Considering the Philadelphia Eagles just played their most complete, fundamentally sound and efficient game of the season, you’d think everything should be fine and dandy as the faithful arise following a night of celebration.
But, really, should it?
The Birds were crisp. They were tough. They were sound. They didn’t turn the ball over. They had a pretty balanced attack that – get this – actually favored the run, a reality almost unheard of during the Andy Reid era.
For their efforts, the NFL bestowed upon them the sweet nectar of victory – by a less-than-whopping two points, and only secured when Lawrence Tynes missed his second straight field-goal attempt from 54 yards out, thanks to Reid trying to ice the New York Giants placekicker only to actually send shivers down the spines of every Eagles fan in attendance or glued to a TV set.
No doubt those clad in midnight green can bask in the glow of a hard-fought, relatively well-played, 19-17 win. However, this isn’t quite the time to start booking Super Bowl reservations.
Why? For starters, the opposition played … OK. The defending champs, clearly, are not clicking on all cylinders and their defensive front four has been MIA since taking home the Lombardi Trophy after ruffling Tom Brady’s feathers back in February.
The Birds, by contrast, played pretty much as well as they can, at least going off earlier efforts. Having eked out a pair of one-point snatchings of victory from the jaws of defeat and then laid an egg in Arizona, committing the crazy total of 12 turnovers in the process, they had room for improvement and showed it.
Michael Vick wasn’t asked to pass 60 times, and, in fact, his 30 attempts seemed to suit him just nicely. Meanwhile, LeSean McCoy got 23 carries and turned them into 123, keep-’em-honest yards that boded incredibly well for an offense that needed to find itself a more steady gear.
This wasn’t the quick-start, sudden-stop, herky-jerky, stall-out, final-thrust engine that presented itself against Cleveland or Baltimore to kick off the 2012 campaign, nor the drop-dead, out-of-gas one that showed itself in the desert last week.
It was a major step up from that. Put it this way, what it lacked for in terms of excitement, it more than made up for things in stability – which is what fans have been crying for this fall, if not since Vick started to revert back to his “old” schoolyard form following a brilliant first 11 games in 2010.
But a two-point win, that’s it? Obviously, that’s better than a loss.
Thing is, this Eagles squad had been tabbed by many as one of the chief challengers to winning the whole shebang this season. It’s credited with having oodles of talent across the board. Its offense was supposed to be “scary good.”
Its defense was supposed to be a quarterback-mauling dynamo. Last night, against Eli Manning’s protection, the Birds’ sack meter hit zero. Worse, they registered zero hits on him, too.
So, as Reid would say, enjoy the win.
Just don’t get too carried away now.
Plenty of room for improvement remains.
– Interesting to see that RB Chris Johnson comes alive once starting QB Jake Locker goes down, more than tripling his season yardage total with 141 yards on 25 carries … and Tennessee still gets throttled, 38-14 by Houston. In the first three games, Johnson had 33 carries for 45 yards.
– The Texans, along with Atlanta, appear to be for real. Both squads are 4-0, and show some serious potency on offense, ranking second and third, respectively, in points scored – 126 and 124. Houston has been the most dominant team in the NFL, posting a plus-70 advantage in point differential. Atlanta is a far cry from that at No. 2, plus-48.
– The Eagles, by the way, are a minus-17 in that category.