Eagles Wake-Up Call: Checking the Penalty Count

Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Nnamdi AsomughaThe Eagles had a sizable penalty advantage against the Steelers last week. The Birds were called for just five penalties for 35 yards, a season-low. Pittsburgh, meanwhile, had nine penalties for 106 yards.

On the season, the Eagles are averaging 6.8 penalties (19th, meaning 18 teams are averaging fewer) and 63.4 penalty yards (23rd). In 2011, the numbers were 6.7 (23rd) and 53.3 (19th), respectively.

So who have been the biggest culprits? Here’s a look:

 
Penalties
Penalty Yards
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie446
Nnamdi Asomugha433
Evan Mathis430
Demetress Bell428
Jason Babin310

Keep in mind the numbers count penalties that were declined. The team’s two starting corners, and perhaps the Eagles’ most consistent offensive lineman are tied with Bell for the team lead in penalties with four. Bell’s numbers are actually even worse when you consider he’s only played about 3.5 games. Dallas Reynolds, who has also played about 3.5 games, is the only starter on the offensive line who has not yet been called for a penalty.

Phillip Hunt, King Dunlap, Jeremy MaclinDanny Watkins and Todd Herremans have two penalties apiece.

In terms of types of penalties, a couple things stand out. Number one, the Eagles have been called for 12 offensive holding penalties, second-most in the NFL. So we should all concede that they’re at least trying to keep opponents away from Michael Vick.

Meanwhile, of the eight personal foul penalties, six have been called on defensive linemen (two on Hunt, and one each on Darryl Tapp, Babin, Cullen Jenkins and Trent Cole).

WHAT YOU MISSED

For the second straight week, in an attempt to boost special teams, the Eagles made a linebacker swap. Adrian Moten is out, and Jason Williams is in. Details here.

Were the Eagles linebackers responsible for the struggles against the run last week? Here’s the game review.

And here are notes on the running backs, wide receivers and tight ends, including details on how the Birds used Brent Celek.

Don’t forget to check out the podcast of Birds 24/7 Radio. We’re on the air on 97.5 The Fanatic every Monday from 6 to 7 p.m.

Steelers offensive lineman Willie Colon called the Eagles “cheap-shot artists.”

If you’re looking for a positive with Vick, he did a very nice job against the blitz last week.

SI.com’s Peter King and some others in the national media have brought up the idea of Vick getting benched for Nick Foles.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

Ben Roethlisberger clarified that he doesn’t think the Eagles were playing dirty.

“I was never quoted as saying (the Eagles played) dirty,” Roethlisberger said, per Adam Caplan. “I think they’re a very physical team, they like to get after you. It might have been misunderstood when I said, ‘They get after it.’ Getting after me, we tell all those guys to get after the player. That’s just being physical and trying to make plays. If I call someone dirty, you’ll know it.”

Ryan Grigson and the Colts have signed former Eagles defensive tackle Antonio Dixon.

And finally, Tiki Barber went after Vick pretty hard in his USA Today column, advising Andy Reid to bench the quarterback.

The last thing a team needs is doubt and dissension. Confidence and trust in the plan — and the players executing it — are the underlying building blocks to wins and loses. But the Philly locker room could face disruption because players will be asked about Vick’s job security.

To a man, the Eagles will outwardly stand behind Vick. But make no mistake, the psyche of the team is changing. Maybe it’ll start with a group of two or three guys, disgruntled for one reason or another (maybe they’re not getting enough balls thrown their way).

After a couple more weeks of the same, it’ll be 15 to 20 guys. And if the Eagles lose games they’re supposed to win, the outward support will be gone. If a change isn’t made, faith in Reid will start to evaporate.

COMING UP

The Eagles are back at Novacare preparing for Sunday’s matchup against the Lions. We’ll have it all covered, along with some All-22 analysis.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.

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