Archive

Posts Tagged ‘leadership’

Bye Bye Controversy: Another post-rest W and Vick has Eagles Flying High

November 8, 2010 1 comment

Kevin Kolb would not have won that game yesterday. Let’s be honest. Thank you Mr. Vick for ending all controversy once and for all.

The numerous 3rd down scrambles are the signature plays that Vick can pull off in a way Kolb can’t. But the play yesterday that made me say the Birds wouldn’t be winning the game with Kolb, was Vick’s flick of the wrist under pressure in his own end zone, hurling the rock 58 yards to DeSean Jackson like it was a Nerf football. It would have taken 12 Kolb dinks and dunks to cover that distance. In one play, the Eagles went from dangerous territory to midfield. After seeing that, I’d dare any of the Eagles coaches to keep saying Kolb can make every throw on the football field.

Vick showed he can hurl a perfect 60-yard strike from this release point. It's Monday afternoon and my jaw is still on the floor.

Even in one of the Eagles biggest wins of the last few years–an uncharacteristic W in a tight game against a great team, by no means the Eagles specialty on Sundays–they still proved they have yet to cure their chronic ailments. They continued with poor goal line execution and bushels of penalties. But the key statistic that separated this game from a couple of the heart-crushing close losses this season: zero turnovers. The McCoy fumbles in the Washington and Tennessee games were fatal. He avoided that this time around. Vick didn’t throw an interception, whereas the great Peyton Houdini found Asante Samuel’s hands twice, and should have been charged with a lost fumble at the end of the game were it not for the old “grazing the QB’s equipment” penalty.

The most overlooked advantage of Vick’s running acumen is that it prevents him from throwing bad passes. Plays that lead to scrambles and forced throws for most quarterbacks, become positive running plays for him. Sometimes for only two yards, sometimes for 30. Ask me about Vick’s most important statistic so far this season and my answer is zero INTs. Zero. 0. Zip. McNabb didn’t throw many picks either, but the consequence was a conservative approach (at least more so in his later years) of throwing the ball out of bounds or deep over everyone’s head. Vick has managed to be electric and aggressive without allowing the downsides of that approach to cramp his style.

The best part of Vick's legs? They keep his INT numbers down

Even with the brilliant flashes Vick has shown during his playing time, I’ve still been saying the Eagles will be an 8-8 team. The offensive line is suspect, the defense has struggled, and the in-game coaching continues to have me close to breaking the flat screen in my living room. If not for the fact that none of us in my household own the television, it would have been in pieces by now.

Forget the burned timeouts, delays of game and nonsense that is hard to even discuss. Game after game the Eagles start with verve and progressively worsen has the game goes on. The pattern emerged again on Sunday. We started stalling on offense with no answers to the Colts defensive adjustments while our defense just allowed screen after screen to push them back eight, 10, 15 yards at a time. The middle quarters were drab as usual, the poor officiating and disturbing Collie injury didn’t help the matter.

Vick has superseded the coaching shortcomings. He has risen from the dead to become the Eagles’ messiah. His playmaking overcomes any lack of play-calling adjustment and he seems to influence his cohorts on the other side of the ball to do the same. Trent Cole and the unit he leads, had a burst that’s previously been missing late in games. Maybe I’m getting carried away, over-crediting Vick and not giving enough to the bye week rest and Andy Reid’s post-bye-week streak. The long and short of it is that I’m now starting to reconsider the 8-8 train of thought.

The face...and ribs...of the Eagles' savior

My team has a leader now who can sway my mindset. On the field he is stepping up and making throws even when he knows he’s about to take a crushing blow.  And he’s been just as daring off the field, dropping the “Super Bowl” bomb in press conferences left and right, a sign of a leader on a mission to bring his troops to their destination. A fire and determination that, if McNabb even had, he would obscure behind his giggles and smirks.

The closing games agains the Vikings and Cowboys look less intimidating than they did when the schedule was released, but another Washington game and two epic battles with the Giants loom on the path to the playoffs. As long as Mike Vick is getting the snaps it looks like the Birds will keep their opponents on the ropes.

Advertisements

Where has all the leadership gone?

October 5, 2010 1 comment

What do sports and Andy Reid have in common? They have no idea how to stick to a plan.

This game was supposed to be about McNabb returning to play against the Eagles. It was supposed to be about the cheers and the boos. It was supposed to be about Michael Vick reminding us we can forget Donovan. But sports don’t know how to follow the scripts the commentators write ahead of the game, that’s why tens of thousands show up at the stadium and millions watch on their TV sets.

It might as well be the signal for "Are you F-ing kidding me?"

For me, all the storylines and hype became moot right before halftime when I watched a team fail to run a play in time, after that time included a lengthy booth review and a timeout. Under that circumstance, it would have been more pleasurable for the crowd to hear nails on a chalkboard played over the P.A. system than the official’s delay of game announcement.

My reaction was unruly. It included an involuntary disregard for the children in the row behind me.

After dealing with my own bewilderment for a moment or two, while Andy Reid scrapped whatever stupid-ass play he couldn’t even figure out how to call, I thought about how guys like LeSean McCoy and DeSean Jackson must feel about this incompetence. How can they take the coaches for serious leaders? Maybe they can excuse their generals once and a while, but week after week?

At halftime, I realized that was the new storyline being written by this game, at least the way I was reading it from my seats in the Linc.

The moment Vick stumbled off the field, so too did the team’s identity. Once Vick disappeared into the locker room, all sense of leadership on that field disappeared with him. The emergence of Vick included the rise of a swagger and confidence that the club started carrying to back its arsenal of talent.

Andy Reid watching his team's identity go down with an injury

Reid has established a fine legacy here, as the years of success have been rightfully associated with his tenure at the helm. But it’s becoming clear that McNabb helped mask Reid’s identity for both good and ill. His performance undoubtedly bailed out the head coach’s shortcomings at times, and the QB’s failures rightfully shouldered plenty of the criticisms.

But thousands of undistracted eyes are now fixated on Reid in a way they’ve never been before. Only he remains as a figure from those glorious years, so we’ve naturally put our trust in him to know what to do with the young talent on the team. Yet he continues to have no management of his group, and his fellow coaches don’t seem to be helping out at all. It has become clearer by the Sunday, that Jim Johnson was the game breaker on the sidelines during the Eagles stretch of success.

JJ’s defense used to insert fear into the middle of opposing offenses’ game plans. Fans took to him more than your average coordinator, because it was obvious that the fan base had confidence in his preparation and his control of the game. We’re an astute group here in Philly, any national broadcaster will concede that. I think we were on to something, and now we miss Jim Johnson immensely. At this point, I’d consider placing Johnson’s tombstone on the sideline with a headset on it in favor of Sean McDermott as defensive coordinator.

Has anyone recently had success with a séance?

Once Vick exited, it was time for Reid to rescue the game, but his questionable judgment as a decision-maker and evaluator of talent became immediately re-exposed. Without Vick there to bail him out, we got another look at Kevin Kolb.

Even those who argue that Kolb did what he had to do, getting back in the game by taking what the defense gave him, getting one Jason Avant snag away from winning, their tone admits he did a serviceable job. He was given an ideal chance to redeem himself. McDermott and the D actually got their shit together enough to stop giving up points. Kolb was afforded one opportunity after another to put points on the board. But what some are calling a smart, conservative approach that he took, I am calling a struggle.

How many times have we heard the coaching staff say Kolb can make every throw? How many times have we heard the Sal Paolantonio’s of the Eagles media world regurgitate the confidence the Eagles staff has in Kolb? Sal, when are you going to start to distrust a staff that can’t even make a goal line play call within a five minute time span? Could it be that Kolb can only make the throws at the NovaCare complex? Why couldn’t he make the throw to Jackson who got open deep with a move toward the sideline late in the game? Ok, maybe he does make that throw next time, but what good is it if he doesn’t SEE it next time? Maclin was open deep on more than one occasion in the fourth quarter, and Kolb didn’t even look his way. I did, however, see him pass the ball through a defender’s hands a couple times, so at least he’s got that throw down pat.

I would not give up on Kolb completely right now, but the idea of turning the franchise over to him is becoming scarier than any haunted house I will be visiting on Halloween. Kolb came into a very similar situation as Vick did in Week 1, and he came in against a defense with half the intimidation as the Packers. Whereas it took Vick five ticks of the clock to wow me, Kolb did little to impress in three full quarters. I want to like Kolb, because the media and his teammates talk of him as a fighter and a fiery competitor. He had a golden chance to redeem himself and strut his stuff. But he looked like a drone under center more than a commander.

It’s too bad, because Kolb could have written a post game script worthy of a Pulitzer. Instead, we wound up with a story we’ve all read so many times before.

%d bloggers like this: