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Posted Dec 28, 2012

Michael Vick has the start at quarterback, LeSean McCoy is the running back and the Eagles offense looks to finish the 2012 season on a positive note Sunday against the Giants ...

Beating New York in Week 17 isn't going to erase the disappointment of the season, of course, but it's going to give us all a better taste in our mouths. Heck, the Eagles have lost 10 of their last 11 games. It is a skid worse than any the franchise has encountered since, as far as I can tell, the Eagles lost 11 straight games to open the 1968 season.

There have been long losing streaks before -- the seven losses to end Rich Kotite's head coaching days in 1994 comes to mind -- but not since '68 have the Eagles lost 10 of 11 games.

It's been a long, long year ...

Nevertheless, the Eagles move forward. The team has showed resilience in the sense that you see the fight continues and the players are continuing to work hard and the coaches are grinding. It's just that the Eagles ... need ... a ... win in the worst way.

Michael Vick returns to the starting lineup against the Giants in what is going to be a must-watch performance. He hasn't played since November 11 and has had only a few days of hard practice to knock off the rust. Timing is going to be a question mark, especially early in the game.

That's why I think it's important that Marty Mornhinweg and the Eagles' offensive game planners rely on the running game early and often against the Giants. It may be laborious, and it may require some field-position jostling, but it sure seems to be asking a lot of Vick to come out gunning early when he hasn't thrown a regular-season pass in six weeks. 

The advice here, then, is this: Give the ball to LeSean McCoy and Bryce Brown. Feed them in gulpfuls. Establish a snot-knocking mentality against an NFC East rival and let the offensive linemen dig in and get nasty. It's going to be cold and probably windy at MetLife Stadium, so why try to play a fancy, schmantzy game?

Win this one 17-14 and have a good feeling in the locker room to end the season. Let's see what happens.

  • The defense will be challenged without defensive tackle Fletcher Cox and WILL linebacker Mychal Kendricks. Both have had solid rookie seasons and both have a chance to be outstanding players for years to come in this league. They are part of an extremely promising 2012 draft class, one that faces huge expectations next year. Clearly, the rookies from this year are going to have to be on point and diligent in their preparation for 2013.
  • Is there something about Antonio Dixon that makes him attractive for the future? He's got size and he was productive a few seasons ago. Dixon needs to get in the best shape of his life in the offseason and then see how he fits into the defensive front, whatever that becomes. Tommy Brasher is here on a limited basis, so what's next? Jim Washburn never warmed up to Dixon, for Washburn wanted up-the-field burst and that's not Dixon's game. Dixon is a space eater, and that's something the Eagles can use.
  • Playing without Jason Peters to his left, guard Evan Mathis proved how good he is with a strong 2012 season. He started the season on the slow side, but Mathis has been a solid performer -- maybe the most consistent player on offense -- for much of the year. It's great to see that the new, fat contract Mathis signed did not negatively impact his performance.
  • Sixty-five catches in 14 games constitutes a pretty strong season for wide receiver Jeremy Maclin, especially when you consider that he had one stretch -- Baltimore, at Arizona and against the Giants -- when Maclin was nursing a hamstring injury and had a total of two receptions. Toss in that goose egg Maclin had in the loss at Washington and the numbers are even more impressive. We know that Maclin isn't Megatron and he's not Larry Fitzgerald, but he's a pretty darn good receiver and there is no question that the combination of Maclin and DeSean Jackson is good enough to fuel this offense. Could the Eagles use a bigger target to add to the mix in the red zone? It certainly wouldn't hurt? But it's time to give Maclin some credit. He's improved in each of his four seasons as an Eagle.
  • I know the call from earlier in this column was to run the football offensively, but I wonder how the coaches react when they see that the already-challenged Giants could be down two more cornerbacks. Prince Amukamara and Jayron Hosley are listed as doubtful, and I'm sure that under ordinary circumstances the coaches would go right after the cornerback position. With Vick rusty and with the weather a factor, will the coaches tone it down?

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