The Day After: Thank Buddy It’s Only August

Well that happened.

Last night’s (thankfully) exhibition game with the cross-state “rivals” was a minor disaster. But is The Walrus even to blame?

The players simply couldn’t execute what appeared to be a semblance of a gameplan, and they are clearly at fault for that dismal performance. Sure, Andy can be blamed for not getting his guys ready, but yesterday’s Mike-Vick-Media-Shitstorm of a distraction(*) is, in all likelihood, the explanation for why the team was flat and lifeless.

(*)And in all honesty, who really cares. The whole “Eagles weren’t Vick’s first choice” story is such a non-story it’s ridiculous.

But now this group of still-trying-to-gel players knows what it’s like to deal with a “major” distraction on a gameday. Hopefully the team can at least take something away from THAT experience, because there sure wasn’t much else to take away from last night.

Let’s look at some of the reasons for the Eagles stinking worse than the underside of The Walrus’ mustache:

Vick Distracted
Do you think that GQ article and subsequent media circus were to blame for Michael Vick’s sloppy, Donny Drama-esque performance? Overthrows, underthrows, bad timing, poor decisions. Last night was a rare step-back for Vick, who probably can’t look much worse than that.

How much of a role did Time of Possession play into Vick’s performance? The Steelers basically controlled the ball for almost 25 minutes of the first half and the Eagles Offense didn’t have any opportunity to find a rhythm.

Juan Castillo’s Inexperience
The first-year Defensive Coordinator got a nice assist on the Steelers’ first touchdown, bringing DRC and Nate Allen in on the blitz, which left Asante Samuel alone on the outside with Antonio Brown and no Safety help. Big rookie mistake, Juan. Asante is like a little kid, you can’t let him wonder off on his own. He needs to be on the Buddy System – not the one associated with our beloved Ryan, but the one that children use on field trips.

Our plea to Juan: handcuffAsanteand Coleman/Jarrett. Asomugha’s got his side covered and Nate Allen can roam free, but the other side must be doubled-up.

Speaking of Nate Allen…
Oof! Even for a second-year kid coming off of a gruesome injury, his performance last night can only be categorized as ugly. On the aforementioned failed blitz/Steelers touchdown, Allen had an opportunity to take a running shot at Roethlisraper, but instead bit badly on a pump fake and jumped in the air repeatedly, trying to knock down the pass.

With the Steelers’ inexperienced Offensive Tackles, the prevailing thought going into the game was that the Eagles would pressure the O-Line with their down linemen. Instead, Castillo chose to show some blitz packages, including ones involving multiple DBs, and the Steelers backfield did a tremendous job of picking up Defensemen.

Also having a bad game: Casey Matthews
Is it too early to start worrying about Matthews versus the run? The Steelers Offense held the ball for nearly all but six minutes of the first half, mostly thanks to Fullback David Johnson, who blew Matthews up on a routine basis. Johnson was able to move right through the line of scrimmage and attack Matthews where he stood, allowing Rashard Mendenhall and Isaac Redman to run clear up the middle.

Whether it’s his inexperience or the fact that he’s just a better coverage LB, we may be seeing why Matthews’ lineage wasn’t enough to keep him from falling to the fourth round of last April’s draft.

Thankfully though, the Eagles came away practically unscathed health-wise(***). That’s really all you can ask for from a preseason game.

(***)The Steelers certainly can’t say the same.

And although it gives us great pain to speak kindly about him, if there’s one thing Andy Reid is good at doing, it’s getting his guys back on track after a dismal outing. We fully expect The Walrus to “get into their ass” about that game. And rightfully so.

Thank Buddy it’s only August.

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