Talking to the players in the locker room yesterday, they all sent the same message after pulling out another 1 point win to start the season 2-0:
The wins haven't been pretty, but they are the kind of wins that are building character and help them later in the season.
The Eagles for the first time in a long time are playing a tough, passionate, winning style of football. The energy at the stadium showed the fans are getting behind this team, and with the way the quarterback and defense is playing, it is shaping up to be an exciting season.
Here is What I Liked and What I Didn't Like from yesterday's big win over the Ravens:
What I Liked:
Michael Vick: In every game Vick plays, fans are going to see the good and the bad. The bad came out early against the Ravens as he threw an interception on the Eagles first drive of the game. But for the rest of the game the Eagles and their fans got the Vick that makes him a franchise quarterback. To be an NFL quarterback you need to have the physical skills, but you also need to be mentally tough. Say what you will about Vick, but he is not afraid to keep firing and has been clutch through 2 games. Vick led the Eagles on another game winning drive- his 2nd time in 2 weeks- and did it with both his arm and his feet. The final drive showed why Vick can be so dangerous. Against the Browns, fans could have made the argument that Nick Foles would have done better. But against the Ravens, as Vick ran for 1st downs and handled one of the toughest defenses in the NFL, there was no doubt- only Vick could have won this game.
The Linebackers: Former great Eagles linebacker Jeremiah Trotter was at the game yesterday, and for the first time in a long time, he had to like what he saw from the Eagles linebackers. DeMeco Ryans and Mychael Kendricks are playing beyond anyone's expectations, and they are quickly making the line-backing unit a strength on this team. For the 2nd week in a row Ryans was all over the field, and made a big play when he picked off Joe Flacco to stall a Ravens drive. While Ryans was making big plays, Kendricks was doing a solid job tackling and in coverage- 2 things no Eagles linebacker has done for some time.
Coming Out Throwing: While Reid did do a better job this week balancing his offense between running and throwing, I liked that Reid came out and showed confidence in Michael Vick. After a rough week against Cleveland, Vick knew the pressure was on against Baltimore. Reid got Vick’s confidence going as Vick connected on his first 5 passes- before throwing an interception in the endzone. It would one of the few mistakes Vick would make on the day, and the pass heavy offense to start showed Vick that Reid still had faith in him.
McCoy Getting Redzone Touches: An interesting note that few noticed last week against the Browns was that on the Eagles final drive, McCoy did not get any chances inside of the redzone. Through 2 games it appears that Reid is making a big-time effort to get Bryce Brown involved, but McCoy is still this teams best weapon. Against the Ravens, Reid gave McCoy the ball twice on the teams 2nd trip inside the redzone, and McCoy got the job done with his first touchdown of the season.
Brent Celek: There wasn’t much not to like about Celek’s performance against the Ravens. He is everything this city loves in a football player- he is tough, he plays through pain, he fights for every yard, and he produces. Celek had a huge day with 8 catches for 157 yards, but 2 plays really encapsulated Celek’s time with the Eagles. Early in the game Celek took a big hit across the middle, but hopped right up as if he didn’t even feel it. It fired the fans up and sent a message to the Ravens that the Eagles would not be out muscled in their own building. Later in the game, as the Eagles were driving, Celek pulled his once-a-year jump over a defender move. This time it was Ed Reed that was the victim. It was a big play and kept the Eagles offense rolling. Celek battled through injuries last year, and it hurt his production at times. But through 2 games, it seems like he is going to have a monster year if he can stay healthy.
Eagles Show Some Fight: After the game, Reid was asked about all of the fighting between the 2 teams. While he said he didn’t like the penalties, you could tell he loved seeing his team not get pushed around. The post-play fighting between the Ravens and Eagles was not just pushing and shoving- it was out right fighting. The Ravens tried to come in and push the Eagles around, and they didn’t let them. It may have cost the Eagles some yards today, but in the long run, it was a great thing to see from this team.
What I Didn’t Like:
Nnamdi Asomugha: Asomugha looked to have turned the corner last week against the Browns, but he did not have a good day against the Ravens. Asomugha was beat on an early touchdown by Jacoby Jones to give the Ravens the lead. Was it a good throw but Flacco? Absolutely. But Asomugha was up on the line in the coverage he likes to play and still got beat. Later in the game, he got beat again in what could have been the game-clinching touchdown. The refs bailed him out, but most of the time he won’t get that call. It’s not time to press the panic button yet, but Asomugha will need to play better next week against Arizona.
Going for it on 4th down: On the Eagles 2nd drive of the game they were faced with a 4th and 1 from the Baltimore 6 yard line. The game was still scoreless, and the Eagles had a chance to take an early 3-0 lead. Reid decided to go for it, and yes, they did get it. But if we can criticize him when his decisions go wrong, we can do it when they work. At that point of the game Vick had already thrown an interception. The Ravens defense is not easy to score on, and Reid should have taken the points. Had the Ravens stopped them on 4th down, it would have handed the momentum right back to Baltimore. The call to go for it paid off as the Eagles scored a touchdown, but it was not something I would have done.
Bryce Brown: Coming out of Lehigh, I liked Bryce Brown as much as the next guy. But through 2 games, it’s fair to ask- why is Reid using him so much in key situations? Brown got a red zone carry on the Eagles 2nd drive of the game, and he also got the carry one a big 3rd down play in the 2nd quarter. Brown also got a red zone carry last week against the Browns right before Vick threw the game-winning touchdown. I like Brown, and I think it is important to mix it up between the backs. But Reid needs to remember that in key situations, McCoy is this teams best back.
Vicks Interception: Vick played a great game, but once again made a boneheaded play that cost the Eagles some points. You gotta take the good with the bad when it comes to Vick, but it is still frustrating to see.
Damaris Johnson: Damaris Johnson has contributed more than expected on offense, but so far this season he has been a disappointment on special teams. Johnson made a big mistake against the Ravens when he returned a punt from the 3 yard line as the 1st half was ending. Johnson’s mistake made the Eagle start the drive from the 6 instead of the 20, and gave the Ravens great field position to start their next drive. Baltimore turned it into 3 points, and in a close game, it could have been the difference.
Replaying 3rd Down: With just over 12 minutes to go in the 4th quarter, the Ravens were facing a 3rd down on the Eagles 21 yard line. The Eagles forced a 4th down, but when a penalty was called on Baltimore, Reid decided to push the Ravens back and replay the down. It ended up back firing as Jason Babin was called for a personal foul on the next play, giving the Ravens a fresh set f downs. Ultimately it didn’t cost the Eagles as they still held the Ravens to a field goal, but it could have cost the Eagles the game. It was good for Reid to show confidence in his defense, but it still was not the right call.
Follow Eliot Shorr-Parks on Twitter at @EliotShorrParks