I've got to admit, I was wrong about the Eagles a few weeks ago when I ranted about McNabb and Reid. However, I am not surprised by their recent run of success. It was obvious at the beginning of the season that this team had enough talent to make a run at the Super Bowl and that was before we discovered DeSean Jackson's abilities. The Eagles have a pro-bowl QB, an accomplished coach, a stout defense and a superstar running back. Other than a top-notch wide receiver, what is this team missing?
Then, as the season progressed, the Eagles continued to let game after game slip away. Winnable games against inferior opponents constantly got away from us and ended in a loss. Brian Westbrook and Shaun Andrews got hurt, Andy Reid got predictable in the playcalling, and Donovan McNabb's happy feet and bouncing passes returned. The tie against the Bengals was rock bottom.
Who honestly saw the wins against the Cardinals and Giants coming? The Eagles were a team in disarray and now they're 7-5-1 with a good chance to make the playoffs if they run the table and win the rest of their games against the Browns tomorrow night, the Redskins the next week, and the Cowboys at home to finish the season. In my opinion, 10-5-1 is good enough to make the wild card in the NFC this year.
So tomorrow begins the playoff hunt for the Eagles. I think that everything up until this point is irrelavant. The highs and lows of this season are in the past and have to stay there. The McNabb benching, the 3rd and 4th & 1 woes, the injuries have to remain in the rearview mirror or this team won't be able to push this season to another level and make the playoffs.
And to make the playoffs, the Eagles are going to have to ride their surging defense which has been stifling as of late. Asante Samuel and Sheldon Brown have been playing great on the corners and Brian Dawkins has rediscovered his youth this season and has been the ball-hawking safety that we all love. But leading this team has been Stewart Bradley. You only need to watch the games to see how Bradley is all over field and in on every tackle. Trent Cole has been great again this season and the rest of the D-Line has been playing well too. They basically pitched a shut-out against the Giants last week if it wasn't for a garbage-time TD while they were in the prevent and a blocked field goal that was returned for a TD.
During that Giants game, McNabb managed the offense and didn't make any mistakes. It's true that he didn't do anything phenomenal, but he did everything we needed him to do. Westbrook took advantage of the newfound commitment to the run and ran all over one of the best defenses in the NFC. Keeping the ball on the ground and turning McNabb into a game manager is another way that this team is going to be successful as the season gets late. McNabb is still a good QB, however he isn't good enough to throw it 40-50 times a game anymore.
Against the Browns, if the Eagles control the line of scrimmage and stay tough on defense, they should roll against the lesser opponent. It really shouldn't be much of a game and the Eagles should be on cruise control by the middle of the third quarter.
It'll be interesting to see how the Eagles perform to finish the season because if they sneak into the wild card, they'll definitely be the team that no one wants to play in the first round. However, if they don't make the playoffs, it will also be interesting to see what changes come, if any for next season. There will be a post on the Eagles possible changes coming soon, if they stumble down the stretch.