This was the game we have all been waiting for. Not just Eagles fans or Redskins fans but this was one game that the media wanted to see. How would the Philly fans react to former franchise quarterback Donovan McNabb coming back into Lincoln Financial field in enemy colors? Sent packing on April 4th from the only franchise he had ever known, McNabb acted as if it were any normal game. He even made note of it before he broke the team out of the huddle, a clear symbol that it wasn’t just any normal game. It’s safe to say this was one game many people had circled on their calendars.
Most of the national media made jokes. Fox’s pregame show bashed the city of Philadelphia in a creatively edited segment while the analysts all said McNabb would get booed. Jimmy Johnson even threw in “that’s just what they do”. Most of the media just wanted to see what reaction he would get and then move but this was a must win game for both teams.
WIP morning show host Angelo Cataldi knew exactly how he would welcome back the best QB in Eagles franchise history. Cataldi made news back in 1999 when he combined a group of Eagles fans to go down to New York and attend that year’s draft. They had one mission; boo anyone the Eagles drafted who wasn’t named Ricky Williams. Cataldi called the rag tag group “The Dirty 30” and when the Eagles passed on Williams and took McNabb the Dirty 30 went off. Thanks to Cataldi and his group of morons Eagles fans have been reminded of the incident for the past 11 years. Watching that tape is like watching the Zapruder film, hard to watch.
Cataldi had the bright idea to reunite the Dirty 30 for this game to welcome McNabb back. They did not however want to make up for their wrong doing in 1999 but instead Cataldi wanted them to boo him again, because it worked so well the first time. Cataldi stated that he didn’t mean to boo McNabb back in 1999 but this time he was going too. He stated that McNabb was a “phony” who never endeared himself to the fans of Philadelphia. The self proclaimed “legendary broadcaster” tried his best to embarrass the city of Philadelphia once again but it didn’t work.
Donovan McNabb, to the shock of just about everyone, was welcomed back with a standing ovation. The Dirty 30 went unheard and their boos were drown out by cheers as Eagles nation rose to their feet to honor the best QB many of them have ever seen put on an Eagles uniform. After the introductions there was a game to play, and what an ugly one it was.
The Eagles, led by the new king of the city Michael Vick, quickly went three and out and now it was McNabb’s turn. He was booed his first series out and of course the media jumped all over that. The media forgets that when Pat Burrell came back to Philly the fans cheered him, he promptly hit a home run and heard the boo’s. Because at the end of the day Eagles fans proved that they respected and appreciated what McNabb did for the city, but he’s still wearing enemy colors.
McNabb quickly led the team down the field. The drive was capped off with backup running back Ryan Torain running safety Quintin Mikell over for his first score of the season. The Eagles next drive stalled and McNabb once again took over and showed the Eagles what they were missing. McNabb floated a gorgeous ball to tight end Chris Cooley for a 31 yard TD to make it 14-0 Washington. McNabb was looking good and exploiting the Eagles defense.
With McNabb looking good it was time for the man who replaced him to make an impact. Late in the first quarter Vick took off. Trying to make a play he juked and jived his way to the 1 yard line where he dived for the end zone. He was greeted by Redskins defenders DeAngello Hall and Kareem Moore. Vick failed to score and was in serious pain. He walked off the field and went into the locker room for x-rays. Early prognosis is that Vick has a hairline fracture in his collarbone.
With Vick out that meant it was once again Kevin Kolb’s team, and his time to show the coaching staff that he deserved to be the starter of this team. Kolb didn’t exactly take the bull by the horns in this game. He drove the team downfield in the second quarter in drives that resulted in two field goals by David Akers. With a Graham Gano field goal for the Redskins the score was 17-6 going into the half.
After McNabb’s early success he sort of fizzled. He finished the day with respectable numbers. 8-19 with 125 yards passing along with 1 TD and 1 INT. He didn’t exactly light up the stat sheet on his return like he would have liked but he definitely exploited the problems in the Eagles secondary.
Kolb wasn’t much better having to run for his life due to an awful offensive line. Whenever the Eagles seemed to get a decent gain there would be a flag on the play and then it was just a guessing game as to which offensive linemen it was. Kolb basically just completed dump off passes to Eagles running back LeSean McCoy. He rarely took shots downfield but when he did they were unimpressive and nearly picked off.
In the fourth quarter with the Eagles trailing by 9 Kolb finally got in the end zone throwing his first touchdown of the season to Eagles tight end Brent Celek. Celek has been virtually invisible for most of this season but Kolb is best friends with Celek and targets him often. Celek’s looks seemed to increase with Kolb in the game, but he still finished with just 27 yards receiving. After a failed 2 point conversion it left the score 17-12.
With both offenses sputtering it came down to Kevin Kolb. Ironically enough Kolb got the ball back with a little under 2 minutes and if you’re an Eagles fan you know that Donovan McNabb was never very good in the 2 minute drives. With no timeouts Kolb started moving the offense along but still it was with short dump passes and all were in the middle of the field. He converted a 4th down play with what I would describe as the hook and ladder meets the music city miracle. The 4th down conversion left just 4 seconds on the clock where Kolb aired it out for the end zone. WR Jason Avant had his hand on what would have been the game winning grab, but couldn’t bring it down, and the Eagles fell to the Redskins 17-12.
**LeSean McCoy has been one of the few bright spots for this team. The second year running back led the team in receiving and rushing in Sunday’s loss to the Redskins as he had 12 receptions for 110 yards while managing to rush for 64 yards on the ground. McCoy was the go to guy for Kolb on Sunday as DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin were invisible. He has been able to pick up where Westbrook left off when it comes to screen passes and has great vision for the hole.
**Nate Allen, the NFL Rookie of the Month for September, grabbed his 3rd interception in 4 games. He has made quite an impact in his rookie year as the second round pick from Southern Florida could be looking at Rookie of the Year. It’s still pretty early to say but unlike Brandon Graham he is one rookie who has made an impact on the team.
**Owen Schmidt has been on this team for all of three weeks and has made a huge impact. The fullback has been able to effectively catch the ball out of the back field and has filled in wonderfully in place of injured pro bowler Leonard Weaver. He has 70 yards in just three games with the Eagles and enjoyed his best game in the young season on Sunday catching 3 balls for 43 yards.
**I’m proud of the fans that were in attendance on Sunday. The national media waited for you to live up to the stereotype of Philadelphia fans and you didn’t allow it. You showed class by standing and cheering McNabb instead of booing him. Of course the national media will now quickly mention the reaction to McNabb in passing and not make a big deal about the fact that their presumptions were wrong but none the less give your selves a pat on the back. You did well.
**Bobby April on Sean McDermott. Most of the time you don’t know your team’s special team’s coordinator but in this care I’ve come to scream both of these coordinators names in anger. April’s sorry excuse of special teams is something a 6th grader could come up with. The players look lost and don’t look as if they know what they are doing. I truly believe that you, YES YOU READING THIS, could do at least a similar job to the one we see from Mr. April. Please someone get him a train, because he doesn’t deserve a plane, ticket back to Buffalo.
Sean McDermott’s defenses could stop a team filled with Helen Keller, Christopher Reeves, and Steven Hawking. They didn’t look bad against a bad Jaguars offense in week 3 but then got exploited all over the field by former QB Donovan McNabb. Receivers just blew by the poor excuse for an Eagles secondary and at one point Asante Samuel decided to try and throw his body that was parallel to the ground, at a ball carrier instead of trying to wrap him up.
It’s safe to say this is the worst Eagles defense I can remember watching in quite a while. McDermott was another false Messiah that the local media hyped up as the next great thing. His players look out of place most of the time and his front four didn’t get any real penetration. It’s back to the drawing board for old Seany Mac!
**Brandon Graham has certainly made his presence felt. In his fourth career game Graham racked up just two tackles and ZERO sacks. The guy that the coaching staff traded up for now has four tackles on the season and just one sack.
It’s no secret that I didn’t think the Eagles drafting of Graham was a good move. I thought they should have drafted CB/S Earl Thomas out of Texas who was available when the Eagles took Graham. Playing out of the safety position Thomas has 23 tackles and 3 interceptions. Thomas would look good as the Eagles #2 CB but hey thank god we have Ellis Hobbs right! Graham doesn’t deserve to wear Jeremiah Trotter’s number 54. He better start producing because every game that secondary gets torched and I can’t help but think how great Thomas would have looked in it.
**Obviously losing Vick is a big blow to the Eagles offense. One of the big problems that fans saw on Sunday was that the offense line kept breaking down and Kolb isn’t as mobile as Vick or McNabb. Kolb never really had time to look deep down field for the big threat and immediately had to check down to RB LeSean McCoy.
If Vick does have a hairline fracture then we are back to the Kolb era again. If Kolb is the QB then the offensive line really needs to step their game up and give Kolb time to find the deep threats that the Eagles posses. Vick will go in Monday to have an MRI on his collarbone and then we will know more on his injury and have a better idea on when he can get back on the field. Vick was seen having trouble putting his arm through his dress shirt after the game though so prepare for the worst if you’re an Eagles fan.
**No one really played well this game. The offensive line has looked awful all year as Jason Peters has yet to live up to the expectations. If he’s not writhing in pain he is getting called for holding calls. The coaching staff’s inability to address the Eagles lines in the offseason should be noted. Everyone knew going into the draft that the offensive line was an area for concern but shockingly the former offensive linemen himself Andy Reid failed to address the issue.
Next up for the Eagles is another reunion. The Eagles will travel to the bay area as they take on Brian Westbrook and the San Francisco 49ers. The 49ers aren’t having the year that they were projected too. This was a team that was supposed to win the NFC West, yet they find themselves 0-4. They lost a heart breaker on Sunday to the Atlanta Falcons on a last second Matt Bryant field goal.
The 49ers were supposed to be led by a hardnosed defense led by former Rookie of the Year Patrick Willis. Willis may be the best line backer in the NFL but unfortunately he appears to be the only person on the 49ers defense who wants to live up to that predication. Former Pro Bowl line backer Mike Singletary can’t be pleased in a defense that has produced just 4 sacks all season (3 of which came on Sunday) and has averaged letting up 25.75 points per game.
The 49ers offense leaves much to be desired as well. They fired their offensive coordinator last week after averaging just 12.66 points per game. With new offensive coordinator Mike Johnson running the show things didn’t change much for the 49ers on Sunday as they put up just 14 points. The key to stopping the 49ers offense lies in one name; Frank Gore.
Gore is virtually their only weapon thanks to an inconsistent QB in Alex Smith. Gore is not just the team’s leading rusher but also the leading receiver. Everything I wrote about regarding Kevin Kolb and his check downs to McCoy can also be used for Alex Smith and Frank Gore. While gore is only averaging 67 yards rushing, and only has 1 TD on the season, he is averaging 65 yards receiving for a total of 132 total yards. Stop Gore and you stop their offense.
While the 49ers have talented receivers in former top 10 picks wide receiver Michael Crabtree and tight end Vernon Davis, they are rarely looked upon and have yet had a big game this season. Their ineffectiveness is a result of former 1st overall pick Alex Smith who has never lived up to any hype what so ever. 49ers fans are kicking themselves for not drafting Aaron Rodgers that season. No matter who the Eagles QB is for next Sunday’s game they should roll to victory.