You're not going to get a sales pitch here. I try to bring it to you straight and when the football team is 3-6 and losers of five consecutive games, well, nobody is going to buy a lot of b.s.
These are troubling times for the Eagles. Challenging to an organization that strives to win the Super Bowl. Agonizing for a coaching staff that works so hard to achieve success each week.
The reality is that the Eagles have to keep plugging away and remaining hopeful and upbeat and optimistic that they are going to get some momentum rolling in the right direction. Nobody is talking about the playoffs. A one-game winning streak would be a great way to start.
So there are many things to discuss on this Monday, on The Day After the loss to Dallas. Let's get right to the topics ...
- Michael Vick is going to struggle to play at Washington, so while the Eagles are going to keep on top of him and his recovery from the concussion he suffered against Dallas, they are going to prepare Nick Foles to start against the Redskins. Nothing is official as I write this, and nothing may be official until late in the week. Vick has to clear a battery of tests to get back on the field, so he's going to be in the background here for at least the next few days, I'm guessing.
Foles played well on Sunday. For whatever reason, one Philadelphia newspaper gave him an "arrow down" grade after he completed 22 of 32 passes for 219 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Said he didn't look like a "savior." Who in the world would expect a kid in his first NFL playing time after taking no practice reps to look like a savior?
What Foles looked like was a young quarterback with a lot of tools in his kit. He moved much better in the pocket than his pre-draft reputation suggested. He saw the field. He got rid of the ball quickly. Foles clearly has a lot of poise and he commands the huddle well.
His future games are going to be great tests, should he play. Teams now have some tape on Foles and they're going to go after his weaknesses. Defenses will game plan to attack his weaknesses, so Foles has to have a counter punch.
I was here in 1997 when a young quarterback named Bobby Hoying started the final six games of the season and threw 11 touchdown passes and the franchise turned to him in 1998. The Eagles made a big deal of Hoying. The marketing department went ga-ga over him. The merchandise department made a tee-shirt with Hoying's image emerging out of Veterans Stadium.
The entire team was holding out hope that Hoying would be the franchise quarterback to lead Ray Rhodes back on the winning track as head coach. But the Eagles floundered in 1998. Offensive coordinator Jon Gruden, who worked with Hoying in 1997, left to become the Raiders' head coach in 1998. Dana Bible was miscast as the new offensive coordinator and Hoying took a pounding and never had an ounce of success as an NFL quarterback again.
You are all aware, also, of the career path of one Kevin Kolb, who not so long ago was the "Quarterback of the Future." He's in Arizona now, sidelined with an injury.
With Foles, the word here is "caution." Let's hope the Eagles continue to bring him along with loving spoonfuls of expectations on and off the field. He has done a nice job to date and is a very fine prospect. But it's going to get harder and harder as defenses learn more about how to attack Foles.
- The defense showed improvement against Dallas and played hard, but there were still too many missed tackles and a couple of opportunities to get off the field that were not maximized. And where are the takeaways?
As I look at the big picture of the football team and where it goes not only for the remainder of this season but after 2012, I wonder about cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. He was brilliant in training camp, in the preseason and early in the regular season. Now? Too many big plays down the field. The Cowboys got him a couple of times with Dez Bryant and I wonder how the Eagles are going to look at Rodgers-Cromartie, a pending unrestricted free agent. Does he merit a long-term contract at huge dollars? If he's not signed, who do the Eagles turn to instead?
It's one of the many questions here. There are some players who have huge cap jumps next year -- Vick, cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha and middle linebacker DeMeco Ryans among them -- whom the Eagles are going to have to make tough decisions on in the not-very-distant future.
I know the focus for the team is on here and now. I also know the fans are always looking ahead, and I understand that.
- Is it time to play some of the kids? I don't think it would necessarily hurt to see defensive end Vinny Curry ramp up and maybe play a couple of snaps, but I'm not sure that's in the plans here. I will say this about the defensive line: The group played much better against Dallas and put some real pressure on quarterback Tony Romo. As I search for answers as to why this line is not as productive as it was last year, one of my questions is this: Do the players rotate too much? Jim Washburn basically gives the defensive line equal snaps, or at least much more equal than in past years. Maybe there is too much rotation. I don't know. I'm grasping at straws here.
- Glad to see Mychal Kendricks blitz some against Dallas. He's very good at it.
- Asomugha missed a tackle on the Felix Jones touchdown, but otherwise he played an excellent game. Bryant had zero catches against Asomugha.
- Not sure when Danny Watkins is going to play again, but you could see how much of a difference a week of practice together made for the offensive line. The group wasn't great, but the quarterbacks generally had time to throw and LeSean McCoy had some nice holes in the second half. Dennis Kelly was much, much better in his third game. I'm not certain whether Kelly is a guard or a tackle, but he has a chance to be a pretty good lineman if he continues to make progress.
- The giveaway/takeaway ratio is disturbing. The Eagles are minus-11, last in the NFC and ahead of only Kansas City in the NFL. You just can't win without at least being even in the turnover department. This is not a new problem for the Eagles, of course. It's just one they haven't solved in the last couple of seasons.