The Eagles are 4-3 at the bye week. The season hasn't gone exactly as planned, but it has been interesting. There have been surprises. Let's talk about how some players have done so far.
Best Player, Offense - RB LeSean McCoy The growth from year one to year two has been tremendous. McCoy isn't just a solid starter. He shows signs of being an impact running back. McCoy is on pace to rush for more than 1,000 yards. He leads the Eagles in receptions. Maybe the most impressive aspect of his game is pass protection. He is outstanding when executing chip blocks on defensive ends. He's also gotten much better at sitting in the backfield and picking up blitzes.
Best Player, Defense - DE Trent Cole No surprise here. Cole leads the team in sacks and tackles-for-loss. He's second in solo tackles and total tackles. He is a force against the run and the pass. Cole isn't just beating up on weak opponents. He beat Pro Bowl left tackle Michael Roos last week for a sack. Cole was very tough on Chad Clifton in the season opener and beat him for a sack. Cole sealed the win over Atlanta with a strip-sack in the final minutes.
Biggest Surprise, Offense - QB Michael Vick Let's be honest here. When watching Vick in the preseason I think we were all nervous about what would happen if he had to play extensive snaps in the regular season. Vick opened all our eyes with his strong play in the opener. Then he started the next two games and was outstanding. Vick got hurt in the Washington game and has been sidelined since. How good was Vick? He was the highest-rated quarterback in the league when he got hurt. His rating was over 108. His highest rating as a Falcon was 81.6. We need to see what Vick does over the course of a full season, but there is no doubt that he's developed into a much better passer in his short time as an Eagle than he ever did in Atlanta. Vick is truly a quarterback. In the past he was a runner and playmaker. I think we're all curious and excited to see what he can do in the second half of the season. Can he keep this up? Can he get better?
Biggest Surprise, Defense - DT Antonio Dixon Brodrick Bunkley hurt his elbow early in the San Francisco game. Dixon took over for him and started the next two games as well. In that time Dixon has 10 solo tackles, two sacks, and a couple of pass deflections. Beyond the numbers, Dixon has been almost dominant at times. He overwhelmed players in each game with his size, power and effort. Dixon had favorable matchups and that is one thing that has to be considered. Still, that is as good a three-game stretch from an Eagles defensive tackle as we've seen in a long time. I'm curious to see if Bunkley gets his starting job back. He'd been playing solid football, but nothing like what we got from Dixon. At the very least, Dixon will be getting a lot of reps. If he's not officially a starter, he will still play as many snaps as the other guys. You can't sit impact defensive linemen.
Needs to Step Up, Offense - TE Brent Celek 2009 was a breakout season for Celek. He emerged as one of the best young tight ends in the NFL. He's had some good moments in 2010, but hasn't played at the same level. Defenses are paying a lot more attention to him this year. Celek now has to take his game up a notch to adjust to the situation. He's had some costly drops. They weren't easy passes to be sure, but if you're a top shelf tight end you need to make those types of catches. His blocking is better this year.
Needs to Step Up, Defense - MLB Stewart Bradley 2010 has been a frustrating year for Bradley. He's coming off a torn ACL and adjusting to life with Sean McDermott running the defense and new linebackers beside him. The first five weeks were very up and down. Things came together against the Falcons. Bradley looked like the stud linebacker from 2008. He covered well, had a sack, and was around the ball all game long. Bradley wasn't as good against the Titans, but I still think that was his second best game of the year. When Bradley has his A-game, our defense plays at a whole other level. He offers us an impact player in the middle of the defense. If he's able to play well, I feel a lot better about our defense.
Other Eagles Who Have Had Made A Mark In First Half Of Season OT King Dunlap – He started a pair of games at left tackle and played pretty well. Dunlap isn't quite a full-time starter, but he's shown that he can get the job done.
WR Jeremy Maclin – Maclin is no longer "the other guy." He's got six touchdowns in just seven games. Maclin is a deep ball threat, while also a skilled possession receiver. He delivered when DeSean Jackson got hurt.
QB Kevin Kolb –2010 has been a major roller coaster for Kolb. He's shown big-time ability (Atlanta game), but has also had some struggles. The one thing you can't question is his attitude. Kolb has handled a tough situation about as well as can be expected.
C Mike McGlynn – One of the major concerns over the summer was the center position. Now we don't even talk about that. McGlynn has shown that he can be a solid starter. The best thing is that he's getting better each week.
DE Brandon Graham – We all hoped the rookie pass rusher would be a force off the edge right away. Hasn't happened. He's had some good moments. Graham has two sacks. He's created a pair of interceptions with pressure on the quarterback. He hurt his shoulder late in the Detroit game and his run defense has been problematic ever since. I'm interested to see how Graham plays coming off the bye. We need him to pick up the pace.
DT Trevor Laws – If not for Dixon's recent stretch, Laws would have been the biggest surprise on defense. Last year, Laws was inactive for a couple of games. Now he's a key part of our nickel defense. Laws has a pair of sacks on the year and he's deflected three passes. He got pressure on some key plays late in the win over the Niners. His run defense has come a long way as well.
LB Moise Fokou – Akeem Jordan struggled as the starting SAM and Fokou got the job a couple of weeks back. He's played very well since the change. Fokou showed a lot of potential last year, but made too many mistakes (especially in the form of penalties). This year we're getting the good part of his game, but not the mistakes. Keep your fingers crossed.
FS Nate Allen – Free safety is a special position for the Eagles over the last 25 years. Wes Hopkins was a terrific player. Brian Dawkins was special and has a good chance to go to the Hall of Fame. Nate Allen got the starting free safety job back in the spring and has shown that he is a big-time player. He's already got three interceptions this year. Allen is good roaming the deep middle or playing up in the box. It's way too early to put him in the Hopkins/Dawkins category, but Allen is off to a great start.