There are two sides to every story, just like there are two sides of the ball in the NFL. On Friday, with questions of Mike Vick’s job security no longer an issue, the topic turned to how the Eagles can generate more offense, specifically in the first quarter.
Offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg praised his unit’s fight last week as they got to within striking distance, trailing by 13. He really liked the poise the offense showed on its second drive, which resulted in a touchdown.
“Certainly our staff has looked at that and we did score on the second drive,” Mornhinweg said. “We’re thinking that will be a little bit better as we move along in the second and third quarters and then at the end of games. We could play more at a higher level on a more consistent basis.”
It starts with an attitude.
“We want to be the baddest men on the field and that mentality that we’re going to be aggressive, aggressive, aggressive and it’s just that simple,” Mornhinweg said.
Third downs and penalties
Defensive coordinator Todd Bowles reviewed the film and he was actually able to take away a few good things from last week’s blowout loss. The biggest thing, as he mentioned after that game, was getting off the field on third down and eliminating dumb penalties.
“It was tough because we didn’t win, and then the penalties and the third downs … there was one person here, one person there, you can’t just single out one thing. Us, as a group, as a whole, as a defense, we just have to get it done.”
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie knows that trend can’t continue against an offensive magician like Drew Brees this week. The key is forcing him into quick three and outs.
“I think that just mood swings you,” he said. “You go and get a couple three and outs and stop them on third down. I think the offense gets excited and gets the ball in their hands, and just try and put it in the offense’s hands as much as possible.”
And the penalties?
“Be aware, move your feet in coverage, not using hands pulling guys, watching the ball not jumping offsides,” DeMeco Ryans said. “It just takes a little extra focus, a little extra focus not to get the penalty. Penalties are all mental.”
Talk all you want about the Eagles giving the ball away on offense, but they’re not getting it on defense either. For the season, they have seven interceptions and one forced fumbles. Considering four of those interceptions came in Week 1 is a cause for concern. The Eagles rank second-worst in the NFL in takeway/giveaway ratio with a minus-9 differential.
“We work at it every day and we’re trying to get them,” Todd Bowles said of takeaways. “I think they’re going to come, but there isn’t one thing that you can put on it to say this is why we are or why we aren’t doing it.”
DeMeco Ryans cited technique, specifically gang tackling, as the best way to create turnovers. Players just need to be more patient and trust the guys around them.
“The first guy there, you don’t want to just go for it [the strip] and miss the tackle and have them gain leaky yardage,” Ryans said. “Secure the tackle and hopefully hold them up long enough so the next guy in can knock the ball out. It just hasn’t been bouncing our way.”