Mornhinweg knows Eagles need to regain their swagger
Les Bowen, Daily News Staff Writer
Posted: Saturday, November 3, 2012, 12:52 AM
Maybe you were cringing and clapping your hands over your ears when you heard Michael Vick talk Thursday about his need to be more aggressive, to get his "swag" back, in the wake of the Atlanta loss, in which the Eagles' quarterback managed to avoid turning the ball over for only the second time all season.
Marty Mornhinweg swears that he was not cringing, that he didn't even grit his teeth. Mornhinweg said Friday that Vick was right. He said his offense looked dead late in the Atlanta game, even when there was still time to mount a comeback, and while dead men might not turn the ball over, they also don't win.
"We've talked about that . . . that's necessary," the Eagles' offensive coordinator said. "Our whole offensive team, you know, our mentality, we've talked about that before. We want to be aggressive, aggressive, aggressive. Unafraid to make a mistake. When we make a mistake, we try to swiftly correct it and we move on. It's that simple.
"There's reasons why these things have occurred," Mornhinweg said, adroitly sidestepping what exactly they were. The dispiriting, disjointed play of the patchwork offensive line might be one. The related fact that Vick had eight interceptions and five lost fumbles in the first six games might be another.
"Excellence is all about attitude," Mornhinweg said. "We've discussed that as a unit - that is important, that attitude and that certain mentality. I thought last ballgame, at a certain point in that ballgame, we needed more of it."
LeSean McCoy talked after the game about the Eagles' lacking pride and heart in the aftermath of the 30-17 loss to the unbeaten Falcons.
Mornhinweg referenced "a certain attitude, that we're the baddest men on the field. And that mentality that we're going to be aggressive, aggressive, aggressive."
Mornhinweg didn't say how you manage to hold on to that attitude when the team on the other side of the line of scrimmage has pretty conclusively proved you are not, in fact "the baddest men on the field," as was the case with the Falcons.
Mornhinweg noted that problems are "highlighted when you don't get many chances," that you have to make the most of limited opportunities. The Eagles had the ball only once in the first quarter Sunday, as the Falcons took a 14-0 lead.
Mornhinweg said he has had "a couple of private conversations" with Vick lately, did not want to characterize them. He said the Eagles "typically have" the attitude he referenced.
"We've gone through some hard times as a ballclub in the past, and then come out of it and played well down the stretch," Mornhinweg said. "Last year, it was too late when we put it together. We've got to put it together now, get going."
Vick "was bothered and he should have been bothered, with the turnover situation," Mornhinweg said. "It's a real fine line" between being aggressive and being foolhardy.
"He's been there in his past here. There's no question in my mind [he can achieve that balance again]. I've got a high level of confidence in Michael to get that job done."
Asked how much of a distraction criticism of the team has become, Mornhinweg said: "Very little. I will say this, that there are some players that can't play in this city. It's that simple. The tough guy, physically and mentally, can thrive, playing for the Philadelphia Eagles and this city. I've been here a while now, I've built up a lot of respect for our fans. They are passionate. It's almost like they can say anything they want about their players, but nobody else can. We understand that.
"It's very simple: Outside influences distract us zero."
Defensive coordinator Todd Bowles said missed tackles were the culprit when it came to Atlanta's repeated success with screens. He said changed rotational numbers on the defensive line reflected the Falcons' tendency to run the ball; he indicated those trends might not hold for Monday's game at New Orleans.
Asked about defensive end Brandon Graham, whose 31 snaps were his most of the season, Bowles said: "Brandon did a good job. I don't know if it was so much an increase as it was different personnel groups require different people. If you get caught out there on a long drive, your snaps may tend to get skewed a little bit more."
Bowles said that in allowing Atlanta to score on its first six drives of the game, "there were a lot of things [from] training camp and OTAs, Day 1 kinds of things that shouldn't have happened . . . we corrected them in the meeting, and we'll go from there."
Just what the Eagles needed 3 days before a visit to Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints - safety Nate Allen sat out Friday's practice with a hamstring injury Allen said he suffered in Thursday's practice.
Safety David Sims, who has played exclusively on special teams this season, said he took first-team reps and is in line to start if Allen can't go.
Allen, who injured his right hamstring, to disastrous effect, in the Eagles' overtime loss to the Lions Oct. 14, this time tweaked his left, he said. He said the New Orleans game "is not out of the picture yet."
Sims, 26, arrived in a trade with the Browns before the season. He spent time on Cleveland's practice squad last year.
Sims said the practice reps help.
"They prepare you differently" when you might start, he said. "Drew Brees is a great player, but to me, it's just all football. I'm just ready to get out there and play."
Against Detroit, the Eagles used Colt Anderson in Allen's spot. Anderson, who got no practice prep, is another special-teams ace who rarely has played in the defense. He took a crucial pass-interference penalty in the end zone.
Defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins (knee) returned to practice and said he is ready to play . . . Right guard Danny Watkins (ankle) sat out, as expected. Watkins said he hates to miss time at such a crucial juncture. He said he is not allowed to discuss his injury, but acknowledged he missed no time during his 2 years at Baylor over what Andy Reid has called a chronic problem.
Contact Les Bowen at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @LesBowen. Read the Daily News' Eagles blog at www.eagletarian.com.
Les Bowen Daily News Staff Writer
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Posted 03 November 2012 - 08:49 AM