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Red-zone woes, bad blocking doom Eagles once again

By Will Brinson | NFL Writer
This is how you score negative points on first-and-goal situations. (US Presswire)

Stop me if you've heard this before, but the Eagles are horrible in the red zone and can't block for Michael Vick. For all the narrative surrounding the much-maligned quarterback's play, those are the real issues with the Eagles offense and they showed up again in New Orleans on Monday as the Eagles lost a stinker to the Saints 28-13.

The Saints entered Monday night's game with 13 sacks on the season, "good" for 25th in the league. They managed to sack Michael Vick seven times on Monday, making Marcus Vick's impassioned and expletive-ridden take on Philly's offensive line look somewhat reasonable.

These weren't all on Vick either; much of the night he got absolutely clobbered before he could even consider where to throw the ball. That's not to make an excuse for the Eagles quarterback. Vick has to improve his pre-snap awareness and realize when his protections aren't going to give him time to throw. But the Eagles offensive line is a nightmare and it's going to end up costing people their jobs after, ironically, offensive-line-coach-turned-defensive-coordinator Juan Castillo was ditched during the bye week.

Philadelphia still had a chance in this game, though. If they don't mess their metaphorical pants in the red zone Monday, we could be talking about Andy Reid salvaging the season.

Instead, it was their biggest downfall. Four times the Eagles had first-and-goal against the lowly Saints defense. And those four instances recorded, well, negative points.

"Pretty easy synopsis: when you're 0-5 in the red zone, have seven sacks and you're tackling is terrible then you're going to struggle to win football games in this league," Reid said afterwards. "As coaches and players you've got to start doing a better job and that starts with me."

On the first occasion, Vick threw an interception that the Saints returned 99 yards for the first score of the game. Philadelphia came away with field goals on the next two instances and coughed up a fumble on the fourth.

And remember, these aren't just "red-zone opportunities." These are first-and-goals we're talking about. LeSean McCoy averaged 6.3 yards per carry against the Saints and Bryce Brown averaged over 10 yards per carry in a backup role.

Yet on these four instances, the Eagles called nine passes and just two run plays. Where's the logic in that? Because it doesn't exist. Lots of Eagles players dropped passes and the team looked sloppy as a whole.

But the playcalling near the end zone -- especially when Vick's getting sacked left and right -- made no sense and it ended up costing the Eagles a chance at winning the game. A game which, fittingly, ended as Vick sailed a pass out of the end zone on fourth and 10 from the Saints 15-yard line, so tantalizingly close to a score and yet so far away.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, subscribe to our RSS Feed watch Pro Football 360 daily at 3 p.m. ET and NFL newsletter. You can follow Will Brinson on Twitter here: @willbrinson.

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