One thing that was odd about being on the road for three weeks and being very busy and distracted while we were in Virginia was that the end of the NFL season came and went without a chance to opine on it here.
When I left, the Eagles had beaten the Giants to take control of the NFC East, and they went on to beat the 49ers and to beat the Denver Broncos (in a game that ended up closer than it should have been). At that point, they were the #2 seed in the NFC (thanks to a faltering Vikings team) and only had to beat the Cowboys to secure a much-needed week off and a home playoff game.
The Eagles had lost a close one to Dallas in November, and there was every reason to think that they could win a big game like that one. They were on a roll — having won something like six games in a row and they'd already set a franchise record in points-scored.
They got demolished – 24-0. A setback, not only competitively, but in one that the ‘Boys became NFC East champs and the Eagles the #6 seed. In a weird twist of scheduling fate, they had to play the Cowboys again this weekend in the opening round of the playoffs.
All the talk surrounded Andy Reid’s teams successes in opening round playoff games (never lost one), the Romo-Philips Cowboys inability to win in the playoffs, and the difficulty for one team to beat another three times in one season. What transpired was almost a carbon-copy blowout 34-14 – which could have been a lot worse except that it seemed that the Cowboys took their foot off the gas sometime in the 3rd quarter. And so, a decent Eagles season was done on a week that they should have been having a bye week – and not only that after back-to-back humiliations at the hands of a hated rival.
So, what’s next?
Old guard. The owner may be regretting it, but for better or worse they just gave Reid a big extension. The same can’t be said with some of their longstanding players. With one year left on his contract, I have to think the front office will see what they can get for Donovan McNabb (the same might be true for Brian Westbrook). There’s a lot of good young talent on this team (DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, Brent Celek, Lesean McCoy) and it’s probably time to see if Kevin Kolb becomes the guy that will lead them into the next decade.
Vick. More of a sideshow than any real impact (though he had the only big completion for the Birdz in this week’s loss…), Vick probably showed enough legs and arm in the last half of the season to be good trade-bait. Get another linebacker for him and let him be someone else’s distraction.
Prediction. Let’s see – I predict that next year the Eagles will win between 9 and 11 games and not make the Super Bowl. How’s that for a safe bet?