Same Problems Trouble Birds Again

Preseason concerns rear their ugly heads in season finale

The Eagles stumble into the playoffs after an embarrassing loss to the same team that awaits the Birds on Wild Card weekend -- the Cowboys.

Many picked the Birds as a Super Bowl contender before the season and if Philly had won the NFC East that would have seemed possible.

But, after a humiliating 24-0 loss to Dallas there seems to be little hope that the Birds will reach Miami.

This writer incorrectly said that the Birds would go 8-8 before the season kicked off. I was wrong but the reasons I gave for this team being average were exposed Sunday and must be righted should the Eagles even have a chance to win in the playoffs.

The culprits in the Cowboys loss -- bad clock management, holes on the defense and an inconsistent Donovan McNabb/offense.

Let’s start with the clock management, which could be lumped into the lack of consistency argument.

Andy Reid burned a timeout on a punt attempt when the Eagles had too few men on the field. They were right to not want to run the play but considering they were in Dallas territory at the time they should have taken the five-yard penalty and given Sav Rocca some room to work.

The worse clock management, though, came when the Birds, trailing 17-0, tried to pull off a two-minute drill late in the first half.

D-Mac went under center with the ball on his own 20 and 1:04 on the clock. He actually made a nice pass to Brent Celek to get a first down but Jason Peters committed a silly personal foul that put the ball back to the 19. The drive ended with Brian Westbrook going down in bounds with the ball to the Birds’ 46.

That’s right in 64 seconds McNabb managed to only move his Birds 26 yards – not good. And, he even left a timeout on the table.

The offense, though, was no good even when they had plenty of time to operate. McNabb missed his targets often (including overthrowing DeSean Jackson on a sure TD) and he wasn’t helped when he was on target -- just look at drops by Celek, Jason Avant and Jeremy Maclin.

After the game McNabb blamed the team’s youth -- maybe it was McNabb who was at fault. Heck, he was the guy who fumbled in the Cowboys' red zone in the first half.

In the preseason this writer mentioned how this team would often lay an egg after a big offensive effort. Well after 30 points to beat the Broncos in Week 16 the Birds managed none this week.

Finally the defense was without a leader Sunday. Outside of a lucky interception they were unable to stop the Boys in the first half.

Before the season I wrote about Sean McDermott being unproven as a defensive mind -- that showed in the first half as Tony Romo and the Boys’ running attack found gaping holes all of McDermott’s D.

I also wrote that the Birds would miss Brian Dawkins. Let’s put it this way -- they sure could have used his Pro-Bowl caliber play Sunday.

And even if my call that the Birds would fail to make the postseason and that the NFC Wild Card wouldn’t come from the East, I was right that it would take 11 games to win the division. So not every prediction went wrong.

As for predicting the Eagles Wild Card match up on Saturday -- stay tuned -- but I will say this: Unless this team fixes what went wrong they will have no chance in Big D.

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