The Philadelphia Eagles face the Washington Redskins this Sunday in a game that can only be described as an encounter where their 2011 season is on the line. If this team has any Super Bowl aspirations, a fifth defeat could cripple their dreams.
Philadelphia is fighting history this weekend as well. If they finish the weekend at 1-5, the team must realize only the 1970 Cincinnati Bengals reached the playoffs after starting a season as poorly.
That Bengals team started the season 1-6 before rattling off seven straight wins behind Pro Bowl players like Lemar Parrish and Bob Trumpy. They would lose the first playoff appearance in franchise history against the eventual champion Baltimore Colts.
The offense has yet to really click for the Eagles yet this season. While ranking third best in the NFL in total yards gained, they have been struggling to consistently score touchdowns and rank 11th in total points scored. The offensive line, an issue that mostly has haunted head coach Andy Reid since he took the job in 1999.
It has to burn Reid's heart at this issue. He has won 60 percent of the 197 regular season games with Philadelphia, which makes him the winningest head coach in franchise history, but blocking is an area he is supposed to be an expert in.
Reid played offensive tackle in college, then got into coaching immediately upon graduating after his 1981 senior season. He coached the offensive line until the end of the 1996 season. His Eagles teams have produced just five Pro Bowl blockers since he took the helm, with only one that Reid drafted and developed, not something the head coach probably foresaw.
Philadelphia looked smart last year by trading quarterback Donovan McNabb and going with Michael Vick in his place. Vick, though known for a mobility that made him the NFL's top rushing yards leader by a quarterback in league history last week, has taken a tremendous pounding in 2011 because of Philadelphia's offensive line woes.
Vick has battled injuries and missed time this year, something the Eagles thought they had a contingency plan for by signing free agent Vince Young. Young has been to the Pro Bowl quarterback twice since being drafted in 2006, but he was not healthy enough to play when Vick went down.
Blocking isn't the only reason Vick has suffered. Though he is still learning how to be a pocket-passer, Vick has a propensity to hang onto the ball too long and take many unnecessary sacks.
The Eagles rushing attack is led by an excellent 5.8 yards per carry average from halfback LeSean McCoy, yet the Eagles still are ineffective in short yardage situations where a powerful running game between the tackles is needed. None of Reid's teams have ever excelled in this critical area.
If the offensive trenches weren't enough of an issue for Reid, his defensive lines haven't been much better in his Eagles career. Philadelphia has had a habit of getting tiny pass rushers who were weak against the run, often contributing to the reason Reid has yet to win a Super Bowl despite 119 regular season victories and nine playoff appearances in his previous 12 years.
Jeff Lurie has been a great owner since buying the Eagles in 1994. He is known for his loyalty as much as the generosity he has displayed to charitable causes. Reid's coaching staffs have shown a solid continuity for the most part, which can be seen with defensive coordinator Juan Castillo.
Castillo has been with the Eagles since 1995, holding jobs in many areas. After coaching the offensive line since 1998, he moved over to defense this year. Critics are not only pointing to Philadelphia's poor run defense, others are looking at a secondary that has yet to meet expectations.
After spending a ton of money to sign free agent cornerback Nnamde Asomugha, as well as trading for Pro Bowl cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Lurie bit the financial bullet by retaining the services of Pro Bowl cornerback Asante Samuel. Not only has the secondary given up way too many touchdowns on so few passing attempts, ranking 30th in that category, the group is not creating turnovers.
The Eagles tried to address the long-standing issue in their trenches by signing two high profile free agents in Jason Babin and Cullen Jenkins. While the duo has already racked up a combined 12 of the teams 16 total sacks, they are also a reason the team ranks 30th in rushing yards allowed and last in rushing yards per attempt up the middle of the defense.
The team took a gamble this year by going with a bunch of underwhelming or unproven linebackers this season, and are losing big so far. Not only has the group mostly stunk in run support, they have been even worse in pass defense.
The fact the Eagles safeties haven't played great hasn't helped either. Kurt Coleman has struggled at free safety, which hurts more due to the fact Nate Allen has yet to play as well as he did in his 2010 rookie year.
Despite Lurie shilling out millions to Vick, Young, Asomugha, Babin, Bryant, Steve Smith, Ronnie Brown, and others, the results have yet to be met by a group trying to get acclimated with each other on the fly in a season truncated because of a players strike. Yet history shows pouring money into players does not equate to championships.
Whether it is the 2010 Miami Heat, the Ted Stepien Era with the Cleveland Cavaliers, or even the 2011 Boston Red Sox, the examples are plentiful. Sometimes the angle of spending a lot of money works, as George Steinbrenner showed by winning seven titles in his 37 years of owning the New York Yankees.
The season is not yet lost for the Eagles, especially if they defeat a division rival that Reid has triumphed over 15 times in 24 attempts. The Redskins, who are coming off their bye week, need this game to stay on top of the NFC East while trying to increase their lead with their second division win in as many attempts.
Washington will probably attempt to run the ball down the Eagles throats with their trio of excellent running backs. If they succeed, Philadelphia could see their 2011 season begin to end as the game clock expires.
The City of Brotherly Love is starving for a football title in the NFL, having not seen their team win a championship since 1960. They are known as passionate fans, so a let down by their beloved Eagles may lead to a large insurgence of fans calling for the firing of Reid.
With their season on line, let alone the Eagles careers of guys like Reid and Castillo, the team has their backs against the proverbial wall and must begin to come out swing like Philly legend Rocky Balboa. Hopefully their thrust will not be fictional like Rocky was.
Yooooooooooo! For doze of yous dat forgots about me, I iz 7thStoneFromTheSun, da distant cuzin of 3rdStoneFromTheSun Yo, I did suck las weak in my procrastinashuns. I went 7-6, and I now iz 46-31
Lets get too it!
Saint Louis Rams @ Green Bay Packers
OK, I know a lots of yous mugs tought da Rams mite go two da playoffs dis yeer. But dey will now bee 0-5, sumfin not many saw cummin.
37 Rams 21
Jacksonville Jaguars @ Pittsburgh Steelers
Da Jags never shuld have gone da cheep route and dumped quarterback David Garrard, cuz it iz cleer Blaine Gabbert aint reddy. Da Steelers will expose dat truth even more.
23 Jaguars 7
Philadelphia Eagles @ Washington Redskins
As 3rd says, dem Igglez have spent like a billion dollars and iz 1-4. I'm picking da Skins running game hear, but dont bee shocked if suckass Rex Grossman trows da game away two Philly.
27 Eagles 24
San Francisco 49ers @ Detroit Lions
Game of the Week
Yo, dis aint 1950 so dont rub yer eyes in disbelief. Dis iz da game of da weak! Both teems got good defenses and quarterbacks picked furst in dere drafts. I tink it mite cum down too who runs da ball best, if dat iz a hint.
But Yo! Who hear saw dese teems a combined 9-1 cummin into dis game?
23 49ers 21
Carolina Panthers @ Atlanta Falcons
I'm not in love wit Matt Ryan or da Falcons pass defense so far dis yeer, but they can win if dey run da damn ball. Cuz Carolina sure as fuck don't.
30 Panthers 28
Indianapolis Colts @ Cincinnati Bengals
Da Colts blow chunks yo. Dey couldnt even beet da shitty Chiefs. Put dem down at 0-7.
34 Colts 17
Buffalo Bills @ New York Giants
Eli Manning cemented his spot as one da most overrated players ever las week. Da Bills are a helluva lot better den da Seahawks, and dey will go downstate and leave 5-1.
34 Giants 24
Houston Texans @ Baltimore Ravens
Derrick Mason just joined da Texans, who iz strugglin all of da sudden, and iz facing a teem he spent six seasuns wif. Da Ravens will enjoy da fact star linebacker Mario Williams wont play for Houston again dis yeer.
27 Texans 20
Cleveland Browns @ Oakland Raiders
Just keep winning baby! R.I.P. Al Davis
31 Browns 23
Dallas Cowboys @ New England Patriots
Tony Romo mite trow four 400 yards against dis crappy Pats secondary, but his teem has no answers for Tom Brady.
37 Cowboys 28
New Orleans Saints @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Just when it looked like da Bucs was turning da corner, they laid a egg of shit las week. Dis alloud da Saints two sit on top of da NFC South. New Orleans iz ranked 28th in yards given up per rushing attempt, but rank fourth best in rushing attempts against dem cuz teems are trowing so much trying to play catch up.
Saints quarterback Drew Brees should enjoy facin a dissappointin Buccaneers defense, whose seasun mite be on da line hear.
34 Buccaneers 23
Minnesota Vikings @ Chicago Bears
Get out da No Doz Sunday nite. Dat iz if you dont like smash mouth football in da Black and Blue division. Da Bears knead dis cuz da Packers and Lions are starting to run away in da race for da NFC North title.
24 Vikings 17
Miami Dolphins @ New York Jets
Dis piece of crap MNF game iz a perfect reasun da New York City media kneads to shut da fuck up about dere overrated talent and why we knead to start ignoring dese boobs. Capeesh?
Da Jets suck! Mark Sanchez sucks dirty donkey balls and dat Jets defense looks old. Rex Ryan has been gettin his fat mouth closed a lot dis yeer so far. I dunno if he iz puttin his foot in his mouth or his wife's, but he should STFU until he has a reesun to talk.
Da Dolphins basically got Matt Moore and Sage Rosenfels as dere quarterbacks, which aint awesum. Both is sound reserves at best, but we will sea. I tink Miami better run rookie halfback Daniel Thomas 25 times against dat suspect Jets defense.
But da Jets will put 8 in a box cuz dey dont respect da Dolphins quarterbacks, which iz da rite move.
23 Dolphins 14
1. Green Bay Packers
2. Detroit Lions
3. Baltimore Ravens
4. Buffalo Bills
5. San Francisco 49ers
6. New Orleans Saints
7. San Diego Chargers
8. New England Patriots
9. Pittsburgh Steelers
10. Washington Redskins
11. Tennessee Titans
12. Atlanta Falcons
13. Oakland Raiders
14. Houston Texans
15. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
16. Chicago Bears
17. New York Giants
18. New York Jets
19. Dallas Cowboys
20. Philadelphia Eagles
21. Cincinnati Bengals
22. Seattle Seahawks
23. Minnesota Vikings
24. Arizona Cardinals
25. Miami Dolphins
26. Carolina Panthers
27. Jacksonville Jaguars
28. Cleveland Browns
29. Saint Louis Rams
30. Denver Broncos
31. Kanas City Chiefs
32. Indianapolis Colts
OK, I iz outta dis peace! I iz gunna lay down wif dis hunny I met at da bar and have her feed me grapes as I watch da games.
As dey say in Ol' Messico = A.M.F.