Offense Struggles, But Cole, Jacskon Injuries More Worrisome
By Lance Epstein
Too many incompletions. Too many three and outs. Not enough running plays. Special teams is slowly improving. The offense was atrocious, but hey the defense looked great for the third week in a row. Those are the fans sentiments coming out of Eagles 20-17 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs.
First-year starting quarterback Kevin Kolb continues to struggle for multiple reasons. First he persists on throwing off his backfoot. Second he is wildly inaccurate. Lastly, he is facing pressure on every play.
In addition, his wide receivers are not helping as they are dropping easy receptions. Moreover, the offensive lineman continues to block ghosts (the invisible man if you will) and get called for penalties in crucial moments. Nevertheless, the offense did manage to score a touchdown on an 18-yard run by running back LeSean McCoy.
However, the most significant news (and potentially devastating news) from the preseason victory comes on the injury front. On defense, the Eagles could likely be without their star DE Trent Cole for quite some time.
Head Coach Andy Reid said Cole is expected to have an MRI on his injured ankle on Saturday. The injury occurred in the second quarter, but Cole managed to walk off the field (to the sidelines) under his own power. Eventually he was carted off to the locker room and replaced by Darryl Tapp, who had minimal impact on the game.
According to Reid, Cole injured the ankle when an offensive lineman stepped on his foot. Immediately following the incident, Cole had an X-ray taken, but the results came back negative.
Unfortunately, Cole was not the only star to leave the game early as wide receiver DeSean Jackson left in the first quarter. After the game, Reid stated that Jackson had suffered a neck strain, which kept him from returning to the game. Reid also said that Jackson could have returned, but the Eagles kept him out as a precautionary measure.
Fortunately for the Eagles, Jackson has dodged another bullet. He seems to have
a target on his back this training camp and preseason. This is the second time that he has scared Eagles fans half to death as he went down with an injury (left the first practice of training camp with a back injury-- many speculated it was a ACL injury).
Meanwhile, Jackson is probably good-to-go for the season opener against Green Bay, but Cole's status is still up in the air. The good news is that the injury might just be a minor sprain and not a severe tear of his ankle.
On the other hand, the MRI could reveal the dreaded high ankle sprain, which would possibly keep Cole out for the next four weeks or more. Many coaches say they rather a player suffer a broken ankle because it takes less time to heal than a high ankle sprain.
Looking up and down at the Eagles roster, they do not have a player on the roster that can fill Cole's void. He is the type of defensive end that has a knack of getting to the quarterback, blowing up plays in the backfield, making an entire defense better and drawing double teams, which opens up one-on-one battles for his line mates.
If Cole misses an extended period of time, it would be demoralizing and damaging to the Eagles defense. He and middle linebacker Stewart Bradley are the two most indispensable players on the Eagles defense. They will certainly take a severe hit without his mere presence on the field.
Despite the injuries and lackluster offense, there were some positives coming out of the game for the Eagles. The first-string defense did its job and shutdown the Chiefs offense. In addition, they created a turnover that set up the Eagles offense in excellent field position and led to a touchdown.
Furthermore, the Eagles starting linebacking corps was flying all over the field. Akeem Jordan, Ernie Sims and Bradley were frequently around the ball and making plays behind the line of scrimmage.
Additionally, CBs Dimitri Patterson and rookie Trevard Lindley had good games once again. In fact, Lindley had a very nice interception. Lindley picked off Chiefs starting quarterback Matt Cassel after the ball was tipped into the air by safety Quintin Mikell. As for Joselio Hanson, he was nowhere to be found. It is beginning to look like Hanson is in Reid's doghouse and his spot on the roster in jeopardy.
Lastly, rookie quarterback Mike Kafka demonstrated why offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg proclaimed that he was the best rookie he has worked with in the last 15 years. Kafka ran the two-minute offense to perfection. He led the Eagles on a game winning, seven play, 80-yard drive, which was capped off with an 18-yard touchdown pass to rookie WR Riley Cooper. Of course, he did it all against second and third-string Chief defenders, but it is still mighty impressive that a rookie demonstrated the poised, composure and ability to complete the comeback.
Ultimately, the good news from tonight will be put on the back burner for Eagles fans. Tomorrow, Eagles' nation will collectively holds their breaths as the news on Cole's MRI is revealed.