[Note by JasonB, 09/20/11 10:54 AM EDT ] 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 loss to the Giants
Michael Vick said it on Sunday. "If you look at all the replays, I'm on the ground every time," the Eagles' star QB explained after the loss and during a frustration-induced rant about unfair officiating.
Well, now it's time to see if Vick was correct in his assessment. I've re-watched all three Eagles games so far this year and charted every hit the $100 million man has taken. Here's how it breaks down:
Week 1 vs. St. Louis: 21 Hits
Week 2 vs. Atlanta: 14 Hits
Week 3 vs. NY Giants: 12 Hits
That's a staggering 47 hits in three games. Nobody can take that kind of beating from 250 to 350-pound men. Of course, it includes running plays because, hey, those take a toll on his body too. And Vick's run the ball 18 times, with seven of those being called runs.
Now, the question is whether there are an inordinate number of illegal hits from opposing players. After hearing Vick complain Sunday, I immediately thought his claims were hollow. In my opinion, there was nothing in the loss to the Giants that gave credence to his complaints.
After further review, I was wrong. The hit where Vick hurt his hand, by rule, was in fact illegal, even though Chris Canty originally hit Vick in the shoulder. My interpretation after reading the rules is it's still a penalty when his helmet ricochets after contact off the defenseless Vick's facemask.
The hit Sunday on Vick, however, was a close call, and there was nothing else in the game close to questionable. It was in the first two weeks this season that Vick's gripe probably had more validity, especially the Monday night loss in Atlanta. The Falcons hit Vick up high in the first quarter and once near his knees in the second quarter. The Rams hit him late on one play in the opener as well. Ironically, none were on plays where he ran or rambled aimlessly around the pocket.
St. Louis did get called for a personal foul, roughing the passer, in the first quarter of the opener. So combined in the three games: five questionable hits, one penalty called. Maybe Vick has a point after all.
No matter, the opposition's game plan is clear. They want to get as many hits on Vick as possible, even if it's a little push after he's released the ball. Atlanta and St. Louis, in particular, did that every chance possible.
The Eagles did protect Vick better on Sunday than they had in the first two weeks (see below). However, it was the refs who didn't meet Vick's expectations.
The Safety Play
His quarterback's health isn't the only problem facing Andy Reid. The lack of production from the Eagles' safeties has been staggering, and they even proved a major liability against the Giants.
Overall, the Eagles safeties haven't been horrible this season. They have not had a breakdown that resulted in any wide open deep passes. But, on the flip side, they have not made enough plays and have been nonexistent in run support. That was more evident than ever on Sunday.
To start, Kurt Coleman lasted only 12 plays before he was benched in favor of Nate Allen. Coleman's final play in the starting lineup was the disaster where he blew the coverage and missed two tackles on Victor Cruz's first touchdown.
Allen did not fare much better. He played the final 37 defensive snaps, had two missed tackles and took a horrible angle on a long run by Ahmad Bradshaw in the third quarter.
In fact, the Eagles safeties combined (Jarrad Page, Coleman and Allen) made just one play near the line of scrimmage in 50 snaps. That was a nice tackle by Allen on a running play that went for a 2-yard gain in the fourth quarter. They finished with an insufficient four total tackles (Page 3, Allen 1, Coleman 0).
Page had his worst game of the season too. His three tackles were downfield, missed a pair of tackles, was run over on a two-point conversion and didn't get over to help quickly enough on Cruz's second TD, a jump ball in the end zone.
Other notable observations from the breakdown:
• The offensive line had a very strong game in pass protection. They did well on 30 of 34 pass plays, much improved after being successful on just 32 of 41 the previous week.
• The Eagles blitzed seven times on 26 pass plays against the Giants. Two of the seven plays went for touchdowns.
• Nnamdi Asomugha did not appear on the final stat sheet. That means ZERO tackles, ZERO passes defended, ZERO everything, except missed tackles (2) and touchdowns allowed (1). In his first three games as an Eagle, the prized free agent signing has five tackles (2 solo), two passes knocked down and an interception.
• Tough game for Steve Smith against his former team. Not only did his red zone drop in the first half directly result in an interception, but Smith also made a weak move on the play before the Eagles were stuffed on a crucial 4th-and-1 near midfield early in the fourth quarter. On the play, Smith caught Vick's last pass of the game and went down before a hard-charging Antrel Rolle made the hit. Smith could have fought for the extra yard -- and first down -- if he was willing to take the hit.
• The Eagles actually converted their first six 3rd-and-1s and 3rd-and-2s on Sunday. That was before they were stuffed on four attempts from inside the five and then on 4th-and-1 in the fourth quarter.
• The three star cornerback philosophy has been a dud so far, mostly because of the opponents. The Rams, Falcons, Giants and 49ers (up next) aren't spread-you-out, four wide receiver teams. They use multiple tight ends. That's left Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie's contributions as minimal, although he did have a chance to make a big play against the Giants. DRC missed a tackle behind the line of scrimmage on 3rd-and-1 with the Eagles down six in the fourth quarter.
• The Giants did not enter the red zone until there was 3:48 remaining in the game. Truly amazing. Yet they won easily.