Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Dragging My Sorry Self Out Of The Linc

Dragging my sorry self out of the Linc Monday morning, I was sort of struck by how you could just sort of call it a wrap on the Eagles campaign this season. I mean, we sort of know all we need to know about this team for 2008. Some teams are enigmas- but not this one. They are exactly what they are, and have been, for the last three years. And frankly, after the Phillies triumph, it is hard to get excited one way or other about a team headed straight toward mediocrity for the fourth year in a row. Maybe because I have just seen a world champion, but I just can’t get riled up about another Eagles breathless march to nine-ish wins.

Again, they’re not bad. In fact, they are probably pretty good. But realistically, the gap between the NFL’s eighth best team and, say, the twentieth isn’t very much. Philadelphia could win a weak division (see 2006) but is a definite also ran in a good one (like now!). There is probably enough to make the play-offs if McNabb is healthy and the division didn’t feature all winning outfits. Unfortunately, due to the latter factor, it is chancy.

A break-even outfit like Philly can probably play an entertaining game against a Super Bowl type team. And they did Sunday night. But that same okay team probably features more than a handful of below average areas.

There are many candidates. The interior offensive line isn’t very good, the tackles are competent but nothing special now. The wideouts stink outside of the rookie- and even then Jackson isn’t on an 80 catch pace. So while he is contributing for a rookie, he is still no outright asset. The tight end(s) is non- existent, as are the second RBs behind Westbrook. On defense, the linebackers are nothing special- and the safeties are bad.

And that is what 9 wins looks like- five or six plus areas, five or six blah areas. They try every Sunday- so the Giants had better be prepared and not make mistakes. But, by the same token, New York handed the Eagles a free TD to begin the game- and still played a lot of the second half up multiple scores.

So, Philadelphia has got problems, lots of problems. They have four losses- and a fifth staring them dead in the face when they retun the visit to New York. The rest of the games are all winnable- but the margin of error is small- both week-to-week and as a collective. Figuring an away loss to the Giants, to get to ten wins, they have to sweep their remaining home games: Arizona, Dallas, Cleveland- and get either the Redskins or Baltimore game away.

That is asking 4-1 in the competitive games versus a team that hasn’t really shown a sustained stretch of better than .500 football in two years. Not impossible- they’re probably favored in their next three (yes, even at Baltimore)- but unlikely. I started at 9-7, and I’m staying there.