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By Spike Eskin
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Here’s how my thought process went as Sunday’s game progressed:
There’s no way we’ll lose to the Browns.
Wow, this is ugly, there’s no way we’ll lose to the Browns though.
Talk about a boring game, man, the Browns are terrible, thank goodness for that or we’d lose to them.
Wait a minute, are we going to lose to the Browns?!
I can’t believe it, we’re going to lose to the Browns. I don’t think I can go into work tomorrow.
WHEW, we almost lost to the Browns.
Every year, the Eagles play one or two games that you just swear is the worst football game you’ve ever watched. Let’s just hope we were just getting the first one out of the way, and let’s also be glad it result in a win.
Gold Star #1 – Demeco Ryans
Might as well say right from the outset that because they were playing the Browns and their rookie quarterback, rookie running back, and sub-par receiving corps that everything in this game should be taken with a grain of salt. That said, Ryans looked like a different player than he did during the preseason, which is a relief. We’re all well aware that last year’s gaping hole (Casey Matthews?!) at middle linebacker was one that the Eagles needed to plug. Ryans looked a step slow, and did not impress during the preseason games. He hinted in a post-game interview, after Andy Reid got in a shouting match with Cullen Jenkins, that preseason wasn’t terribly important. Ryans was all over the place against Cleveland, and one of the reasons the Eagles held the Browns to 210 total yards.
Demerit #1 – Andy Reid
I am a self-professed member of Team Andy, and will generally defend him against unfair criticism. Mid-game, when the Eagles were at 36 passes to 13 runs, I was doing just that. But there’s absolutely no way I can defend throwing the ball 56 times when Vick looked as bad as he did (you were right, Josh). I’d have even accepted some McNabb to Westbrook style screen passes. I’ll always say that there are things we’re not aware of, and not seeing, and that football is a complicated game. But man, it didn’t look that complicated yesterday, just that Reid decided to make it that way.
Gold Star #2 – Kurt Coleman
One of my co-workers at WIP, and former Eagles Pro Bowler Ike Reese, has long been a supporter of Coleman’s. He rewarded Ike yesterday with the best game he’s played as a Philadelphia Eagle. Coleman had two interceptions, and five tackles yesterday, playing a great game at safety, the position the Eagles seemed to have the most questions at. Perhaps most impressively, Coleman stayed in the game and played effectively even after Trent Richardson nearly removed his head (and did remove his helmet).
Demerit #2 – King Dunlap
I think we can officially take the title of most damaging Achilles injury from Ryan Howard and place it squarely on the giant shoulders of Jason Peters. When Peters was injured, it seemed like we were able to breathe a slight sigh of relief when the Eagles signed Demetress Bell. He was the best left tackle available, and even Howard Mudd said Bell would fill in admirably. Bell lost the job to King Dunlap, which has a lot more to do with how poorly Bell played than how well Dunlap played. King Dunlap may be a sufficient backup, but a sufficient starting left tackle he does not appear to be.
Gold Star #3 – Michael Vick’s Final Drive
I know he threw a ball that should have been intercepted on the drive. I know the drive wasn’t pretty. But one of the things we always said Donovan McNabb wasn’t capable of, was taking the team down the field late in the fourth quarter for a 91 yard game-winning drive. I don’t know about you, but I just had a feeling that Vick was not going to let the Eagles lose on that final drive, no matter what it took. He didn’t. For many quarterbacks, including Matt Stafford yesterday, the narrative is “quarterback steps up in the end despite not really having it that day.” I think Vick deserves at least some of that as well.
Demerit #3 – Michael Vick in all but the first and final drives
Over and over again, Michael Vick, his teammates and his coaching staff said that Vick wouldn’t have a problem in the first game despite taking only twelve snaps in the preseason. Looks like they were wrong, or at least let’s hope so. If this wasn’t just rustiness or an off-day, we’re in a lot of trouble in Eagles-land. Poor decision making plagued Vick, despite how poorly the offensive line played. And don’t forget, if the offensive line isn’t sure where Vick is going to be, it’s a lot tougher to block for him.
Honorable gold stars: LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson’s supposed sideline speech, Jeremy Maclin’s performance despite what seemed like 16 injuries, and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, whom Beasley Reece told me before the game would get two interceptions.