In a remarkable display of guts and staminia, the Philadelphia Eagles defeated the Carolina Panthers 27-24 in a game of football.
No doubt, it was sweet! And I drank it down like nectar. Sure, the Eagles were very lucky. But it has been a hard road this year in Philadelphia- and so just maybe the team and the faithful were owed one for the earlier debacles.
It was hard to exit the Linc thinking Philadelphia was better than Carolina. But Philadelphia played a heady game. Jeff Garcia kept firing, the defense plugged away the best they could. It sort of reminded me of last year's San Diego game
- where the outmanned Eagles refused to turn the ball over, kept trying
- and forced San Diego to execute again and again. Same thing here- the Eagles forced Carolina to keep scoring, keep making kicks, keep getting their defense off the field, etc. again and again- until Delhomme snapped on the very last important play.
Now, this season has provided moments of reason for all members of the Eagles’ community: the Eagles are great (first five games), the Eagles are terrible (lately) and for the Eagles are .500 (me!). Clearly, the latter is in the ascendancy again.
Coming off a disaster in 2005, we can now put to rest any doubt that the Eagles are improved this year. Of course, there is much to be done. The defense has issues at like seven positions.
Trotter is only an elite player in stretches, as far as I can see Dhani Jones is the worst linebacker playing regularly in the NFL (yet again defensive coaches!), and having to plug a rookie, a second day draft pick in Week 13 is not exactly a sign of strength.
The DT rotation is problematic. Strong safety is a question mark- but while Lewis is gone, I sense they’ll leave Sean Considine
out there. The corners and Dawkins are good- they'll survive with Consodine’s learning curve and accept gratefully the cheap salary requirement.
Two of the four young linemen, McDougle and Bunkley, are the biggest disappointment on the team. Philadelphia could use a pass rushing specialist on the edge in the worst way.
Its funny- but they kinda miss ND Kalu; he was a pretty effective pass rusher, when asked only to do that for 25 snaps.
But you know, the offense is pretty good. Sure, they need the quarterback healthy, but add a guard (Herremans
should be on the roster as a prime back-up- but he hurts playing every snap, every week), another competent running back option- and this is a play-off unit
. The skill positions and offensive line are much, much better this season.
Bottom line: Carolina played pretty well last night. This was not a game the 2005 Eagles would have even been in.
The difference between eight wins and eleven wins next year will be winning games like this, stealing a pair of games you don't deserve.So where are we now?
Well, the Eagles were alive.
Yes, mainly because the standard for competence has been marked down by the Panthers and Giants lately. And, as I wrote last week that the Eagles sort of perversely picked up ground simply by getting the Indianapolis game behind them. They lost badly, but everyone else did lost too, so that one game hole never materialized.
There are four teams at 6-6. Two will make the play-offs. All have tricky schedules- perhaps the measure of a .500 team is that every game you play is tricky.
But that is a fair assessment- four to make two- so I’ll call it 50-50. Not great, but better than when McNabb went down. They are tied for the Wild Card lead now; they weren’t when #5 went down.
Maybe even better- because they’re still trying, the Giants, Falcons and Panthers are declining every week, and the Eagles have the Redskins on tap.
Now, I don't know anyone carrying the ‘skins as a lay-up. (ed. Would the Redskins have made the play-offs with Garcia playing quarterback? Or Feeley?) Clearly, if the Eagles play well- they win by more than a score. But they don't do that too often.
Short week. Road division game. Back-up quarterback. I suppose the Eagles are better and have more motivation
- and the things that win close division games: making kicks, punting and kicking off, turnovers, penalites- the Eagles have a distinct advantage.
Sometimes you forget what four win bad looks like until the Redskins show up. Gosh, Washington is having a nice week- even by their standards.
The kicking follies- how can you dress two kickers and announce one of them ain't playing? I guess Gibbs can provide reasons- but to normal people, it is just stupid. And Lloyd (ed. 6 yrs- $30 M, $10M guaranteed! Nice.)
appears to be on his way to being de-activated rather than dealt with. I don’t understand how they can afford to antagonize him- cause I can’t see how you afford to cut him.