Philadelphia Eagles' Halfway Optimism

chris klinknerSenior Writer INovember 4, 2008

The Eagles have reached the halfway point of their season. They stand at 5-3. Even the most optimistic of fans couldn't have predicted anything better than a 6-2 record at this point. 5-3, I'll take it.

Three of the four NFC East teams have three defeats. The Eagles are 0-2 in their conference, but have yet to play the division leading Giants, making Sunday's game even more important. A win on Sunday gives the Eagles their first conference win and pulls them within one game of the division lead (or the pessimist could say 0-3 here we come!).

Is there room for improvement with these Eagles...absolutely! Despite again being a top-10 unit, the offense is incredibly inconsistent to the point of madness.

McNabb, at times (see first quarter of Seattle game), looks like he is just learning the offense (not good for his 10th year in the system). But at other times, McNabb looks like an All-Pro—his old scrambling self. I am not saying he has to be perfect for this team to win, but he cannot continue to start games with multiple three-and-out series.

The running game is difficult to gage at this point because of the multiple injuries suffered to Westbrook. Between Westbrook and Buckhalter, the talent is there to be one of the league's best backfields.

Westbrook needs to stay healthy, and Reid needs to find more ways to involve Buckhalter in the offense. A team that ranks 23rd in the NFL in rushing yards per game is not going to get it done. At this point, we can consider the Booker experiment a bust.

For all the complaining we did this offseason about the WRs, you would have to admit that as a group they have exceeded all expectations. This isn't to say that the team wouldn't be better with a true No. 1 WR option, but as a group, there are few better.

DeSean is on pace to exceed 1,000 yards receiving (though with Curtis and Brown healthy, it will be difficult to maintain the first-half numbers). Curtis showed on Sunday that he is fully recovered from his sports-hernia injury.

And the group of Brown, Avant, Baskett, and Lewis can be counted on as a group to give you five to seven catches a game, for a nice YPC average, and maybe a surprise TD. Hell, maybe the fade to Baskett in the end zone can be the solution to red-zone woes.

The OL has been good, not great, to this point. Thomas and Runyan have been their old steady selves. Though this year we are seeing more instances where the TE is staying in to block, helping out the tackles. Andrews is missed and might be the easy answer to why the Eagles struggle so much on short-yardage downs. But at the same time, Maxie hasn't killed the Eagles as a substitute. Maxie is your average guard, who at times will show flashes of being able to raise his game.

Todd Herremans, again nothing overly spectacular, nothing horrific, but who knew he had such great hands. In short, an average year for the group who needed to QUICKLY figure out how to use their massive size to solve the short-yardage woes.

The TE position...well, at least we got one good game from the group. L.J. Smith has been his usual inconsistent self, spending more time again on the sidelines than on the field.

When on the field, he will show an occasional clutch play, but all too often we instead remember him for a gaffe. But Reid loves him, thinks he is an All-Pro...So what is the point of complaining. Celek showed he deserves more looks after his performance against Seattle. Will he get these looks? Probably not. But at least the future (next year or the next L.J. injury) looks promising (and cheaper!) at TE.

Defense tomorrow.........