Eagles and NFL review – week 8

Sitting at 3-4 after an embarrassing 30-17 loss to Atlanta, the main question for the Eagles is “Where do we go from here?”  With five division games remaining on the schedule, they’re by no means out of a playoff race, but there are some trends and hard questions to be asked.

The first question – Is this really a talented team on offence?  The excuse so often trotted out this year has been that this is a team with talent that just needs to solve its ball security issues.  Looking more closely, that doesn’t hold water after seven games.  Fact: The Eagles are one of the lowest scoring teams in the league.  Fact: Their offensive line has been downright terrible and is now missing 3 of the 5 players that made it one of the best lines last year.  Arguable fact: They have overvalued the talent at receiver.  The big plays have dried up and the talent isn’t there to get open in multiple ways once defences commit to taking away the deep secondary routes (compounded by the fact that the o-line can’t keep Vick upright long enough for those routes to develop this year). My verdict:  On offence, this team doesn’t have the right kind of talent to deal with its own shortcomings.  This is no longer a high-powered offensive team.  This isn’t going to change this season.

Second question – Is this really a talented team on defence?  Asomugha isn’t the defender he was three years ago with the Raiders and is getting burned frequently this year (his whiff on the TD bomb to Jones on Sunday was a great example).  DRC isn’t consistent in coverage.  Coleman has flashes of brilliance, but teams with more mature QBs consistently take advantage of his aggressiveness and he’s not good enough to be the last line of defence in the secondary.  The d-line just can’t get to the QB this year as their “stars” Babin and Cole are both having off-years. . The line was completely dominated by Atlanta on Sunday in what is now becoming more than a trend.  My verdict: At best, this is a middle of the pack defence.  Not good enough when paired with an offence stuck in neutral.

Third question – What can be done to salvage the season? With Reid likely needing to make the playoffs to keep his job, we’ll probably see some desperation moves in the coming weeks.  The big question is – will there be a QB change?  It’s hard to see how someone coaching for his job would see the backup QB as his best chance for success with a decimated offensive line.  For now, Vick still provides the best chance of short-term success in this season.  Another loss (or two) and it’ll be the end of the road for Vick as Reid will be forced to do something…anything.  My verdict:  Stranger things have happened in the NFL and teams can sometimes catch lightning in a bottle (see: recent Super Bowl winners including the Giants and Packers).  But, with an honest assessment, it’s difficult to create a scenario where the Eagles can succeed this year baring an all-out collapse of the Giants.  The kind of sustained, consistent play required to get to 10 wins (likely the minimum threshold for a playoff spot) seems out of reach for this team given its litany of weaknesses.

Maybe it’s the fall air, but it feels like change is coming, and coming soon.  The Eagles will be in tough against the Saints on the road this week.  All signs point to the end of the Reid era in Philadelphia.

Here are a few things I noticed in the other games I watched this week:

  • I didn’t catch much of the Chargers-Browns game, but what I did see pointed to the Chargers having a truly awful offensive line.  Norv Turner will be right up there with Andy Reid in this week’s “coaches on the hot seat” discussions.
  • The Steelers offence looked good (if that is possible in those horrible throw back jerseys – I felt for the larger guys on the line – horizontal stripes and the beige pants did them no favours) against a very weak Redskins defence.  More encouraging was the defence’s work (missing Clark for most of the second half) in bottling up what had been an electric Redskins attack.
  • Dallas feels like a sexier version of my Eagles.  Too many mistakes, too loose with the ball and inconsistent coaching.  Also of note in this game, although the Giants look like the class of the NFC East, they’re not playing airtight football.  Leading Dallas by 23 points, they were within a fingernail of losing the game on a poorly defended deep TD pass near the end of the game.
  • I can see no possible explanation for why the Chiefs only ran Charles 5 times against the Raiders.  Oakland has poor run defence and Charles is the only legitimate offensive threat the Chiefs have.  That’s a team going nowhere fast.
  • I love what Peyton Manning is pulling off in Denver this year.  He looks great.  That Saints defence doesn’t look like it belongs in the NFL.  Here’s hoping my Eagles can take advantage of that next week.
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