Fans Now Protesting Andy Reid at Eagles Complex

How bad have things gone for Andy Reid in his 13th season with the Philadelphia Eagles?….. Well after the Birds lost their 4th straight game on Sunday to the Buffalo Bills — in stumbling self-destructive fashion again– making them 1-4 after Super Bowl expectations — to the say the least, fans are fed-up with their “Dream Team” and the winningest coach in franchise history.

To show their discontent some fans got together to protest Reid in front of the team’s NovaCare Complex including a large banner that read “Andy The Times… To Go”.

The sign was created by “John The Sign Man”, who gained notoriety for placing the pulse of fans up in signage weekly during games at the Eagles’ old home, Veterans’ Stadium.

Before the sign was removed under “Strange Circumstances”, Taking It to the House’s Eagles Beat Reporter Matt Lombardo dropped by 97.5 FM – The Fanatic’s “Bruno and Mayes Show” to report on the sign and the scene around NovaCare.  Matt was even able to snag John The Sign Man for an on-air interview.

Advertisements

Searching the Past For an Answer to the 2011 Philadelphia Eagles’ Defensive Problems by Lloyd Vance

 

Taking It to the House goes “Back to the Future” to find the answer to the 2011 Philadelphia Eagles’ defensive woes

Growing-up and living in the Philadelphia area and now covering the Eagles has afforded me the chance to have a pretty strong lense into both the team and their fanbase.  And I have to tell you, that this week after all the “Dream Team” talk going into the 2011 season plus the early failures of the current Birds – record of 1-2 in the NFC East basement after consecutive disturbing losses.  That  the Birds’ most recent loss, a 29-16 home opener defeat to the hated New York Giants, has made Eagles’ fans probably more angrier — during the regular season – than any other time that I can remember in Andy Reid’s 193-game tenure over 13 years at the helm of the Philadelphia Eagles franchise.

And with Reid responding to a post game press conference question in a cantankerous way by saying, ““Let’s talk some football here.”  I am more than willing to do just that by starting with some history.  In doing my research for this piece, I tried to remember some of the other seasons/milestones where Reid, who everyone knows is the all-time winningest coach in team history with a record of 119-75-1 and a regular season win percentage of 61.3% , clearly was on the proverbial “Hot Seat” with the fans and media in this town and how the Birds responded.  Though it was very hard to find a singular regular season moment where the lynch mob was hotter for Reid, mostly due to his underachieving defense and linebackers than right now, I think I may have located a time. Continue reading

Taking It to the House NFL Podcast – WCHE Interview 020211

In his weekly interview on the “Matt Lombardo Show” (1520 WCHE – West Chester, PA), NFL Insider Lloyd Vance breaks-down the news surrounding Super Bowl XLV, including the Philadelphia Eagles surprise choice for Defensive Coordinator, former O-line Coach Juan Castille

After some great action in the 2010 NFL Playoffs first three rounds, Super Bowl XLV in Arlington Texas will take center stage with the Pittsburgh Steelers facing the Green Bay Packers. NFL Insider Lloyd Vance makes his weekly appearance on the “Matt Lombardo Show” on 1520 WCHE – West Chester, PA including breaking down this year’s Super Bowl Match-up featuring two of the league’s brightest quarterbacks (Ben Roethlisberger and Aaron Rodgers)

Eagles Getting Ready for their 100th Meeting with the Dallas Cowboys

In anticipation of Eagles-Cowboys in Week 17, our own Lloyd Vance made the rounds at the Nova Care Complex including talking with rookie TE Clay Harbor

Though some are calling the Week 17 match-up between the Dallas Cowboys (5-10) and Philadelphia Eagles (10-5) a glorified “JV Game”, I still believe there is much to play for in this divisional rivalry game.

When I went to Friday’s practice, the 2010 NFC East Champion Eagles were working hard to wipe the taste out of their collective mouths from a “sleepwalking” loss to the Minnesota Vikings on Tuesday Night.

 Here is my audio from my visit to the Nova Care Complex:

Andy Reid

Clay Harbor

Kevin Kolb

Eagles Sleepwalk their way to a bad 24-14 loss against Vikings

Vikings CB Anotine Winfield sacks Eagles QB Michael Vick for one of his two sacks in Minnesota’s upset 24-14 win over Philadelphia in the NFL’s first Tuesday game since 1946

In a must-win situation, the Philadelphia Eagles lethargically walked through a game that was more awkward than saying, “Tuesday Night Football”.  After waiting through a somewhat lengthy 2-day postponement, due to a snowstorm that seemed worse to the NFL than others – more on this later – the Eagles were outplayed in a 24-14 home loss to a Favre-less Vikings squad that had a record of 5-9 entering the game. 

Eagles head coach Andy Reid said of his team’s poor performance and losing potential playoff rest, “We don’t deserve it after that performance. Every phase was terrible. We didn’t coach well enough. We didn’t play well enough. I’m disappointed in myself. It’s embarrassing.”

After a 2-day league mandated postponement for a snow blizzard and public safety issues that were much debated – Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell got the ire-up of the Eagles by calling the postponers “Wussies” for not playing the game in Sunday Night’s snow storm and Sportscenter led with on Sunday: “Green Bay Girl Scouts would have been selling cookies in Philly Sunday” — the 2010 NFC East Champion Eagles were flat-out “Flat”. 

The Eagles lost their opportunity to have a bye in the 2010 NFL Playoffs, they had a myriad of things go against them, many of which were their own undoing.  The Birds had too many penalties (12), forgot to run the ball (55 called passes to 16 runs), could not protect their quarterback (sacked 6 times and hit numerous other times), protected the ball poorly (3 turnovers including a fumble recovery touchdown to 1 for Minnesota) and most of all just plain “sloppy” — poor on 3rd down conversions offensively (36%) and defensively (46%).

Much to the Eagles’ chagrin, Minnesota led by former college dual threat quarterback turned part time NFL receiver and first time league starter, Joe Webb (rookie 6th Rd from UAB), brought their “A” game on a night where they were 14 ½ point underdogs.  The Vikings must have not liked staying four nights in the “bunker” like conditions of the Four Seasons Hotel as they were hungry for a win on their 2010 last appearance on the national stage (NBC “Sunday Night Football” turned to Tuesday Night). 

In a season that started out with very high expectations – missed Super Bowl by a 3-point loss in 2009 season – only to go awry – Favre Sexting allegations, roof collapsing at Metrodome, Randy Moss Trade/Waive, head coach Brad Childress firing….I can go on and on.  The Vikings decided that the NFL’s first Tuesday Night game since 1946 (New York Giants at the Boston Yanks) would serve as their Super Bowl.  Vikings DE Jared Allen said after his team’s big win, “I think this was a big win because it was a national game. We wanted to let people know that we are still here to play even though we went through a rough patch. It has been a crazy season and after the last two days and all we went through, this was a nice win.”

Interim head coach Leslie Frazier and his team must have used their time wisely at the palatial hotel by dissecting the Eagles as their game plan was spot-on.  Nine days after the Eagle’s second Miracle at the Meadowlands, there would be no magical Philly comeback this time.  Webb was able to dance around the pocket and make plays on 3rd downs like a young Randall Cunningham, All-World RB Adrian Peterson (22 rushes for 118 yards and 1 TD) was running downhill, and the Vikings beleaguered defense – have allowed 328 points in 2011 – held Philly to 14 points, while bottling-up and beating-down Eagles Pro Bowl quarterback Michael Vick.

Webb, making his first career start instead of Favre (concussion) looked like the veteran quarterback in the game. Peterson said of his young quarterback, “He came out and did his job and did it well”.  The youngster from UAB threw for numbers 17-26 for 195 yards and also added a rushing touchdown. But most importantly, he did not turn over the football against an Eagles defense that tried to rough him up early. 

Conversely Vick (25 of 43 (career-high for attempts), 263 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT with 63 rushing yards and 1 TD), who was named the NFC’s starting quarterback in the Pro Bowl earlier Tuesday, had to fight through a first quarter quad contusion while playing behind a porous Eagles offensive line.  MV7 basically handed the NFL’s 2010 Most Valuable Player Award to Patriots QB Tom Brady as he probably had his worst performance of the 2010 season.  Vick, on a night where no one cared that he threw for over 3,000 yards in a season for the first time in his career, was harassed into an interception and two fumbles. 

Frazier said of the challenge of playing Vick, “The more we watched tape on Michael Vick, the more he made you kind of shake in your boots a little bit because he’s making so many plays on so many people.  And we just felt like we needed to attack him and not let him attack us as much as we saw him attack other people. Our guys did a great job of executing all the things we had talked about in practice.”

The turning point of the whole game was Vikings cornerback Antoine Winfield (2 sacks in the game) performing a “quadruple” with the score tied at 7-7 in the final minute of the first half.  Winfield, who looked like he was in the Birds’ backfield all night, sacked Vick, stripped the ball, recovered it on the run and sprinted untouched for 45-yard a score that left Philadelphia faithful stunned.

Frazier, who is coaching his way into losing his “interim” label, said after his team’s gratifying win, “It was a great effort by our players to battle the way that they had to all week and they showed perseverance that has become the hallmark of our team over the last few weeks. I can’t say enough about our players and the attitude they showed this week and I’m glad they were rewarded for it.”  However in the other lockerroom at the Linc there was whole different feeling in the air – remember when your high school coach would bark after a loss, “I don’t want to hear one word on the bus going home” – as Reid was disgusted.   The 12-year head coach obviously was upset by a poor effort, but he looked like a man that was going to angrily pick-up the pieces while kicking giving his team a good kick in the butt.

Because Reid – still 37-17 in the month of December for his career – knows that his Birds cannot lament over their “Terrible Tuesday” loss for too long as they have too much coming too quickly.  This young beat-up squad, who are now firmly the No. 3 seed in the NFC, must play the second leg of a 3-game stretch in a 12 or 13-day span with the Dallas Cowboys (5-10) coming in on Sunday.  Though the Cowboys’ game is basically meaningless, the Eagles (10-5) definitely should use the game to work out the kinks.  The 2010 Playoffs will be starting soon enough and more than likely the 2009 Super Bowl Champion New Orleans Saints (11-4) or the Green Bay Packers (9-6) will be waiting on Wildcard Weekend as the conference’s sixth seed with their superstar quarterback ready to make Webb’s performance look paltry.

The Birds will now have to win three playoff games to reach the Super Bowl with more than likely 2 road games, so they have work to do. However some hope is that former SB Champs, the 2005 Pittsburgh Steelers and 2007 New Giants both had to fight through the Wildcard Round before winning it all, but the Eagles are a long way from talking about Dallas and Super Bowl XLV.

My advice for the Eagles is to use this loss as motivation and then get some much-needed rest against the Cowboys before the playoffs.  But I think a disgruntled Reid has other plans for his young team. 

 Reid closed his news conference by sternly talking of resting his team for the playoffs, “We’re not good enough to do that.”

 

Lloyd Vance is an NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and an award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)

Reid Makes the Right Decision in Choosing Vick by Lloyd Vance

The Philadelphia Eagles QB Controversy took a crazy turn as head coach Andy Reid named Michael Vick as his starter for the rest of the 2010 season

In a shocking and quite bizarre change of events, Philadelphia Eagles head coach Andy Reid did a total 360-degree about face by naming comebacking quarterback Michael Vick to be his starter for he rest of the 2010 season.  Reid said in a September 21st press conference to announce the change, “Michael Vick will be the starting quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles. I think his play has even exceeded expectations over the last two weeks.” 

Of course in naming Vick the starter, Reid who has notoriously been quite stubborn over his 12 years in Philadelphia –- see former receivers that he told us were good enough…when we all knew they weren’t (i.e. Pinkston, Thrash, Mitchell) — definitely had to back track on his anointing of former starter, Kevin Kolb, who had been the team’s face since an Easter Sunday 2010 trade of 11-year veteran Donovan McNabb. The 4th year quarterback and first-time starter had been given a lucrative extension on April 29th with the terms 1-year, 12.26 million through 2011 with all of it guaranteed and $10.7 million in a signing bonus.  Reid even said when Kolb signed his new deal, “When given the chance, Kevin has proven to have good command of this offense and we’re looking forward to having him operate as the number one quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles”. 

I guess the coach misremembered his comments from April and a couple of days prior, because now Vick is his guy.  Reid tried to soften the blow to Kolb by saying, “This has nothing to do with Kevin Kolb’s injury. Kevin Kolb has done a phenomenal job for us here and the future of Kevin Kolb is not slighted by this one bit. He has an opportunity, obviously, to be, what I would consider, a franchise quarterback and deserving of so.”  In trying to further justify his decision Reid added, “Again, this is more about Michael Vick and his accelerated play. He’s sitting there as possibly the hottest quarterback in the National Football League at this time and deserves an opportunity to play. It also allows Kevin to continue as a young quarterback in the National Football League, his maturation process, and, again, to become a franchise quarterback in the future.”

Alright before we try to get in the mind of Coach Reid and understand why he flip-flopped in a matter of 3 Days, we have to first jump in the hot tub time machine and go over the events that led to the firestorm of activity around the Birds’ quarterbacks.  Let’s go back to Sunday September 19th around 5:00 PM EST; the Eagles had pulled off a hard-earned 35-32 win over the scrappy Detroit Lions.  Where backup quarterback Michael Vick, who was making his first NFL start since December 31, 2006, for the second week in a row had given the Eagles a noticeable spark as Kolb recovered from a concussion suffered against the Green Bay Packers in Week 1.  The former 3-time Pro Bowl player was sensational as he made something out of nothing several times, both in and out of the pocket, in the win over the Lions.  Vick finished with numbers 21-for-34 for 284 yards passing and two TD tosses, with 37 yards rushing plus he withstood being sacked 6 times behind a porous Eagles’ offensive line. 

Almost immediately after my hometown Eagles put the final touches on a good win that put them at 1-1 and we later learned a tie for first place in the NFC East, my cell phone started going crazy.  I didn’t even need to answer a single call or read one text message.  Because I knew the “vocal” majority of the Birds’ fan base –- the same ones that wanted McNabb gone and for Kevin Kolb to take over… but I digress — had now switched their allegiance to Vick.  However almost immediately into his post-game press conference, Reid tried to squelch any Vick talk by saying that his now-healthy Week 1 starter, Kolb (concussion), would be returning as the team’s starting quarterback next week against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 3.  Can you say, “Quarterback Controversy”? The move was both lauded and loudly questioned on post-game radio, television and Twitter in the Philadelphia area and nationally.

To Vick’s credit, he showed that he had moved on from his former selfish ways that plagued him during his time with the Atlanta Falcons by supporting his teammate.  Of the whole Kolb-Vick quarterback controversy brewing in Philly, Vick stepped away from the grenade by humbly saying, “This is Kevin’s team”. Vick added, “All I wanted to do was come out and get the momentum going. I’m sure Kevin will be back next week.”  But you had to think that deep down after all he had been through that even Vick -– career passing numbers 973-1801, 54.0%, 12050 yards, 75 TDs, and 52 INTs with additional rushing numbers of 4094 yards, 7.2 ypr, and 23 TDs — knew that he “deserved” to get his shot back in the spotlight. As incredibly as it sounds, the player once described as “Public Enemy No. 1” in the minds of many NFL fans had done the unthinkable, going from a hated reputed dogfighter to a playmaker.

C’mon not even Hollywood could have written a better script. The long redemption road that the former Virginia Tech star had traveled since his last start in December 2006 has been a well-documented rollercoaster, to say the least. Vick’s road back to NFL glory included an 18-month stay in Leavenworth Prison for his role in a dogfighting ring and a getting-to-know-you 2009 season where he served as a spare part Eagles’ third-stringer –- only threw 13 passes, completing 6 for 86 yards and 1 TD. But now he was back to the player that once had the NFL buzzing back when he led the Falcons to a mission-impossible 27-7 win over the Green Bay Packers at snowy Lambeau Field in the Wildcard round of the 2002 NFL Playoffs.  Surprisingly 8 years later, his 4.3 speed was back and he also added another piece to his repertoire by showing the vision needed to make passes downfield from the pocket. Even Reid couldn’t help talking about Vick’s eye-opening effort in the win over the Lions, which unfortunately for Kolb, probably forced his hand in naming Vick the starter.  Reid said after the Lions win about Vick, “You’re talking about a phenomenal football player who’s had another chance to prove himself…To see the sparkle in his eye is amazing.”   

Call me “crazy”, but Vick –- salary of $3.75 million in 2010 plus an already paid $1.5 million roster bonus — has bought into Reid and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg’s coaching enough that now he looks like Donovan McNabb circa 2000.  That season the Eagles made the playoffs for the first time under Reid by finishing 11-5 even though they were a very young team.  Back then the Eagles relied heavily on their dual-threat quarterback and McNabb produced passing (over 3,000 yards), and rushing (over 600 yards) while accounting for 27 touchdowns (21 passing and 6 rushing)…Does any of this sound familiar.  In two weeks of play in 2010, Vick –-passing numbers through 2 weeks of 37-58, 63.8%, 459 yards, 3 TDs, and 0 INTs with a career-high passer rating of 105.5 plus 140 rushing yards — has knocked off several years of rust to become Reid’s type of starting quarterback.  He no longer is settling for his first read then taking off to make spectacular running plays only, Vick is a passer first…if you can believe it. The exciting thing is that the Eagles have responded under Vick’s leadership by putting up 52 points in six quarters. 

Reid recently said in a press conference that he now is in the enviable spot of having “Two Quality” quarterbacks.  But give me break coach…you can spin it anyway you want, the reality of the situation is that Kolb -– career passing numbers of 84-140, 60.0%, 909 yards, 4 TDs, and 7 INTs with a 1-2 starting record –- was not the “right” guy for the 2010 Philadelphia Eagles.  I know that sounds harsh after Kolb has only played in basically one half of football -– passing numbers of 5-for-10 for only 24 yards and produced only 3 first downs before the concussion knocked him out against the Packers.  But today’s NFL is a “Win Now” league.  Everyone from fans to the media to the team’s management are not content with having a rebuilding season when the NFC East is there for the taking. Fox Sports analyst Terry Bradshaw also believes now is the time for Vick.  Bradshaw said on the network’s pregame show of the situation, “With Kolb, you’re looking at a guy who really doesn’t have a resume”.  The Hall of Fame quarterback added, “He’s only started three games. I would find it very difficult for Kolb to win with the Eagles offensive line being in shambles. Vick is better suited right now to win football games than Kevin.”

The division-favorite Dallas Cowboys (0-2) are looking like they could implode at any moment and the other teams in the division, the New York Giants and Washington Redskins, don’t look like they are making reservations for Super Bowl XLV either.  As always, Reid’s goal is to make the playoffs and he knew Vick was his best chance to win.  Though I am not entirely ready to say the Eagles are definitely a playoff team with Vick.  Who knows if the 2010 Eagles could possibly catch the same lightning in a bottle that caused the 2005 Steelers, 2007 NY Giants, and 2009 NY Jets to make to make strong playoff runs, despite having some regular season flaws.   

Another deciding factor for Reid had to be an offensive line that is beat-up and sorely missing their leader, Jamaal Jackson.  The Eagles’ offensive line needs to make adjustments, because as a unit they have allowed a whopping 12 sacks in two games and lost Kolb to a concussion.  Vick, who has been sacked 9 times despite running from pressure, is the Eagles’ best weapon against the fast attacking defenses that have been exploiting the team’s protection breakdowns. And I won’t even go into whether the Eagles wanted to take back the Philadelphia area’s sports fans’ attention from major league baseball’s Philadelphia Phillies who look like they are surging to their 3rd World Series appearance in three years, but that is always an item for debate.

Whatever the reason for naming Vick the starter, it was the right reason for the Philadelphia Eagles to win now.  Reid said of the decision to go with Vick, “This is my decision”.  Reid strongly added, “Listen, when you deal with a decision like this, you take as much time as you possibly need to take and so I did that. It’s not my obligation to tell people my decision. It’s my obligation to make the proper decision. That’s why I took the time to do that.”

Good Luck coach with your new starting quarterback, because you know this quarterback controversy is not going away anytime soon… especially with the passionate fans of Philadelphia. 

Wonder if Eagles fans and Reid would rather still have Big 5 still under center –- he beat Dallas in Week 1 and threw for over 400 yards in a loss to the Texans in Week 2…..Alright I won’t go there.

 

Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and Sports Journey Network , who is also an award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)

2010 NFL Week 1 Review

The Seattle Seahawks, fueled by comebacking receiver Mike Williams (pictured), dominated the favored San Francisco 49ers by a score of 31-6 in one of Week 1’s bigger upsets

The first weekend of the 91st NFL season titled: “The Grand Crossroads of Hope” is finally over. NFL nation just couldn’t get enough of America’s Game as Week 1 stretched over three game days (September 9th, September 12th, and September 13th). Even in the face of pending CBA Doom, fans turned out in record numbers as even the downtrodden Jacksonville Jaguars played to a sellout – only one of the NFL’s slate of 16 games, the Tampa Bay Bucs – Cleveland Browns in Tampa, FL was blacked out.

Overall the first week of the 2010 NFL season brought surprises (Houston Texans led by RB Arian Foster dominating the Colts, Chiefs taking out the Chargers in the 2nd MNF game, Seahawks pounding Niners who were supposed to be the NFC West favorites and several photo finishes), non-surprises (Bills finding a way to lose again,  Steelers and Ravens winning “ugly” behind running the ball and attacking defense), cheers, and tears (Sorry Detroit Lions fans…Megatron did indeed catch that touchdown no matter what the officials say) that only NFL drama can provoke. The wins and losses no doubt will create a buzz of “Monday Morning Quarterbacking” around the water cooler and on sports radio, but remember the NFL season is a 16 game marathon. To the NFL’s credit, the majority of Week 1 games (11 out  16) were decided by 7 points or less.

The first game on Thursday night kicked off the excitement (fireworks, Grammy winners, etc) and featured the Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints using a fast start by their offense to hold off the Minnesota Vikings 14-9.  In the game you could see a couple of things:  The Saints offensive line is physical and can run the ball when needed (didn’t hear Jared Allen’s name called once), Vikings QB Brett Favre looked extremely rusty as he threw a bad interception and couldn’t rally his team in the 4th quarter, and New Orleans probably has the NFL’s highest octane offense even if they were stuck in neutral for parts of the opener.

What I love about Week 1 is experts, fans, and some members of the media start making year-long assertions based on “one week” of real NFL games.  Two of the comments/feedback that I have received after only one week of play that I consider “laughable” from one of my loyal listeners were: “After the way the Texans beat-up Indianapolis, Peyton Manning and the Colts are done…It is going to be a long year in Indy”; “The Philadelphia Eagles have to start Michael Vick because Kevin Kolb will never get it done” and “The Baltimore Ravens are this year’s Super Bowl champs based on their physical play”.  Just slow your roll there a little bit “Mr. Overzealous Fan”.

C’mon some of these conclusions may prove to be true, but Week 1 isn’t enough game action to paint with such a broad picture.  Sure Week 1 is important for setting the tone for the entire season — the last 44 Super Bowl Champions started out a combined 36-7-1 in Week 1 of their championship season and teams that made the playoffs last year were a combined 10-2 in 2009’s Week 1.  But remember in the parity-laden NFL everything can change very quickly. The theme that I will continue to pound at this time of year is that an NFL season is a marathon and should be taken increments.  Being on top early in an NFL season guarantees nothing. Teams can’t get caught up in thinking things are going to be biscuits and gravy throughout the entire season.  The main thing right now is for teams to focus week-in and week-out on the team that they are facing.  Last year after five weeks the NY Giants looked like Super Bowl contenders as they started 5-0 only to limp home to an 8-8 record. 

Some Lloyd’s Leftovers from Week 1 included:

A Bad Rule Rears its Ugly Head – And you thought “Tuck” rule that thwarted the Raiders years ago was bad.  The hard-luck Detroit Lions were jobbed by a rule that doesn’t pass the smell test in my opinion.  In a game that was there’s for the taking, the Lions had fought through losing starter Matthew Stafford and were poised to beat their NFC North rival, the Chicago Bears. With 1:32 remaining in the game, backup Shaun Hill threw a great 25-yard apparent touchdown Calvin “Megatron” Johnson.  Unfortunately after one official called touchdown, the zebras huddled and Johnson’s catch was ruled incomplete due to the big receiver not maintaining possession throughout  his catch according to the officials….Bogus.  I have even listed the cockamamie rule for you to interpret — “If a player goes to the ground in the act of catching a pass (with or without contact by an opponent), he must maintain control of the ball after he touches the ground, whether in the field of play or the end zone. If he loses control of the ball, and the ball touches the ground before he regains control, the pass is incomplete. If he regains control prior to the ball touching the ground, the pass is complete.”  I thought the call was a disgrace and once again, officials are making themselves part of the story…Sorry Lions fans, you deserved better.

The Ravens Show talk is cheap on MNF – After selling Wolf Tickets on HBO’s Hard Knocks, the New York Jets expected to open their $1.6 Billion Dollar home stadium in style.  Unfortunately, the Jets had no idea what was in store for them.  In a physical dominating win, the Baltimore Ravens, led by veteran linebacker Ray Lewis, put all of the Jets’ Hard Knocks boasting to rest as they showed the country who is the NFL’s best defense.  The J-E-T-S were held to six first downs and a one-of-11 rate on third-down conversions in a black-and-blue 10-9 loss.  Plus Rex Ryan’s rowdy bunch produced a staggering 14 penalties for 125 yards.  Ryan said of his team’s effort, “Today, was a joke.”  Lewis said of the opening-game win, “All the trash talking, it’s out the door. Every time you challenge a warrior, a warrior is going to always respond.”

The NFL Season is Survival of the Fittest– The “tough” physical game of football causes a survival of the fittest on the way to the Lombardi Trophy. No team makes it to the top without dealing with injuries every week of the season. Unfortunately one of this week’s biggest stories was two season-ending injuries for the Philadelphia Eagles as leaders center Jamaal Jackson (torn triceps) and fullback Leonard Weaver (severe knee injury) unfortunately were badly hurt.  The Eagles also will be on the NFL’s front page too for another set of injuries as both QB Kevin Kolb and MLB Stewart Bradley had concussions, but were allowed to return to the field briefly before being shutdown at halftime.  Now both players will have to pass baseline testing and other tests administered by an independent source before returning to game action. Other major injuries were Lions QB Matthew Stafford (Shoulder), Panthers QB Matt Moore (Concussion), Packers RB Ryan Grant (ankle), Cardinals WR Early Doucet (Hamstring), Giants TE Kevin Boss (Concussion), Texans DE Conner Barwin (fractured ankle), Colts S Bob Sanders (elbow), Steelers LT Max Starks (high ankle sprain) and NT Kris Jenkins (knee).

Colts need to get serious about the run – Sure…QB Peyton Manning had great numbers 40-57, 433 yards and 3 TDs in a 34-24 road loss.  But the Colts’ lopsided loss to the Texans showed that successful teams can run the football on offense and stop the run on defense.  Houston out-rushed Indy 257 to 44, setting a franchise record for most rushing yards in Texans’ franchise history and most rushing yards allowed in Colts’ franchise history.

Former playoff teams struggle – As I always say, “Every year is different in the NFL”.  That phrase was never more prophetic than in Week 1 where 2009 playoff teams went a combined 5-7 — winners were Patriots, Saints, Cardinals, Packers, and Ravens.  Yes… the Patriots dominated the Cincinnati Bengals 38-24. 

Witherspoon shows heart – Only days after learning about his mother’s passing, Carolina Panthers LB Will Witherspoon gave everything he had in a loss to the NY Giants. 

Game Balls

Texans RB Arian Foster – What an amazing game for the 2nd year runner, who was viewed as a back-up just a short time ago.  Foster (6’1, 220), running in OC Rick Dennison’s zone-blocking scheme, became the first player in NFL history to rush for 200+ yards and three touchdowns on Kickoff Weekend.  The former Tennessee star finished with 33 carries for 231 yards — including 191 yards in the 2nd half — and 3 TDs as the Texans rushed for a franchise record 257 yards in the big 34-24 win over the Colts.  The Texans maybe changing their ways into a rushing team first as shown by their 42-to-17 run-to-pass ratio in the much-celebrated win.

Honorable Mention – Chicago Bears RB Matt Forte, Green Bay Packers LB Clay Matthews Jr, Kansas City Chiefs kick returner Dexter McCluster, Tennessee Titans RB Chris Johnson, New York Giants WR Hakeem Nicks, Seattle Seahawks WR Mike Williams, New England Patriots WR Wes Welker, Pittsburgh Steelers RB Rashard Mendenhall, Houston Texans DE Mario Williams, Washington Redskins CB DeAngelo Hall and Baltimore Ravens LB Ray Lewis

Lloyd’s Lackey of the Week

Philadelphia Eagles Head Coach Andy Reid – After already quickly burning his 2nd half timeouts, with the game on the line Reid and/or offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg came up short.  Backup QB Michael Vick had rallied the Eagles from a 17-point hole and the Birds had to convert a fourth-and-1 from the Green Bay 42-yard line with two minutes left for a chance to tie the score at 27 points. Reid decided that Vick – who lined up in the shotgun formation —  should run a quarterback draw up the middle instead passing or getting the speedster to the edge.  Of course, the Packers easily diagnosed the play and stuffed Vick for no gain to the ire of the Philadelphia Faithful.  The 4th down play was the cherry on top of Eagles injuries, poor offensive execution in first half, poor offensive line, and penalties…I bet the Eagles will never wear those 1960 throwback jerseys again.  Green Packers LB Nick Barnett said of the crucial 4th down play, “He’d been making all the plays, and we knew they were going to put it on him…So yeah, we were ready.”

Dishonorable Mention – The “Loudmouth” New York Jets, Officiating crew from the Bears-Lions game, Carolina Panthers QB Matt Moore, Niners RB Frank Gore, Bengals WR Terrell Owens and the Dallas Cowboys

2010 NFL Week 1

Thu, Sep 09 

Saints 14, Vikings 9 — Fast start for Brees and his WR’s then a defensive battle..After missing most of camp was Favre rusty??

Sun, Sep 12 

Jaguars 24, Broncos 17 — Big win for the Jags, Garrard 3 TDs         

Titans 38, Raiders 13 — The Titans stomp all over the Raiders led by CJ2K who had 142 yds and 2 TDs

Patriots 38, Bengals 24 — Behind Brady and Welker, New England jumps out 24-3 in first half and cruises home.  Moss bitching about contract         

Bucs 17, Browns 14 — Tampa puts away the hard-luck Browns; Freeman had a good game     

Texans 34, Colts 24 — Fueled by RB Arian Foster (231 yds, 3TDs) Houston rolled; QB Peyton Manning had big yards, but there were several drops

Bears 19, Lions 14 — Chicago wins a good game that was overshadowed by the officials overturning an apparent Calvin Johnson TD        

Steelers 15, Falcons 9 — P-Burgh wins in OT on a Mendenhall run; Lots of D and FGs, but Steelers win on 50-yd TD run in OT

Dolphins 15, Bills 10 — Henne efficient.. Good running by R. Brown; Bills are a bad team

Giants 31, Panthers 18 — Eli and Hakim Nicks have huge days; Matt Moore (concussion) had 2 INTs in the endzone          

Packers 27, Eagles 20 — Philly loses Jackson, Kolb, Bradley, and Weaver; Back-up Vick starts a QB controversy as he almost gets it done      

Cardinals 17, Rams 13 — The Cardinals return to STL and get an ugly win; Though hurting, WR Larry Fitzgerald had the game-winner

Seahawks 31, SF49ers 6 — Hasselbeck has a big day and the Niners look bad; Singletary has some clean-up to do      

Redskins 13, Cowboys 7 — McNabb efficient and Defense scores TD; Romo throws touchdown at end that is disallowed due to Barron’s holding penalty        

Mon, Sep 13 

Ravens 10, NY Jets 9 — Ray Lewis and his defense show the J-E-T-S that “talk” is cheap; Also NY Jets QB Mark Sanchez has to do better than 71 yards passing

Chiefs 21, Chargers 14 — Stayed up late for this one, but it was worth it; Romeo Crennel’s young defense came-up big when it mattered most; KC has some speedsters too 

 

Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and Sports Journey Network , who is also an award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)