Saturday, November 14, 2009

Eagles Halftime Report Card

If you asked me to sum up the Eagles first half, I could do it in one sentence: They lost to the Raiders. Now, that's probably unfair but the fact of the matter remains the same...this team DID lose to the Oakland Raiders.

Of course, there have been a few high points. The Eagles trounced the Giants 40-17. They intercepted Jake Delhomme four times in the opener, crushing the Panthers on the road. Desean Jackson has looked almost unstoppable at times.

Still, this team has continued to dissapoint on a bunch of levels. The offense has struggled to sustain long drives and still can't win a close game (now 1-8-1 in their last 10 games decided by a touchdown or less). This team, at 5-3, deserves to be there the way they have played.

What we've seen so far:


Donovan Mcnabb has looked good at times and terrible at others but overall has had a nice year so far. I don't blame him for the Raiders loss, that falls on Andy Reid's refusal to run the ball. I do, however, think he made too many poor throws in a winable game against the Cowboys. He's certainly not having a bad year, his 10 TD to 3 INT ratio is great, but there is certainly room for more consistency. It's simple, McNabb needs to play better or this team isn't going anywhere. Kevin Kolb performed well in two games while McNabb was hurt, throwing for over 300 yards in each (and becoming the first player to do so in his first two NFL starts). Those two 300 yard games stand as the only two that Eagles quarterbacks have recorded this year. The future may be bright for him after all. GRADE: B-

Running Backs

The story here is two-fold: Brian Westbrook's health and LeSean McCoy's youth. Westbrook, whom we all love, has missed three games and parts of two others. He's performed great when in there, averaging 4.8 yards-per-carry and continuing to give this offense the flexibility he always has. He just can't stay healthy though and it's become apparent that Andy Reid completely trusts LeSean McCoy to handle the job. While McCoy makes mistakes (he's missed a few blitz pickups and dropped a key pass last week) he is performing as well as a rookie can be expected to. Leonard Weaver has been a great addition, as both a blocker and short yardage runner. GRADE: B

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

There is little to complain about here. The Eagles receiving core has been the best part of this team through eight games. DeSean Jackson has become the most explosive player in the NFL, behind only Miles Austin in YPC (20.4). Jeremy Maclin has shown that he was worthy of that first round pick and is only going to get better. Jason Avant is incredibly underused and might have the best hands on the team. Brent Celek has become a top 10 NFL tight end. Overall they still drop too many balls but I'll live with that. There is a lot to be excited about here. GRADE: A

Offensive Line

There are major problems here, just take a look at this list. Jason Peters has already allowed four sacks this year. Franchise left tackles can't do that. Stacy Andrews has already allowed three and he doesn't even start. Winston Justice has done as good a job as you could have expected out of him and Nick Cole has performed admirably as a step in. The real problem came from putting too much faith in Shawn Andrews comeback and Todd Herremans stress fracture. It was crazy to expect a cohesive unit to form with so many new faces and injuries. In fairness, Jamaal Jackson has played great and this unit has been effective in run blocking. But that's not enough to save their grade. GRADE: C-

Defensive Line

The Eagles are second in the NFL with 27 sacks, behind only the Vikings (and they got to play the crappy Packers line twice already). Pressure is still the name of the game for the Eagles, and the defensive line has done a good job of that this year. Trent Cole seems primed to return to the Pro Bowl, leading the teams with 7.5 sacks. Mike Patterson and Broderick Bunkley have done a good job pushing lineman around, holding opponents under 100 yards rushing per-game. The rest of the line has performed as you'd expect, with the only dissapointment being Victor Abiamiri. Grade: A-


Thank god for the Will Witherspoon trade. Without him, this unit would be in more trouble than it already is. Stewart Bradley's injury hamstrung the Eagles from the beginning and they haven't recovered. Chris Gocong has struggled with injuries and now will move to the middle with Akeem Jordan's hyperextended knee forcing him out. You can't expect much from any of the backups, so blaming Moise Fokou on any loss is crazy. The truth here is, this unit needs to get healthy or the middle of the field will become even easier to exploit against the Eagles. GRADE: C+


It's so hard to grade a secondary because so much of what they do is predicated on blitzing and coverage schemes (which can be out of their control). The Eagles have intercepted 15 passes, tied for second in the league with the Bills. Nine of those have come courtesy of Sheldon Brown (four) and Asante Samuel (five). Sean Jones has played well since taking over for Macho Harris and Quintin Mikell's 33 solo tackles are second on the team to Jordan's 46. They are still susceptible to a big play here or there but overall are making many more plays than they are giving up. GRADE: B+

Special Teams

I've always said that if you aren't talking about the special teams, they are doing just fine. The kick coverage has been good all year and DeSean Jackson keeps the punt return unit exciting. Ellis Hobbs' season ending injury hurts a little but they should be fine. David Akers has been consistent and Sav Rocca is what he is (big kicks here, bad kicks there). No big complaints here. GRADE: B


Oh, Andy Reid. What else can we say? He doesn't run enough, struggles with clock management and generally pisses us all off. At this point, you have to know what you're getting with Reid: a coach that knows how to put a team together, build a passing game and win more than he loses. He will, however, always struggle in big spots and drive us crazy with passes, passes and more passes. Like it or not, this is who we've got. Shoot me. GRADE: C-

Overall, this team has been just what it looks like at 5-3, an above-average team that just not quite good enough to be great. They have the talent to challenge the Saints and Vikings (and certainly the Cowboys) but mental errors and lack of concentration seem to hold them back. There are very winnable games left on the schedule with trips to Chicago and home dates with the Redskins and 49ers. But this team still has the Chargers, Giants and Cowboys on the road so it won't be easy.

Can they go 5-3 down the stretch and make the playoffs? Sure they can and I think they will. What they do once they get there, I honestly have no idea.

Go birds.

1 comment:

  1. ...and then they meet the Chargers. Expect Philip Rivers to ... (oh yes, you knew it was coming) GO ALL PHIIIIILLLLLLIPPPPP RIIIIIIVVVVVEEEERRRRRRSSSSS!!!!!!