The Philadelphia Eagles 2012 campaign is at a crossroads. After Tuesday's firing of defensive coordinator Juan Castillo, the Eagles are in a tenuous, albeit familiar spot as they head into their bye week. As a talented squad with several under performing players, the Eagles are in serious danger of turning this season into a replication of their incredibly disappointing 2011 campaign.
The Eagles have talent. They possess incredibly fast skill position players, a physical defensive line and an experienced head coach. No pundit would ever deny the Eagles' potential, and every team they play must respect their speed. However, fan's are tired of hearing about how good their team could be and it's about time talent starts translating into wins.
The Eagles season can go one of two ways after their bye week. Let's take a look at three things that must happen for the Eagles to get back on their feet.
Michael Vick Must Rise to the Occasion
Most of Michael Vick's numbers so far through 2012 are relatively comparable to the statistics he put up last season. Vick's completion percentage is just under 60 percent, he's averaging around seven yards per completion and he's on pace to surpass the 18 touchdowns he threw in 2011.
However, turnovers have been the Eagles' downfall in 2012. Through just six games, Vick already has three fumbles, which matches his total from all of last season. Vick has also thrown eight interceptions so far, several of which have cost the Eagles dearly.
Michael Vick must step up and carry the offense through the final ten games of 2012. He has the weapons around him to make big plays. However, Vick has too much talent to be a detriment to the Eagles offense. He must begin to further utilize his dynamic playmaking ability without causing turnovers. Vick's not going to get a lot of protection from his banged up offensive line, so he's is going to have to make plays under pressure for the Eagles to succeed.
Must Survive The Next Three Games
The Eagles have a tough next three games that could determine their playoff fate. With matchups against the undefeated Atlanta Falcons, Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints in the Superdome along with a divisional bout with the Dallas Cowboys, the Eagles have their work cut out for them after they emerge from the bye week.
If the Eagles do not win two of their next three games, they will travel on the road to Washington with a losing record and a hole to climb out of in the division. Andy Reid would be on the hot seat, and all the pressure in the world will be on the shoulders of the players.
Needless to say, the Eagles are going to have to beat some good football teams if they want to keep their playoff hopes alive. With all the negative publicity stemming from Juan Castillo's firing, one would think the Eagles have been a train wreck so far this season. In reality, they are 3-3 and sit one game behind the New York Giants for control of the NFC East. This team is still in the thick of it, and they have the ability to beat anyone they play.
Defense Must Come To Play
The Eagles are ranked twelfth in the NFL in total defense. Although that's not stellar, it's good enough to keep them in any game they play. However, we saw them blow a late lead last weekend against the Detroit Lions. With that, the firing of Juan Castillo will provide a degree of uncertainty to a unit that has been put under a tremendous amount of pressure this season.
Philadelphia has one of the most talented defenses in football. Their talent has not translated into the production many expected, but new defensive coordinator Todd Bowles may be able to light a fire under some of the more disappointing starters. While the defensive line has been stellar, the secondary has been a nightmare at times this season.
The Eagles offense has turned the ball over too much this season and has not allowed the defense a chance to succeed on many occasions. Games against the Arizona Cardinals and the Pittsburgh Steelers are prime examples. In both games, Michael Vick coughed up the football and cost the Eagles points on the scoreboard that could have drastically changed the outcome of each respective contest.
Philadelphia has one of the more talented defenses in the league. If they want to vault themselves into the upper echelon of NFL teams, the Eagles are going to have to rely on their defense to play with a passion for the remainder of the season.