By Chris Murray
For The Chris Murray Report
For the second straight week, the Eagles ended the game without their starting quarterback and an inconsistent performance by their defense that looked downright awful at times and played well at other points in the game.
Coupled with the offenses inability to execute in short yardage situations and some curiously bad playcalling, the Eagles wound up on the short end of a disappointing 29-16 loss to the New York Giants in their home opener in front of 69, 144 fans at Lincoln Financial Field.
To top off a very frustraing afternoon, quarterback Michael Vick suffered another injury. He fracutured his right, non-throwing hand in the third quarter on a pass to Jeremy Maclin. He came back for one series in the fourth quarter but as his hand began to swell even further, he ended watching the rest of the game from the Eagles bench.
“I had no range of motion so it just got worse,” Vick said. “I think while the adrenaline was flowing, I was able to keep it going, but it’s tough when you’ve got to take the snap from center.”
If you’re looking for folks to blame in this game, you definitely have plenty of targets on both sides of the football and including the coaching staff.
On offense, Vick didn’t have his best game, completing 16-of-23 passes for 176 yards and one interception. In a game where the Eagles ran the ball well with LeSean “Shady” McCoy, who gained 128 yards on 24 carries and one touchdown, they did a poor job of executing in the redzone. The Eagles were 1-of-5 from the redzone. They also had the ball inside five-yard line twice, including three chances inside the one in third quarter.
Perhaps the Birds biggest failure on a short yardage situation came in the fourth quarter. With the Eagles leading 16-14, they had a fourth and one situation at the Giant 43. McCoy was stopped by Giants linebacker Michael Boley for a three-yard loss.
“You take it really personal,” said center Jason Kelce said. “On some plays, I thought we were really getting a good push and we just couldn’t get it in there. We get paid to do stuff like that and when we’re not getting the job done, it’s really frustrating.”
And when you don’t execute in that situation, head coach Andy Reid will ultimately get second-guessed for giving the Giants good field position and not electing to punt.
Sure enough, the Giants moved 54 yards in seven plays to the go-ahead score. The drive was capped by Eli Manning’s 28-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Victor Cruz, who caught three passes for 110 yards and two touchdowns.
With Vick out of the game, Reid inexplicably went with third-string quarterback Mike Kafka instead of second-string signal Vince Young, who was healthy enough to play. To add to even more speculation from armchair quarterbacks, Kafka’s first play from scrimmage was a deep bomb to DeSean Jackson, who was double-covered. The pass was intercepted by Aaron Ross.
The Giants scored another touchdown on their next possession to end the competitive portion of the game.
Defensively, the Eagles played well in spurts, but like last week in Atlanta, they gave up too many big plays. Three of Eli Manning’s four touchdown passes were on plays of 25 yards or more. This week, it wasn’t about the scheme, but a severe lack of execution. Most notably, poor tackling and allowing the Giants to turn minimal and medium sized gains into big plays.
On Manning’s 74-yard touchdown pass to Cruz late in the first quarter, he should have been stopped at the Giants 33 by free safety Kurt Coleman, who tried to tackle him high, but missed. Coleman then tried to hit Cruz from behind, but not only did he miss again but he also collided with cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha and took him out of the play.
“It’s all apart of making plays,” said linebacker Jamar Chaney. “When (Cruz) made those guys miss, he made a play. They made the plays when we didn’t.”
In the fourth quarter, Cruz’s 28-yard touchdown pass from Manning happened even though he was well-covered by Asomugha and strong safety Jarrad Paige. But Cruz, who is listed as six-feet tall, simply out leaped the two Eagles for the ball.
“We both got there at the same time, so one of us should have been able to make that play,” Asomugha said after the game. “It was disappointing that (Cruz) came away with it. It was frustrating.”