Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE
By Jordan Raanan, Xfinity NFL Columnist and NJ.Com Writer
It's only the midway point of the season and already this is depressing. Watching, covering, even talking about the Eagles has become a bundle of negativity.
Look, let's be honest, there is nothing positive about four straight losses in a 16-game season. That's a quarter of the season down the drain. It has put the Eagles (3-5) deep in a ditch they almost can't climb out of in the final eight weeks of the season.
But for the sake of drowning in our sorrows or overheating from frustration, let's think positive for a few minutes. I'm here to help. I broke down the Eagles 28-13 loss in New Orleans on Monday night and only took away the positives. Here's the results:
- Michael Vick didn't play poorly. Sure he missed a few throws, some calls and didn't locate an open receiver here or there on the rare occasion that he had some time. That stuff is going to happen. Drew Brees missed some plays as well. But it's really hard to find too much fault in Vick's performance considering he was hit 13 times on pass attempts, sacked seven times. Even on the costly interception that went for a 98-yard interception return for a touchdown Vick had already been hit five times and had a defender in his face. It's hard for a quarterback to get comfortable and make throws under that type of duress. Nonetheless, Vick still managed to make some throws and move the Eagles up and down the field. We would be talking differently about his performance if the Eagles were willing to pound the ball in for a touchdown once in a while from the red zone.
- Rookie David Sims showed some promise in his first career start. Aside from the whiff on Chris Ivory's second quarter touchdown run, the 26-year-old Iowa State product tackled well. He even knifed through the line of scrimmage on a second half blitz and tackled the Ivory behind the line of scrimmage. In fact, I saw promise from Sims. He looked fast, fluid and decent in coverage. Even though he allowed a few catches to Saints tight end Jimmy Graham (who doesn't), none went for big gains. That in itself is an accomplishment considering Graham's freakish athleticism and skill. Overall, it was an above-average first career start for Sims. Maybe the Eagles have something here. It certainly can't hurt to give him another shot.
- Whipping boys Jason Babin and Trent Cole played their best games in weeks. Sure it's not saying much, but it's progress. Babin, who finished officially with a sack and quarterback hurry, was in the backfield pretty consistently as a pass rusher. He even snuffed out a screen for the first time this season. Cole, meanwhile, was a major factor in the run game and had six total tackles, most near or behind the line of scrimmage. It wasn't great for either player, but it was better. It was progress. The hope is that next week is even better.
- The Eagles special teams awoke. Finally. They made a big play in the third quarter that should have put them back in the game when backup running back Chris Polk forced a fumble on a kickoff. Curtis Marsh recovered at the New Orleans 22. The special teams put the Eagles in position to make it a four-point game with a quarter and a half left to play. Special teams coordinator Bobby April also concocted one of the all-time great trick plays with Riley Cooper hiding on the field on a second-half kickoff. Too bad Brandon Boykin threw the lateral forward or it would have been an all-around great game by the Eagles special teams. Maybe this is a sign of things to come for the previously embattled group.
- Bryce Brown flashed all the skills that make the Eagle blush when speaking about the rookie. He showed a solid burst, tremendous power and excellent cutback ability (re-watch his 40-yard run in the first quarter). It was easily his best and most productive game of this season. Marty Mornhinweg and Andy Reid can surely find a bigger role for him in the second half of the season.