The Good Guys
Sheldon Brown. What a fantastic game from #24! To be honest, I'd be singling him out for praise even he hadn't had that huge 70 yard INT return for a TD. Sheldon was laying some big hits, he was wrapping guys up and tackling them in space, he was knocking passes down, and he was blanketing receivers. Lito has gotten all the press lately after his miracle play in the Dallas game, but Sheldon made his case that he may very well be the best corner on this team... Either way, we have a pretty damn good pair in those two.
Brian Westbrook. What more can you say about this guy? The first game in a long time where Westbrook wasn't treated like he's made of porcelain... what do you think happens? He looks like a rock, a fast and very elusive rock... but a rock nonetheless. As the game wore on he seemed to get even faster and more hard to tackle. After getting his largest amount of carries this year and running in the rain and mud... Westbrook was still running at full speed and still making guys miss late in the 4th quarter. If the Eagles are going to make a playoff run in this second half of the season, they are going to do it on Westbrook's back.
Donte Stallworth. Think this guy's agent might be hearing from the Eagles' front office soon? After Reggie Brown signed his contract extension some media reports said it was "unlikely" that the Eagles would look to resign Stallworth at the end of the year. After missing a few games to injury and playing sparingly against Jacskonville, Donte certainly looked healthy and certainly looked worthy of a contract extension today. He finished with 6 Rec, 139 yds &1 TD including an 84 yard bomb from McNabb. Donte looked very sure handed(0 drops for the whole team!) and he was a security blanket for McNabb all day long. Plus, his speed scared the Redskins. They were playing way off Stallworth after his 84 yard TD and that allowed McNabb to easily go to him underneath several times for first downs. You can see that McNabb trusts him probably more than any of his other recievers. One interesting note... I saw him fielding punts in the pregame yesterday, could that be something we see at some point later this year?
Brian Dawkins. There's really nothing I can say about Dawk that we all don't already know. The man is the unquestioned leader of the defense and really the whole team, the fans revere the guy, he's the most emotional player on the field in any game he plays in, and despite that fact that's he's getting up there in age he's still playing like a pro bowler. Dawkins inspired that defense with the way he played Sunday. He was all over the field racking up a team high 8 tackles. He had 2 passes defensed including an incredible play on a halfback option. Randle El took a pitch an on option play that had the Eagles' secondary(except for Dawk) fooled and left Chris Cooley wide open in the end zone. Randle El put the pass right on Cooley's hands, but Dawkins came literally flying through the air from no where and cleanly knocked the pass away. He gave up his body on the play, landed hard, and was slow to get up. Like always though, he did get up and he got the deserving ovation from the Eagles' faithful.
Other guys. Clearly the offensive line did it's job and when the Eagles committed to the run, they dominated like the biggest offensive line in the NFL should. Michael Lewis, while sharing time with Considine, played a very solid game. He layed some nice hits, played the run well, and didn't get embarrassed in coverage. In very limited time I felt good about what I saw from newly signed CB William James. He's a noticeably big presence at corner, he tackled well, and did a nice job on special teams. Shawn Barber made plays every time he came into the game. Finally, the DTs redeemed themselves from the Jacksonville game. The Eagles were stout up the middle and didn't get pushed off the ball, when the Skins had success on the ground it was mostly to the edges.
The Bad Guys
Matt McCoy. I was very encouraged by what I saw from Matt McCoy early in this season, but he's struggled lately to say the least. He certainly struggled Sunday. He had 7 tackles, but that was mostly because the skins ran at him all day, he was bound to get 7 tackles by dumb luck. While did play a bit better as the game wore on, McCoy seemed to get sealed off and blocked on every single run play. Washington clearly saw him as a weakness and tried to exploit it by running at his edge all game long. Quite often they had alot of success as McCoy was thrown back or wrapped up time after time. Conversely, whenever McCoy came out and Barber came in for him those tackles on the edge were made. Barber gets off blocks much better and generally makes more plays. I think it really may be time to think about starting Barber and bringing McCoy off the bench in certain spots.
Sean Taylor. He was bad. Worse than Michael Lewis bad... Taylor was flagged for two personal fouls that cost him team 30 yards, including a ridiculous late hit out of bounds on Westbrook. His stupid decisions were compounded by his poor play on the field. He bit badly on a McNabb play fake and blew the help coverage that should have been there on the Stallworth 84 yard TD. If he's going to take boneheaded penalties and blow coverages all day, I wish we could face Sean Taylor every week!
Joe Gibbs/Al Saunders. I said before the game that the way to beat the Eagles is to commit to the run early and stick with it. If the game is close or you have lead in the second half it will pay off and you'll be able to impose your will. Clearly that was Washington's plan. However, that plan needs to be adjusted when your defense isn't holding up it's end of the bargain. The Eagles were up 17-3, 20-3 and the Redskins still wouldn't try to throw the ball. You just aren't going to erase a 17 point 3rd quarter deficit running the ball 3 yards at a time with your backup RBs when you just spent millions upon millions of dollars on WRs this past offseason. Now, maybe Gibbs wasn't all wrong because when the Skins did try to throw Brunell telegraphed a throw picked by Sheldon Brown for a TD the other way.
On another note, the Bears beat up the Giants on Sunday night and don't look now but your Philadelphia Eagles are just one game back in the NFC East.