Call it karma, call it Yin-Yang, call it parity in the modern NFL. The Eagles were going to lose a game somewhere that they could have won in order to balance the games they were supposed to lose. Were they supposed to beat Indianapolis and the hated NY Giants in two emotionally-charged, gut-wrenching grind-fests? Were they supposed to lambaste Washington? It is said that in the NFL you are only as good or bad as your last game. Well, to be more accurate, you are only as good as your NEXT game. One saving grace about a short week. Even the controversies get resolved faster.
Everything seemed back to “normal” in EaglesLand Tuesday, just two days after head coach Andy Reid lashed out at several players following the team’s 31-26 loss to the Bears in Chicago and one day after Reid met briefly with star receiver DeSean Jackson, who took the post-game lashing harder than the others. With the Houston Texans looming on Thursday, the Eagles squeezed three days of practice into one Tuesday. Meanwhile, both Reid and Jackson agreed that everything that happened over the weekend is over with. And it’s time to move on.
“I’m here to play football, have fun, go out there and win football games,” Jackson said. “That’s my job and that’s what I’m here to do. As far as anything else, I could care less about anything else.” Jackson spoke to the media Tuesday for the first time since the loss, in which he had only two catches for 26 yards and had two drops, including one in the end zone. After the game, reporters watched as a clearly upset Jackson sat at his locker wrapped in a towel, part of the time being consoled by several players, part of the time by himself with both hands covering his face.
“We’re past that now,” said Jackson.” We’ve got a big game on Thursday, so we’re on to the next game.” Asked if his relationship with Reid was still OK, Jackson said, “Yeah, we’re good. … There’s nothing to clear, no air, none of that.” It’s rare to see a player take things so hard after a game. Jackson was still sitting in his locker with his headphones on long after most of his teammates had showered, dressed, and walked over to the buses. Jackson was asked Tuesday why he took things so hard.
“They did some things that were good,” he said. “For us to go out there and not be able to win like we wanted to, it’s obviously disappointing. But that’s here nor there. We’re on to the next. We have Houston coming in, and that’s what we’re worried about.”
As for Reid’s tongue-lashing …and response… Any thoughts Coach?
“I’m not here to talk about any of that,” Reid said. “What we talk about in the locker room is between the team. People can say what they want and talk about what they want. I could care less about any of that. We have more football games to win and I’m moving forward.”
Jackson’s production – or lack thereof – will be a concern for the Eagles especially in a short week. He’s been held to 50 or fewer yards in five of his last seven games, and his two biggest games of the year – 135 yards against the Lions and 153 against the Jaguars – were back in September. His overall numbers are down from last year, as are his big plays. After scoring 10 touchdowns of 35 yards or more last year – including runs and returns – he has just three in 11 games this year. Jackson’s numbers may be down, but as a whole, the offense is clicking more than it did in 2009. One good remedy for an ailing passing attack? The worst-ranked passing defense in football. How ’bout them Texans?
The Eagles averaged a franchise-record 26.8 points per game last year and are scoring 28.2 this year. They averaged 381 yards per game last year and they’re up to franchise-record pace at 399 this year. With Michael Vick and Kevin Kolb splitting time at quarterback, they’re even close to franchise-record pace in the passing game at 271 yards per game – not far off last year’s mark of 274 per game. So even though Jackson isn’t where he wants to be, other guys – like Jeremy Maclin, Jason Avant and LeSean McCoy – have been making up for it most of the time.
“One of the things with DeSean is that, listen, people know how good he is,” Reid said. “This is no secret. He’s a good football player. Teams, obviously, calculate for that and scheme for that and with that, I thought Michael [Vick] did a good job of, if he’s doubled, then either going to LeSean or to [Brent] Celek or back out to Jeremy. It’s one of those deals. Some games there are going to be more catches.
The best thing about a short week is that nothing lingers. There’s no time to let it linger. You play Sunday, fly home and start to turn the page because you’ve got another game Thursday night. Everything that happened in the visiting locker room at Soldier Field Sunday is over with. Jackson’s two catches for 26 yards are forgotten. The Texans are on their way to Philly, and kickoff will be here before you know it.
While the Houston secondary is more accommodating than a well-paid escort during Prohibition, their pass rush is formidable and should not be taken lightly. One notable is former first round pick Mario Williams. This powerful defensive end has been battling nagging groin injuries and has been limited to only 9 sacks this season. Also of note is the Texans offensive triumvirate of Matt Schaub, Andre Johnson and Arian Foster. Schaub – 15 TD/7 INT, 2,752 passing yards and 64.3 completion % – has been battling knee injuries but is likely to play. Meanwhile RB Arian Foster has come off the practice squad of the Oblivion Argonauts to lead the NFL in rushing with 1147 yards and 12 TD on 224 carries with an average of 5.1 YPC. Oh and the best – and quietest – WR in the NFL that no one knows about, Andre Johnson will play against the Eagles. Johnson was NOT suspended after his playground scuffle with Tennessee Titans cornerback Cortland Finnegan last week.
Johnson did what no one else would: He changed Cortland Finnegan’s name to “Cortland Innegan” after beating the “F” out of him. Johnson is 6-foot-3-inches and 225 pounds and “Innegan” — hereafter referred to as such — is 5-foot-10-inches and 190 pounds, so this hardly seems like a fair fight. However, Johnson is widely known around the league as an extremely soft-spoken player who rarely, if at all, stirs up any kind of trouble. Furthermore, “Innegan” reportedly warned the Texans’ sideline that fireworks were coming before he shoved Johnson in the facemask off the snap, provoking punches. So the facts, coupled with” Innegan’s” already-lengthy list of fines from Commissioner Goodell, leave the lasting image that “Innegan” might have deserved his beat-down – as well as the name change.
So Thursday Night Football on NFL Network from Lincoln Financial Field in South Philadelphia. Eagles take on the Houston Texans. Everyone expects the Eagles to handle Houston but a win against the Bears was expected and look what happened! Vick should spread the ball around to Maclin, McCoy and tight end Brent Celek – have you met Brent Celek? – but it will also be important to establish a solid ground game with McCoy and Harrison. Look for “Action Jackson” to be quiet much of the day aside from two long TD bombs – hopefully one in each half- against the Houston secondary. If the Eagles can run the ball and control the clock, there is no way Houston can win – not even with their potent offense. However, if the Eagles lose in the trenches, the running game will not dictate play and Vick will be running for his life all day. In that event, Houston has a chance to contain Vick and get into a shootout.
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES 35
HOUSTON TEXANS 23
About the Author
Written by Christopher Rowe
Contributing writer Comcast Sports, NY Times contributing stringer 1996-2000, Contributing writer Yahoo Sports (2001 World Series). Contributing writer Newsday Long Island (1992-1994, Jets Training Camp) and Newak Star Ledger. Freelance Copywriter, Editor/Founder Atlantic Times Weekly (1993-2003) fantasy football magazine, produced screenwriter and general humorist. Hofstra University grad, Marist College honorary alum, Salesian; Purveyor of the Value and Valor of Philadelphia Eagles 1960 NFL Championship; Adrent believer that Eagles could have won Super Bowl XV...and Super Bowl XXXIX...plus modern decade of Eagles 5 NFC Championships... Believer in the Broad Street Bullies and the 1983 Sixers... Witness to Philadelphia Phillies World Series championships 1980 & 2008, Suffered Phillies first pro sports team to reach 10,000 losses,witnessed "1980 Cardiac Kids," 1983 "Wheeze Kids," 1993 "Macho Row" and many, many, many not-so-memorable seasons in-between... until the Philadelphia Baseball Renaissance of 21st Century, Five NL East division titles 2007-2011, 3 NLCS appearances 2008-2010, 2 consecutive World Series berths 2008 & 2009. 2008 World Champions of baseball [miss ya Harry and Richie]; "collector" of MLB ballparks (42 stadiums including 15 which are gone); Fantasy Football & Baseball player since 1992. Always a sports fan... Tenui Nec Dimittam Contact me firstname.lastname@example.org