With 5 games to go, the Eagles look to be in a great position to go back to the playoffs as at least a wildcard, with an excellent chance to win the division. A road win against a bad Bears team and a home win against an injury-depleted Redskins team may not look great on paper, but they were both the type of games that Eagles fans have been programmed to expect to lose in recent years. With that said, let's take a look at some positives and negatives leading into the home stretch...
Things I like to see so far in the 2nd half of the season...
Donovan McNabb - Finally... some grit. Keep it up Donny.
LeSean McCoy - His 2-point conversion was incredible. Had McCoy not somehow stayed on his feet and scored on that 2-point conversion play, we probably don't win. He's been fantastic as a rookie in Westbrook's absence.
Jason Avant - D+ Are there other people out there that are disappointed that Jason Avant has pretty much been invisible? We saw some nice steady improvement every year so far out of Avant, but he has leveled off this season.
At the time (through 8 games), Avant had 15 catches, 198 yards, and 1 TD. In the 3 games since, he has had 17 catches, 276 yards, and a TD, including 2 HUGE catches in the tying drive vs. the Redskins.
Jeremy Maclin - Keeps quietly getting it done. His last 3 games - 6-76, 6-64, 5-63. And he's going to keep getting better.
The Weave - 6 more carries last week, 44 yards. In the first 6 weeks, he had 4 carries. Let me repeat that again - 4 carries. What the hell was going on there? In the 5 games since, 27 carries, 163 yards. This guy is a bona fide player, and needs more touches. Frankly, 6 carries per game still isn't enough. Leonard Weaver needs to touch the ball at least 8-10 times per games.
Asante Samuel and Sheldon Brown - We've given up a slew of big games to opposing TE's, but anyone out there want to venture a guess how many WR's have had 100 yards against us this year? NONE. Zip. Zilch. This is the best cornerback tandem in the NFL, period.
David Akers - (Knocking on wood) He's been outstanding lately.
Our Depth - The depth of this team has truly stepped up big-time this season. Stewart Bradley, Shawn Andrews, Donovan McNabb, Brian Westbrook, Todd Herremans, Cornelius Ingram, Omar Gaither, Ellis Hobbs, Victor Abiamiri, Stacy Andrews, Chris Gocong, Kevin Curtis, Akeem Jordan, and so on. Honestly, how many teams can sustain this many injuries to this many good players and still be 7-4?
The Cowboys schedule - December is here. Is another collapse in the works? Well, it won't be easy for Dallas. Their next 5 games...
- Week 13 - @ Giants - NFC East rivalry game in the Meadowlands -never easy.
- Week 14 - Chargers - In case anyone else is like me and isn't paying much attention to the AFC West, the Chargers have rattled off 6 straight wins, including a blowout in Denver, and impressive wins against the Eagles and Giants.
- Week 15 - @ New Orleans - Best team in the NFL, and it isn't close. The Saints will still need this one, too, since the Vikings are still lurking with one loss and home field will still be in question.
- Week 16 - @ Washington - The Redskins dominated the Cowboys a couple weeks ago. Yes, dominated them. If the Redskins' kicker makes an easy chip shot FG, the Eagles are tied for the division lead right now.
- Week 17 - Philadelphia - Gotta love the football gods.
Tony Romo's trip to Vegas - In case you missed it, Tony Romo went to Vegas this weekend with Miles Austin for a "charity event." Still, it's Vegas, and thoughts of Romo's trip to Cabo before their playoff game in 2007 immediately comes to mind. So it was a "charity event," right? No big deal. Dallas fans will look to swiftly sweep it under the carpet, but this a legitimate indication of how Romo is wired.
Was Romo in Vegas for a charity event? Yes. Did he do any partying while he was out there? I don’t know, I wasn’t there, but there’s certainly no shortage of things to do there if you’re a 29 year old male. Frankly, whether he found time to have fun in Vegas or not is kind of irrelevant.
See, here’s the thing… Whether the "charity event" was in Las Vegas or Des Moines, Iowa, he’s still missing extremely valuable time preparing for a huge showdown against an NFC East rival. Would Peyton Manning sacrifice valuable preparation time to be in Vegas for a charity event during the season? Quite simply, no, he wouldn’t. Romo has a history to go along with the reputation that he may not be as committed to winning as some of the other great, elite QB’s in the league, and this is just yet another example.
Vegas (and whatever Romo’s charity is) will still be there in February, will they not? Why lose valuable time and further feed the perception that you don’t care about winning before a HUGE game in December, which, oh by the way, historically hasn’t exactly been your best month? It’s stupid. If the Cowboys lose, watch this story become larger than life.
The Giants look horrible - Really not much more to say here. They're playing some really bad football.
Things I don't like to see in the 2nd half of the season...
The Coaching decisions continue to amaze me (in a bad way) - I don't care if the Redskins weren't ready for an onsides kick, and I don't care how good of an idea it looked like when they saw what they saw on film. When you're playing a 3-7 team that is missing Albert Haynesworth, Chris Cooley, Clinton Portis, Chris Samuels, Deangelo Hall, and Randy Thomas, you simply don't try an onsides kick on the opening kickoff. Pure stupidity.
We still can't cover TE's - Let's take a look at how some TE's have played against us this year...
- Jeremy Shockey - 4 catches, 49 yards
- Kellen Winslow - 9 catches, 102 yards, 2 TD
- Zach Miller - 6 catches, 139 yards, 1 TD
- Fred Davis (in limited action after Cooley got hurt) - 8 catches, 78 yards, 1 TD
- Kevin Boss - 3 catches, 70 yards, 1 TD
- Jason Witten - 7 catches, 43 yards
- Antonio Gates - 7 catches, 78 yards
- Greg Olsen - 7 catches, 42 yards (and several plays in which he was wide open but Cutler missed him)
- Fred Davis - 4 catches, 43 yards, 1 TD
That's consistently awful. I don't have any suggestions on how to fix it either, which is equally troubling.
Our pass rush - Wait, we're 6th in the league in sacks, with 31, what's not to like? Well, aside from Trent Cole, nobody, and I mean no-bo-dy is getting to the QB. I love Brodrick Bunkley and Mike Patterson in the run game, but fellas... Can we get at least a little bit of penetration up the middle on pass plays? I'm not even asking for you 2 guys to make the play on your own - Can you guys please just get enough of a push to clean up the sack after Cole has forced the QB to step up? We're consistently giving up plays when opposing QB's are able to step up cleanly in the pocket, take an extra second, and find a RB or TE open as a safety valve. As for the left side, Juqua Parker, Victor Abiamiri, and Chris Clemons have been bad. Parker may have 5 sacks, but he never sees a double team, and has too many opportunities not to be making a bigger impact. They have to get more production form that spot.
A first round bye is pretty much out of the question, by any stretch - There's just way too much ground to make up on the Vikings, not that we should really even be considering it in the first place right now. We're pretty much guaranteed an extremely difficult road through the playoffs, should we be fortunate enough to make it to the tourney yet again.
Anything else you like/dislike so far in the 2nd half of the season?