Eagles midseason report card

Posted: November 07, 2007

Daily News Eagles beat writer Les Bowen offers his grades on the team at the halfway mark:


There's no question Donovan McNabb started the season with not nearly enough mobility or confidence in his repaired ACL. The situation has improved, but not as much as you'd like. McNabb badly needed to disarm his critics Sunday night at home against the Cowboys. Instead, he handed his critics a loaded Glock, with those two horrible first-half turnovers that helped suck the life out of the team. Ever since McNabb started struggling in 2005, his judgement has been an issue; it seems somehow related to his health and his confidence. He'll be playing for his future here over the next several weeks, whether that's ultimately fair or not.


This is the one spot where you can't pin much blame. Or any, really. The only problem here is the one we're all sick of discussing, lack of opportunity in key situations. And lack of blocking, which isn't the backs' fault. The Eagles are going to end up wasting the prime of one of the most potent wepons they've ever had, Brian Westbrook.


Extremely disappointing, considering the 2006 stretch drive. Does the playcalling factor in? Certainly. Was it easier to avoid sacks when the QB (Jeff Garcia) got the ball out quicker? Yep. But is there really any good reason for All-Pro guard Shawn Andrews to blow his assignment on a key third-and-1against Dallas? No. In fact, this is one of those areas where the breakdowns are hardest to explain, where some players (re: center Jamaal Jackson) seem to have gone backward.


If you put one big-time difference-maker in here, you'd have a great group. It's too bad Reggie Brown seems to not be that guy, after all. Maybe he will be someday for Kevin Kolb. Maybe now that L.J. Smith is healthy, the coaching staff will remember he exists. Disappointing progress from Jason Avant and Hank Baskett.


Bad teams have bad special teams, because the talent level on special teams reflects the depth of the roster. David Akers is still around; he keeps this from being an "F."


Started out really strong, but hasn't gotten consistent pass-rush pressure. All that situational shuffling aside,Trent Cole is the only DE who would be a starter on a top-notch team. He's a fierce warrior. The tackles are doing OK, especially against the run. Brodrick Bunkley might have been the most inconsolable Eagle Sunday night. He ought to still be here when the team is good again someday.


Promise and inconsistency are still the bottom line on both Chris Gocong and Omar Gaither. Takeo Spikes talks a better game than he plays, at this point in his career, like Jeremiah Trotter last season. If you're an opponent, you really want to throw it down the middle against the Eagles. A sack, someday, would be nice.


This unit was doing a great job, despite injuries to Lito Sheppard and Brian Dawkins. Then, starting with the last drive of that Chicago game, it wasn't. Trying to get Sheppard and Dawkins back into the flow could be part of the problem. Starting Quintin Mikell ahead of Sean Considine at strong safety might help, as would a better pass rush, obviously.


The Eagles have lost two games they definitely should have won. Their initial offensive approach did not reflect that Donovan McNabb was still in the early going in his recovery from ACL surgery, a judgment so inexplicable it spawned internet theories about plots to make McNabb look bad. The Eagles can't seem to figure out how to run the ball consistently, or how to run red zone plays the opponent hasn't sniffed out before the snap. Their defense, stalwart in several games, nonetheless fell in a heap at the feet of Brian Griese and then decided covering Jason Witten while ignoring Terrell Owens was a great idea. There hasn't been a game yet where you said afterward: "Boy, that was a great job by the coaching staff."

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