Despite win, new-look Eagles have ways to go

A convincing 18-point victory in the season opener would leave
most teams feeling satisfied about their performance.

Not the Philadelphia Eagles. Not this year.

The Eagles have a long way to go if they’re going to fulfill
their goal of winning the Super Bowl. Beating the St. Louis Rams
31-13 on Sunday was a nice start. Still, there’s plenty room for
improvement.

”We’ve got a lot of things to work on after the game
yesterday,” coach Andy Reid said Monday. ”The players, I could
tell by the comments that they were humble and they understand the
situation that we’ve got to continue to get better.”

The revamped defense struggled mightily against the run. St.
Louis rushed for 154 yards, including Steven Jackson’s 47-yard
touchdown on the Rams’ first play from scrimmage.

The overhauled offensive line had problems protecting Michael
Vick. He was sacked three times and took several hits.

Vick was off, too, despite a solid all-around effort. He made
several big plays, especially scrambling, but also had his worst
passing game (14 for 32) as a starter with the Eagles. Vick threw
for 187 yards and two touchdowns, and ran for 100 until two
kneel-downs cost him two yards.

”The only thing I can dwell on right now is the things that we
didn’t do so well,” Vick said. ”I felt like I could have done
better. I’m thankful for the victory, don’t get me wrong, but I
could have been a little cleaner and I told Andy that.”

With three new starters on the offensive line, including a
rookie center, and one starter playing a new position, it’s going
to take some time for the group to get used to each other. Vick did
his best to handle blitzes by doing what he’s always done under
pressure. He ran away from it.

Teams had success blitzing the Eagles late last season and the
Rams tried it. But Vick doesn’t plan to stay in the pocket and
absorb hits.

”If teams want to do it each and every week, we’ll have
counters for it or we’ll have ways to beat it,” he said. ”That
was part of the reason I was able to run for a 100 yards. I trained
myself this offseason to be able to do that. So, however it
happens, however we get it done, that’s what it’s going to be. I’m
pretty sure we’re going to do a great job at getting better with
the blitzing. It’s all about situations and putting guys in the
right positions at that right time.”

LeSean McCoy ran for 122 yards, including a game-sealing 49-yard
score. DeSean Jackson brushed aside all the talk about him not
being happy because he doesn’t have a new contract, and caught six
passes for 102 yards and one touchdown.

”I think it speaks for the heart and determination I have to
play this game regardless of off-the-field issues,” Jackson said.
”I’m here to work, I’m here to play football and do it at a high
level. Any time I can go out there and perform and help my team
win, I think it speaks for itself.”

On the defensive side, it was a positive debut for new
coordinator Juan Castillo in his first game since switching over
from coaching the offensive linemen.

Led by Jason Babin, who was the first of the big-name free
agents signed by the Eagles, the pass rush put plenty of pressure
on Sam Bradford and took him down five times.

Nnamdi Asomugha, the biggest of the free-agent signings, wasn’t
perfect. He committed a pass-interference penalty and allowed a
long gain. But the star-studded secondary held the Rams to 181
yards passing and no scores.

”It’s the first game and everybody is amped up and we just
needed to calm down and just start to focus,” Asomugha said.
”Early in the game, everybody was all over the place. They got
that long run, and after a while, we started to calm down and it
got better.”

The Eagles stay on the road in Week 2 and have an even tougher
matchup in another dome when they face the defending NFC South
champion Falcons (0-1) in Vick’s first game returning to Atlanta as
a starter.

Vick went to three Pro Bowls and led the Falcons to the 2004 NFC
championship game in his six seasons in Atlanta before he went to
prison in 2007. He played at the Georgia Dome with the Eagles in
2009 when he was the No. 3 quarterback, and scored his first
touchdown following his release from jail.

”I was just getting back to football, not starting, so it was a
bit emotional,” Vick said of his last visit. ”This time, I think
it’s going to be exciting. ”It does feel different because I’m
going to be out there four quarters, and that makes a difference.
It definitely makes a difference in the outcome of the game.”

NOTES: Eagles LB Akeem Jordan, a former starter, has a labral
tear in his shoulder. Reid said Jordan will struggle to practice
this week. … X-rays on DE Juqua Parker’s foot were negative and
he should be fine. … DE Darryl Tapp has a pectoral strain, and
he’ll be day-to-day. … Backup QB Vince Young ran on Monday and is
making progress with his hamstring injury.