Philadelphia Eagles: 5 Reasons Why They Can Still Win the NFC East
The Eagles are very much on the outside looking in to the playoff race in only the 10th week of the season.
Key players are injured on both sides of the ball, coaches aren't putting players in position to make plays and the team has blown five fourth-quarter leads. Now DeSean Jackson is admitting that he is unhappy, and there is speculation that some players act more as individuals rather than as a team.
But after just nine games into the season, is this team really done?
Not quite, actually. They have the talent and the coaching to go on a run. We have seen less-talented Eagles teams finish strong even in the face of adversity.
Everyone's job is on the line outside of LeSean McCoy. Andy Reid needs to prove he still is the best man to lead the Eagles. Michael Vick needs to prove the same thing as well. DeSean Jackson needs to show the front office he is worth the money he is demanding in contract negotiations.
We all know the talent is there. The question right now: Is the will to win there? It's put-up-or-shut-up time Sunday night against the Giants.
No. 1: The Eagles Have Already Reached Rock Bottom
The Eagles appear to have reached rock bottom.
DeSean Jackson was inactive after missing a team meeting. Michael Vick is hurt once again. LeSean McCoy isn't getting the football in a close game. Juan Castillo can't figure out how to use his secondary.
But can things actually get worse?
Even with a multitude of injuries, the Eagles have the talent to start winning. On Sunday we saw every tipped pass go the Cardinals' way. Lately it seems like every close call, tipped pass or questionable penalty has gone against the Eagles.
They have to eventually start getting some breaks, right?
It's always darkest before the sun comes up. It's cheesy, but it's what Eagles fans have to believe right now.
No. 2: Two Confidence-Building Wins Can Do Wonders
The next two weeks look impossible on paper for the Eagles right now, but who thought the NFC West would go 4-0 in Week 10?
The Eagles travel to the "New Meadowlands" on Sunday night to face off with a division rival, the New York Giants. The following week they host the New England Patriots.
The Eagles know the Giants well; they had beaten them six consecutive times before dropping a painful loss to them at home in Week 3. The Patriots game looks a lot more winnable than it did a month ago—when the Patriots offense looked untouchable.
Both games will take some major coaching adjustments and some improved play from both the wide receivers and the defensive line, but it's not an impossible task. The Giants game is big because it would give the Eagles the tiebreaker over all three NFC East teams, while at the same time cutting the Giants' lead in the division to just two games over the Eagles.
No. 3: Rest of the Schedule Is Very Winnable
If the Eagles can get through a very tough two-game stretch against the Giants and the Patriots, the rest of the season is much more friendly. The Eagles will have road games against the Dolphins, Seahawks and Cowboys and host the Redskins and Jets.
Last Sunday proved that the Eagles can lose to absolutely any football team in America, but none of these games look impossible.
The thing people seem to forget about the Eagles' 3-6 start is that they have yet to be blown out. Five blown fourth-quarter leads and all the chances in the world to win at Buffalo—the Eagles are just losing close games. Some of their upcoming games may not even be close if they can take care of the football.
Even if they are, teams like the Dolphins and the Seahawks are the types of teams that the Eagles could actually finish off.
If the Eagles can turn things around, they won't have to do it against the juggernauts of the league; no Packers, no Saints and no Steelers on the schedule.
No. 4: Andy Reid Is No Fool
When did Andy Reid become one of the worst coaches in the NFL?
This is the same coach who hasn't had a losing season since 2005, and the same coach who has won at least one playoff game in seven of his 12 seasons in Philadelphia.
Sure, Reid has made some moves that have backfired. Juan Castillo has failed as his defensive coordinator and cheap free-agent pickups that were supposed to be low-risk, high-reward-type players have single-handedly cost the Eagles games (Ronnie Brown, Steve Smith).
But Coach Reid has been here before.
In 2006, he lost his starting quarterback Donovan McNabb to a season-ending ACL tear. The Eagles found themselves at 5-6 after backup quarterback Jeff Garcia's first start. They appeared to be finished.
But then Garcia led the Eagles to five straight wins to finish off the season.
In 2008 the Eagles found themselves at 5-5-1 and McNabb's career in Philly appeared to be over. Reid rallied his troops and the Eagles won four of their final five games in the regular season—nearly pulling off an upset in the NFC Championship game against the Arizona Cardinals.
This will be Reid's toughest challenge yet; he will face many tough decisions that he has to figure out in a matter of days. Does he fire Castillo now? What does he do with DeSean Jackson? If Vince Young has an outstanding game against the Giants, does he keep the job?
There is no reason why Reid can't turn things around at this point. It won't be easy, but he's been in similar situations before when everyone doubted him.
No. 5: They Just Have To Win the Close Games
The one thing that has killed the Eagles the most has been their inability to win the close games.
In the Eagles' three wins, they have outscored their opponents 85-40. The Eagles have not lost a game by more than one score, outside of the first meeting with the Giants when Michael Vick was knocked out of the fourth quarter.
It's been stupid penalties, costly turnovers and confusion in the secondary that has killed the Eagles in the fourth quarter. If the Eagles can limit their mistakes and continue to move the football in the fourth quarter, they can beat anybody.
If they could have done that even twice earlier in the season they would be 5-4 and just a game out of the division.
Once the Eagles can clean up their mistakes, they will start finishing off opponents in the fourth quarter. The problems aren't un-fixable, but they seem to keep creeping up every single week.
After a close win or two, the Eagles are back on track and the NFC East is anybody's game once again.