Does Eagles' Offensive Line Deserve Your Scorn?

Does Eagles' Offensive Line Deserve Your Scorn?

When I went back and watched the first half of Eagles-Cardinals to see what went wrong -- only the first half, because frankly that's when it was over -- I was a little surprised. Play after play, a flattened Michael Vick scooped himself off the turf -- 20+ times according to the broadcast -- yet the protection didn't seem all that bad. On occasion, I rewound and checked again, and for the most part the offensive line was getting the job done.

I was relieved to discover today that I was not the only person who noticed. As he does every week, Ray Didinger sat down with NFL Network analyst Brian Baldinger and watched the tape. What they found was that despite the Eagles' patchwork up front, there were plenty of issues that were bigger contributing factors to Vick's abuse than the offensive line.

And Diddy and Baldy were not the only ones.

Among the problems that led to Vick's battering on Sunday were solid coverage, multiple two-man routes (with no Jeremy Maclin to boot), lack of play-calling ballance, and Vick himself failing to get the football out. The O-line didn't exactly receive a ringing endorsement either, but the talk of it being "porous" is a little over the top.

“The line didn’t play badly,” [Baldinger] said. “They were beaten a few times but a lot of those [hits] weren’t their fault. Overall, I thought the protection was decent. Not great, but decent.”

Diddy and Baldy weren't the only ones who found other areas to point their fingers.

The Inquirer's Jeff McLane reaffirmed what we've always known, that Vick is holding onto the ball too long. "From the snap to the throw, [Vick] took an average of 3.24 seconds ... Kolb, by comparison, got his 24 pass attempts out in 2.5 seconds."

John Smallwood from the Daily News had the all-too-common job of questioning Andy Reid's game plan. "Reid is committed to the passing game - even when every indication going into a game says it might not be the best idea."

And of course, even if the offensive line did struggle to some degree, there's also a feeling of, "Well what did you expect?" Overcoming the loss of a great talent such as Jason Peters was enough to begin with, but now Jason Kelce is gone, too. Whose line would thrive after season-ending injuries removed the starters at left tackle and center?

Yet that hardly seems to be the point today. For one thing, it's far too early in the season to be trotting out the excuses. The Eagles have the line that they have now, and it's the job of the coaching staff to make that work. And apparently, even when they were down to their third left tackle and a center making his first career start, the offensive line wasn't really the heart of problem anyway.

Whenever there is a discussion about what ails the Eagles this season, the only two names that keep consistently popping up are Vick and Reid -- and it seems this week was no different.

College Hoops wrap: St. Joe's edged in usual ending at Saint Louis

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AP Images

College Hoops wrap: St. Joe's edged in usual ending at Saint Louis

No. 2 Villanova bounced back with a win over No. 23 Creighton, clinching the Big East regular-season title outright (see Instant Replay). Meanwhile, Temple was able to clip Tulane in double overtime to end a three-game losing streak (see Instant Replay).

Here's a look at the rest of college hoops in the Philly area. 

Saint Joseph's edged by Saint Louis in unusual ending, 61-60
ST. LOUIS -- Jalen Johnson scored 17 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, Mike Crawford hit a key 3-pointer, and Saint Louis edged Saint Joseph's 61-60 with an unusual ending on Saturday.

The Billikens were up 61-58 with five seconds left when Crawford missed a pair of free throws. The Hawks' Jai Williams grabbed the rebound and passed to James Demery. Demery dribbled the floor and bypassed Brendan Casper, who was calling for the ball just outside the 3-point arc, and made a layup as time expired, sealing a one-point win for Saint Louis.

Crawford's 3-pointer gave the Billikens a 59-58 lead with 1:15 to play. Johnson forced a turnover on Saint Joseph's next possession, and Aaron Hines made a layup to stretch the lead to 61-58.

Saint Louis (10-19, 5-11 Atlantic 10) snapped a three-game losing skid.

Chris Clover scored 17 points to lead Saint Joseph's (10-18, 3-13), which has lost eight straight (see full recap).

Drexel downed in Charleston, 80-67
CHARLESTON, S.C. -- Jarrell Brantley scored 22 points, grabbed nine rebounds and had four steals, Joe Chealey added 16 with three steals, and the College of Charleston beat Drexel 80-67 on Saturday to win its fourth straight.

Cameron Johnson scored 14 for the Cougars (23-8, 14-4), who have a No. 2 seed and first-round bye secured at next week's Colonial Athletic Association Tournament.

Chealey's free throw put the Cougars up for good 11-10 en route to a 36-26 halftime lead. Brantley hit three straight free throws and the Cougars led by 18, 70-52, with 6:30 left to play in the second half and were never seriously threatened.

The Cougars shot 27 of 40 free throws and outrebounded the Dragons 39-32, scoring 14 second-chance points off of 13 offensive rebounds.

Kurk Lee scored 13 points for Drexel (9-22, 3-15), which has lost five straight (see full recap).

Penn State allows near triple-double to Mason, loses to Minnesota, 81-71
MINNEAPOLIS -- Nate Mason had 16 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists, and Jordan Murphy added 16 points and 16 rebounds for the Minnesota Gophers in an 81-71 win over Penn State on Saturday.

Dupree McBrayer added 15 points off the bench for Minnesota (22-7, 10-6 Big Ten) with Akeem Springs scoring 12. Reggie Lynch had nine points and set a career-high with 11 blocks as the Gophers won their seventh game in a row and avenged an earlier loss at Penn State.

Tony Carr had 20 points and seven assists, while Shep Garner scored 10 points and grabbed eight rebounds for the Nittany Lions, who have lost three straight. Penn State had just five turnovers, all in the first half, but shot 35.5 percent.

Excluding the vacated season of 1996-97, Minnesota has won seven games in a row for the first time since 1978 (see full recap).