By Chris Murray
For the Sunday Sun
Suffice it to say that after three straight weeks of blowing fourth quarter leads, the 1-3 Philadelphia Eagles are in desperate need of a win before their season spirals into an abyss of constant defeat..
Several Eagles including quarterback Michael Vick came into Nova Care practice facility on Tuesday, the players normal day off, to review film, lift weights, and to presumably fix what’s been ailing this team.
“I think it’s just a sense of urgency now and guys see the position that we’re in,” Vick said. “I think they understand what it’s going to get back and how some things are going to have to change. I’m confident in each and every guy in this room that we can get this turned around.”
The first order of business was to throw out all of that “dream team” nonsense and the notion that they were a lock for the Super Bowl with all their free agent acquisitions during the lockout-shortened off-season.
“I think the dream team, that word is dead now,” Vick said. “You can’t talk dream team anymore. It’s over with it now. We’re one of those teams that has to scratch and kick from the bottom now and try to figure out how we’re going to get ourselves back to a position where we can compete with the best teams in the league.”
Last week’s second-half loss to the San Francisco 49ers was embarrassing on both sides of the football. The offense rolled up 513 total yards, but could not get out of the way of itself once it got inside the red zone. The Birds converted just two of its seven red zone chances into touchdowns including a couple of missed field goals and a couple of costly turnovers. The Eagles are 23rd in the NFL in red zone efficiency and they are tied for 17th in to goal to-go situations.
“We’re one of the top five offenses in the league, but we’re in the bottom three in turnovers,” said tight end Clay Harbor. “We could be 4-0 right now. We’re focusing on making sure that we hold on to the ball and don’t turn the ball over. If we get that taken care of, we’ll be great. The mindset is still we feel like we’re one of the best teams in the league.”
Harbor said the frustrating thing for the Eagles offense is that they have been one or two plays from getting that extra yard and really putting things away.
Right tackle Todd Herremans said it’s time for the offense to start delivering on the field
“I think there’s been way too much talk about what we need to do, what we can and what we should be and it’s time to just be it rather than about it,” Herremans said.
Even with all the offense’s struggles to score touchdown, the Eagles had a 23-3 lead in the third quarter only to have another defensive meltdown. They gave up three scoring drives 77 yards or more. The Birds defense allowed Frank Gore, who was playing on a sore foot to gain 127 yards on 15 carries, while over averaging over eight yards per carry.
“It’s hard for me to pinpoint what it is,” said cornerback Dominique Rogers-Cromartie. “I think the guys on the other team come out that much more hungry. I think as a defense we gotta realize that when you’re up, that’s when you really gotta start focusing in and zoning in and that’s where all the tired ness has to go out the window.”
Defensively, the Eagles are at the bottom of the league in red zone defense (32nd), rushing yards per game (30th) and rushing yards per attempt (31st). Defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins said the defense can be better, but it has to stop breaking down at critical moments in the game.
“The fact that we’re going out there and having stretches throughout the game where we shut the run down, and then all of a sudden give up everything,” Jenkins said. “We have to be consistent and that comes from confidence and knowing what you’re doing and not just knowing it, but knowing it so well that when you start getting tired, you don’t have to think and second guess yourself but just react.”