Criticizing the play-calling is this city's guilty pleasure, like watching "Cheaters" or "Blind Date." But even on days like last Sunday, when it seems as if Roger Lodge is calling the plays in the second half, that isn't the Eagles' real problem.
That would be personnel.
That would be a lack of star players.
I'm just going to run these numbers down in no particular order. They're just numbers, and they don't tell the entire story, and that is all true. But as a quick-and-dirty measure of stars, or identifying the players the other team might be really, really worried about, it offers some suggestions.
The quarterback, Donovan McNabb, is 16th in the NFL in quarterback rating, 16th out of 32 starters, smack in the middle. He is 18th in completion percentage, 19th in yards per pass attempt.
The running back, Brian Westbrook, is 13th in the NFL in rushing attempts per game (16.9) and 15th in yards per game (68.2) and yards per attempt (4.0). Westbrook actually has one more carry this season than the Giants' Brandon Jacobs in the same number of games played but he is averaging a full yard less per carry. Injuries, whatever -- those are the numbers.
The top wide receiver, rookie DeSean Jackson, has 60 catches -- which is 26th in the NFL among wide receivers. Injuries and et cetera have hurt the Eagles' receivers this year, but that's the ranking of their best guy, 26th.
Tight end? With 37 catches, L.J. Smith is 20th in the league. And, you know, it's a good thing they don't rank these guys by blocking ability.
Defensive line? Trent Cole and Darren Howard each have nine sacks, 13th in the NFL, and have had fine years. But 13th is 13th -- and, combined, they have fewer sacks than the Cowboys' Demarcus Ware.
Defensive back? Asante Samuel leads with four interceptions. That's the 12th highest total in the NFL among defensive backs.
Again, while there is often an explanation, the result is the result. They have talent but little scary talent. They have guys who concern the other teams' coaches but don't keep them up at night. Westbrook is clearly the closest thing they have in that regard but he is perpetually dinged, it seems. And after that, well...
That is the issue here.