If you were waiting for the Philadelphia Eagles’ turnovers to nip them in the but, mark Sunday, October 7th on your calendar because two early fumbles by Michael Vick are the reason the Birds leave Pittsburgh 3-2 instead of 4-1. Vick’s goal-line fumble cost the Eagles the 3 or 7 points that would’ve helped them avoid a 16-14 loss at Heinz Field, and Ben Roethlisberger gave the Eagles a taste of their own medicine with a late, game-winning field goal drive.
Here are grades for some of Sunday’s key Eagles:
Baller: LeSean McCoy
LeSean McCoy’s fantasy owners—myself included—aren’t necessarily thrilled with No. 25′s performance, but Andy Reid sure is. Not only did Shady score the team’s first touchdown of the game on a 15-yard reception from Michael Vick, but the shifty back avoided would-be tacklers on two 4th-and-short plays to help his team put together the 17-play, 79-yard touchdown drive that put them ahead 14-13 late in the 4th quarter. If it weren’t for his horrific offensive line, Shady would’ve had more way more than 53 yards and 3.3 yards per carry; in fact, most backs would averaged much less when put in the same situation.
Hey Andy, we all know you need to “put your players in a better position to succeed.” Now go out there and do it.
McCoy’s Overall Grade: A+
Staller: Michael Vick
This game was a tale of two halves for Vick. In the first half, No. 7 struggled mightily in all facets of the game, completing only 7-of-12 passes (58.3 percent) for 70 yards with 11 rushing yards and two lost fumbles. In fact, if it weren’t for a blown coverage by Pittsburgh late in the second quarter that resulted in a 32-yard gain for Jackson, Vick would’ve had his worst half of the season.
Coming out of the locker room, however, Vick looked completely different. First, he helped cut the lead to 3 with the aforementioned 15-yard TD pass to McCoy, and then he made a couple of key 3rd-down throws on the 17-play drive that culminated with a TD strike to tight end Brent Celek. If the Eagles want to win close games against great teams like Pittsburgh, they’ll need more of the 2nd-half Vick than the turnover-prone, first-half version.
Vick’s Overall Grade: B-
Baller: Kurt Coleman
People have criticized Kurt Coleman plenty over the course of the season, and the third-year strong safety has definitely given them reason to do so with a couple blown coverages and missed tackles, but Sunday was a completely different story. Coleman was all over the place, making a touchdown-saving tackle on Antonio Brown and playing excellent coverage on Mike Wallace. He has definitely developed into more of a complete safety, evolving from the “hit-or-miss” pinball machine that he was when he entered the league. If he continues to progress, the Eagles defense will continue to be one of the league’s top units.
Coleman’s Overall Grade: A-
Staller: Mychal Kendricks
After a fantastic start to the season, Mychal Kendricks has started to come back to Earth over the past couple weeks. Not only did he miss a couple of key tackles on Steelers’ backs, including one that allowed Rashard Mendenhall to score a 13-yard touchdown late in the 1st quarter, but his coverage on tight ends and linebackers was simply not as good as in previous weeks—Mendenhall, Rainey, and Miller combined for 7 receptions and 67 yards. He’s still developing into a solid rookie, but he needs to start limiting his mistakes and working on his tackling if he wants to take his game to the next level.
Kendricks’ Overall Grade: C-
Baller: DeMeco Ryans
On the flip side, middle linebacker DeMeco Ryans had the best game of any Eagles defender. Ryans was constantly swarming the line of scrimmage; he was one of the few Eagles who actually wrapped up on Mendenhall early in plays, and it showed as he led the team in tackles (12) and QB hits (1). His play has continued to improve since the preseason, and he’s showing Eagles fans why he is the team’s prized offseason acquisition: he’s the mess-cleaning, play-making linebacker Andy Reid has looked for since the days of Jeremiah Trotter.
Overall Grade: A
Staller: Jason Babin
Ben Roethlisberger exposed the Eagles’ pass defense for what it is: a good—not great—secondary that relies on pressuring the quarterback. While Trent Cole struggled all day, he has an excuse: the Steelers consistently threw double teams at him, and he really had nowhere to go. Babin, on the other hand, needs to step up. There were dozens of plays where he was one second or one step away from bringing down Roethlisberger, but he consistently mistimed his moves or was stymied by his tackle after getting one or two steps upfield. I just haven’t seen the explosiveness in his step that I saw last season when he led the team with 16.5 sacks, and his production—or lack thereof—is why the team hasn’t sacked the QB in nearly 10 quarters.
Bell’s Overall Grade: D+
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