The Philadelphia Eagles’ home opener vs the Baltimore Ravens in this past weekend was a ‘see-saw’ game in many respects. Both defenses played as their usual disruptive selves, but the rhythm of the offensive units dictated the match and made it an exciting fixture. Several players for the Birds stood out, while a few in particular had a disappointing afternoon, for various reasons. Here are the players that particularly “Balled” or “Stalled” in the Eagles’ 24-23 win over the Ravens:
Baller: Michael Vick
He may commit some poor turnovers like the first-quarter interception in the end zone, but whether it’s his leadership, his running or his passing, Michael Vick has what it takes to win games.
His statistics were relatively good: 23-for-32 with 371 yards, 1 TD and 2 INTs. He was very unlucky on one of the picks that was tipped off the hands of Celek into the grateful grasp of veteran ball-hawk Ed Reed. The other was just a poor read in the endzone, where Bernard Pollard dove into the path of what would’ve been a TD pass for Vick.
The most important statistic, however, that Vick gave Philly fans was a win. And it was quite a bonus to have it over a tough Ravens defense that could likely challenge for the AFC Championship. For the second time in as many weeks, Vick has led the Eagles offense on a long, game-winning drive, and despite his turnover tendencies, these two drives have given the Eagles important “Vick-tories” to start the season.
Vick’s Grade: A-
Staller: Bryce Brown
When you’re a rookie playing behind an All-Pro and in front of two other promsing youngsters, you have to be both reliable and safe.
No head coach will expect you to go for a 50-yard TD burst, but he does not expect you to lose the team the ball while the 1st-stringer rests. Bryce Brown did exactly that in this game. Granted, it was partly Vick’s fault—and he got credited statistically, although that could change later in the week—as a messy handoff turned into a fumble, but Bryce Brown must take most of the blame.
Ball security is a must for young RBs that want to impress the coaches, and Brown did himself no favours in his performance vs the Ravens. Even the best will fumble the football, but if you have one job with few other expectations, you should probably focus on completing it.
Brown’s Grade: D+
Baller: Brent Celek
You just can’t dislike Brent Celek as a football player. He is humble in interviews, consistent on the field, and comes up big when you need him. But I think the best attribute for him is his ability to produce week-in, week-out while remaining completely underrated due to his prowess as a blocker.
The Ravens defense often left Celek open down the field because they simply forgot or underestimated him as a threat. With playmakers like Jackson, Maclin and McCoy on the field for the Eagles, opposing defenses forget about the big TE out of Cincinnati. He’s been a top target for Vick in many games before, and today was probably the best game of his NFL career.
He finished with 8 receptions for 157 yards, with several vital catches that kept drives alive for the Eagles. I’ve always rated Celek highly, and his play goes unnoticed around the league which is a good thing for the Eagles offense this season. Hopefully, though, Celek earns himself a Pro Bowl spot after so many years of sliding under the radar.
Celek’s grade: A+
Staller: Chas Henry
The 2nd-year punter is a promising player, and kickers/punters don’t peak as players until much later in their careers. Regardless, Henry is a below-average NFL punter at this stage.
He averaged a measly 32.4 yards per punt on Sunday and didn’t get a single punt out of his five inside the Ravens’ 20. He kicked one respectable 56-yard punt, but apart from that he had what can be seen in the special teams unit as a poor night. As the Eagles face tough offenses this season, they’ll need to have as much of an advantage as possible in terms of field-position, and Henry will need to improve dramatically to give this advantage to his defense.
Henry’s Grade: F
Baller: Mychal Kendricks
Philadelphia has found a new defensive star, a future stalwart player in the linebacker unit.
Mychal Kendricks brought some great on-field skills to the team, and those are only in additio to his impressive strength and athleticism. This rookie can flat-out play football, and has an incredible ability to hunt down receivers or backs on either side of the field, using his pace and agility to get there quickly.
His solid tackling technique also allows him to stop talented ball carriers from making plays. Reid and Roseman have found a gem in Kendricks. Against the Ravens, Kendricks proved his ability to make important tackles, including a huge 3rd-down stop for a loss, and even some ball deflections on coverage.
If you haven’t already, like his Facebook page here, because he’ll be around for a long time in Philly.
Kendricks’ Grade: A
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