Eagles Squeak By 49ers; Sunday Night QB
Can Kevin Kolb take back the starting job that was his just five weeks ago? Kolb was looking to make a case for himself in prime time against the 0-4 San Francisco 49ers. The Eagles, looking to improve to 3-2, did just that as they beat the 49ers 27-24. The once power house 49ers are now at rock bottom sitting at 0-5 on the season while the Eagles are tied with the Giants and Redskins for the NFC division lead.
Kevin Kolb, playing in place of injured QB Michael Vick, made a decent case for himself going 25-39 for 253 yards and a touchdown. The touchdown came on a botched play that had Kolb scrambling out of a would be sack and finding his roommate Brent Celek for an 8 yard score. Celek, who caught 3 balls for 47 yards, was targeted a few times down the middle but couldn’t seem to come up with the grab because of good coverage by one of the league’s best Patrick Willis, or because of just a poorly thrown ball by Kolb.
This one came down to the wire but was eventually ended by a wounded duck that was offered up by 49ers QB Alex Smith and picked off by Trevard Lindley. While the Eagles did pull this one out it leaves one to wonder how good can this 3-2 team be when they barely squeak out a win from a winless 49ers team.
**Kevin Kolb looked pretty good in this game. When he had time to throw he looked down field and completed deep passes to Jeremy Maclin for big gains. Kolb managed to lead the offense down field on the first drive and looked great on what would have been a botched play that ended in a touchdown.
While Kolb didn’t look to bad he didn’t do anything too flashy that would make you think he would be the starter if Vick was healthy. He had a lot of balls batted down at the line of scrimmage and also tried to force balls into tiny windows. He has also failed to take advantage one of the Eagles top weapons in WR DeSean Jackson. Jackson caught just 2 balls for 24 yards in Sunday night’s win. Last week against Washington Jackson caught just 3 balls for 19 yards and in week one against Green Bay he pulled down 4 catches for 30 yards. None of those by the way did Jackson catch a touchdown pass.
With Kolb under center Jackson is averaging just 3 catches for 24 yards and no touchdowns. With Michael Vick under center however Jackson is averaging 4.5 catches for 144 yards and a touchdown. It’s a big difference from one QB to another and I have a tough time believing that Jackson just can’t seem to get open when Kolb is the QB. Jackson is one of the fastest, if not the fastest person on the field whenever he plays and he has gone virtually invisible with Kevin Kolb as the Eagles starting QB. For the Eagles to be successful Kolb needs to look for #10.
**The Eagles appear to have made the right move when they let Brian Westbrook go and gave the starting job to second year man LeSean McCoy. McCoy has been a force since gaining the starting job and it didn’t start against the 49ers defense which features the best linebacker in the game, Patrick Willis.
With a cracked rib, McCoy still ran for 92 yards and a TD and was just 8 yards shy of his second 100 yard game of the season. McCoy is averaging 73 yards rushing and 1 TD on the season. He’s also averaging 44 yards receiving for a total of 107 total yards. His quickness can be seen as he hits the hole and it’s a bonus when he makes the cut to gain the extra yards. He’s got great vision and bulked up in the off season to make it harder for defenders to bring him down. He’s been a consistent bright spot for an inconsistent Eagles team.
**The front four of the Eagles played well against a good 49ers offensive line. After losing Brodrick Bunkley to an elbow injury, and then Trent Cole to a hamstring injury, the backups kept up the rush and kept Alex Smith flustered all game. Eagles first round pick, and resident of my dog house, Brandon Graham recorded his second career sack, and a forced fumble which was picked up by Eagles safety Quintin Mikell and returned for a touchdown. Both Darryl Tapp and Antonio Dixon filled in nicely for the injured birds.
**The 49ers were the second worst offense in the league heading into this game yet they put up 24 points on the Eagles defense. While the 49ers faithful be raided QB Alex Smith with chants of “We Want Carr” (as in backup David Carr) Smith didn’t have all that bad of a game. Sure his decision making was off at times but then he would bust off an 80 yard drive for a score. Smith finished the game 25-39 for 309 yards and 3 TD but also had two costly picks including one in the final seconds.
While the Eagles defense was able to keep Frank Gore quiet on the ground and forced him to cough up the ball twice, they couldn’t stop the running back from catching a 1 yard touchdown pass from Smith. Smith also utilized his two best weapons as Vernon Davis and Michael Crabtree both had over 100 yards and each caught a touchdown pass.
Eagles linebacker Stewart Bradley couldn’t keep up with 49ers tight end Vernon Davis who is one of the league’s best. While I understand that Asante Samuel was out for this game against the Eagles don’t think that just because they were able to force 4 turnovers that it was a good game for this Eagles defense. Yes the turnover battle is crucial but the fact that Alex Smith was able to put up 300 yards on this defense is pathetic.
**The only constants this season have been that both Eagles defensive coordinator Sean McDermott and Eagles special teams coordinator Bobby April always seem to find their way into this section. While I ripped McDermott’s effort above I will take a shot at Bobby April now. The Eagles special teams are awful. They couldn’t stop Helen Keller from ripping off a big return. Normally you expect a kickoff return to be returned anywhere from the 15-30 yard line but this Eagles special teams lets their opponents return guy get to the 40 yard line almost every kickoff. I feel like a broken record. And sadly I know there is no hope of it changing because to my knowledge Andy Reid has never made an in season coaching change.
**The offensive line is possibly the worst it’s ever been under Andy Reid. Jason Peters had a normal Jason Peters type game. A normal Jason Peters type game, for those not familiar, is either he gets injured or he’s getting called for false start and holding penalties left and right and then wondering how he could have possibly been called for said penalty when its blatantly obvious he was indeed guilty. This time it was the first as Peters went down with an apparent knee injury.
In his place stepped in former 7th round pick King Dunlop who was worse than Peters but not quite Winston Justice against the Giants bad. Facing a defense that had just 4 sacks coming into the game Dunlop gave up 3 sacks by himself. 49ers defensive end Justin Smith came into the game with 0 sacks on the season but thanks to the King he left the game with 2. Dunlop also got beat badly by Manny Lawson in a play that resulted in a Kevin Kolb fumble.
The 49ers entered with 4 sacks and left with 4 more as the Eagles offensive line played just as an Eagles fan has come to expect, lousy. Kolb didn’t look nearly as bad as he did last week against the Redskins when the offensive line gave him no time, but there was many times where the QB had to scramble out of the pocket because it quickly broke down. Thank god LeSean McCoy can pick up a block.
The Eagles head home for a battle against Exton native Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons. Ryan led the Falcons to victory this past Sunday against the Cleveland Browns, which isn’t exactly the toughest thing in the world to do. Ryan didn’t play overly well as he passed for just 187 yards and a TD. While he didn’t turn the ball over in the air he did fumble once on one of his 5 rushes.
While Ryan didn’t look all that great against Cleveland he is a good QB. With 7 TD on the season you need to stop his #1 target WR Roddy White who leads the team in TD receptions (3) and receiving yards (463). White will be matched up against Asante Samuel if the concussed corner can go.
Eagles linebackers will have their second tough assignment in as many weeks with this Falcons offense. Like the 49ers they have a talented running back and one of the league’s best tight ends. The running back is Michael Turner who is averaging 84 yards on the ground, but has only found the end zone once this season. Turner is coming off his best game of the season against the Browns this past Sunday as he rushed for 140 yards on only 19 carries.
Tony Gonzalez is one of the league’s best tight ends who can still stretch the field. The veteran isn’t the guy we saw in Kansas City but is still a huge target for Matt Ryan. The good news for the Eagles is he has only broken the century mark once this season. The Eagles defense won’t have to change their game plan much from the San Francisco matchup. Stop Turner and keep Gonzalez quiet and you have a good shot at winning.
The Eagles are however facing the third best defense in the league however which could make things very tough. The Falcons front four is ferocious, led by defensive end John Abraham who has 4 sacks on the season and would be matched up against King Dunlop if Jason Peters can’t go. The Eagles offensive line is going to be facing a much tougher pass rush then the one they saw in San Francisco which should have Eagles fans worried.
DeSean Jackson could be looking at another quiet game come next Sunday as he will likely have corner back Dunta Robinson on him. Robinson is the former first round pick of the Houston Texans who signed for big money in the offseason. If you have Jeremy Maclin on your fantasy team I would start him this week because not only is Jackson getting no looks when Kolb is the QB but Robinson is good and should serve as a worthy opponent to the speedy Jackson.
The one thing that helps the Eagles is that this Falcons defense has yet to really face a good offense. They did face the Saints in week 3 but if you’ve watched the Saints this season you know they have yet to click on all cylinders. While I don’t think the Eagles offense is one of the League’s best, I do think it’s better than the Browns, Steelers (with Dennis Dixon) 49ers, and Cardinals. However I don’t expect the Eagles to win the game. I think Kolb is going to be on the run for most of the game because of a poor offensive line. It’s going to look a lot like the Washington and Green Bay games where Kolb was forced to rush passes and do check downs to the running backs. I hope I’m wrong though.