Posted November 06, 2012

Reid’s Eagles continue to come unglued, stumble against Saints on Monday night

New Orleans Saints, Philadelphia Eagles

The Saints sacked Eagles’ QB Michael Vick seven times on Monday night. (Getty Images)

Halfway through the season, the New Orleans Saints’ defense remains in line to allow more yards than any team in NFL history.

Yet, with a 21-3 lead and 59 seconds left in the first half, the Saints called timeout before a 3rd-and-6 play by Philadelphia, fully confident that they could come up with a stop.

That’s pretty much all you need to know about how Monday night went for the reeling Eagles. Despite 447 yards of offense (which puts the Saints’ D on pace to allow 7,540 yards this season, 797 more than the record-holding 1981 Baltimore Colts), Philadelphia again stumbled on offense behind a calamitous offensive line and some highly questionable red-zone play calling.

The Saints made the Eagles pay for their numerous missteps, claiming a 28-13 win in front of their home fans. Both New Orleans and Philadelphia now sit at 3-5 on the season, but only one of the two teams feels like it’s trending upward.

Spoiler: It’s not Andy Reid’s Eagles.

“If I saw that they weren’t playing hard, I’d question them,” Reid said in his postgame press conference, “but I think they’re playing hard.”

Before we dive deeper down that rabbit hole, a little appreciation for what New Orleans was able to do in this one.

Knowing that the Eagles’ offensive line could only block with the help of a rule requiring defenses to count to 10 Mississippi, Saints defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo turned up the heat on Michael Vick early. Spagnuolo called blitz after blitz in the first half, disguising his coverages — playing on Vick’s continued inability to make pre-snap adjustments — and turning his defenders loose.

That strategy paid off in the form of seven sacks and two forced turnovers, including Patrick Robinson’s 99-yard interception return for a TD in the first quarter that gave the Saints a 7-0 lead.

As if it wasn’t enough that the Saints discovered their missing defense, they also rushed for 140 yards on the night. Forgotten man Chris Ivory led the way there, posting 48 yards and a touchdown less than a week after many thought he might be a trade-deadline mover.

“Our football team played hard tonight,” interim Saints coach Joe Vitt said. “We obviously made some improvements in our pass rush and red-zone defense. Got our running game going.

“Make no mistake we’ve got a long way to go … but we made some plays. It was very, very encouraging.”

It was all too much for Philadelphia. That’s without even mentioning Drew Brees, who was his usual terrific self — Brees completed 21-of-27 passes for 239 yards and two touchdowns.

For a brief moment in the third quarter, with New Orleans ahead 21-3, the Eagles fought back, offering the slightest of hopes that they might pump the brakes on this season that’s quickly careening off the tracks. Brandon Graham sacked Brees and forced a fumble, then Vick hit DeSean Jackson for a long touchdown. The Saints fumbled the ensuing kickoff, too, opening the door wide for Philadelphia.

After reaching the New Orleans 8, though, the Eagles hit the wall. Vick dropped back to throw three straight times, resulting in two incompletions and a sack. The Eagles settled for a field goal to make it 21-13, then promptly allowed a New Orleans touchdown drive.

“Oh-(for)-five in the red zone, seven sacks and your tackling is terrible, you’re going to struggle to win football games in this league,” Reid said. “As coaches and players, we’ve obviously got to do a better job and that starts with me.

The question now: Is it already too late for Reid and his team?

Already Reid canned defensive coordinator Juan Castillo. Offensive coordinator Marty Mornhigweg could be the next to go, if not Reid himself.

Reid did say after Monday’s loss that Vick will be the Eagles’ quarterback next week against Dallas, putting the early kibosh on calls for rookie Nick Foles. Honestly, though, with the way Philadelphia has blocked this season, even Randall Cunningham or Donovan McNabb in his prime would have difficult times saving this unit.

“I’m pretty frustrated,” Vick said. “These are games we have opportunities to win. But everything has to be dead-on, it has to be dead-on. It’s very frustrating, but we just have to keep pushing forward.”

Philadelphia’s horrid situation up front became even more troublesome when right tackle Todd Herremans exited with an ankle injury. Demetress Bell replaced him and proceeded to play the role of swinging gate — Bell was victimized on three straight plays during Philadelphia’s penultimate drive.

All the coaching shakeups in the world might not solve the Eagles’ front-line deficiencies.

“Guys keep working at it and getting themselves better,” Reid said. “The sacks, you can look at coverage … do the whole thing. The bottom line is we’ve got to block the guys and do a better job.”

While the Saints have won three of four and have a chance to declare themselves back in the mix against Atlanta next week, Philadelphia has now dropped four straight games.

The schedule remains favorable — just one team currently with a winning record is left for the Eagles (Week 17 at the Giants).

But the clock is ticking. And Monday night’s uninspired outing certainly did not look like a turning point for Reid, Vick or the Eagles.

13 comments
DanielGower
DanielGower

it was only a matter of time. like tebow, michael vick's legs can only take him so far. fortunately for him he has been able to have a career, make a living being a average nfl qb, with just enough to shine at times. none of us will ever know what it's like to play professional sports.  at least michael vick had one asset: speed, that alone has taken him far.

Loki
Loki

You all MUST be joking....Vick has ALWAYS been a glorified running back. He is one of the least accurate passers in the game...and that includes Tebow...if pressured, Vick throws it into the ground. When not pressured, the best he can do is throw it up and give both teams a shot at the ball...he is just lucky that he has some really good receivers...

 

Also, when you O-line is weak, you can't stand there and hold that ball all day. There are plenty of times Vick has the opportunity to get rid of the ball to avoid a sack or run for a short gain and he takes the sack instead...he is just a plain old piss poor QB...

TorriOats
TorriOats

Vick is reading blitzes, his line is not protecting him.  He can't even plant his back foot to throw before someone is on him.  Vick makes some bad decisions, but quit blaming him for his linemen continually getting beaten!  And was Brees that brilliant?  By my count, he had two fumbles.  

gloryrevolution
gloryrevolution

What I do not understand is why is everybody blaming Vick for the Eagles woes? Vick is not responsible for protecting himself, the offensive line is. From what every sports announcer, coach in the league and player seem to agree with is that Vick only has 1.5 secs. to get rid of the ball after it is snapped before he is plummeted into the turf. Stop blaming the Eagles woes on Vick, it's the GM and head coach for not getting him an O-line.

Brian11
Brian11

 @Loki Vick is certainly beyond a glorified running back.  And he has been very accurate this year, except for the times he has been on the run and made stupid decisions.  His O-line is TERRIBLE, and he isn't as smart as other QBs like Brees so he doesn't pick up blitzes well.  But as far as accuracy, I don't think that's where you can attack him.

StaffSergeantScrabbulous
StaffSergeantScrabbulous

 @Loki Loki, I have criticized Vick for holding onto the ball too long, but honestly, in a majority of pressure/sack situations yesterday, it was totally on the O-line YESTERDAY. 

stagger
stagger

 @Loki

 You must not have watched the game. Coming from a Saint fan... If our D is hitting the QB time after time, the offensive line must be beyond terrible! You could've put the ghost of Johnny Unitas back there and it wouldn't have mattered. He barely received the snap from the center before he was pummeled. And I'm no fan of Vick, but that is the worst line I've seen.

Andrew Macdonald
Andrew Macdonald

 @gloryrevolution I agree, Vick played better than you can ask for with how often he was getting hit. If it was anyone other than Vick they would have been sacked 15 times. John Elway couldn't have won behind that line. I also wouldn't blame the coach and gm for the line, in all fairness they have lost 4 of 5 starters, and one of them happens to be the best LT in the entire league. Their replacement can't even get everyone blocking in the same direction, and Bell is flat out terrible, I don't know how he looked decent in Buffalo. What I will say is they should have at least brought some guys in for workouts, Jamaal Jackson is on the street, and started for the Eagles for years, whats the harm in at least kicking the tires on him?

NDB
NDB

 @gloryrevolution Totally agree - Vick is the scapegoat of a porous offensive line that cant stop a baby from crawling 

StaffSergeantScrabbulous
StaffSergeantScrabbulous

Only game this year where I have seen an O-line performed worse than the Eagles did yesterday was that one game where Jay Cutler chewed out Ja'marcus Webb. Also, Mornhinweg needs to stop calling PA fakes with such a porous offensive line... Vick would fake the ball and the Saints' defenders would be on top of him immediately.

StaffSergeantScrabbulous
StaffSergeantScrabbulous

 @stagger  @TorriOats agreed, Brees was vintage Brees. The two fumbles hurt, but stuff like that happens. Vick made some decent audibles to runs which allowed the Eagles to gash the Saints' D in the first half. The playcalling in general needs to improve. The 5-wide set against the blitz (especially in the endzone) is not working for the Eagles.