Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Even Sandy was more popular than Andy in
Philadelphia on Sunday.
Hours before Hurricane Sandy was scheduled to slam the region, Andy Reid's
Eagles took their own swipe, punching their fans in the gut with a listless
performance during a 30-17 rout at the hands of the unbeaten Atlanta Falcons.
Technically the Falcons were the only unblemished team entering Week 8 of the
NFL season but there was still a battle of unbeatens of sorts at the Lincoln
Financial Field. The Eagles may have come into the contest with a
disappointing 3-3 record but the team was trying to extend its amazing streak
of success under Reid after the bye week.
Before Sunday, Reid coached teams were a mind-boggling 13-0 after the bye and
there was always something about that week off which consistently charged the
veteran coach's battery. Since Reid has been in Philly, the Eagles were
84-38-1 following the bye as opposed to 45-45 before it.
Bring in all the sabermetricians you want and you could never explain those
That last layer of invincibility, one which a number of national observers
continually cited to support their unrequited love of a deeply flawed
Eagles team, was blown up by Matt Ryan and the Falcons.
"Our goal was to come out and play fast in all three phases of the game and I
thought we got that job done," Atlanta coach Mike Smith said.
Atlanta, which was also coming off its bye, reached the end zone on its first
three possessions and scored on its first six as new Philadelphia defensive
coordinator Todd Bowles, who replaced the much-maligned Juan Castillo during
the break, piloted a group which was more aggressive as advertised but just as
"We didn't do it. We didn't show up," Eagles defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins
understated. "We didn't play assignment sound. Whatever we could have done
wrong, we pretty much did it."
Atlanta's Matt Bosher never took the field as a punter until 5:35 was left in
the game when Bowles' defense finally recorded a stop.
Good guy or not, you have to believe Castillo, the scapegoat of the Eagles'
mediocre start, was throwing a few "I told you sos" around on whatever island
he was deposed too.
"That (changing coordinators) had nothing to do with it," Eagles middle
linebacker DeMeco Ryans said. "It all comes down to the players making plays."
The players making all the plays on Sunday happened to be wearing red and
It's fair to call Ryan, a Philly-area native, great these days but his first
half numbers were out of this world. He completed 17-of-20 passes for 197
yards and three touchdowns before the break as the Eagles failed to make him
uncomfortable in the least. Ryan finished the day with 262 yards on 22-of-29
efficiency for the Falcons (7-0), who are off to their best start in franchise
"For the most part I was clean," Ryan said referring to his pass protection.
"Our offensive line played really, really well against a very good front
seven, so credit to those guys up front."
Ryan was probably being a little generous to the Eagles' front seven.
Philadelphia's defensive line, which hasn't had the production to match is
reputation, finally broke a 15-quarter sack-less streak in the third quarter
but even that was Ryan's internal clock going off before it really should
"They did some things differently in terms of coverages," Smith said when
talking about Bowles' defense. "At times they crowded the line of scrimmage
and their safeties were very active. We felt like there were going to be
opportunities for us to get one-on-one matchups. We knew that when we had
them, we had to try to take advantage to them."
Nnamdi Asomugha, once considered a shutdown corner in Oakland, continued his
alarming descent as a player, getting torched by Julio Jones for a 63-yard TD
and fueling more than one in the press box to compare the former All-Pro to
the aptly nicknamed "Toast," former Eagle Izel Jenkins.
"He just created separation and got it," Asomugha said of Jones. "It was
nothing special or anything particular that happened. He just got it."
That's the thing about this Eagles group -- there is never any accountability,
save for Reid's tired and cliched "I've got to do a better job" routine.
"Oh it was definitely embarrassing," said defensive end Jason Babin. "We did
it to ourselves. They didn't make us make mistakes. We knew what they were
going to do and we practiced it. We just didn't execute."
Sure Jason, you didn't execute -- it couldn't have been that the Falcons were
the better team.
That "embarrassment" tag was echoed throughout Philadelphia's locker room and
Reid used it at his post-game press conference, but few Eagles owned their
tepid performance with the exception of LeSean McCoy, perhaps the team's best
"It's embarrassing," McCoy stated. "For a team to put up that many points and
for our offense not to respond, that's embarrassing. We had no answer for
them. I am embarrassed today. They played a lot better than us."
More Eagles players need to take the temperature of their own team.
A number of observers think Michael Vick, who completed 21-of-35 passes for
191 yards and a TD for the Eagles on Sunday, would already be benched in
Philadelphia if Reid wasn't on the hot seat.
And if he didn't know that, Vick has been alerted to the situation after Reid
admitted he will step back and evaluate the quarterback situation after
Sunday's loss, a significant admission for the usually tight-lipped Reid.
"Obviously he's thinking about making a change," a frustrated Vick said. "The
thing I do know is I'll go watch the film and I'll evaluate myself. I'm trying
my hardest. Some things don't go right when I want them to, some things do."
Nick Foles, a rookie third round pick out of Arizona, is the flavor of the
month in the City of Brotherly Love, largely because the fans haven't seen him
play except for a stellar preseason against a number of guys who are getting
ready to deliver packages for UPS during the holidays.
Reid, unlike the fans however, isn't going to get caught up in fool's gold and
has been crossing his fingers, hoping against hope that a 32-year-old
quarterback with nearly 100 NFL starts under his belt was finally going to
As unlikely as it was that some magic gnome was going to sit on Vick's
shoulders and help him recognize the blitz pre-snap, it was just as unlikely
that Vick was going to halt his propensity to play "hero football" and curb
his natural instinct to extend every play.
The failures in Philly are certainly not all Vick's fault. We have already
covered the defensive deficiencies and remember the Eagles lost perhaps the
game's best left tackle, Jason Peters, to a torn Achilles before the season
started. Philadelphia then suffered another significant setback when center
Jason Kelce, a player who is probably a little overrated at the NovaCare
Complex but a more than competent pivot nonetheless, went down with a knee
Their replacements, King Dunlap and Demetress Bell at left tackle, and Dallas
Reynolds at center have been overmatched more often than not.
Now right guard Danny Watkins, a former first round pick who has been a
disappointment, is out with what is being called a "chronic" ankle problem and
rookie Dennis Kelly, a 6-foot-8 fifth round selection out of Purdue, has been
tabbed as a replacement.
Sadly more than one insider with the Eagles has whispered that the team feels
Kelly is a better option than Watkins at this point and he looked like it on
Sunday. But that "better option" is still a lesser option that 80 or 90
percent of the right guards in football.
To be blunt, the Eagles' offensive line is a mess right now and Vick is not
the type of signal-caller who is going to get rid of the football when his
back foot hits the ground on the final step of his drop. This team almost
needs a quarterback with a quick release.
If Reid can sell owner Jeffrey Lurie on another year under the cover of
developing Foles, Vick's time in Philly as the starting quarterback wouldn't
"Whatever decision coach makes, I support it," Vick said. "The thing is I know
that I'm giving it everything I got out there when I step on the field. Deep
down, as long as I know I'm doing that and I'm giving it everything, that's
all I can ask of myself. No more, no less."
RATING THE YOUNG QUARTERBACKS
Never before has there been such an influx of young quarterbacks in the NFL.
This season, over 31 percent of NFL teams have turned their fates over to
rookie or second-year signal-callers.
Hall of Famer Dan Marino, who knows a thing or two about what it takes to
succeed in the position, rated the young guns on CBS' "The NFL Today."
Marino went with Washington's Robert Griffin III over the Colts' Andrew Luck
as 1-2, flip-flopping their 2012 draft positions.
It's a little early to put Griffin over Luck, who is the far more well-rounded
RG3 is certainly more dynamic and teams have been struggling to try to stop
the read-option but that's a gimmick at this level and as soon as opposing
defenses catch up, you can except significant struggles from Griffin unless he
is able to counter with his own adjustments.
In a 27-12 setback in Pittsburgh on Sunday, Griffin couldn't find his rhythm
all day, as the Baylor product completed just 16-of-34 passes for 177 yards
and one touchdown, while managing just eight rushing yards on six carries.
Granted Dick LeBeau isn't your average defensive coordinator but the fact he
was able to stop the aforementioned read-option doesn't bode well for RG3.
Luck, meanwhile, has quietly performed better, albeit less spectacularly. He
has the Colts at 4-3 after passing for 297 yards and a touchdown and leading a
game-winning drive in overtime as Indy topped Tennessee 19-13 on Sunday.
Luck's game is built better for long term success in the NFL.
The rest of s list, which rated Carolina's Cam Newton third followed by
Cincinnati's Andy Dalton, the Dolphins' Ryan Tannehill, Cleveland's Brandon
Weeden, Seattle's Russell Wilson, the Vikings' Christian Ponder, Tennessee's
Jake Locker and the Jags' Blain Gabbert is pretty solid, although Marino isn't
giving Tannehill, who left Miami's 30-9 win over the Jets on Sunday in the
first quarter with an injured left quadriceps, enough credit for keeping a
Dolphins team with shaky talent above water.
Meanwhile, Wilson's upside is stunted by his size and you have to believe both
Locker and Gabbert would be doing more with the weapons Ponder has at his
Here's The Sports Network's "young gun" ratings at the midway point of the
1. - Andrew Luck, Indianapolis
2. - Robert Griffin III, Washington
3. - Cam Newton, Carolina
4. - Ryan Tannehill, Miami
5. - Andy Dalton, Cincinnati
6. - Brandon Weeden, Cleveland
7. - Jake Locker, Tennessee
8. - Russell Wilson, Seattle
9. - Blaine Gabbert, Jacksonville
10. - Christian Ponder, Minnesota
-Today's win in Philadelphia was Ryan's 50th as a starter. He did it in just
69 games, matching Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger for the second-fewest
starts to reach the milestone among active players. New England's Tom Brady
reached 50 regular season wins in 65 starts.
-Speaking of Brady and the Patriots, they ran up 473 yards of offense in
London during their 45-7 International Series win over St. Louis. The Patriots
have posted at least 350 yards in 17 consecutive games, surpassing the
"Greatest Show on Turf" Rams group (1999-2000) for the longest such streak in
-Brady, who passed for 304 yards and four touchdowns against the Rams, joined
Brett Favre (72), Peyton Manning (67) and Marino (62) as the fourth player in
NFL history with 50 career games with at least three touchdown passes. He also
registered the 50th 300-yard passing game of his career, surpassing Warren
Moon (49) for the seventh-most all-time.
- Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers, despite being without Greg Jennings and Jordy
Nelson, threw two touchdown passes in the Packers' 24-15 win over
Jacksonville. Through eight games this season, Rodgers has 21 touchdown
passes. He has 24 TD passes through eight games in 2011, and is the first
quarterback ever to have 20-plus touchdown passes through his team's first
eight games in consecutive seasons.
-Chicago cornerback Tim Jennings had a 25-yard interception-return touchdown
in the Bears' 23-22 comeback win over Carolina. The Bears, who have six
interception-return touchdowns this season, are the first team in NFL history
to return six interceptions for touchdowns through the first seven games of a
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