Here is some instant analysis from tonights performance- both what went well, and what the team has to work on.
Front Four- From the very first time the Eagles defense took the field, it was obvious that the front four were going to be better this year. Eagles defensive line coach Jim Washburn has been riding his players hard during camp, and it paid off. The front four looked great, as they continually got in the back field each time the Ravens snapped the ball. On one play, new Eagle Jason Babin got pressure on Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco, and Trent Cole finished off the play. The sack came on a 3rd down, getting the Eagles off the field. Getting off the field was a problem for the defense last year. But the new front four, coupled with good coverage by the secondary, should go a long way in fixing that problem.
Kick Offs- The NFL got what they wanted when they changed the kick off spot to 35- they eliminated the return game. Both of the first kicks by the Ravens and Eagles traveled out of the end zone. Why is this a good thing? Because it has been years since the Eagles had a good kick returner- and they have been just as bad stopping it.
Wide Receivers- For all of the talk about the unit being depleted, they sure didn’t look it. Jason Avant, Chad Hall, and Riley Cooper all made tough catches against the Ravens. Avant’s first catch of the game showed why he has been opening eyes at training camp. He catches everything thrown he way. offense not the same without Jackson and Maclin, but looked ok.
Micheal Vick: The play that best summarizes Michael Vick’s maturity as a player was his long completion to Riley Cooper. Vick could have ran, but waited for Cooper to get open and threw a razor sharp pass on the money. After the play, Vick went up to Cooper and showed him a better way to run the route, and to cut inside next time. The sequence showed what a leader Vick has become, and why if he stays healthy, he will be the NFL MVP this season.
Jaiquawn Jarrett: Jarrett has had a quite camp, but it didn’t take long for him to make some noise against the Ravens. Jarrett made a great play when he read the eyes of Ravens Quarterback Tyrod Taylor and got low to pick off the ball. Jarrett also got over to the sideline and was ready to lay a big hit on a Raven receiver until the ball went out of bounds. Jarrett showed on that play why he was a high draft pick- he may not look great in practice, but when the lights come on, he can make plays.
Vince Young: He was not perfect, but Young showed why if Vick goes down for any amount of time, he will be the starting quarterback. Young led his team on a 10 minute drive that resulted in a field goal on his first series in at quarterback, and did so by making things happen on broken down plays. Young eluded two Raven players on a third down completion to Chad Hall that went for 32 yards. Young also scrambled for a first down on a play where the Ravens collapsed the pocket on him. Young showed why the Eagles signed him- when you throw technique out the window, Young simply gets it done.
Ronnie Brown and Dion Lewis- Ronnie Brown looked fast in his first action as an Eagle. He showed the good moves. threw his body into a raven on one run on the sideline. great stutter step on 3rd down rush in the beginning of the second quarter on McClain. Lewis, easily the smaller player on the team, played big in his first NFL action. Lewis did not shy away from contact on his first run, and showed some of the moves that made him a 5th round pick. Lewis also turned a screen pass into a big play, as it took 2 Ravens to bring him down.
Kelce- Rookie Jason Kelce did not have a good game after opening so many eyes at Lehigh. Kelce got beat badly by a member of the Ravens on a play late in the first quarter, allowing the pocket to collapse on Vince Young. Young was able to scramble and get a first down, but it doesn’t change that fact that Kelce looked over matched on the play. Kelce may very well turn into a great center, and a Jeff Saturday clone like Offensive Line coach Howard Mudd sees him. But in his first NFL action, Kelce did not look like a player who was ready to challenge Jackson for a starting job.
Reid Challenge of Avant Touchdown Catch- Andy Reid was in midseason form on the first Eagles drive of the season, as he pulled out the red flag on a play that was clearly an incompletion to Avant in the end zone. You have to wonder if these challenges are Reid, or if he is getting bad advice from people upstairs. In addition to it being a bad challenge, why wouldn’t Reid want to see his team get some more reps on the goal line?
Mike Kafka- Andy Reid says he likes Kakfa, but Kakfa did not look sharp. His interception late in the second quarter was both a bad throw and a bad read, as Kafka did not see the Ravens safety sitting their waiting for the ball. Kafka also looked slow after following Michael Vick and Vince Young. If the Eagles have to put Kafka in for any amount of time this season, they are in trouble.
Kurt Coleman- Coleman made a rookie mistake on the first play of the game when he didn’t turn his head around on the first completetion of the game by Joe Flacco. Coleman could have made a play on the ball if he turned around, as it hit him in the helmet before the catch was made. Although he’s only in his second year, Coleman is a veteran in the safety unit, and needs to make that play.