Inside Slant, Notes, Quotes, Report Cards

The Eagles continue to be plagued by bad starts. They were outscored 14-0 in the first quarter Sunday by the Broncos and fell behind 28-0 in a game they would eventually lose, 49-21.

On their way to the Super Bowl last season, the Eagles had the league's best first-quarter point differential. This year, they've been outscored 62-14 in the first period. All 14 of those points came in the Eagles' Week 2 win over the San Francisco 49ers.

"One of the things that's pretty obvious is you can't get down by four touchdowns against a good football team," Eagles coach Andy Reid said. "Therefore, you have to start faster. Which we realize we haven't done a good job of this year."

The Eagles have scored just once all season on the first two possessions of the game. Against the Broncos, they went three-and-out on both of their first two drives. Quarterback Donovan McNabb has completed just 12 of 35 passes on the Eagles' first two possessions this season.

Sunday, the Broncos attacked the Eagles with nine-man blitzes to open the game. The Eagles seemed completely befuddled by the strategy.

"They did a nice job with their blitz package early in the game," Reid said. "It was something they hadn't featured, at least with that particular blitz.

"It took a series or two to get it right, then we figured it out and were able to move the ball a little bit and have a little more production there."

McNabb, who is playing with a sports hernia injury, was only sacked two times, but was knocked down constantly. He completed just 12 of 34 passes in the game.

NOTES, QUOTES

--Andy Reid said there's a chance that kicker David Akers may return this week for the Eagles' game against Washington. Akers has missed four games with a torn hamstring. If Akers returns, the Eagles' current kicker, Jose Cortez, who was signed just last week, likely would be kept on the roster to handle kickoffs.

"There's a chance (he'll be back Sunday)," Reid said. "We will have to see how he does. He's making improvement. He's started kicking. Not a lot. But he did kick a little last week with a snapper and a holder."

--The Eagles entered the season with a secondary that was considered one of the best in the league. Three of their four starters made the Pro Bowl last year. The fourth may have been even more deserving than the other three.

But they are struggling in a big way right now. The Eagles gave up four touchdown passes in their loss to Denver Sunday. That makes 13 in the last five games. Last season, they gave up 16 the entire year.

PLAYER PERSONNEL NOTES

--K David Akers may be back this week. Akers has missed the last four games with a torn hamstring, but started kicking in the club's indoor practice field last week. He'll kick some more this week before a decision is reached.

--DE Jevon Kearse suffered a sprain of the AC joint in his right shoulder Sunday. He left the game in the first quarter and didn't return. He had an MRI Monday and currently is listed as day-to-day.

--P Dirk Johnson has re-aggravated his groin injury. Johnson had June surgery to repair a sports hernia, but is having problems again. He kicked Sunday, but there's a good chance the Eagles will have to put him on injured reserve and bring in another punter.

--DE N.D. Kalu injured the rotator cuff in his shoulder Sunday. He played the entire game, but had an MRI Monday. He is listed as day-to-day.

--WR Terrell Owens sprained the ankle Sunday that he had surgically repaired last December. He played the entire game with the injury, but had an MRI on it Monday. His status for Sunday is uncertain.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

REPORT CARD V. BRONCOS

PASSING OFFENSE: F -- The Eagles were not at all prepared for the all-out blitzes the Broncos threw at them early in the game. Donovan McNabb didn't complete his first pass until eight minutes were gone in the second quarter. He finished with just 12 completions in 34 attempts.

RUSHING OFFENSE: C-plus -- The Eagles ran the ball 19 times, which, for them, is a lot. It was the second most rushing attempts they've had this season. Brian Westbrook did a decent job of running out of spread formations. Lamar Gordon had 16 yards on 2 carries.

PASS DEFENSE: F -- The Eagles were torched for four touchdown passes by Jake Plummer. That's 13 they've given up in the last five games. Last year, they gave up 16 the entire season. Plummer's bootlegs and play-action gave the Eagles major problems.

RUN DEFENSE: F -- Until they wore down in the second half, the Eagles actually weren't doing a terrible job against the run. They held Mike Anderson and Tatum Bell to a collective 78 yards in the first half. The Broncos finished with 255 rushing yards. Anderson and Bell both collected 100-plus.

SPECIAL TEAMS: B-plus -- The extra distance and hang time provided by new kicker Jose Cortez helped the Eagles' kickoff coverage unit contain the Broncos' Darrent Williams. P Dirk Johnson had a 42.1 net average. KR Rod Hood averaged 24.8 yards per return.

COACHING: F -- There's no excuse for how ill-prepared the Eagles were for the Broncos' early-game blitzes. Andy Reid's offense still was one-dimensional early. His quarterback completed just 12 of 34 passes.

War Nest Top Stories