I’m not going to mince words here. The Philadelphia Eagles are going in one direction; the Washington Redskins are going in another. The Eagles are heading north, as in up in the standings. The Redskins are heading sideways, as in toward a .500 season. Both directions are by design.
Philadelphia has two quarterbacks, one of whom made a lot of money this year but won’t by NFL standards next year. The other could make $5 million this year if he reaches his incentives, and will receive a very nice multi-year contract before the season is over. That will probably happen right after the Eagles make the playoffs mathematically. So, unless someone offers Philadelphia two attractive draft picks for Kevin Kolb, he will sit on the bench next year earning a couple million bucks while Vick lights it up to the tune of $15 mil per year plus a very sweet bonus. At quarterback, the Eagles are set. At running back, they’re set too. Same goes for wide receiver. They’re in that very enviable position where they can draft next Spring for offensive line and defense solely if they choose to. Andy Reid must be salivating.
Washington has ‘?’ at quarterback after this year. There’s no doubt in my mind that, regardless of what happens with Donovan this year, the Redskins will draft a quarterback next April. They need to secure offensive line and running back help too. They’ll still need to address the kicking positions and a few spots on defense. In other words, the Redskins are two successful drafts and a couple good trades away from being where the Eagles are now.
Let’s face it, the Redskins are a .500 team. Sure, they may end up one game over or under .500, but the bottom line is that they’re competitive with the other .500 teams in the league. We’re talkin’ Miami, Jacksonville, Houston, St. Louis, and Seattle. Of course, the Redskins lost to Houston and St. Louis. Anyone notice Oakland is 5 and 4 with Jason Campbell firmly entrenched at quarterback?
The NFC East isn’t a weak division as some have suggested. It’s a schizophrenic division. The “I’ll take on all comers” personality could be named New York-Philly. The “I’m okay-You’re okay” personality is the Redskins. The “Just leave me alone” personality is the Dallas Cowboys. For a couple weeks it looked as if New York would run away with the division, Philadelphia and Washington would be the middle-of-the-road teams, and the Cowboys would sink to new depths. Given how the Eagles’ offense looks under Vick’s leadership, I’d say they’re hot on the tales of the Giants. That means they’re about to leave the Redskins eating dust.
One game – one nationally televised game – can change all that. It won’t change the Redskins’ personnel needs, but it could restart the battle for a wild card berth. That game will be played this Monday night at FedEx. Washington’s defense will have to come up big. That means a lot more than containing Michael Vick’s running. It means disrupting his passing game. And, it’s going to require Number 5 to be a monster. That’ll be tough on two sore hamstrings when you aren’t likely to have a stout running game. You know Trent Cole will be salivating. If they put a mic on him we’ll probably hear this: “Sorry Donovan, Love ya Donovan, Didn’t mean it Donovan, Please get up Donovan, You okay Donovan?”
Last year Washington was 2 and 4 when McNabb led the Eagles into FedEx on Monday night, October 26. Statistically, the 2 and 4 Redskins kicked the Eagles’ butts. But, four turnovers did them in, so Washington suffered its fifth loss. Number 5 was 15 of 25 with one touchdown and no interceptions. He was about as good as Campbell that night. This game likely won’t look anything like that one did. McNabb will have to outplay Vick, Washington’s defense will have to outplay Philadelphia’s, and the Redskins will have to win the turnover battle by at least +2.
If the ‘Skins don’t win, it won’t be the end of their season. They’ll just be on the brink of falling off the cliff, that’s all. I’ll close with a reminder of the first line of the Eagles’ fight song – “Die Eagles Die, On the Road to Misery”. Go Skins!