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December 04, 2018

Al Morganti: Did Eagles save their season, or delay the inevitable?

Depending on which perspective you care to take, the Philadelphia Eagles either revived hopes for their season on Monday night against the Washington Redskins, or they just delayed the inevitable failure to qualify for the post season and a chance to defend their Super Bowl title.

Did somebody say Super Bowl? Well, there is a regular season version of a Super Bowl coming up next Sunday afternoon in Dallas, but until then defending the title is still a real long shot.

That is the real bottom line here. After the thrill of winning it all last season, the ceiling for this season has been lowered to just making the post season.

However, once any team gets into that territory there is always the theory that any team can get hot at the right time, and with the Eagles pedigree they have as good a chance as any to be that “hot” team. After all, they have Carson Wentz as their quarterback and that should be enough to tip expectations toward the positive, correct?

Not so fast.

There were certainly many good signs to take from the Eagles 28-13 victory at the Linc on Monday night. There was the return of Darren Sproles, who spun into the end zone for a touchdown; the further inclusion of Golden Tate into the offense as he hauled in a touchdown pass and made seven receptions; the further emergence of Josh Adams as a go-to running back with another effort of more than 80 yards; and the continued excellence of tight end Zach Ertz who had nine more catches.

There was also the mobility displayed by Wentz, who has become better and better in terms of galloping around the backfield as he continues to get near 100 percent after last year’s knee surgery.

On the other side of the ledger, Wentz also surrendered a terrible red zone interception and the Eagles could never really put the hammer down on a Washington team that was badly banged up and very beatable.

Any chance the Redskins had of stealing this game in Philadelphia evaporated early when back up quarterback Colt McCoy left the game with what turned out to be a fractured leg. The football fates have been particularly cruel to the Redskins as McCoy was only playing in place of starter Alex Smith, who had already been erased for the season because of a seriously fractured leg.

What are the chances of two quarterbacks being shelved with broken legs? Probably a lot shorter than the chances of a team to win on the road when the game is placed in the hands of Mark Sanchez.

The Redskins might as well have thrown a white towel on to the field when Sanchez came on the field. While McCoy was limping toward the locker room, the Redskins threw up a red flare in the form of a 90-yard spring for a touchdown by Adrian Pederson, and then fizzled through the remainder of the night.

The Eagles cradled a one-point, 14-13, lead through most of the third quarter and then did more than enough to choke the spirit out of a team that is now doomed to connect-the-dots through a slide down the standings over the remainder of the season.

Meanwhile, the Eagles have a real chance at rebirth in Dallas.

These last two games have been necessary appetizers, and the raised optimism has been achieved because Philadelphia has a modest two-game winning streak and a .500 record. There is not much more mediocre than winning two games in a row and a 6-6 record.

The real catapult could occur on Sunday in Dallas where the Eagles can launch themselves into a tie for the top-spot in the division and turn some heads in their direction as a team getting it all together at the most important time of the season. They have a chance to give some real hope that they can make this a true December to remember and renew hopes for a playoff run – not just a run toward the top of a watered down NFC East.

The Eagles will be facing a Dallas team that is full of itself after running off some impressive performances with Amari Cooper as a receiver. The Cowboys are 4-1 with Cooper at wide out, and he has 30 receptions and three touchdowns. This will be a whole lot different than what the Eagles faced against the Redskins.

You can guarantee that the Cowboys will have a far different approach than the Redskins. The Cowboys feature a much better passing attack and they will be able to target the soft spot of the Eagles pass defense with Dak Prescott a huge upgrade over the combination of McCoy and Sanchez.

The Eagles will have to put a whole lot of pressure on the quarterback, and their best chance to upset Dallas will be to force some turnovers and get the ball back into the hands of Wentz.

The Eagles will go into the game as a slight underdog at around three points, but after the last two weeks they will have to arrive with a championship ego, with an attitude that the Cowboys are going to have to beat a superior football team.

There are a whole lot of good signs headed into the Dallas, with Wentz getting used to some new weapons, a better running game, the return of a veteran multi-purpose back, and a defense getting some teeth.

It’s been a nice couple of weeks, but the revival won’t feel real unless it continues at Jerry’s World in Dallas.