Tony Gonz-Who?

Share

Maybe Brent Celek was just in the right place at the right time on Sunday.  Maybe something the Seahawks did dictated 9 catches by the tight ends.  Whatever the case, Eagles fans just witnessed the best performance by a tight end in team history, and L.J. Smith was watching it from the sidelines.

Smith has been an inconsistent performer on the stat sheet, especially in the past two seasons.  Last year was in large part due to a sports hernia injury, one which he attempted to work through, but it clearly effected his play.  Not willing to pony up a long term deal and no clear replacement in line, the Eagles slapped the franchise tag on him during the off-season, a final opportunity for the former second round pick to prove himself.

As we all can see, that hasn't happened so far.  To L.J.'s credit, he has become a quality blocker compared to some of his peers, but he wasn't drafted to play offensive line.  All you need to know right now is this: through six games, he has just 12 catches for 106 yards and the Eagles were clearly in the market for a tight end before the trade deadline.


Yesterday, Celek made a few people in the front office very happy they weren't able to make a deal.  For the first time all season, a tight end was open down the field and gaining valuable yards after the catch.  Celek made tough catches look easy and he turned easy catches into big plays.  He looked like Tony Gonzalez out there.

To be fair, Celek was in the right place at the right time, and it was in part because of the scheme by the Seahawks defense.  Seattle had their corners playing bump and run man coverage on the Eagles receivers, making it nearly impossible for McNabb to find an open man in the first quarter.  All the attention being paid to the outside made it much easier for Celek to find open space to work, and as he became more involved in the game, the offense rolled.

Credit Andy Reid for actually making an in-game adjustment and bringing the tight ends into the mix.  On a key third down, McNabb lofted a perfect pass into a huge vacated area in the middle of the field, and Celek made an impressive over-the-shoulder grab.  The offense followed later in the drive with a tight end screen for another big gain.  Matt Schobel got involved with two catches, and even Todd Herremans got in on the act with a TD.

Even though the Seahawks defense left themselves vulnerable to this type of attack, it feels like an indictment on L.J. Smith, perhaps the final one for a player whose approval rating is already in the tank.  Brent Celek simply deserves more playing time after a Sunday like that.  Forget the match-up, he just looked more natural catching the football.

Smith will be back in practice on Wednesday, and he is expected to start against the Giants on Sunday night.  Your move, L.J.

Notes

* I was impressed by the number of yards Eagles receivers gained after the catch.  Reggie Brown eluded a tackler to score a TD.  Kevin Curtis set up another with a great stop-and-go cut.  There were some nice moves, but McNabb was setting them up beautifully once he recovered from his shaky start.

* Nick Cole filled in at right guard for a stretch without incident.  Nice work.

* Lito Sheppard, you gut burned... bad.  Inexcusable on the first play of the game.  Anyone still wondering why we signed Asante Samuel?  Brian Dawkins had two nice breakups on definite catches.

* Seahawks CB Marcus Trufant seems to be getting better every year.  He really made things difficult for the Eagles receivers.

* I don't care if the Seahawks are 2-6 and missing half their starters.  That is a well coached team and a tough place to play, and we just walked into their home and beat them rather easily.  Red zone offense and short yardage situations are admittedly still a concern though.

Contact Us