Tuesday, October 19, 2004

"Carolina!" or "The Eagles Reign of Terror Continues"

The increasingly cruel master of all we survey, the Philadelphia Eagles gradually appear more and more disinterested as they seemingly effortlessly pummel our foul adversaries.

It is kind of weird, isn’t it? Here come the Carolina Panthers- the NFC Champions!-rolling into the Linc. The Eagles are presented with a chance to avenge their recent mortification at their hands last year in the championship game. Yet, less like a vengeful Khan, but perhaps more like a bored municipal servant at the DMV, the Eagles disposed of the seemingly inconsequential task presented them Sunday- by about half way through the 2nd quarter. The Eagles are only the seventh team in NFL history to win their first five games by 10 or more points. I can’t imagine other teams have done it so effortlessly- and totally without style.

Carolina must have thought they got hit by a truck. They really did not play that badly- and they still got crushed: shut out for 58 minutes, endless turnovers, a jaded Eagles team dominating them for quarters at a time. At the half, ostensibly just to keep his team somewhat engaged, Reid called for an on-side kick. It worked of course. Everything is working now. It is unbelievable at times. The ‘skins can’t completed nine passes in an entire game- and we’re trying and executing on-side kicks.

Other than TO in the first half, the Eagles did not play particularly well on offense. They turned a pair of first half 50-yard plus passes to our blinding star into ten points. However, Philadelphia could not run the ball (Westbrook only had 20 or so yards until his big garbage time run) or generate a consistent passing attack. Some of that is due to the fact that they only ran 47 plays. 47 plays! I would love to know the last time a team ran 47 plays and ended up with thirty points.

They got up 13-0 in a hurry- and with Carolina not putting any pressure on the defense whatsoever- well, Donovan and the group seemed content to play “conservatively”. We can be gentle because it is hard to assess style points when you win by 22. It was kind of like they were asleep.

That is sort of the point. Even when dispassionate, the Eagles can score thirty and are probably two scores better than anyone in the NFC right now.

The defense is clearly exceeding expectations. The past five games they have allowed: 17, 16, 13, nine and eight points respectively- and at least 22 of those points were scored after the game ceased to be competitive. The defense line raises all sorts of problems- and the young cover guys, backed by the best safety combination in the league, are playing wonderfully. Teams can run the ball against Philadelphia, but nowhere near as bad as last year. And I mercifully will not rehash the argument that it doesn’t really matter much.

There is crazy talk of 14-15 wins now. I still can’t see that. We have too many short weeks- too many games against desperate teams trying to make the play-offs while we maintain a multiple game lead. But there is still no compelling evidence that the Eagles won’t win this division by three-plus games.