This week's observations from the Eagles' frustrating loss to the Redskins:
1. Very telling sequence at the end of the first half. The Eagles' offense took over at its own 40-yard line with 1:56 left. Chance to add to their lead and gain some momentum, right? Wrong. Here's the sequence of plays:
Play 1: False start on Jamaal Jackson sets up 1st-and-15.
Play 2: Incomplete pass intended for L.J. Smith.
Play 3: Brian Westbrook runs for no gain.
Play 4: Donovan McNabb completes a pass to Westbrook for 7 yards. Penalty on Smith is declined.
Play 5: Punt.
The Redskins' offense took over at its own 18-yard line with 55 seconds left. They drove to the Eagles' 32-yard line and kicked a 50-yard field goal to cut the lead to 14-9, but it felt more like the Birds were down two touchdowns.
2. Answer the following questions. In the fourth quarter of a close game, how much confidence do you have in the offense to get a score when it has to? And how much confidence do you have in the defense to get off the field when it has to? That should tell you all you need to know about where this team is right now.
3. When FOX showed Mark Wahlberg and Ludacris in a box at the Linc, one person in our live game chat asked: "Is that Urkel with Mark Wahlberg?" I generally laugh out loud about two-to-three times per chat and that was one of them. I also liked how Joe Buck and Troy Aikman called out FOX for leading the league in endorsments. Max Payne, the movie with Ludacris and Wahlberg, is a Fox film.
4. Ground control to Major Tom; "You do the math. I'll do the alfredo"; Vivaaaaa Viagra. If you spent as much time as me this weekend watching baseball and football, you know what I'm talking about here.
5. After last week's game, there was criticism of Andy Reid for not throwing the challenge flag enough. Rich Hofmann blogged last week, saying the Eagles have challenged less than any other team in the NFL except for the Texans since 1999. So who else was caught off guard when Reid challenged Antwaan Randle-El's touchdown pass to Chris Cooley? As soon as the challenge was announced, me and the entire live chat wondered what Reid was doing since it was so clear Randle-El was behind the line of scrimmage when he released the ball. Even Aikman wondered who could have urged Reid to challenge since it was so obvious.
6. Someone noted last week that opposing kickers never seem to miss against the Eagles so I looked it up, and the reader was right. The streak continues. Shaun Suisham went three-for-three, including a 48- and 50-yarder. Opposing kickers are now nine-for-nine against the Eagles this season. Three of those kicks are from 50 yards or more. And six are from 45 yards or more. Incredible.
7. The optimist says (Note: This was not easy this week):
The Eagles have shown flashes of playing really well this season. Their three losses have been by a combined 14 points. The offense was great on the first drive, and DeSean Jackson has given them a boost on special teams that they haven't had in years. Wait until they get Kevin Curtis and Shawn Andrews healthy. Their schedule gets much easier: the 49ers, Falcons, Bengals, Browns and Cardinals are still remaining. If they end up 3-3 in division games, they can still get 10 wins, and if they get hot at the right time, who knows what will happen? Just look at the Giants last season.
8. The pessimist says (Note: This was much easier):
When are we going to stop talking ourselves into anything besides this being a mediocre football team? The facts are the facts. This will be the third time in four years they are going to miss the playoffs. After the first drive, the offense did nothing. Special teams even got lucky on the botched call by the officials during Jackson's punt return. I've never seen a team make third-and-one look like third-and-20 the way this team does. The run defense was supposed to be a strength, and the 'Skins ran all over 'em. It's time for some wholesale changes.
9. I don't feel fully confident in saying this since I only get to watch three-to-four games per weekend. But is anyone running the football better than the Redskins right now? The Eagles' previously stout run 'D' was pounded for 203 yards on the ground. The previous week, Washington ran for 161 yards against the Cowboys. Back-to-back weeks on the road against division opponents: 364 total yards rushing. Pretty impressive.
10. I tried this feature last week and liked it so we'll do it again. Here are the questions that keep coming up in our Eagles chats:
- Is it too early to label Lorenzo Booker a bust?
- Where has the old David Akers gone?
- Who's calling the plays -- Reid or Marty Mornhinweg?
- QB sneak. Please. Just once. We're begging you!
- How much do the Eagles miss Shawn Andrews?