Andy Reid is an evil genius.
I mean, how else can you explain the Philadelphia Eagles 31-13 win over the St. Louis Rams on Sunday in the season opener. Eagles coach Andy Reid must have intentionally planned to have bad linebackers on his defense so that Rams running back Steven Jackson would have so much open space that he would hurt himself from running free for so long on his 47-yard touchdown run on the Rams first offensive play.
What? That wasn’t the plan? Reid never has any good linebackers? Oh, nevermind.
Seriously, the Eagles played just well enough to get the win over a Rams team that not only lost Jackson to injury, but also lost their starting quarterback, offensive tackle, top receiver and top cornerback in this game. A win is a win, of course, but there were no style points associated with this win.
Rams quarterback Sam Bradford (17 to 30, 188 yards, 0 TDs, 0 INTs) wasn’t exactly having a career day before he got hurt anyway, but he wasn’t getting any help from his receivers who dropped six passes during the game. The fact that Bradford even attempted 30 passes in a game where the Rams were averaging 6.5 yards per carry is the most telling stat from the game.
The Rams were never that far out of the game that they should have stopped pounding the Eagles defense with the run. It didn’t even matter that Jackson got hurt on his first carry. His backup, Cadillac Williams gained 91 yards on 19 carries. Rams offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels is an idiot.
Of course, the Eagles did do some things right in this game. While Vick had a horrible statistical game throwing the ball, he did gain 98 yards rushing. The only problem with that is that Vick was forced to run because the offensive line had as many problems as we all anticipated coming into this game. To their credit the line did get better as the game wore on and they managed to lead the way for the offense to grind out the clock in the fourth quarter.
Vick completed only 14 of 32 passes for 187 yards and two TDs with no INTs. On the bright side, the Eagles did convert 8 of 11 on third down. That means, that while Vick completed a lowly 43 percent of his passes, he certainly made the most of the ones he completed. I will give Vick the credit he deserves for his play in the win. I just won’t go overboard like the national media does with everything Vick does these days.
While Vick will get too much credit for this win, he had lots of help from DeSean Jackson and LeSean McCoy. Jackson had 6 catches for 102 yards and 1 TD, while McCoy had 122 yards on 15 carries and 1 rushing TD, to go along with 2 catches for 15 yards and another TD. Those are very impressive stats, no matter what defense they come against.
But while the rushing yardage might like nice, it is deceiving. Reid only called 21 running plays, compared to 42 passing plays. Remember, Vick’s rushing yards came on passing plays where he was running for his life behind that offensive line.
Reid also had more of his usual gaffes. He wasted timeouts, took too long getting plays into Vick and he has one of the most undisciplined teams in the NFL again. Don’t forget, the Eagles were the second most penalized team in the NFL last season. In this game, the Eagles were penalized 8 times for 91 yards and that doesn’t even include a holding call on “The Human Penalty Flag”, Jason Peters that was declined. Heck, they even had to waste a timeout on the first play after a kickoff when they couldn’t get the play in on time. Against a better team, these mistakes would have lead to a loss. You know, like in the playoffs.
As for the defense, they can thank McDaniels for not pounding them into submission with the run, like any good coach would have done. The linebackers looked terrible, but the rest of the defense lived up to the hype.
The Eagles got 5 sacks and managed to even score a TD when Bradford fumbled a handoff without being touched. Juqua Parker picked up the gift and returned it 56 yards for the score. The cornerbacks blanked the Rams average receiving corps as you might have expected, although Asante Samuel continues to give huge cushions trying to jump routes to pad his personal stats. If you think I’m exaggerating, then go back and look at the Rams first completion. Samuel was giving a 10-yard cushion on a 3rd and 2 play. Pathetic.
Look, I was the guy who focused too much on all the problems on the Eagles roster going into this game instead of the positives. I even predicted a Rams win. Not too bright in retrospect.
The truth is, the Eagles have enough talent to beat teams like the Rams, in spite of their obvious flaws. A better team would have been able to do a better job of exposing the Eagles’ flaws, but on this day, the Eagles were the better team.
Even Vick seems to agree with my opinion. “I’m thankful for the victory, don’t get me wrong,” Vick said. “I just wish it could have been a little cleaner.”
I think that just about sums up this Eagles victory. A win is a win, no matter how a team gets it. It’s just that the Eagles will need to play better if they want to get more wins like this one. I mean, the team can’t expect their evil genius coach to deliver wins like this every week you know.