Monday, November 30, 2009


The Philadelphia Eagles defeated the Redskins in an utterly chaotic game at the Linc yesterday afternoon. On the blog, I’ve been away from the Eagles for a bit lately. I sort of gave them a pass for last week’s sloppy road win over the Bears. Any road win versus a desperate outfit (the biggest intangible in pro football) is a good win. But this unholy mess from Sunday against a bad, banged up Washington outfit is another matter altogether.

As usual around here, the papers are all killing Andy Reid for the many curious game day choices. For one thing, the game again featured the over-coaching so common from this Reid regime: the on-side kick to start the game, the ongoing Vick follies, the frequent digressions into the “throw every play offense”.

As a result, the Eagles were down eight points in the fourth quarter, just about left for dead. That is, left for dead until veteran wide out Jason Avant came up with two huge courageous catches en route to the tying score.

Who is Jason Avant? Well, he is emblematic of the best thing Reid has done since arriving in Philadelphia: get endless, positive contributions from the 23rd to 45th roster spot.

The Eagles really ought to be sunk. They are missing two of their first three skill people: Curtis and Westbrook. The offensive line has been in flux since day one- only Jamal Jackson can be counted on week to week. McNabb has missed a couple of starts. The linebacker corps is decimated- starting two guys who weren’t even on the team six weeks ago. The safeties are suspect and the corners are a revolving door of health.

Yet they are a sporty 7-4. And that is because they find guys down on the roster who can play every week.

Example: Avant is a back-up, yet veteran, wide-out. Classy, down roster, multi-year veterans are a rarity in a capped League- if you aren’t economizing at the fourth/fifth wide out spot, where are you economizing?

Further: David Akers makes all his kicks. The back-up running back (McCoy), quarterback (Kolb), wide receiver (Maclin), offensive guard (Giles) and offensive tackle (Justice) all can play at a sustainable, even plus, level. Three, maybe four, of those five would start right now for Washington. The Eagles have literally started probably a dozen guys from the second line on the depth chart- and not one was a disaster. Maybe Joe Mays at linebacker- but he was three deep.

So, if we are going to kill the coach for the nonsense Sunday, and there was a lot, perhaps we might also point out the two constants from this regime: consistent deep roster spot contributions and a “keep moving forward” attitude.

Obviously, the road map to the play-offs is a lot easier at 7-4 than 6-5, particularly in light of the fact the Eagles are really a complete mess on the injury front right now- eight, nine starters out now most weeks, major reinforcements probably not coming (some of these back-up are not going to be supplanted) except as the corners heal up. But with a pair of winnable home games left to play- the 49ers and Denver- 10-6 and a play-off game seem increasingly likely.