Ahh, there's that feeling again. The feeling of a solid, convincing win. The Eagles trounced the 49ers 38-24 in a game that was a big step in healing alot of the wounds from the Giants loss.
I admitted before the game that I just didn't feel "up for this game. I didn't seem to have the same kind of excited anticipation that I usually do as gameday draws closer. Luckily, the Eagles felt none of these effects. They came out like a team mad about what happened last week and looking to prove something. And they did.
The 49ers are not a great team. We know that, but the Eagles handled them as a good team should. The Birds had their way with the Niners and beat them with relative ease. The bottom line is that good teams beat bad teams. The Eagles took care of business.
Now onto some thoughts about the game.
Game Ball to Brian Dawkins - It's funny, all the talk before the season was about what kind of impact guys like Matt McCoy and Broderick Bunkley would have. We all debated whether offseason free agent aquisitions like Darren Howard and Shawn Barber would help solve the ills of this defense from last year. However, somehow lost in that discussion was guys like Brian Dawkins and Jeremiah Trotter. They are now and have always been what the defense comes down to. Dawkins especially imposed his will on the game, he was the guy who stripped Frank Gore at the goalline and caused the Patterson TD. He continually put big shots on guys and generally just refused to allow anyone to pass by him. He gets the game ball in my opinion.
Reggie Brown - I've been a bit dissapointed by Reggie so far this year. He's been a solid red zone threat, but for the most part he's dissapeared in the first 2 games. What we saw yesterday was a bit more encouraging. He had his first career 100 yard game and did the job of the #1 WR with Stallworth being a late scratch from the game. Plus, I can't say enough about his blocking. On several plays Reggie could be seen throwing fantastic downfield blocks that sprung more than big one for the Birds. He is blossimg very quickly into that physical, Heinz Ward tpye of reciever that he was scouted as being. Still, there were things I didn't like from Reggie. Namely, his hands. He had a few drops, including an easy TD pass that McNabb put right on his hands. Those things need to improve, but overall I was pleased by most of what I saw from Reggie.
Is there an Akers issue? - After having a stunningly good preseason where he was routinely banging in 50+ yarders, Akers is struggling so far this year. He banged in a FG off the crossbar in the Texans game on a kick he usually has no trouble with. He missed one off the crossbar against the Giants, albeit that was a 48 yarder. Still, Akers has a repuation that he can make those kicks. I'll excuse a 48 yard miss every once in a while, I won't excuse a miss like he had yesterday. He badly shanked a 38 yarder that is normally a chip shot for Akers. I've heard some people raise the issue of the holder and whether David is comfortable with Dirk Johnson after having Koy Detmer as his holder for his entire Eagles career so far. I might buy this as an escuse had I not seen him making the kind of kicks he was in the preseason. He had no trouble with Dirk then. It's still to early to panic about Akers, but he needs to step up. Kicker has always been a strength here since Akers arrived and eventually we'll need him to make a big kick. Right now, I have to admit I'm not entirely confident in his ability to do so.
Pass Rush without Kearse - All in all I was satisfied with the job the defensive line and the pass rush in general worked. Alex Smith was sacked 3 times and was constantly pressured and forced to move around and throw on the run. Plus, I counted no less than 4 or 5 times that he threw balls away as he was being dragged down. He was flagged for one intentional grounding, but the call was overturned after the refs conferenced. trent Cole registered his leauge leading 5th sack in 3 games and Darren Howard got his first as an Eagle. I'm still looking forward to seeing the defensive line tested against a better offensive line but so far, so good.
McNabb lives up to his promise - After the Giants loss, McNabb said something to the effect of "that will never happen again as long as I'm at QB and have something to do with it." And when the 49ers started their mini comeback, McNabb took the team on his back squashed it. He called a brilliant audible at the line and found Schoebel for 60 yard gain that ended whatever momentum the Niners had.
The Secondary stinks, I know - Rod Hood made what most people felt was a surprise start after being injured in last week's game. He was questionable all week with a bad heel and it was assumed he wouldn't play, but he toughed it out and gave it a go... with less than stellar results. Hood was burned more than once and was clearly limping after every run. He simply didn't have the speed on the bad heel to keep up, and more than once took himself out of the game. Michael Lewis was generally better in pass coverage this week, but made at least one mistake in the second quarter where he got turned around and allowed a big gain after Hood was burned on a play. It's hard to say what we are supposed to expect out of this unit right now. Between Lito Sheppard and Rod Hood the secondary is missing 2 of it's top 3 corners. The fact is that any team reduced to playing 4th or 5th stringers at corner is going to suffer. Until Hood and Lito get healthy, the team is simply going to struggle. Nothing is going to change that. No team in the NFL has 4 or 5 starting caliber corners. So while hear the complaints of Eagles fans about his unit, I have to ask "What did you expect?" and "How can you really lay blame to anyone(except Mike Lewis of course)?"
Alex Smith is lame - Did anyone else find it a bit lame how Smith ran the last drive as if he was trying to tie up or win the game? The team is down over 3 TDs and he's spiking the ball with 6 seconds left so he can get one shot at the end zone to pad his stats agains the Eagles backups. I know that 49er coach Mike Nolan may hae wanted to get the team some real life experience at running a 2 minute drill, but I found it a bit distasteful.
Stats - The Eagles come out of the week still ranked #1 overall in the NFL in passing and #1 yardage on offense, McNabb still leads the NFL in passsing, the team is scoring the 3rd most points in football, they are 5th in the NFL in rushing with 129 yards a game, and they are tied for the leauge lead in sacks.