Archive for November, 2010

h1

Eagles Week 12: Big Plays Propel the Bears to Victory

November 29, 2010

This was not entirely unexpected.

Coming off two straight emotional prime time games against division rivals, it was not ridiculous to expect a letdown performance by the Eagles, especially considering they have a short week ahead of them and two more prime time games coming up.

Not to mention the fact that their opponents – the Chicago Bears – had played the previous Thursday and had ten days to prepare for the game.

It would be hard to call the game against the Bears anything but a letdown.  Based on who they had beaten, coming into this game most people considered the Eagles to be legitimate contenders, and the Bears to be a fraud.  But the Bears showed that for one week at least, they were the better team, and have to be taken into account when discussing NFC contenders.

One week after perhaps their best performance of the season, the Eagles’ defense did not fare well.  They gave up quite a few big plays, and were essentially ripped apart by Bears’ quarterback Jay Cutler who threw for four touchdowns.  The Eagles were hurt by not having either of their starting cornerbacks, but they were hurt even more by their inability to keep their footing and poor tackling.

On the offensive side, quarterback Michael Vick played his weakest game as a starter.  He wasn’t horrible, and the team did put up 26 points, but a few key mistakes to go along with problems in the red zone prevented them from making a comeback victory.

What Went Right

– Running back LeSean McCoy had a strong game with 120 total yards.

– The kick and punt return units had a few good returns.

– David Akers continues to have an excellent season, making four field goals.

– Brent Celek finally re-emerged with a 30 yard touchdown pass for the Eagles’ final score.  He was also open earlier on a play that probably would have been a touchdown had Vick been able to hit him.

What Went Wrong

– Bears QB Jay Cutler can be an interception throwing machine at times, but he also possesses a strong arm, and can do some damage through the air.  Unfortunately, the Eagles got the good Cutler.  He made good decisions, and precise throws, and pretty much tore the defense apart.

– The Eagles tackled horrendously.  They may have been missing Asante Samuel, but it isn’t like he would have improved the tackling.  Some of those big gains by the Bears should have been much smaller had the Eagles simply been able to bring the player down.

– The offensive line did not have a good day.  Vick was under pressure for most of the game, and took several big hits.

– Vick’s first interception of the season was a costly one.  Towards the end of the first half, the Eagles had driven to the Bears’ 4 yard line when a pass got tipped and picked off.  Not only did the Eagles not score, but it set up a Bears touchdown and a huge momentum shift.

Bad Andy Reid Coaching Move of the Week

Some familiar problems reappeared this week. 

Midway through the third quarter, the Eagles had a 3rd-and-19 situation at their own 31.  With the play clock winding down, the Eagles called timeout.

This is a recurring mistake by the Eagles.  In that situation, is the delay of game penalty going to be that costly?  I don’t know how much difference there is between 3rd-and-19 and 3rd-and-24.  Chances are, they’re going to end up punting either way.  Yet, throughout Reid’s tenure, the Eagles often call timeouts in those situations. 

Wouldn’t that timeout have been much more useful at the end of the game?

Speaking of the end of the game, the offense showed little urgency even though they were down by two scores.  While they eventually did score a touchdown, they certainly took their time in doing so.

The McNabb Report

One week earlier, the Redskins had the good fortune to play the Tennessee Titans just as that team was imploding.  This week, they had the misfortune of playing the Vikings immediately after they fired unpopular head coach Brad Childress. 

Teams typically play better the week after the coach gets fired, and the Vikings were no exception.  Despite star RB Adrian Peterson missing most of the game, they still were able to earn a 17-13 victory.

McNabb started out well in the game, going 8 for 8 on the opening drive which ended in a touchdown.  But the Redskins offense was largely ineffective afterwards, and McNabb ended up with stats similar to those he’s put up all year: 211 yards, 1 touchdown, 1 interception.

McNabb continues to receive little help, as he has few supporting players with much NFL experience, and one of the players who should be excelling – Santana Moss – has been dropping a lot of passes.  McNabb’s interception came when a ball bounced off of Moss.

Elsewhere in the NFL

– The Falcons became the NFC’s only nine win team as they defeated the Packers on a last minute field goal.  The Falcons are still unbeaten at home, which makes earning the conference’s top seed that much more important for them.

– The Giants used a late comeback to defeat the Jaguars and move back into a tie for first place in the NFC East.  Unlike the week before when the defense allowed the Eagles to score late, this time they shut down the Jaguars in the fourth quarter.

– Peyton Manning on Sunday night used to be one of the surest bets in sports.  But thanks in part to his two interceptions returned for touchdowns, the Colts fell to the Chargers.  Once again, the Chargers are making a late season surge towards the playoffs. 

Eagles Next Opponent

The Houston Texans may have salvaged their season with a 20-0 win over the Tennessee Titans in which the most interesting event was a brawl between Texans WR Andre Johnson and Titans CB Cortland Finnegan. 

The Titans look to be collapsing, and their current QB – Rusty Smith – doesn’t look like a capable NFL starter, but any time you can shut out your opponent, it is impressive.

Despite the Texans’ mediocre 5-6 record, they possess two of the best skill position players in the league in Johnson and RB Arian Foster. 

On the other hand, the Texans’ defense is horrible, and Michael Vick should be able to have another huge day.

Final Analysis

The loss definitely hurts.  You never want to lose to a team that you might be fighting with for a playoff spot or seeding.

But overall, I’m thinking this was just a case of a young team suffering a letdown, and not indicative of larger issues with the team. 

I don’t think that opponents have “figured out” Vick as much as they’ve faced two consecutive teams with excellent pass rushes.  And despite Vick’s struggles, they did put up 26 points which is a winning total many weeks.

Hopefully, the defensive lapses were just a one week aberration.  I’m sure that playing on a better field (Solider Field was largely torn up yesterday) will help with their footing issues, and the return of Asante Samuel should help contain opponents’ passing attacks.

The Texans’ game is on Thursday, and the short week typically favors the home team.  The Eagles need to quickly put this loss behind them and take care of business, or else their once promising playoff standing will be in serious jeopardy.

Advertisements
h1

Eagles Week 11: Eagles Outplay Their Mistakes

November 22, 2010

It would have been unrealistic to expect the Eagles to always look as good on offense as they did against the Redskins.  Those kind of performances only come around every few decades or so. 

Sure enough, in last night’s game against the Giants, the offense was much less effective.  The drop off was partially due to the Giants being much better defensively than the Redskins.  But the Eagles offense was also derailed by some self-inflicted mistakes. 

Guard Todd Herremans committed two personal foul penalties that killed drives.  Quarterback Michael Vick had a late fumble that set up the Giants go-ahead score.  And there were plenty of dropped passes, most notably the dropped would-be touchdown by the normally surehanded Jason Avant.

And yet, partially because the Giants made plenty of mistakes of their own, the Eagles emerged with a 27-17 victory that gave them sole possession of first place in the NFC East.

What Went Right

– Matched against a strong defensive line and a well thought out gameplan, Michael Vick showed the ability to lead the team to victory even when the offense wasn’t firing on all cylinders.  Would the Eagles have won this game last year?  I am not so sure.

– LeSean McCoy had the two biggest offensive plays of the game for the Eagles.  First, with the team trailing by one point in the 4th quarter, on 4th-and-1 he ran 50 yards for the go-ahead touchdown.  Later, his 40-yard run set up the game clinching field goal.

– The defense, which was mostly an afterthought in the Redskins game, was very good against the Giants, forcing (forcing may not be the right word since Eli Manning basically tripped on his face and dropped the ball) five turnovers, and kept the Giants running game in check.

– Former Eagle and current Giants tackle Shaun Andrews had a rough game, getting called for two holding penalties (and it looked like the refs missed a couple more) and seemed to be ineffective as a run blocker.  It would have been quite galling to see Andrews come back and hurt the Eagles after all the time they wasted waiting for him to come back from injury.

– I’ve said that Giants coach Tom Coughlin only has one facial expression which can best be described as “incredulous.”  He does have different degrees of incredulous though, and I think we got to see them all as the Giants made one mistake after another in the 4th quarter.  We also got the see the always enjoyable Eli Manning “I just made a huge mistake” face.

What Went Wrong

– Much like against the Colts, penalties helped keep the Eagles from opening up a much bigger lead.  These penalties are going to cost them at some point.

– I’m not sure why the receivers had such a difficult time holding on to the ball.  First, DeSean Jackson couldn’t come up with a ball in the end zone.  Later, Jason Avant dropped possibly the easiest touchdown he might ever have.  And Jeremy Maclin couldn’t come up with a tough play either.  Hopefully, this was just a one week aberration.

– The Giants may have given teams a blueprint as to how to defend Vick: Keep him in the pocket, and flush him to his right.  Of course, there are few teams that have the talent on the defensive line that the Giants do, and even fewer teams have players who can match Vick’s speed.

Bad Andy Reid Coaching Move of the Week

Nothing stands out too much this week.  No wasted timeouts, no bad challenges, and the game plan seemed mostly effective.

It might seem like nitpicking to complain about the team’s biggest play of the game, but I’ve said before that I don’t like using a pitch play on short yardage situations.  In this case, since the Giants were obviously selling out for a Vick sneak up the middle, the play call was actually effective.

So really, nothing to complain about.

The McNabb Report

The Redskins game against the Titans showed that sometimes it isn’t a matter of who you play, but rather when you play them.  If the Eagles had played this version of the Titans last month, they probably would have emerged victorious.

After his last two performances, Donovan McNabb had taken a great deal of criticism.  This week should help alleviate that as he “proved” he could lead a team on a late game winning drive when the Redskins won via field goal in overtime.  The game only went into overtime because Redskins kicker Graham Gano missed a 47-yard field goal attempt at the end of regulation. 

This game said a lot more about the Titans than it did about the Redskins.  Titans QB Vince Young played poorly, got injured, and pretty much self destructed.  With backup Kerry Collins injured, they had to use third stringer Rusty Smith who did not look especially sharp.

Then, on the Redskins’ game winning drive, they were assisted by three Titans penalties which essentially did all the hard work towards putting the Redskins in field position.  Regardless, any road win in the NFL is a good win. 

As for McNabb, his statistics looked good, and the end result was good, but it is becoming increasingly clear that his accuracy on any throws besides a screen pass or deep ball is going to hinder their success.

Elsewhere in the NFL

– The Patriots stated their case for being the best team in the AFC as they won their annual matchup against the Colts.  Once again, the Tom Brady led Patriots offense looked very sharp.  And once again, with a chance to make a late comeback in a big game, Peyton Manning threw a key interception.

– The Cowboys continued their resurgence under new head coach Jason Garrett.  The offense, led by backup QB Jon Kitna had a big week in the 35-19 win over the Lions.  The Cowboys’ next game – Thanksgiving vs. the Saints – should help determine if this team has truly turned a corner, or if this is just a temporary spike in a bad season.

– The Packers trounced the Vikings, leading to the firing of former Eagles offensive coordinator Brad Childress.  The firing was not unexpected, as the Vikings have underperformed, and by most accounts, all the players hate him.  I’m guessing it’s only a matter of time before Andy Reid hires him back.

Eagles Next Opponent

The Chicago Bears have been one of the NFC’s surprise teams, as they are tied for first place in the NFC North at 7-3.  The Bears have mostly been carried by their defense, which is playing near the level it was at in the 2007 NFC Championship season.  QB Jay Cutler has played extremely well at times…and at others he has been an interception throwing machine. 

The Eagles have to hope they get the interception prone version.  I’m sure Asante Samuel has dreams of at least a couple of picks.

Final Analysis

It wasn’t a pretty effort, but they can’t all be record breaking performances.  Most divisional matchups are tough games that come down to a few plays. 

This game seemed ominously similar to many other Sunday night games the Eagles have played – and lost – in recent years.  Except this time, the Eagles opponent made the big mistake, and the Eagles were the ones to make the game changing plays at the end.

The Eagles are now in control of the NFC East, but their hold is tenuous.  And next week’s game seems like a classic letdown game.  Coming off two straight emotional prime time division games, they must now travel to Chicago to face a good Bears team.  If they truly are the best team in the NFC as some people claim, then they need to take care of business and prove it.

h1

Eagles Week 10: QB Eagles (Michael Vick) Destroys the Redskins

November 16, 2010

I don’t think it is hyperbole to say that Michael Vick’s performance last night was the greatest game a Philadelphia Eagles quarterback has ever played.  A case could be made for that being the greatest performance by a quarterback in the history of the NFL.

Never before in the history of the league has a quarterback thrown for over 300 yards and four touchdowns as well as rushing for over fifty yards and two more touchdowns.  That is what Michael Vick did last night in leading the Eagles to the highest point total in both team and Monday Night Football history.

I was trying to think of a game by an Eagles QB that was even close to this.  Randall Cunningham vs. the Redskins in 1989 was pretty amazing.  And up until now, Donovan McNabb vs. the Packers in 2004 was as good a game as I’ve ever seen the Eagles offense play.  But Vick’s performance last night outshined them all.  

The only Eagles QB who could even come close to that kind of performance was the  immortal QB Eagles from the Super Tecmo Bowl Nintendo game.  For those who don’t remember, Cunningham had a separate licensing agreement, so his name couldn’t appear in the game.  The game designers kept his amazing physical abilities, which in the video game world, made him near unstoppable.

Vick certainly looked like a video game character as he dodged hapless defenders, and fired perfect 50+ yard passes down the field.

How dominant was the Eagles offense?  They had a 14 point lead before Donovan McNabb had even thrown a pass.  In the first quarter – the best quarter I’ve ever seen an Eagles team play – they took a 28-0 lead, which was an NFL record for a visiting team.  They didn’t let up until way after the game had been decided.

While the defense gave up 28 points, it’s hard to fault them too much, as most of the Redskins’ output came well after the game was in hand.  In the first quarter, the defense looked just as dominant as the offense, holding the Redskins without a first down, and intercepting McNabb once.  They would later add a touchdown of their own as Dmitri Patterson ran back his second interception of the night for a score.

Overall, this was just an amazing performance by the Eagles, and sets up their showdown against the Giants next week

What Went Right

– Just about everything the Eagles did on offense.  From the 88 yard touchdown pass to DeSean Jackson on the Eagles’ first play, to the acrobatic catch by Jeremy Maclin, to the laser pass to Jason Avant, the Eagles offense was simply unstoppable.

– Backup running back Jerome Harrison even made some noise, scoring on a long 50 yard run.  He already looks like a much better option than former backup Mike Bell did.

– In the early going, the Eagles defense looked tough.  Like in the first game between the teams, the Redskins tried to establish the run again.  This time, the Eagles were able to shut it down, contributing to the early dominance.

– Dmitri Patterson continues to shine at cornerback.  He had two interceptions, including one he returned for a touchdown.  I can’t see any reason why Ellis Hobbs should get his job back when he returns.

What Went Wrong

– The defense did seem to let up a bit after the first quarter.  But it’s hard to blame them for that.  Still, they seem to have some troubles in defending the long pass, something that teams will probably continue to try and exploit.

– Kick returner Jorrick Calvin was the one Eagle who had a bad day.  He seemed to have a lot of trouble holding onto the ball.

– Brent Celek continues to struggle.  Yes, his numbers are partially down because he’s being used more as a blocker.  But he’s also dropping the opportunities that he gets.

Bad Andy Reid Coaching Move of the Week

It’s difficult to find much wrong with the team’s play this week, and the offensive game plan certainly worked well.

I do have to question why – in a blowout game, in the rain, with a short week ahead – are the starters still playing in the fourth quarter?  I don’t care if Vick is having an amazing night.  They’ll need him to be healthy against the Giants next week.

And why would he possibly have DeSean Jackson returning punts in the second half?  Is Reid trying to get his guys hurt?

The McNabb Report

The good news for McNabb is that he got paid.  He signed a five-year contract extension.  The bad news is, after last night, most people are questioning if he is worth the money.

McNabb wasn’t horrible last night.  But he also wasn’t especially great.  The Redskins needed him to have a big game, but instead, he threw multiple interceptions that killed any chances of a Redskins comeback.  It was very representative of how he has played for most of this season.

Everyone is going to say “The Redskins traded for the wrong Eagles quarterback,” and maybe they’re right.  But keep in mind, that Vick is throwing to DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, and Jason Avant, while handing off to LeSean McCoy.  McNabb is surrounded by the likes of Keiland Williams and Anthony Armstrong.  (Armstrong is a good deep threat, but he’d be lucky to be the Eagles’ fourth receiver)

Uncharacteristically, McNabb has been throwing a lot of interceptions this year.  To his credit, more than a few of the picks have been his receivers’ fault, but it still odd considering how few he used to throw.

As for why McNabb would sign an extension after all the drama, I’ve heard reports that most of the negotiations were between McNabb’s agent and owner Dan Snyder.  It isn’t clear just how happy that coach Mike Shanahan and offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan are about having McNabb as the quarterback for the next few years.  Considering that they supposedly thought that backup Rex Grossman was a better option, I can’t imagine that they were 100% behind this move. 

It appears that the Redskins can bring in all the winning coaches and quarterbacks that they want, but until Snyder steps aside, the same problems will remain.

Elsewhere in the NFL

– A week after getting run over by the Browns, the Patriots once again looked like a dominant team.  Tom Brady tore the Steelers’ (who many had thought might be the best team in the NFL) apart.  This once again proves that this year’s NFL is as wide open as it has ever been.

– The Bills notched their first win, hanging on to defeat the Lions.  The game came down to a failed two point conversion by the Lions at the end of the game.

– The biggest play of the week had to be the hail mary pass completed by the Jaguars to earn a win over the Texans.  The Texans defensive back tried to swat the ball to the ground, only to have it go right into the arms of Jaguars’ receiver Mike Thomas.

Final Analysis

After the Colts game, many people said that if the Eagles could simply avoid the self-inflicted mistakes (mostly penalties) they would have scored about 40 points in that game.  Against the Redskins, they eliminated those mistakes, and the result was a record setting performance.

Right now, Vick is playing as well as a quarterback can play.  He’s throwing accurately, he’s hitting his deep throws, and he’s avoiding interceptions.  He’s using his legs to extend plays and also to pick up big yards when necessary.  He seems to be fulfilling the potential that most people saw when he was the #1 pick in the NFL draft. 

Armed with perhaps the best set of skill position players in the NFL, if Vick can continue to play like this, the Eagles have to be considered legitimate contenders.

One warning: As great as this win was (and it was as great as they come) it only counts as one win.  They don’t have much time to celebrate as the Giants are heading into town on Sunday night with first place in the NFC East on the line.

h1

Eagles Week 9: Even Manning Can’t Stop Post-Bye Success

November 8, 2010

Coming into the game against the Colts, there were two historical trends on the line for the Eagles.  The first was their performance in the post-bye week game under Andy Reid, in which they were 11-0.  The second was their performance against Peyton Manning who they were 0-3 against, and were essentially ripped to shreds in each game.

As it turns out, the post-bye magic won out, as the Eagles held on for a 26-24 victory. 

For this game, the Eagles schedule was in their favor.  They were coming off their bye, while the Colts had a short week after a Monday night win over the Texans.  That scheduling quirk might have been a factor in the Eagles getting off to a fast start.

LeSean McCoy ripped off a 62 yard run on the Eagles first play.  That would not be a harbinger of big things to come for McCoy though, as he was mostly shut down after that play.  Regardless, the run set up a TD pass to DeSean Jackson and the Eagles had an early lead. 

On the Colts’ next possession, Asante Samuel intercepted Manning, and returned the ball to the 9 yard line, and the Eagles had a chance to take a commanding early lead.  Unfortunately, they had to settle for a field goal and a 10 point lead.

The Eagles certainly had some troubles in the red zone in this game, as on three different occassions, they to kick short field goals.  And even in the fourth quarter, when they finally scored a touchdown on a Michael Vick quarterback sneak, it seemed like a monumental effort.

Coming into the game, the biggest question was the defense, which had been torched by the Titans in their last game.  Despite the Colts missing several key offensive players, there were concerned that Manning would be able to carve them apart. 

After a slow start, the Colts offense had their way with the Eagles in the second quarter.  They kept attacking with wide reciever screens (always a good plan of attack against the Eagles) and the Colts surged to a 17-16 halftime lead.

After halftime, the defense seemed to make some adjustments, and kept the Colts’ offense in check.  The Eagles looked to have the game in hand after a Manning fumble.  Unfortunately, a very questionable roughing the passer call on DE Trent Cole kept the Colts’ hopes alive and they were able to score a late touchdown to cut the deficit to 2 points.  On the Colts’ last drive, Samuel picked off Manning again to seal the victory.

The highlights

– Returning from injury, both QB Michael Vick and WR DeSean Jackson had strong games.  Vick made plays with his arm – the 58 yard pass to Jackson was as nice a throw as you’ll see – and his legs, as he picked up some key first downs while scrambling.  Jackson had 109 yards and a touchdown in his first game after suffering a concussion.

– The defense did an admirable job against Manning.  They confused him with varying coverages, sacked him three times, and intercepted him twice.  Even more impressively, they made some good adjustments after the Colts had some success in the second quarter.

– Special teams was a strength, as Jorrick Calvin had a nice kick return, David Akers made four field goals, and more importantly, they didn’t give up any long returns.  On the downside, punter Sav Rocca didn’t have a great game, as he had a couple of short punts.

The lowlights

– Matched against a strong Colts’ pass rush, the Eagles offensive line didn’t have a great day.  There was little room to run, Vick faced a lot of pressure, and their offense was limited because they needed to keep extra blockers in to help.

– As in just about every game this season, penalties were a huge issue, and almost cost them the game.  Of course, a couple of the penalties were questionable:

– The hit on Austin Collie actually looked to be legal.  Collie had possession of the ball, had turned his body, and really wasn’t “defenseless” anymore.  Plus, the initial hit by Quintin Mikell was shoulder to shoulder, with no helmet contact.  Collie then unfortunately, was knocked into Kurt Coleman’s helmet, but Coleman had no control over that.

I understand that with the recent emphasis on concussions and player safety, that the refs are going to err on the side of caution.  And people can talk all they want about making the game safer.  But ultimately, the game of football involves large, fast men hitting each other.  People are going to get hurt, and there’s only so much that can be done about it.

– The second questionable penalty came when Trent Cole’s hand slapped against Peyton Manning’s helmet.  Once again, I understand wanting to cut down on blows to the head.  But was this really a blow to the head?  The worst part was that the call almost cost the Eagles the game.

Bad Andy Reid Coaching Move of the Week

I think it’s gotten to the point that when Reid challenges a play, the officials have already half decided that Reid must be wrong.  His first challenge on an Austin Collie completion actually looked good, but the officials didn’t seem to agree.

In the fourth quarter, WR Jason Avant took a pass and stretched for the end zone, and it looked like he might have nicked the goal line with the ball.  The refs ruled him short, Reid challenged, and the ruling on the field stood.

Using a challenge in this situation is defensable.  Any time the play might result in a score, you can make a case for challenging the call.  And it was very close.  Also, knowing Reid, he might have called a timeout there to set up the next play.  If you’re going to call a timeout there, you might as well challenge the ruling.

But there are a few reasons why I wouldn’t have challenged there:

1. Using a team’s second challenge with most of the 4th quarter remaining is always dangerous, as the team will then have to rely on the accuracy of the officials until the two-minute warning.  Also, it’s never good to lose a timeout in a close game.

2. If you lose the challenge, it puts even more of a burden on the team to score the touchdown, as they’ll have wasted a challenge, a timeout, and only gotten a field goal or worse out of the deal.

3. I know you can never take a touchdown for granted, but when you’ve got Michael Vick as your quarterback in a 1st and goal from the one-inch line, you have to feel pretty comfortable about your ability to score.  As we saw, it is very difficult for an opponent to stop Vick from gaining just one yard on a scramble.  Sure, it was tough, but he eventually got it done.

The McNabb Report

Donovan McNabb and the Redskins had a bye, but that didn’t mean it was an uneventful week.  Coming off of his benching against the Lions, there has been talk that offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan isn’t a fan of McNabb, and had suggested pulling him earlier in the season.

Apparently, Shanahan feels that McNabb’s skills do not fit his offensive scheme, and that his accumulative injuries have reduced his effectiveness.  It’s definitely not a good sign for McNabb that Shanahan feels that Rex Grossman is a better option to lead the offense.

I’ll chime in on head coach Mike Shanahan’s claims that (depending on the day) McNabb either couldn’t mentally handle the two-minute offense, or didn’t have the cardiovascular stamina to run it.

Like most Eagles fans, I can pretty much agree with either of those claims.  For most of his career, McNabb has never been a great two-minute or comeback quarterback.  (To an extent, this is a bit overrated.  Many times, a QB only needs to make a comeback because he played poorly up until that point.  Jake Plummer was known as a great comeback QB, but that was mostly because the three interceptions he threw earlier put the team in a hole)

I’ve seen too many McNabb-led drives in the “hurry-up” offense where the team seems to take forever to get set up.  It might have been due to Andy Reid’s deliberate style, or McNabb’s slow processing, (or really after ten years together, those probably became the same thing), but the Eagles never seemed to move with much urgency. 

 Plus, McNabb’s decision making in these situations was never that great.  He didn’t seem to realize that with the time running out, a four yard dump-off pass to a running back in the middle of the field might not be the best option, and that throwing the ball away could save valuable time.

As for his “cardiovascular conditioning,” most Eagles fans will think back to the Super Bowl and just nod their heads.

Elsewhere in the NFL

– The Giants have made a case for being the best team in the NFC, if not the NFL.  The Seahawks had been playing very well at home, but the Giants went in and scored at will.  The Eagles will face them twice in the second half of the season, and the NFC East could very well come down to the outcome of those two matchups.

– The Cowboys continued their freefall, dropping to 1-7 after a blowout loss to the Packers.  I sadly get the feeling that the Eagles will be facing the Cowboys at the wrong time.  Right now, the team seems hopeless.  But by the time the Eagles play them, they may have a new coach, and QB Tony Romo will be back, and the team may have rebounded itself into a spoiler mode.  On the other hand, the team seems to have no heart, and there’s a chance that they will have completely given up.

Eagles Next Opponent

The Eagles will travel to Maryland and face McNabb and the Redskins on Monday night.  In 2008, Reid benched McNabb against the Ravens.  His next game was a prime time game against the Cardinals, and he had a huge game, throwing four TD passes.  The Eagles have to hope that McNabb doesn’t respond in a similar fashion.

Final Analysis

The Eagles hit the halfway point of the season at 5-3.  While that puts them on a good path for a playoff spot, their fate will be determined in the second half of the season when they have five NFC East games.

And while it’s nice to beat a quality opponent like the Colts, next week’s divisional matchup against the Redskins is much more crucial to their season.

Still, this is a very positive way to end the first half, and the Eagles should now have confidence that they can play with, and beat any team in the NFL.