Originally posted 10/6/08.
There is really nothing for me to say right now other than to spit out some bitterly incoherent grunts of frustration. Not that I won't still yap on for several paragraphs as I'm prone to do (just ask my roommates). To think how things have taken a turn for the worse since my last post! It's hard to decide where to even begin in discussing/lamenting the last 2 games, particularly this most recent ridiculous pig-slop of a performance versus the Redskins. The offense was terrible; the defense was miserable. The lone gem in an otherwise revoltingly nauseating game was DeSean Jackson's punt return TD in the 1st quarter. I recall my enthusiasm after the Rams game in week 1 that we finally had a legitimate punt return threat, and my apparently-naive optimism in comparing the punt return game in week 1 of the 2007 vs. 2008 seasons. DeSean Jackson may be one hell of a punt returner, but when the rest of the team plays as atrociously as they did yesterday, it's totally wasted effort. Hell, the Eagles could rarely even force a punt in the first place for the last 3 quarters of the game.
I had the misfortune of being at the game yesterday, and the circulating fury towards Andy Reid's playcalling (and his generally being outcoached by rookie head coach Jim Zorn) was astoundingly evident in the crowd throughtout the second half. And no, I don't want to be reminded that the Phillies beat the Brewers to advance to the NLCS. Yes, I like the Phillies. No, their win does absolutely nothing to alleviate the pain and misery of the Eagles' loss yesterday. Too many things about this season are beginning to resemble last year, when you couldn't shake that feeling that they were a better team than their 8-8 record suggested, and yet that doesn't really matter at all when you find yourselves at the bottom of your division. AGAIN. Les Bowen of the Philly Daily News wrote an article today to that effect, highlighting all those unsettling things that are forming lumps in the throats of every Eagles fan, after our team once again starts division play 0-2 in a division we once owned.
Perhaps the most mind-boggling aspect of yesterday's loss was the run defense. I couldn't say enough good things about the league's top run D, even after the Birds' loss to Chicago. How does a team that was only allowing 2.6 yards per carry (against the likes of Marion Barber, Willie Parker and promising young rookie Matt Forte) give up a whopping 203 rushing yards to the 'Skins? Can that front 7 recover from such a devestating blow and rebound next week against Frank Gore and the Niners? Was I premature in buying my brand-new Stewart Bradley jersey? So many important questions now exist about the future of this team (and the future of my #55 jersey), both for the duration of this season and in coming years.
Truthfully, I have a better feeling about next week's game at San Francisco than I did going into this one, which probably has a lot to do with the fact that the Redskins of late appear to possibly be the best team in the NFC. Sure, the Eagles almost never win their last game before a bye week, but if the last 2 weeks weren't the kick-in-the-ass that these guys need, then nothing is. Maybe it's a little early to be talking about must-win games, but if yesterday's game wasn't one then this next one surely is. The 49ers aren't a terrible team, but they're a team that the Eagles must be able to beat handily if they want to remain a contender in the division.
The offense NEEDS to make a statement this week, because the only apparent statement they've made since the Dallas game is along the lines of "we can't score for shit in the red zone". McNabb started the season strong but has been faltering since. Reggie Brown and L.J. Smith were both back yesterday, so the excuses for not throwing the ball more effectively are growing thin. Brian Westbrook, the team's far-and-away most important weapon, played yesterday after sitting out last week with an ankle strain but then broke 2 ribs during the game. Frankly, if he doesn't play next week against the Niners, it could be anyone's game given the recent play (or lack thereof) on offense. And when, dear god, is Shawn Andrews coming back?
And while I'm ranting about how the Eagles are sucking at nearly every area, what in the hell is wrong with David Akers? Scratch that- I don't actually care what is wrong with him. I don't care if it's his leg, his psyche or anything else. I just know that he is absolutely worthless beyond 40-45 yards these days. Was I the only one cringing when they brought him in to attempt a 50-yarder yesterday? Was I the only one who would have bet their life that he was going to miss? Was anyone else praying Andy would just punt the ball and try to pin the Redskins inside their own 10? I'd actually rather see the Eagles go for it on 4th and, say, 20, than have Akers try a FG from beyond the 30 (or heck, maybe even the 25). The minute he stepped on the field, I knew the 'Skins would momentarily be given the ball at the 40; sure enough, he missed, and Jason Campbell proceeded to drive the team down to the Eagles' 23 where Shaun Suisham kicked a 41-yard FG. And then just in case us Eagles fans didn't get the point, he eventually kicked 2 more, of 48 and 50 yards, reminding us how nice it used to be to have a reliable placekicker. Oh, those were the days...
Since I've done nothing but whine the entire post so far, I will end with some optimism: I do see things going up from here, although whether it's too little too late is yet to be determined. I should also note that my optimism springs more from the Eagles' upcoming schedule far more than from my optimism that this team will suck less down the road. True, we still have 4 division games in the second half, but 2 of those are against the Giants- although I have no doubt that both will be hard-fought, tough games, I feel better about playing the Giants than I do the Cowboys and Redskins. The Cowboys-Steelers-Bears-Redskins stretch was by far the hardest chunk of the season. And who do they have left to play outside the division? 49ers, Falcons & Seahawks are the next 3... I'm already salivating over that stretch of games. Then later they've got Cincy, Baltimore, Arizona and Cleveland. Not to say that they'll go 7-0 in those games, but the Ravens and Cardinals are the only 2 teams that really pose much of a threat, and the Eagles are more than capable of beating both of them. Therefore, if they can at least somewhat boost their level of play, hope still remains. And let's not forget that Kevin Curtis, who had over 1100 receiving yards last season, will be back either this coming week or after the bye.
Let's just hope the Birds play well on at least one side of the ball next week.