Much of the media deconstruction of today's game will focus on Michael Vick's broken hand, and indeed his loss was of course detrimental to the Eagles chances. However, the true responsibility for this debacle falls squarely on the coaching staff. Down 14-13 with the ball at the 1 yard line, the Eagles had four chances to punch it in owing to a Giants penalty. Two handoffs to Owen Schmitt and two Michael Vick sneaks into the line and the Eagles only came away with a field goal. Four opportunities to get one yard and you don't hand it off even once to your primary running back--who, oh by the way, is having a monster game and is one of the best running backs in the NFL? Not to mention putting your concussed QB at risk by diving him into the line...
Fast forward to the next drive, 4th and 1 at the Giants 43 early in the 4th quarter. Philly has a two point lead. A punt pins the Giants deep in their own territory but Philly goes for it and fails; New York promptly marches down the short field for a touchdown. The momentum of the game clearly shifted when New York made that stop on 4th and 1--and given the Eagles inability to gain a single yard in four tries the prior series, what gave the coaching staff the confidence they would get it this time? Field position matters in a close game and this boneheaded decision cost the Eagles dearly.
Defensively, the Eagles continue to get exposed with the "9-wide" scheme. Common sense suggests that if you are going to leave wide running lanes open off tackle, you better have linebackers who can fill the gaps. The Eagles clearly don't and NFL teams will continue to attack that weakness. A good defensive coordinator designs schemes that fit the strength of the personnel; in this case Juan Castillo and Jim Washburn continue to press a scheme that their weak trio of linebackers cannot defend.
Speaking of pressing schemes: despite much howling from the unwashed masses (who saw an undersized, inexperienced guy playing out of position) the Eagles stubbornly tried to make Casey Matthews a starting middle linebacker. When that experiment clearly failed Philly wisely shuffled their linebackers this week, returning Matthews to the weakside position he played in college. And today we saw Matthews badly blow coverage on Brandon Jacobs out of the backfield, leading to an easy Giants TD and a 14-0 lead. One has to wonder if Matthews makes that play if he had a full training camp playing the weakside, instead of having to learn it on the fly in Week 3 of the season? Maybe he gets burned anyway, but surely 7 weeks of seasoning at the position would have been better than 6 days...
Finally, atrocious tackling by the defense continually extended drives for the Giants offense. Poor tackling technique suggests poor coaching; so yes, the blame falls on Castillo, and ultimately on Andy Reid for entrusting the Eagles D to a coordinator who had never coached on the defensive side in the pros.
It's far too early to write the season off, even with Vick likely out until the Cowboys come to town on 10/30. Next week's game against the 49ers is crucial, especially with games against the vastly improved Bills and Redskins leading into the bye week. Eagles management wisely planned for a Vick injury and its on the shoulders of either Mike Kafka or Vince Young to get us to the bye at 3-3. (Who ya like, by the way? I'll take Vince Young and his 30-17 record as a starter, if he's healthy).
However, it's becoming increasingly clear that the Eagles will be at a disadvantage most weeks in the game-planning department, with overmatched coordinators on both sides of the ball. And even (alleged) "Dream Team" talent levels cannot overcome that.