Bird Is The Word Week 8: vs. New York Giants

Posted: October 31, 2013 in Eagles

Bird Is The Word.

The Eagles took to the field on Sunday trying, not only to pull even with the Dallas Cowboys for first place in the NFC East, but also to end their 9 game losing streak at home. This week the 1-6 New York Giants, who went into the game with an 8-game road losing streak, came to South Philadelphia for an afternoon match up.

Michael Vick was slowed by his hamstring injury that kept him out of the previous two games and was benched near the end of the first quarter in favor of Matt Barkley, who was the backup with Nick Foles inactive due to a concussion. There was more good and once again some bad from the rookie quarterback, but overall he looked better.

Other than Matt Barkley and the Eagles defense, it was a whole lot of awful from the Eagles on Sunday. Bad offense, bad decision-making, bad play-calling, you name it. In the end the Giants came away with an ugly 15-7 win on the strength of 5 field goals from Josh Brown. The lone touchdown came late in the game when the Giants were punting and a bad snap sailed over punter Steve Weatherford’s head. Eagles linebacker Najee Goode fell on the ball and rolled into the end zone to make it 15-7.

Many were hoping that the touchdown would finally spark a comeback, but an untimely onside kick from the Eagles squashed those hopes pretty quickly.

A Series of Unfortunate Decisions…

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There were several decisions made by Chip Kelly on Sunday that left Eagles fans scratching their head. The biggest head-scratcher resulted in another drive ending with a turnover. It was first and goal on the 2-yard line and Chip Kelly decided to have Matt Barkley drop back and pass, rather than put the ball in the hands of one of the best running backs in the league, LeSean McCoy. Everyone and their mothers were thinking run, except for Chip Kelly. Barkley fumbled the ball, which was recovered by the Giants.

Later in the game, Kelly decided to go for it on 4th down rather than a long field goal. The Eagles turned the ball over and missed another opportunity to put points on the board.

The decision that may have been more costly than passing on first and goal at the 2 came when the Eagles had a golden opportunity to potentially tie the game. The Eagles capitalized on a botched snap by the Giants that sailed over Steve Weatherford’s head. Najee Goode made the recovery for the birds and it was an 8 point game with a little over 4 minutes left. Kelly opted for an onside kick, rather than kicking the ball deep and trusting the defense, a defense that played one of their best games this season, to stop the Giants and force them to punt with at least two minutes left. The Giants easily recovered the onside kick and drained most of the clock before the Eagles got the ball back with less than 30 seconds left. By that point the Eagles had run out of time.

“They’re Starting To Come Together Pepper”

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In the 1989 movie “Major League”, Indians manager Lou Brown turned to bench coach Pepper Leach and, with a grin on his face, said “They’re starting to come together Pepper” as he ran up the steps of the dugout to celebrate the win and acknowledge his team of has-beens and rejects for starting to gel and make progress.

That’s kind of how the Eagles defense is right now, starting to come together.

As bad, and non-existent, as the offense was, the Eagle defense played its best game of the season. Despite allowing 15 points, they did a great job of keeping the Giants out of the end zone. Sure they allowed 5 field goals, but they are in no way to blame for the loss. The offense hung them out to dry by not producing and scoring points after huge stops. It appears that the defense is finally starting to gel and make the plays that give the offense a chance to win the game.

Quarterback Conundrum

Nick Foles, Matt Barkley, Michael Vick

Left to Right: Nick Foles (9), Matt Barkley (2) and Michael Vick (7)

The Eagles are now in a position that they have not been in a very long time. They are currently without a defined starting quarterback. Yes, Nick Foles is starting this Sunday against the Raiders, but he is filling in for Michael Vick who is still nursing an injured  hamstring. Some fans are now beginning to wonder if it was the right decision to build the offense around the injury-prone Michael Vick and not a young quarterback with a tremendous upside such as Nick Foles or Matt Barkley.

As long as Foles is healthy, sticking with him for the remainder of the season is not a bad idea. Listen, I like Michael Vick, The problem I have with him is that he has not played a full 16-game season since joining the Eagles (and has only done so once during his time with the Atlanta Falcons). If he can’t stay healthy then he is hurting the team more than helping. Teams don’t win and sustain success when they are constantly switching quarterbacks (even if it is due to injury). It is getting to the point where the Eagles are going to need to evaluate and see if Michael Vick is really the right quarterback to lead this team. I understand that Foles is recovering from a recent concussion

Right now, the Eagles are rebuilding for the future. Whether Michael Vick is a part of those future plans remains to be seen.

It Takes Time

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The last thing that Eagles fans probably want to hear right now is “you have to be patient. They are rebuilding and it takes time for things to set in”. I will be the first one to say that I completely understand that Eagles fans don’t want to hear that. After all, it’s been almost 54 years since the Eagles last Championship. Many fans weren’t even born yet (myself included).

However, that’s what fans have to do right now.

They have a new head coach, almost entirely new coaching staff save for 1 or 2 position coaches, a new offense (going from a West Coast Offense to a Spread Option) and a new defensive system (switching from a 4-3 defense to a 3-4 defense). Adjusting to these changes is a process not an event. To those who want instant gratification, this season is going to suck. For those who understand being patient while the changes take effect, you will be rewarded.

If after two or three years the team is still like this, then it may be time to try something different. Until then, patience is a virtue.

Black Hole Sun

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The Eagles travel to Oakland this Sunday to take on the Raiders. The Eagles last visit to the “Black Hole” resulted in a disappointing 13-9 loss back in 2009, which was also the last time these two teams played each other.

Nick Foles will get the start for the Eagles, who look to get back in the NFC East playoff picture with a win.

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