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Fan-Demonium: Headed In The Right Direction


The Eagles steamrolled over the Redskins on Monday night. 59-28 is a pretty wild score, but I'm not sure that covers what a blowout the game truly was. The Eagles looked like a Super Bowl team. The 'Skins came into the game .500, but looked anything like a team fighting to stay in the playoff mix. They were more of a speed bump than anything else.

Last week the Eagles beat a good Colts team, but as I wrote afterward, we didn't give Indianapolis our A-game. We played well, but weren't at peak performance. Unfortunately for Washington, they got to experience our offense when everything clicks. Let's put that game in some perspective. I was actually disappointed that the Eagles didn't get 60 points or 600 yards. Monday at 8 p.m. I would have been happy to find out they scored more than 30 points. Once things got rolling I adjusted my goals. Settling for 59 points and 592 yards wasn't easy, but I'm hoping I can learn to deal with it.

Let's talk about where the Eagles are right now. The Eagles lost to the 'Skins in Week 4, 17-12. Then they went out to San Francisco and beat the 'Niners. They were close to blowing them out, but never could pull away and had to hold on for the win. The next week, the Eagles dominated the Falcons. The score was only 31-17, but remember that David Akers missed three field goals that day. The next game was the trip to Tennessee. They dominated the Titans for three quarters before a fourth quarter meltdown let them win. They came out of the bye week and beat a good Colts team, 26-24.

Since the early loss to Washington, the Eagles have won four out of five games. They've beaten good teams. They've won on the road and at home. They've had multiple dominant performances and could have won all five games if not for Ellis Hobbs injury and some terrible coverage late in the Titans game. The Eagles are really hitting their stride. They are normally a team that gets better in the second half of the season. Still, I didn't expect things to go quite like this. Putting up 59 points on a division rival on Monday night football is hard to believe.

Michael Vick obviously gets a lot of credit. He was brilliant on Monday night. He was masterful in every phase. Vick ran the offense as if he'd been working with Andy Reid and Marty Mornhinweg for a decade. He opened the game with a bomb to DeSean Jackson that resulted in an 88-yard touchdown and immediately got the 'Skins on their heels. ESPN showed a shot of Mike Shanahan on the sideline and he looked as if he just realized it was going to be a long night. All this happened 12 seconds into the game.

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Vick wasn't just bombs away, though. He threw plenty of short passes that kept the chains moving. That really was the huge difference in the Eagles' offense and Washington's. Donovan McNabb completed a couple of passes that went for more than 70 yards. He and the 'Skins struggled on third downs. They were 0 for 10. Vick and our offense were eight of 13. They could play small ball as well as attacking deep. We sustained drives. The 'Skins lived and died with the big play. You can't really do that in today's NFL.

Not only did Vick excel at running the offense and throwing the ball, but he was a dynamic scrambler. He had eight carries for 80 yards. Two of the runs went for touchdowns. That may not seem like a huge deal, but it really is. One of the reasons we lost to Tennessee and then blew a lead against the Colts was poor red zone production. You must score touchdowns when you're in goal-to-go situations. There is a drastic difference in scoring three points versus seven points.

Vick's running is the x-factor you want in the red zone. Defenses don't know how to deal with him. Do you blitz? Do you spy him? Do you play soft and try to box him in? How do you cover the receivers, stop our run game, and focus on Vick's running? That's a tall order for opposing coaches and coordinators. Pick your poison.

Monday's demolition of the Skins wasn't just a one-man show. You always have to start with the line of scrimmage. The offensive line gave Vick enough time to throw the ball. Nick Cole got the start at right guard and easily played his best game of the year. Mike McGlynn had a good game. I loved it when he saw Albert Haynesworth on the ground and dove on him to keep the big guy down. Offensive linemen have to get in whatever shots they can whenever they can. That really ticked off Haynesworth. Jon Runyan had to be smiling when he saw that.

The skill players were terrific. Jason Avant had his best game of the year. He caught five passes for 76 yards. He had a touchdown catch as well. Jeremy Maclin had a spectacular 48-yard touchdown catch early in the second quarter. I thought the officials made a generous call at first, but the replay showed that Maclin pulled off a heck of a play. He showed good hands and body control in securing the ball and landing inbounds.

The running backs also showed up. Jerome Harrison had his best game as an Eagle, rushing 11 times for 109 yards. His highlight play was a 50-yard touchdown run. He made a couple of guys miss and then took off up the field. It looks like we finally found ourselves a good backup running back. LeSean McCoy was held in check as a runner, but had a good day as a receiver. He set up one touchdown with a 27-yard gain on a screen pass. He caught a shovel pass and took that up the field for an 11-yard touchdown on the next drive.

The offense was both explosive and efficient. It was a beautiful thing to behold. The exciting part of that is that they didn't do anything that they can't repeat. I doubt we'll score 59 points in a game anytime soon, but this group has the potential to put up a lot of points and yards for the rest of the year.

The defense had a strange game. They held Washington to three and out on the first four possessions of the game. At that point the score was 28-0. Things got a bit sloppy after that point. We rested some defenders in the second half. That was good since we have a short week. Any extra rest you can give a guy like Trent Cole is a good thing. It is also good for rookies like Jamar Chaney, Keenan Clayton, and Trevard Lindley to get some reps.

Dimitri Patterson got the second start of his NFL career and was very good once again. He did get burned for a long pass, but bounced right back. All corners get beaten. They must be able to forget that play and get ready for the next one. Patterson picked off a pair of passes and ran one back 40 yards for a touchdown. He also tackled well in the game. Patterson made a key stop on the initial third down of the game that allowed our offense to get the ball back quickly and go to work.

Kurt Coleman got his first ever NFL start. He picked off a pass and did a solid job. Mike Patterson played the run well, especially early in the game. Antonio Dixon was physically dominant at times. He got a very good push up front. Juqua Parker got a sack, giving him five for the year. He's now had at least five sacks in five straight years.

I was disappointed that we gave up 28 points, but the defense was lights out early in the game when it was most important. We were good on third downs, came up with three turnovers, and got regular pressure on McNabb. Ernie Sims missed a sack, but his pressure led to Coleman's interception. There are times when pressure is actually better than sacks.

I'm really excited by this Eagles team. The offense is dynamic and explosive. The defense makes big plays. Quietly, the special teams play has gotten a little better each week. Jorrick Calvin was sloppy on Monday, but didn't turn the ball over. You can really see the Eagles coming together. The team is headed in the right direction at the right time of the year.

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