Tuesday, October 13, 2015

What should the Eagles be thankful for?

What good surprises this year have helped the Eagles to an impressive 7-3 record?

What should the Eagles be thankful for?

Is quarterback Michael Vick´s resurgence what the Eagles should be most thankful for? (David Maialetti / Staff file photo)
Is quarterback Michael Vick's resurgence what the Eagles should be most thankful for? (David Maialetti / Staff file photo)

The Federal Sports Writing Act of 1947 mandates that every Thanksgiving someone write a piece with a hackneyed premise about what the local football team should be thankful for. (It also requires that we use “step up” a dozen times a year and ask at least 10 highly-paid, adored stars about the “chip on your shoulder.”)

Here then, are five things the Eagles should be thankful for as they head into the season’s final six games. I’ve focused on unexpected things the Eagles, and their fans, should be grateful for, rather than the obvious positives (i.e. stellar wide receivers) everyone knew the team could count on before the year.

1. The odd circumstances that led to Michael Vick’s resurgence. This was supposed to be Kevin Kolb’s year. This was supposed to be a year of learning and ups and downs and hope and we’ll see what happens. The Eagles made it clear they were behind Kolb when they extended his contract, and not Vick’s, after the Donovan McNabb trade. But an injury to Kolb and a chance for Vick, plus a bold move by Andy Reid, has thrust Vick into the spotlight. He’s got the Eagles in the Super Bowl conversation. Kolb might still get a chance to be a very good quarterback in the league, but so far this year Vick has been a phenomenon.

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2. Antonio Dixon and Dimitri Patterson. If, at the start of the season, someone said these guys would be starting late in the year, most of us would have thought, “trouble.” Instead, each has stepped in and played extremely well. Dixon has been a force in the middle of the defensive line and Patterson, though playing in fewer games, has withstood several big tests already.

3. Nate Allen. He was a high second round pick, but you never know exactly how a rookie, even one with immense potential, will work out in the NFL. Allen has been everything the Eagles could ask for: steady, smart, smooth on and off the field. He’ll be around for a long time.

4. LeSean McCoy’s blocking. Shady showed his running and pass catching potential last year. He worked to improve those areas, but teammates have said since training camp that he’s also greatly improved his blocking. He’s frequently called on to stay back and help protect quarterbacks, and has been adept at picking up blitzing linebackers.

5. Andy Reid’s steady hand. This season could easily have gone off the rails. Quarterback switches. Opening day injuries to Jamaal Jackson and Leonard Weaver, two veterans on an already very young team. Job questions around defensive coordinator Sean McDermott. A dispiriting loss in Tennessee. Instead, the Eagles have remained focused, together, confident. They haven’t let the moment get too big for them. We’ve already seen meltdowns in Minnesota and Dallas and one might be underway in Tennessee. Reid’s performance looks all the more remarkable by comparison.

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