Went to the game last night and here are a few observations:
1. It was like a preseason crowd last night.
There was almost no energy in that place from the opening kickoff. Whatever energy was literally stripped along with football when Winfield stripped Vick. After that it only got loud again 1-2 times in the 2nd half on a couple of 3rd downs. Even on that critical 3 & 11 though in the 4th quarter, it wasn't nearly as loud as it I have heard the Linc before.
People were also somewhat late getting to their seats to the opening kickoff and especially after half-time. I was stunned at how many empty seats there were around us at the start of the 2nd half. Most people didn't file back into our section until at least 3-4 minutes into the 3rd quarter. That's very unlike Eagles fans. Maybe it was because it was a Tues. night. Maybe it was the holidays. Probably a little of both. Don't miss the Vet for Phils' games one bit but I did miss the Vet last night because the upper levels were almost always loud during important games. Wasn't the case last night.
2. Worn out Eagles' DL.
Even with the rest, it looks like a DL that simply is running short of bodies and energy. Losing Graham wasn't critical on the production side as much as it was on helping to keep the DE fresh. Parker is a guy who simply wears out by Dec if he plays a lot. It has happened almost every year in an Eagles' uniform. The same guy who gets to the QB in Sept/Oct simply has lost a half-step. Parker simply looks spent. Doubt he is effective the rest of the way.
Cole also looks worn out too. He had a sack last night but it was only when he wasn't double-teamed. Any time he faces a double-team he simply doesn't have the extra gear to get to the QB. Doesn't even need to be a great block by a TE/RB/FB. Just a chip or a push. Hopefully the rest next week gives him some fresher legs because Eagles desperately need him to be more effective vs. Packers in their 1st playoff game. Tapp hasn't been the answer either this year as their situational pass-rusher. He makes the occasional play but doesn't bring what Howard did as a situational rusher 2-3 years ago on passing downs.
DL is also getting a bit thin. Never thought that losing Laws would be a big deal. It was. Eagles really missed him on 3rd downs last night after he went out with that shoulder injury in the 1st half. He is one of their 'energy guys' who has given them a boost at times on 3rd down this year. Another guy who hopefully will benefit from the rest and be able to play vs. the Packers in 12 days. Dixon also looks a bit tired too. Hitting the rookie wall a bit. Losing Owens last night to a knee injury too didn't help.
Basically the Eagles are going to be forced to starting relying more upon marginal guys like Burgess and the likely body they will sign to fill Owens spot. Not a good thing. All the while, DTO isn't being dressed. Pretty damning indictment of what a lousy draft pick he was.
3. Utter confusion on picking up blitzes
This all really started back in the 1st Giants' game at the Linc where the Giants showed the league the first real example on how to slow down the Eagles a bit. Their front four wasn't that effective at all at getting to Vick but he took some real shots especially from Phillips on plays where the Giants' sent 6 or even 7 blitzers. Since then, it seems like more and more teams are willing to put their CBs on an island in order to get to Vick with blitzers.
There are a couple of reasons why this team seems to be struggling with the blitz. Most of it is due to the offensive line especially McGlynn. Besides just being too slow with his footwork, McGlynn seems to have to really struggled with calling out assignments/making adjustments at the line before the snap, determining the right man to pick up on bltizing downs, and his terribly inconsistent snaps. If the Eagles are going shotgun with 4 WRS and nobody in the backfield, you simply need a direct and quality snap to Vick. Instead, Vick often get a lollipop snap that sails to high and/or is errant in direction. The snap should hit in the numbers. Not 2-3 feet to the right nor at his knees. It costs him a very precious half-second or so. McGlynn isn't terrible. His shortcomings though get really exposed though right now when opposing teams blitz.
Things also aren't helped by the fact that MJG is simply a below average pass blocker and that Justice is playing with a hobbled left knee that his mobility right now. Limits his ability to push off on run blocking and his ability to pivot to move guys to the outside. Justice really struggled last night against a generally mediocre DE.
Running backs aren't helping things either. McCoy generally has done a much better job this season at identifying which man to pick up and making a quality block. He didn't do either last night. Schmitt is hopeless. Not sure if it is the scheme or just his limited awareness but he flat out stinks at identifying which man to pick up on blitzes. I cringe when other teams blitz & he is the only back in the backfield. You almost know Vick is going to take a shot.
Vick needs to be willing to check down a bit more. He generally has done a good job of doing that but he didn't do that last night as well as he could have last night. It would also help if his WRs would actually look back and come back to the ball to help him on those plays. Maclin does a fair job of doing this. Jackson flats out stinks at doing this most plays.
4. Limited awareness of the LBs.
AP and Webb throwing the ball in the middle of the field did so much damage last night because the Eagles' LBs were often out of position. People got on Chaney after the game especially for being out of position on that critical 3 & 11 play. Personally, I didn't think that Chaney played that poorly nor do I understand what Eagles' fans expect of him. Because the Eagles were struggling vs. run, he played a bit too aggressively up at the line leaving him vulnerable on a couple of passing downs. The real issues last night were Fokou to a lesser degree and Sims. Fokou failed to contain a couple of time most notably on Webb's TD run where he looked like a chump because all Fokou had to do was play the man & use the sideline because he had help to the inside. Not one of his better games this year.
Sims though has quickly grown to be one of my least favorite Eagles' players along with Patterson. For a guy who runs his mouth early and often, maybe he should stuff it & concentrate on the damn game. Time after time last night, he was out of position and over-pursuing only to have AP make a cutback or bounce it outside. If people criticized Gocong for being too slow to react, Sims is like the ADD kid who overreacts too quickly. Noticed that he got replaced a bit last night for Jordan. Frankly, I wouldn't mind seeing Sims get benched and Jordan being named the starter next week & the playoff game.
Given the injuries at the DL and secondary, McDermott faces limited options there. One area though where he does has some roster flexibility especially if Bradley comes back is at LB. McDermott has to make some tough choices over the next 2 weeks in terms of who starts/sits and how contributes as role players. Eagles were supposed to have upgraded the LB position this offseason but more often than not it has been found wanting this season again.
Contrary to all of the 'sky is falling' yahoos who got so worked up about this loss, I really didn't see that much that was new. You kind of got the sense from being there that everyone (including the Eagles' players) expected the Vikings to largely just roll over after the Eagles went up 7-0. Well, they didn't. They simply outplayed the Eagles. That's all. It happens although it was disappointing to see what happen at home.
The silver lining is now they get a week to rest their starters which is desperately needed. Vick didn't even jog off the field last night. Wasn't even limping. He literally looked like an 75-year old man who had a hip injury and was dragging his leg along. Simply took a beating last night although some of it was self-inflicted again needlessly.
Otherwise, I saw the same team I have seen the past month or so. One that has a below average defense that gives it up like a drunk girl on prom night in the red zone with mediocre at best special teams. If Vick and the offense don't put up at least 27-28 pts, this team has little shot of winning. It will be the same in the first round vs. Packers/Giants. Either Vick and Co. put up 27-28 pts or this team is 1 and done.