By Zach Berman, The Philadelphia Inquirer –
GLENDALE, Ariz. — There were different explanations in the locker room after the game Sunday, with different players taking responsibility for various issues in the Eagles’ 27-6 loss to the Arizona Cardinals.
There was plenty of blame to go around as turnovers and miscues and just poor football eradicated the excitement generated from two weeks of comeback victories.
“I didn’t have my football team ready to play, and (the Cardinals) did,” Eagles coach Andy Reid said. “I did a terrible job this week.”
That was Reid taking a bullet for his players, as he has done before and he surely will do again. But the Eagles looked little like the championship-caliber team they say they are. They dropped to 2-1 with a home game against the New York Giants approaching this Sunday.
One play against the Cardinals encapsulated much of what went wrong: a turnover in which Michael Vick was pulverized and the offense failed the score points.
Six seconds remained until halftime and the Eagles stood a yard from the end zone while trailing, 17-0. They had no timeouts and Reid sought one more chance at a touchdown.
Vick dropped three steps and looked to his right. LeSean McCoy rotated to block what proved to be a bluffed blitz, and Cardinals safety Kerry Rhodes came unblocked on Vick’s blind side. Rhodes leapt at Vick and popped the ball from the quarterback’s grip. Arizona’s James Sanders returned the fumble 93 yards for a touchdown.
Instead of trailing by 17-7 or 17-3 entering halftime, the Eagles were behind, 24-0, a momentous change of events that made a second-half comeback attempt improbable at University of Phoenix Stadium.
“Turnovers change the game,” McCoy said. “The game would have ended up different.”
Vick took responsibility for the play but said he believed McCoy would pick up the blitz. McCoy said he is responsible for both sides of the line and he went with the player he thought was coming.
“I’ve got to get that taken care of in the protection schemes, especially with a new center,” Vick said, referring to Dallas Reynolds, who replaced the injured Jason Kelce.
The game served as redemption for Kevin Kolb, who was benched in Philadelphia in favor of Vick. Kolb completed 17 of 24 passes for 222 yards and two touchdowns. He outshined Vick, who played with two new starters on the offensive line and without injured wide receiver Jeremy Maclin.
Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald did the greatest damage with nine catches for 114 yards. He scored on a 37-yard strike from Kolb that gave the Cardinals a 17-0 lead.
Reid admitted that Vick was hit too often, and the Eagles’ quarterback was either amid pressure or escaping pressure for most of the game. Vick finished 17 for 37 for 217 yards and no touchdowns. LeSean McCoy carried the ball only 13 times for 70 yards.
Vick also lost two fumbles, among three Eagles turnovers. Damaris Johnson fumbled a punt return, which led to the Cardinals’ first touchdown. The Eagles now have 12 turnovers in three games, and Reid predictably said he must put players in the right position to make plays.
“It’s easy to talk about it, it’s easy to say it, but when you’re in the moment, you’ve got to eliminate the turnovers,” Vick said.
It’s not much different from what was said after victories over Cleveland and Baltimore, but wins have a way of deodorizing problems. Those problems were so blatantly on display in Arizona that the Eagles need to dramatically fix them or they will become part of the team’s identity.
“I think we’re going to have to make a lot of adjustments,” Vick said. “Our coaches do a great job of doing that. I think it’s about them watching film and figuring out, and us as players figuring it out because we have responsibilities as well.”
The Eagles also lacked the vigor that the Cardinals so clearly possessed. It was what Reid referred to when he said the team was not “ready to play.” Not everyone the locker room subscribed to this notion, but it was apparent in the team’s performance. Asked if the Eagles came out flat, cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha responded by seeking a reminder of the halftime score.
“It’s been awhile since we’ve been that flat,” Asomugha said.
Asomugha pointed to blown coverages and missed tackles by the Eagles. That doesn’t even factor in the turnovers and protection issues on offense. While crediting Arizona, Asomugha put the responsibility on the players in the losing locker room.
“With the type of team that we have and the type of talent we have,” Asomugha said, “I think most of it goes on us.”
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