The Eagles have had their share of three-headed monsters over the years. The trio of Duce Staley, Brian Westbrook and Correll Buckhalter immediately jumps to mind as the best of the best, and this group of LeSean McCoy, Ronnie Brown and Dion Lewis has the makings of something special.
Running the football has taken a backseat over the years to the offense's dynamic passing game and there are times when fans have wondered if Andy Reid will ever turn his attention to the ground game and just run the darn ball.
He will, but this offense is never going to become Ground Reid. On Thursday night, though, Reid made it a point to get the football to his running backs in a variety of ways -- handoffs, passes and even a direct snap. The response was impressive: McCoy and Brown combined for 100 total yards from the line of scrimmage and a touchdown on 15 touches. The highlight was a 13-yard touchdown run by Brown to give the Eagles a lead they would not relinquish as he plowed behind a Jason Kelce block to end a drive that began when the Eagles recovered a muffed Cleveland punt.
As the Eagles' receiving corps becomes healthier -- and the outlook is good -- the attention is going to shift back to DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, Steve Smith and Jason Avant, the best foursome of receivers the Eagles have ever had. It is easy to see that the Eagles are going to spread the field with four receivers and create favorable matchups and throw, throw, throw the football.
Why not? You win in the NFL with an explosive offense and the Eagles will have one that is as explosive as any offense in the league.
But let's hope that McCoy gets his touches -- I'd love to see him get 20-25 per game -- and that Brown (6 carries, 41 yards) is used as a straight-ahead, no-dancing piece of the puzzle and that even Lewis (9 carries, 41 yards) can work his way into the mix with a touch here and there in space and use his quickness and dazzling moves.
Don't sleep on the running backs, is all I'm saying. We saw on Thursday night that the Eagles can run the ball when they put their minds to it and that these backs have the kind of all-purpose skills to add another dimension to an offense dripping with impact players.
In other observations from the victory ...
- You can exhale, Eagles fans. Casey Matthews was a much-improved player at middle linebacker, playing as the starter on first down and on the second team in the nickel. He had 3 tackles and a pass defensed in the first half and he showed the instincts that the Eagles hoped he would display in his third start.
- No worries on this night from the kicking game. In fact, the special teams were dominating. They forced two turnovers on punts. Alex Henery's kickoffs were fine. He also booted a 37-yard field goal with plenty of room to spare. Punter Chas Henry had three good-looking punts and looked very confident. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie came off the edge and blocked the Eagles' second field goal in as many games.
- Great hustle by Jon Dorenbos recovering a muffed punt to set up the Eagles' first touchdown.
- The offensive line has some ups and downs, as expected. Kelce was beaten for a sack, had a holding penalty as well as a poor exchange on a snap to Michael Vick, but there is something about Kelce that is so impressive. He is really, really athletic. He works hard and is a smart guy. Howard Mudd loves him, that much is clear. I think he retains his starting job, despite the ups and downs. He has a chance to be really, really good.
- Brandon Hughes played in the dime instead of Joselio Hanson. What does that mean? Read into it what you will. The Eagles wanted to see Hughes, and he did a good job. I imagine a lot of teams would be interested in a quality cornerback like Hanson.
- Loved the call on an end-around handoff to tight end Clay Harbor on a third-and-1 play in the first quarter. Harbor gained 7 yards.
- Vick was OK. Not great, but OK. He took too many hits and missed on some receivers. He also lost his feet a couple of times with big yards in front of him. Vick was 10 of 18 for 98 yards, with a passer rating of 71.1. He also ran 4 times for 24 yards and an 8-yard touchdown.
- Asante Samuel did what he does on his interception of Colt McCoy: He read the quarterback and stepped in front of the pass and made an interception.
- Great matchup between Trent Cole and left tackle Joe Thomas, the Pro Bowl standout who just signed a huge contract. Cole had a sack and drew a holding penalty, and he really worked hard against Thomas. The Eagles recorded 3 sacks in the first half -- Cole, Mike Patterson and Phillip Hunt. Derek Landri and Brian Rolle each added one in the second half. Hunt continues to impress. Boy, this line is going to bring it this season.
- The fans at Lincoln Financial Field showed their class and their knowledge by giving Patterson a standing ovation when he recorded his sack. Patterson played a dozen or so snaps, Andy Reid estimated the number at 13 or 14 snaps after the game, and looked great.
- Good game by Jamar Chaney, particularly in coverage. Same with Keenan Clayton and, really, the entire linebacking corps showed terrific improvement.
- I haven't seen the anticipated push for playing time from tight end Donald Lee or wide receiver Johnnie Lee Higgins, both signed as veteran free agents. Where do they figure into this 53-man roster?
- Vince Young played very well. Good timing, pretty good accuracy and, of course, tremendous athletic ability. All of this talk about Mike Kafka pushing Young as the second quarterback are a tribute to the way these players have improved in the last month.
- I thought King Dunlap was again very solid at right tackle. He has played his way into the picture at right tackle in a big way.