The Philadelphia Eagles are entering the bye week after six mostly frustrating weeks of their 2011 season and what direction they are headed is still anyone’s guess.
Is this a good team ready to explode and go on a serious run? Are they just a mediocre team destined for 8-8? Or are they dysfunctional, overrated and just one loss away from completely imploding?
The Eagles have sandwiched four losses in between two wins. In each of the four losses, they were either leading in the fourth quarter or had a chance to win the game but blew it with dumb mistakes.
The Eagles’ two wins were over less-than-stellar teams in the St. Louis Rams and Washington Redskins. Neither win was a complete and convincing performance.
So, when you look at the Eagles’ six games, it’s somewhat conflicting as to how they truly look.
We could argue that, if not for turnovers, penalties, dropped passes and missed field goals, the Eagles could be 5-1. We could also argue that the defense has been horrible for all but about three quarters of football and the offense can’t stop shooting itself in the foot.
The Eagles are currently ranked No. 3 in overall offense (first in rushing, 10th in passing) and No. 14 in overall defense (10th vs. pass, 24th vs. rush).
They are also one of only six teams that rank in the top 15 on both sides of the ball. Out of those six teams, only two have a losing record (Eagles, Cowboys). And most people see Dallas as a talented team, just like the Eagles, but just can’t put it all together yet.
After six weeks of football, I still can’t tell if the Eagles are a good team with great talent that just needs time to gel, or, a dysfunctional team that is overrated, mistake-prone and suffers from bad coaching.
From the second half of the Buffalo game through the first half of the Washington game, a span of four quarters, the Eagles have outscored their opponents 37 – 13. Those were four quarters of some pretty good football.
However, it’s unfortunate that the other four quarters between those two games had the Eagles being the ones outscored to the tune of 31 – 7.
That pretty much illustrates my point, which team are they? The one that went on a 37-13 run or the one that was beat up 31-7?
After the loss to Buffalo, everyone and their Grandmother wanted Andy Reid and/or Juan Castillo fired. Philadelphia fans were voicing frustrations every where you turned: sports radio, message boards, blogs, Philly sports web sites, signs in the stands and signs across from the Nova Care Complex.
If you’re a die-hard fan, you may have even been engaged in some spirited debates with fellow Eagles fans about what the problems are (were) and whether or not Andy Reid should be fired.
This is the kind of emotion that the Eagles evoke from the fans, especially when they lose.
However, the Eagles’ victory over the Redskins has soothed the savage beasts and bought Andy Reid and the team a two-week reprieve. Although, the buzz surrounding the team is still mixed.
I wrote an article a little while back where I predicted the rest of the Eagles’ season, game by game. My actual goal with that piece was to provide some optimism during a period of time when negativity was running rampant.
I predicted that the Eagles would win 10 of their final 11 games. Obviously, that is a very optimistic view. From what I’ve seen of this team so far, a more realistic expectation is that they’ll win five or six of their 10 remaining games.
That wouldn’t be good enough for the playoffs, unfortunately.
However, I see enough potential in this team that could enable them to go on a serious run. Therefore, I still believe that this team can do it.
After all, they have Michael Vick, DeSean Jackson, LeSean McCoy, Jeremy Maclin, Trent Cole, Jason Babin, Cullen Jenkins, Asante Samuel and Nnamdi Asomugha.
How can you not love all that talent?
Plus, Nate Allen has turned in two consecutive strong performances to improve the play of the safeties and the offensive line seems to be improving each week.
There are reasons to “believe” in this team. In fact, there are more reasons to believe than not to believe. Though, I will admit that if you were to put all of the reasons for and against the Eagles on a balance scale, it would tip only ever-so-slightly towards the positive side.
If the defense can continue to correctly utilize the talent of the cornerbacks (aka, play more man coverage) and at least contain the run game, they will be significantly improved.
If the offense can just stop turning the ball over, especially in the red zone, scoring points won’t be a problem.
A positive sign from the coaching side of things is that Andy Reid and Marty Mornhinweg have now called two games with a balanced offensive attack. Plus, Juan Castillo seems to have tweaked the defensive scheme a little bit (more blitzes recently, not as much wide-nine, and mixing in some press coverage).
These are all reasons to be optimistic. If this team can start to build on some success, it is capable of going at least 8-2 the rest of the way and earn a playoff birth.
Again, the key word is “capable”. The Eagles can go on a run, but whether or not they will is yet to be seen. At the least, they have a legitimate shot because they still control their own destiny.
On October 30th, the Eagles resume their season in a prime time game against the Dallas Cowboys. It’s fitting that a game under the bright lights against the Eagles’ most hated foe could very well determine the Eagles’ course for the rest of the season.
A loss at this juncture, and against that team, would be devastating. The “fire Andy Reid” mob would be back in full swing and the team would deflate.
A win would serve as the spark that ignites the Eagles. It would inspire more confidence in the team and from the fans. What better team to step on and use as a launching pad than the Dallas Cowboys?
That would get this town fired up again.