Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Meltdown Against Minnesota Raise Red Flags

The MVP talks for Vick may have just gone out the window with his mediocre at best performance.
We had gotten used to it by now haven't we? Every year the Eagles have games that they have no business losing to far inferior competition. However, after shipping out Donovan McNabb, surely things would be different this year right? Surely Michael Vick would cement his MVP status once more?

Unfortunately, things in this organization remain largely the same. The Philadelphia Eagles just blew a game against the Minnesota Vikings, led by rookie Joe Webb, and a chance at a 1st round bye and the 2nd seed. When the hype for the team couldn't have been higher, the flying high Eagles seemed to crash and burn in this one and have now again raised questions about the team.
If Reid fails to rally the team once more, he will be on the hot seat here in Philly.
The game was simply awful and the Eagles did not get it done in any category. Whether it was special teams, passing the ball, running the ball, the play of the O-line, the pass D, the run D, coaching, it was hard to believe we were watching the 2010 Eagles last night. And then, of course, the costly penalties returned, putting the Eagles in bigger and bigger holes.

Clearly, the biggest weakness of the Eagles is their tendency to collapse, as they did last season against Dallas (sorry for bringing back the memories) and this season against the Titans and now the Vikings. Hopefully, Andy Reid will take advantage of the opportunity to rest his starters in preparation for Green Bay or the Giants in round 1 and hope that we can bounce back after a week to rest.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Thoughts on Eagles

The 9-4 Eagles are currently tied atop the NFC East with the 9-4 New York Giants. While the Eagles hold the tiebreaker, that could mean little if they do not win the game against New York tomorrow afternoon. On paper, it will be a tough match up, as the Eagles are away and we all know how New York's defense was able to limit Michael Vick.

However, unless Vick gets knocked out of the game (totally possible with Osi, Tuck, and Pierre-Paul) the Eagles should win big. Many are surprised by my prediction, but the truth is the Eagles are simply a superior team. While New York's defense is certainly superior, the Eagles hold now the best offense in the league and second best offense in points per game. In the last meeting, it was a close game but the Eagles outplayed the Giants and were instead set back by their own mistakes. As December is when Andy Reid and co. historically play their best football, I have confidence that my team can get it done Sunday.
The Eagles will need rookie Jamar Chaney to step up to help contain bruising back Brandon Jacobs
New York will certainly make it a point to neutralize DeSean Jackson, so expect Maclin and Celek to see more grabs. However, with Asante Samuel's return, I believe the Eagles can hold New York to under 20 points and force Eli Manning into a mistake or two or three. And that should be enough for this offense to put the Giants away.

Of course a great deal will depend on the play of rookie Jamar Chaney, filling in at MLB. Bradley has been far from stellar this season but has always been excellent at stopping the run. Let's hope Chaney can keep up the great performance he had last week and help shut down Jacobs and Bradshaw.
So much for ushering in a grand new era in Washington.
In other thoughts, the benching of Donovan McNabb to me was a complete disgrace. Sure, McNabb is no longer the player he once was, but the failures of the Washington Redskins certainly cannot be placed on his head. Anyone who has seen Redskins games this season will know that McNabb often kept games close with his big plays, something Jason Campbell often failed to do. Sure he wasn't accurate, but accuracy has never been his strong point. And a 58% completion rating to go along with his receiving corps. and joke of an O-line could be far worse.

As many players have vocally criticized this decision, it is clear that McNabb is being used as a scapegoat. Upon arrival in Washington, the Shanahans have done little but divide that locker room and create unnecessary drama.

As an Eagles fan, however, I rejoiced at the news. Not because I am a McNabb-hater. I was/am Donovan McNabb's biggest fan. But now he will get a chance to play somewhere where he can be successful (Arizona? Minnesota? Perhaps even Cincinnati?) And now the threat of having McNabb in our division will be non-existant next season. And the way Mike Shanahan has been handling things, let's hope he keeps his job in D.C. as long as possible

Monday, December 13, 2010

Eagles Flying High

Even with a pedestrian performance by Vick, the Eagles still managed to cool down a red-hot Cowboys team
9-4 and with an opportunity to nab a first round bye? Who would have ever expected this from the 2010 Eagles! This team has shown again what I've been saying since week 3, they are Super Bowl contenders.

Of course we still have issues. The red-zone offense is still not solid and the red zone defense? Don't even get me started... The passing defense is also shown to be mediocre at best without Asante Samuel. But with Samuel returning soon, expect the passing defense to be much more effective and more turnovers generated.
Samuel's return is much needed in the rematch with the Giants
The news about Stewart Bradley and Brandon Graham could be better, but also could be much worse. As much as it hurts to hear this Eagles fans, Bradley has been an average MLB this season, nowhere near his 2008 form. If Jamar Chaney plays like he did last night, while he is certainly a downgrade the defense should not miss too much of a step. Graham also will not be missed that much with the return of Jacqua Parker, as well as having the likes of Daryll Tapp to fill in for him.

Without the leader on the defense (I believe it is Samuel at this point) and with Vick playing only an okay game, the Eagles were still able to cruise to a win over a red-hot Dallas Cowboys team. Next week will be a challenge, but the game against the Giants is a must-win. Especially if the Giants lose to the Vikings, it could very well clinch the division. With a win over New York, the Eagles would have the momentum to win out the remaining schedule (Minnesota, Dallas, both at home) and with the way the Bears are looking I believe they would seize the 1st round bye.
The Eagles may be the only team in the NFC capable of stopping the Patriots from earning their 4th Super Bowl victory.
Not that it would matter that much in the long run, as so long as the Birds make postseason, barring an injury to Vick or Jackson I can't see us not advancing to at least the NFC Championship, as I don't see a team that could stop us on paper except the Falcons with their homefield advantage. But who knows? Maybe a 1st round bye and extra week of rest is what will rejuvenate the team and allow Vick to do away with his former team. And the Eagles are likely the only team with a potent enough offense to stop the Patriots, who I believe will make their 5th Super Bowl appearance under Bill Belichick.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Random Thoughts and Such

Vick is having an MVP worthy season
So after 12 games of football, the Eagles are 8-4, a remarkable feat considering the team's expectations prior to the season. One can make a case for Andy Reid as coach of the year with his decision to play the resurgent Michael Vick.

While the Eagles lost a tough game against the Chicago Bears, the Eagles bounced back with a win over Houston and remain in the driver's seat in the NFC East. At 8-4, and with the Eagles entering a period when they historically play their best football and getting healthier, while this may be premature it may be safe to say the Eagles will make the playoffs.
Is Andy Reid the coach of the year?
However, the remaining schedule is no longer the cakewalk it appeared to be a week or two ago. Dallas remains to be played twice and is finally translating the talent they have onto the field under Jason Garrett. Anyone who has followed the Eagles in 2009 knows how much of a potential spoiler Dallas can be. The Giants are coming up in week 15 and while the Eagles triumphed in their past meeting, the Giants were the first team to find a strategy to slow Vick down (although still allowing over 250 yards in the process). Minnesota even remains as a potential spoiler with the improved play since Childress' firing.

While this schedule is not a breeze by any means, every game on that schedule is a game the Eagles should win. Therefore, if they play to their potential, the Eagles at 12-4 would likely take the 2nd seed and a 1st round bye, as the Bears have a tough schedule ahead (with Patriots, Jets, and Packers all remaining).
The return of Samuel will do wonders for the leadership on defense.

The return of Asante Samuel will be crucial to our chances of winning out. It's not just his improved coverage abilities, but Asante is an important leader for the defense. I think few people are noticing the continued impact of the loss of Brian Dawkins 2 years ago. Since Dawkins' departure, his void has not been effectively filled. It has been a combination of more vocal players on the field making up for the loss in leadership. As a result, the loss of any such leaders has substantial consequences. Vick is the undisputed leader of the offense, but the return of Samuel will be crucial to the defensive chemistry.

And after throwing 15 touchdowns this season with only 2 INTs and leading the Eagles atop the NFC East, is Michael Vick MVP worthy? I believe he is but it will be difficult, as many others are just as worthy, such as Philip Rivers, Tom Brady, and Matt Ryan. One thing is for sure though, if officials continue to ignore late hits and personal fouls against Vick, he may not last long enough to be eligible for such talks.