So I am riding on the train, back to Manhattan this morning, when I noticed my seatmate was some sort of science teacher- methodically grading papers. Curious, I snuck a quick look- the papers were an exercise in a familiar math fraction formula involving curvature. I remember learning in high school that by constructing a simple fraction
concerning the characteristics of a particular lens, you could in turn determine the lens’ magnification. Gosh, even for high school, was that not a waste of three or so hours? That is sort of how it felt leaving the Linc last night.
As usual, the rhetoric in the papers is mostly ill-informed nonsense. Well, perhaps not ill-informed, but maybe “painting trees and missing the forest” sort of thinking. The Eagles don't lose because of a play here and a penalty there.
All NFL games turn on that stuff. But the full picture- do you win or do you lose- is different.
To continue the school motif: Remember, first principals.
The first and overarching principal in the National Football League is get quality play from the quarterback position. You are looking for it, cultivating it or reveling in it.
If you have it, a franchise can win in spite of itself. If your team doesn’t have it- they can still win- but just about every single other thing has to go right in all three phases.The Eagles have a franchise quarterback.
He’s not Brady or Manning. But he is a very good player- who is a shell of himself right now. Physically he’s banged up. Mentally, he and the coach haven’t figured out how to get a quality offensive game plan together. The play from the quarterback position, for the first time in six years, isn’t very good. And accordingly, nearly everything else has to go right in the other parts for this team to win.
And frankly, stuff isn’t going real right
- at least on offense and special teams. For example, the Eagles are not a disaster per se on specials. But they’ve lost both kickers- and a result they consistently lose field position battles. Their chief kick returner is out- and they don’t get much from the return game. Philadelphia routinely used to get big plays, momentum and field position from the kicking game- or at least win this match-up. Now it is just a blah area.
The defense is fine- put the first Dallas game and Denver disaster in the same pile as last year’s Pittsburgh debacle. They still will hold teams to 14-20 points much more often than not. If anything, they frankly are better against the run this year than last. But the offense is an outright mess at wide out, the tight ends are nice players but not pluses in this division, and the line is shaky at two inside positions- and the tackles are merely okay now.Put a very good defense with a problematic offense, below average quarterback play and okay-minus special teams- and you get .500
Dallas was pretty thoroughly outplayed most of last night. But, as the Eagles did against San Diego, they provided a text book example of how to steal an NFL game: keep it close- and force the better team to again and again and again execute a football agenda with no mistakes.
Make them punt the ball, make the right reads, handle kicks, pick up blitzes, cover guys one-on-one downfield again and again. Dallas gave themselves a shot- and McNabb blew it.
I also think a lot of the Eagles’ offensive "success" was a mirage. Barring a horrendous Bledsoe turnover, the Eagles probably would have only scored thirteen. How do you get only thirteen points from 350 yards of offense? Uh… how about running it too much?Rushing the football in the NFL is singularly unimportant. It is a chimera- proved yet again last night.
The Eagles ran it great all night- and Parcells was totally content to let them willingly sacrifice plays down the field in advantageous down-and-distance situations all night long.Okay yeah, the Eagles had one nice twelve play drive for a score featuring lots of rushing.
Couldn’t do it again though. Know why? Because no one can consistently mix in seven or so successful run plays in succession, in a 12-play drive, in the NFL.
It is stupid. You throw to score in this league- and the Eagles left a dozen or more snaps, many in pass friendly 1st-and-10, 2nd-and 5 situations, and the subsequent chances for big plays down the field, on the table to get Gordon another 40 useless yards
. And that is how you turn 350+ yards of offense into just 13 points.That is probably it for 2005.
It appears McNabb will not play Sunday. Couple that with a short week- and a road game against a focused, seemingly quality division team looking sorely for revenge for half-a-decade of bad whippings
- and McMahon better bring his chin strap.
So the season probably comes down to either winning that game (miracle) or sweeping the subsequent three-game homestand (hard). Can’t see either happening frankly. Welcome to life without TO people. You wanted him gone- and not calling the coach nasty names.
This is it. Now they have a happy, losing locker room.