By Joseph Santoliquito
You had to keep reminding yourself that this was the Jacksonville Jaguars, not the Green Bay Packers, New Orleans Saints or Indianapolis Colts. You also had to remind yourself that September is not yet over. That none of this may mean anything in a month or even a few weeks.
But it sure felt good seeing Michael Vick hit receivers in stride, not turn over the ball for the third-straight game, run a successful two-minute offense and see a resurrected defense, led by Trevor Laws, that made you almost imagine Jimmy Johnson was somewhere dialing up some exotic concoction to disrupt the Jags.
The Eagles did everything they were supposed to do against the Jaguars on Sunday, plowing over Jacksonville, 28-3, and now standing alone atop the NFC East as the only team with two victories in the division.
The Eagles couldn’t have looked any better as they ready themselves for Donovan McNabb week.
Again, it was all Vick. He was flat-out sensational, completing 17-for-31, for 291 yards and three touchdowns, and rushing 17 yards for another score. He’s thrown 6 touchdown passes and a total of 89 passes this season without an interception. He had a 119.2 quarterback rating against the Jags. He was smart with the ball, looked light years better than he did during his Atlanta days, and seems primed to make the Eagles a team that needs to be watched more as the season progresses.
Vick has directed the Eagles to two touchdowns near the end of the first half for the second-straight week—proving he can run a two-minute offense. The Eagles have gotten into the Red Zone eight times with Vick at quarterback so far, scoring seven touchdowns.
“It was a great overall team effort and [Jacksonville] was a good football team defensively,” Vick said. “We had to come out and jump fast. The offensive line did a great job, but I could have made it easier on a couple of plays.”
But Vick has shown he’s different, much different from when he was Falcon.
“I think the difference between now and Atlanta is that Atlanta was a running football team, a run-oriented offense and that’s what we were all about,” Vick said. “Here, we pass the football. I’m taking advantage of it. I use my legs when I need to. “Each week, I have to keep comfortable and learn the system. I’m having a lot of fun right now. I got to a point in this game when I was putting a lot of pressure on myself. It is a sign of relief to move on. It’s all about getting the opportunity and making the most of it.” So here’s the way the NFC East looks: Eagles 2-1, Giants, Cowboys and Redskins are all 1-2.
Defensively, the Eagles had six sacks and were flying all over the place. But it was Laws who really stood out during major moments of the game, collapsing the pocket and creating opportunities for everyone else around him. If the Eagles can continue to get that kind of production from him, it spells major dividends down the line. Darryl Tapp was another plus, adding a sack. The Eagles’ defense came into this game highly maligned, giving up more points than any team in the NFL. And whether it was Jacksonville or not, holding any NFL team to a 51-yard field is a nice accomplishment.
“Our front four played good, and when we play good, the rest of the team plays good,” said Juqua Parker, who had a sack and a tackle. “It all starts up front. We were getting there with a four-man rush. We’re going to enjoy this now and we know we have a tough one next week.”
Yes, next up is the Washington Redskins—and the return of Donovan McNabb. But do you think anyone would take McNabb back over Vick now? When Vick was asked about the upcoming McNabb-Vick confrontation, he smiled and said, “I’m not getting involved in the MikeVick-Donovan McNabb controversy, I’m not getting into that.”
No, that will be up to the rest of us to debate for the next six days.