The Philadelphia Eagles edged the Cleveland Browns by a score of 17-16 in a Week 1 edge-of-your-seat finish.
Michael Vick led the Eagles on a 17-play, 91-yard drive that culminated in a 4-yard TD pass to Clay Harbor. The drive began with 6:25 left in the game, ate up 5:07 and ultimately left the Browns with 1:12 on the clock when they got the ball back.
However, Kurt "I got my head knocked off by Trent Richardson" Coleman came up with the game-clinching interception on the first play of the final drive by Cleveland.
The game proved to be a nail-biter, which are usually fun to watch. But, this shouldn't have been one of those games. The Eagles were supposed to beat the Browns, and beat them handily at that.
The Browns were starting three rookies on offense: QB Brandon Weeden, RB Trent Richardson and RT Mitchell Schwartz. It should have been a feeding frenzy for the Eagles' defense.
And actually, it was. The Eagles' defense did their job.
The Browns' defense is pretty good against the pass but weak against the run. Either way, the Eagles' supposed "high powered" offense should have been able to put up plenty of points to give the team a nice comfy lead.
Obviously, that didn't happen.
So, what was the problem? Why wasn't this the blow-out we all expected? Well, let's look at the good, the bad and the downright brutal aspects of the game that tell the tale...
As stated earlier, the defense did their job. They held the Browns in check for the most part and came up big when it mattered.
They pressured Weeden, sacked him twice, intercepted him four times and only allowed him to complete 12 of 35 passes for 118 yards and a 5.1 QB rating.
The run defense did just as well and limited Richardson to 39 yards on 19 carries. They also made plays in the backfield by recording five tackles for losses.
DeMeco Ryans had a terrific game and made plays in both the run game and passing game. He recorded five tackles, two of which that came on 3rd and short plays that stopped a first down.
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie had a big day in recording two interceptions and broke up two other passes as well.
Mychal Kendricks displayed his tenacity and excellent closing speed. It was a solid first game for the rookie.
Nnamdi Asomugha recovered after getting beat early to have a good game with three pass break-ups.
Kurt Coleman came up clutch in two situations: the first was when he intercepted a tipped pass in the red zone to thwart a Browns scoring opportunity and the second was his game-clinching pick.
If you look at just the stats, it appears the Eagles offense did well. They controlled the ball for almost 36 minutes of the game and put up 456 total yards. Vick had over 300 yards passing and two touchdowns.
However, stats are sometimes misleading. Here are the only offensive players worthy of being mentioned under "the good" portion here.
LeSean McCoy had a good game in averaging 5.5 yards a pop on 20 carries (110 yards). He also caught six passes for 26 yards. The only thing missing was a trip to the end zone, but he was his usual stellar self.
Jeremy Maclin shrugged off a couple of costly penalties and big hits to lead the Eagles in receiving with 7 catches for 96 yards and a score.
Unfortunately, this is where the offensive portion of "the good" ends.
Now, onto the bad:
Hmm, where to start? Well, since we're doing "the brutal" next, it's hard to decide what was simply just "bad" as compared to downright awful.
Since most of the bad stuff was actually brutal, I suppose the only thing I can say that wasn't absolutely horrible was the offensive line.
The OL was bad, but not brutal.
Vick was only sacked twice but was under pressure most of the day. The OL was not giving him enough time to find his receivers which led to Vick rushing his passes and throwing off-balance much of the time.
The left tackle situation is going to be something to watch. King Dunlap did not have a good game and when they start facing better defenses, that position is going to become a serious liability unless Dunlap or Demetress Bell significantly improve.
The line did well in the run-game, which was their saving grace. But, costly penalties and poor pass protection doomed the offense all day.
Okay, now onto the brutal...
Penalties! Turnovers! Wholly cow!
The Eagles were penalized 12 times for 110 yards and had a few others that were declined. LeSean McCoy had over 50 yards of offense wiped out by penalties on the offensive line.
The Eagles' first two offensive series were marred by three costly penalties and two killer turnovers. It was at that point that I knew this was going to be a bad day.
McCoy lost a rare fumble on the opening drive and Vick threw four interceptions on the day. Two of Vick's INTs were on tipped balls, but on one of tipped passes it was the off-target throw to blame for the tip, and therefore the pick.
Don't let Vick's passing yards and two touchdowns fool you. His play was so bad that at one point, I seriously wondered if he was going to be benched.
Besides his four INTs, one of which was returned for a TD, he made numerous bad decisions and poor throws. I mentioned earlier that the OL was bad in protection, however, some of that was Vick's fault as well.
Vick leaves the pocket too early and rarely sets his feet to throw when he does. He made a terrible throw across his body that led to one of his INTs. Whether it's designed or not, he way-too-often rolls to his left and shortens the field, making it easier on the defense to defend.
He looked rusty, paniced, and nothing like the $100 man he's supposed to be. Yes, he only had 12 snaps in the preseason, but he's a seasoned veteran and shouldn't have looked that bad.
Also, Vick should have had five interceptions. On the final, game-winning drive, he threw another ill-advised pass into the end zone that was simply dropped by a Browns defender.
It should have been a game-ending turnover. It was on the next play that Vick fired the touchdown pass to Harbor.
Lastly, given how badly Vick was playing, I have to mention the most brutal-ist of the brutal...
Andy Reid and Marty Mornhinweg.
Between the two of them, they called a completely horrible game. When you see your quarterback struggling like that, you need to help him out by running the ball and calling pass plays with 3-5 step drops and get the ball out quickly.
However, in typical Eagles fashion, they kept passing and passing. They called 56 passes versus just 23 rushes, with a good chunk of those rushes late in the game after Vick's fourth INT.
Andy Reid once stated that he kept calling pass plays for a struggling Donovan McNabb in hopes that McNabb would "pass his way out of his slump." Well, it didn't work then and it doesn't work now.
Coaches have to help a struggling QB by a combination of running the ball more and calling for higher percentage passes.
Furthermore, penalties are a direct reflection of a coaching staff. The team played undisciplined football and it seriously cost them.
They were one of the most penalized teams last year and they're off to a horrible start this year.
Against any other team on the Eagles' schedule this year, they would have lost yesterday's game and would have probably been blown-out by many of them.
Turnovers and penalties will kill any team. They're about execution and discipline, neither of which did the Eagles display against Cleveland.
And that's on the coaches.