Skip to content
Link copied to clipboard

Eagles' Sims just one of the poor tacklers

NEW ORLEANS - Wandering around the Superdome turf like a well-hydrated straggler on Bourbon Street, Eagles safety David Sims' first professional performance at the position on Monday night perfectly encapsulated the Eagles' Bayou Beatdown.

NEW ORLEANS - Wandering around the Superdome turf like a well-hydrated straggler on Bourbon Street, Eagles safety David Sims' first professional performance at the position on Monday night perfectly encapsulated the Eagles' Bayou Beatdown.

Sims, 26, does not deserve the blame for the Eagles' fourth straight loss. That would rest on the entire defense. He just proved he belonged by being able to tackle like the rest of them.

The "Big Easy" isn't just a nickname for New Orleans so much as it was the Eagles' defense.

We've seen better tackling in local, 8-year-old soccer games. Or in the bread aisle at the grocery store last week before Hurricane Sandy. And while we're at it, let's just say the Eagles' secondary was not trained in angles by an architect.

"Tackling is something that you do or you don't do," defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins said. "It's about angles. Everybody has got to look in the mirror and see what can be done."

In what ended as a little more than a two-score game, the Eagles failed to tackle on at least two scoring plays. Countless more misses on other plays led to points for New Orleans. It was a major difference in the game.

"Pretty easy synopsis," Eagles coach Andy Reid said. "When you're 0-5 in the red zone, allow seven sacks and have terrible tackling, it's tough to win."

Sims was guilty of one of those missed tackles that led to a touchdown. Rookie Mychal Kendricks, almost as green as Sims, committed the other egregious tackling error. Nearly every player on the defense - Nnamdi Asomugha to Brandon Graham - was guilty at one point or another on the field, turning small plays into big ones.

Take Sims' second-quarter whiff on running back Chris Ivory's 22-yard touchdown run. Sims made contact with Ivory at the 10-yard line. But his angle to cut off Ivory - a fourth-string back who was inactive for four games this season - was so poor that Ivory could have kept him at bay by flicking his finger.

New Orleans entered the game with the NFL's least potent rushing offense, Houston's Arian Foster has 200 more yards than the Saints' stable of fourrushers combined. but gashed the Eagles for 140 yards.

"When it's time to stop the run, you've got to stop the run," defensive end Trent Cole said. "We failed to do what we were supposed to do."

For a safety, angles are the most basic fundamental. Yet the Eagles seem to get caught with a bad one or two every week. It should be noted, too, especially in the red zone, that there were no other Eagles anywhere near Sims to give him help.

Kendricks had a similar gaffe on receiver Jimmy Graham's touchdown reception in the third quarter. It was the touchdown that broke the Eagles' backs after they rallied to cut their deficit from 21-3 to 21-13. New Orleans' next drive after the stunning, 10-point shift began with a DeMeco Ryans missed read and missed tackle on a 16-yard pass to Mark Ingram in the middle of the field.

The missed tackle at the beginning of the drive set up Kendrick's mistake deep in Eagles' territory.

"I can't tell you how many times we had numbers at the ball and we still couldn't bring them down," Graham said. "It's frustrating. We've got to make more plays."

"We had a lot of opportunities to turn big plays into negative [ones], a lot of chances to stop them right at the line of scrimmage," Jenkins said. "We didn't do it."

Sims , who was inactive for a game this season,was pressed into action when usual starting safety Nate Allen couldn't go because of hamstring issues. It's not Sims' fault that he was forced to face poised New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees in a hostile environment. That blame would rest on the Eagles' personnel staff, which put him in that position.

Amazingly, Sims was actually touted by general manager Howie Roseman as an "athletic, solid tackler" when the Eagles acquired him in a minor trade with Cleveland on Aug. 31.

"It didn't go the way I expected it, the way I wanted it to go," Sims said. "I was just too hyped to be out there. I left too many plays on the field. Tackling is tackling, we just need to wrap guys up. That's something small that we can handle. We all know how to tackle."

Maybe better tackling would just have delayed the inevitable scores. Or maybe better tackling, especially in the red zone, would have been the beginning of a momentum-swinging stop. The Eagles didn't get any of those.

"The first however many games we played, we didn't tackle like this," Asomugha said. "I don't think anyone can put our finger on it."

With ballcarriers inches from your grasp, making tackles and making stops often comes down to wanting it more. Jenkins said after last week's loss to Atlanta that his team lacked heart and pride. Those two attributes, Jenkins admitted, didn't make the trip to New Orleans.

"They weren't back tonight. It's the way we lost, the way we played," Jenkins said. "It's unacceptable. We've got to do more than words. I could stand up here and put together perfect sentences, give you guys perfect answers, sound as intelligent as I want to, it all comes out to whether we put it together on Sundays. It's tough to put that performance out there today."