By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report and the Sunday Sun
There are several ways to look at the performance of Michael Vick and the Eagles offense in Sunday’s 17-16 win over the Cleveland Browns in which they committed five turnovers (four interceptions by Vick) and you would probably be right.
“We didn’t play as disciplined offensively as we needed to all the way around,” Eagles head coach Andy Reid during his weekly day after the game press conference. “I know Michael took the blame, but it’s not a one-man show. That’s not what it is. Everybody had a piece of this pie, starting with me and the coaches. You can’t play like that-whether it was from the play-calling, the execution to the penalties.”
One way is that the rust from Vick having just 12 snaps in the preseason really showed. He made some really bad reads. He threw into triple coverage on a couple of those picks including the pick-six he threw to Browns linebacker D’Qwell Jackson midway through the fourth quarter.
“I had plenty of throws that I would like to have back. I was sort of rusty out there, but I just fought through it and that’s all I could do. When we scored that last touchdown it was a sigh of relief,” Vick said.
Another way to look is that along with the turnovers, the Eagles committed too many penalties on offense. For the game, the Eagles committed 12 penalties for 110 yards—seven of them were on the offensive side of the ball for a total of 65 yards-five of them were holding penalties.
You can also look at the fact that the Eagles were incredibly predictable on offense and seem to have a forgotten that they have an All-Pro running back in their backfield in LeSean McCoy, who oddly enough still gained 110 yards on 20 carries. Vick threw 56 passes while completing 29 for 317 yards with the aforementioned interceptions and two touchdowns. He was sacked twice and was hit 16 times because the line struggled at times trying to protect him. .
“You know what? We probably could have done a little bit more of that early. We had fumbles and that early and we got away from it, but as it’s all said and done we probably could have run a little bit more early,” Reid said after the game.
On the Eagles last two drives including the game-winning 16-play, 91-yard, McCoy carried the ball eight times and the offense seemed to move smoothly. But Reid said it was because the Birds didn’t commit any penalties or make any mistakes on that final drive.
“When you eliminate the problems, the mistakes, that’s why that drive looked a little better than the other ones,” Reid said. “It’s a potent offense, if you eliminate the mistakes…You got to make sure that you eliminate the turnovers, eliminate the penalties and then good things happen.”
In spite of getting knocked around and throwing those interceptions, Vick played with a lot of heart and determination on the final drive of the game to help the Eagles pull out the victory. There was concern from his teammates who felt that Vick lost some confidence after tossing the interception return for a touchdown to Jackson.
“He’s got a lot of courage man, honestly,” said Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson. as you could see he fought back, he kept you know making plays. Regardless of him being down on himself, everybody’s like regardless of anything,, we will still ride with you.. It was just a good situation to see him come back and make a game-winning throw.”
Next up for the Eagles is Ray Lewis, Ed Reed and the Baltimore Ravens. If the Eagles offense has the kind of game against the Ravens they had this week against a Cleveland squad that’s not very good, they will be in for a long, long, long day that might involve the chasing a purple and white jersey wearing No. 20 or No. 52 as they waltz into the end zone on a pick-6.