So ends the roller coaster that was the 2010 Philadelphia Eagles. They achieved their goal of winning the NFC East, but were not able to move past the Green Bay Packers in the first round of the playoffs. The problems that plagued them in this game were prevalent all season long. This time, Michael Vick wasn’t able to save them.
The absence of a running game is hard to understand. LeSean McCoy is an explosive running back, and has repeatedly shown that ability when he’s gotten the opportunity. Unfortunately, those opportunities were few and far between. I thought for the Eagles to win this game, he would need to be above 20 carries. That would slow the defense down and keep the much maligned Eagles defense on the sidelines. Too bad I’m not on the coaching staff because at the end of 60 minutes he only toted the rock 12 times. Contrast that with Packers running back James Starks who ran the ball 23 times. Weren’t the Packers the ones coming into the game with questions in their ground game? Maybe I missed something. Don’t they both run a West Coast offense?
By choosing not to keep the Green Bay defense off balance, Michael Vick was under constant pressure. Just check the first play of the game. Eagles were backed up on their 14, they came out in gun, and the Packers crushed him from the backside. Second play, same as the first. They blitzed right up the middle for another sack. It’s no wonder Vick has been running much more recently. It’s called fight or flight. Including Sunday night’s game, he’s been sacked 53 times. That’s way too much for a guy that isn’t much bigger than most wide receivers. He hung in there, showed mad heart, and tried to pull this one out but he chose the wrong time to throw his worst pass of the season. 35 seconds left in your season, and you chose a blanketed Riley Cooper to throw the ball to? The result was predictable.
On the other side of the ball, the Eagles have been horrendous in the red zone, and it continued. Coming into the game they were giving up touchdowns 77% of the time. They were even worse against the Pack: three trips for the Packers inside the 20 ended up in 21 points. The multiple injuries that this defense has suffered throughout the year have been hard to overcome, but at some point pride has to kick in. At the same time, they get some credit because they were able to keep the team in the game and give the offense a shot to win this one at the end.
This leads me to the one constant of the last 11 years, Andy Reid. I may be crazy, but I feel like it’s time for a change. He’s lead the Eagles to the playoffs in 9 of those 11 years. In those 9 playoff appearances, 6 have come by way of winning the NFC East. These are great numbers by any account, and there are a bunch of other teams that would kill for that resume. But every year has ended the same, with a loss in their last game. The Eagles found themselves in 10 games that were decided by 7 points or less. They lost as many of those as they won. Four of those 5 losses were at home. That’s unacceptable for a coach that is considered one of the best in the game. That’s the difference between going home early and a bye in the first round. Either he changes his style and gets this team to be more physical offensively and defensively, or it’s time for someone else to try. See, this is his baby, so someone has to answer for losing the last 3 games of the year after such a promising start. I guess there’s always next year. But then again, I’ve been saying that for 35 years.