E…A…G…L…E…S…W…I…N… Everybody can breathe a sigh of relief. The Eagles are now 2-4, ending their 4 game losing streak with a convincing 20-13 win over a floundering Washington Redskins team. Mike Shanahan, “Sexy Rexy” Grossman and the denizens of Capitol City will have a lot to think about and might want to ask the Eagles for the number of a good therapist. Four weeks of pressure from Philadelphia fans and media plus the added stress of going 1-4 with a “Dream Team” moniker, ballooning payroll and Super Bowl expectations would make anybody go a little bonkers. All of the problems are not solved but for Andy Reid and the Eagles, they have an extra bye week to gather their thoughts and re-gain perspective.
“Interceptasaurus Rex” Grossman was trying to throw the ball all over the field but he hit Eagles safeties four times. Kurt Coleman had three of those INT while Nate Allen grabbed number four, putting Grossman out of the game and the Redskins out of business. The Eagles shut down Washington’s ground game (14 rushes for 42 yards) and then took away the passing attack (17 completions on 37 attempts resulting in 4 INT). Conversely, the Eagles ran the ball 38 times (passing only 32) to net 192 yards (5.1 avg) and maintain a lead through the second half. Perhaps Reid and Co. finally learned something or perhaps they finally got tired of losing or perhaps it was Signgate outside of the NovaCare Complex. Whatever the impetus, the Eagles took a lead, kept the lead, managed the clock with multiple prolonged offenive drives and used every aspect of a team effort to get the win! Enjoy the win, Andy!
Critics will offer that 2-4 is not much better than 1-4 but had the Eagles gone 1-5 their season may have been over. Reid pundits may have been rooting for continued failure so as to run Big Red out of town after 13 seasons but that wasn’t the solution either. Free agents and trades and signing guys off the street may not be the modus operandi in the NFL but only offers to augment successful teams not salvage their season. Not to indicate that roster changes won’t offer some peripheral assistance but adding the occasional Kyle DeVan or Jarrad Page won’t turn a team around as dramatically as what we have witnessed over the past week. LeSean McCoy (126 yards and TD on 28 rushes for 4.5 yards per carry) was used properly to control the clock and reduce the number of opportunities the Eagles afforded Washington.
Three INT for Kurt Coleman and a fourth for Nate Allen certainly helped turn the tide and make John Beck the Redskins QB. Nnamdi Asomugha put a killer hit on the Skins in the open field while the linebackers and front four shut down the Washington rushing attack. Only Shady’s gut punch of head coach Andy Reid was more unexpected than the play of this motivated Eagles defense. Juan Castillo and Jim Washburn get blamed when they lose so we offer praise when they win. Same coaches, same players but different game plan and better execution are the difference between losing and winning.
Now the Eagles have a bye week so they will have an entire CBA-mandated 6 days off during which they will ponder the myriad of issues facing the team. Will Brandon Graham be brought off the PUP list and be able to contribute over the second half of the season? Will Jason Kelce and Danny Watkins be factors on this offensive line or will King Dunlap, Winston Justice and Kyle DeVan have more of an impact? Trent Cole will still be out after the break and Casey Matthews still has some learning to do but improvement has been seen at safety, linebacker and offensive line – three huge weaknesses this season. Will the Eagles make a trade before tomorrow’s deadline?
Brent Celek (4) had more catches than DeSean Jackson (3) and we all know that Rex Grossman, Vince Young (2 plays, 1 INT while Vick had 1 INT in 37 attempts) or DeAngelo Hall (INT Vince Young) could have changed the outcome of this game with one play the other way but which will define the next 6 games of the Eagles 2011 season? Zero fumbles and just 2 INT are an improvement but getting back 4 INT and 2 fumble recoveries have begun to turn the tide for a team that was NFL-worst in turnover differential. More than anything, that stat tells you this was an Eagles win rather than a Redskins loss. In previous weeks, Vick and Jackson and McCoy have put up huge fantasy numbers in Eagles losses. Everyone wanted to blame rookie kicker Alex Henery or Casey Matthews or Brian Rolle or safety Jarrad Page (benched to put Kurt Coleman and Nate Allen back into the starting lineup) or any number of scapegoats. Making all of the dartboard targets of Juan Castillo or Andy Reid will not change the turnover differential but playing solid fundamental football works wonders.
Week One saw the Eagles beat up on a sagging Rams team, followed by four weeks of the Eagles beating themselves while four other NFL teams happened to also be in the building. Eagles fans will be silent this week as will Lincoln Financial Field but in two weeks we will line up refreshed, relaxed and reinvigorated taking the rest of the season one game at a time. Week 8 will feature the 2-4 Philadelphia Eagles at home against the Dallas Cowboys Sunday Night on Prime Time TV. Blood rivals engaging in a blood sport in front of a national audience will get your heart pumping. If fans and players and coaches can’t get up for that one, then they don’t love football. Take the week off, rake some leaves, carve some pumpkins and get the kids Halloween costumes ready. October 30 is the Eagles game and losing would be a frightening proposition but a win would give the Eagles divisional victories over Washington and Dallas with one loss to the Giants. Andy Reid is 12-0 coming out of a bye week. Breaking even against NFC East rivals would level the playing field and divisional records might determine the eventual champion so it is still possible that Philadelphia could turn this season around.
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