Monday, December 14, 2009

Increasingly Elf-Like

It is hard to be too enthused about the Eagles 45-28 thumping over the Giants. Sure, it is simply great to watch a dejected, increasingly elf-like Tom Coughlin stand-in for tens of thousands of drenched Giants’ fans. But we’ve seen this movie before. The Eagles have been in the consistently best team in the NFC East for the better part of a decade now. Eh, so they probably are again.

Yes, the Eagles are maybe a bit better than the ten-ish win good forecasted here in August. But there is no Super Bowl title here with this defense. How are the Eagles going to run a gauntlet of @ Minnesota, @ New Orleans and then San Diego/Indy? Score 45 again and again? People! Just because the Giants are, in a pinch, designed to score fifty against- a nifty mixture of just horrible defensive secondary players and suspect defensive line play- does not mean this is a reproducible formula in New Orleans.

Still, must not be pessimistic. It is a good win- as all wins in road division games are. That is just about as well as the Giants can play on offense. They seemingly had the ball the entire game. The Eagles' defense was clearly less desperate than the Giants' offense. Philadelphia made a bunch of soft plays in the defensive backfield: lazy tackling, constantly jumping routes, looking for the easy play- symptomatic of more than a little untypical NFC East softness out there.

Yet, New York still trailed by two full scores with four minutes to go. Frankly, for a team racking up 500 yards of offense, the Giants trailed by two touchdowns a lot: just enough bad luck, breakdowns, turnovers and shaky pass coverage. That is four items- chalk up one score to each and you’re at 28 already.

The New York papers were agog during the week that their recent benchings of three defensive starters, most notable Osi Umenyiora, was helpful and invigorating. I didn’t notice. Maybe they are somewhat better versus the run- but now the Giants get zero push in the pass rush on the early down and distance situations. That is a real unhelpful combination with that New York secondary. Mess up a run play- they get seven yards. Mess up a pass play- and Jackson roams wide open chased by hapless safeties.

Ultimately though, the Eagles are right now what they have been again and again for the past decade- a real threat to get to the NFC Championship game, but a notch below true greatness.