A dumpster fire would be an adequate way to describe the Philadelphia Eagles season so far. Multiple injuries, a seven game losing streak, and high paid players underperforming are only some of the problems. But there still is more football to be played by the birds. Tonight as they face the Dallas Cowboys there are several aspects to take note of. Sure the Eagles want to win the game, but with the playoffs out of the picture it is more important to focus on identifying who will be part of the team next season.
There are young players all over the field, especially on offense. Bryce Brown in his first start last week showed his potential, rushing for 178 yards on only 19 carries. There were the two lost fumbles, but the brilliance of Brown cannot go unnoticed. Expect him to build off of his performance against the Cowboys in his second start.
Nick Foles has not shown any of his preseason greatness so far. It is hard to judge his play though due to the dismal offensive line. However, the line cannot be blamed for some of Foles' poor decisions throwing into coverage. The Eagles will most likely part ways with Michael Vick in the offseason, so Foles is auditioning for the job next season. The emergence of Brown and the commitment to the running game should help take some of the pressure off of the rookie quarterback's shoulders. This will be a huge game for Foles tonight because Vick is slowly getting healthy. Depending on Foles' performance against Dallas, the coaching staff will have an important decision to make at quarterback for the remainder of the season.
The defense has been the source of much criticism since the Juan Castillo firing and deservedly so. The unit went from being average to outright awful. Much of the problem has been breakdowns in communication and coverage. The coaching staff sent a message by releasing pro bowl defensive end Jason Babin early in the week. If you are not playing hard, the front office is not afraid to move to younger players at any time. The cornerbacks Nhamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie will both continue to start for the time being according to Head Coach Andy Reid. But with Nhamdi owed a whopping fifteen million next season and DRC being a free agent it is likely that neither will be back. At what point will the coaches decide to try Brandon Boykin, Curtis Marsh, and or Brandon Hughes at the outside cornerback position? Not quite yet, but a poor performance by either starter could lead to a change in the near future.
Last but not least there is the draft positioning. No player or coach will want to talk about this but the Eagles are primed for a top five pick in the 2013 NFL Draft. A loss would not be the end of the world to further solidify their pick and a win would be good for morale. So the most important part of tonights game is not the final result but the performance and effort by the team.
Prediction: Eagles 20 Cowboys 28. The Eagles will hang around with the Cowboys, but they do not have the offensive firepower to keep up.
Unrelated side note: Can we please see Tim Tebow get a start in New York, Sanchez is not the long term solution.
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