The Philadelphia Eagles have become the most difficult team to predict in the NFL. They have the talent to beat anyone, but they also have the ability to lose to just about anyone. Whether it’s coaching blunders, turnovers or just finding new ways to lose, this team has a way of blowing games they should win. Only one of their six games this season have been decided by more than 3 points.
Is Week 8 the week the Eagles finally turn it around and get back into contention in the NFC or do they continue their downward spiral into mediocrity? Andy Reid is no stranger to this type of scenario. The Eagles have started out with a .500 record or worse after the first six games in four seasons under Reid in which the Eagles made the playoffs. In three of those four seasons they made it to the NFC title game.
Reid has always been able to make the necessary changes or stick with the guys he has and continue to get better. In 2000, the Eagles started out 3-3, but were a very young team. It was Donovan McNabb’s first season as the full-time starting quarterback. Reid stuck with his young guys and they finished with an 11-5 record and won a playoff game. In 2001, it was more of the same. It was a young team that stayed together and got hot down the stretch. They also finished 11-5. The 2003 Eagles appeared to be a team going backward until a Brian Westbrook punt return touchdown saved them from falling to 2-4. They won 10 of their final 11 games. The 2008 Eagles were the latest Eagles team to start out slow, but end the regular season hot. They won four out of their final five games to save that season.
Andy Reid benched McNabb for six quarters in 2008 and he responded by leading the Eagles to a 4-1 record down the stretch. His first came back from the bench was a Thanksgiving night game against the Arizona Cardinals. The Eagles won that game 48-20. That was the last game the Eagles wore their black jerseys. They will be bring those back for this week’s game against the Atlanta Falcons. Maybe there is some magic to the Eagles in black.
Realistically the Eagles need to go 7-3 the rest of the way to ensure they earn a playoff spot. A 6-4 finish would really depend on some tie breakers. Considering the fact that the Eagles have already lost two of their first three NFC games this season, tie breakers may not favor the Eagles.
The Eagles play an NFC East opponent in five of their remaining 10 games. They have won six of their last seven games in the NFC East. The Eagles play home and way games against Dallas and Washington and play at New York on the final week of the season. After this week’s home game against Atlanta, they play the Saints on the road, Carolina at home, Tampa Bay on the road and Cincinnati at home on a Thursday night.
The combined record of the Eagles remaining opponents(counting the Redskins and Cowboys record twice) is 31-33 and only the Falcons and Giants have winning records. A more favorable schedule has been the theme for the Eagles strong second halves in years past.
If Todd Bowles can make the necessary defensive adjustments as the new play caller, this team should be just fine. They were 3-1 before blowing two straight fourth quarter leads to the Steelers and Lions. Had they won one of those games, we wouldn’t be so worried about the second half.
Turnovers are also a huge issue, but what else is new. Michael Vick may be struggling a bit right now, but consider that he is 11-4 after the bye week as the Eagles starting quarterback. He went 6-2 after the bye week with a really bad offensive line in 2010 that started Mike McGlynn, Max Jean-Gilles and a banged up Winston Justice. In 2011 the defensive had the same issues it has had this season and Vick had 18 total turnovers, but he turned it around after the bye week and went 5-2.
Andy Reid has a history of getting the most out of this team after the bye week. The Eagles are 85-44-1 under Reid after the bye week. He just knows how to get the most out of that bye week and how to make the proper adjustments going forward. You can’t argue with a .653 career winning percentage after the bye week.