Monday, November 01, 2004

Victorious! Yet sleepy!

The dream is always the same….. feeling the heat from “The Freak” rampaging through the ‘skins’ backfield, Brunell rolls out- fleeing for his very existence. Cruelly, Mark never sees Trotter- who mercilessly brings his mighty hammer down- separating both the ball and senses from the hapless Brunell. The Washington quarterback just lies there, mewling pitifully, and only partially hearing the appreciative roar from 65,000 drunken partisans partying at the Linc. Mind you now, there is a sort of mixed emotion from the Redskin’s sideline. The coaches and sympathetic teammates implore Brunell, as if he’s a shot boxer who has taken one too many head shots, to stay down, simply stay down. Ramsey, on the other hand, implores him to get up- and thus spare him taking snaps, down four scores & forced to throw, “protected” behind the redskins’ offensive “line”. Yes, it is “offensive” all right.

You could have fallen asleep and dreamed such dreams at the Linc yesterday, although the Eagles did, admittedly, take care of business yet again- in the most desultory fashion imaginable. Looking at the 15-10 score, one might have thought the Eagles’ banged up offense managed to score just enough against the Raven’s stout defense- and that was Philadelphia was helped along by the indifferent, inconsistent nature of the Ravens offense.

I suppose that is all true- but it would belay the sense of soporific ennui that over hung proceedings. I realize this season is all about the game at the Linc scheduled for Sunday, January 23rd- (ed. seriously- we might as well start printing tickets, right?)- but this is ridiculous. Thank God for TO- his “Ray Lewis Celebratory Dance” was marvelous theater.

The Eagles just seem sort of indolent right now- particularly on offense. As my brother adroitly pointed out, we don’t really game plan to drive the football anymore. We run a couple plays, take a deep shot & hope for a big catch or penalty, and kick a resultant field goal. Or TO makes an amazing play- his TD catch yesterday for instance. Because of this offensive style, we don’t possess the ball at all - is it me or every game we have the football for 25 or so minutes? I swear I really think the rash of crazy trick plays the Eagles run lately are Reid’s attempt to keep his team engaged- when game after game they are two-three scores better than the teams they are playing.

The Eagles won because, on a day where they were missing a key source of consistent offense (Westbrook) and the quarterback was not his usual MVP-self, they generated enough offense via TO and maintained their stubborn refusal to turn the ball over- only marred by a straightforwardly terrible McNabb fumble. Turnover ratio is particularly important against the opportunistic Raven’s defense that must protect their bad offense. By not forcing turnovers, coupled with Philadelphia’s habitual outstanding special teams, the Ravens never got good field position- a probable must for their offense to score. The best starting point Baltimore had all day was their own 29! As a result, the Eagles “suspect” defense for the umpteenth time only allowed one late score- and that set up by a freak bomb.

In short, the Eagles remain the class of the NFC. I cannot imagine any team coming into the Linc for a play-off game better than a 10-point ‘dog. This week’s game at Pittsburgh- followed by at Dallas- is nervy though. Pittsburgh is very good, clearly hot and paying attention. The Eagles are plainly dis-interested and probably vulnerable to the monster rushing number Pittsburgh is sure to put up next week. And then a desperate Dallas outfit. I must admit I would be pleasantly surprised if the Eagles return to the Linc for the annual humiliation of the Redskins still undefeated.