Wednesday, December 29, 2004NFC = Not Football Conference
Now I'm not telling you anything you didn't already know, but here's a surprise -- the problems with the conference start at the top. Philadelphia, as 13-2 as they are, are a completely imperfect team.
Offensively they were barely a two-dimensional team before the Owens injury. They never established a physical ground game to match Donovan McNabb's passing. Brian Westbrook is very solid player in the open field, but they really miss the power running that Correll Buckhalter could've given them. As it is, their best option of running out the clock late is to put the ball in the hands of 34-year-old Dorsey Levens.
Now the Eagles' two-dimensions (McNabb and Owens) have become one dimension and the pleading begins for someone...anyone to step up as a secondary receiver. Again how can a team go 13-2 without a second receiver? And why hasn't Freddie Mitchell established himself yet? For all the showmanship he displays on each of his 17 catches, this guy should be getting 4-5 catches a game with TO drawing the double coverage. He's a former first round pick and he's got the size to pose some mismatches.
However, he and Todd Pinkston were at their best this season when they were doing what made them feel comfortable -- watching Terrell Owens make plays.
As for the defense, the Eagles secondary is surprisingly good, possibly better than last year's group. As for the front seven, they struggled against the run for half the season until Jim Johnson made some adjustments (which led to the Pro Bowl selection of Jeremiah Trotter). However, this past Monday the truth reared its ugly head again. The Eagles first team defense was completely manhandled by the Rams for a 10-play, 73-yard touchdown drive on all running plays.
With most of the first team sitting out again this week, Johnson has a good month to fix the run problem, especially if he's looking at an Atlanta team that features two good runners and the best running QB in league history. However, it's going to be a fear, because should the Eagles finally make it to the Super Bowl, they could face any one of seven physically grueling AFC teams with strong run games. Even the Colts can pound Edgerrin James 25 times for big yardage if they choose.
Now I'm saying it. Philadelphia will be in the Super Bowl. I mean they could lose Owens, McNabb, Allen Iverson and Rocky Balboa and still be the best team in the NFC. However, being there isn't enough, Philly has been there before and gotten embarassed. The Eagles still have a lot of work to do in between now and the first Sunday in February.
Unless the Panthers make it to the NFC Championship Game, if that happens all bets are off.