By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report
Eagles quarterback Michael Vick has always prided himself on playing with a certain level of swag. In last Sunday’s loss to the Atlanta Falcons, the Birds had their mojo beaten out of them on both sides of the ball.
At the rate this season going, the Eagles are in need of every form of self-help, positive thinking book to salvage a season that is rapidly deteriorating into a disaster. In Monday’s road game against the New Orleans Saints, the 3-4 Birds are in another must-win situation.
“It’s very important to get back on the winning side and start to turn things around and just go from there,” said cornerback Dominique Rogers-Cromartie. “The main thing is to just get wins.”
After a week of speculation about his starting job, Vick said he wants to go back to his free-wheeling style of his days as the “Michael Vick Experience” or better yet back to 2010 when his resurgence took the league by storm with his strong arm and ability to run. But can he do it without turning over the football?
“That’s not what I’m talking about. It’s just, I think I’ve got to play my style of football [and] at the same time, still take care of the football and not be reckless with it,” Vick said on Saturday. “Be aggressive; the way we played last week, we’ve got to be us. We’ve got a personality as a football team and we’ve got to let it show.”
That also seems to be the mindset of offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg. He said the offense while mistake free last week, it was a bit of tentative the Falcons.
“Now, we’re always aggressive. I’m just talking about that aggressive mentality and that makes you just a little bit more dynamic,” Mornhinweg said. “I know what you’re saying; however, the last ballgame, I thought we were just a little bit too careful with our mentality and it’s just that simple. We’ve got to play loose and free and we’ve talked about that. Just simply unafraid to make a mistake; if we make one, we correct it.”
Even in the midst of a very loud Louisiana Superdome, Vick and the offense will be going up against a Saints defense that ranks dead last in total defense, giving up a whopping 474.7 per game. New Orleans is 31st against pass and dead last in the league in giving up rushing yardage.
If the offense is going to be as aggressive as Andy Reid and Marty Mornhinweg say it’s going to be, this is the perfect defense for Vick and company to carve up, especially in the running game with LeSean McCoy.
It’s going to be important that the Eagles offense score and stay on the field often because if they don’t, Drew Brees is going pick the Eagles defense apart in the same fashion as Matt Ryan did last week.
Brees, who recently broke Johnny Unitas’ streak for consecutive games throwing touchdown passes, is the NFL’s 10th rated passer and when he’s on he is difficult to stop. The Saints have the league’s top-rated passing offense.
“They attack you with the running backs, the tight ends, and the wide receivers. You got to have a good overall game plan against them, and you have to hope that he is off a little bit,” said defensive coordinator Todd Bowles. “You have to hope they are a little bit worn down. He’s been tough for years now. It’s not just this game. He’s been tough against everybody. They are the number one pass offense in the league for a reason.”
The Eagles are hoping to have another defensive lineman back in their rotation with the return of defensive tackle Mike Patterson, who was activated after missing most of this year because of his brain surgery that was triggered by a seizure last season at the Eagles training camp at Lehigh University.
“He did a good job. He moved around well and there were no symptoms [from the] surgery he had with his head and brain. He’s felt good. He’s felt good all the way through workouts and then once he came out here he felt good, “Reid said
Patterson is hoping to be part of line of defenders that can ill afford to allow Brees to play pitch and catch with wide receiver Marques Colston and tight end Jimmy Graham. The mission for the defense is to figure out a way to disrupt Brees.
For this defense, it’s a mission that is a lot easier said than done.
“You’ve got to try to get there as fast as you can and try to put some form of pressure on him. Listen, he gets the ball out very fast,” Reid said. “He’s one of the best in the business against the blitz, against the straight pressure, and [a] great timing quarterback. He does a great job with that.”