Monday, November 29, 2010

Carved-up Thanksgiving Birds

No doubt some will point at Michael Vick for the Eagles’ deflating loss yesterday at Soldier Field.

Maybe he doesn’t have an ‘S’ emblazoned on the T-shirt he wears under that green Eagles No. 7 after all. Vick again was just a tad off, as for the second week in a row teams managed to bottle him up in the pocket.

And for the second straight week, Vick missed a wide open receiver early in the game on what should have been a sure TD. Tight end Brent Celek was running clear right down the seam, but Vick’s throw sailed long.

Others will point to the crushing interception thrown by Vick at the end of the first half. It was the first pick thrown by Vick this year.

Worse, after being returned to the 45-yard line, it took the Bears only six plays to cash it in for a touchdown. Instead of taking a 20-14 lead, the Birds went to the locker room down 21-13. The ball was deflected at the line of scrimmage and wobbled right into the Bear’s hands.

It was representative of the Eagles’ struggles in the red zone all day.

They got inside the 20-yard line five times, but managed just one TD.

Instead, much like last week, they stocked up on David Akers field goals. Last week they managed to overcome that and still beat the Giants. They couldn’t repeat that magic against the Bears.

Still other green-faced Eagles zealots will complain about the skating rink called Soldier Field they played the game on. Eagles players spent much of the afternoon looking like they were on roller skates, slipping all over the messy playing surface. Chalk that one up to the home field advantage. The Bears were playing on the same surface, but didn’t seem nearly as prone to pratfalls.

All of the above go into the explanation of why the Eagles lost, to fall to 7-4 and back into a tie with the Giants atop the NFC East.

I will not point to any of them.

Instead, I will point the finger of blame directly at the Eagles defense. And yes, once again at defensive coordinator Sean McDermott. I thought the Eagles had righted their shaky defensive ship in the past few weeks. Not from what I watched yesterday.

Those carcasses left over from Thanksgiving meals all over the Delaware Valley were not the only ravaged Birds from this holiday weekend.

The Eagles defense yesterday in Chicago was atrocious.

It’s now clear how much Asante Samuel means to this team. My guess is no one will be complaining about his lack of tackling after seeing his replacement, Joselio Hanson, get carved like a Thanksgiving turkey. With Hanson in the starting lineup, that moved Trevor Lindley into the nickel package. Don’t know him? He was No. 35, who spent most of the afternoon chasing Bears wide receivers.

The Eagles tackling wasn’t much better, as they consistently got gouged for big plays.

The Eagles made Jay Cutler, normally a turnover machine, look like Peyton Manning, throwing 4 touchdowns.

A lot of people this morning are griping about Vick and receiver DeSean Jackson, who suddenly seems reticent about going over the middle and catching the ball in a crowd (including in the end zone) since suffering that devastating hit and concussion.

They should instead be looking at the other side of the ball.

So which way does this team go? They only have a few days to right the ship and brace themselves for a Thursday night game at the Linc against the Houston Texans.

Hopefully Samuel will be back in the lineup.

Of the many questions now swirling around the Eagles, there is this: Who is more important to this team, Samuel or Vick?

And can Sean McDermott get his squad back into form on a very short week?

What seemed like a sure playoff spot a few weeks ago is now a little more murky.

Now we’ll get to see what these Birds are made of. Hopefully, they won’t resemble the Thanksgiving turkey they appeared to be at Soldier Field.

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