An Uphill Climb
Ever since the Philadelphia Eagles’ new backup quarterback innocently uttered a two-word phrase in admiration of his new teammates, Andy Reid’s revamped club has had a target on its collective backs. But now that we’re halfway through the season, the Birds’ dream of getting to the Super Bowl is getting harder with each passing week. And even though there are 8 games to go, the Eagles may have already dug themselves too large of a hole.
At 3-5 and tied for last place in the division, Reid’s team is already 3 games behind the surging New York Giants, who have already defeated the Eagles in Philadelphia this season. And as if that wasn’t a big enough mountain to climb, the Birds are also 2 games behind teams like the Bears and the Falcons, who find themselves in their own respective division dogfights but both defeated the Eagles this season.
Now stranger things have happened and we’ve seen teams go on 8-game winning streaks in the past, which may or may not be a necessity for Philadelphia to claim a playoff spot. And while the Giants sit at 6-2, this was a team that was 5-0 in ’09 and wound up 8-8 and out of the playoffs. A 7-1 finish by Philadelphia would put them at 10-6 and as the Giants and Buccaneers both found out last season, that wasn’t good enough to get them an engraved invite to the postseason party (although it was good enough for Reid and company to grab the NFC East a year ago).
Still the real math for the Birds lies in how well they are or are not playing, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Although the Eagles have few problems rushing the passer (with all 22 sacks coming from the defensive line), Juan Castillo’s defense is giving up 124.0 yards per game on the ground. A team that gave up a disappointing 377 points and 43 offensive touchdowns last season is right on pace to do that again considering Reid’s club has allowed 182 points and 21 offensive TDs in 8 games. And a closer look at that former total shows that basically one-third of those points (60) have come in the fourth quarter. Add in the fact this club has committed 19 turnovers and it’s little wonder they’ve disappointed to date.
So can the Eagles truly dig themselves out of this midseason hole? While only time will tell, time is also running out.