Who are these Philadelphia Eagles? Since when could the Eagles put together back to back clutch fourth-quarter drives to win a game? Let the motto continue for the 2009 ‘Birds: all that matters is the score at the end of the game.
But how long can the Eagles continue this grinding attitude? When will their lack of experience truly shine? O, the many questions that all Philadelphia sports fans are asking themselves today.
I’m pretty sure that I would have preferred to watch paint dry than the third quarter of Sunday’s game. The Eagles were outplayed by the very mediocre Washington Redskins. Not to mention, the injury bug continues to bring down the Eagles and the confidence of Eagles fans. DeSean Jackson left the game with a concussion and Brent Celek may have torn ligaments in his hand (he is still expected to play this weekend).
Now for the grades:
Quarterback: A —
I always like to defend Donovan McNabb when I can. Sunday’s performance against the Redskins might not look great on paper, but McNabb had a much better outing than his 80.7 QB rating shows. He completed 21 of his 35 passes on Sunday. Nothing to write home about, right? Wrong. The problem with just looking at the numbers is that 3 of his 14 incompletions were pass deflections and good plays made by the defensive line. Also, the Eagles wide receivers dropped four passes, three by Celek and one by Maclin. So you put that together and McNabb could have been 28 for 35, which would be an 80 percent completion rate. And who could forget the drive that he put together at the end of the fourth quarter for the second straight game. The man deserves more credit.
Running back: B+
The two point conversion run by LeSean McCoy was one of the most athletic plays of the season. I had to watch it more than once because I couldn’t believe how McCoy was able to keep his balance and convert on one of the biggest plays of the game. He averaged 4.5 yards per carry and is quickly making people forget about Brian Westbrook’s absence. Also need to credit the effort by Leonard Weaver because he has complimented Shady extremely well this season. Not a bad one-two rookie punch.
Wide Receiver: B ––
It’s about time that I see Jason Avant lead the Eagles in yards. It looks like Andy is finally to come around on playcalling. It was a tough blow to the receiving core for the Eagles on Sunday, losing Jackson and Celek. As mentioned earlier, the receivers need to work on their case of butterfingers. McNabb throws a hard ball and not always a perfect spiral, but they are paid the big bucks to catch anything that hits their hands. And did I mention that it was nice to see Avant used more in the offense?
Offensive Line: B-
Straight off his new contract with the Eagles, Winston Justice looked like the scared lineman he was against the Giants two seasons ago. He looked shaky at best, recording two crucial penalties during the game. The first was on a third and goal on the Washington five yard line, where he was called for a false start. The drive ended in a field goal. Later in the game, he was called for holding on a long completion to Maclin. Not exactly the performance the front office was looking for after the contract agreement. On a positive note, I was really impressed with the play by Nick Cole and Jamaal Jackson.
Defensive Tackle/Line: C+
Early in the season, the defensive line was holding the team together. They were recording over three sacks a game and three tackles for losses. Now, it seems as though the opposing quarterbacks have endless amounts of time to throw the football. The Eagles only had one sack on Sunday, from the only player that has truly been carrying his weight on the line—Trent Cole. There is no reason for Jason Campbell to throw for over 230 yards on the Eagles. They need to pressure the quarterback.
Secondary: A –
The MVP of the day in my mind goes to Asante Samuel. Granted his one-hundred pound frame results in tackling difficulties, but the man can flat out cause turnovers. He is a playmaker and he can really change the style of the game. He might give up the occasional big play, but Samuel single handedly kept the Eagles in the game on Sunday.
Special Teams: A –
David Akers finally looks like the David Akers of old. Ever since his Pro-Bowl caliber year in 2004, Akers’ age seemed to finally catch up with him. He was missing a lot of crucial kicks that used to be automatic. This season though, Akers has come back to life and made his last 15 field goal attempts.
This weekend the Eagles go on the road to face the Atlanta Falcons. Quarterback Matt Ryan will not play due to a turf toe and running back Michael Turner is questionable. So it looks like the Eagles have a pretty good shot to win their third straight game, but it always depends on what Eagles team shows up on Sunday. This is also a crucial week for the ‘Birds because Dallas and the Giants square off. If New York wins, the Eagles will be tied with the Cowboys for first place in the division. So I never thought I would say this, but let’s go New York.