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Looking back at the first half of the season for the Eagles


If you’re looking for good news as the Philadelphia Eagles sit 5-3 at the midpoint of this season, consider that over the past decade they have the second-best record in the league in November and December at 53-23-1.

Andy Reid’s team have figured out how to get hot when the weather gets cold over the years and may need to do so again if they are going to make a run for the NFC East title, or even make the playoffs for that matter.

As it stands right now, the Eagles trail the Dallas Cowboys  by a game in the NFC East and are tied with the Atlanta Falcons for the two wild-card spots. They are a half-game ahead of the Giants, who finally get their bye this week, and a full game ahead of Green Bay and Chicago, two of the NFC’s more disappointing teams.

Here at Philly2Philly.com, we take a look at how the Eagles' performed to this point, and what to look forward to over the final eight weeks of the season.

MVP (Offense) – There may not be a player in the league who has done more with so little opportunity than wide receiver DeSean Jackson.

The second-year receiver has just 26 receptions in eight games, but they have gone for 530 yards and four touchdowns. He’s also scored on a 67-yard end around and an 85-yard punt return. If he were to return kickoffs, or play free safety there’s little doubt he would score there as well.

Jackson’s six touchdowns have been for 50 yards, or more, which ties an Eagles record set by Timmy Brown and is just two off the NFL record shared by Crazy Legs Hirsch and Devin Hester. And he still has a half of a season to go.

MVP (Defense) – This was close, but pass rushing is what it’s all about in this league and Trent Cole’s 7 ½ sacks jump off the stat sheet at you.

Cole is far and away the team’s best pass rusher, gets double teamed most of the game and chipped by the back or the tight end, and still is on pace for a 15-sack season.

The one-time undersized right end is no longer a liability against the run either. He has six tackles behind the line on running plays, which also leads the team.

Biggest Surprise (Offense) – For me, it’s tight end Brent Celek, although give the organization credit they seemed to know what they had and passed on a high draft pick at tight end.

Celek leads the team with 40 receptions for 486 yards and four touchdowns. The Eagles have gotten that kind of production from their tight end since Keith Jackson was going to the Pro Bowl in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s.

Biggest Surprise (Defense) – Akeem Jordan took over as the starter on the weak side about this time last year, and while he was solid, especially in run defense, he never made a play. No sacks, no interceptions, no anything.

This year Jordan has been just as solid against the run, and leads the team in tackles with 63, 36 solo. He also has a sack and two interceptions in half a season. If you noticed when he came out with a knee injury in the fourth quarter against Dallas, Sunday, there was a dropoff. They need him healthy in a hurry.

Biggest Disappointment (offense) – The Andrews brothers, Shawn and Stacy were supposed to form the Andrews Wall on the right side of the offensive line. It never happened.

Shawn, for the second straight year and for the third time in his career, is spending the year on injured reserve. This year, like last year, it’s with a back injury that won’t seem to get better.

Stacy, a big free agent signing this offseason, is still bothered by the torn ACL he suffered last year in Cincinnati. He’s rotated in at right guard with undrafted free agent Nick Cole, who makes about as much in a season as Andrews does in a game. And Cole has been better.

Funny thing, the 6-2 Bengals don’t seem to miss him, either.

Biggest Disappointment (defense) – Trevor Laws, the team’s top pick in the 2008 draft after it traded down twice, was supposed to be a mainstay in the three-man rotation at defensive tackle with starters Mike Patterson and Brodrick Bunkley.

Laws, instead, is having a hard time staying ahead of street free agent Antonio Dixon, who was signed just before the season when Washington released him.

Best Game: It’s not even close. In the 40-17 whipping of the Giants, the Eagles played a near flawless game in all three phases of the game.

Worst Game: Again, it’s not close. If the team loses the division by a game or misses the playoffs by a game all they need to do is point to Oakland 13, Eagles 9.

Best Play: Take any one of Jackson’s touchdowns. I like the end around myself.

Worst Play: Ellis Hobbs’ fumble of the second-half kickoff against New Orleans is right there with Jeremiah Trotter trying to cover Oakland tight end Zack Miller.

What We Learned: Kevin Kolb  can play if he has to, but it’s not time to get rid of Donovan McNabb just yet. …The young guys on offense can play. …Todd Herremans is better than you realized. …Will Witherspoon was a nice addition for the short term. …Sean Jones is better than Macho Harris, who was better than Quintin Demps. …Trotter should have stayed retired.

Looking ahead:

Four of the next five are on the road, with the one home game against the awful Washington Redskins. If the Eagles can come out of that 3-2, it will leave them at 8-5, with San Francisco, Denver and at Dallas left on the schedule. They would then need to win two of three, which is very doable to get to 10-6. That should get them at least a wild-card spot. If they can get to 11 and beat Dallas, they could win the division.