Who are the Eagles Really????

The Philadelphia Eagles are a marvel in this short start of the NFL season.  With a 4 and 2 record, they seem to be in control of the season.  There are other questions that arise though.  Is it all smoke and mirrors?  Is the NFC really a true litmus test?  Is the Eagles defense and special teams just young and need time to gel?  I remember when Jim Johnson first got here with Andy Reid, Troy Vincent being interviewed and saying that “it would take 6 weeks for the Eagles to learn this scheme, but after that teams should be worried.”  Could this be a case of a young talented defense, new defensive coordinator, running his best imitation of a Jim Johnson’s blitzing scheme?  Or is it a case of parody in the NFL?  Another few questions are is King Dunlap a better left tackle then Jason Peters, right now?  Who should be the Quarterback, Mike Vick or Kevin Kolb?  Will the injuries that have already happen haunt this team for the rest of the season?  Lastly is this team a serious contender or is it just a case of mistaken identity.  With a team that is more skitzofrenic then Russell Crowe in a “Beautiful Mind”.  There is plenty of promise, but is it a team for the future or is it a team to win now?  King Dunlap was given more help then Jason Peters was, but in all fairness Jason Peters is a season veteran with a huge price tag.  Dunlap is basically a rookie playing out there and all the misdirection, potential screen pass set ups, end arounds and trick plays really worked to his advantage.  Another thing that was a helper for him is Abraham is a good size defensive end.  Smaller, faster defensive ends are going to be trouble for Dunlap.  All in all I will take a struggling rookie type who doesn’t jump off sides three times a game and doesn’t get a holding call in a key situation in the game.  Now as far as things go with the starting quarterback, I have no clue.  But if Vick comes back in as the starter it could ruin Kolb.  Just when it had seemed that Kolb beat the naysayers by throwing the long ball.  All he can do is check down?  No!  This issue with Vick showing up at 12:15 might be a glaring one in the future.  This is purely speculation, but my perception is that Vick was miffed he couldn’t play against his old team and that is why he was late.  Again that is just my opinion.  To answer the last question, injuries effect every team in football and if Peyton Manning goes down the Colts are done and likewise for any team.  So I ask you this who are the 2010 Philadelphia Eagles?  Only time will tell…..

Reflections on Eagles Week 1 loss

Now that the Eagles opener against the Green Bay Packers has come and gone it’s time to reflect on what was Sunday and what could be in the future. The Eagles did a few things right and a few more things wrong in a 27-20 loss that leaves the team still searching for answers at several key positions.

Kolb struggles: After starting his career with back-to-back 300-yard passing games last season expectations were high for Kevin Kolb — maybe a little too high. Like many young quarterbacks, Kolb had his struggles on Sunday, passing for just 24 yards after having his day come to an end before halftime due to a concussion. Injury aside, Kolb looked shaky on his first game since Donovan McNabb was traded to the Redskins, going 5-for-10 and finishing with a QB rating of 56.2. The Eagles are saying there is a chance the Kolb could play this Sunday against Detroit, but with the NFL now more cautious about head injuries I would be surprised to see him active.

Vick Impresses: Sure it was against a defense that wasn’t expecting to see him for more than a few gadget plays, but it is undeniable that Vick sparked the Eagles offense. For all of the criticism that Vick has taken since arriving in Philadelphia last preseason — and rightly so — he reminded fans why he was a three-time pro bowler at the position.

With the offensive line struggling, Vick improvised his way to 103 yard rushing on 11 attempts. He also was quite accurate with the football, finishing 16-for-24 for 175 yards. No matter what way you shake it, 275 total yards for a QB in just over half of a football game is a great day.

We may also get to find out what Vick can do against a defense that game plans for him this week if Kolb can’t go.

Still no running game: I’m not sure how the Eagles are going to find out what they have in LeSean McCoy if they don’t give him an opportunity to run the football. McCoy got just seven carries on Sunday. He did factor in the passing game, as expected, with six catches and 47 yards, but the Eagles looked very one dimensional, especially in the first half. Reid has never been one to focus on the run, but for a team in transition finding out if McCoy is the right guy for the job should be a priority. It would be nice to see what McCoy could do with 15-plus carries but that doesn’t seem like a reality with this coaching staff in place.

Defensive aggression: Don’t let the fact that the Packers score 27 points fool you; the Eagles defense played well Sunday. The Bird racked up three sacks and pressured Aaron Rodgers early and often. Had the offense done a little more with the football the defense may not have worn down in the second half. I liked what I saw in terms of blitzes in this game and it was good to see Juqua Parker make a couple of big plays.

The Packers are expected to be one of the best offensive teams in the league so it is hard to scrutinize this unit too much. Holding Rodgers to 188 yards passing is something many defenses would be envious of.

Detroit will be no walk in the park: Do I expect the Eagles to win on Sunday? Yes. Do I think it will be easy? No.

The Lions look much improved from their two win 2009-10 season and would have beat the Bears if not for a controversial late call on what have been a game-winning touchdown catch by Calvin Johnson before the ball came lose from his hand on the way down.

Even if Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford can not go, which looks very likely given his shoulder injury, I don’t expect the Lions to go down easy. This will be the team’s home opener and the team is sure to be fuming after the way Sunday’s game ended.

The good news for the Eagles is that Detroit still looks very vulnerable through the air as Jay Cutler torched the Lions’ secondary for 372 yards. If Cutler can do that with only one interception, Vick or Kolb should be able to do the same.

Look for the Lions to hang in the game, but an aggressive Eagles defense to take advantage of backup QB Sean Hill and put this one away in the second half.

Overall: The Eagles have the look of a .500 squad right now. They have some pieces to be a plyoff contender but with question marks at key positions a lot will have to go right for that to happen.

Beating Detroit would be a good start.

What will the Eagles do in the draft?

This might be the most important draft in the Andy Reid era. The Eagles have a total of 10 picks and 5 of them are in the top 100.  With all of these picks the team is sitting in a pretty good position if they decide to move up for a player that they like. The Eagles need to address the defense side of the ball; needing help at every position. If I was the GM I would be praying that somehow Eric Berry would slip past the Browns at pick number 7  and would then package up picks to try and move up to anywhere from 10-15 and grab either Eric Berry or Earl Thomas whichever one is still on the board . Both of the choices would be instant impact players for this defense that is in need of a few good play makers; my preference would be Berry.  After hopefully picking up Berry or Thomas the team should then try for Carlos Dunlap for their 2nd round choice with the 37th overall pick; Dunlap is a top 10 talent but will end up falling in the draft due to his off the field problems. So how would everyone feel if the Eagles first two draft picks were Eric Berry and Carlos Dunlap?  Feel free to discuss

Did Reid get best value for McNabb?

Andy Reid has never been one to put on an entertaining press conference – ever.

So it should come to no surprise that Reid gave few details in his post -Donovan McNabb trade press conference. One thing that jumped out Sunday night was his refusal to answer a question which is sure to be discussed in Philly from now until the two teams meet next season.

The question: Was the offer from the Redskins (Second round pick this year, No. 37, and a third or fourth next year) the best on the table?

Reid sidestepped the question twice, answering that he did what was best for the Philadelphia and that he felt that Washington was a great fit for McNabb.

Later on CSN he repeated that he wanted to do what is best for Donovan McNabb and the Philadelphia Eagles.

So was there a better offer from a team like the Raiders that wouldn’t have made McNabb happy? Did Reid turn down a better offer from Buffalo because McNabb didn’t want to be there? Did Reid’s personal relationship with McNabb have an impact on his business decision?

In a perfect world both McNabb and the Eagles could get got the best possible deal out of this. This isn’t a perfect world, though.

This is a question that will be debated often. It’s one of about 100 questions that have popped up since the deal went down.

For the first time since 1999 the Eagles will have a leader under center not wearing No. 5

The post-McNabb era has officially begun.

Reid says Eagles entertaining offers for all three quarterbacks

Andy Reid has finally come out and admitted what everyone in Philadelphia already knew: The Eagles are entertaining trade offers for all three of their quarterbacks.

You can read the report on espn.go.com

While the news is not a surprise, the fact that it came from Reid is. The Eagles’ coach has been steadfast in his statement that Donovan McNabb will be the team’s starting quarterback next season and they would like to keep all three of their signal callers.

The national media has not bought that for a second though, linking McNabb, Michael Vick and Kevin Kolb to different locations during the offseason. Someone is going somewhere.

Of course tightlipped Andy was not about to go into any further details on any possible deals, as the article states.

“This is the truth: Our three quarterbacks are Philadelphia Eagles,” Reid said Tuesday, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. “People are entertaining us with offers. Nothing’s been done, but we’re evaluating all of them. That’s the truth. There’s not a lot really going on other than entertaining.”

So while we may not know more about the future of the Eagles quarterback position today than we did yesterday, at least Reid has come out and admitted the obvious.

For him, that’s a big step.

Eagles trade Reggie Brown to Buccaneers

One of the bigger busts in the Andy Reid era is leaving town.

The Eagles traded Reggie Brown to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for an undisclosed 2011 draft pick.
Brown never quite found a home with the Eagles, bouncing between roles as high as their No. 1 receiver, to as low as their No. 5. Some weeks he wasn’t even activated.

The Eagles selected Brown with their 35th pick of the 2005 draft, a move that excited the teams fan base. The Birds had spent little attention to their receiving core in years previous and this was a move that looked to change that.

Outside of 2006, when Brown made 61 catches, Brown was never used as more than a last option. Last year he caught just nine balls and became a forgotten man.

In Tamps brown will be given an opportunity. What he does with it is anyone’s guess. The Bucs are thin and receiver after allowing Antonio Bryant to become a free agent. Maybe Brown will relocate the talent that made him a second round pick.  Maybe he won’t.

One thing most Eagles seem to agree on is that Browns absence will not affect the Eagles moving forward.

Eagles release Brian Westbrook

The end of an era has arrived in Philadelphia. Brian Westbrook will no longer be an Eagle.

Philadelphiaeagles.com is reporting that the Eagles will release Westbrook today.

“Brian is one of the greatest Eagles of all time and he is even a better person and leader,” said head coach Andy Reid. “In my mind, there has not been a more versatile running back that the NFL has seen. I had a conversation with Brian this morning to let him know. This is by far the most difficult part of this job. We wanted to make this move now in order to maximize Brian’s chances of landing with another NFL team.”

Westbrook is the second former Pro Bowl running back to be let go in as many days as the Chargers cut ties with LaDainian Tomlinson.

Westbrook was with the Eagles for eight seasons and provided countless memories and big plays, helping his team to four NFC title games in his career.

Over the next few days Philly Sports Blogs will be bringing you some of our favorite memories of #36. In the meantime, we wish him the best. Enjoy a tatse of what 0ne of the greatest running backs in Eagles’ history provided.

Making the case: Vick for starter in 2010

Michael Vick is a weapon, plain and simple. He can run, pass and he is capable of the big play at any time.

When the Eagles signed Vick last offseason they did so to give an athlete with a troubled past a chance to rebuild his reputation in the community and show that he could also still get the job done on the field.

I think most would agree that he went 2-for-2.

It is almost a certainty that the Eagles will not keep Vick around as a backup considering his contract calls or him to make 5.2 million next season. Reid has already come out and said that Donovan is his guy next year, but plenty can change in an offseson.

The Eagles have three options with “the original wildcat: They can decline his option leaving him to go free elsewhere; pick up the option and trade him; or trade McNabb and make Vick the starter.

While option three seems the most unlikely, let’s examine it.

It is hard to look too deep into Vick’s numbers this year considering he attempted only 13 passes during the regular season – completing six for 86 yards. He also ran the ball 24 times for 95 yards. Vick was used sparingly during the regular season and most of his plays were designed to set up this big moment on Saturday.

It was the one highlight in an otherwise miserable day for the Eagles and their fans.

For his career, Vick has been up and down. He has tons of highlight runs and has a cannon for an arm, but also lacks the consistency to be an accurate pocket-passer.

So how does it make sense for him to become the starter in Philadelphia?

I think it could be a good move for the franchise if they get an offer for McNabb that is too good to refuse – as in, above market value. The fans are clamoring for a change and starting Vick would certainly qualify. The team could keep both Vick and Kevin Kolb for next year and see how things transpire. If it becomes clear that Vick is not the guy, you have a young backup you can turn to. If it does work out you can negotiate an extension with Vick to keep him in Philadelphia.  Either way, one of th two QBs would become the “man” in the future.

Is it likely? No. Could t work? Yes.

Fans have seen what the McNabb-Reid combo can do. They want a new look and this could be the one.

Check back on Wednesday when we make a case for Kevin Kolb to be the 2010 starter.

The end of the McNabb era may have arrived

The late Albert Einstein is known for many great pieces of knowledge. In the sports world there is one phrase he coined that seems to trump all else:

The definition of insanity is doing something over and over again and expecting a different result.”

That phrase has been used by fans over the last few seasons to persuade  the Eagles front office breaking up the duo of Donovan McNabb and Andy Reid. Of course the front office has not taken that route, keeping the pair together and hoping for different results.

As a result, the Eagles fan base has been driven insane.

The Birds made it clear earlier this season that Reid will be back, signing him to a contract extension after back-to-back wins over Washington and Atlanta. What we will soon find out is if McNabb will join him.

It’s not an easy call anyway you look at it. Few quarterbacks in the league have an arm as strong as McNabb’s. With DeSean Jackson on board McNabb got to show off that arm, throwing for over 3,5000 yards and 22 TDs. His 92.9 QB rating is well-above average.

But then there is the bounce passes and the mental lapses. And for all that he has accomplished (five NFC title games), he still has a reputation for failing to deliver in big games.

The Star-Telegram in Dallas has a good read on McNabb’s cloudy

“And while the blame for the Eagles’ 34-14 loss to Dallas on Saturday shouldn’t be laid solely at the feet of McNabb, the fact remains he is what he is — the Eagles quarterback and the face of the franchise. When things go right, he usually gets credit. When things go wrong, and wrong they did go on Saturday, McNabb must face the music and bear the brunt of the criticism, as he did Saturday.

But for how much longer?”

The rest can be read here: http://www.star-telegram.com/332/story/1881936.html

With Kevin Kolb’s contract will run out after next season and Michael Vick’s option only to be picked up if he is a starter (backups don’t make $5.2 million) there is clearly a decision to be made – a decision that will go a long way in determining the teams success over the next few years.

Over the next three days I will make the case for Vick, Kolb and McNabb to be the starters, before rendering a verdict on Friday. In the meantime, who do you want to captain the Eagles next season?

Athlete of the Decade #2 Donovan McNabb

Donovan McNabb was not a popular choice when he was selected in the 1999 draft with the #2 overall pick.  He played in nearby Syracuse, but for some reason Eagles fans had their hearts set on Ricky Williams.  It is somehow fitting that since that critical pick, the Eagles have ranked near the bottom of the league in average rush attempts per game, but have also been one of the most successful franchises in the league, largely in part to McNabb’s efforts from the quarterback position.

Andy Reid made no secret of the fact that he preferred a passing offense, as was evidenced when he introduced the West Coast Offense to this traditionally smash mouth, run it up the middle NFC East brawler of a franchise that had limited success under Rhodes, Kotite, Ryan, Campbell, Vermiel, and so forth, with the normal claim to fame being a dominant defense.  This was a team that was in the top ten in scoring only 6 times over the thirty years prior to McNabb, but has been in the top ten in scoring 6 times in the 10 years WITH McNabb, including setting new records for point production in 2002, 2008 and 2009.   Reid, with the help of  defensive guru Jim Johnson did not abandon the teams defensive roots, and has ranked in the top 5 league wide in points allowed five of the past ten seasons as well while making this upgrade to the offense.

McNabb has become the franchise leader in career wins, pass attempts, pass completions, passing yards, and passing touchdowns, passing notables such as Ron Jaworski and Randall Cunningham in the process.  Still, in this city, the toughest place on the planet to play professional sports, and being a starter at the toughest position, McNabb has never gotten the respect I feel he deserves.   This year may be the year he gets his revenge as he has led the Eagles to a mid season 6 game winning streak and now holds the chance to win at Dallas this wekeend and clinch the 6th NFC East division title in his 10 years behind center.

Ricky Williams ?  11,000 yards and 69 touchdowns, in 114 games rushing and receiving, certainly not bad for a running back in this league.

But McNabb ??  32,000+ yards passing with 240 touchdowns including passing and rushing, and the owner of the all time lowest interception ratio in league history. Even at 6’2″ and 240+ pounds, McNabb has been somewhat injury prone, only starting every game in 5 of his ten+ seasons, but this is not a conditioning issue, more his style of play. Simply put, McNabb leaves it all on the field.

Remember also, McNabb for the majority of his career has had little support. Until this year.  Only Terrell Owens in 2004 and Kevin Curtis in 2007, have reached 1,000 yards in a season, and only Owens had more than 10 touchdowns in a single year.  But McNabb still holds the yardage and touchdown records here.  In his draft class, he is third best behind Manning and Brady who had top receivers like Marvin Harrison and Randy Moss to throw to for years.

He rushes less now but still has over 3,000 career rushing yards and 25 touchdowns which ranks him in the top ten of quarterbacks all time.  More importantly, he led the team to 4 consecutive NFC East Championships and a Super Bowl.

He also created some of the most famous plays in Philadelphia sports history, including the now infamous 4th and 26 play against the Packers with 1:12 to play in the 2003 NFC championship game and no timeouts, when he scrambled for nearly 6 seconds before converting on a pass to Freddie Mitchell, and the nearly as famous 2002 game against the Cardinals that he finished with a broken leg and a 103.8 QB rating completing 20 of 25 for 255 yards and 4 touchdowns in the win.

McNabb has long been known to be as dangerous a passer when flushed from the pocket as anyone to play the game, and may actually be a better quarterback once he leaves the pocket, a fact that has frustrated and stymied many defenses since he arrived in the league.   He also seems to possess a 6th sense that tells him at times when a defender is appproaching, allowing him to create plays outside of the regular playbook.

Even if he never wins a Super Bowl, he will leave the team as the leader in nearly every statistic possible.

This may be the year for McNabb to finally get his ring.    He has 4 of the best recievers he has ever had playing at one time, DeSean Jackson has surpassed 1000 yards, has a league leading yards per catch average and could break the 10 touchdown barrier with one more long catch, Brent Celek is nearly as good with 875 yards and 8 touchdowns, and Jeremy Maclin and Jason Avant and Reggie Brown round out a very strong recieving corps.  McNabb also has the best support on the line of scrimmage he has seen in his career, with Westbrook, McCoy and Weaver combining for a powerful 1-2-3 punch the likes of which the team has never seen.  All three backs are also available for screens, which constitutes a large part of the Eagles playbook.

If the Eagles beat the Cowboys next week, they may carry the two seed in the NFC into the playoffs, get a bye, and a home game, and have only one real contest that will challenge them before going to the Super Bowl.   This may be McNabb’s best shot to get it done.  He is sore and has some hamstring pain and tightness, but overall, he is in the best shape of his career at this stage of a season with the strongest supporting cast behind him I can remember.

One thing is certain, if McNabb acheives the ultimate, bringing a Super Bowl trophy to Philadephia, the fans will have to finally accept his greatness and give him that respect he has sought since he entered the league.  And maybe then we can forget about Ricky Williams, and Michael Vick and the wildcat, and all the other distractions, and just enjoy a great champion quarterback for a change !

Reid gets three more years

Andy Reid got his extension and will now be at the helm of the Philadelphia Eagles through the 2013 season.   In his ten seasons, Reid has led the Eagles to the playoffs five times, with four NFC East championships and 1 superbowl appearance.  BUT, still no elusive superbowl victory.  He is the winningest coach in Eagles history.

When he arrived the team was 3-13 the year before and somewhat of a laughingstock in the perennially tough NFC East.  His first act was to draft Donovan McNabb, and 115 victories and a .611 winning percentage later, these two are still together and winning games, the longest such streak for a quarterback and head coach combination in the league.

Now, Reid has no more distractions, in the family or the team outlook, to prevent him from getting what Philly fans desire most.  Bragging rights over the entire NFL for winning it all, the Superbowl.   After three straight NFC East championships he was the toast of town, but then he lost the Superbowl, had a down year, then last year managed to ONLY get back to the NFC title game where his team lost to the Arizona Cardinals, and since then, fans have been clamoring for both him and McNabb to be replaced.

When the team signed Vick and everyone made such a big deal about it I commented on the fact that this coach and quarterback have never gotten the respect they deserve.  McNabb is the best at this position in team history, and Reid is the best at his position as well.  There are many other quarterbacks and head coaches who have not won the superbowl, yet you rarely hear their fans hollering for them to hit the road.

Of course, this IS Philadelphia.  Apparantly if you don’t win the NBA title or the Stanley Cup, you are still talented and game worthy, (welcome back Allen Iverson !!) but if you fail at the World Series or the Superbowl, get the hell outta town !!  The Phillies finally redeemed themselves with a Series win followed by a repeat invite where they battled those hated NY Yankees, now it is the Eagles turn to do the same.   Beating those hated Giants next week and those totally hated Cowboys to close out the season and get their 5th NFC East title in the past 8 years, followed by a run through the playoffs and a superbowl victory, is probably the only way Reid and McNabb can redeem themselves in the fans eyes and finally get some respect.

Fortunately, we have the quarterback of the future, the running back of the future, the full back of the future, two of our receivers of the future, our safety of the future, our tight end of the future, our cornerback of the future and several key defensive line players of our future already signed, sealed and delivering results on the field.  So even if Reid and McNabb CAN’T get it done, we have hope for the future because the Eagles “B” team is probably nearly as good as their “A” team at this point.

I personally believe the A team is finally in place to seal the deal, and I can’t wait to watch the rest of the season and see how close they come to pulling it off !  I said at the start of the year these Eagles would go 10-6 and be in a fight for a wild card, or get that extra win and at 11-5 take the NFC East again.  They have lost two games they should have won earlier in the year, so now they need to win at least one game they probably shouldn’t in order to win the division.

I applaud Lurie for committing to Reid for an additional three years at this turbulent time in the team dynamic, and hope it proves to be the right decision as this season and next play out.

Vick redeems himself in return to Atlanta

The Eagles finally broke out of their fall doldrums and thoroughly dominated todays opponent.  They only led 13-0 at halftime, largely in part to penalties that called back several scores, and their own inability to finish drives.   Only a determined goal-line stand to close out the first half and keep it from being a one score game provided them with needed momentum as they came out in the second half with the first possession.

Michael Vick was welcomed back to Atlanta with a combination of applause and boos, then proceeded to silence his detractors by scoring his first touchdown of the year on a 5 yard plunge in the third quarter to give the Eagles a 20-0 lead.   Early in the fourth quarter he followed that up with his first long completion of the year with a 43 yard pass to Reggie Brown.

After contributing a mere 55 yards of offense through the first 9 games, he had 71 yards by early in the fourth quarter and then was handed the ball as the Eagles led 27-0 and Reid decided to sit McNabb for the remainder of the contest.  Shortly after that Vick completed his first touchdown pass of the season on a 5 yard pass to Brent Celek to stretch the lead to 34-0 as McNabb cheered him on from the bench.

McNabb looked fairly sharp, buoyed by the superlative running and catching of fullback Leonard Weaver including a 4 yard touchdown he retrieved off his shoelaces and a 59 yard catch and gallop on the ensuing drive.   The Eagles still had a little trouble putting it away, with 1 touchdown and 2 field goals on their first four possessions inside the 20, with Akers both setting a record for most consecutive field goals, followed by missing a field goal to break the Eagles consecutive streak of red zone possessions with a score this year.

The Eagles defense, particularly Trent Cole, harrassed Chris Redman all day long rendering him virtually ineffective.  The majority of his balls were tipped, batted down or nearly picked off.   Sheldon Brown put questions about his sore hamstring to rest with a 83 yard interception return for a touchdown on a 4th and 2 the Falcons tried after converting 2 of their first 3 fourth down attempts.  Jones followed shortly thereafter with his own interception and tip toe down the side line to put the Eagles in scoring position once again.

McNabb ended the day going 14-25 for 238 yards and a touchdown completing passes to 6 receivers in his 3 plus quarters of play and having 2 rushes for 17 yards, earning a QB rating of just over 100.

Vick lost the chance to play nearly a full quarter as he injured a thumb on a running play and was replaced by the equally capable Kerry Kolb.   The Eagles did not seem to care who was at quarterback position, just as they seemed not to care they were playing without many key players, including running back Brian Westbrook, Kevin Curtis, and DeSean Jackson.

4 Eagles shared running duty with a 4.0 or better yard per carry average, 3 guys suited up at QB, and Jeremy Maclin and Reggie Brown subbed for DeSean and Kevin catching the long balls and converting on third downs to keep drives alive.  Macho Harris showed great promise taking on one on one pass coverage assignments against Falcons tight end  Gonzalez with good results.  McCoy did not see significant action for the first time in a few weeks, but it seems that that is the norm with these Eagles; anytime a player is down and out, another previously unsung athlete steps in to fill his shoes.  It makes the Birds a truly tough team to scout, especially as the various players all bring a decidedly different playing style to the field.

I believe this all starts with the coaching staff, evident when McDonough stepped in to replace Jim Johnson after his unexpected and tragic death earlier this year.  The defense showed little if any disruption at the change and have gotten to be more and more asolid as a group as the season has developed.   The Eagles showed they understand the value in this coaching staff as well, announcing shortly before the game that they were very close to signing a significant contract extension with head coach Andy Reid; sources say this deal could be conclued within the week.

The Eagles defense nearly earned their first shutout of the season, before a late meaningless drive capped by a fluke double deflected pass resulted in a touchdown for the Falcons as time expired and they settled for a 34-7 victory.  This ran their record to 8-4 and put them in position to work their way into a tie with the Cowboys for the NFC East, if the Giants beat them later today.   Meanwhile the Redskins were beating the undefeated Saints with 2 minutes to go as the resiliant NFC East conference reared it’s head and showed why most years two or three of the best teams in the conference come from their ranks.  The Saints came back to tie it up, and the game was undecided at the time of this post.

It looks like the final four weeks are going to be a lot of fun to watch, and fiercely competative as well !

David Akers an unsung hero for Eagles

Whenever talk surfaces about this era of Eagles football, the attention immediately goes to Andy Reid and Donovan McNabb – the duo that has spent the last decade together as coach and quarterback.

However there is another piece which has been vital to the teams’ success. A piece, which like Reid and McNabb, has had big success, while also drawling the ire of fans at times.

And right now, this piece is as responsible for the Eagles’ place in the standings as any other.

I am speaking of David Akers.

A member of the Eagles since 2000, Akers is enjoying one of the finest seasons of his career and should drawl big consideration for his fourth Pro Bowl, and first since 2004. In Sunday’s 27-24 win over the Redskins, Akers was perfect in four field goal attempts and drilled two touchbacks. He has now made 16-straight field goals. For the season Akers is 24-of-27 for an NFL-best 89 percent.

Akers actually had a brief stint with the Redskins in 1998, playing in one game and missing the only two field goals he attempted. Washington certainly never figured 11 years later it would be Akers who would put another nail in their coffin.

While Akers’ leg strength has never been an issue, his accuracy on field goals from 40-yards and out came into question over the previous two seasons when he was uncharacteristically inaccurate, going 12-of-25.

This year he is 11-of-14 in that category.

The talk this week will be about Reid finally showing a little commitment to the run and McNabb leading the team to its second-straight fourth quarter comeback, and rightfully so. Coaches and quarterbacks are the stars of the show, while the kickers stay in the background.

The only time a kicker’s name comes to the forefront is when he fails to come through.

I guess that’s why we haven’t heard much about Akers this season. All he has done is come through.

Eagles control their own destiny, notch 2nd win in a row.

The Eagles dominated every single offensive and defensive category in todays game and in the process managed to just barely win.  They had more total plays of offense, more yards passing, more yards rushing, had better yards per pass and rush attempt, had more time of possession, better 4th down efficiency, allowed fewer turnovers, and barely escaped with a win !!

Yes they were not as good on third down, thanks to the Redskins being unnaturally good at that, but they did everything they could to give the Redskins the game until the 4th quarter, from the initial onsides kick they misplayed, allowing Washington to have a 24 yard field, quickly shortened to a 19 yard field with the 5 yard penalty, to repeatedly being called for offensive penalties that negated many of their better plays.

They had a touchdown called back that turned into a field goal, they brought Vick in every time the offense gained any momentum and he promptly disrupted the rhythm of the game, they had countless passes dropped including three in a row by Brett Celek, they lost DeSean Jackson after another touchdown catch due to injuries,  yet they won the game to go to 7-4 and put their fate in their own hands for the first time all season.  Jackson’s catch was his shortest of the year, a mere 35 yards.  This guy is clutch and the best reciever we have had in years, and I hope he is recovered in time for next weeks contest !

Simply put, if the Eagles win out, and beat the Giants and Cowboys in their final meetings, they win the division.

If they beat the Giants and Cowboys and win 1 of their other three remaining games, they will win at least the wild card.

A couple positive observations, the one two punch of McCoy and Weaver was productive for the second week in a row.   The halfback/fullback tandem rushed for 120 yards on 23 carries and Buckley came through with the first touchdown of his NFL career to pull the Eagles within 2.  Then McCoy performed a balancing act to tie the game up with the 2 point conversion allowing Akers to win it with his field goal on the ensuing drive as the Eagles scored 11 unanswered in the fourth quarter for the win.  Assante Samual overcame an average first half with 2 interceptions to keep the Eagles in the game.  And the Eagles finally appeared able to convert a third and short with their running game, a quality they had been seriously lacking over the past 6 weeks.

Through the first three quarters fans had to be worrying about the Eagles repeatedly driving the length of the field and having to settle for field goals.  A 90 yard 10 play drive for the tying touchdown followed by a 10 play drive for the go ahead field goal hopefully put some of these qualms to bed, at least until next week.

One can only hope Reid won’t overplay Vick in the reunion next week with his former team, the Atlanta Falcons.  I think enough has been seen this year to confirm the “Vick experiment” is a dismal failure, it is time to let McNabb run this team for the final 5 games, and if not satisfied with his judgement and performance, you have Kolb chomping at the bit to have a go at it next year, I repeat for the millionth time this year……WE DON’T NEED VICK !!!

OK, got it out of my system, for now, on to next week.  We dodged a serious bullet against the Redskins, hopefully we will fare better against the Falcons.

Eagles Cannot Afford A Letdown Against Skins

The Eagles avoided what would’ve been a disastrous three game losing streak last week against the Bears as they hung on for a 24-20 victory.   The win put them at 6-4 just a game behind the Cowboys in the NFC East and in the drivers seat for the top wild card spot in the NFC.    A loss to the Redskins on Sunday could change all that in a hurry so the Eagles need to focus on their opponent and not let their eyes wander past this week on the schedule.

The Cowboys and Packers both won, so if the Eagles fall Sunday they would fall two games behind in the division race and would fall behind the Packers in the wild card standings as well with just five games left to play.  6-5 with tough games against the Giants, Cowboys, Falcons and Broncos still on the schedule isn’t where you’d like to be, and you can’t count the 49ers out, either.

What’s that you say – Andy Reid would never let the Eagles discount or look past an opponent? How’d that work out in Oakland a few weeks ago? Last season the Eagles picked themselves up off the carpet after getting beat down by the Ravens 36-7, a game where McNabb was benched, and whipped the Cardinals 48-20, took out the Plaxico-less Giants 20-14 (a game where they led 20-7 going into the final minute of the game), beat the Browns 30-10 and sitting at 8-5-1 controlled their own destiny as they went down to Washington to play a Redskins team that had nothing to play for but pride.  Well, pride won 10-3 and it almost cost the Eagles a playoff berth had it not been for a few stars aligning just right (including a very improbable win by the Raiders over Tampa Bay) and the Eagles simply beating the Cowboys into next year 44-6.   The Eagles were flat that day in Washington, just like they were in Oakland earlier this season and they simply cannot allow it to happen again.

Let’s just hope that the Eagles learn from their past and come out firing on all cylinders and score early and often and put the Redskins away.