One week after pathetically tieing the then-1-8 Cincinnati Bengals, 13-13, the Eagles suffered a blowout loss to the Baltimore Ravens this past week, 36-7. The Eagles were unable to muster an offensive touchdown.
Starting quarterback Donovan McNabb was benched at halftime in favor of second-year backup Kevin Kolb. When asked when the last time he had been benched due to performance, McNabb replied, "Never."
McNabb had recorded seven turnovers in his last six quarters of play leading up to his benching. He had three picks and a fumble against the Bengals and two picks and a fumble in the first half against the Ravens.
Andy Reid's explanation for McNabb's benching was that the Eagles' offense "needed a spark" and that he believed Kevin Kolb would provide said spark. Well, I am afraid Kevin Kolb's entry into the game sparked the Ravens defense.
Kolb drove the Eagles down to the one-yard line. On 2nd-and-inches, the Eagles made the genius call of a pass, because they do not have a power back. The pass was intercepted in the back of the end zone by Ed Reed and returned for a Ravens record 108-yards for a touchdown.
The Eagles players appeared to give up and let Ed Reed have a touchdown. Ed Reed broke three tackles as he sped down the sideline, including a pathetic dive by Brian Westbrook. I know Brian Westbrook is fully capable of pushing a defensive back out of bounds as he runs about two inches from the sideline.
The Eagles' lone touchdown came from a kick return touchdown by rookie Quinten Demps, his first of his career.
Andy Reid made a statement by benching McNabb this past week. The statement was that he was throwing in the towel on the season. The Eagles were not out of the game. They trailed 10-7 at halftime, and if they had scored that touchdown they would have been within eight and it would have been a one-possession game.
This was a must-win game, and Reid took it as a chance to get his backup quarterback some playing time.
To make the playoffs at this point, we would need to go undefeated and hope for some other games to go our way. With three divisional games left, and with the Eagles currently 0-3 against division opponents, that idea looks far-fetched. So the question remains, where do the Eagles go from here?
The first area of concern has to be with Andy Reid. His playcalling and gameplan have become so predictable it is ridiculous. I have seen so many series for the Eagles go like as follows: Incomplete Pass, Incomplete Pass, Incomplete Pass, Punt. Tiki Barber said he was able to call every play on the goal line in the Eagles-Giants game a few weeks back.
And I still cannot believe he would bench McNabb in that kind of situation for Kolb. The plan backfired big time and made him look desperate to find something on offense. It was a horrible decision, and it made Reid look like he believes the season is over. Bill Cowher would be a great fit for the Eagles, as a defensive minded coach and run-first guy.
Another problem has to be with our running game. I am the first one to say that I love Brian Westbrook and think he is a great player. But he is getting up in age and has had a lot of injury problems so far this year. He is also more of a finesse back and not a power back.
The problem for the Eagles all year has been on 3rd-on-1. They seemed to be so puzzled as what to do in this situation and are under 50 percent in conversion percentage on 3rd-and-1. Bringing in a power back would be a huge boost to our goal-line game and our options on 3rd-and-short.
Kolb's interception never would have happened if we had a "touchdown vulture" kind of guy such as LenDale White to complement Westbrook.
And now on to McNabb. I have never seen a guy fold under pressure more than McNabb. It is no coincidence that the Eagles are 0-4-1 in games that have been decided by less than seven points this year.
Some of you will recall in the Super Bowl, when McNabb was so winded during the final drive that Freddie Mitchell had to call the plays?
Sure, he is Pro Bowl caliber quarterback when the Eagles jump out in front to an early lead. But in close games, he is horrible. Ryan Fitzpatrick and Joe Flacco have out-performed him in consecutive weeks.
Kevin Kolb is not the answer either, as he proudly demonstrated this past week. A perfect solution to Eagles' QB dilemma would be Matt Cassel of the Patriots. He has played unbelievable the past two weeks especially, and is going to be looking for a starting job upon Brady's return.
Our wideouts are not holding up either. McNabb usually has plenty of time in the pocket thanks to a solid offensive line, and sometimes he waits too long to throw it. But most of the time his receivers just cannot get open.
Chad Ocho Cinco is friends with McNabb, and if McNabb sticks around then, why not bring him in. Marvin Lewis wants nothing to do with him, and he has shown he is still an effective receiver in the NFL.
Our wideouts will most likely be better next year anyway. DeSean Jackson will become a better player (and hopefully less cocky). Kevin Curtis and Reggie Brown being healthy from the start will help as well.
David Akers cannot be trusted on anything over 35 yards anymore. You know when its not definite from 45 its time for a kicker to go. I cringe every time Akers takes the field, because of how erratic he has been this season. A new kicker is something the Eagles need to acquire in the offseason.
Our defense has looked solid most of the time. The Eagles should probably draft a young safety as a future replacement to the aging B-Dawk. The Eagles' linebackers, especially Stewart Bradley, have really played nicely this season.
This Thursday the Eagles played the Cardinals on Thursday Night Football. I hate Thursday Night Football because only about five percent of America can watch it because no one has NFL Network, and my Sundays are less eventful when there is no Eagles game on. Apparently, McNabb will start the game.
Andy Reid said today in a press conference, "Donovan is the quarterback. I don't want to leave here until you understand that. Donovan is the quarterback of this football team."
Then why was he benched in a close must win game?
Well, at least we can say the Phillies won the World Series. But should we be forced to just be happy with that?