1. The Eagles have had a very odd season so far in that they've won their three games by a total of only four points. The close wins came against the Cleveland Browns, Baltimore Ravens and New York Giants, and they suffered a close loss last week to the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Eagles' other loss was a 27-6 defeat at the hands of the Arizona Cardinals. Through five weeks, do Eagles fans have a good read on where this team stands in the pecking order of the NFL, or is it still unclear where exactly they fit in the overall picture?
No, not exactly. I think looking at this season through the prism of last year, we're all happy to see the team winning despite the fact that they haven't played their best. After five games in 2011 the team was 1-4 and it was all pretty much over. At 3-2, we've still got concerns, but the season isn't over. The team is still top of the division. So the panic isn't there this time.
But it doesn't mean we're satisfied. I think Eagles fans are pretty confident overall in the defense, but the inability to score has been a major concern for the offense. They can move the ball easily enough, but mistakes have consistently prevented them from converting that yardage into points. That said, they have faced some pretty great defenses over these first five games, so I think this week against a struggling Detroit D will be a real bellwether.
2. Despite being 3-2, the Eagles are toward the bottom of the league when it comes to points scored. Is this mainly because of untimely turnovers, or is there more to the Eagles' offensive struggles?
It's turnovers. No need to even elaborate here. That is the reason. So many of them have come deep in the opponent's territory that there's a direct correlation between the turnovers and the lack of points on the board. They're a top 10 offense in terms of yards per game. They can move the ball. They just consistently shoot themselves in the foot when it's time to score.
3. Speaking of turnovers, Michael Vick already has 11 of them this season. Like Matthew Stafford, who has had some turnover issues of his own this season, is Vick trying to do too much, or is it simply a case of him being too careless with the ball? What does he need to do to limit turnovers?
Well we've had two separate issues. The first couple weeks it was interceptions. Maybe it was rust from not really playing much in preseason or whatever. But he was making bad decisions. These weren't tipped passes that he was unlucky on; he just wasn't seeing the defense and was making bad throws. The past few weeks, that hasn't been the case. In fact, his decision making has been quite good and I can't really think of a throw that might have been picked off.
The problem the last few weeks has been fumbles. Some of those when he gets hit in the pocket are somewhat of a crapshoot. Maybe you can say he could get rid of the ball faster, but fumbles do happen there. Last week, though, it wasn't him getting strip sacked or blindsided. His fumbles came on runs where he actually even seemed to try and secure the ball. And yet he fumbled anyway. So other than really holding onto the thing with two hands like you'll see a RB do, I dunno that there's a lot more Vick can do to protect the ball ... which is a concern.
It's great that he's making better throws and reading defenses better, but a fumble is really no different than an interception in the grand scheme of things. The other team gets the ball either way. So, overall, I suppose he hasn't improved, but he's been different.
4. How do you think the Eagles will try to shut down Calvin Johnson and the Lions' passing offense on Sunday?
Well the Eagles secondary isn't much of a secret. They have two press man corners who look to jam WRs at the line and throw off the timing of routes. In the meantime, the defensive line goes all out after the QB. I don't think much will change in terms of that fundamental idea against Detroit. Both Eagles starting CBs are 6-2, which is bigger than most corners. So they're going to try and be physical with Johnson.
That said, obviously I don't think they'll go one on one with him the whole game or anything. I'm sure we'll see schemes designed to get him in bracket coverage and face double teams. It's obviously a tall order for any defense.
5. If the Eagles fail to at least make the playoffs this season, do you think they will make a coaching change and replace Andy Reid?
Yeah I do. The owner Jeff Lurie said before the season that a year without playoffs was "unacceptable." So unless he's got another definition of what unacceptable means, I would think he'd make a change at coach. I mean, if he doesn't, he's "accepting" a season without playoffs, right?
That said, after 14 seasons here, there is an "I'll believe it when I see it" type feeling.