Matt Ryan and Atlanta offense Score on their First Six Possessions and Win Going Away
By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report
PHILADELPHIA—Long before Hurricane Sandy hit the shores of the Delaware Valley, another storm hit Lincoln Financial Field Sunday that simply devoured the Eagles defense and left in its wake a devastated team that is going nowhere fast.
The Falcons (7-0) scored on their first six possessions and didn’t look back in their 30-17 win over the Eagles in front of 69,144 fans at Lincoln Financial, many of whom left the building early in the fourth quarter because their team was in a deep hole.
It was the Eagles (3-4) first loss after a bye week under head coach Andy Reid’s tenure as head coach. Other than his usual short, terse answers about needing to “get better,” Reid had no answers for what was a terrible performance by his team during the post-game press conference.
The one group that was noticeably absent from the Linc today was the Eagles defense which didn’t show up at all as Matt Ryan and the Falcons offense moved through them with ease and without serious threat of being stopped.
“You got your backs against the wall coming into a must-win game and you and go out there and play like that, I can’t explain that,” said Eagles cornerback Dominique Rogers-Cromartie. “There was no miscommunication, they just came out and flat out whipped our ass.”
Nearly two weeks after the team canned Juan Castillo as its defensive coordinator, Todd Bowles apparently couldn’t get the team to do any better. In fact, the Eagles defense was far worse for an entire game than they were in the fourth quarter of the two previous losses coming into today’s game.
The Falcons rolled up 392 yards of total offense and by the time they punted the ball for the first time midway through the fourth quarter, the game was pretty much over. The Falcons scored on long drives and short drives. They didn’t take what the defense gave them, they took what they wanted.
Perhaps the biggest symbol of the Falcons dominance on offense came two plays after the Eagles cut the lead to 14-7 on a two-yard run by LeSean McCoy. On second and 14 from the Falcons 37, Ryan hit Julio Jones, who sprinted past Eagles cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, for a 63-yard touchdown and a 21-7 lead. The Eagles would come no closer than 13 points.
You would think that the Eagles multi-million dollar “shut-down corner” would have bumped Jones, who runs a 4.3 40-yard dash, at the line of scrimmage, but he didn’t. That situation was further complicated by the lack of safety help as Nate Allen got there way too late.
“Yeah, probably, but you can’t go backwards,” said Asomugha when asked if he should have jammed Jones at the line. “I probably would have changed it up.”
Ya think, Nnamdi? For a guy who’s supposed to be this big-time cover corner, he has come up small.
Meanwhile, the good news is that Michael Vick and the Eagles offense did not commit a turnover. The bad news is that the offense wasn’t all that spectacular and was from being an offensive juggernaut because it couldn’t keep up with the Falcons offense. Vick, behind a paper thin offensive line, was sacked three times.
Even though Vick, who was 21-of-35 passing for 191 yards and a touchdown pass, didn’t commit any turnovers, Reid was asked whether the Eagles were going to bench Vick in favor of rookie Nick Foles.
“I’ll go back and look at everything. I’m not going to sit here and make decisions right now. I’m going to go back and look at it and analyze it,” Reid said.
If Reid does bench Vick in favor of Foles, it is a sure sign that the Birds have given up on the season. And while everybody in this town likes to think that replacing the quarterback is the panacea to fixing the Eagles problems, putting a rookie behind a horrible offensive line is not the solution.
When asked about the possibility about a change at quarterback, Vick said that he’s done everything he could to put the team in position to win (he’s not wrong about that), but if Reid would to were to do it, “then I’ll support it.”
NFL Network Analyst Deion Sanders apparently interpreted it as Vick quitting on the team. Really? After a loss, do you really think Vick is going throw his head coach under the bus? If he did that, the media would brand him as a jerk for showing up his coach.
For all of his mistakes, Vick has put his team in position to win games this season and you can’t blame him for what happened on Sunday against Atlanta on him. You just can’t. He can’t play defense.
The bottom-line here is that the Eagles are at the point of the season where things are going to snowball out of control to the point where they can’t recover or they’re going to get it together and get themselves back in it. Stay tuned.
“I just tell my guys to keep fighting. Keep fighting, don’t let it spiral out of control,” Vick said.”But you can only say so much and at times I just get tired of talking. You get tired of talking and it’s more about letting your actions speak louder than your words. But it has to come from everybody.”