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Vick and Eagles tee off on The Teal, 28-3…but is the real story here about Jack Del Rio?

Even throwing off balance, everything seemed to go Michael Vick’s way against the Jags…

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Meanwhile, the Eagles’ defensive pressure caused six sacks and numerous assaults to disrupt the Jags’ offense…

I held off writing this review of the big Eagles win over Jacksonville due to a lingering doubt that the Birds were this good or the Jaguars that bad… I had to see it again on a replay view of the game… Here are my impressions:

Granted,  Vick made Andy Reid’s quarterback decision look like the right one, throwing three TD passes and running for another score to lead the Birds to a 28-3 victory over the Jaguars on Sunday.  Vick completed 17 of 31 passes for 291 yards, mostly staying in the pocket and overwhelming Jacksonville’s beleaguered secondary. One of the few times he did run, he broke a tackle, juked another defender and scored from 17 yards.

Vick found DeSean Jackson for a 61-yard touchdown and hooked up with Jeremy Maclin  for two scores. Jackson finished with five catches for 153 yards, Maclin had four receptions for 83 yards, and the Eagles (2-1) improved to 2-0 with Vick as their starter.

Teal fans headed to the exits early in the fourth quarter, having seen enough of their QB David Garrard. Benched last week after throwing four interceptions, Garrard was even worse against the Eagles’ pressure defense. Yes, worse. Although Garrard threw just one interception, he tossed up at least four more balls that could have been picked.  Garrard finished 13 of 30 for 105 yards and was sacked six times. Eagles DE Trent Cole and his defensive teammates handled Jaguars offensive tackles Eugene Monroe and Eben Britton early and often, getting the kind of steady pressure that gives Garrard trouble.

You’d have to say, on first view, the Eagles looked superior in every phase of the game. But on second viewing, my somewhat cautious analysis is: Eagles fans, don’t get over-confident, and don’t get too giddy just yet.  Yes, the Eagles offensive line is improving, and yes, with LB Stewart Bradley back in the middle and with the accelerating development of the defensive line, the Birds become a force to be reckoned with.  But the fact is, the Eagles just beat a team that is in total disarray.

This 28-3 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles ­— featuring a Jaguars offense that made only one lousy entrance into the red zone and a pass defense that made Michael Vick look like Tom Brady on his best day — is undoubtedly the lowest point of the eight-year Jack Del Rio era, according to long-time Teal observer, Gene Frenette of Jacksonville.com.

Never in the team’s existence had the Jaguars absorbed back-to-back embarrassing defeats like this, a pair of 25-point debacles on the banks of two different oceans (last week, the Jags were destroyed by the San Diego Chargers, 38-13, in California). There was no West Coast curse to explain away Sunday’s team-wide blasé performance vs. the Eagles at EverBank Field. About the only consolation is, it’s just the third week of the season. Still, it’s impossible to look as pathetically overmatched as the Jaguars have in the past two weeks without thinking this team is on a dreadful path, and wondering if they can right the ship.

“Certainly the last two games, not what we’re looking for, not what we had in mind for the Jaguars 2010,” said Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio — in what might be the day’s biggest understatement.

Frenette goes on to describe the beat-down his Jaguars absorbed from the Eagles:

“It was brutal beyond description. We watched David Garrard look more lost than ever as a quarterback, throwing one interception and nearly having four other passes picked off. It didn’t help that his protection, especially from offensive tackles Eugene Monroe and Eben Britton, at times resembled a couple of turnstiles.”

“I think we’re all stunned,” center Brad Meester said. “We don’t want anything like that to happen out there. Three points is not acceptable for us. It starts up front. We got to protect David. We got to take a hard look at ourselves and get better this week.”

Sadly, there will be no protecting Garrard from the cascade of criticism that will surely descend upon him now. A lot of players deserve failing marks for the Jaguars not having 100 yards in total offense until late in the third quarter. But in the NFL, a quarterback with a $60 million contract is usually the first to have his feet held to the fire when things go bad, even if he endures six sacks in the process.

“If I didn’t feel mystified, something would be wrong with me,” said Garrard, who completed just 13 of 30 passes for 105 yards. “You can’t come out in the opener [against the Denver Broncos], play as great as we did, then have two games where it’s like, ‘What team is this? What offense is this? What passing game is this?’ ”

One thing clearly recognizable was the pass defense. The secondary was the same confused, suspect, big play-allowing unit that permits quarterbacks of varying skill level to upgrade their numbers at the Jaguars’ expense.

Vick, given the controversial start by Andy Reid despite Kevin Kolb no longer having concussion issues, made his head coach look like a genius for using his more mobile quarterback. 

Vick was off-target and uncomfortable on a lot of passes, but his highlights of three  touchdown passes and a 17-yard scramble for another score will be the indelible moments from this beat-down.

So, fellow Birds fans, enjoy this rare farce in our favor. This game was almost too easy.  It would be simple to say the Eagles are on an upward trend now.  But Jacksonville was so flat on Sunday it’s hard to use this game as a measurement of where we are now compared to the rest of the NFC.  You just have to know Vick’s back-footed prayers-of-a-pass will not always be answered in this way. Imagine a Polamalu roaming free in the Jax defensive secondary, and you’ll get what I mean.

The real story here is: we met the Jaguars at the best time for us and the worst time for them. The Jags are a team in disarray, and Jack Del Rio’s job as head coach is in jeopardy. Unless he can right the ship, the entire future of the franchise (or at least its location) is at stake.

As Gene Frenette concluded: “This Philadelphia story was so bad, it almost looked like the beginning of the end for the Jags’ head coach and starting quarterback. If the Jaguars don’t get this thing turned around fast, it will be.”

Still, massive props to the Eagles for cashing in on the disarray…but it will take more precise offensive performance and even more intense defensive pressure than this to grow into an elite NFL contender in 2010.  We got a freebie from the confused Jaguars on this one…let’s not allow it to go to our heads.

 

 

Thomas Jackson

About Thomas Jackson

Jax Sports Media has been reporting on NFL teams in the mid-Atlantic region since 2006. Thomas Jackson is its senior writer. Tom started covering the Philadelphia Eagles for the MVN Network in 2007. In 2009 he joined the Bloguin Network. He now also covers the Baltimore Ravens.

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