As Eagles wilt, change better happen soon

As players vented to each other and at reporters, Asante Samuel threw on a red Phillies cap. That one fashion choice may have symbolized just as much as any play in yesterday’s 31-24 loss in Buffalo.

The Phillies are off playing golf somewhere. The Eagles, at 1-4, might soon be joining them — unless drastic changes are made.

“We are what we are right now,” coach Andy Reid said. “We have to get better.”

One way to do that is by limiting mistakes. The Eagles turned the ball over five times against the Bills, including four interceptions from Mike Vick. The quarterback has lost the ball 20 times in his last 12 games (14 picks, six fumbles).

“I think, at times, in the game you have to make a conscious effort to protect the ball, and it’s easier said than done,” Vick said. “When you’re in the moment, you see that end zone, you hear the crowd, there’s so much going on around you … one thing you have to remember is to protect the football.”

But it wasn’t just Vick yesterday. Jason Avant was directly responsible for a fourth-quarter interception, when the ball bounced off his fingertips and into the hands of Nick Barnett. Avant also fumbled late in the third, as the Eagles were marching down the field.

“I understand in a game like this there has to be someone to blame, and I’ll take that,” Avant said.

Juqua Parker should also get fingers pointed at him. Parker, one of the few veteran leaders on defense, jumped offside on fourth-and-1 with 1:23 left.

The penalty resulted in a first down and allowed the Bills to run out the clock.

“He got me,” said Parker, crediting Ryan Fitzpatrick’s hard count. “Mistakes are going to happen. I feel like we can turn this around and our team feels like we can turn it around.”

Three things we saw

1. Protect the ball — With five more TOs yesterday, the Eagles have now turned the football over at least three times in their last four games. For the season, they have 15 turnovers, with Vick — directly or indirectly — responsible for 20 in his last 12 games. Whatever your opinion on Andy Reid, it’s hard to pin all that blame on the coaching staff. “Coach isn’t turning the ball over,” Jeremy Maclin said. “You don’t turn on somebody because you turn the ball over.”

2. Diggin a hole — We have to give some kudos to defensive coordinator Juan Castillo for shutting the Bills out in the fourth quarter — finally. But the defense didn’t do Vick and Co., any favors by spotting the Bills a 21-7 lead. Fred Jackson ran at will against the overmatched safeties and linebackers, whether straight up the gut or coming off short screens.

3. Tick, tock, throw — For all the great things Vick does — he broke Randall Cunningham’s record for most rushing yards by a QB (4,948 yards) after a 53-yard scamper yesterday — he is still holding onto the ball too long. When protection breaks down, he has to either get rid of the ball or decide to run immediately. His decision to stand in the pocket and survey the field with eight seconds left in the first half cost the Eagles a field goal try.


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