With an extra day to prepare this week in advance of Monday night's game in Washington -- and oh, what a week of hype this will be! -- it makes sense to exult in the win over Indianapolis for just a bit longer. So many things happened in the 26-24 win over the Colts that I wanted to run down some of the notables still floating around in my mind.
The first item is the penalty called against Quintin Mikell for the hit he and Kurt Coleman had on Indianapolis wide receiver Austin Collie. Mikell was whistled for the penalty, but officials clarified after the game and explained that Coleman was actually the offender because he, as explained by Back Judge Todd Prukop "makes contact with the shoulder to the back of the helmet of the receiver."
Furthermore, as explained by Prukop and Referee Carl Cheffers, the idea of a "defenseless" Collie is vague, at best. Here is what Cheffers had to say after the game about that aspect of the rule: "Well, if he is completing the catch, his second foot is not down yet or it's just down, we still give the defenseless receiver protection. So, if it is a bang-bang type play, with his second foot coming down, he still gets protection on that play. The fact of the matter is, is that the ball was incomplete. So, he has protection throughout that entire process on that play because we don't even have a completion—at no time did he have possession and become a runner to where he would have transitioned out of being a defenseless receiver."
It was certainly a "bang-bang" play. No disagreement there. But it sure appeared that Collie made the catch, wrapped two arms around the football and was in the process of running when he was hit by Mikell from the rear and then, as his body moved and he was re-directed and then hit by Coleman. Too bad the referees didn't have the benefit of replay, which seemed to show a catch, a clean hit and then a fumble that was recovered by the Eagles.
Should Coleman end up being fined here, someone will need to do an investigation and truly gain an explanation. The kid doesn't deserve one. He led with his shoulder and he played the ball and the receiver the right way. You certainly understand the impact a hefty fine would have on a seventh-round draft pick who has nothing in his career guaranteed.
In the big picture, the play will be a topic of discussion all week. And I've talked to players and athletic trainers about the league and what it is coming to and here is my conclusion: Players are going to have to wear more padding. You see receivers and cornerbacks without anything on their legs. Their pants are above the knees. The shoulder pads are thin, built for speed. When you have players flying at you wearing a helmet that becomes a guided missile, well, it isn't a fair battle.
I think the next step is that the league is going to crack down on how the players wear their uniforms and the kind of protection they are being fitted with. The dimension of the field won't change. The players are becoming larger and faster. Until the players are forced to wear more padding, and thus slow down just a touch, the devastating injuries won't stop.
And they probably won't stop much at all, anyway. It's a violent game. It's football, the best game in the world ...
NEWS, NOTES AND A LITTLE BIT OF THIS AND THAT
While his activity in the receiving game has taken a dip, Brent Celek is playing a major part in the improvement of this offense. Celek, by my count, ran all of one route in the second half of Sunday's game. He stayed in to block the rest of the time. Celek has shown a lot of improvement in that phase of his game and is a major reason the pass protection has improved so much in the last several games. Celek is the ultimate team player, so he has no problem with a modification to his role. Understand just how vital he is to the offense. And if you have Celek on your fantasy football team, well, hang on. His time will come.
- Rookie Keenan Clayton was on the field for the most action of his young Eagles career, and at one point he lined up in deep coverage almost as a safety. Clayton has to continue to grow, build his body and his strength, but he has a chance. He runs well and he has good tackling technique. The Eagles defense, by the way, featured rookies Brandon Graham, Nate Allen, Clayton and Coleman on Sunday. Cornerback Trevard Lindley was active, although he played only on special teams.
- Michael Vick has the highest passer rating in the league (105.3), which is pretty remarkable. Even better is that Vick has thrown 125 passes this season (154 passes overall) without an interception as an Eagle.
- Kudos to David Akers for his four field goals and continued excellence on his kickoffs. Akers has 15 touchbacks this year, just two away from his career high. Akers has had four field goals in back-to-back games. Let's hope that his one off game, against Atlanta, won't keep Akers away from the Pro Bowl. He has been fantastic this season.
- Don't look now, but the run defense is on a roll unlike any it has had since 1994. The defense has permitted fewer than 75 rushing yards in each of the last four games and has not allowed a 100-yard runner all season. Washington is next. Very, very interesting matchup for the defense.
- Loved the consecutive handoffs to DeSean Jackson that gained 17 yards late in the fourth quarter. Very, very well done by offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg. The Eagles needed to milk the clock and they did it in the fourth quarter.
- So ... who is the starting right cornerback when Ellis Hobbs is healthy? Dimitri Patterson battled against Reggie Wayne and did a fine job against the Pro Bowl veteran. Sean McDermott has some competition going here. It's a good thing, folks.
- We'll get into this so much more later in the week, but when I heard Mike Lupica say the Eagles "insulted" Donovan McNabb by trading him to Washington, within the NFC East, it really baffled me. Does anyone understand that two teams wanted McNabb -- the Raiders and the Redskins -- and that McNabb wanted no parts of the Raiders? It wasn't an "insult" at all. It was business. It was a football decision. The Eagles got back a second-round draft pick -- which turned into Nate Allen -- and likely a fourth-round draft pick in 2011. So far it looks like a great trade for the Eagles. Time will tell.
- Mike Bell with the Browns: 13 carries, 7 yards. Jerome Harrison with the Eagles: 2 carries, 6 yards.
- Will everyone get off of Sean McDermott's back for a while now, please? He has described the defense as "a work in progress" since training camp and it remains that way. But if you can't see the improvement, you aren't paying any attention at all. A lot of challenges are ahead, so there is no idea of resting on any kind of laurels here. But give McDermott his due: The guy works as hard as any coach I've seen and he is relentless in his pursuit of excellence. The work is paying off.