Sitting players in a meaningless game makes sense for the Eagles. Realistically, why is it worth risking injury in a game that will not change the playoff scenarios? Michael Vick is banged up, LeSean McCoy has carried the load all season, and many other Eagles have been injury prone all season. So it seems like the right decision to give the players more than a week off heading into wildcard weekend, right?
Not in the Eagles case.
If you watched the same Eagles and Vikings game from week 16, you would know that the Eagles are far from ready to contend in the playoffs. All of their weaknesses were exposed on the chilly Tuesday night at Lincoln Financial Field. They were outplayed by a rookie quarterback and outcoached by an interim head coach. Michael Vick was horrible, strongly resembling the unprepared Vick of old that relied on his talents more than his preparation. The defense was steamrolled by Adrian Peterson and Joe Webb looked like a veteran at many times.
However, Andy Reid believes the Eagles are just fine heading into playoffs. Unlike Bill Belichick and Lovie Smith, who despite clinching playoff spots played their starters, Reid is comfortable with where the Eagles are at.
As Reid told the media, “It think it’s the right thing to do for us. Other people do it other ways, but this is what I believe in. It gives everybody an opportunity to rest up, in particular in the short amount of time we have here.” Sounds respectable, right?
He also justified his decision to bench all of his primetime starters by keying in on quarterback Michael Vick. Reid noted that Vick has been working with Marty Mornhinweg since before the Dallas game, studying the 3-4 defensive scheme by the Green Bay Packers. That’s all well and good, but wouldn’t it also be important for Vick to get more positive snaps and lead the offense like he has most of the season? If anything, Eagles fans saw just how bad it could be if Vick gets hurt after that performance by Kevin Kolb.
Philadelphia Inquirer’s Bob Ford makes a great point when he writes, “Beyond that, the message isn’t a good one. The message is that everything is just fine. We’ll get back to practice this week and suddenly a porous defense will get it together against an offense ranked among the top 10 in the league overall, and higher than that in the second half of the season.”
The Green Bay Packers are on a mission. They are coming off of back to back playoff-caliber wins over the New York Giants and Chicago Bears. In those two games they outscored their opponents 55-20, with quarterback Aaron Rodgers throwing five touchdowns and averaging over 300 yards per game.
But don’t worry because the Eagles defense, which has been oh-so reliable all season, will be well rested and ready for the test. By taking a break, they will figure out how to stop one of the most high-powered offenses in the league. And the Eagles offense, which was held to just 14 points (with Michael Vick recording a 74 passer rating, LeSean McCoy averaging 3.4 yards per carry, and DeSean Jackson being held to two catches) is ready to go in full force. They will be able to handle one of the most dynamic defenses in the league, led by a top-notch pass-rush, simply by being well rested. This is a big concern.
The combination of the question-marks surrounding the Eagles after the Vikings game and the Packers being red-hot could be detrimental come Sunday night. Let’s hope they are practicing hard.