Monday, December 03, 2007

Jeez 'Em Crow- Back to the Bench AJ

Sitting in the hail and gloom yesterday at the Linc, a Redskins game broke out. The faithful were greeted by a brief ceremony recogninzing Sean Taylor’s career- followed by a huge roar. Then the home quarterback came out and looked like he was introduced to the game plan five minutes before kick-off.

Four interceptions AJ? And yet, the Eagles were in it to the end. Outside of AJ, they've played darn well two weeks in a row, with zero to show for it. Perhaps proof of their play is that they are a surprisingly decent Vegas favorite over the eight-win Giants this week? The defense allowed two big plays- but the track was a tricky one and the game had a punch/counter-punch feel to it. And Seattle is competent on offense; they are allowed to make plays. And the Eagles’ offense managed to score 24- despite the umpteen turnovers.

But therein lies the story. Like last year, there is a wild card team out there for the Eagles. This outfit is not all that dissimilar to the one from last year: they try, the defense is young and pretty healthy, they have some quality depth mitigating injuries, Westbrook carries the load for a non-descript skill position cast. The only thing missing vis-avis last year is a modicum of decent, quality quarterback play. They’re just not getting it. And the NFL is a hard league if your quarterback situation is problematic

It is in vogue to kill AJ this morning- maybe I’m a little more charitable because I never blinked from the core tenet. To wit, McNabb should start the minute he is able. These sort of games are what excitable fans forget about a productive Donovan: not only does he win games- but he doesn't lose them either.

I’m not giving AJ a pass- his interception rate is inexcusable. But I still think he is a credible back-up. Playing say, the Jets and Redskins, the game and effort he put out there probably wins those games. But in these two games, the Eagles absolutely did not spoon feed him, cut him any slack at any point. He was out there- chucking at a savvy New England defense from the get-go, throwing from behind (albeit due to his own exertions) against the Seahawks in terrible conditions- these weren’t easy games where the Eagles sought via the game plan to protect him. They asked AJ to contribute, to help win both games- he failed.

The results speak for themselves; that go-for-it decisionwas either a mistake or simply impossible. But it is hard to argue, in the pro game, a passive quarterback performance was going to beat the Seahawks or Patriots. The Eagles try; passive isn't what they do.

In normal circumstances- against mediocre teams, not playing against poor odds, or constantly playing from behind forcing things to happen, I bet Feeley does (and has done) okay. Look, I don’t want him to start- but the pendulum is swinging too far here. He can do things- and he has picked himself and his team off the canvas like a dozen times the past three weeks. Lay off, he’s a flawed player trying to execute a tricky job; I’m not sure many back-ups would have done better. It is a hard position; I’m not sure these tests were fair or representative.

I guess the Eagles can’t call it quits. And I’m sort of eager to play the Giants and Dallas- see if this late season surge of general competence can continue with the man, McNabb, back at the controls. I know I’d feel a lot better about the off-season if they Eagles can continue to play at this level for another three-four weeks.