Staff writer Steve Fini looks back on five players who helped decide the Bills’ 31-24 victory over the Eagles.
Michael Vick (QB/Eagles) -– Statistically speaking, he’s had some really great games. Yesterday was another one, when Vick threw for over 300 yards and 2 touchdowns while rushing for another 90 yards. Great.
He’s also been a turnover machine this year.
He had only nine turnovers all of last season. Through five games this year, he’s had 10. A few of those turnovers are hard to put on Vick, but the numbers are what they are. It’s really hard to win when you turn the ball over that much. What’s more surprising to me about his game this year is that the team doesn’t seem to be rallying around him. Last year, Vick seemed to be the unquestioned leader of this team. He was something that Donovan McNabb never was; a uniting force and strond presence in the locker room. Players came here to play with Vick. Now, it’s all falling apart in front of his eyes.
Some of it is his fault, some isn’t. What is his fault, however, is that the team isn’t playing together on the field. If he can’t get them to step up and take responsibility for their poor play, things will only continue to get worse.
Fred Jackson (RB/Bills) – He was as good as advertised on Sunday, maybe even better. The Eagles have really struggled getting their defense off the field this year and it has been because they are unable to stop the run. Teams eat up yardage on the ground on first down and the Eagles can’t generate three and outs. Throughout the game, whenever the Eagles would generate momentum on offense, the defense would allow Jackson to take it away. If the Bills can keep this type of balance on offense they’re going to be have a successful season.
George Wilson (S/Bills) – I wrote in my game preview that Jairus Byrd, the Bills free safety, was an underrated player who seems to be all over the field. Well, I was right about the position, wrong about the player. Wilson was the difference maker on defense for Buffalo. It seemed like he was in five different positions for them…on the same play. He flew to the football, consistently making big plays for the Bills. This has been a huge problem for the Eagles this year; having “no name” players, on both sides of the ball, outplay their big money guys.
Jason Babin (DE/Eagles)– I don’t think he was on the field Sunday to be perfectly honest. The Bills’ left tackle was making his first career start, against a guy who is leading the NFL in sacks. Somehow, Babin ended up with only 3 tackles on the day. That can’t happen. While the Eagles cut down their splits and were pinched in to stop the run, that shouldn’t totally prevent Babin from making an impact. Cullen Jenkins registered the only sack of the day, and that wasn’t until the fourth quarter. Babin also got blocked down on a few of Fred Jackson’s biggest run plays, including his first touchdown.
Asante Samuel (CB/Eagles) – The Eagles have had tackling issues all season. One of the worst offenders has been Samuel. We all know that he isn’t a great tackler, we’ve seen that in the past. But this year it is almost comical to watch him avoid tackling. Against the Bills, he basically jumped in the air when a Bill “blocked him” so he could avoid contact. It’s not just his tackling issues, however. The Bills were in the red zone and on the brink of scoring at the five-yard line. Instead of playing up on the receiver, Samuel was five yards off him. The wide-out went on to catch the touchdown on a curl route. It’s plays like this that can’t happen, particularly against a veteran secondary.
To me, it seems like Samuel is out there playing his own game, regardless of what is being called on the field. That is the epitome of what is wrong with this team right now–players out there playing their own game, not being in line with everyone else on the field. To me, if you’re a defensive coach right now, you put Dominque Rodgers-Cromartie out there instead of Samuel. DRC can’t tackle either, but at least he can play press man coverage. That would give the Eagles an identity on defense that emphasizes man coverage that takes away the passing game, which would allow for the rest of the team to flow to the football.
I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that Samuel doesn’t want to play for this team anymore. So bench him and move on.