Giants' Schedule and 4 Other Things the Philadelphia Eagles Are Thankful For

Eddie Gentile, JrContributor IIINovember 23, 2011

Giants' Schedule and 4 Other Things the Philadelphia Eagles Are Thankful For

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    At 4-6, the Eagles 2011 campaign has not panned out the way fans once dreamed.

    But with Thanksgiving on our calendars, now is not the time to dwell on hardships.

    Rather, 'tis the season to give thanks for all we are grateful for.

    Even with the Eagles struggling to keep their collective heads above water, the Birds too have much to give thanks for.

    Here are five things both the Eagles franchise and its fans are thankful for this holiday season. 

LeSean McCoy

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    McCoy is one of the most exciting Eagles to watch. His slippery, cut-back running style aptly suits his nickname, "Shady."

    Aside from being an engaging athlete to follow, McCoy has also played a key role in the Eagles offense. In games where Shady rushed for 100-or-more yards, the Eagles are 4-1 this season.

    And even with the limited number of carries he sometimes sees in Andy Reid's pass-happy offense, McCoy makes the most of his touches.

    His 11 rushes of 20-or-more yards are tops in the league. Shady's 10 rushing touchdowns are second in the NFL.

    What's more, McCoy's 1,019 rushing yards put him in the lead for the race for the NFL's rushing title.

    If Shady can bring the title back to the "City of Brotherly Love," it would be the team's first since Steve Van Buren's 1,146 yards won the title in 1949.

Jason Babin

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    Babin may have already taped his season highlight with the hit he laid on Giants quarterback Eli Manning in Week 11, forcing the fumble that iced the game in the Birds' favor.

    But while fans expected Nnamdi Asomugha to be the Eagles new impact player on the defensive side of the ball, it is the defensive end who has been the most pleasant acquisition.

    Babin has thrived in new defensive line coach Jim Washburn's wide-nine set just as he did a year ago when the two were paired in Tennessee. Using his speed and leverage based bull-rush style from the offensive tackle's outside shoulder, Babin has racked up 10 sacks, good for fourth in the league, and is on pace for a personal-best 16.0 sacks on the year.

    The bull-rushing defensive end has also been extra important to the Birds front-seven with impact end Trent Cole missing time this season. Babin has remained healthy and effective, something the Eagles can definitely be thankful for.

Offensive Line Play

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    The way the season started for this new group of hog mollies, everyone was at least a little bit concerned the Eagles had gone the wrong route with the pull-and-trap heavy scheme new offensive line coach Howard Mudd had introduced.

    But after 11 weeks, the offensive line seems to have gelled nicely.

    Not only are the big boys up front opening enough holes for McCoy to sniff at a rushing title, but the Eagles have allowed just 17 sacks this season, good for fifth least in the league.

    What's more, against the Giants' NFL-best pass rushing defense, the Eagles line turned away New York defenders and allowed just one sack in Week 11. 

    Credit goes to quarterbacks Michael Vick's and Vince Young's legs for dodging some of those blitzes, but the job Mudd has done, shortened offseason and all, cannot be underestimated.

Giants' Schedule

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    The Eagles remaining schedule is no cake walk, but with the Giants remaining games against the Saints, Packers, Redskins and two match ups with the Cowboys, Philadelphia's contests seem pedestrian.

    The Eagles remain two games behind both the Giants and the Cowboys for the NFC East title, and with the Lions, Bears and Falcons ahead of Philadelphia in the Wild Card race, catching their divisional rivals seems the easiest route to the playoffs.

    The Eagles must continue to win, but if the Giants fall in two of their contests, Philadelphia will need just one slip-up from the Cowboys to force a de-facto NFC East title game when the two teams meet in Dallas on New Years Day.

    In the end, any mention of the postseason seems pretty incredible for a team that once lost four straight and previously sat at 3-6, and the Eagles have to be thankful their season is not yet a complete wash.

They Aren't the Redskins

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    When Andy Reid, Jeffrey Lurie and Joe Banner sit down to their respective Thanksgiving Day dinners, all of them will give thanks to their families, relative health, wealth and the bountiful feast set before them.

    And then, they will thank the heavens they are not the Washington Redskins.

    In the last 12 seasons, the Eagles have been to five NFC title games, a Super Bowl, have enjoyed playoff berths in nine seasons and suffered through just two sub-.500 seasons.

    The Redskins, on the other hand, have enjoyed just three playoff appearances in that time, have broke .500 just six times and again in 2011 feature a roster with more question marks than exclamation points.

    No, the Eagles have no Super Bowls to their credit, but in the last dozen years the franchise has enjoyed a period of near-unprecedented success while the Redskins continue to suffer a near-unprecedented famine.

    All in all, the Eagles are not the Washington Redskins.

    And that's something all of Philadelphia can be grateful for.