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Recap of Eagles-Browns Season Opener

Eagles blogger Mike Diviney had a first-hand look at every minute of the season opener in Cleveland—and knows that an ugly road win is better than an ugly road loss.

The only way an NFL team can give a nine-point underdog a chance to win is to turn the ball over multiple times, commit too many penalties, and suffer a key injury during the game. On Sunday the Eagles “accomplished” two of the three. Fortunately, it was not enough to make them victims of what would have been a devastating upset.

The most important thing was to win the game and they did that. The second most important thing was to see Michael Vick translate his mantras of self-preservation and ball security from talk to application. He failed miserably on both counts. Had his horrendous play cost the Eagles the game, this season could have unraveled in Week One.

Vick's gradual regression that began after his torrid start in 2010 bottomed out yesterday—at least fans hope that was the bottom. That he dove headfirst over and over, inviting another concussion, was bad enough. That he threw four interceptions and fumbled twice had to have every fan thinking Vick getting pulled out of the game would not have been the worst thing for the Eagles.

After all the talk of limiting turnovers, in his first action of the year, Vick set a career high in interceptions. They were caused by laughable decision-making, throwing into TRIPLE coverage once and right to a defender another time—things a high school QB has learned not to do, let alone a professional who either is, or is masquerading as, a franchise QB.

Vick threw several other passes that were almost intercepted and added two fumbles. He somehow recovered his second fumble, which occurred on the game-winning drive; if not for that, the Eagles would have lost the game. Starting out with a loss to a team that bad could have had them looking into the abyss.

Head Coach Andy Reid and Offensive Coordinator Marty Mornhinweg did not help by calling passing plays on 72 percent of their offensive snaps; however that is no excuse. No NFL staff should have to protect a $100 million franchise quarterback from himself. However, when a QB is struggling that badly, the coach either has to replace him or try to get the offense back into balance.

The only thing Vick deserves credit for on Sunday is perseverance. In the fourth quarter, a run-balanced offense led them ninety yards to win the game. That counted more than anything else on Sunday. The rest is worrisome for the future.

Vick’s maddening play was exacerbated by a heretofore unseen barrage of penalties, all at inopportune times, erasing one big offensive gain after another. Sure, the Eagles shot themselves in the foot with a couple of obvious penalties. However, with two NFL teams playing, there is no way the disparity in penalties could have legitimately been twelve to three. That wide a margin is just illogical. The ineptitude of the replacement officials was on display all over the league yesterday—something to keep a watchful eye on as the season progresses.

Vick’s regression and the penalties were the worst thing to come out of an ugly game. Had they been playing any team but Cleveland, the Eagles would probably be sitting at 0-1 right now. It was ugly, but it was a lot better than losing.

Browns fans are obnoxious and nasty for the most part. Nothing wrong with that, they were in their own stadium and we were on their turf wearing visiting team colors. To walk out amid taunts from Browns fans after having given the game away to that terrible team would have been very tough.

Aside from the obvious of winning the game, there were some other positives as well. The Eagles defense dominated the game. They held highly regarded rookie Trent Richardson, to a paltry 2.1 yards a carry. They bullied Brandon Weeden into a 5.1 QB rating and picked off four of his passes, including the one that sealed the victory. They allowed just nine points to the Browns offense, despite consistently poor field position due to all of the offensive turnovers.

The Browns are a very bad team and the Eagles defense dominated them as they should any bad team—something they failed to do multiple times last season. More importantly, the defense as a whole, especially the secondary and linebackers, looked much more in synch than they did at any time last year.

The move to jettison Asante Samuel seems so far to be addition by subtraction. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie can now play his natural outside CB position, and he looked tremendous doing it. The safeties, which were a collective question mark going in, both played well. Coleman notched his second game with multiple interceptions and cemented the win with his pick of an errant Weeden throw on the final drive of the game.

The linebackers looked much better than they had when the team opened play last season. Demeco Ryans played an excellent game, as did Akeem Jordan. The mental breakdowns were the biggest problem last season and the full offseason seemed to have allowed them to remedy that problem.

The offense was not inept. McCoy ran for over one hundred yards and the Eagles more than doubled the Browns in offensive production, 456 yards to 210. They also more than doubled the Browns in first downs, 25 to 12.

The only statistic that was close was turnovers and the Eagles needed every one they forced to eke out the win. And therein lies the problem. They can outgain and outplay teams and still lose if the offense continues to turn the ball over. If they were playing any team but the Browns, that is what would have happened Sunday as it did last year.

So the biggest determinant of success going into the year was whether Vick had the ability to learn from his past experiences. So far the answer is no, and he is a 32-year-old, 10-year veteran… who has won five games in a row.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Phil McConkey September 12, 2012 at 02:33 PM
If they blew out the Browns wouldn't you all be saying "yeah but it was against the Browns, let's see what they do against the Ravens". They won. Yeah Vick makes you nervous but he is what he is. He may turn it aroudn this week. we'll see. On a side note, I listened to some of the game on the radio and Meryle Reese was complaining about the replacement refs. He had some great lines about them too. But then as I watched the last 10 mins on TV those announcers said how good they did. Which was it?
Mike Diviney September 12, 2012 at 07:07 PM
I hear you, but it's a little personal when you call out another commenter by name- but moving on.
Mike Diviney September 12, 2012 at 07:09 PM
I thought half the penalties were bogus. I think Mike Vick moves towards pressure sometimes, but he only got sacked twice. I thought the 2nd half run blocking was very good, especially on that 4th and 1- that was the game if they didn't get it.
Mike Diviney September 12, 2012 at 07:10 PM
Yeah, but everyone was talking smack. You're smoking comment was in jest so no apology needed. The Eagles need to play much better on Sunday, no doubt.
Mike Diviney September 12, 2012 at 07:12 PM
OVERRAVENED! Beautifully done. I think the fact they were in first and long all day accounted somewhat for the unbalanced offense, but I agree with you. Pretty sure, Marty calls the plays. Vick has never been THAT mistake prone- has to improve- it's like a broken record man.
Mike Diviney September 12, 2012 at 07:13 PM
Porter, they do have to run the ball more. Let's look at Marty too since he calls the plays, right?
Mike Diviney September 12, 2012 at 07:15 PM
Pretty good analysis from Phil, I have to say. The officials were weak. The networks take their marching orders from the NFL- they will defend the replacement officials. A 12-3 disparity in penalties in an NFL game is illogical. Luckily, the Eagles overcame it.
Mike Diviney September 12, 2012 at 07:17 PM
Sean, better to cut him now and give his spot to someone who's earned it. Wasted draft pick, but better not to compound it and keep him around just because they drafted him.
Mike Diviney September 12, 2012 at 07:18 PM
Joselio is a Raider and they're lucky to have him- he's a solid player. I don't know that he was active Monday night since he had just gotten there, but not positive.
Larry O'Doyle September 13, 2012 at 10:31 AM
The replacement refs are no better or worse than the regular a-holes flinging their yellow panties all over the field. They are certainly not a confident bunch which does not help their credibility but given a few weeks they'll be fine.
Mike Diviney September 13, 2012 at 06:32 PM
I can't agree Larry. I don't like the regular guys, but these refs are comical. They allowed Seattle to take a FOURTH timeout towards end of game against Ariz. It could've affected the outcome, but luckily, did not. Have you noticed the games are longer this year? It's because of all the confusion and uncertainty of the officials.
Larry O'Doyle September 14, 2012 at 01:58 AM
I noticed the Eagles game ended about an hour later than the rest of the early games but that was about it. A few growing pains are to be expected early on but many of the borderline calls getting magnified by the media are the same questionable calls made every year. The silver lining in this whole process is the increased accountability between the league and its officials. Officiating in the NFL is a privilege not a right. Unlike running a 4.5 40 or throwing a football 75 yards, officiating is a skill that can be learned. Hold strong Roger.
Mike Diviney September 14, 2012 at 02:31 AM
What a bizzare stance to take, backing the replacement officials. That's what makes Larry unique I guess. Officiating is neither a right nor a privilege- it's a job. I don't generally support collective bargaining, but in this case, just get it done. I don't want one of these bozo arena league officials effecting any outcomes.
Mike Diviney September 14, 2012 at 02:44 AM
Not to pile on, but the officials just spotted the ball on the wrong 47 yard line- yikes!
Phil McConkey September 14, 2012 at 01:01 PM
With all due respect Mr. O'Doyle NFL refs are the only part time refs. It will take longer for thise replacement officials to come up to speed. Just give the refs the raise they want since the NFL is making hand over fist money and growing exponentially. Basically just take care of your employees. The 9th paragraph of this is pretty good http://www.thebestsportsblog.com/breaking-down-the-nfl-referee-lockout.html
Mike Diviney September 14, 2012 at 05:35 PM
It's a difficult situation because there are only 17 weeks of games, plus playoffs, so they can't really be full time- what would they do the rest of the time?
Mike Diviney September 14, 2012 at 05:39 PM
It seems there are 119 NFL officials. Their salary ranges from $25k-$70,000/yr depending on position and seniority. Working 2 days/wk, (including travel) 17 weeks (paid extra for postseason) a year is hard to complain about. This is after the 2001 lockout, when they received an immediate 50% pay raise and a raise each year. They also get a pension. That is the issue driving this lockout- NFL wants to freeze pension at a certain level. I tend to agree with Phil that the NFL makes so much money, they should pay these guys. After doing some research, I think they already are. That kind of money and a pension for that little amount of work is enough in my opinion.
Mike Diviney September 14, 2012 at 05:44 PM
My mistake. The numbers I gave were for before the last CBA. Now they make $78k/yr to start and $120k/yr for a 10 year vet, plus postseason pay, plus a pension. Enough is enough. Of course NFL officials make less than other sports because they all have full time careers whereas other official are full-time simply because of the number of games so it's their only source of income- pretty simple.
Phil McConkey September 14, 2012 at 07:05 PM
very informative did not know that. You swayed me. Nice work
Mike Diviney September 14, 2012 at 07:21 PM
It swayed me too.
Porterincollingswood September 14, 2012 at 08:30 PM
Mike, I 100% was on the same page with you until someone brought up an interesting point. The NFL's rationale for hiring highly paid professionals in prominent private sector positions (lawyers, C-level execs, etc) and then paying them handsomely for a part-time gig had nothing to do with generosity. It was to prevent a scenario where a ref could be temped to fix games for money. Ed Hochuli is a partner in an Arizona law firm. He does very well financially. He has a reputation and a license to practice law that he wouldn't put at risk to make a quick score on a game. He's fraud-proof. The guy who was last reffing in the lingerie football league? You'd have to admit he'd be infinitely more tempted by that offer. Just something to ponder.
Mike Diviney September 14, 2012 at 08:45 PM
Yeah, but that's still pretty far-fetched. These guys have reffed at a pretty high level so probably have some degree of integrity. Also, many of them are probably trying to parlay this opportunity to a future NFL officiating position. They probably also want to stay out of jail. Something to think about, but I think it's a pretty remote possibility.
Porterincollingswood September 16, 2012 at 01:27 AM
Remote, yes. But that was the stated reason by the NFL for why they paid part-time guys so well. So I take them at their word. How many games did Tim Donahy (SP?) fix before he was caught? It's not as tough as it seems. And he's the only one that got caught.
Larry O'Doyle September 16, 2012 at 02:52 AM
Roger Goodell would personally hand-castrate any official foolish enough to try and compromise the integrity of the game for personal profit. Very informative posts by everyone which only further solidify my concrete stance in the corner of the replacement officials. Just can't stomach a strike by wealthy men (mostly white) hagglIng over the six-figure salary of their highly prestigious part-time jobs. Throw a flag on them for Unnecessary Lack of Gratitude and tack on 15 more for being out of touch with the oppressive economic climate millions of Americans slog through everyday just to put food on the table. GO BIRDS!
Mike Diviney September 16, 2012 at 04:34 AM
True, Donaghy did shave points- that story didn't blow up nearly as much as it could have. Porter, I was saying I thought it was still remote for a replacement guy to fix a game. Even if 1 guy could do it which is questionable, it almost wouldn't be worth it. Why risk going to jail and blowing such a sweet gig- 6 figures for 17 days of work?
Mike Diviney September 16, 2012 at 04:38 AM
Good post Larry, but who the F cares if they're white or not? I know you're siding with the NFL, a league laboring to even field teams in this tough economic climate, but stay on point a little. And though I think these refs suck, the real officials seem to be to blame for this work-stoppage so I largely agree with you.
Larry O'Doyle September 16, 2012 at 03:24 PM
Judging from your history, all NFL officials suck and they all share the same hidden agenda- to sabotage the Philadelphia Eagles. The league needs the greatest players in the world and billionaire ownership to stay on top, the officials need the NFL to even exist. Go vanish back into obscurity Hochuli. Anyway, Huuuuuuuuuge game today- GO BIRDS!!!!!!
Porterincollingswood September 16, 2012 at 04:51 PM
I totally agree, and the NBA is way easier to fix because you can tell the teams who they can and can't play (via early fouls). I am not a conspiracy guy, and I don't think people can fix anything without blowing it somehow and getting caught. But I will go to my grave thinking the Lakers-Kings playoff game I watched years ago was 100% rigged. You see what happened with the ref getting pulled for being a Saints fan? They had him doing the Saints game. Funny.
Mike Diviney September 17, 2012 at 02:24 AM
Larry, you're criticizing me for not liking officials, then reiterating your stance that you don't like officials? Who does like officials? They made and missed an equal number of penalties on both sides today- that's all I ask. The real guys are asking for too much but these replacements are a joke. They can't even spot the ball right- another 4 1/2 hour Eagles game today. Who cares? GREAT game- recap Tuesday.
Fabiola Et September 24, 2012 at 07:07 PM
You are "pro" in writing. Great assessment!

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