It was ugly, no bones about it. The Eagles eked out a win over the now 0-5 San Francisco 49ers. And I mean eked out. And now I bring you what I took from the game, the positives and the negatives. We’ll start with the positives.
– Kevin Kolb, I tip my figurative hat to you. Kolb started the offense off right, completing 6/6 for 72 yards and a beautiful TD throw on the first drive. Throughout the rest of the game generally made good decisions and moved the ball around. Kolb did exactly what he needed to do.
– Additionally, LeSean McCoy deserves a huge hat tip as well. Doesn’t this guy have a broken rib? He sure fooled me.
– The wide receivers were getting open and running crisp routes. While many of the routes were intermediate they were open when the long ball was attempted. Not their fault that Kolb missed a few passes.
– At the end of the first half Kolb made two fantastic throws to lead the team to points.
– Keeping with Kolb, I do love that he aired it out down the field several times. He’s not Michael Vick in terms of arm strength and velocity, but he’s not a “noodle arm” as many folks claim him to be.
– Owen Schmitt is playing excellent for a guy who hasn’t even been here a month. He’s delivering punishing blocks and catching the ball out of the backfield. He’s nowhere near Leonard Weaver status but we could be doing a lot worse at the FB position. I’d like to see him get some chances in the running game. He can’t be worse than Mike Bell.
– One last note on Kolb: I loved his pump faking rush for a first down in the 4th quarter. Even when he crossed the line of scrimmage he kept pump faking which is very smart. In the heat of the moment players react to the QB pump faking whether he can throw or not. Remember, 90% of the game is played above the neck.
– On the first drive of the game Nate Allen had a fantastic tackle on Frank Gore. Seriously, he’s reminding me of Dawkins more and more.
– Speaking of Frank Gore, as a whole the defense did a fairly good job of shutting him down. He had 2.9 yards a carry, a grand total of 73 yards (rushing and receiving), and only one TD. I expected him to obliterate us. The biggest statistic about the Eagles defense shutting down Gore though? 2 forced fumbles and recoveries on him. Turnovers won this game and both of those were huge.
– Moise Fokou made the most of his start, being a part of one of those forced fumbles.
– Juqua Parker has been playing out of his mind this season. He knows that Graham will soon take his job full time but he’s doing everything he possibly can to delay that as much as possible. Hope he keeps it up, he’s a force out there.
– Meanwhile, Brandon Graham is making strides in quality of play. He isn’t piling up stats yet but he’s getting at the QB and forcing them to break the pocket. It won’t be long now until the sacks start coming. Love what I’m seeing from Graham.
– This was Stewart Bradley’s best game so far this season. He hadn’t done much of anything in the previous four games but last night he was around the ball a lot in the running game. He did get burned by Vernon Davis but that happens to just about everyone.
– Alex Smith owes Brian Westbrook a nice dinner. Or vice-versa. On the play where Ernie Sims blitzed the QB up the middle he had murder in his eyes. Westbrook was able to slow him down and save Alex Smith from being carted off the field. And as Collinsworth pointed out, had Smith handed the ball off to Westbrook, I think we see the end of Westbrook’s career. Crisis averted for them but I loved seeing Sims come flying through like that. That’s one of the reasons we brought him in. Hopefully he can build on this and eventually get to the QB.
– Um….we didn’t give up a TD? That’s pretty much all I got.
On to the negatives….
– King Dunlap….why are you in the NFL? That, my friends, is why Jason Peters is essential to this offense. He has his faults and isn’t as good as Reid made him out to be when we traded for him but he’s far better than fans give him credit for. Seriously….why is King Dunlap in the NFL? Is it based on name alone?
– Shady was fantastic but the play in which he dove short of the first down was just stupid. From what I understand he thought he’d already gotten the first down so I see why he dove. But you got to know where the first down marker is! That helped the 49ers have a legitimate shot at the end of the game.
– On Kolb’s fumble he waited far too long to get the ball out. While the blocking wasn’t great (as is the usual now) he was given enough time to get the pass off. What’s worse is that DeSean Jackson was streaking down the field and was wide open. You can let plays like that go. It’ll kill us against a better team.
– Brent Celek, what has happened to you? You know who you’re reminding me of right now? L.J. Smith. I feel like I just swallowed vinegar. Seriously Brent, you gotta get your act together. I counted three crucial drops. Two were for big first downs and one was possibility a TD or at the least a first and goal. Inexcusable.
– There were still a few plays (some his fault, some the O-line’s) in which Kolb was firing off of his back foot. That’s one thing Vick doesn’t do and it’s a huge strength of his.
– Andy, Andy, Andy….I know you have this sick obsession with the Wildcat formation. You’ve successfully proven that over the past two seasons. But why on earth was Eldra Buckley in the wildcat formation? That might win the award for worst play call of the season so far.
– Another nominee would be the play call on 3rd and 2 in the final drive by the Eagles. LeSean McCoy was carving up the 49ers defense and we needed to milk the clock. Common sense would say run the ball. If you don’t get the first you at least burn time or force them to take a timeout. What did we do? Quick pass. Incomplete. Punt. 49ers are right back in it. Oi vey.
– Say what you will about Asante Samuel’s tackling (in)ability but you cannot deny he shuts down receivers. Without Samuel out there Michael Crabtree had a field day with our secondary. An absolute field day.
– Vernon Davis also had his way with the LBs and DBs.
– If we had been facing a competent QB I think our defense would’ve easily given up 40+ points.
– Again, we can’t stop a team on the first possession. I’ve begun playing the game “Who will score the TD?” every time the opposing offense lines up for their first drive. I was wrong this week, I guessed Gore.
– Dear Sean, please, please, please never try to cover another team’s #1 WR with a DE or LB. Please. It’s a perfect recipe for horror.
– As a whole this defensive unit got their tails handed to them. The forced turnovers were great, but they let the 49ers stay in it all game. They let them drive and the secondary was getting torched all day.
– Let me preface this by saying I do not believe Bobby April should be fired. The biggest issue (in my eyes) with the Eagles special teams is that we bring in all these special teams aces during training camp and come the regular season or a few weeks in they are no longer on the team. Tell me that you’d like a guy like Chad Hall or Riley Cooper over Hank Baskett and Kelly Washington. Do you really want Omar Gaither over Tracy White? No thank you. None of the guys we keep to replace these good special teams guys are ever that good at their base position (Cooper might be decent but he’ll never be spectacular). As such, we are barely upgraded from a depth standpoint and significantly downgraded from a special teams standpoint.
– That said, the guys we have need to do a better job. Big returns were running rampant and this is the second week in a row that a huge return at the beginning of the game has resulted in the Eagles defense having a short field to defend and it invariably leads to a TD for the opposing team.
– Sav Rocca is having his best season as an Eagle. The issue is that he is not landing punts inside the 10 when we have an opportunity to do so. Yes, it runs the risk of being a touch back but I’ll take a few touch backs along with punts dropped inside the ten as opposed to punts constantly just past the 20 yard line.