Yesterday’s game was met with a lot of mix feelings by most Eagles fans. The old fashioned beating they gave the Jets was a breath of fresh air. They finally looked like the team that we all thought they could be when Joe, Howie and Andy put this team together back in August. But even the most optimistic fan can’t help themselves and wonder where this team was all season. If they could have only limited their mistakes in the (insert any loss here) game, they wouldn’t be in a situation where they still need a lot of help in order to get into the postseason. But since we are not Cowboys fans and we don’t live in the past. It’s pointless to waste energy stressing about earlier mistakes. The Eagles are still in the playoff hunt and that’s all that matters right now.
There were a lot of positives to take from yesterday’s game. The first and most important thing is that the Eagles are still alive thanks to win over the Jets and the Redskins upsetting the Giants. After the Cowboys beat the Bucs on Saturday night, the Eagles playoff hopes laid squarely on the shoulders of the Washington Redskins. I’m not sure if we should thank Eli or the Redskins but regardless it resulted in a New York loss. The Eagles then took the momentum and showed a lot of energy has they took apart the Jets piece by piece. Babin and McCoy have received a lot of the press because of their performances, but plenty of others deserve credit for their play.
Many fans have been disappointed with the play of Celek over the last 2 seasons after he had a breakout year in 2009. But a lot of his struggles and lack of production have more to do with his lack of opportunities than poor play. Brent’s effort seemed to energize the entire team and the fans as he refused to go down as he attempted to run over anyone in his way on his 1st quarter catch. He showed his unique combination when he had a terrific one handed catch and then proceeded run over pro bowler Darrelle Revis while dragging SS Brodney Pool into the end zone. Celek ended the day with 5 catches 156 yards and a Touchdown. He leads the team in catches with 54 and is 3rd on the team with 673 receiving yards. If the rest of the team could play with the heart and passion that number 87 does, they probably wouldn’t’ have themselves in the hole they are in.
Casey Matthews was subject to a lot of criticism and blame early in the season but he has played very well over the last few weeks. Without trying to sound like Andy, he wasn’t put in the position to succeed early in the season. An undersized 4th round pick should not be expected to start at MLB during his rookie year on a team that had the kind of expectations the Eagles did. Many people saw the name “Matthews” and expected him to play like his brother Clay. But unfortunately for us, he is not his brother. But that doesn’t mean he can’t become a solid player. After hardly playing after his demotion early in the season, Juan has inserted Casey into the Nickel defense and he has played great. Over the last 2 games he has 8 tackles, one assist and 1 sack. He showed great instinct and athleticism when he sniffed out a screen yesterday and aided in Coleman’s forced fumble on Parkers TD early in the game.
Another player who has stepped up their game is Dominique Rodgers Cromartie. DRC was supposed to be part of the best set of corners in the league but has really struggled in his transition from the outside to the slot. The former pro bowler has been outplayed in the slot by journeyman CB Joselio Hanson. Yesterday may have been his best game in an Eagles uniform. His quick burst and great recognition as he jumped the slant route allowed him to deflect the Sanchez pass that would eventually land in the arms of Jamar Chaney.
LeSean McCoy has had a great season and will now have his name in the Eagles record book. But the big guys up front deserve some of the credit. Peters, Mathis, Kelce, Watkins and Herremans have opened up a lot of holes for Shady. He ran in practically untouched on 2 of his touchdowns yesterday and has had countless others throughout the season. Their solid play has not only opened up holes in the running game but has allowed Brent Celek once again be an option in the passing game has opposed to another blocker. An area that was seen as a weakness early in the year has now turned into one of the team’s strength. Shady even referenced the o-line when he was asked about the record after the game as he said,
“It tells you I’m a pretty good back and I have an outstanding offensive line. It’s definitely a team thing.”
This team has showed me a lot over the last 2 games. After the embarrassing and forgettable effort they showed in the Thursday night game in Seattle, it would have been easy to just roll over and get ready for next season. But they have showed a lot of heart and passion in Miami and again yesterday against the Jets. They are finally beginning to look like the team we all thought they could be. But they have to be careful not to get overconfident and revert back to the same arrogant attitude that put them in this position to begin with. However small the chances are, I don’t think any fan should ever give up on their team. The dream team may be long gone, but the 2011 Eagles are still alive and kicking!