ARLINGTON, Va. --The hours go by slowly on game days, and with an 8:30 p.m. kickoff, well, there is a lot of time and a lot of *The Jerry Springer Show *(Teen Moms Do Battle is all that is wrong with America) to watch. Indulge please as I try to whittle away some of the minutes that tick by so slowly ...
Something I don't quite understand after watching the Cowboys-Giants and then the Patriots-Steelers games is the play clock. Aren't the officials supposed to throw a flag when the clock ticks down to zero? Seems to me the clock is hitting zero and then there is another second of grace time. I'm fine with the way it works, because it eliminates more penalties, but there is no doubt the officials are allowing an extra second or so to get the ball snapped.
- The Dallas Cowboys are 2-7 and during a weekend of action-packed NFL games, Dallas gets the top billing after beating the Giants? I don't get it. Are the Cowboys that far and above the rest of the league to garner such coverage? I mean, you could almost predict the "Cowboys played to their true colors" stories after winning for new head coach Jason Garrett, but there were so many other compelling stories from a great Thursday and a supreme Sunday of games.
- This second half of the season is all about winning in the NFC East. Five of the eight games are against the division. The other three games aren't quite as daunting as they seemed in the summer -- Houston is struggling, the Bears are up and down and the Vikings are a loss away from being out of the playoff chase -- so the focus is on the NFC East.
- Ernie Sims had his best game of the season against the Colts so it is important that he follows up with a great performance tonight. Sims played in the Colts backfield on Sunday. He timed his blitzes perfectly. He was a big-time player, the kind the Eagles envisioned when they traded for him from Detroit.
- Jon Gruden is all about Michael Vick, whom he calls "Starship 7." You will hear him gush about Vick all night. It was interesting seeing Gruden, the analyst, in action last night. He was a hard-driving assistant coach with the Eagles, of course, in the 1990s under head coach Ray Rhodes and Gruden was on edge. He is so much more relaxed and seems to enjoy his Monday Night Football gig a great deal. That said, I believe Gruden will be a head coach in the NFL next season.
- Big assignment for the offensive line tonight. Redskins defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth was a disruptive force in the October meeting and the Eagles must do a better job against him in the rematch. I'm sure you have heard the numbers: Washington blitzed the Eagles just once in the first game and played a two-deep shell in coverage. Safety LaRon Landry was used to spy Vick and make sure he didn't run wild. It could be that Washington comes with a very similar strategy tonight. If so, the Eagles have to take advantage of the spy and win battles in the passing game.
- I expect the Redskins to use the screen game to their wide receivers quite a bit, as they have done in the past. Indianapolis ran some of those slip screens with success last week. So I'm quite confident that Washington will go after cornerback Dimitri Patterson and see how he responds. Asante Samuel, too. Washington wants to make him tackle.
- Are injuries a factor tonight? Sure. Kurt Coleman starts his first NFL game and Patterson, in his second start, plays for Ellis Hobbs. For the Redskins, it would appear unlikely that return man Brandon Banks will sit, and the Redskins have some injuries at running back.
- I'm not buying into the reports that suggest the Redskins and Donovan McNabb could reach agreement on a contract extension. I don't think it will happen. At least not now. McNabb has really not done much, in my opinion, to earn the trust of the Washington coaching staff. They benched him two weeks ago and now they want to sign him to a new contract? It doesn't make sense. I say the media reports are not accurate. Then again, this is about the craziest season I have ever experienced.
- Keeping an eye on ... the penalty count for the Eagles tonight. I have to believe the penalties will decrease. The Eagles can't continue to get away with so many mistakes.
- Will the Eagles play Coleman more as a strong safety in the box, with Quintin Mikell in deep coverage? There will be an interesting chess match going on, because the Redskins are going to want to get Coleman and/or Mikell isolated in coverage.
- OK, I'll say it: Charmed is a really dumb show, and a really great way to kill an hour during a long day. Good eye candy, anyway. Ohh, yeaaa ... back-to-back episodes! What a glamorous life!
- I don't think it will be easy for Vick and the offense tonight. Washington has a sound defense and a lot of talent. The Redskins won't give up a lot of big plays. The Eagles must be patient. They have to keep the sticks moving. And they must run the ball effectively. I see Vick having a game similar to last week's battle against the Colts.