Last night the Eagles offense continued to show the potential of being a high-powered, high-scoring attack, but there were far too many mistakes in their 31-24 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Birds turned the football over three times and blew numerous chances to score.
“We were again our own worst enemy on the offensive side of the ball,” Chip Kelly said afterward. “We turned it over three times. One was on a punt return by Damaris (Johnson) by and the one (Bryce Brown fumble) that goes through the end zone. And besides that, the two big penalties where we had huge first downs where we get them called back because we got penalties, whether it was on the 4th-and-1 or on the third down early in the first half. So those are the things that kill drives – the penalties and the turnovers. We need to continue to work on that.”
Eagles starting quarterback Michael Vick made a costly mistake when he tried to throw the football away as he was falling backward. The pass was picked off and it looked much like the errant passes which he has thrown over the last couple of years. Vick was cool in the pocket otherwise and made some outstanding throws including hooking up with Riley Cooper for a nine-yard touchdown.
He’s got to be patient and not try to force anything. For most of the evening he protected the football, by pulling it down and running with it, or throwing it away. Vick must play with the faith that he’s going to get plenty of chances for big plays, but he must resist trying to force a pass into an area that is too congested.
The Birds starting QB completed 15 out of 23 passes for 184 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Vick missed a touchdown throw to Brent Celek, who caught four passes for 54 yards. He led him too far, but the tight end was open for six. The quarterback used his legs when the opportunity presented itself, picking up 53 yards on seven carries and more importantly avoiding big hits from the Jags defense.
He was holding onto the football quite a bit last night, but Kelly didn’t think it was a problem. He pointed at the coverage the Jaguars were playing.
“I thought Mike, a couple times, they did a good job in coverage, put a man underneath and ran with receivers”, Kelly said. “The one thing I don’t think he did, besides the one he tried to throw away, he didn’t force the football. And I think he did a good job of keeping them honest and picking up some real good yardage running after they kind of did a good job early in coverage. And if you do that, then the quarterback can hurt you with his feet. …That’s an encouraging thing that when you have a guy back there that when they do have good coverage on you that you can then beat them on our feet, and that’s what he did.”
Eagles starting left guard Evan Mathis had a costly holding penalty to negate a long Vick completion to Celek for a first down into Jags territory. Rookie right tackle Lane Johnson was beaten badly by former Eagles defensive end Jason Babin on the first offensive series for the Birds. It forced Vick out of the pocket and resulted in a sack.
Wide receiver DeSean Jackson had a quiet evening. He didn’t catch anything deep down the field, but Jackson ran a number of comeback routes and as well as an out route to finish the night with three catches for 53.
Second year wide receiver and kick returner Damaris Johnson had a tremendous night returning punts. Numerous times he put the Birds in scoring position with returns. Chip Kelly has focused on improved play from the special team units and it’s worked out. Everything Johnson did was a good except an ill-advised leap in the air and fumble, which put the Jaguars in position for a score.
Second-year running back Bryce Brown rushed for a touchdown while carrying the ball 11 times for 92 yards, but he was carrying the ball carelessly all night long and fumbled away a touchdown opportunity, which resulted in a touchback and the Birds losing the football. He was playing in the same manner he did a year ago, despite months of being coached to secure the football when he gets his hands on it.
Brown can’t play if he doesn’t protect the football. Despite being such an impressive runner, you can’t risk turning the ball over every time he carries it.
Nick Foles did a good job when he got his chance last night. He took the short underneath throws to the running backs for the most part and the Jaguars defenders were out of position to make the tackles.
The running backs were able to catch the short passes, pick up first down and run for plenty of easy yardage. Foles was nearly perfect in throwing the football going 11 of 12 for 112 yards.
The Birds backup quarterback led the offense on a 99-yard drive to clinch the victory for the squad in midnight-green.