This year, veteran Eagles beat writer and current Comcast sports NFL columnist Jordan Raanan will be joining us every week with a review of the previous Sunday's Eagles game. This week he offers his notes and thoughts on the Eagles blowout loss to the Seahawks
The fumes and the smoke from the Eagles' 2011 burial in Seattle have cleared. But five days later, the stench still lingers.
What unfolded in the 31-14 loss to the Seahawks appeared unprecedented. For the first time in the Andy Reid era, the Eagles players (DeSean Jackson in particular) seemed to quit on their coach. At least that is the way it was portrayed by the NFL Network, much to the dismay of Reid.
Was the portrayal accurate? Did the Eagles lack the effort necessary to win a football game in the National Football League? Or are they just not good enough with their gaping holes in the middle of the defense and bevy of Pro Bowlers (Michael Vick, Jeremy Maclin, Dominique Rogers-Cromartie, Nnamdi Asomugha) out with injuries?
There's no doubt that quitting is hard to quantify. There is no official stat that measures whether a team is giving maximum effort or not. Really, all you can do is let your eyes make the decision. So I went back and looked at the Eagles' effort and came up with this:
• 18 instances where Eagles players did not appear to give maximum effort
• Four plays where DeSean Jackson easily could have done a better job, the most troubling being when he didn't block for LeSean McCoy on a key pass in the fourth quarter that could have resulted in a touchdown if he got just a piece of Seattle's Earl Thomas
• Three plays in the first quarter where Nnamdi Asomugha wanted no part of tackling or helping stop the run
• Asante Samuel's usual aversion to tackling
• A commendable effort by the Eagles' defensive line tracking back to make tackles past the line of scrimmage
Think about it: McCoy was right next to the Seattle linebacker when he picked off the ball. Shady's momentum was not headed in the opposite direction as he was basically dead stopped when Young threw the pass. Yet, as Hawthorne, a LB, rumbled into the end zone, McCoy wasn't even in the picture. Didn't even reach the 20 with his 4.4 speed compared to that of a 250-pound linebacker.
Now, are these examples a sign of quitting? Or normal run-of-the-mill in-game behaviors that traditionally go unnoticed?
To be fair, I can sit here every game and give demerits for lack of 100 percent effort. It happens every game, to every team. Some can be attributed to fatigue. Others to minor knocks obtained before and during the game.
But 18 is a mighty large number. To me, it indicates the towel has been tossed. And even more troubling is it seems to be the team's most important players that are the biggest offenders.
Other Notable Observations:
• While Jackson's on-field effort deserves criticism, it appeared that NFLN went overboard with its report that Jackson wasn't really talking to his teammates, sitting by himself and was ignoring Young as the video seemed to indicate. Young appeared to be talking with Riley Cooper, who was sitting next to Jackson at the time but was not in the video that has been shown around the world to indict the embattled wide receiver. There were several other occasions where Jackson was shown talking to teammates (Young, McCoy and Jason Avant). Those seem to contradict the report.
• Seattle used the same game plan that every other Eagles opponent seemed to have this season. Pound the ball and attack the safeties and linebackers with play-action passes. Of Tarvaris Jackson's 13 completions, only two were against the Eagles' starting corners for a combined 11 yards. The rest of his 190 yards came against the Birds' linebackers, safeties and nickel corner. Seattle fullback Michael Robinson came into the game with four catches for 29 yards this season. He had four catches for 41 yards against the Eagles.
• Here's what the Eagles think of Steve Smith and Brandon Graham right now: Both dressed and did not see a single snap. The Eagles apparently don't think that Smith, still less than a year removed from microfracture surgery, is a better option at wide receiver than Chad Hall. Graham, meanwhile, can't get on the field ahead of Juqua Paker or Darryl Tapp.
• Jason Babin had two sacks to up his total to 12 this season. But those were his only two tackles of the game and Seattle continuously pounded his side with their running game.
• The Seahawks weren't happy with Trent Cole on a play late in the fourth quarter. Cole body-slammed Seattle's Russell Okung well away from the action. Okung, who was further from the ball than Cole at the time he was tossed, tore his pectoral muscle on the play and is out for the season. The dirty play will likely earn Cole a fine.
• Hall - all 5-foot-8 of him, maybe - being on the field for a Hail Mary at the end of the first half is pretty laughable.