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Eagles try to recover from Cowboys loss as they face the Chargers

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Former Eagles Linebacker Frank LeMaster I think I am going to scream… literally, if I hear Andy Reid  or Donovan McNabb  in a losing effort say one more time, “this game is on me” or “I take full responsibility” or “my bad, it wont happen again.”

Unfortunately, losing big games keeps happening again and again. Last year we lost the NFC Championship to the Arizona Cardinals because of a poor performance and poor play selection. Last week we give away a game to the Dallas Cowboys in a heated NFC East conference game for the same reasons.

In many ways these kinds of “flippant responses” or a lack of a real explanation to the press and fans from the coaches and players is an insult to us all. It is hard to argue about the success of Andy Reid’s win//loss record and Donovan’s statistics – but the harsh facts are they just do not get it done in the big games. Reid gets out-coached and McNabb doesn’t perform like a top NFL quarterback. The Eagles are 4-13-1 over the last two 2.5  seasons where either Reid’s play calling and clock management and/or McNabb’s inconsistent passing has usually been the losing factor in the game.

In all due respects, I do think that Coach Reid is a good CEO, motivator and an excellent judge of football talent. Reid and offensive coordinator’s Marty Morningwheg’s play calling, lack of game day adjustments and clock management is deplorable at times and has been very costly to the Birds this year. In defense of Donovan, when he typically has a bad game it is usually because he has no time to throw the ball because the offensive line is allowing sacks or is not giving him time to throw the ball. There is an easy solution to making McNabb more productive and that is to allow him to be more mobile and roll him out on a passing play right or left in order to stretch the defense and pressure the perimeter. The defense should never know where McNabb will be but if he keeps dropping back in the pocket, the opposing defensive linemen can use power rushes to sack him or push the Bird’s offensive line back in McNabb’s face forcing him to throw blindly.

I wrote an article back in the beginning of the season and discussed the “Top 10 Accomplishments the Eagles needed to make it to the Super Bowl.

Let’s review and grade their success to date

Frank LeMaster’s Top Ten List For Eagles To Win the Super Bowl

10. Punter and punting team maintains a 40+ yard net average

Grade: B Sav Rocca has punted consistently and the special teams have contained the punt returns very well

9. Kicker completes at least 80% of field goal and 95% extra points   attempts

Grade: A- David Akers has kicked consistently and scored well except for the Raiders loss

8. Coach Reid to dedicate an assistant coach responsible to manage the clock and know all league rules to help make speedy and timely decisions.

Grade: D Never has happened. This continues to be a problem that Andy has to address, for example in our loss to the Cowboys we had no time outs with 2:30 minutes left in the game because he lost 2 risky challenges

7. Avoid injuries
Grade: D The team has had terrible luck losing a lot of key and backup players that disrupts their performance and continuity.

6. Keep team in excellent cardio and strength conditioning throughout the season

Grade: D I believe the Birds' lack of conditioning has contributed to their abundance of injuries and the team’s poor performance in the second half of their games.

5. Utilize fullback and tight end much more in the run/pass game

Grade: B Coach Reid has had some good success including FB Leonard Weaver and Brent Celek in the game plan which has definitely added to the run and passing game.

4. Move McNabb in and out of pocket to spread defense and pressure defense outside the hash marks-the defense should never know where the QB will be on passing situations.

Grade: D All we have seen is Donovon being pressured constantly and taking unnecessary sacks, killing our passing game.

3. Defense to average 3 sacks per game

Grade: B Defensive Coordinator Sean McDermott, and our front seven have done an excellent job in sacking and pressuring the opposing quarterbacks, except for the Saints and Raiders games.

2. Force a positive 2 turnovers per game

Grade: A+ The Birds defense is leading the league in turnovers, which has been the key to all of our wins this season

1. Score a field goal or touchdown 70% of the time in the red zone (20 yard to goal line)

Grade: C- We have been very inconsistent in putting the ball over the goal line due badly thrown passes, penalties and poor play selection.

On this week’s game… Eagles Face Huge Challenge against Chargers…

The Eagles travel to San Diego and are faced this week with many challenges. The recent injuries and loss of defensive backs Ellis Hobbs (spine injury) and Josellio Hanson (4 game suspension for taking an illegal substance) have reduced our once strong secondary to a team weakness. The Eagles defense will be facing one of the NFL’s true passing QB’s in Phillip Rivers, along with an outstanding receiver corps, featuring All Pro tight end Antonio Gates and wide receiver Vincent Jackson. Our defense will have to have another great game pressuring and sacking Rivers in order to give the Birds a chance to win. The Chargers run game with Tomlinson RB and the speedy Darren Sproles can be contained as the run game has been inconsistent at times.

Hopefully, Andy Reid can rejuvenate his offense and help them gain the confidence they displayed against the New York Giants. Andy must get more creative in finding ways to free up DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin and Brent Celek to put points on the board.  I do not anticipate that Westbrook will play as I get mixed signals from the Eagles camp regarding his recovery from his concussion and ankle injury. Look for LeSean McCoy RB and Leonard Weaver FB to carry the workload for the run game. The Chargers defense is very fast and Coach Reid may exploit their aggressiveness by running various types of screens and plays designed to take advantage of the Chargers' over-pursuit.

It’s going to be a close game and I believe that special teams and field goals will be the deciding factor.

Eagles 21 Chargers 20