Sunday, August 21, 2005

Morning-after blogger

I didn't get to see much of the Eagles-Ravens game at all. From reading Inquirer staff writer Bob Brookover's account, things went well on defense and everything is still a work in progress. But progress is being made just the same.

I also went looking through the blogosphere to see what the immediate reaction was. Here is a good one from "Out of the Brew" by mrbiersnob:

Flying High; Staying Grounded

Going into Saturday night's game vs. the Ravens, your humble brew-master was focused on two aspects of the Eagles game; the play of Reggie Brown and Billy McMullen against a tight man-on-man 46 defense, and the play of first-round pick Mike Patterson, specifically in terms of stopping the run.

(DT Mike Patterson and WR Billy McMullen)

In a word, the performances of McMullen and Brown were disappointing. During the first quarter, both men were blanketed by the Ravens aggressive coverage, and did not show the ability to break free and find and opening for McNabb to complete a pass to them.

While the first-string unit did achieve a 17-0 lead before taking their seats for the evening, the special teams and the play of Brian Westbrook were more responsible for the lead. McNabb was solid in spite of throwing an interception, completing 6-9 passes for 109 yards, 1 TD, and a 104.6 rating. McMullen and Brown were both held without a reception.

On the defensive side of the ball, what the brew-master witnessed at times brought more sparkle to my blood than one of my finest pale ales. Early in the game, while discussing Mike Patterson, the cameras showed Patterson and Hollis Thomas standing side-by-side. 650+ pounds of prime Angus beef on the hoof, to say the least.

The defensive line was able to sustain solid pass pressure against the Ravens first-team offense, and penetrated well on most running plays, but was not able to shed blocks at the point of attack, allowing Chester Taylor to break off long gains in critical situations. Coordinator Jimmy Johnson needs to address this in the next two games.

Patterson's play on passing downs was indeed encouraging to watch. Coming into this year's draft, the USC DT was touted as being able to play on the offenses' side of the line, and man performed as advertised; continually pressuring and breaking down the Ravens' pocket.

The rookie lineman was in solid position to recover Kyle Boller's fumble, and also displayed his upper-body strength by swatting Boller to the turf with a one-armed sack. With improvements in Patterson's ability to shed blocks, the Eagles front office will once again demonstrate excellence in assessing the team's needs and addressing them in the draft. Patterson will soon have Eagles fans saying, "Corey who?"

Highlights and Spotlights:

Brian Westbrook:
Check my "...and Into the Contract Negotiations" entry for my thoughts and comments on his performance.

Dexter Wynn: Outstanding reads of the coverage on the second punt return of the night, leading to his 74-yard TD return. Wynn sustained a leg injury during the game, and further word on his status is pending.

Donovan McNabb: D-Nice showed his leadership ability many times last evening, both with his communication with the young WR corps, and his 28-yard scramble late in the first quarter. The first step on this scramble indicates that his efforts to improve his overall speed have been a success.

Ryan Moats: The Eagles have indeed uncovered a diamond in the rough in this shifty tailback from Louisiana Tech. Moats had four carries for 35 yards; an eye popping 8.8 YPC. His cutbacks and the manner in which he finishes each of his runs harkens back to the days of Wilbert Montgomery. He and Westbrook in the same backfield? Watch out, NFL!

The Defensive Backfield: After losing Bobby Taylor and Troy Vincent to free agency last season, who could have dreamed that experts would be calling this group 'the best in the NFL' so quickly? Brian Dawkins and Michael Lewis each contributed picks last night in an overall solid defensive performance.

Jeremy Thornburg: Where did this kid come from? He led the team in tackles, and for all appearances, is becoming a poor-man's Billy Bates. If he doesn't make the Eagles squad, Thornburg will be a solid addition to another NFL team's roster.

David Akers: How serious is the injury to his right knee? Is Jimmy Kibble a capable replacement? Can announcers avoid calling him "Jimmy Kimmel"?

Next up for the Eagles: Cincinnati, Friday, Aug 26, 7:30PM ET, Lincoln Financial Field.

Trotter quotes from after Ravens game

MLB JEREMIAH TROTTER

"On whether he feels like the defense looked like they were in regular season form:
“I wouldn’t say regular season form, but we went out, took control of the game, we planned to. We had some guys that were winded out there, but we just want to play ourselves into shape. The more we play we’ll be ready by the first game.”

On forcing three takeaways in five defensive series:
“I said it at the beginning of the season. That was our main goal. We know we are a nasty defense. We know we are a good defense but last year we didn’t have enough takeaways. That’s a focus for us this year, getting the ball.”

On the defense’s performance against the run:
“That’s how we play. We want to win the battle up front. Stop the run and force those guys to throw the ball.”

Michael Lewis quotes after Ravens game

SS MICHAEL LEWIS

On tonight’s defensive performance:
“You have great defensive teams out here tonight and we wanted to come out here and show them that we are one of the best defensive teams in the league.”

On whether show your skills against a defense like the Ravens is a matter of pride:
“You said it right there. Those guys are getting all the hype, the media hype and it’s well-deserved but we’ve got some playmakers on our side of the ball as well.”

On his sack of Kyle Boller and forced fumble:
“We’re going to blitz. We know it and they know it. It’s just a matter of whether they can block it or not.”

McNabb quotes after Ravens game

From the Eagles:

QB DONOVAN MCNABB

On the performance of the offense in the first half:
“I think things went pretty smooth. I think in the preseason you try to be aggressive and try to put balls into holes. Anticipate throws, which kind of caught up with me on the interception. But again, we bounced back strong, we were able to get some first downs, move the ball and put the ball in the end zone. That’s always a positive.”

On the 51-yard touchdown pass to RB Brian Westbrook on 3rd and short:
“I thought it was a great play. Any time the coach has confidence for us to put the ball in the air on 3rd and short, or possibly on 3rd and long. For us to be able to execute says a lot about this offense and the trust in this offense. What you are seeing right now is just kind of a sign of what’s to come. We don’t have all of our guys, obviously, here but for the guys that are here they are doing an excellent job catching the ball, getting a first downs and moving the ball downfield.”

On spreading the ball around on the offense and showing confidence in rookie TE Stephen Spach:
“With Reggie [Brown] having a great game last week and next week it will be somebody different. There’s a new name on the radar and it’s Stephen Spach. He did a great job catching the ball and getting up the field.”