by Brandyn Campbell
Everyone must stand alone.
For anyone who watched the Philadelphia Eagles’ third straight loss on Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons, it was clear that the game was lost overwhelmingly because of the pitiful showing by the team’s defense.
However, on Monday, the headlines surrounding the game were dominated by talk of benching quarterback Mike Vick.
The Eagles’ offense was certainly not stellar in the game, as has been the case all season. They played it safe, and that paid off in terms of having no turnovers. Vick’s numbers for the day, in the wind and rain that signaled the start of Hurricane Sandy, were 21 out of 35 passes for 191 passing and 42 rushing yards.
Nothing tremendous, but — pardon the pun — passable.
What was abhorrent was the play of the defense. The first game for defensive coordinator Todd Bowles is one he wishes could be re-done. In the 30-17 loss, the defense simply could not stop the Falcons offense. It wasn’t until late in the fourth quarter that the D finally stopped Atlanta from scoring on a drive. Prior to that, the Falcons had gotten points on the board from every single possession in the game.
The Eagles D finally broke its drought on quarterback sacks (one each by Cullen Jenkins and Cedric Thornton) but still could not bring pressure to Matt Ryan. The secondary was woeful, with more questions about Nnamdi Asomugha’s value to the team versus that of his contract swirling more than ever before. Prior to the game, the Falcons had little rushing game to speak of. However, running backs Jacquizz Rodgers and Michael Turner were able to combine for 118 yards on the ground.
It was a failure in every way possible for the Philadelphia Eagles defense. But somehow, the focus is on Mike Vick.
Andy Reid has once again helped to spark the questions and controversy, saying that he would evaluate everything closely to decide if a change is needed at QB. That seems to be a constant state of affairs in Philadelphia these days. But what is more disturbing are Vick’s comments on the situation.
“Obviously he’s thinking about making a change at the quarterback position. The thing I do know, and I’ll go and watch the film and I’ll evaluate myself, is that I’m giving us every opportunity to win. I’m trying my hardest. Some things don’t go right when I want them to. Some things do. So if that’s a decision that coach wants to make, then I support it.”
When your quarterback’s confidence begins to publicly waiver, you’re in trouble. Vick’s unquestioning belief in himself at times this season has been maddening, but it’s a swagger that you need in the star athlete you’re expecting to lead your team day in and day out. For the first time, cracks in Vick’s armor revealed themselves on Sunday and more than a lack of confidence, Vick revealed what seems to be a problem for this Eagles team as a whole.
They are at an utter and complete loss as to what to do to get better and how to do it. That goes from head coach Andy Reid on down to the players.
That’s a problem.
The Eagles clearly have no idea how to fix the issues the plague them and the most damning sign of all is the fact that the team now seems to be getting worse. When players were asked following the game what the problem was, no one had an answer. They hung their heads and mumbled. And neither firing Juan Castillo nor having their behinds handed to them at that Linc seems to have motivated this team. So we’re now left with a collection of lost men.
Time to panic after one bad game? No, but we’re not talking about a single contest. The team has played poorly all season, and after three straight losses they look worse than ever.
Ironically, the defense wasn’t the problem this season and yet Castillo was fired. Following that pattern, I suppose benching Vick is the solution that would follow for this team. Because it doesn’t make a lick of sense.
The Philadelphia Eagles are a team imploding before our eyes. They’ve lost faith in themselves and they appear to be a team without answers. At some point you’d hope that the Birds would stand up and fight to prove that they are as good as so many, including myself, believe they are and can be. But it appears that they can’t. Or, even worse, that they just don’t want to.
This team wants an easy fix. Pointing the finger at Vick is simple. Turning the finger at themselves collectively? It seems to be something that Philadelphia is incapable of doing.
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Brandyn Campbell of Philly Sports Muse, for War Room Sports