Another Eagles game, another close battle that fell down to just a couple of points. This is the fifth out of six games so far this season, where an Eagles game has been decided by three or fewer points. There were several positives from this close encounter with the Detroit Lions, but I would certainly say that during this bye week, Andy Reid and the Eagles coaching staff will have even more negatives to work on with this team. Here are the Ballers and Stallers from Sunday’s game:
Baller: Jeremy Maclin
In his closest game to 100% fitness for three weeks, Maclin had a superb day; with 6 catches for 130 yards, with 1 TD which came from a huge 70 yard reception that was certainly one of the top plays in Sunday’s NFL action.
Maclin has always been a solid starting receiver that has partly stayed in the shadows of DeSean Jackson since his rookie season. Regardless, Maclin is very much coming into his own light as a great NFL receiver, and he seems to be getting better and more consistent every year. This game is a sign that Jeremy Maclin could live up to the potential that he showed coming out of college, All-Pro potential.
Maclin’s Overall Grade: A
Staller: Andy Reid
This could possibly apply more to the assistant coaches rather than Reid, but regardless, this ‘Staller’ selection is justified by two reasons: poor play calling and poor performance with respect to personnel.
The first reason is play calling, and it largely comes down to the run game. We all know that LeSean McCoy is a superstar back in the NFL, his footwork and elusiveness is top-notch. However, I don’t think any level of agility or quick feet could get away from multiple 300-pound D-linemen bearing down on you. Andy Reid just cannot allow Vick to shuffle passes off to McCoy when there is huge penetration, especially because of the largely 2nd-string offensive line. Also, the end-around to DeSean Jackson for a loss of 14 yards was a poor call when the Lions brought in two free blitz players, with one crunching Jackson for the big loss. These type of negative plays add up over the course of a game.
The second reason is the poor performance with respect to the personnel of the team. This point revolves around the fact that the Eagles’ roster is packed with All-Pro talents and superstar players, but the coaches, in particular Andy Reid, cannot seem to make this group into a consistent winning team. It is strange, because if you ask any long-time Eagles fan, they will likely tell you that this roster is one of the best-looking rosters compared to the rest of the league for some time. Despite this, Andy Reid is struggling to finish off games with this roster, and the team chemistry just does not seem to be present. All of these issues were evident and emphasized in this Sunday’s loss.
Reid’s Overall Grade: D+
Baller: Nnamdi Asomugha
For once, Nnamdi shows Eagles fans a glimpse of his old All-Pro self. A dominating performance by Asomugha where he held Calvin Johnson quiet (at least while he was covering him) and took advantage of a forced pass by Stafford to get a pick.
The defense was largely impressive against the vicious Lions’ pass offense, but once again, a fourth-quarter lead was blown where the players just seemed to slack off. This could be down to factors away from Nnamdi, but either way, he needs to be a leader and help this team reach it’s expectations.
Asomugha’s Overall Grade: B+
Staller: Defensive Line
What in the name of Jim Washburn happened!? Another game without a single sack.This D-line group has gone from one of the top pass rush teams last season, to the 30th-ranked on sacks this season after 6 games. No wonder Castillo was fired, and no wonder there is major heat on the group to perform. The Wide-9 was criticized last year for leaving the team vulnerable to the run, but that was compensated by some outstanding pass rushing last season. However, now the Wide-9 seems to leave the other QBs a lot of time in the pocket, while the run defense is still struggling for the Eagles.
The letting go of Castillo was one step, but it falls down to the players. They need the motor, the determination, the strength to get past the block and towards the Quarterback. With just 7 sacks in 6 games this season, all of the games that the Eagles have lost this season could have possibly been avoided if the opposing offense had less time to make plays.
Defensive Line’s Overall Grade: D
Baller: DeMeco Ryans
Ryans has moved straight into a leadership role in Philadelphia, and he has been leading from the front since Training Camp. The guy is a tackle maker and a game-breaker, and he doesn’t look like slowing down just yet. He’s made the most combined tackles on the Eagles defense, and led the way with 13 vs the Lions.
The introduction of Ryans to this team was a great move by the Eagles front office, and the impressive performance of rookie Mychal Kendricks has helped Ryans ease into this linebacker group comfortably.
Ryans’ Overall Grade: A-
Staller: LeSean McCoy
Shady McCoy has not been the same Shady-of-old. Much like the defensive line, McCoy had a terrific season in 2011, with the most rushing touchdowns in the NFL and top 5 in receiving, rushing and total yardage for RBs. This season, he’s had some great games, but has not been the consistent runner that we got used to last season. This game vs the Lions, he had just 22 yards from 14 carries, with an average of 1.6 yards per carry. He did have a TD from a pass, but that wasn’t big enough to relieve him from any criticism on the ground.
I would definitely put some blame on the coaches and the offensive line, as they have run the ball with poor plays at poor times, and often McCoy has not been used much until the 2nd half. When you have a Pro Bowl running back in your team, you need to be utilizing his talent as much as possible, without injuring him. He’s a tough, versatile player; so we deserve to see more of LeSean McCoy with the ball in his hands.
McCoy’s Overall Grade: B-
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