It is late on Friday afternoon and the last of the Eagles' employees at the NovaCare Complex are packing up and moving out. The prospect of a weekend away from work is mighty exciting for everyone. The coaches are finished their review of Thursday night's win over Houston and they are going to get some time away. The players are long gone, having made their weekend plans and promising themselves to heal their bodies and their minds.
Do you remember that feeling of the last day of school? This is like that, but only more exciting. Because the Eagles know they have something going here, and by the time the players return in dribs and drabs to work out on Monday and Tuesday and then, as a full team, to return to practice on Wednesday, they are going to be refreshed and ready to go for the final quarter of the 2010 regular season.
The Eagles are in good position, as well know. There are some areas to improve, of course, but name a team that doesn't have blemishes. This is an offense that has as much firepower and productivity as any in the league. Would you count on the Eagles, who have to average a shade less than 22 points per game to set, for a third straight season, a franchise record for most points scored in a season, scoring 24 to 35 points every game? I would. At least. The offense faces stiff tests in the coming weeks, of course, But quarterback Michael Vick is playing at an incredibly high level, one at which he appears fully prepared to remain.
The weapons here are outstanding. So young, so talented. The emergence of second-year running back LeSean McCoy and second-year wide receiver Jeremy Maclin have lifted the offense to new heights. The coaching staff has done a wonderful job of putting all the pieces together, expanding the scheme and testing its limits. DeSean Jackson, open at least a handful of times on Thursday when he wasn't a target, is due for a huge final four games and tight end Brent Celek has his game going and there is depth and the offensive line has some depth and some consistency working.
There are some questions about the defense, no doubt about it. The performance in the red zone must improve. Sean McDermott made nice adjustments in the fourth quarter of the Texans game, turning loose the blitz and pressuring quarterback Matt Schaub. That saved the game. The pass rush, though, is not generating enough from the four-man rush, which is a major concern. The defense sorely missed cornerback Asante Samuel and end Juqua Parker. Both should be back for Dallas (fingers crossed).
Bobby April's special teams have improved quite a bit in coverage, and David Akers has been greaet all season. Sav Rocca is having a Pro Bowl season. The return game isn't there yet, but there are signs that it is coming.
There are signs, from this perspective, that the Eagles are going to be heckuva tough team to beat down the stretch run. This team has something special going for it, beginning with Vick and the leadership and the extraordinary play he has brought to the team.
But right now, honestly, it is time to rest. For everybody. These are critical days to get some down time and then to come back knowing that the Eagles have to run the table to be where they want to be at the end of the regular season.
Everybody is tired and everyone relishes the days off. Sitting back and watching football this weekend is going to be a truly enjoyable experience.
NEWS, NOTES AND A LITTLE BIT OF THIS AND THAT
Good news, it seems, on the results of Winston Justice's MRI on his knee injury. Reid said it was just a hyperextended knee, and that there is no structural damage. Great relief. Justice has been a good, solid right tackle this season.
- We had Marty Mornhinweg in the XFinity Studio on Friday afternoon and he spoke very, very highly of this Eagles offense. It will go down, and Mornhinweg agrees, as the team's best in the Reid era. There is so much versatility and explosiveness, and Vick is playing at a higher level, I think, than Donovan McNabb ever did over an extended period of time in a season.
- Cornerback Trevard Lindley was much improved on Thursday over his performance on Sunday. Good sign. The Eagles are high on Lindley, whom has a chance to be a starter in the near future.
- Who makes the Pro Bowl on this team? How about: left tackle Jason Peters, Vick, LeSean McCoy, Trent Cole, Samuel and David Akers. Sound OK to you?