There is a great debate ongoing as to who should start at tight end -- L.J. Smith or Brent Celek -- on the heels of Celek's breakout performance Sunday in Seattle. My vote goes to Smith, because I think he is the more experienced player, a more explosive receiver and a stronger blocker at the point of attack. However, what Celek did in Seattle was so very encouraging and eye-opening and, yeah, he is pushing for playing time.
That is what you want across the board. You want competition. You want depth. Celek showed on Sunday that he is capable of feeling out a defense and moving to the right spots and making catches and runs and big plays. He was outstanding.
Smith hasn't had a game in which he has been as productve as Celek's 6 catches and 131 yards. And any way you want to break it down, Smith needs to be more productive. But if, as Andy Reid suggested the other day, Smith is drawing more coverage his way simply by being on the field, that's a good thing, too. There will come a time and a place for Smith to have Donovan McNabb look his way more than two or three times in a game, and Smith will be required to deliver.
For now, though, I'm fine with Smith as the starter. I'm fine with Celek playing and pushing for more time. The truth is, all that matters is that on Sunday night both players help the Eagles offense score touchdowns against the Giants. And as I'm sizing up this game, it seems to me that the tight ends may be more important as blockers against the Giants' outstanding front four.
What matters is that the Eagles get good play from the tight end positions. I don't quite understand the criticicm directed at Smith in the wake of Celek's impressive performance. Nobody is playing favorites here. The Eagles have a big game to win on Sunday night, and if Smith is healthy enough to practice all week, he'll be the guy. If not, Celek wil start and hope to contribute any way he can.
I like the debate. The Eagles have some competition at tight end. That is a healthy thing. The tight end position needs to be more productive in the second half of the season -- Smith (12) and Celek (14) have combined for only 26 receptions in eight games -- for this offense to reach its true potential.
NEWS AND NOTES AND THIS AND THAT
- I watched Pittsburgh destroy Washington on Monday night and am convinced that the Eagles need to play the kind of physical and passionate football that the Steelers brought to the table. As Andy Reid said while taping his television show: "We have to play physical football against a physical football team."
- Nick Cole played right guard in the second half of Sunday's game, time on the field that will serve him well down the line. With Shawn Andrews' availability very much a question mark the rest of the season, Cole is a key reserve at both guard spots.
- Good to see that Reggie Brown made a touchdown catch in Seattle. I look for him to be more involved this week. The Eagles feel good about their wide receiver corps with DeSean Jackson, Kevin Curtis ad Brown leading the way.
- The basic philosophy of what the Giants do defensively is exactly the Eagles' approach. "They try to bring more pass rushers than you can block," says center Jamaal Jackson. So simple, and yet so difficult to defeat.
- Ex-Eagles file: Ryan Moats is on the active roster in Houston, Jason Davis is the fullback in Oakland along with reserve tight end Tony Stewart.
- Both Dallas and Washington are on bye weeks, so Giants-Eagles is the only game in the division this weekend.
- Maybe the best thing about Sunday's win was the penalty count. The Eagles did not have a penalty called against them until 30 seconds remained in the game and Stewart Bradley was called for a horse-collar tackle against quarterback Seneca Wallace. The Eagles will need that kind of discipline against the Giants.
- Speaking of Bradley, is there a more key player on defense Sunday night? The Giants run the ball so well, they stretch the field and they test a middle linebacker like no other team. Bradley has to make a lot of plays for the defense to play well. The Giants average 5.2 yards per carry.
- Key stat: The Giants are converting 43.8 percent of their third downs. The Eagles have converted 39 percent of their third downs. The team that wins that statistic on Sunday night ...