As expected, the Minnesota Vikings simply rolled over for the Eagles on their way to a possible first round playoff bye.
No, wait, that didn't actually happen.
Instead, the Eagles looked completely disinterested, and were dominated by the out-of-contention Vikings, making rookie QB Joe Webb look like a star in the making.
What Went Right
- Very little. The Eagles failed on offense, defense, and special teams.
- Clay Harbor did catch his first career touchdown.
What Went Wrong
- Pretty much everything. Michael Vick's MVP candidacy essentially ended, as he was harassed by blitzes all night, and was especially sloppy with the ball. Two promising drives were ended by his fumbles, one of which was returned for a touchdown.
- DeSean Jackson looked as if he had spent the week watching highlights of his punt return against the Giants. He didn't seem to be trying especially hard out there.
- Cornerback Dmitri Patterson had another disastrous game, resulting in him being benched.
- The defense couldn't bring down Webb. Juqua Parker was the worst offender, seemingly missing him on four different occasions.
- This game will not quiet the detractors of defensive coordinator Sean McDermott. When the defense needed to make a big stop in the fourth quarter, they couldn't do it. Especially galling was the 3rd-and-11 play where after calling a defensive timeout, they allowed a rookie linebacker to cover the Vikings' best receiver. The result was a first down that led to a touchdown.
- Late in the game, they allowed Vikings' RB Adrian Peterson to gain large chunks of yardage. Rookie safety Kurt Coleman made a few plays, but a youthful mistake hurt them on one big Peterson run.
- David Akers came up short on a 54-yard field goal, but more costly, after the Eagles scored their second touchdown, he sent the kick off out of bounds, sparking another touchdown drive by the Vikings.
Bad Andy Reid Coaching Move of the Week
I realize that 4th-and-18 isn't a great situation. But it seemed better to go for it there rather than punt the ball when you're trailing by two scores midway through the fourth quarter.
The Eagles have made a ton of big plays all year. Picking up 18 yards certainly isn't impossible for their offense. Yet Reid incorrectly thought his defense—showing definite signs of tiring at that point—was going to be able to get the ball right back.
The McNabb Report
Donovan McNabb's agent and Redskins' offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan spent the week attacking each other through the press.
Shanahan claimed that McNabb's poor play was holding back the Redskins' offense. And since McNabb was replaced by Rex Grossman, the Redskins' offense has looked considerably better.
McNabb supposedly offered suggestions as to how to get the offense working better when he was still the starter, but Shanahan wouldn't listen. This does seem likely to me, as Shanahan is supposedly an "offensive genius." The problem with "offensive geniuses" is that they are convinced that their system will work, and they aren't usually big on adjustments.
McNabb was clearly a bad fit for the Shanahan offense. But that once again raises the question of why they traded for him in the first place. McNabb was a pretty well known commodity after ten years in the league, so his style shouldn't have been a surprise for anyone.
Was this just another case of owner Dan Snyder looking to bring in the biggest name available? It certainly looks like it.
Elsewhere in the NFL
- The AFC playoff picture is mostly settled heading into Week 17. The Patriots have earned the conference's top seed.
- After falling to the Saints, the Falcons need to beat the Panthers to earn the NFC's top seed. If they can't beat the lowly Panthers, they don't deserve the top seed.
- The NFC West title will come down to the winner of Sunday night's Rams vs. Seahawks game. I'm guessing the NFL is hoping the 7-8 Rams win, so they avoid the embarrassment of having a team with a losing record make the playoffs.
Eagles Next Opponent
Continuing the Cowboys' laughable season, they lost to the Cardinals by one point, shortly after their kicker missed an extra point. Making matters worse, they also lost another quarterback, as backup Jon Kitna suffered an abdominal strain. They will now be using rookie Stephen McGee as the QB for the finale.
On the bright side, the Eagles now have nothing to play for since they are locked into the No. 3 seed. With the Cowboys supposedly playing for their coach's job, look for them to be the much more motivated team on Sunday.
I don't know if this game "exposed" the Eagles (their flaws were pretty obvious beforehand) as much as it showed their youth and inexperience.
Maybe it was the two day delay. Maybe it was the lack of Brett Favre. Whatever the reason, the Eagles looked as if they thought they could simply show up and a win was guaranteed. Obviously that was not the case.
Of course, the loss isn't the worst thing in the world. Aside from a potential wake-up call for the team, it also makes next week's game into essentially a preseason contest.
I doubt that we'll see much of their hobbled players, if they play at all. It wouldn't surprise me to see Kevin Kolb play the entire game at QB, and for DeSean Jackson and Asante Samuel to sit out as well.
Let's just hope that the Eagles learn from this, use the pseudo-bye week to get healthy, and come out strong for the playoffs.
Originally published on my blog: Stranger in a Strange Land