Sunday, October 30, 2005

Eagles Experience Rocky Mountain Low

DENVER -- Those first quarters are becoming pretty painful and the first halves haven't been a treat lately either for the Eagles. In the past, like all the way back to last year, the Eagles used to jump all over teams, smother them and not let them breath.
Now it's the Birds who are gasping for breath, especially when the game begins. It doesn't take a football genius to realize that the Eagles are digging themselves into mountain-sized holes with their play in the first quarter.
During yesterday's 49-21 loss to the Denver Broncos, the Eagles trailed 14-0 after the first period. They compounded the issue by giving up another 14 in the second quarter before finally deciding to score themseleves.
This season the 4-3 Eagles have now been outscored during the first qurater in six of their seven games, by a combined total of 62-14. The only team the Eagles have scored against in the opening period is San Francisco.
"We go into games thinking that we want to start fast on both sides of the football," Eagles coach Andy Reid said after the game. "We didn't do that tonight and we have to find a way to do it."
Easier said than done.
What the slow starts do is give the opponents confidence. The Eagles of last season were so intimidating because they would jump out to big leads that became bigger when the opponent would desperately attempt to come back.
Now it's the Eagles so often attempting the comeback routine.
In their loss to Dallas, the Birds were down 17-0 in the first quarter. During their opening night 14-10 loss to Atlanta, the Eagles trailed 14-0 after the first period.
Maybe last season's team would have been able to overcome that, but this isn't last year's Eagles. The Eagles aren't as talented and a number of other NFC teams have taken their games up a collective notch.
Which means the Eagles will be fighting and scrapping each week. There is too much parity to spot many of these opponents the first quarter week after week.
The Eagles to a man stood in the locker room and said they have to come out fighting. They obviously know the problem and the key to the rest of the season is whether they can cure what has become a serious ailment.

Broncos 49, Eagles 21

What an embarrassment. Two - count em - two Broncos running backs ran for over 100 yards. Mike Anderson had 126 yards and a TD on 21 carries. Tatum Bell added 114 yards and two TDs on 14 tries. I don't know the last time that has happened to an Eagles team, but it's got to be quite awhile. We'll get back to you on that one.

This Game Is Ova

And the yards keep coming ... for the Broncos. The franchise mark for most yards allowed by the Eagles is 652 against the Dallas Cowboys in 1966. The Broncos have 555 total yards with two minutes left. They most likely won't break Dallas' record, but that doesn't lessen their achievement or, more importantly for Eagles' fans, show how bad the Birds' D was today. You hate to say it, but they gave up after Devoe's TD.

Broncos 42, Eagles 21

Tatum Bell goes 67 yards for the Broncos' sixth TD of the game. One has to wonder if the Birds' D started thinking about that flight home a little too early.

Memo to Andy Reid

This is why you need a running game. Watch and learn as the Broncos drain the clock while on the ground.

Broncos 35, Eagles 21

A hard rain was a-fallin, and so was Roderick Hood, who over-pursued Todd Devoe, slipped and was toasted as Devoe took off for a 44-yard TD.

Key Interception

McNabb went for broke and tried to squeeze a pass to Reggie Brown, but Domonique Foxworth made the pick. In retrospect, maybe he should have been intent on securing the field goal.

That sure deflated the Eagles' balloon.

Key Challenge

Broncos head coach Mike Shanahan was successful on two first half challenges. His challenge on the third-down catch by Greg Lewis may be a case of stretching yourself. It looks like Lewis made the scoop, and the Broncos will probably need that timeout later in the game.

Broncos 28, Eagles 21

I don't know what's more remarkable, the Eagles' in-process comeback or the difference between the Eagles in the first and second halfs.

The Second Lesson Is ...

If T.O. is covered, get Brian Westbrook the ball.

The Lesson Is ...

Get T.O. the ball.

Why? Why? Why?

OK, you get a nice 8-yard run from Lamar Gordon on first down. That leaves you two downs to get two yards. Why not run the ball again on second down?

Isn't it obvious to Reid why he's criticized about his play-calling and the lack of balance on offense?

Broncos 28, Eagles 14

That is why Terrell Owens is worth every penny he gets paid/wants to get paid. The Eagles receiver juked Champ Bailey out of his shoes and took it to the house for a 91-yard TD that narrowed the Broncos lead.

Broncos 28, Eagles 7

Westbrook's 8-yard run on second and goal shows that this offense can garner positive yards on the ground and at key moments.

Why is Reid so intent on ignoring that facet of the game?

I think the only thing this late second quarter touchdown did, was force us to watch the second half in hopes that the Birds pull off the comeback.

But don't bet on it.

McNabb Sighting

McNabb finally picked up the blitz and the house of cards crumbles. Well, maybe not. But the Eagles did string two plays together and have first and goal.

Worse Than Worse

McNabb runs for a first down. But, boy, did it hurt watching that scamper. I don't know what hurts more, watching McNabb trying to run or watching his pass attempts. OK, that's an easy one. His passing is horrendous.

He actually threw a nice toss to Greg Lewis, but, God forbid, the Eagles receivers make an Alexander-like catch.

What a Catch!

After that grab from Broncos tight end Stephen Andrews that gave Denver a 28-0 lead, we're thinking about changing this blog to Blog on the Broncos.

The Birds don't deserve any special mention. We're through commenting on them anymore.

Just kiddding, we're back.

Apocalypse Now!

Andy Reid called for a run on first down, and Brian Westbrook gained a first down! And then he called for a run again on first down.

Head for your bunkers and basements!

Broncos 21, Eagles 0

Are the Eagles this bad? They haven't looked this bad since, well, three weeks ago against the Dallas Cowboys, which basically means that, yes, they are this bad.

The question of the moment is, which area of the Eagles looks worse: the offense or defense?

No way, is this a Super Bowl-caliber team.

Koy To The Rescue?

Donovan McNabb's woeful numbers so far:

10 passes, o completions.
1 rush, 2 yards.

We're fans of McNabb here at Eye on the Eagles, but does he look like an old man at 28 years old or what?

Broncos 14, Eagles 0

Isn't it fun watching a team that uses the run to open up the pass? Well, maybe not fun for Eagles fans.

Maybe Lito Sheppard - who was listed as probable with a bruised knee - should have sat this one out. He's been burnt two times thus far.

A prediction for the rest of the game: The Eagles run-pass ratio will be 5-1.

Early Question

Are the Eagles the sllllloooowwwwweeeeeesssssstttt team when it comes to running its offense?

Donovan McNabb and company already had to burn a timeout because a play probably took too long to be called in, because it looked like McNabb was talking about wedding gifts in the huddle and because there's no sense of urgency on this team sometimes.

Broncos 7, Eagles 0

The Broncos ram it down the Eagles' throat on the first drive. They surprisingly opened with two passes - Did they hijack the Eagles' offense? - but mixed in the run as they moved methodically downfield.

Power running back Mike Anderson scored from three yards out and now the Eagles trail early - again - on the road.

It looks like it's back to the pass for the Birds.