By Joseph Santoliquito
It was a little hard to absorb the words spilling out of the mouth of Eagles’ left tackle Jason Peters. He spoke about the Eagles’ slow start may have come from a lack of focus. Now think about that for a few seconds—lack of focus, hmm, lack of focus. Makes you want to scratch your head and wonder how any player in the NFL could have a lapse in that area.
It’s truly confounding, but apparently it seems something team-wide quandary to which the Eagles seemed mired. It’s an minor epidemic that could spell why a team that was playing before a raucous home crowd, in a nationally hyped game against former Eagles’ quarterback Donovan McNabb could have a lack of focus.
Apparently it’s not just the offense that suffers from malady.
“We have to play better right from the start,” Eagles’ middle linebacker Stewart Bradley said. “We gave up too many yards and that’s poor execution. They had us on our heels. They were just three bad scores all around. Trying to make plays, you miss reads and we dug ourselves a deep hole. We have to do a better job of reading our keys.”
Lack of focus.
Maybe it’s endemic when it comes to what’s going on the sidelines, too. How else can you explain the Eagles blowing a perfect scoring opportunity at the Washington 1-yard line in the closing seconds of the second quarter, calling a timeout and then getting nailed for a delay-of-game penalty that sends the ball back to the 6. And having to settle for a David Akers’ 23-yard field goal.
That’s poor coaching—it’s poor execution by the players, and at the NFL level it’s inexcusable.
Lack of focus.
It’s something a high-school level player uses as an excuse, and it’s not even acceptable at there. Maybe it explains why the Eagles were only able to manage to score 6 points against the worst defense in the NFL until the fourth quarter, when Kevin Kolb hit Brent Celek for the only Eagles’ touchdown of the game.
Maybe it had something to do with the Eagles falling to 2-2. Maybe it’s a reason why the Birds were flagged eight times for 80 yards, including four holding calls, two on Peters himself.
“I take full responsibility, in particular for what happened at the end of the first half,” Eagles’ coach Andy Reid said. “I thought the initially started out as a fourth-and-inches, but after the review, the play we had for inches ended up being a yard, and the clock was well into it when we were aware of that. That is my responsibility, and there are no excuses for it all. Obviously, we have to start off faster than we did both offensively, defensively and on special teams. Again, that is my responsibility. I goofed.”
Lack of focus.
The Eagles need to do a better job in that area—or this season will spin disastrously out of control with no postseason possibility at all.
You don’t need to be an NFL coach or a player in the league to figure that out.
Joseph Santoliquito is an award-winning sportswriter based in the Philadelphia area. He’s the Managing Editor of Ring Magazine, there since October 1997. He also covers high school and college sports for the Philadelphia Daily News, and has written notable front-page stories on disgraced NBA ref Tim Donaghy, and on the winning battle Boston College’s Mark Herzlich waged against cancer. Santoliquito is best known nationally for his stunning portrayal of a high school wrestler overcoming the tragic killing of his parents in an award-winning ESPN.com piece in 2006 that also appeared on SportsCenter and later on HBO’s Real Sports. He has been producing the popular blog on 610WIP.com since 2006. He can be reached at SantoliquitoCBSPhilly@yahoo.com.