Monday, October 6, 2008

Time to panic? Not yet, but closer than I'd like

I haven't finished watching the tape so my Game Review is still a work in progress. I wanted to post some general thoughts anyway.

The sky isn't falling. The world isn't over. 2-3 is a very disappointing start to the season. We still have plenty of time to turn things around. That said, an NFL season is only 16 games long. You can't afford to dig much of a hole if you want time to claw your way out of it. This team has got to come up with some answers in a hurry. Slow starts and blown chances can kill you in the NFL.

The team has lost 2 games in a row and it feels like we blew both games. I understand we're all in a bad mood because of that. I was absolutely miserable yesterday. I watched the 415 games, but sat in silence. I had 3 TVs on, but the volume was off on all of them. I was pissed off and wanted to just sit there in bitter silence. I avoided some phone calls, but finally talked to a couple of people. You find that venting a bit helps you to get it out of your system. The Eagles are frigging killing me. Back to back losses, and brutal ones at that.

On the flip side of that...the games were 24-20 and 23-17. These are close games where mistakes are killing us. Drastic changes are not needed. Firing Andy Reid isn't the answer. Benching McNabb? No way. The big key right now is that we are making crucial mistakes. Our opponents are taking advantage of them.

I would tell you if I saw a team that wasn't good or couldn't compete. That simply isn't the case. I see a team that is coming up short at the wrong times. The most troublesome aspect of that is the mistakes aren't by one guy, one unit, or one side of the ball. It's like the Whack-A-Mole game. Solve one problem and the next arises.

* David Akers has missed 3 FGs in the last 2 games.

* Jamaal Jackson gets called for an illegal snap when we have the ball near midfield with plenty of time before the half. That penalty put us behind the chains and the drive ended up in a punt.

* Andy Reid failed to challenge some questionable plays vs CHI. Probably as an overreaction to that, he challenged a play vs WAS that cost us a timeout.

* Greg Lewis dropped a key pass on a 3rd down play that would have gotten us inside the 30.

* Asante Samuel slipped on a 3rd down play when he had good coverage. The WR caught the pass and moved the chains on a FG drive.

* Chris Gocong looks back to the QB a second or so early and that lets Greg Olsen get enough separation to make a TD catch (maybe).

* We gave up 3 TD passes vs CHI and decided to focus on that vs WAS. Then they go and run the ball for 200 yards on us.

This is just a sampling of things. There are plenty of other mistakes to point out. I was just trying to show how seemingly random they are, but also how important.

There is a real small difference in winning and losing in the NFL. Anyone who saw the CIN/DAL game got a good example of that. A couple of plays go differently and the Bengals win instead of losing by 9. A couple of plays. Unfortunately Dallas made those plays yesterday and against us in Week 2. We made the key plays against Pittsburgh, but not Dallas, Chicago, or Washington. That's why we're 2-3.

Do changes need to be made? Tough question. I'm always for upgrading positions, but I don't know that there are many upgrades available. I am not a believer in change for the sake of change. That is something you do in a drastic situation. Being 2-3 is not good, but it isn't a drastic situation.

I have no problem with the team looking at other kickers, but I'm not sure than anyone available would be an improvement. I know David has missed some costly kicks. I also know that I trust him inside the 40. A kicker off the street would be someone who might be erratic all over the place.

I know some people are really mad at LJ Smith. "Start Celek" and that kind of thing gets mentioned quite a bit. I don't agree with that. I was hoping Celek would challenge for LJ's job this summer/season, but Brent looks to me like a #2 TE. LJ is the better player.

Fullback Tony Hunt has been about what we expected. His blocking ranges from okay to bad. He has caught the ball well the last couple of games. Tony is learning on the job and it shows.

As bad a day as the defense had on Sunday, I really like the group. I'm sure some fans will want some heads to roll, but I can't see anyone over there who is a regular problem.

Make no mistake about it...2-3 puts us in a hole. We're 0-2 in the division and 1-3 in the NFC. Our fudge room is gone. And now we find out that Westbrook has a couple of broken ribs. The only thing left to do is join the army with our good friend Russell Ziskey.

The team can't sit around feeling sorry for itself. They need to prepare and practice for the Niners. Sunday is now a huge game for us. Gotta win to get back to .500 heading into the bye. The worst part of that situation is that normally we struggle in the game before the bye week. That "luxury" is gone this year. Sunday's game is critical.

I know some fans will look at the schedule and try to figure out who we could and should beat. Forget about that stuff. Focus on one game at a time. In a month let's see where we stand.

The Eagles don't lack talent, but they do lack wins. That is very troubling. Underachieving can be a tough habit to break out of. I wish I knew the problem and could point it out. Some on the EMB think emotion and sense of urgency are needed. Emotion is overrated. Dawk got his guys in a huddle and fired 'em up yesterday, but that didn't help on the field at all. WAS ran the ball down our throat. Pro football is a game of execution. Fans don't like to hear that because it is boring, but that's the truth. Does emotion make Greg Lewis not drop 2 passes, Akers hit his FG, or Asante not slip on 3rd down?

One thing I think we have to do is run the friggin' ball. We have 106 running plays in 5 games ( I threw out the QB runs). That isn't enough. I know we're a passing team, but we have to run the ball more and better. Andy has to stick with it. I don't care if Westy is hurt. Run Buck. Run LoBo. Put Klecko or Celek at FB and run Hunt. Figure something out. We have a big OL. We need to let them pound on defenses. Doing that between the 20's will pay off when we get to the goal line. You can't ask a team to be finesse all game long and then magically turn physical inside the 5. We have to let the big boys beat up on defenses. I'm gonna be really disappointed in Mary and Andy if they don't work on this aspect. Jim Zorn and the Redskins showed yesterday why it is so important. They trailed 14-0 but stuck with the run. Those running plays wore us down as the game went on. It was huge for them in the 4th Qtr. I know we'll never be a running team under Reid, but we have to run more.

2-3 does not mean the season is over. Far from it. The crappy start does mean we have a trickier road to navigate if we are to make a run at the playoffs. We still control our own destiny, but we can only afford a couple of more losses the rest of the way. That puts a lot of pressure on the team. We don't need perfection, but we do need the team to get greedy...more points, more yards, more sacks, more wins, etc. No let up. Keep the pedal to the metal. We're too talented to be sitting at 2-3. When the guys play up to their talent, we can beat anybody in the league. When they don't...they lose. Just get the job done, guys. Get the job done.

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