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Monday, December 29, 2008

Eagles Crush Cowboys; Sneak into Playoffs

The word miracle is a bit too strong for the fact that the Philadelphia Eagles are in the playoffs, even if you limit it to football. But yesterday will certainly be one Eagles fans will remember for a long time.

After 13-point underdog Oakland shocked Tampa Bay and Houston beat Chicago, the beloved Birds once again controlled their own fate. So did their opponent, the despised Dallas Cowboys.

But luckily it’s late in December, so Tony Romo played like the undrafted quarterback he is. If he wasn’t before, he certainly is now officially a choke artist. He threw 21 of 39 for 183 yards, 1 pick, and coughed up two fumbles. Reports are he later collapsed in the shower, crying because he kept dropping the soap. Ok, I may have added that last part.

As for the miracle part, Oakland and Tampa Bay had clearly (in retrospect) been going in opposite directions. I even heard Ron Jaworski call for Oakland to win the game. And Houston beat a mediocre Chicago team.

But give the Eagles credit. They crushed everybody’s favorite Super Bowl pick, 44-6, in a win and you’re in scenario for both sides.

I’ll be the first to admit I didn’t think the Birds would be in the playoffs, and even questioned if they deserved it. But who cares now? It’s more fun when they’re in, and people like Howard Eskin who want to crow about others jumping on the bandwagon as if questioning the coach makes you less of a fan are a joke. I won’t even argue too hard with those who suggest this is the worst thing that could have happened as the Donovan McNabb and Andy Reid Show will definitely continue at least through ’09.

Before too many Eagles fans strain themselves today doing a mea culpa, let’s not get crazy. A very quick review of the play-by-play revealed about an 18-20 ratio of run and pass plays with one unplanned scramble from Donovan McNabb in the first half. (The game was essentially over at the half.) Despite Reid’s absurd assertion that the Eagles have always had a balanced offense, their last four wins have been marked by one very clear distinction – an actual balanced offense that those of us outside of the coach’s head can see (or, in Eskin’s case, those of us outside of the coach’s butt crack).

Just last week Reid abandoned the run way too early, and cost the Eagles their first opportunity to control their own playoff fate. I’ve never seen a team’s fate teeter so much on the coach’s play-calling whims. Of course, that’s likely because there has rarely been a coach that lasted this long and continued to ignore evidence of what he should be doing in order to do what he prefers doing.

I will say that maybe I have criticized McNabb a little too much. With better play calling, he’s played solid football and got this team in the playoffs. He’s still too sensitive and not suited to run Reid’s offense, though I’m not sure anyone is the way he really wants to call plays, but he clearly can be very good with the right coach.

The problem going forward is whether or not Reid will decide to be the right coach. Next week in a dome against Minnesota’s statistically poor pass defense . . . well, just hold your breath.

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