Editor’s Note: We’re very lucky here at BLD to be part of Fansided, a wide-reaching network with blogs for every NFL team (as well as a huge selection of NBA, NHL, MLB, and other blogs as well). We’d be dumb not to take advantage of these resources, so welcome to our new feature: Behind Enemy Lines. Each week, we’ll be checking in with the staff from the Fansided blog representing the Bills’ opponent for that the week.
This week, we’re checking in with Bob Wankel, the editor of Inside the Iggles, Fansided’s outstanding Eagles blog. A big thank you to Bob for taking the time to answer some Eagles questions for us as we get ready for the high-stakes Eagles/Bills clash on Sunday.
Q: Obviously 1-3 is not where the Eagles and their fans expected to
see this team after four games. Is there something seriously wrong
here or is it more bad luck (and bad field goal kicking)?
A: This start is definitely not about luck. The Eagles have gotten absolutely no production out of any of their linebackers or safeties. They’ve been simply awful. The pass rush has been terrific, but the team’s inability to stop the run, cover a tight end, or get stops on third downs each overshadow that fierce pass rush.
Offensively, the Eagles have been dynamic and can score 30 points every time they take the field. Michael Vick’s slew of injuries, coupled with horrendous red zone execution have also contributed to this nightmare start.
Q: Michael Vick has just been getting battered by defenses so far. Is
there any hope this offensive line can right itself? Will the
insertion of Danny Watkins into the starting lineup help at all this
A: I don’t think it’s safe to assume that Watkins will change the performance of the offensive line. He was completely lost in training camp, so much so that they benched the first-rounder in favor of an Indianapolis castoff in Kyle DeVan. That didn’t work out. Additionally, left tackle Jason Peters is sidelined for this game. Peters has been outstanding this season, so that’s a big loss. Vick will continue to take hits. Can he withstand them? We’ll see.
Q: Prize free agent acquisition CB Nnamdi Asomugha has certainly had
his struggles so far. What’s going on? Is a problem with the defensive
scheme or is he just not playing well?
A: Players play the game, so Asomugha has to assume some of the responsibility (which he has). The biggest problem with Asomugha, in my mind, is that he isn’t being utilized properly. His strength is playing press/man coverage, but the Eagles have curiously played a ton of zone with him this season. He totally shutdown the pass in the first two games of the season, but there’s been a ton of issues with the scheme. Long term, I think this will pan out as a good signing, but it’s certainly been a tough start.
Q: Earlier this week, 49ers QB Frank Gore said that the Eagles “quit”
in the second half of the Eagles/49ers games last Sunday. You already
wrote a nice piece about your opinion about that on your site, but can you sum up
your thoughts on the topic for our readers here?
Much of this season has been spent focusing on things that have nothing to do with the game on the field. That’s very unlike an Andy Reid team. I don’t think there’s anyway to evaluated whether or not the Eagles quit–I don’t think they did, but who knows. I think it simply came down to a lack of focus by the players and a terrible gameplan by the coaching staff in the second half. For instance, Asante Samuel was lined up at safety on Gore’s go ahead score. Most defenders make the stop at the five-yard line in that spot, but Samuel gets taken for a ride into the endzone. He shouldn’t have been in that spot in the first place.
They need to quickly dismiss this Gore business and worry about Sunday.
Q: Any other big storylines or key matchups to watch out for on Sunday?
A: This game will come down to one thing–the success of the Eagles’ offense in the red zone. If the Eagles can score in the red zone, they can win. If the Eagles stall in the red zone, they’re going to be in for another frustrating day.
Q: How about a prediction for the game?
A: Usually, the Eagles win in the regular season when their backs are up against the wall. The Eagles are a flawed, but talented team. I just can’t see them losing four games in a row (although I said that last week). I’m going to take the Eagles 29-23 over the Bills tomorrow, but for no real reason and certainly no real conviction.