decent and give Michael Vick enough time to settle in for a throw. Other times they would collapse like an accordion, causing Vick to be harried and even brought down.
Vick, however, can be amazing to watch in some of his scrambles. To no surprise, there were a number of plays where Vick turned a potential loss into solid gains, sometimes breaking a number of tackles and looking like he was down, only to narrowly escape. Watching this game reminded me of how poorly Kevin Kolb would have done under the same circumstances- which is not a commentary on Kolb’s abilities, but he is not nearly as mobile as Vick is. Andy Reid has to be credited with turning Vick from a quarterback with a mediocre arm but great running ability into a complete quarterback with deadly speed. With all apologies to Randall Cunningham, Vick is the real Ultimate Weapon.
Lesean McCoy had a great game, rushing for over 100 yards and a touchdown. The Eagles had a balanced attack between passes and rushes, and it obviously helped, considering the 31 points they were able to put on the scoreboard. With a solid running back corps in McCoy and Ronnie Brown and Vick’s mobility, there is no reason for Coach Andy Reid to be as pass-happy in the past as he has been. Of course, it probably won’t change, knowing Reid, but he has the best offensive lineup in his tenure. Use it.
This game could be a look at the season in microcosm: both sides of the ball improved as the game went on, and there is still plenty to work on. The Rams started off solid but collapsed as the game went on. It is a promising start for the Eagles, considering the W, but I think their next game will be a bigger test of their abilities.
Next Week: They’ll be going up against a Falcons team, in Atlanta, smarting from their week one loss. I predicted a loss. We’ll see.