21 November 2005

2005 Week 11 Recap

Week 11: Eagles at Giants, Sunday, November 20, 2005

I never thought I'd be writing the "They really tried hard!" post at this point in the season, but here I am, writing the "They really tried hard!" post. With McNabb out for the rest of the season finally getting his delayed hernia surgery, and cornerback Lito Sheppard, who's been one of the critical members of our D, out with a high ankle sprain (what is it with Eagles and high ankle sprains?), the constant (TO) outside (Rosenhaus) interference (TO) and distraction (TO), and the fact that we're 4-6 overall and (even worse) 0-4 in our division, the wheels, as The Editor so astutely observed earlier this week, have officially come off our season. So now we're into salvage mode, as in, what can we salvage for next year?

Here's one thing: McMahon, after a very rough start against the Giants Sunday, did a good job in the second half. Of course, the fact that every time the camera did a close up, he had this "how the hell did I get here and WHY IS THAT HUMUNGOUS MAN TRYING TO KILL ME?" expression on his face, was unintentionally hilarious. But he really did a decent job - he passed well enough to keep us in a game we definitely were predicted to lose, and he managed healthy-McNabb-like scrambles, both to avoid sacks and for some first downs. 17 points by a QB who's barely ever played in the NFL is not bad.

Here's another: Reggie Brown. OK, he's still dropping some passes he should catch. But he's also starting to pull down some good stuff. And he's learning how to get open, how to hang on to the ball, and how to get some yards after the catch. He's also learning to smell the endzone. With a little more experience, he could be very good, maybe even great. And, after the Mr. Whiny Pants mess, his attitude - apologizing to the team for the dropped pass against Dallas and promising that it won't happen again - has been refreshing.

Here's a third: we actually found a running game! Must've accidentally been stashed in the garage off season, and you know how hard it is to find stuff out there. Westy and Lamar Gordon (wearing Dorsey Levens' lucky 25) are getting some carries, getting some yards (now that our O line has re-learned how to block to create run lanes), and are finally balancing our offense. Hmmm - had AR tried this earlier, might McNabb NOT have gotten creamed? When you have one receiver and no running game, smart defensive coordinators send two guys to double team your wideout and send EVERYONE else after your QB on EVERY SINGLE play. And then your QB, no matter how big and strong he is, eventually gets leveled one too many times.

Here's one thing that's not salvageable: our inconsistent D. Remember back a few years when we lost BOTH McNabb and Detmer and were down to AJ Feeley? And he managed to pull us along into the playoffs, WITH THE HELP OF A GREAT D? This year, not so much. Had the D been able to hold it together, Dallas never would have gotten back in the game last week, and the Giants wouldn't have won this week. Sure, we have to put up enough points to win, too, but if the D would just do their jobs EVERY play, we'd likely have a winning record.

And what happened to Akers? That's probably the first (uninjured) time he's ever missed a FG under 40 yards. Should he not be playing yet? Not that it was a game winner or anything, but it would have been a psychological boost, not only providing an opportunity for the on-side kick (sure, they almost never work, but still...), but also even if the outcome of the game had been the same (and let's be honest, it probably would have), keeping us within 1 TD. The camera stayed on his face after the miss for a painfully long time, painful not only for the fans but also because he was clearly VERY upset. Has he lost his mojo? I sure hope not, but kicking is a funny business, a lot of it is a mind-game, and it's hard to say what a serious injury and time off might have done.

Around the rest of the NFL, the Redskins lost to the Raiders. At home. Yes, the Raiders who've been terrible even with the addition of Randy Moss. And yes, the Redskins who beat us on November 6. Yikes. Seems like they totally fell asleep at the wheel in the second half, particularly during that long Raiders drive that took 4 minutes off the clock AND gave them the go-ahead FG.

In other surprise losses, Chicago beat the Panthers old-school, in a major defensive battle, 13-3. The Vikings beat the equally poor Packers at Lambeau Field when the weather was below freezing. Apparently, stat-heads, Favre had never lost a game at Lambeau when the temp was below freezing at start time, and the Vikings are of course a dome team and are dealing with significant...distractions this year. If there was still any remaining doubt, let me spell it out: BRET FAVRE SHOULD HAVE RETIRED AT THE END OF LAST SEASON (see, I even used short words). The Ravens (who have an even worse record than the Raiders) beat the Steelers in OT that lasted almost another full quarter. Yes, Tommy Maddox is really THAT bad. Bet the Steelers can't wait to see Roethlisberger back next week! They're in a tough race with the Bengals for AFC North, but they're not going to get there with Maddox at the helm. Which brings us to...

The Colts. Man, are they seriously going to go undefeated? Seems unlikely, at the very least because you have to assume Tony Dungy's going to want to protect his starters once dome-field advantage is locked up for the playoffs. But with their starters playing, who can beat them? They won in Foxboro. FOXBORO. The Bengals were one of the few teams that seemed like they might have the chops to beat them. It was a total offensive shoot-out: 62 total points scored in the first half, both QBs passed for over 300 yards, the Colts scored on EACH of their first 5 possessions, the Bengals put up two TDs, two FGs, and a punt on their first 5 possessions and you had to wonder if they'd be able to hang in there. Did the respective defenses even take the field? Fun game to watch for sure. The Colts are looking like a juggernaut at this point.

Finally, my prediction from a few weeks back that Super Bowl XL would be Giants/Colts? My AFC money is still on the Colts, but I have NO clue who's going to rep the NFC. I'm not nearly so confident of the Giants anymore - they really should have stomped all over us - and the Panthers, an early sportscaster favorite pick, lost to the Bears, so it's probably not them, either, because Kyle Orton's just too green. Seahawks? Shawn Alexander is having a great year, but they almost went down to the 49ers this week. Of course, they are the only 8-2 team in the NFC at this point. Falcons are too inconsistent, and they totally rise and fall on Mike Vick. If it's Dallas, Chef Spouse'll be talking me down from the ledge.

No comments: