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A Look At A Perfect 2012 Scenario

Posted Apr 17, 2012

At first glance, the 2012 schedule is great. Terrific. Five prime-time games. A total of six nationally televised games. Opens on the road and closes on the road, with a lot of wins in between ...

It’s here, finally. A clear vision of what is to be for your Philadelphia Eagles. From this perspective, it’s all Midnight Green, baby. Ima gonna go out on a limb and predict a sweep. A clean sweep. Sixteen and oh, my, what a season! OK, maybe 15-1 if the Eagles rest their starters for that regular-season finale. We’ll see if Andy Reid wants to make history.

Or not.

Anyway, I’ve had a minute or two to digest the schedule, to get a real feel for how each week is going to play out.

Without further ado, here is a look into the Spudtastic Crystal Ball …

Sunday, September 9 at Cleveland

I know that Cleveland fans and that famous Dawg Pound are going to be on their best behavior with quarterback Michael Vick and the Eagles coming to town. Andy Reid asks that the team arrive early in Cleveland for a tour of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, where he and wide receiver DeSean Jackson sneak into a recording studio to cut their new duet “I’ll Be Chest Bumping You …” It’s time to get back to fun, right?

Jason Babin is going to go – true fact – to Alaska soon to hunt Brown Bears. He is going to hunt Browns to open the season as Juan Castillo gets to quarterback Colt McCoy eight times and backup Donovan McNabb three times and the defense dominates.

The Eagles open the regular season the right way.

Eagles 35, Browns 10

Sunday, September 16 vs. Baltimore

A tough game against a mean, nasty Baltimore Ravens team with Super Bowl aspirations. A quartet wearing JoeFlacco University of Delaware jerseys, turned down in its attempt to sing the national anthem – the Eagles contracted the super-sexy, mega-hunk duo of Eagles fans Bradley Cooper and Ryan Phillippe – sits silently as the defense again gets after the opposing quarterback.

This time, though, the offense takes center stage. Vick starts the scoring with a touchdown pass to tackle-eligible Evan Mathis, who beats out Todd Herremans in the one-day tryout for the job in training camp. Mathis takes out his camera phone, wedged in his shoulder pads, and takes a Twitpic of himself on the scoreboard for an immediate NFL violation – and the Tweet of the year.

The game is a rock ‘em, sock ‘em affair, prompting Reid to wax eloquently in his post-game press conference.

“It was a rock ‘em, sock ‘em affair,” said Reid. “It’s always that way against the Baltimore Ravens.”

Eagles 21, Ravens 13

Sunday, September 23 at Arizona

September in Arizona? The dome is closed at University of Phoenix Stadium, which excites placekicker Alex Henery. He has visions of greatness kicking in the desert.

“Golly jeepers,” says Henery. “The ball sure is going to carry here.”

Henery’s opening kickoff goes through the uprights and the defense sets up for quarterback Kevin Kolb, the former Eagle. It is a mismatch, once again. Babin and Trent Cole combine for five sacks and linebacker DeMeco Ryans tallies his first as an Eagle.

DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin have a field day down the field and LeSean McCoy runs for 125 yards as the Eagles move to 3-0.

“We’re better in our third game than we were in our first or second game, just like you guys writing your stories,” says defensive coordinator Juan Castillo. “We’re working on the fundamentals every day.”

Long snapper Jon Dorenbos suggests a stopover in Las Vegas rather than coming directly home to Philadelphia, suggesting to Reid that a night at the Carrot Top show would be a good team-building exercise. Reid declines and the Eagles head home for a showdown against the Super Bowl-champion Giants.

Eagles 38, Cardinals 17

Sunday, September 30 vs. New York Giants

A pair of 3-0 teams square off at Lincoln Financial Field in the Football Night In America game. What a show? Terrell Owens, in his debut for NBC’s pre-game show, bets a case of popcorn that no wide receiver will do what he did in his Eagles debut – against the Giants, at Lincoln Financial Field, when he scored three touchdowns.

“And if Donovan had spent more time looking my way, I would have scored about five touchdowns,” says Owens, a tear streaming down his cheek. “I loved that man.”

The game itself is fierce, as expected. Eli Manning suffers a torn fingernail lobe and is replaced by backup quarterback Vince Young. Young turns the ball over on three consecutive possessions and the Eagles make the Giants pay with a touchdown pass to Brent Celek, a fade pass to Dion Lewis and a shovel pass to Mathis, who is showing the kind of versatility the Eagles expected when they signed him to a five-year deal to remain an Eagle.

Big win for the Eagles. This is shaping up to be a special season.

Eagles 24, Giants negative 12 (fantasy points)

Sunday, October 7 at Pittsburgh

Why is this game not on national television? This is a great matchup of inter-state rivals. Terrific game. The Eagles have always struggled in Pittsburgh, so the team this time stays in Erie and camps out in Presque Isle State Park the night before the game.

“I wanted to give the players a chance to feel nature and to ‘rough it’ a little bit,” says Reid. “We made S’mores, told stories around the campfire and bonded.”

The unique strategy pays off. Cullen Jenkins and Mike Patterson “S’more” quarterback Ben Roethlisberger early and force a turnover that Nnamdi Asomugha scoops up and returns 39 yards for a touchdown. Later, defensive end Brandon Graham notches his fourth sacks of the season and strips the ball loose and goes 14 yards for another score.

Offensively, McCoy and Dion Lewis return to their University of Pittsburgh roots and combine for 178 yards and a pair of scores.

In his post-game injury report, Reid lists center Jason Kelce with a case of poison ivy that he caught the night before.

Eagles 31, Steelers 14

Sunday, October 14 vs. Detroit

Former Eagles wide receiver Kevin Curtis is the team’s honorary Alumni Captain and he comes out wearing the jersey he wore in 2007 when he burned the Lions for 221 receiving yards. Castillo employs a triangle-and-eight defense against Detroit wide receiver Calvin Johnson, who must fight through two defenders at the line of scrimmage and then is surrounded by as many as eight defensive backs on a single play each time quarterback Matthew Stafford drops back to pass.

The unusual strategy works as Johnson is limited to 6 receptions for 72 yards. It isn’t enough as the Eagles continue their run-heavy offense – they are calling running backs 44 percent of the time – to chew up clock and spit out the Lions.

The Eagles head into the bye week unbeaten, untied and, from this perspective, unbelievable.

Eagles 27, Lions 10

Sunday, October 28 vs. Atlanta

Eagles cornerbacks Asomugha, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Asante Samuel, enjoying the “Three Guard” rotation used by cornerbacks coach Todd Bowles, have one of their biggest teams of the season when Julio Jones and Roddy White come to town.

Atlanta is seen by everyone as a Super Bowl-contending team, but not on this day at Lincoln Financial Field. The Eagles extract a measure of revenge for the 2011 loss by overcoming a fourth-quarter deficit to send the Falcons home losers.

Clay Harbor takes a handoff and rumbles 30 yards for a score, wide receiver Jason Avant scores one and Vick runs for 86 yards on 7 carries – with three slides! – and the Eagles continue their hot streak.

Eagles 24, Falcons 17

Monday, November 5 at New Orleans

New Orleans head coach Jon Gruden, subbing for his buddy Sean Payton, allows ESPN to put a microphone on him for the game and in the booth analyst Ron Jaworski is amazed at all of the “bleeps” one man generates.

“Gru Dog,” says Jaws, “Is a machine down there!”

Unfortunately for the Saints, their third head coach of the season is having as much success as the first two. The fallout from the NFL suspensions is significant. The Saints, who were so explosive on offense in recent years, are unable to get untracked. Quarterback Drew Brees is described as “too small to be an effective NFL quarterback” by legendary football expert Skip Bayless.

The Eagles play a straight 2-6-3 zone defense, a signature scheme for Castillo in the first half of the season. The defense produces three takeaways and stuffs the Saints offense.

McCoy, on pace to rush for 1,747 yards, continues to impress running behind left tackle Demetress Bell and Mathis. Riley Cooper makes a sensational grab to keep the first offensive drive alive, and there is no stopping the Eagles after that.

Eagles 42, Saints 20

Sunday, November 11 vs. Dallas

There has been no Tweeting war. There has been no bulletin-board material all week. The Cowboys are in the mix in the NFC East and they intend to show the Eagles just how good they are in the 4:15 p.m. kickoff at Lincoln Financial Field.

They sure do.

Marty Mornhinweg orders a no-huddle offense from the start of the game until the middle of the third quarter when he pulls back with the Eagles leading, 35-0. Vick is sensational, completely 17 of 22 passes. McCoy again has a huge game, and Stanley Havili makes his first carry of the season count as he gains 2 yards.

“We’re going to try to get him more involved,” said Mornhinweg after the game.

Eagles 38, Cowboys 0

Sunday, November 18 at Washington

This is the Eagles’ first look at Robert Griffin III, the Redskins’ quarterback of the century. RGIII has held up well despite absorbing 78 sacks to date. He is a poised player for a rookie, but he is not a equipped yet for the Eagles.

Chad Hall played RGIII all week in practice, dazzling the defense with his footwork. The Eagles are well prepared.

“Seems a half-step slower than Chad,” says safety Nate Allen. “Chad can flat out fly!”

Kurt Coleman continues his mastery of the Redskins with another two interceptions and several big hits. Jamar Chaney recovers a fumble and laterals to Allen, who completes the 87-yard touchdown and the Midnight Green Brigade, as Eagles road fans have dubbed themselves, serenade FedEx Field.

“Eagles fans are amazing,” says Ryans. “I have never seen anything like them. They don’t stop, do they?”

No, Demeco, they don’t.

Eagles 30, Redskins 19

Monday, November 26 vs. Carolina

Sean McDermott vs. Juan Castillo. It’s a game of defensive strategies and counter moves designed to limit the mobility of Vick and Carolina quarterback Cam Newton.  Brian Rolle is used as a “spy” against Newton and it works to perfection. He reaches Newton and hangs on by Newton’s leg as the rest of the defense arrives.

“Gang tackling,” says Rolle. “That’s what it is all about with us.”

Castillo head bumps defensive tackle Antonio Dixon midway through the third quarter and is knocked cold. An NFL concussion expert on the sideline keeps Castillo out of the game and rules him “questionable” for the next game.

Eagles 17, Panthers 10

Sunday, December 2 at Dallas

Yet another prime-time game at Cowboys Stadium and this time Dallas fans, disgusted by the Cowboys’ sub-.500 record, picket in front of the stadium.

Eagles fans, meanwhile, gladly grab tickets at half of the face value and fill the seats.

DeSean Jackson scores his 11th and 12th touchdowns of the season and Celek tosses a tight end option pass for a score to Herremans, who has wrestled back the tackle-eligible job from Mathis.

“It’s where I belong,” said Herremans. “I want to thank my hands for being so soft.”

Eagles 42, Cowboys 7

Sunday, December 9 at Tampa Bay

Former Tampa Bay placekicker Matt Bryant serves as the Bucs’ honorary captain, but it’s Henery who sets the tone with a 59-yard field goal to cap the Eagles’ opening drive.

Vick has a field day in the warm sun, at one point completing 13 straight passes. Maclin finishes with 11 catches for 167 yards and two scores and backup quarterback Mike Kafka throws a couple of touchdown passes to Hall and Riley Cooper.

“We are very business-like, approaching every game one day at a time,” says McCoy, who gets 16 carries for 80 yards. “You look at Michael, he’s playing at a different level. We need a nickname for him.”

The world of Twitter comes to life at the suggestion.  “Marvelous Mike,” is one idea. “Vick-tory” is another. “Vick And The Dread” is yet another.

“I’m not into nicknames,” says Vick. “Just winning games.”

Eagles 31, Bucs 14

Thursday, December 13 vs. Cincinnati

The NFL Network crew is in town for the short-week game and they are marveling over the Eagles’ undefeated season.

“Does history matter to you?” McCoy is asked.

“You mean, like Steve Van Buren? He’s the greatest running back of all time and I’m honored to be an Eagle, just like him.”

“No, no. Does being undefeated matter to you?”

“We’re undefeated?” McCoy deadpans …

As for the game, the offense struggles early against the Bengals ‘ very strong defense. But a takeaway by linebacker Moise Fokou, who picks off a tipped Andy Dalton and sets up Vick and Co. for a short touchdown drive. As Mornhinweg promised earlier in the season, Havili is called upon at a big moment and his 1-yard plunge gives the Eagles the lead at halftime.

The defense makes the lead stand. A Casey Matthews sack forces another Bengals turnover and Havili gets another shot from in close. This time he leaps over the pile for a touchdown and the chants at Lincoln Financial Field begin.

“Stan-Ley Hav-i-li! Stan-Ley Hav-i-li!”

In his post-game press conference, Havili praises the offensive line.

“Those guys aren’t just great offensive weapons,” he says. “They block pretty well, too.”

Eagles 21, Bengals 14

Sunday, December 23 vs. Washington

Washington fourth-string quarterback Vince Young, claimed off of waivers two weeks earlier, gets a chance to assert himself as a franchise quarterback for the rest of the league.

“This is a showcase-kind of game,” he says in the week-of press conference with Philadelphia reporters. “It’s a dream for me to be here.”

With the “Dream Game” scenario in place, Castillo’s defense turns its quickly into a nightmare scenario. Allen comes early on a blitz for a sack and takeaway. Asomugha picks off his 10th pass of the season. Chaney adds a sack.

The Eagles shut down Young and the Redskins. At 15-0, they are one game from a perfect regular season.

“That’s not my focus,” says Reid in his post-game press conference. “I haven’t decided yet on the starters for next week. We’ll see when we get there.”

Eagles 27, Redskins 0

Sunday, December 30 at New York Giants

Kafka gets his first start in his NFL career and completes his first 9 passes for 33 yards. The Eagles clearly want to establish the short-passing game as they go for the undefeated season.

Lewis carries 32 times for 167 yards and Phillip Hunt registers 4 ½ sacks and the Eagles do, indeed, make history.

Eagles 16, Giants 9

That’s the way I see it. I know it may seem implausible, but who knows? A couple of bounces here and there and the Eagles will have a season for the ages. Remember, you heard it here first.

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