Are Eagles Better? The Record May Say No.

11 08 2008

2007 was a great year for the NFC East.  The division the Philadelphia Eagles once used as their punching bag now is home to four of the best teams in the NFC, with the Eagles quite possibly being the worst of the four.  In a year that the Eagles are trying to reclaim bragging rights from the seemingly (and former) JV-ish teams who also call the NFC East home (and whom the Eagles once-upon-a-time-dominated) it just doesn’t seem that they have made any progress in a tough division.  For one, the Giants are the incumbents.  The returning super bowl champs. Now,  Eli is overrated, I will agree.  But…….with another year of maturation, not to mention the proverbial monkey off his back, the pressure is gone.  He could finish no better than last this year in every statistical category but to the fans of New York, their Super Bowl last year legitimized an otherwise shaky trade of basically what amounted to Manning for Phillip Rivers and Shawn Merriman.  Look south and you’ll see a Redskins team that just added the pass rusher they’ve been seeking since what seems like the turn of the century.  They also hired a head coach (who is that guy) who nurtured along a young Peyton Manning, so this could only be good for the suddenly deep-on-the-depth-chart Redskin’s QB situation.  Not to mention they drafted two of the best receivers in the draft with their top selections and they have two big time running backs in a league where it’s suddenly en vogue to split carries. A look out west will simply show a Cowboys team that added in the off-season as well.  Romo, Owens, Barber, Witten and that dominating O-Line are back.  They also added another RB, Felix Jones, to pair with MBIII.  The defense is still good, if anyone was wondering.  Anytime you add a guy like Adam Jones (nee Pacman) and he isn’t even guarnteed a starters job, you have depth. He has had problems off the field that we all know about, but hasn’t every other Cowboy it seems?  When Jones is focused on football, though, he can be electrifying.  Anyone remember him his rookie year when he picked off Donovan McNabb in a game the Eagles thought was an easy win.  They lost that game, and Jones made some outstanding plays to seal the fate.

The Eagles did make moves, to be fair.  Adding Aasante Samuel is a major move.  So is drafting a return man who could turn out to be Devin Hester version 2.0.  But with all the depth mentioned above every game in the NFC East will be a battle.  It will tough to even go 3-3 in those games.  Three of the four (minus the Eagles, of course) were playoff teams last year.  They all figure to contend again.  So while Darren Howard might be in great shape, and Max Jean-Gilles might be opening eyes, and DeSean Jackson catch 5 balls per game in the pre-season, the real games are what’s ultimately going to judge this team. Good Luck, Birds.  You will need it.  Trust me.

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4 responses

12 08 2008
Timmy

I think the Eagles are a dark-horse. An as Shawn King said on NFL Live the other night there will be a parade down Broad Street this season.

12 08 2008
Michael DeLuca

I’m pretty psyched about the Eagles this year and with so many people overlooking them they could really shock some people this year. Then again, they may have been one of the league’s best teams when the regular season ended last year.

12 08 2008
Ian | Inside the Iggles

I really feel that the Eagles just underachieved last year, and are better than their record of 8-8. They lost a bunch of close games, and some of them they lost is silly ways.

They lost opening day to Green Bay, because they came into the season without a full time punt returner. They muffed two punts, 1 recovered for a Green Bay touchdown, and the other lead to the game winning field goal.

Then go to the Bears game where Brian Griese lead an improbable 97 yard drive for a game winning touchdown with less than a minute left in the game.

Look at the two closes losses to the Seahawks, and Patriots where backup A.J. Feeley had 7 ints in those games. Despite his poor decision making both of those games came down to the final drive of the game, where the Eagles had a chance to win. Unfortunately both games ended in death picks by Feeley.

The 2nd game against the Super Bowl Champion New York Giants ended on a 57 yard David Akers field game tying field goal bouncing off the upright. I was at that game, and what was really frustrating to me is Brian Westbrook was trying to run up to the line of scrimmage in a hurry up offense, but was held up for about ten seconds by Sam Madison. A flat out unbelievable no call that would have made that field goal a lot easier.

Now I know a lot of these problems can be blamed on management coaching, and players not executing, but they had a lot of tough heart breaking losses to very good teams. They Eagles also had the very toughest schedule in the NFL last season. If they just had 1 or two of those games break differently they would have made the playoffs.

Then you also have to look at things that really are out of everyones control, such as injuries. They had Donovan McNabb starting the season only 8 months removed from knee surgery to repair a torn ACL. That was a huge struggle for him, for at least half of the season, because he was unable to plant his right foot very well, and that affected his accuracy. As each game passed, you saw McNabb start to gain a little more confidence, start to become more mobile, start to be able to plant his right foot better, and play better. You can see a 4 TD game against the Redskins, where McNabb really took off, and started to show signs of being the “old Donovan”. He then had a setback with a sprained ankle, but was able to return and held the team finish strong. They had 3 straight wins against the Cowboys, Saints, and Bills where McNabb played pretty well. Now he is going to be 20 months removed from the knee surgery on opening day, and the knee is no longer a factor. McNabb will start the season healthy, and hopefully stay healthy. I personally took the trip to Lehigh to see the team in training camp, and I don’t think McNabb has ever looked better.

Then look to other key injury problems such as Brian Dawkins dealing with a very serious neck stinger, L.J. Smith battling a sports hernia and then a pulled groin, Lito Sheppard missed 4 games with a sprained knee, Jason Avant battled a sports hernia, and entire offensive line was banged up in some way.

Something casual fans may not know is that Brian Dawkins missed almost all of the off season workouts and training camp last year, because he was at home nursing his premature twin daughters back to health. They are doing well, and he has once again dedicated himself to football.

All of this may sound like a long list of excuses, but this is what went wrong last year. It was just not the Eagles year, and the breaks did not go their way. With some players added, some players getting healthy, some guys bouncing back from a poor season, and just a little luck to bounce their way, this team will take off again in 2008.

The NFC East is tough, but the Eagles are just as good as any of those teams. Look at the final 3 games against those teams last year. The Eagles had an offensive explosion to beat the Redskins, a dominating defensive performance to shut down Dallas, and hung right in there with the Champion Giants.

I see 10-6 at worst for this team. They are too good, and really have something to prove this year.

13 08 2008
Michael Gill

I agree a lot with what Ian said. If the Eagles field a punt in opening weak, they beat a team that went 13-3 and to the NFC title game. If their D makes 1 play vs the Bears they are 10-6 instead of 8-8.

Injuries were so big last season, LJ, Lito, Donovan (really the entire season).

Getting a 100% Donovan, LJ back and Curtis in year two of the WCO, I think they are a 10 win team at least. Dont forget adding Asante and getting BDawk back to 100% both mental and physical.

i think its going to be an exciting season!

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