The game may have been "meaningless," but it sure was nice to end the season with a win. Actually, 4 wins.
Stud of the week: other guys posted bigger numbers, but I have to give it to pint-sized Chad Hall, who scored his first NFL TD on Sunday, and did it by plowing over Perry Riley and DeAngelo Hall, who had him dead to rights stopped at the 1. Chad Hall is never going to be a starter - in Philly or anywhere else - because he's really not that good. But he plays every snap he gets with his whole heart, and you have to love him for that.
I also have to give a shout out to Jason Avant, Mr. Third Down, nearly all of whose receptions this season went for first downs. And to Alex Henery, who, thanks to Dan Bailey's miss last night, set the record for rookie kicking accuracy and single-season kicking accuracy, passing even the great David Akers (who can apparently also thrown TDs, as you'd know if you saw the 49ers game).
This was definitely a day, even a month, of "if only."
If only...the Eagles had taken better care of the ball.
If only...the defense had started to gel a little sooner.
If only...Mike Vick hadn't gotten hurt.
If only...Vince Young was a competent backup.
If only...Alex Henery had gotten over his rookie jitters by week 4.
If only...the team could've figured out how to win at home before week 15.
If only...the offense had figured out how to score some points in the 4th quarter before December. Or even realized that scoring in the fourth quarter might be important.
So now we look ahead to an extra-long offseason. For the other teams, and from the crucible of the Eagles' experiences this season:
If someone says: "Hey! I have a great idea! Even though there's going to be virtually no offseason this year, let's convert our offensive line coach into our defensive coordinator!" just say no.
As if 13 years of watching the LOLskins wasn't enough, we now have definitive proof that you cannot buy a bunch of high-priced free agents and expect them to magically morph into a team. Really. REALLY.
Win at home. If all else fails, win at home.
It's not as if there weren't bright spots: LeSean McCoy had an amazing year, and there's no reason it won't be the first of many. Howard Mudd revamped the o-line into a top-10 group. The defense was a sack machine this year, led by a nearly record season for Jason Babin, and supported by another excellent (partial) season from my boy Trent Cole. And a four game winning streak is not a bad way to go out. But 8-8 is 8-8, even if the team did go 5-1 in the division.
Around the rest of the NFL...
Dolphins over Jets: Told you so. Apparently, Rex Ryan was crying in the locker room. It's funnier when it's Tony Romo, but still - comedy gold!
Patriots over Bills: For the first 15 minutes, it looked like maybe the Bills would do the impossible and beat the Pats twice in one season. And then there was the rest of the game. Better luck next year, Bills.
Titans over Texans: The Titans did what they could to take care of business, but it wasn't enough. All they did was knock themselves down about 7 positions in the draft. Whoops. Meanwhile, the Texans are going into their first trip to the playoffs ICE cold. Early exit in 4...3....2....
Jaguars over Colts: And the winners of the Andrew Luck Sweepstakes are the Colts! Wonder what's going to happen with Peyton? In the press, he's been all: "I'm a great teammate who can work with and support anyone." To which I respond: "Has he not been paying any attention at all to himself for the past 10 years?"
Bears over Vikings: I was sure the Vikes were going to pull off another win. Except no. 3-13 gives them a good draft position, which they're going to need.
Saints over Panthers: You know how the Saints are unbeatable at home? Sucks to be the Lions.
49ers over Rams: The 49ers secure the bye, and David Akers throws the pass for what turns out to be the margin of victory. Didn't see either of those things happening back in August.
Packers over Lions: It was freezing cold and snowing at Lambeau, and it was a shoot-out anyway. I was stunned that the Lions couldn't pull it off, and that they allowed a record day with Aaron Rodgers on the bench. If the Super Bowl does come down to the Packers and Patriots, we could see the first Super Bowl with over 100 points scored.
Ravens over Bengals: The Bengals secured a playoff spot anyway, but going in losing 3 of their last 5 is not promising.
Steelers over Browns: The Steelers are literally limping into the playoffs as the 5th seed. Yeah, I know, Packers 2010, but things don't look promising for them, either. In other news, the NFC East is playing the AFC North next year. You know, the AFC North that's supplying three of the AFC playoff teams this year. Great.
Chiefs over Broncos: And the Broncos got in anyway. Don't worry - they won't go far. Much as I'd love to see BDawk get a ring before he retires, it's really not going to happen.
Cardinals over Seahawks: I have literally nothing to say about this. Other than to point out to the Redskins that Kevin Kolb might b available for 2012.
Chargers over Raiders: Did the Raiders not realize that their season was on the line? Sheesh!
Falcons over Buccaneers: Did you know that a bunch of Falcons players, coaches, and fans were whining about the Saints "letting" Drew Brees go for the single-season passing yards record last week since they were already up by so much. A few things occur to me. One, after watching my own team blow multiple fourth quarter leads this year, I think if you can score, you should score. Two, he was going for a major record, not just doing it to be mean. Three, even if he was just doing it to be mean, if you don't like it, stop him. If you can't stop him, quit yer bellyachin. Four, "waah waah poor lil us!" does not bode well for your playoff chances, Falcons.
Giants over Cowboys: I know, I know. If the Cowboys had won, the Eagles would've gotten a better draft position. And neither team would've been likely to get very far in the playoffs. But it's ALWAYS a good day when the Cowboys lose.