On The Edge Blog

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

McNabb backs up 'must win' talk

The Eagles defeated the Chicago Bears in primetime on a fourth quarter comeback led by Donovan McNabb, but what happens now?

After McNabb declared the game against the Bears as a “must win,” where do the Eagles go from here? Strong safety Quintin Mikell seconded McNabb’s sentiments, but does this mean that every game through the end of the season is also a “must win” game?

McNabb’s play backed up his sense of urgency, but after all, there are six games left in the season, and the Eagles are in the exact same spot as when McNabb made his thoughts known. Dallas, New York and Green Bay all took care of business on Sunday, so the Eagles are still one game behind the Cowboys, and currently occupy one of the two wild card spots based on a head-to-head victory over the Giants and their superior conference record compared to the Packers.

In my opinion, it looks as though McNabb knows that this is the most talented offense he has ever worked with, but that everyone seemed to be on cruise control since giving a beatdown to the Giants at the Linc on Nov. 1.

McNabb’s comments during the week appeared to have fired everyone up, but isn’t it too early in the season to be playing mental games like this?

The Eagles still have a full slate of NFC East games, along with Atlanta, San Francisco and Denver remaining on the schedule. The latter three teams all lost on Sunday, while showing no defensive prowess, which plays right into the Eagles’ game plans, but they certainly won’t win out and roll into the playoffs with a 12-4 record.

So with that in mind, what happens in a few weeks when the Eagles throw a dud out there against an inferior team? How will McNabb fire up the youngsters in mid-December after declaring that a game in week 11 was a “must win,” and more importantly, why do NFL players need to be fired up? They only play 16 times per season, so you would think they would have the same intensity every week.

Nonetheless, the schedule looks pretty nice for the Eagles down the stretch, but they need to keep playing with a must-win attitude, regardless of whether or not McNabb comes out and says that is the case.

Quick thoughts and observations:

* Michael Vick actually did something! He has been a complete waste for most of the season, but on 3rd-and-1 in the first quarter, he came up with a huge 34-yard run, showing some of the pre-prison speed and elusiveness that the Eagles were hoping to see when they signed him in August. In the process, he eclipsed his entire season of rushing productivity on that play.

* With Brian Westbrook sidelined with another concussion, the Eagles used three different running backs against the Bears, all of whom were offseason acquisitions. I have to give Andy Reid credit for this, because there have been quite a few seasons that started with a backfield ill-equipped for handling injuries. The trio of LeSean McCoy, Leonard Weaver and Eldra Buckley combined for a touchdown and 120 yards of total offense against the Bears.

* The Eagles believe that they can throw anyone out there at middle linebacker, but Joe Mays played like a sixth-round draft pick, which should make us all wonder why he was given the first shot at replacing Stewart Bradley in training camp. Mays made just one tackle the entire game, and repeatedly looked to be out of position. Needless to say, the Eagles need Akeem Jordan back in the lineup as the calendar turns to December.

* I know that a lot has been made of the Eagles recent red-zone inefficiency, having kicked four field goals in the last two games, but they have been in the red zone eight times in the last two weeks. Looking at the bright side, they seem to have fixed their inability to sustain drives, and not rely solely on the big play to get them points. Against the Bears, the Eagles racked up 18 first downs, which shows that they are systematically moving the ball, and not waiting for DeSean Jackson to break one, although it certainly isn’t a bad thing when he does.

* The Dallas Cowboys lead the NFC East at 7-3, however, they have only scored 14 points in the last two weeks, after racking up 121 points in their previous four games. Despite their win over the pathetic Washington Redskins on Sunday, the Cowboys appear to have hit their December downturn a little early this year. Predicted finish for the Cowboys: 9-7.

This Sunday, the Eagles should be able to start a nice winning streak to end November, as the Redskins come to town.

Prediction: Eagles roll, 27-9.

Like the "On the Edge" blog? Hear more of my opinions about Philadelphia sports every Friday at 3:30 p.m. on WBCB 1490 AM during the Coffee with Kahuna show. This week, we will talk about the Eagles’ comeback victory, and discuss the early wheelings and dealings from free agency.


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November 24, 2009 7:52 PM  

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