Some incoherent thoughts, some off-the-mark conclusions and one or two astute observations as we mourn the passing of Week 7 of the NFL season:
* Right here, right now, here’s how I see the final 9 games shaking out – a home loss to the Colts coming out of the bye despite Andy Reid’s 11-0 record in post-bye week games, a road win over the Redskins, a split with the Giants, a road win over the Bears followed by a short-week Thursday night loss at home to the Texans, a split with the Cowboys and a home win over the Vikings. If my math is correct, that’s 9-7.
* With the exception of those 13 touchdowns they’ve given up, including 8 in the last 3 games, the Eagles’ numbers against the pass are fairly respectable. They’re fourth in the league in opponent completion percentage (54.9), third in interception percentage (4.6) and 13th in yards allowed per pass attempt (6.70).
* The trouble is, those numbers basically have been built against a less than sterling group of quarterbacks. Yes, they faced Aaron Rodgers and Donovan McNabb. But they also faced Shaun Hill, David Garrard, Alex Smith and Kerry Collins. And you saw what Collins did to them in the second half Sunday with basically one receiver.
If you’ve checked the Eagles’ schedule, you already know they are going to face a much more formidable group of quarterbacks in their final 9 games than they did in their first 7, starting with Peyton Manning after the bye week.
Consider the collective numbers of the quarterbacks they faced in the first 7 games with the numbers of the quarterbacks they will face in the next 9:
First 7 games: 82.6 passer rating, 61.1 completion percentage, 6.9 yards per attempt, 62 touchdowns, 47 interceptions.
Next 9 games: 87.6 passer rating, 64.2 completion percentage, 82 touchdowns, 61 interceptions.
None of the 7 quarterbacks they’ve faced so far currently are rated in the top 10 in the league in passing. The Falcons’ Matt Ryan is 11th and Rodgers is 12th. Four of their final 9 games will be against current top 10 quarterbacks – Peyton Manning (1st), the Cowboys’ Tony Romo twice (6th) and the Texans’ Matt Schaub (7th).
* After the Eagles play the Colts, 4 of their next 5 games will be night games, including 3 division games.
* Andy Reid has yet to beat the Titans or the Colts. He’s now 0-4 against the Titans and 0-3 against the Colts. In the Eagles’ 3 games against the Colts in the Reid era, they’ve been outscored, 124-51.
* The Eagles were 1-for-4 in the red zone Sunday against the league’s best red-zone defense. If you’re counting, they’ve converted just 4 of their last 12 trips inside the 20 into touchdowns.
* LeSean McCoy has just one rushing touchdown in the last 5 games. He’s got just 80 yards on his last 32 carries. He’s been much more productive as a receiver lately. Had 6 catches for 54 yards against the Titans, and has 27 receptions in the last 4 games.
* Well, the Eagles’ pass defense is taking on water, but they appear to have fixed their run defense quite nicely. They faced Frank Gore, Michael Turner and Chris Johnson the last 3 weeks and held the 49ers, Falcons and Titans to 3.2 yards per carry after allowing 4.4 yards per carry in their first 4 games.
* On their first possession in the last 3 games, the Eagles have averaged 8.3 yards per play, have recorded 9 first downs and scored touchdowns in 2 of those 3 games. On their first possession in the first 4 games, they averaged 1.7 yards per play, had 1 first down and punted 4 times.
* The Eagles have given up a league-high 63 points in the fourth quarter this season. Last year, they gave up 71 fourth-quarter points the entire season.
* To DT Antonio Dixon, who has made the most of the two starts he’s gotten while Brodrick Bunkley’s been out with an elbow injury. He was in on 7 tackles Sunday, including 2 for losses and notched his second sack of the season. Bunkley might be back for the Colts game, but Dixon has assured himself of regular playing time.
* To rookie RB/WR Chad Hall, who got his most extensive playing time Sunday since being promoted from the practice squad in Week 4. Hall rushed for 19 yards on 4 carries and had one reception for 5 yards. Should’ve had another catch on the Eagles’ second possession. He got open down the middle of the field, but Kevin Kolb overshot him. Andy Reid loves versatile guys like Hall that he can move around the formation. Seems to like to use him in 4-wide receiver, 1-tight end sets, then shift him into the backfield where he can run out of a spread formation. ``He looks like he’s 15, but he’s a talented kid,’’ Reid said Monday. ``You’ve got to get past his face and then he’s well-built for his size (maybe 5-8 if he’s standing on the Manhattan phone book and 187 pounds), and he’s very intelligent and tough. He gives you a little flexibility in some packages to do some things.’’
* To center Mike McGlynn and safety Nate Allen for showing class and facing the media music in the locker room after the game Sunday. Both played key roles in the loss to the Titans – McGlynn’s missed block led to Kevin Kolb’s game-changing fumble and Allen got taken to school by Titans wide receiver Kenny Britt, who had 225 receiving yards and 3 TDs. They could have refused to talk, but they didn’t. They stood there, answered all questions and admitted their culpability in the defeat.
To defensive end Juqua Parker for a very dumb roughing-the-passer penalty in the second quarter that kept alive the Titans’ first touchdown drive. On a third-and-9 at the Philadelphia 44, Parker beat his man and got to Kerry Collins, forcing an incompletion that should’ve resulted in Tennessee punting the ball away. But Parker felt the need to slam Collins to the ground, even though he could see he already had gotten rid of the ball, and drew a flag. The Titans got a first down and scored 3 plays later when Collins hit Kenny Britt for a 26-yard touchdown. The Eagles ended up committing 10 penalties Sunday, tying their season-high.
To read our earlier report, click here.