The Philadelphia Eagles have been able to keep an impressive season alive, by clinching the NFC East and securing a playoff spot. Although losing their first round bye, the Eagles a re still ready to roll through the NFC.
It's amazing how this season started out as a rebuilding year and the entering of the "Kolb-Era," and in less than one half of a game, it ended. Thus bringing on the Vickolution and the start of the winning season and potential Super Bowl contention.
With Michael Vick as the Eagles starter, it would seem the sky is the limit. But how good are the Eagles?
What is the Eagles' biggest strength?
What is the Eagles' biggest weakness?
Can Michael Vick still win the MVP award?
The Eagles Featured Columnists debating will be Darren Grossman, Will Holt, Mike Burke, Bob Cunningham and Troy Ballard.
Mike's Take: Absolutely. They were far from a shoe-in when the season started, but they had the chance to prove everyone wrong and they did.
Will's Take: Absolutely. They won their division and that's what teams are asked to do at the beginning of the season.
Bob's Take: Seeing as the other teams fighting for the playoffs were the St. Louis Rams, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New York Giants, I would say the Eagles definitely deserve to be there. They've overcome a lot of adversity and change this season, so even a one-and-done is probably more than most expected.
Darren's Take: Yes, they do. The Eagles won their division which had another 10 win team in it, plus a Cowboys team that went 5-3 in their last 8 games. It also had a Washington team that many people may scoff at, but the Skins beat Chicago, Green Bay and Philadelphia. They also lost by one point to Tampa Bay and three points to Indy, plus beat Jacksonville, so the Skins beat some good teams and played real close to others. They actually went 3-2 against playoff teams, find me another six win team that had a winning record against playoff teams. I'll save you the time, you won't find any.
I doubt anyone would say no to this question. As a matter of fact, the Eagles overachieved this year already, in my opinion, and even if they lose to Green Bay, are one of the NFL's best stories of 2010.
Troy's Take: Well, the fact of the matter is, the Eagles are in the playoffs whether they deserved it or not. Considering that they have taken some losses to some teams that they should have blown out, it's tough to say. They did excellent in the division this season and when you sweep the New York Giants, any team deserves to be in the postseason.
Mike's Take: Michael Vick. The offense is only going to make it as far as he’ll take them. With the defense playing the way it is, the offense will simply have to put it on themselves to outscore their opponent.
Will's Take: It has to be Michael Vick. I think LeSean McCoy will play a vital role in the offense, but everything hinges on Vick's performance. He is the one player that can overcome all of the deficiencies on the team.
Bob's Take: If Andy Reid will allow it, the MVP will be LeSean McCoy. Even more so than DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin or even Michael Vick, McCoy is the best weapon the offense has to offer. He's the best all-around weapon and, if given the touches, he can make everyone on the field with him look much better.
Darren's Take: How can you not go with Michael Vick? This team will only go as far as Vick can take them. I don't think this warrants any further analysis. If it's not Vick, then the Eagles won't go past this weekend.
Troy's Take: Michael Vick is the key to this offense. There is not a single other person on this team that would be able to pull the type of play that he has this season. Without Vick, there is no offense on the Eagles.
Mike's Take: Asante Samuel. He’s been a ball hawk all year. He’s hit a dry spell, but it’s time for him to break out of it and force turnovers.
Will's Take: No one. There is not one playmaker on this defense and no one on this defense can stop Aaron Rodgers or the Packers offense. I am praying Stewart Bradley can't come back because he is dying to screw something up.
Bob's Take: The first name that comes to mind is Asante Samuel, but it will likely wind up being a guy like Jamar Chaney or Antonio Dixon. Winning playoff games is about stopping the run on defense, so unless the front seven really step up and an MVP arises from that group, the Eagles' season could be over sooner rather than later.
Darren's Take: It has to be Asante Samuel. Our secondary stinks and Samuel shutting down a WR on the other teams will give us a fighting chance. If Samuel struggles, Eagles will definitely be one and done. Plus, he's our best player on defense and this time of year is when star players are supposed to play like stars. Samuel loves the spotlight and he will get a chance to shine this postseason.
Troy's Take: Trent Cole. He has had a quiet end of the season, but he is a huge factor on the Eagles defense. He can change the course of a game and has the potential to be one of the best defensive lineman in the entire NFL. I feel like if Cole shows up in the Eagles postseason games they can dominate on the defensive side of the ball.
Mike's Take: The Packers. Have to get through the first one before you can move on, and they’re a solid team. Outside of that, the Saints scare me the most in the NFC.
Will's Take: I guess this is a trick question because their matchup with the Packers is the only one they will play. But if they somehow escape the Packers, I would say Green Bay gives them the most problems. They have a legitimate offense and a more than capable defense. Chicago, on the other hand, has Jay Cutler, who can give a game away at the drop of a hat. And as far as Atlanta goes, I would like my chances with this team in a dome on turf.
To round it out I guess I need to mention New Orleans and Seattle. The Saints would be a tough matchup as well, but their defense is not on the same level as the Packers, and if the Eagles faced the Seahawks, it would be a blowout of epic proportions. Can you see Seattle traveling to the East Coast and winning?
Bob's Take: There isn't going to be an easy game, but my gut feeling is that the Super Bowl will go through Atlanta. If the Eagles make it that far, playing Atlanta in the Georgia Dome will be without a doubt the biggest challenge.
Darren's Take: Honestly, they are all tough. It's the postseason, but you have to say the first one because if you don't win the first one, it will be the only game, and thus the toughest. The Packers already beat us and they have a good QB with a solid passing game and a good defense. If they beat Green Bay, they play at Chicago and then either at Atlanta or home vs. New Orleans most likely. The Saints scare me to death and the Falcons in their place will be tough, but we can't look ahead. The Packers are the toughest game because they are the only game right now.
Troy's Take: There is never an easy postseason game. In any situation. But there is no doubt that the first game of the playoffs is always the toughest, and that makes it the Packers. Even though the Eagles are at home, it still won't be an easy game, as the Eagles have already dropped one game to Green Bay earlier in the season. Aside from Green Bay, it's Atlanta.
Mike's Take: If he doesn’t take a big hit during the postseason, I think he’ll be alright. He needed to rest his legs and he got the opportunity to do that last week.
Will's Take: Outside of the defense, this is the biggest concern going into the game. It's not Vick's ability to read blitzes or Andy Reid's play-calling. None of that matters if Vick is not healthy.
Bob's Take: Of course. We've seen him revert to "Atlanta Vick" (as I'm calling it) when he doesn't get enough support from the play-calling. If he reverts into being a run-first guy with a leg injury, it's a huge cause for concern.
Darren's Take: No, Vick would have played last week if it mattered. He will be fine. I don't think there is any doubt No. 7 will be out there and playing the same way he has all year.
Troy's Take: If Vick had to play the last game of the season and he didn't get a chance to rest, then it could be a problem. But because he was able to get the last game of the season off and he was able to rest that thigh, he should be fine. There is no reason that this should affect his performance now that he was able to rest.
Mike's Take: Their offensive weapons. They don’t have one guy that does it all for them. They have weapons all around and any given player can break a play with the ball in his hands.
Will's Take: Michael Vick. If he can play the way he has.
Bob's Take: Speed. There's a ton of it on both sides of the ball. If used properly, there isn't a team in the playoffs—NFC or otherwise—that can hang with this team.
Darren's Take: It depends how you interpret this question. Michael Vick is their best player, and Kolb is a strong backup, so you could easily say QB. McCoy/Harrison are also an excellent combo, so you could say RB, or WR with Jackson and Maclin.
I'll go a different way though and say their biggest strength is the same as it has been for the last decade and that is David Akers. You don't earn the nickname Automatic Akers by being inconsistent and Akers made the Pro Bowl this year. The guy continues to make almost every kick and inside 50 yards, he is pretty much money. His kickoffs are solid as well, he is great at onside kicks, and if he has to, he always makes the tackle if someone is taking one back to the house. If the game is on the line and it comes down to a kick, there's no one I want kicking it more than Akers. Got to give some love to the Eagles' unheralded hero here.
Troy's Take: Receiving. The Eagles receivers are nasty. I'm not sure if there is a single team in the entire NFL that can keep up with them. The speed to go along with the awesome hands is just an added bonus, and I'd be surprised to see less than 300 yards in each of the Eagles postseason games.
Mike's Take: The secondary. Everyone knows this, and there are some good quarterbacks in the playoffs who could do some real damage if the secondary doesn’t step up their game.
Will's Take: Their defense. Not only do they lack talent, but they lack heart, toughness and a sack. It's an embarrassment to watch this defense play right now. The only good thing about an Eagles loss is that maybe it will lead to some heads rolling on defense. I'm looking at you Sean McDermott.
Bob's Take: The defense. Sean McDermott is the weak link to this team and has been all year. The way they allow touchdowns in the red zone is outrageous. He has to be the only defensive coordinator foolish enough to actually play man coverage in the red zone with undersized corners. Not only that, but the soft way he calls his defense creates a lax attitude that translates into points for the other team.
Darren's Take: This is a tough choice. On offense, it's clearly their offensive line, and on defense, pretty much everything, I'll go with the linebackers though. Stewart Bradley being injured did not hurt us much because Chaney is more athletic, faster and younger. However, he is inexperienced. Foku/Jordan combo does nothing for me. Ernie Sims is solid but has limited impact on the game.
Overall, I would say our LB corps as a whole is among the worst in the NFL which makes them our biggest weakness. It's tough to say OL when we have a Pro Bowler there and a second guy in Todd Herramans that was on many people's snub list.
Troy's Take: The Eagles offensive line. Without the elusive king of Michael Vick in the backfield, it would show how bad this offensive line is. I don't care if Jason Peters made the Pro-Bowl, because I honestly think that there are much more deserving players than Peters.
Vick has taken some nasty shots this season, and I just don't think he will make it through the postseason if they don't improve. After all, it's hard to have a good offensive line when there is a guy named Queen Dunlap starting.
Mike's Take: LeSean McCoy. He’s had a great season, and I think the Eagles will give him plenty of opportunities to make plays. I expect him to step up and put up some big number.
Will's Take: The first defensive player to make a play will be a complete and utter shock. More than likely though, I think Brent Celek has a chance to reemerge as a go-to player in this offense and help relieve some of the pressure Michael Vick will face.
Bob's Take: If we're talking pleasant surprise, I'm going to go out on a limb and say Brent Celek. I mean, he has to get it together eventually, doesn't he? Opposing defenses will be keying on Jackson, Maclin, Vick and McCoy, so hopefully Celek will get some one-on-one match ups and take advantage of them.
Darren's Take: The Eagles' biggest postseason surprise, I will go with Brent Celek. He has been invisible a lot of the year, which is exactly why I think he will come up big in the playoffs. Teams won't game-plan for him and he will go largely undetected, allowing him to make a big play or two. Also, teams will be spying Vick which will free up someone and I think the person will be Celek. Vick has started to look his way in recent weeks, and I think that will continue. I could see him having a TD vs. Green Bay and about 5 or 6 catches.
Troy's Take: LeSean McCoy. I think that Reid will mix in McCoy more than ever and try to get those defenses playing up, then hit Jackson and Maclin over the top. McCoy has been everything and then some this season, and I expect him to only improve in the playoffs.
Mike's Take: The right corner back position. Regardless of who ends up playing there, I don’t have any confidence.
Will's Take: Andy Reid. With Donovan McNabb gone, Reid will become the ultimate whipping boy. I know I have gone on and on about the defense, but at the end of the day, the blame always falls back on the quarterback and coach. But since Vick is loved in Philly right now Reid takes the hit.
Bob's Take: Todd Herremans. Everyone seems to overrate him every year. The guy is a weak link in pass protection and will get Vick hit unnecessarily. The only thing that will save Herremans is if Nick Cole is forced to play due to Max Jean-Gilles' injury.
Darren's Take: I don't think it is fair to say Patterson because he is not a good player, so if he plays poorly, he will pretty much do what I expect him to do. I am going to say Andy Reid. I love Reid, he's a good coach and I even said I'd vote for him for Coach of the Year. That being said, he always mismanages the clock, he is terrible on challenges, and he is way too pass happy. I think all those things will hurt us in the playoffs. If we lose, I can almost guarantee we will be talking about a dumb challenge, misusing timeouts and throwing the ball too much.
Troy's Take: DeSean Jackson. I know that I'm going to take a lot of heat for this pick, but I just don't think he does that great in the playoffs, or at any point for that matter. He just doesn't have enough production to be the starting WR on the Eagles. At least not when they have a player like Jeremy Maclin playing in the second spot. Jackson just doesn't catch enough passes to be a huge playoff force like everyone is making him out to be.
Mike's Take: Jamaal Jackson. He orchestrates the offensive line and with Vick struggling to see blitzes lately, Jackson would have been a key guy to have around.
Will's Take: Michael Vick's leg contusion. If Vick has a bum shoulder, I wouldn't be too nervous because he could still make plays with his legs. But with any type of injury to his legs, I am worried if he can extend plays and put constant pressure on the Packers defense instead of the other way around.
Bob's Take: Stewart Bradley, but in a good way. The best thing that can happen to the defense is for Bradley to remain on the sideline. Chaney has already proven himself a much more physical guy who, despite the rookie mistakes, is the better player. I don't trust McDermott and Reid enough to recognize this, so keeping Bradley in his streets is the best thing for this team.
Darren's Take: Ellis Hobbs. Color me crazy, but the Eagles lost Jorrick Calvin and Hobbs, and the kick return game will suffer. Using Jackson or Maclin back there is a crazy idea as if they get hurt returning kicks, that will hurt us even more. Not to mention, when Hobbs was healthy (he was playing hurt vs. Tennessee), he actually was serviceable. Patterson is about three penalties waiting to happen and the Eagles depth at CB is very thin. So I think losing Hobbs hurts us more than anyone else, mostly because I think Coleman has played well, as has Chaney, and Schmitt.
Troy's Take: Ellis Hobbs. Hobbs' absence is clearly evident in the Eagles secondary and it is no surprise that it is one of the biggest issues on the Eagles defense. I'm amazed that Patterson and Hanson can't pull it together to fill in for him. I guess it shows that the Eagles really have no depth at cornerback aside from Asante Samuel.
What sucks even worse is that Hobbs is more than likely going to retire at the end of this season.
Mike's Take: No. After his game against the Vikings and missing the Dallas game, I believe it’s too far out of reach. I don’t think he would have won if he finished the last two games strong, but now I think it’s completely out of reach.
Will's Take: Honestly, it doesn't matter and no one should care. There aren't parades for MVPs. No one hangs a banner for the award. And no one is going to pass out t-shirts or hats if and when Vick wins.
Bob's Take: No. He could win Comeback Player of the Year, but that might go to Mike Williams. Tom Brady has been too good and right now not giving him the award would seem like the ultimate snub.
Darren's Take: Sadly, no. Tom Brady will win it, and it won't even be close. I think Vick should win it simply because he did an amazing job and he missed a month, only played parts of two games, and still put up huge numbers. However, the NFL is a Manning/Brady league and if one of them does well, they will always win it. Vick struggled vs. Minnesota which sealed what was already likely—Brady wins the award. Vick is a distant second.
Troy's Take: I don't know if Vick lost the award due to his last poor performance in the last few weeks of the season, or if it was just Tom Brady destroying teams. The issue is just that Brady is way too good, and there is not a defense in the NFL that can stop him. I hate Brady, but he is the best player in the NFL, which means that he is going to win the MVP award.
Mike's Take: Patterson. Both will probably end up seeing the field a lot, but I like Hanson in the slot better.
Will's Take: Izel Jenkins. For those of you who aren't familiar with Jenkins, here is quick rundown. He was one of the worst defensive backs in Eagles history as was given the nickname "Toast." Here's what you do: Bring back the original piece of "Toast" and then compare who is worse. At least we will have something entertaining to look at defensively.
Bob's Take: Patterson, without a doubt. Hanson has shown over and over that he belongs in the slot. Even when Asante Samuel was injured, they started kicking Hanson inside and sticking rookie Trevard Lindley on the outside. Hanson is very good as the nickel, but not a good starter. Not only that, but Patterson rebounded well against the Dallas Cowboys while surrounded by backups. He is the best option by far.
Darren's Take: At this point, I have to say Joselio Hanson. Look, neither guy is good, it's kind of like asking me if I'd rather get shot in the arm or leg. Neither scenario is promising, but Hanson at least commits less penalties so I have to go with him. Patterson even committed multiple penalties in a meaningless game last week.
Honestly, I think the dark horse choice here is Trevard Lindley, and he would be my pick as I think he might just be the second best CB on the team at this point.
Troy's Take: When Hobbs went down, Patterson stepped in and did a great job for the first few weeks and showed that he could be a starting corner. Towards the end of the season, Patterson fell apart and was blowing coverages and giving up senseless penalties almost on every drive. I just don't think that Hanson is as good as Patterson. It's painful, but Patterson should be the one starting.
Mike's Take: Clay Harbor. He’s been seen more lately as a receiving option but I think he’s going to have a big job on Sunday in helping block Clay Matthews.
Will's Take: Jamar Chaney.Yes. Here it is. The one bright spot on the Eagles defense could actually replace the guy that looks like the son on the show "Little People, Big World." What's his name? Oh, right. Stewart Bradley.
Bob's Take: Hopefully Jamar Chaney, but Kurt Coleman and Chad Hall are guys to keep an eye on as well.
Darren's Take: Kurt Coleman, simply because he will start and play a lot. I'd hope my above prediction is correct and Lindley will, but the smart money is on Coleman. Chaney won't play enough to make a huge impact as Bradley will likely be back for the second game, if not this first one.
Troy's Take: Kurt Coleman. This guy needs to step up and make some plays for the Eagles defense and fill in the hole that Nate Allen left. He has had a good season so far, and I'm hoping the success translates into the postseason.
Mike's Take: Eagles offense vs. Clay Matthews. He’s a tremendous player and really a guy you can’t stop. I can only hope they limit his impact.
Will's Take: Whoever calls plays for Green Bay vs. Eagles Defensive Coordinator Sean McDermott.
Bob's Take: For or against them? Since we don't know if they'll make it past the Packers, I'm going to say the most difficult matchup will be Greg Jennings against Dimitri Patterson. That's not even a knock on Patterson. Jennings is one of the most underrated talents in the league, and even Samuel would have a tough time with him.
Darren's Take: I'll say it's the Packers passing attack vs. our secondary. It's not just on Patterson or Hanson, the Packers have Driver and Jennings, plus James Jones is underrated. Eagles will struggle to cover them and struggle even more if they can't get pressure on the QB.
Troy's Take: Any postseason passing offense against the Eagles secondary. There is no way that the Eagles secondary is good enough to keep up with any of the NFC's passing offenses, and the Packers are one of those teams. I have my fingers crossed, but I expect a bad game from them.
Mike's Take: They get knocked out in the NFC Championship (like usual).
Will's Take: They will travel to Lincoln Financial Field, go across the street to the Nova Care Complex and watch the rest of the playoffs from their respective homes after losing to the Packers.
Bob's Take: They can make it past the Packers and Bears. If the play-calling is balanced, they can go the whole way. But since the play-calling won't be balanced, they could very easily lose this weekend. Gun to my head, I'm saying they lose to the Bears in the divisional round.
Darren's Take: Honestly, I wouldn't be shocked to see them lose to Green Bay. If they beat Green Bay, I think they'll also beat Chicago, and that would put them in the NFC Championship. Reid's track record in that game is terrible, so I'll say they lose in the NFC Championship.
Troy's Take: Well, it's painful to admit defeat as an Eagles fan. So I'm not going to admit defeat and I am going to be arrogant and completely in denial. The Philadelphia Eagles will win the Super Bowl this season. There you have it.
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