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.