The Philadelphia Eagles were visitors to the Georgia Dome in a week two Sunday Night Football matchup against the Atlanta Falcons, in what was one of the most anticipated games of the season. What could more than likely be a preview of a late=playoff game this season, the Eagles looked to capitalize off the Falcons poor start following their week one loss to the Chicago Bears. The Eagles looked to keep their streak alive, after a solid win over the St. Louis Rams in week one.
This week two match-up was immensely important for Michael Vick, as this was his first game back in Atlanta since coming back into the NFL. However, the game was equally important for Matt Ryan, as he was out to prove that he was just as capable as Vick, and that he can lead the Falcons to victory in marquee games. But Vick’s game was cut short in the late third quarter, after leaving the game with an undisclosed neck injury. With Vince Young still not suited up to play, it left the Eagles Mike Kafka, the team’s third-string quarterback to stat the remainder of the game.
Despite an excellent performance from Kafka, who had only one incompletion, (On what should have been an easy catch), the Eagles still fell short after being down late in the fourth quarter. Losing to the Falcons, 31-35, in what was an incredibly evenly matched game up until the Falcons capitalized off key mistakes, and were able to win an emotional Sunday Night game against the Vick-less Eagles. Here are some quick thoughts from the game:
The Eagles Rushing Defense Was Mediocre – Not Terrible
Philadelphia had a rough start in week one against the Rams slowing down the run, and I would have thought it would have been much worse against the Falcons and Michael Turner. However, the Eagles did get several big stops on Turner, which forced the Falcons into passing situations. On that same note, the Eagles defense did give up 114 yards and one touchdown to Turner, with most of those yard coming late in the game.
I would say that this is a mild improvement over last weeks performance, but by no means should be considered acceptable. There is still a long way to go in Philadelphia, but at least the rushing defense looked stronger than it did before.
Trent Cole Led A Nasty Eagles Defensive Line
Philadelphia took advantage of a below-average Falcons offensive line, and was getting to Matt Ryan all game. The frontrunner in the Eagles pass-rushing success against Atlanta was Trent Cole, who had an absolutely monstrous game. Racking up six tackles, (four of which were for a loss), a sack, and two hits on Ryan, and also opening up lanes for linebackers and other defensive lineman.
Other than Cole turning on beast mode, the Eagles had the desired effect this game of both Cullen Jenkins and Jason Babin. There was a consistent pass-rush, but also kept the ability to defend against the rush depending on the play-call. It is clear that the addition of Jim Washburn as the Eagles defensive line coach is paying dividends not only for the new players, but also for the vets on the team.
Michael Vick Was Trying To Do Too Much
Michael Vick went onto his old stomping grounds with more than enough emotion, but he struggled to keep it in check. There were multiple plays where Vick should have accepted that the play was dead, and simply thrown the ball out of bounds. Instead, he managed to turn the ball over three times, on two fumbles, and one interception. Albeit, the interception should have been challenged and overturned, and a fumbled handoff was a solid defensive play and not much else.
Regardless, it looked to me like Vick was reverting back into the type of player he was in Atlanta. A quarterback that thought he didn’t have a supporting cast, and had to do everything on his own. I hope that this is nothing more than just an emotional game for Vick, and not a reoccurring trend, as the Eagles can not afford that type of play from their franchise quarterback.
Mike Kafka Was Totally Solid
For those of you who watched the game live, inevitably when you saw Kafka jog onto the field you had the temptation to turn the game off right there. Because there would be no chance that a third-string quarterback like Kafka could lead the Eagles offense to a touchdown against the Falcons defense. Well — Kafka did a good job. As I stated earlier, only missing one pass, (Which was a game-ending drop by Jeremy Maclin), and nearly leading Philadelphia to a touchdown.
The current status of Vick’s injury is unknown, and it is quite possible he could miss extended time. Also, Young may not be back in the starting lineup by next week from his hamstring injury, meaning that Kafka would be guaranteed the starting role if Vick is not ready by next Sunday. Right now, in the small sample that Kafka started in, I feel confident that he could lead the Eagles offense successfully.
Dunta Robinson Has No Class, and Should Not Be in The NFL
For those of you who watched the Eagles and Falcons game last season you will remember Atlanta cornerback Dunta Robinson landing that nasty helmet to helmet shot on DeSean Jackson. The hit came after Jackson was tearing apart the Falcons defense, and after Robinson had blown coverage on several straight plays. Following the shot, both Jackson and Robinson left the game with concussions and were unable to return.
In this game, Robinson landed a similar helmet to helmet hit on Jeremy Maclin, following an excellent first half performance from the Eagles wide receiver. The hit knocked Maclin to the ground, and he required help from the trainers to get off of the field. Robinson was perfectly fine, and remained in the game. However, this marks the second major offense on Robinson, after he is being beaten by a more talented wide receiver.
Rodger Goodell will hand him a more than hefty fine, and also a possible suspension. Both of which he deserves.