By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report
While I am not convinced that the Philadelphia Eagles are a Super Bowl team just yet, but at the same time there were definitely some good things that came out of their 31-13 victory over the St. Louis Rams.
At the same time, there were some things that need work, but more on that later.
With Rams head coach Steve Spagnuolo dialing up blitzes the way his late mentor, Jim Johnson when he was the Eagles defensive coordinator, Mike Vick and the Eagles offense picked their spots and found some good things, especially in the running game.
If you looked at his passing stats, Vick was 14-for-32 for 187 yards—while not pretty in terms of his percentages, but he made the most of his opportunities by making plays with both his feet and his arm. But it was the play with his legs that made the Rams a bit gunshy about sending everybody including the kitchen sink blitzes. Vick gained 98 yards for the game and moved around enough to make plays. The Eagles were 8-for-11 on third down conversions.
“Vick was very calm. he had a lot of different blitzes and they hit him a little bit. So they got to him, but he was able to stay calm stay patient, read the defense and do everything like that to keep us going down the field,” said wide receiver DeSean Jackson, who had six receptions for 102 yards and one touchdown. “He had some great big runs like he always does. Its great to play with a quarterback like that. When things breakdown, he can make a great big run.”
If there was any one play in the game that I thought was big in terms of calming the Eagles down and getting the Birds into an offensive rhythm was that big 41-yard pass play from Vick to Jackson. The Eagles would finish off that drive with a touchdown that eventually tied the game.
“You have to fight through certain situations and we were able to do that. That’s the first sign of a good football team — staying poised, understanding the situation and not getting too out of whack,” Vick said after the game. “Sometimes the blitz can help you and sometimes it can hurt you and today we were able to take advantage of it in some situations.”
Vick’s mobility opened up the running game with LeSean McCoy, who gained 122 yards on 15 carries and one touchdown—a 49-yard touchdown run that put the game out of reach for the Eagles. McCoy also caught a seven-yard touchdown pass. As a team, the Eagles rushed for 239 yards.
The Eagles offensive line did allow three sacks of Vick today, especially on the blindside where Rams defenders blew off the line untouched. The Birds are going to have figure out a way, whether it’s leaving a tight end or a running back on that side along with the left tackle.
Vick also has to be able to recognize when that blitz is coming from that side and hit the receiver from the side where the blitz is coming from. But for the most part, Head coach Andy Reid said he was pleased with the way Vick managed the game.
“He did good things with his legs and he also did some good things with his arm,” Reid said. “He made some nice calls up front and changed the protection around so that he could get a couple of balls off.”
After the intial onslaught of the Rams defensive attack, the offensive line actually played well enough to allow Vick to have some time to do his thing from the pocket and on the run. But the thing is the line still has work to do in giving Vick more time to pick apart opposing defenses.
Speaking of defenses, the Birds defense, after allowing a 39-yard touchdown run by Steven Jackson, the Eagles defense played much better and also sacked Sam Bradford five times including two by defensive end Jason Babin. The Birds also got a 56-yard touchdown by defensive end Juqua Thomas.
The defense was hard ly perfect allowing St. Louis to roll up 335 yards of total offense, including 154 yards in the rushing attack.
With the Atlanta Falcons on horizon, another team that has visions of a trip to the Super Bowl, the Eagles certainly have a lot of room improvement.