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Philadelphia Eagles: Bye Week Progress Report

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Philadelphia Eagles: Bye Week Progress Report
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The Philadelphia Eagles may very well have reached a tipping point as they enter their Week 7 bye. Head coach Andy Reid appears to feel squeezed. Backed into a corner, he fired defensive coordinator Juan Castillo on Tuesday and has left the door open for more change to come. 

Here's a breakdown of where the Eagles stand six games into 2012.

 

What They Should Be Thinking

Glass Half-Empty

We've turned the ball over 42 percent more often than every other team in the NFC and have the second-worst turnover ratio in the NFL. Only the Jaguars are averaging fewer points per game than we are, as Michael Vick continues to be a turnover machine and the offensive line continues to give up far too much pressure. 

And now the defense is beginning to slide, too. We gave up 17 points and 253 yards in the fourth quarter against the Lions Sunday and have failed to hold on late defensive series in back-to-back weeks. Most surprisingly, our top-of-the-line pass rush has been held sack-less for three straight weeks. After being tied for the league lead in sacks per game last season, we're tied for 30th in that category thus far in 2012.

As a result, we squandered both of those games and now sit a game back of the Giants for the division lead, helpless on our bye. 

Making matters worse, we come out of this week off with a game against the league's lone unbeaten team, Atlanta. We don't exactly match up well with the Falcons, who have a killer instinct on defense and an elite passing attack. 

We had an excuse for our mediocrity last year, but now we're beginning to wonder if we're simply not that good. Is it possible we're weaker than the sum of our parts?

 

Glass Half-Full

We're vastly talented and have a chance to enter Week 8 only half a game out of the top spot in the NFC East. We already have a win over the Giants under our belt, Washington is destined to have growing pains and Dallas is as much of a disaster as we are. 

Vick is still Vick, and he's performed quite well in key moments this season. If he can reduce his turnover rate, it could change everything. 

Defensively, the transition from Castillo to Todd Bowles could simplify things. Right up until the end, Castillo was criticized for over-thinking things. With Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie playing well and Nnamdi Asomugha back on track after a solid performance against Calvin Johnson last week, we're in great shape in all three layers of the defense. You'd have to think it's just a matter of time before Trent Cole and Jason Babin and the rest of the line start taking quarterbacks down consistently again.

There are always going to be peaks and valleys. We have to believe that we just hit an early valley. Time to peak.

 

What I'm Thinking

Joe Sargent/Getty Images
Stock Rising (Offense): Jeremy Maclin

Back from injury, Maclin was the Eagles' best offensive player Sunday against the Lions. He finished with six catches on eight targets and a 70-yard fourth-quarter touchdown. With the Maclin-DeSean Jackson duo back together and healthy, Vick had his first 300-yard game since Week 2.

 

Stock Rising (Defense): Nnamdi Asomugha

After one of the worst stretches of his career, Asomugha stepped up in a huge way against Calvin Johnson last week, coming close to shutting down Johnson over the first three quarters before the coaching staff oddly decided to change up the coverage. Stafford went Johnson's way five times Sunday, according to Pro Football Focus, completing just one pass.

 

Stock Dropping (Offense): 60 Percent of the Starting Offensive Line

Dallas Reynolds, Demetress Bell and Danny Watkins are a train wreck together. If it weren't for Todd Herremans and Evan Mathis—both of whom performed well against Detroit—Michael Vick would be on actual life support right now, rather than career life support. No wonder they're giving Chris Williams a look this week. 

 

Stock Dropping (Defense): Cullen Jenkins

His stock's actually been dropping ever since he signed with the Eagles last offseason, but Jenkins was particularly ineffective against the Lions. While Babin and Cole at least combined for four hits and six hurries on Stafford, Jenkins had just a single hit and put together the lowest PFF rating on the team. 

 

Outlook

It's bleak, but again, they have the talent to overcome a lot. That they're 3-3 despite 17 turnovers is remarkable, and they still have plenty of opportunities to gain ground/pull away with a handful of big divisional matchups between now and the end of the season.

At this point, I can't see it happening. I just don't trust the offense to give LeSean McCoy a steady dose of touches, and I definitely don't trust that offensive line. 

View last week's progress report here

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