For the first time all season, the Eagles have won two games in a row and sitting at .500. Of course, they figure to be below .500 after next week, but I’ll get to that later.
They only won by 10 points, but they outplayed the Dolphins by more than that. The defense was great. Although they didn’t sack John Beck or even force a turnover, they won the game today. With the exception of a few nice runs, Chatman was bottled up and a non-factor. Despite being kept clean most of the game, Beck looked uncomfortable in the pocket, but Rich Gannon might’ve been the most flustered QB in
Although it was late in the game, the incredible goal line stand by the defense was the backbreaker. The Dolphins had made some big plays on that drive, and it looked like the momentum was swinging back in their favor. After a Trent Cole tackle for loss, a lucky deflection by Takeo Spikes and another nice play by Spikes to stop Chatman short of the goal line, Cam Cameron made an explicitly poor play call, in which Juqua Thomas tackled Chatman 13 yards behind the line of scrimmage on a toss play. It was a dumb play to call with the game on the line, and the play design is so bad it should be tossed out of the playbook.
Brian Westbrook had one of his best games, and he was completely taken out of the passing game. He had career highs in carries and rushing yards, which we should’ve expected going into a game against one of the league’s worst run defenses. However, one might wonder if that would’ve happened if McNabb didn’t get hurt.
On a play before halftime, a DB hit McNabb hard on a blitz, and he limped off the field. After a collective groan from Eagles fans, the prevailing feeling of “here we go again,” and some x-rays, McNabb only has an ankle sprain, and he should be good to go pretty soon.
The fans calling for McNabb’s head and demanding Feeley or Kolb to play got their wish. However, A.J. only showed that McNabb is still the best option for this team. Don’t get me wrong; Feeley did enough to win, but this wasn’t a full game. I don’t trust him for a big chunk of games. He’s okay if he has to fill in, but the Eagles are looking to win games, and over the course of a month or two, he’d prove to be detrimental.
Almost immediately after he came into the game, Feeley did nothing to stop the Eagles’ turnover problems. He became part of the problem when he badly underthrew a receiver on top of making a bad decision to throw that way in the first place. It was another Dolphin red zone pick, taking more points off the scoreboard for the Eagles. He doesn’t have the arm strength to make difficult throws, and he has pretty spotty accuracy, but I have to give credit where credit is due. He made some nice plays, including a great touch pass in the seam to LJ Smith and a tough TD pass to Jason Avant, who was missing in action since the
I’m not defending McNabb’s play today though. He played poorly in the poor weather conditions. His throws were off and he was taking some hard hits. The picks were bad passes and it just wasn’t one of his games. However, I’m not sure what McNabb was doing throwing so many times in the heavy wind and precipitation, which actually cleared up by the end of the game. They should’ve come out pounding the ball from the start. We shouldn’t need to wait for McNabb to get beat up and taken out of the game before we start using Westbrook. Notice how we finally used Buckhalter and Westbrook in the same formation and it worked?
That leads me into next week. The Patriots just destroyed another opponent, and the Eagles are in the crosshairs next. If the Eagles are going to do the impossible, and let me go on the record right now as saying it won’t happen, things have to be perfect, from the coaching staff all the way down to Reno Mahe.
They need to run the ball. They need to use Westbrook, Buckhalter, Stanley Pritchett, whoever. They need to throw the kitchen sink at the Patriots’ front seven. Don’t get me wrong; they can stop the run, but their best chance at beating the Patriots involves keeping their offense off the field. I’m not sure if this O-Line can hold up in pass protection long enough to give McNabb a chance to win this game himself.
Trent Cole is going to have to play the game of his life. This was his third straight game without a sack, so it’s time for him to break out again. The Eagles need to be able to generate pressure with their front four. If they have to bring the blitz, it’s going to leave too many holes in coverage, which the Patriots weapons will easily be able to exploit.
One final thing to ponder: If the Eagles were able to beat the Patriots, would this avenge the Super Bowl loss? I guess some could say that ending the perfect season is revenge for being beat in the big game, but I disagree. I never bought into the revenge game hype. I don’t think a championship loser feels any better about their loss if they emerge victorious in the regular season the next year.