Tuesday, October 27, 2009

An Unsatisifying Appetizer

In a frankly boring exhibition, the Eagles routed the hapless Redskins last night 27-17- a thoroughly unsatisifying World Series appetizer. Yes, one can’t go too crazy on a football team after the total domination a division opponent on the road- leading by seventeen the entire second half until garbage time. But man… apparently the terrible loss to the Raiders did not exactly cause the Eagles to refrain from looking past this Washington outfit: a zillion penalties, that old offensive ennui we associate with a bad McNabb day, a second half devoid of offensive aggressiveness.

Still, after adding in the fourth starting MLB of the campaign, the defense seems back to fine- holding five of their six opponents to 17 points or less. Only the Saints have managed to humiliate them. Seems like the Eagles should be able to keep the offensively struggling Giants to something manageable this Sunday.

But, a pair of giant plays to DeSean Jackson aside, the Eagles did nothing on offense all night. McNabb's TD pass to Jackson came on a third-and-22 play- how can that happen? His sixty-yard plus TD run was helped in large part when two Redskins both couldn’t get off blocks by WR Maclin.

While not the biggest problem, the bloom is quickly coming off the rose for rookie RB Shady McCoy. He can’t block the pass at all (arguably worse than Ryan Moats right now) and 14-for-38 ain’t gonna cut it at the tailback position. He has got to do better- unfortunately for the Eagles, there are no viable candidates to absorb those touches.

The contributing second tailback position, a must with a Brian Westbrook roster presence, has been a problem forever around here. And it looks like Brain is out at least a month with conscussion symptoms. At my most ornery, I’ve never been a huge Westbrook fan- a guy paid like a franchise back who simply never could handle a weekly load of fifteen-twenty touches. That unreal strain on the roster made guys like Buckhalter and Reno Mahe key contributors at the worst times. Coupled with his blah play and ridiculous cap number, I can confidently predict Westbrook won’t be back in 2010. I don’t think the Eagles will miss his occasional contribution(s).

I just get a feeling the Eagles are trying to hold on until the offensive line completes its restoration to health- slowly, slowly, now three starters back- and then plays a few games together. Guard Todd Herremans was able to restore more order to the chaotic interior (until he wore down badly late)- as Haynesworth was not a complete terror. I think as the other guard and tackle come back, the inconsistency in rushing the football and pass rush pressure will ease. The skins are missing left tackle Chris Samuels and right guard Randy Thomas- look at the mess they are on offense. JC and Portis used to be able to play in spurts, right? Also, is there a more tired act in sports than those Washington fans dressed as Hogs?

I would like to make it official, I have had it with the Eagles punter. Let’s get some guys in here please.

In the end, it is hard to figure out where the Eagles are. They stand at 4-2. And that is a bad 0-1 against great team, and 4-1 versus some lousy ones (I don’t mark’em down that much for the Raiders- this is a hard game to expect perfection). So they are better than lousy and a clear step below great. That is a big gap- you could put them anywhere between real mediocre and good. Beats me. I started at 10-6, something like 4-2 in the division, still feel good about it.

Lastly, Ralph Vacchiano writes about the Giants today:
Are they a power running team? A passing team? A team led by a blitzing defense? What’s their true identity? And why does it seem to change week to week?
At least, we don’t have that problem: the Eagles are a throw it and throw it some more team!

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