The Philadelphia Eagles won a most unlikely game at San Francisco yesterday. If the defense hadn't had the bounces their way, they would have lost. The offense, once again, was too inconsistent to dictate the tempo that is required to be a championship contender.
The offensive line is the first problem. Above-average pass blockers, the running scheme and personnel make the Eagles one of the worst ball control teams in the league. There are several reasons for this; primarily again it is the scheme.
The Eagles finesse their way around the field, and without having one of the top two offensive weapons in the league (Brian Westbrook) they would settle into mediocrity with losses against inferior teams with occasional upsets that promote false hope and unheralded expectations.
McNabb is a product of the Reid dump-and-run system. Only rookie DeSean Jackson can create space in the secondary regardless of cover two or deep zone drops. Reggie Brown is merely average, and Kevin Curtis is a third down receiver/flanker. Only the Seattle Seahawks have a worse receiving corps.
The defense can be sterling, but spends way too much time on the field, and the linebacking corps has great potential but a huge learning curve to accomplish (probably two years away). Asante Samuel has been silent and Sheldon Brown is solid, but Lito Shepard has been way too inconsistent. The Eagles should deal him now while he still has some positive reputation (possibly for Tony Gonzalez or decent running back with power, maybe one of the Raider malcontents).
The Eagles need to finish 9-1 to make the playoffs in the brutal NFC East. It won't happen. The Eagles will finish their season after the bye when the Falcons will beat them. It pains me greatly to admit this, for I lived in Philly for over ten years and bleed Green and Silver.
It has been a good run, with some high points; 4th-and-26 in Green Bay comes to mind. But there have been many huge disappointments, as well: The final drive against the Patriots in the Super Bowl, and the many, many opportunities in which McNabb has had the ball with the last possession to win the game and has floundered. Way, way too many times.
Mostly, Reid has created the ultimate tease: lofty expectations with disappointing results.
I am tired of the comment "I take responsibility for that loss." The Bears game comes to mind, with four cracks from the one-yard line to win with nothing to show for it. This was an indictment of total system failure, the players, and the offense that they live by.
There are way too many failures with the game on the line. McNabb needs to go, for his benefit as well as the team's. Reid needs to give up GM or leave, as well. As long as this system, with these players and the player evaluation dynamics remain, its 10-6 or 9-7 from here on out with an occasional huge upset with a backup quarterback (think Ty Detmer or Jeff Garcia) for the Eagles.
I used to think that Eagles fans are the worst in the league, but in retrospect they deserve more. Much more than Reid or McNabb can give them.