Cardinals vs. Eagles: Philadelphia Must Make Playoff Statement vs. Arizona

Randy JobstSenior Analyst INovember 10, 2011

PHILADELPHIA, PA - NOVEMBER 7: Henry Melton #69 and Brandon Meriweather #31 of the Chicago Bears celebrate after stopping Jeremy Maclin #18 of the Philadelphia Eagles on a 4th down attempt at Lincoln Financial Field on November 7, 2011 in Phildelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

The Philadelphia Eagles are 3-5 with losses to three teams that would stand in their way of the playoffs right now (the Falcons, Bears and Giants). The Eagles are barely hanging on by a thread right now. After being upset by the Chicago Bears at home on Monday night, the Eagles are now in a do or die type mode for at least the next three games if not the entire season.

The Eagles host the 2-6 Arizona Cardinals on Sunday in yet another "must win" game. Should the Eagles find yet another way to lose they would be 3-6 heading into two very tough matchups against the Giants and the Patriots in the following two weeks.

The Eagles need to make a bold playoff statement Sunday against the Cardinals. Not just for the fans, but for the team. We all know how talented this team is but talent alone doesn't win you games in the NFL. They have the ability to beat anyone in the NFL and do it consistently. They just don't look like it right now.

The Cardinals will most likely be without former Eagles starting quarterback, Kevin Kolb. Kolb is still suffering from turf toe. John Skelton will be making his second start of the season for Arizona.

Despite all the talent Andy Reid and Howie Roseman were able to collect this offseason, the Eagles have many problems that have yet to be solved. The defense doesn't tackle well and has shown very little resistance against the run. The offense has failed to come up big in any key moments this season and has turned the ball over in seven of their eight games this season.

PHILADELPHIA, PA - SEPTEMBER 25:  Victor Cruz #80 of the New York Giants catches a 28 yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter over Nnamdi Asomugha #24 of the Philadelphia Eagles  at Lincoln Financial Field on September 25, 2011 in Philadelphia, Pennsylv
Chris Trotman/Getty Images

Simple fundamentals that have been pounded into these players since peewee football have been forgotten. Players aren't wrapping up on ball carriers on defense and players aren't protecting the ball on offense.

More complex issues still remain as well. The secondary is play far too much zone coverage which is a complete waste of Nnamdi Asomugha's talents. The Wide 9 scheme is getting torched in the run and was unable to record a single sack against the Bears last Monday.

The Eagles will have to resolve all these issues in order to make a run at the playoffs.

Their run starts on Sunday against Arizona. The Eagles are hosting a 2-6 team that isn't as good as their record may indicate. A loss to Arizona would be crushing but an unimpressive win would be just as bad. The Eagles need to win and need to win big.

The Cardinals are just 25th in the NFL in rushing offense and 29th in passing defense. This is the type of game that playoff caliber teams don't just win, they win it convincingly.

DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin have to step up after poor performances against the Bears. The defensive line has to reestablish itself in the pass rush and Juan Castillo has to finally figure out how to best utilize his three stud corners. There is no reason why they should have just three interceptions through the first eight games.

Michael Vick needs to play a mistake free game against Arizona as well. Last season Vick didn't throw a pick until Week 12. This season he has thrown a pick in every single game except one. Another turnover free game for the Eagles would do wonders for their confidence going forward.

PHILADELPHIA, PA - NOVEMBER 7: Michael Vick #7 of the Philadelphia Eagles is pursued by Stephen Paea #92 of the Chicago Bears at Lincoln Financial Field on November 7, 2011 in Phildelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

Castillo also needs to figure out what to do with defensive line coach Jim Washburn's Wide 9 scheme. It clearly is prohibiting the Eagles from containing the run. Does Castillo stray away from the Wide 9 except during obvious passing situations or does he continue to have faith in a defense that has burned the players since the second week of preseason?

We all know the talent is there. But will they will be able to put it together to go in a magical run similar to what they did when Jeff Garcia took over for an injured Donovan McNabb in 2006?

If the Eagles can figure out some things schematically and fix the simple fundamental mistakes, seven or eight wins in the next eight weeks are not out of the question. Outside of a Week 11 road game against the Giants and a Week 12 matchup against the Patriots, the Eagles could be favored in every single game remaining.

The time to win is now and the time to make that statement that says "We're Back" is Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals.