It was an odd Eagles game, and yet in many ways it was so familiar. It was impossible not to see the irony of those three and half hours on Sunday. The year that the Eagles were finally rid of Donovan McNabb, the year that before it brought unexpected hope was supposed to bring a simple change, came around full circle with Michael Vick’s positively McNabb-esque performance against the Packers. I’m sure for some Eagles fans they’d rather see Vick throw 12 interceptions than be compared to McNabb, but that is what I saw on Sunday. Vick was inaccurate at all the wrong times, he couldn’t quite do enough with his legs, and at the end he threw a game clinching interception. Vick might have gone about it in a slightly different way, he showed more of his trademark toughness, but the end result is the same: the Birds are going home.
You could say that this is unfair to Michael Vick. It may be. David Akers missed at least one kick that he has to make, and the protection up front was as bad as ever. But, on a day the defense somehow (despite its typical atrocious red zone play) gave up only 21 points, the blame has to sit with the most potent offense in Eagles history. We know Andy Reid is bulletproof in these parts, and since we are blue in the face blaming him, I think you have to look to Vick. It’s time to take a step back and try to weed through the initial euphoria brought on by Vick’s amazing start to the season.
Vick was amazing at times this year, and on Sunday he put everything out there, but it wasn’t quite good enough. Through the last month of the season, Vick morphed into…Michael Vick. He wasn’t as accurate, he turned the ball over at a destructive rate, and generally looked a lot like the quarterback who played in Atlanta. This means Vick is still probably one of the better quarterbacks in a league lacking them, but it also means that Vick isn’t much different from Donovan McNabb in his prime. While Vick streaked to the top of the passer rankings at the start of this season, the fans forgot about the peaks of the McNabb era. The stats were right there. Donovan’s ’04 season, other bursts of good play, but everyone insisted that Vick was better than McNabb ever was. The Eagles had taken a more dynamic athletic quarterback and somehow magically turned him into Joe Montana.
That doesn’t happen, though. And when you are a fan, and you are right there in it every week, it’s tough to see that. Or tough to accept that you probably know it’s true. The line at the start of the year was Kolb was the best fit for this offense. I don’t believe that, and I don’t believe in Kolb, but the point holds true. A quarterback like McNabb probably wasn’t going to work here, and Vick is far more McNabb than he is Brady. The horrendous NFC, the great play of Vick, and other factors had everyone forgetting about the so-called, “fit.” I wonder if people will remember come Monday. If they can get past Akers, they might.
It looks like all the Eagles did was shave a few years off their quarterback. Donovan McNabb was obviously not the answer this year. His career looks like it has caught up with him, but a 28-30 year old McNabb wouldn’t have brought a Super Bowl to Philly this year either, and that’s basically what the Eagles tried to do with Vick. This year the offensive line wasn’t good enough. The defense probably wasn’t either. When McNabb was here it was the receivers. Now that is fixed, and something else is broken. The Eagles can never get to the point on the graph where offense, defense, and special teams intersect at a Super Bowl winning team.
I think in the end, what some people thought was a great year for Andy Reid, might have been one of his worst. He made the grab for the 10-win season, a constant criticism of this Eagles regime, and that’s what he got. He got it with a team that he should have recognized, because he’s had it before. Complaining about Reid is like complaining about the sky being blue. He’s got more job security than any NFL coach could ever dream of, and so it’ll be up to him to try to sort through this newest mess. Is he going to change coordinators? What’s going to be the focus during the draft and free agency? Is Michael Vick worthy of a long-term deal? These will be the debates that rule the off-season, and because of an all too familiar ending, they’ll start a bit early for the taste of most Eagles fans.
What to say about the Seahawks? You can praise the parity of the league, but I loathe it for some reasons, and this is one of them. Is there any combination for the NFC championship game that you are interested in watching right now? Bears/Falcons? God forbid the Seahawks win another one and delay the inevitable. For my money, Cinderella stories don’t play in the NFL post-season. Also, the win by Seattle really hinders my prediction that the Bears weren’t going to win again until September.
The Chiefs on the other hand, knew their role. Upstart, happy to be there, inexperienced. All that added up to an epic string of turnovers and blunders in the 2nd half that let the Ravens waltz to an easy win. For most of the first half the Chiefs were game, but the Ravens settled in defensively, realized they could let Matt Cassel try to beat them…and then Cassel beat himself. Actually, it was more of a flogging. The Ravens took advantage of a terrible Chiefs defense (was that Todd Heap running wild?), and their win isn’t really that impressive. Beat the Steelers next week and then we’ll pay attention.
Lastly, I am furious the Colts defense allowed Mark Sanchez to pick up another post-season win. I’m aggravated it perpetuated the myth of Rex Ryan, and really I have no interest in watching the Pats throttle the Jets next week, but what I want to mention is Peyton’s playoff legacy. This might not be the time to bring it up. This wasn’t his best team, and he engineered a go ahead drive late in the 4th quarter, but Manning is 9-10 in the post-season. Something there doesn’t add up. If Brady were to go on to win this Super Bowl, that’d be 4 rings. Wouldn’t he catapult past Peyton? Manning has had his share of good teams. And, I’m not sure he gets everything out of them. Just like Sunday when all those 2nd half drives ended up in FGs when one TD would have been the difference. I’m just saying…
Playoff Pick ‘Em:
I’m not being a pick ’em apologist. Those were 4 of the hardest games I’ve seen this year. I mean that. And, I think the way they set up it was almost impossible to get all four. If you liked Seattle, you probably liked the Chiefs. If you rolled with the Ravens, you probably had New Orleans or Philly. Anyway, I think because of this, it wasn’t a real dazzling week for our pick men. I think next week will be much, much easier, and I expect everyone to step up.
- Grossy 2-2
- Big Dub 2-2
- JCK 2-2
- Nichols 2-2
- Kraft 1-3
The “Christian Bale Oscar Buzz” Pick of the Week: Dub demanded this for his Seahawks pick, and so I’ll give him the nod. If the Birds had somehow scored that last drive for the win/non-cover, I would have stolen it away for him, but it wasn’t meant to be. I wish he would have found the extra bit of juice to pick the Seahawks outright…because then I would have been really impressed, but still, it was a fine pick.
The “You’re Going to Riley Cooper to win the Game?!??” Awful Pick of the Week: I guess I have to go with Kraft here, since he dipped to 1-3. I’ll settle on the Eagles pick. Even though the Najeh Davenport line was my favorite of his segment, and even though Najeh certainly didn’t walk through the door, the Packers did manage to run the ball with some effectiveness. It was part of the difference.