The Philadelphia Eagles (3-4) will look to snap a three-game losing streak this Monday night when they invade the Superdome to square off against the struggling New Orleans Saints (2-5). This NFC barn-burner is slated to get underway at 8:30 p.m. (EST) and it will be broadcast nationally on ESPN.
Michael Vick is still the Philadelphia Eagles' starting quarterback.
Coach Andy Reid confirmed Wednesday through the team that Vick will be in the lineup for Monday night's game in New Orleans. Because the team had a scheduled day off Wednesday, Reid will not address the media until Thursday morning.
After Sunday's 30-17 loss to Atlanta - the Eagles' third consecutive defeat - Vick hinted that Reid was considering benching him in favor of rookie Nick Foles, a third-round draft pick out of the University of Arizona.
Reid said only that he would evaluate the situation. Apparently, he determined that Vick gives the Eagles their best chance of beating the Saints in the Dome.
It is apparent that Reid thinks Vick can get his team's offense and his own psyche healthy against the Saints' defense.
The New Orleans Saints aren't just awful on defense. They're historically awful, on track to set league records for futility, incompetence and downright deplorable play, and that's a problem. It would be nice if you could point to a player, scheme or game that's responsible ... but you can't.
And that's a bigger problem. According to coaches, scouts and personnel directors who have studied the Saints' defense, there are no quick fixes out there. Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo acknowledged as much, saying he can't wave a "magic wand" to make the Saints better. Read between the lines: what he's telling you is that this might take more than a season to correct.
"They just don't have the players to run the scheme right now," said former coach Brian Billick, now an analyst with the NFL Network and Fox.
Billick's comments were echoed by four others polled by CBS.com's Clark Judge on the subject, and their responses were unanimous: the root of the Saints' defensive headaches extend far, far beyond a new scheme implemented by a new coordinator -- and you can start with the players that New Orleans fields on defense. They're not fast. They don't produce takeaways. And there's not an elite pass rusher among them.
Add a new coordinator with a plan that requires a lot of movement and players in the right positions, and you not only have a dilemma; you have the league's worst-ranked defense.
"It's 180 degrees from what Gregg Williams was doing," said one GM. "They've gone from being a pressure defense that plays a lot of man-to-man to a pressure defense with a lot of blitz zone."
"I understand this was going to take time for players to get because there was going to be a lot of thinking -- instead of reacting -- that was involved, especially early, where players weren't sure they were in the right positions and where they were thinking more about where they should be. And that's happening. I guess what I'm saying is that you're not really going to know about these guys until Year Two."
Call me crazy, but it sounds a lot like the defensive design transition the Eagles have been implementing since the death of Jim Johnson---except in reverse.
That means this Saints' defense isn't fixable -- at least not this season -- and more than one respondent to Clark Judge's survey all but guaranteed it. Their point: under Williams, the Saints thrived on takeaways, with coach Sean Payton content to have a unit that surrendered yards and points as long as it produced turnovers. And Williams' defenses did.
In fact, when the Saints won Super Bowl XLIV in 2009, they had 39 takeaways -- second only to Green Bay (40) -- with safety Darren Sharper tied for the league lead in interceptions (9). They ranked 25th in overall defense, but it didn't matter. Their takeaways produced short fields -- and points -- for their offense, and Drew Brees took advantage.
Well, that's not happening anymore. Look at this week's NFL statistics, and you'll find New Orleans with nine takeaways. Only seven clubs have fewer.
New Orleans' defensive problems aren't just the product of players who don't fit ... or get ... Spagnuolo's scheme. The Saints' offense has something to do with it, too. When the 2009 Saints won the Super Bowl, there was no more efficient or effective unit out there than Brees and Co. It ranked first in yards, first in scoring, fourth in passing and sixth in rushing. Furthermore, Brees was the league's leading passer -- a guy who produced a raft of touchdowns (34) and few mistakes (11 interceptions).
Now, fast forward to this season, and you find Brees and the Saints' offense out of sync. Where they averaged 31.9 points per game in 2009, they average 27.1 today. Where Brees completed 70.6 percent of his passes in 2009 he completes 59.7 percent today. Where his passer rating was 109.6 then, it's 93.0 now. Where the Saints could run then, they can't now.
"When you're lousy on defense," one coach said. "your offense has to help you."
Well, that's not happening, either. The Saints used to score in bunches, often getting on top of opponents early and forcing them to take chances. Result: The Saints had 64 takeaways in 2009-10. Now, they're often forced to play catch-up, trailing at halftime in five of their first seven games. The impact has been felt by an overwhelmed defense that can't afford to take chances.
"It's easy to blame the new scheme," said one personnel director, "and that's part of it. But a lot of it has to do with their players. There's no speed, there's no pass rush and there are no playmakers. They're just not very athletic on defense. All of their good players are on offense."
The results speak for themselves. The Saints rank 30th against the pass and 31st against the run; opposing quarterbacks have an NFL-best 110.6 passer rating; opposing backs average 5.0 yards per carry; the Saints yield an average ... an average ... of 474.7 yards per game, with all but one opponent scoring 27 or more points on them; and they lost to Kansas City ... Kansas City, for crying out loud ... after blowing a 24-6 second-half lead.
Where Spagnuolo had elite pass rushers for his front four with the New York Giants, he doesn't have them in New Orleans. Where he had a running game in New York and St. Louis to complement a passing attack and wear down opponents, he doesn't have one in New Orleans.
The New Orleans Saints are broken on defense, and it's going to take time to correct. Moreover, it's going to take players who fit Spagnuolo's design -- not the design of past Saints defenses -- and that's another dilemma: Will the Saints have the patience to ride this one out, or will Payton want to make a change when he returns in 2013?
"Essentially, it's do you want to go for the short-term solution?" said one coach. "Or do you make a commitment to 'Spags' and his philosophy for the long term? Because if you do, you're going to have to get different players."
But there's the rub--- the Eagles are "broken" on defense, too, and it's shaping up as a mirror-image game where the Birds are in a must-win position and need to look to their offense to compensate for their own defensive deficiencies.
Reid, who is in his 14th season as coach, last benched a quarterback because of poor performance in 2008, when he demoted Donovan McNabb in favor of Kevin Kolb for the second half of a loss at Baltimore. McNabb was back in the lineup for a victory over Arizona on Thanksgiving that season and wound up leading the Eagles to the NFC championship game.
"(Vick) has to focus on his job," McNabb said Tuesday during a radio interview on the NFL Network. "If you focus on your job, you block everything out. Once you start hearing the boos, hearing the radio-station talk, people outside (the team) bringing your name up about being benched, then you begin to lose focus. He needs to feed off his play last week."
Vick did not play badly against the Falcons, throwing for 191 yards and a touchdown and also rushing for 42 yards while not committing a turnover.
For the season, Vick has completed 157-of-266 passes (59 percent) for 1,823 yards with nine touchdown passes and eight interceptions. His quarterback efficiency rating of 78.6 ranks 25th in the NFL. His 247 rushing yards rank third among quarterbacks behind Griffin (476) and Carolina's Cam Newton (310).
"I don't think he's as comfortable running the offense as he usually is," Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson said Tuesday in an interview on the NFL Network radio show. "But as far as Michael Vick and what he's capable of doing, I think he's still an elite quarterback in this league. You can't ever blame it on one man."
The Eagles' biggest offensive problem appears to be an injury-riddled offensive line that was missing Pro Bowl tackle Jason Peters, center Jason Kelce and right guard Danny Watkins last Sunday.
Kelce is out for the season with two torn knee ligaments. Watkins should return against the Saints after sitting out with a chronic ankle injury. The Eagles are hoping that Peters, who twice ruptured his right Achilles tendon during the offseason, will be able to return at some point this season.
This game could be both Reid’s and Vick’s last stand as the patience level from the fans, media, and, most importantly, team owner Jeff Lurie has been worn paper-thin. In the past, the Eagles have been usually able to rally from adversity and certainly have the talent on both sides of the ball to do it again. Desperation has a way of bringing out the best in a team as long as the talent level is still high.
Monday night is a crossroads game for New Orleans as well, as another loss would pretty much end any shot at returning to the postseason. The offense remains a potent force behind Brees with the No.1-ranked passing attack in the league, and it is still averaging 27.1 points a game. The problem is they cannot run the ball and the defense cannot keep opposing teams out of the end zone.
Ironically, the outcome of this game may be the tale of the tape as to whose defense is worse, and not necessarily better...
BRI SUKS EGG FANTASY FOOTBALL RESULTS...WEEK 8....
Thanks to T-Boner, here are your latest Fancy Football results...
The Bri Slapper (Nads)
The Great PPW (PPW)
HUDROCKS HOE STABLES (hudE)
Palm Feathers (Palm)
Team BIG BONE (BONE)
Bri'sFantasy Boys (BFBs)
As you can see, the standings are really beginning to bunch up now. While Brozer and his Bri's Fantasy Boys have siezed a seemingly forceful momentum at 6-1-1, there are still seven other teams hanging around within two-and-a-half games of the lead...and an awfully long way still to go.
Even Boner (2-5-1), Palm Feathers (2-6), and Jercules (1-7)* are still in it...but realistically each of these three teams will have to run the table to stand a chance of claiming the 2012 BSE title.
[*Jerky is the defending 2011 Champion...]
Players Only Meeting ?
Dat tells me sumptin.
Trying to manufacture fake confidunce, is a bad sign. Whatever crap they sat there telling themselfs is all well and good,.....till the other team punches you in the mouff wiff an 80 yard drive, and the nightmare starts.
They need to play better,....that is all. If they can't,....a lame "Players Only Meeting" isn't going to make it happen.
What's next,....is Vick gonna start wearing a "Let Me Be Me" hat ?
Cassel got the Eye of the Tiger tonight... good to see him back having a crack... I hope someone brought extra tissues for Winston
I with you Beaner.....Mojo means a lot.
Gonna be a good ride no mater what - re-build is exciting too (my opinion).
From what I read - doesn't seem as though Lurie will let things 'stagnate'.
IF things don't go better - SOON - a serious re-build and watching the growth/progress is very exciting - builds the team., spirit, and fan 'love'.
Mojo is very important - so is Soul - and THAT is what I think is missing.
@Palm Feathers Apart from Peters and Kelce injury... I can't see why we ain't performing... MM has been stale and Vick mercurial.. Just scratching my head about everything being so poorly executed... Seems like we are consistently being beaten to the punch
Why Why Why Delila??
Nutty.... FYI we are currently tied for 10th overall in the conference with Dallas and Tampa who we've yet to play.
That leaves us in 5th in the wild card standings... with two of the teams already having beat us (AZ and Det)...
Sumlin to keep in mind...
You gotta be F'n kidding me.... the Pats just traded for Talib.... and the rich get richer again... I HATE THEM SO MUCH!
for a 4th rounder???? OMG... fixed the most glaring need for a 4th round pick... for fuck's sake.
Ok... I'm done
@Palm Feathers Aint no school like the old school
you know...maybe there is a lesson or point here in a way.
A few of the 'arguments you and I have had over coaching (yes guys - believe it or not - ATV will actually ARGUE once in a great while..hard to believe I know !!)
Maybe it's time we had a disciplinarian here. In NE it's the Pat way or the highway. I don't think things are that 'strict' in the Eagles.
Jenkins getting in Coach Reid's face (ON NATIONAL TV) spoke volumes to me. Old school I know but there's lines, and lines that should not be crossed.
I'm sure his dumbass will get suspended again in a couple of weeks anyways
Welp... dinner bell being rung... must depart... not sure I'll watch tonight... TBT I could give a Sunny's arse who wins.
@EagleNut792 Depends on when he is fired... mid season... Bowles... end of season... no clue till we see who is available
@atvcar@Beandip that's the thing, all this talk about firing andy, they don't think about the next guy. more often than not, the stable team wins more. The team that fires its head coach every season (Oak, Jac, Mia, KC, StL), generally suck
@EagleNut792 He ain't getting fired...
I think the ONLY optimism I have, is what JB said the other day... Is Mudd working on the O-line.. Sooner or later he will have them on the same page...
Falcons had a bye week the same as us. The executed a good gameplan. Matty Ice was near perfect.. Man it was pretty embarrassing for our DB's if you ask me...
SD is one Team that should have dominated the game past few years.
Whatever wrong out there - makes me feel better as an Eagle Fan.
Jeez, one bad game against the Falcons and it's time to start fresh? everybody's overreacting about the D, it's the O and a certain O-coordinater that needs to perk up! It's a team effort that wins these games. Special teams especially needs to perk up. I can't believe I'm saying this, but the Saints could be just what the doctor ordered for this team. A big day from Vick and a win will shut all the whiners (sunbutts especially) up for at least a week. Lupes, you perk up too! I thought you was a glass half full guy! At this point, it might be more favorable to win the wild card, since, and correct me if I'm wrong, but 7 out of the last 10 super bowl winnners were wild cards
@EagleNut792 its not over reacting when the opposition doesnt punt till theres 5 minutes left in the game.
One game does not mean blow up the team! Shit happens! Are we Philly fans or Cowgirl fans that whine and complain and want to fire everyone after a hard fought loss? Grow a pair people! Ryan is a pretty damn good QB, except come January. We got him October, so we're gonna see his A-game. Change is not good in the middle of the season! If the offseason comes early, then it's time for personell changes. Until then, let's stick with what we got
Look - even if they went 1-15 - they're STILL our Birds.
I may have been one of the most optimistic schmoes here back in July...
Truthfully - think we're all gonna get a chance to show our 'fan-hood' next few years 'cause I'm starting to smell a 're-build' coming.
If not......I'll be the happiest man in Florida - I hope I'm wrong.
Not playing the 'age-card' here..there is NOTHING they could do to look any worse than they did mid-60's until Vermeil put a stop to the crap!
We were like a Semi-Pro team - humiliating!
meh, wild cards have won more super bowls recently anyways
@EagleNut792 least we were at .500... we ain't even that... and we haven't really looked very good YET... IMO... I agree we get better as the season progresses... just can't afford to fall too far back in this race early.... unless we are counting on another blow up from the giants to let us back in like they did last year
yeah, and everyone said we were done after that 5-5-1 start a few years ago too. December is when we see the best football from the Green and Silver anyways
@EagleNut792 hey... low blow... I'm just being honest... Sunny is always negative... I'm just sayin we have not put together a game yet that has truly been impressive start to finish... when we do (see not negative) then we will have something to crow about... till then we are what are record says we are... a below .500 team... no shooting the messenger
All of the talk about sitting Vick is something I like.
I do NOT think Vick will get us to the Promised Land.
He is NOT the reason we are where we are - he HAS been the pilot of enough points to have won at least 2 more games.
Yes - sit Vick cause he ain't the man we thought but this situation we're in is a child with many fathers.
Your depressing comments are worse than reading sunbutts stupidity
@EagleNut792 if by calls you are referring to the gift PI from the refs vs the Ravens... and the giants O calling that deep pass that ended putting them out of field goal range... then yes... I agree : )
We can finally win the close ones with the right calls
@EagleNut792 a game we won by 1 and a game we won by 2... does that tell you sumlin?
@atvcar I personally liked the Ravens game. And the Giants game
@EagleNut792 i think it was more seeing just how poorly they played that has everyone on edge... They can't win games against well coached teams
Hope we can agree to disagree here.
My opinion - ALL of the resources that have been 'spent' devoted and assigned to our D in the past three years...
we should win ANY game that we score 14 points or more !
Biggest diff we're seeing is kind of the same we started to see when Mc5 started to slow up.
If we can't score big points with a QB that can run and keep drives alive (and the other team's O off of the field)...we in trouble.
I don't think this is 'new' - seeing it even at the end of JJ's regime.
OK - I'm Done