Surveying the Home Stretch: How the Philadelphia Eagles Can Earn a Playoff Berth
The Philadelphia Eagles had a lot of hype around them at the beginning of the 2012 season. However, with seven games in the books, the team currently sits with a 3-4 record.
As it stands, the Eagles would have to go 7-2 the rest of the way out to finish the season with 10 wins, which could earn them a playoff berth.
Forget winning a Super Bowl. If this team wants to make the playoffs this year, it’ll have to rattle off a lot of wins. In order to do so, there are a few key areas the team will need to address. Perhaps none of these is more important than on defense.
Regardless, if the Birds want to see their postseason dreams come to fruition, they’ll have to dramatically change their approach in their upcoming games.
It’s too easy to keep calling out the offensive line for not being good enough, bashing Nate Allen for missing hits and demanding Marty Mornhinweg change his play calling. These things are what they are, and it’s safe to say that they won’t improve.
The following slideshow will highlight a few areas that can and are likely to improve.
Stick with Michael Vick
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A lot of the problems with the Eagles have been blamed on quarterback Michael Vick. It’s no secret that many fans and media personalities want to see No. 7 benched in favor of preseason rookie phenom Nick Foles.
Is this really that logical a move? No.
Unless the Eagles want to pack in the 2012 season, they have to stick with Vick.
No one knows how Foles would fare if given the opportunity to start for the Eagles. However, nothing indicates that he would be able to lead the Birds to the playoffs other than a few good preseason games. Is that enough?
With the weaknesses the team has on its offensive line, a rookie with the mobility of Foles probably wouldn’t be able to make the kinds of plays that Vick has.
Foles can’t move like Vick. Moreover, the offensive line will not start playing better with Foles taking the snaps because it just isn’t that good.
Furthermore, who knows if Foles would be able to make the throws necessary to get wins?
Foles is a pocket passer, that's fine. However, the Eagles line hasn't been able to create and hold a pocket for Vick. In fact, it's safe to say that the pocket isn't a safe place for an Eagles quarterback in the first place because Vick's last four injuries came when he was in the pocket.
So, would a pocket passer be the answer?
If the Eagles are going to win, Michael Vick will have to be the quarterback who leads them.
Improvement from Brent Celek
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It’s not easy to say a player needs to “step up” because you assume that every snap, he gives his all.
That may or may not be the case with Brent Celek. Regardless, he has to fit himself in and work in the Eagles offense.
Celek has been needed for blocking. However, he’s accountable for a lot of the pressure Vick has felt, and even a few of the sacks and hits Vick has taken.
Furthermore, Celek has dropped five passes so far.
After his career day against the Ravens during Week 2, Celek’s play has been subpar.
Celek is going to need to perform better on the line and when the ball is thrown his way if the Eagles are going to make the playoffs.
His role in the offense has been overlooked, but it’s an important role nonetheless.
Celek is a great TE, but he's cost the team some production to this point. He needs to be one of the key pieces of the Eagles offense.
Stop the Penalties
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Penalties are things that are directly under the control of the players. Perhaps the only thing worse than a turnover is a costly penalty.
It’s safe to say that the Eagles’ penalties in the first quarter of their game against Atlanta played a huge role in the team’s loss.
Pass interferences, no matter if they are good calls are not, are intolerable.
The defense needs to exercise a bit of self control with Bowles’ more aggressive approach and keep the penalties to a minimum.
On the flip side of that coin, the offensive line had penalty trouble in the beginning of the season. However, it needs to keep its act together if the Eagles are going to make the playoffs.
If the defense is going to ultimately be a weakness for the team, then the offense is going to have to carry it. That isn’t very likely, but a step in the right direction is keeping it together and not drawing bad penalties.
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The Eagles have underachieved defensively, to say the least.
The Birds defense doesn’t get sacks, and it is predictable.
Todd Bowles drew up a lot of blitzes during his time in Miami, and it would be great to see him bring that to Philadelphia.
Though Michael Kendricks is great in coverage, in college, he was an excellent blitzer. Would it hurt to try that kind of thing out in the pros?
There is also Kurt Coleman. Perhaps the defense would benefit from seeing No. 42 going directly after the quarterback.
No matter what the case is, if the Birds defense is going to improve, it has to stop being predictable. In order to improve upon that, it'll have to draw up more blitzes.
Beat the Saints
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As mentioned before, the Eagles need to go 7-2 to finish with 10 wins.
It’s been historically difficult to go into New Orleans and get a win, but the Eagles don’t really have a choice. If they lose to New Orleans, that means they’ll have to go 7-1 to finish with 10 wins.
I’m not saying that 10 wins will guarantee a playoff berth, but I am saying that it dramatically increases the likelihood of making it to the postseason.
This is a must-win game. Given the softness of the team’s schedule going forward, a win against an underachieving Saints team could be the spark that could enable a streak for the Eagles.
Moreover, beating the Saints would even the team’s record at 4-4. The Birds have to beat the Saints if they want to improve their chances of making the playoffs.