Here is a lunch time chat I had with the blogger from Bird’s Fan, Mike Burke.
Mike, your Eagles are in a great position. Sitting 2nd in the NFC East and at 5-3, your boys are in a great spot to make a run. What is your take on them through eight games of play?
Mike Says: The team has faced a lot of adversity this season and played well. You can argue that they could be doing better then 5-3, but with the rash of injuries they’ve seen, I’m content. This team has experienced injuries to a lot of their key starters this year. Every time that has happened, someone else has stepped up. I think that says a lot about a team.
Who has been your money man so far?
Mike Says: LeSean McCoy. He’s really made improvement on his game from last year and consistently has been there for the Eagles this year. I think he’s really improved his run game, and he is emerging as one of the league’s best at catching balls out of the backfield.
Andy Reid, or the Ron Jeremy of Cheeseburgers and Hot Dog Rolls as I like to call him…what is your take of his handling of the team, especially with the two QBs?
Mike Says: He has been forced to make some really tough decisions this year, especially when it relates to the quarterback situation. I don’t think anyone really saw this situation arising before the season started. However, it has, and Reid has made the right decision. Regardless of what he decided, he was going to have to put a talented quarterback on the bench. Like he’s said in the past, “it’s a good problem to have.”
Well then is Vick your “right now” savior, or is Kolb still the long-term answer?
Mike Says: The jury is still out on that, but long-term votes are starting to pile up. Vick is winning now, and at this time, that’s what’s most important. With a down year in the NFC, the Eagles sit right in the thick of things at 5-3. If Vick can lead them to the playoffs and get a win or two there, how can you let a guy like that walk? If he continues to play at the level he’s playing now, it’s going to be nearly impossible to just let him leave.
Ok Mike, tell me…how have the Eagles progressed since week four? Have you also notice possible chinks in the armor?
Mike Says: Defensively, I see a large improvement. After getting run on pretty badly against the Redskins, the Eagles front seven has really stepped up their game. Since the Redskins game, the Eagles have taken on running backs like Maurice Jones-Drew, Frank Gore, and Chris Johnson and has shut them all down.
In terms of a decline, I’m still not happy with the offensive line. After Max Jean-Gillies went down in the Colts game, the line fell apart. Vick’s elusiveness had a huge part in the Eagles win and I don’t think they would have won if Kevin Kolb was the starter. Vick gives you a much better chance to win before a shaky line, but at some point I’d like to see the unit pull it together.
What do you think the Eagles need to look out for when facing the Skins?
Mike Says: Protecting the lead. I do expect the Eagles to get out to a lead on Monday, and I don’t want to see the defense start coasting when they do. We’ve seen teams come back on the Eagles late in games when they had a lead. The defense lacks a killer instinct as they just try to coast to the finish line. Every divisional game in the NFC East is a battle and I know the Redskins won’t stop fighting if they’re losing. The Eagles defense needs to make sure they play all four quarters with intensity.
Who do the Eagles have to look out for when the Skins are on the move?
Mike Says: On offense, you have to watch Chris Cooley. The Eagles always struggle to cover the tight end and Cooley is one of the better tight ends in the NFC. Defensively, it has to be the Redskins interior defensive line. The Eagles were getting beat up the middle against the Colts, and it was a problem. Vick has looked pretty good throwing the ball in the pocket, but if the Redskins get constant pressure up the middle, he won’t be able to do this.
Likewise, when the Eagles are on the move…who should the Skins look out for?
Mike Says: On offense, I’m going to say our receivers will have the advantage over the Redskins secondary. The Redskins currently rank 31st in the NFL in pass defense and the Eagles have some pretty potent receivers. I expect the Eagles to stretch the field on the Redskins early with Vick’s strong arm and the speed of DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin. Defensively, I’d have to say our defensive line. The Redskins have a pretty poor line and our defensive front seems to be hitting it’s stride. They don’t have jaw-dropping numbers, but they’re playing very well. I think they’ll be able to get to Donovan early and often, and will force him to make mistakes.
Who are your players of the game on both teams?
Mike Says: Skins – Chris Cooley. I don’t think the Eagles will stop him, but I hope they can at least contain him.
Eagles – LeSean McCoy. I think the Eagles will get him a healthy number of carries on Monday and I also expect him to make some plays catching the ball out of the backfield.
Mike Says: 34-17 Eagles.
You can check out Mike Burke and his great work over at Bird’s Fan (birdsfan.com)