Didinger's Eagles-‘Skins Scouting Report


Sizing up Sundays season finale between the Eagles (7-8) and Washington Redskins (5-10) at Lincoln Financial Field.

When the Eagles have the ball
Although this game means nothing, it would be reassuring to the Eagles if Mike Vick came out and played well. He regressed this season and although the Eagles won their last three games, Vicks play has not been encouraging.

Last week in Dallas, Vicks numbers were good18 for 32 for 293 yards and two touchdownsbut he still made too many off-balance throws and skittered around unnecessarily in the pocket. On several occasions, he started scrambling even though he had perfect protection. At times, it was hard to understand what he was thinking.

The bottom line is Vick needs a long off-season in the Andy Reid-Marty Mornhinweg repair shop because his mechanics are way off.

It has been a tough year for Vick with the injuries that cost him three full games and sent him to the locker room early in two others. He was hurt in Week 2, re-injured in Week 3 and when he returned to the lineup, he looked more like the inconsistent Vick from Atlanta than the Vick that played well for the Eagles much of last season. He still has not regained that form this year.

Vick is currently the 15th-ranked passer in the NFL. His ratio of touchdown passes (15) to interceptions (13) is one of the worst in the league. He takes too many hits and makes too many mistakes for a quarterback who has been around as long as he has. Unless he gets a lot better, the Eagles arent going to be a serious contender next season either.

When you watch Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees and Tom Brady, you see what defines a championship quarterback in todays NFL. You can put Ben Roethlisberger in the mix as well. All those quarterbacks have Super Bowl rings and it is likely one of them will be on the winners stand again next month. Then you watch Vick and, for all the virtuoso turns, you see how far removed he is from that championship tier.

Can he get to that level? Can he develop that consistency? How much can he be expected to improve, considering he will be 32 next season. But that is the No. 1 task on Reids to-do list: Clean up Vicks game and make him more efficient. There is no lockout to blame this year. The Eagles have ample time to fine-tune their quarterback and considering the huge investment they made in him, they really have no choice.

But for everyones peace of mind, including Vicks, it would be helpful if he played a solid four quarters against the Redskins. It should not be hard since the Redskins have lost three of their last four games and allowed 33 points to Minnesota last week despite the Vikings losing both Adrian Peterson and quarterback Christian Ponder.

When the Redskins have the ball
When the Eagles beat the Redskins earlier this year, 20-13, LeSean McCoy ran for 126 yards and Vick passed for 237 but, really, the defense won the game. The Eagles picked off four passes, safety Kurt Coleman had three, and they limited the Redskins to 42 yards rushing.

Rex Grossman started at quarterback and was replaced by John Beck after throwing his fourth interception. Beck started a few games but finally head coach Mike Shanahan gave up on him and went back to Grossman. Grossman will start Sunday so this should be another fun day for the Eagles defense.

Coming into the season, Shanahan felt his offensive line would be the strength of the team and, in fairness, it looked like an accurate assessment through training camp and preseason. But then the line was crushed by injuries, in particular the injury to tackle Trent Williams, and thats when the season fell apart.

On Sunday, the Redskins will start a patchwork line with only one playerright tackle Jammal Brownstarting in his natural position. The other four starters are all backups or guys playing out of position because there is no one else available. Putting Grossman, who doesnt handle pressure well, behind this line is a very bad idea, but Shanahan does not have a lot of options.

The Eagles lead the league with 49 sacks and the Redskin quarterbacks have been sacked 40 times, so you can do the math and see where this is headed. Coleman will miss the fun (he was placed on IR with a bicep injury) and thats too bad because once again there will be a lot of hurried passes up for grabs.

Jason Babin, the only Eagle defender to make the Pro Bowl, has 18 sacks, second in the league behind Jared Allen of Minnesota. He needs three sacks to break Reggie Whites team record of 21 set in 1987. Babin will be matched against Brown, who is coming off a groin injury, which sidelined him for three weeks. Babin could have another big day.

The Eagles secondary looked better against Dallasadmittedly against a backup quarterback in Stephen McGeewith Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie playing the left corner in place of Asante Samuel. Rodgers-Cromartie, who was uncomfortable and unproductive as a slot defender, was much better at corner, his natural position. When he lined up in press coverage on one side and Nnamdi Asomugha was in press coverage on the other side, you saw glimpses of what this defense probably will be next season when Samuel is playing for another team.

The Redskins will try to run the ball to take some pressure off Grossman. Last week, they started Evan Royster, the former Penn Stater, in place of the injured Roy Helu and he had a big game (19 carries, 132 yards). The Eagles still have some holes in their run defense, allowing an average of 4.3 yards per carry, but they shouldnt have too much trouble with this Washington line.

Special teams
Sav Rocca will make his return to Philadelphia Sunday if anyone cares. Rocca had a decent year with the Redskins, ranking 10th among the leagues punters with a 39.7-yard net average. Rookie Chas Henry has been a bust with the Eagles. He ranks 28th among punters with a 36.4 net and last Sundays partial block late in the game cost the defense a shutout.

Alex Henery has developed into a reliable placekicker. He is 22 for 25 on field goal attempts and he hit his last 14 in a row, the fifth-longest streak in club history. Graham Gano of the Redskins has one of the strongest legs in the NFL (he hit a 59-yard field goal this season), but he also has missed on nine of 39 field goal attempts.

The Eagles would like to finish the season on a high, winning their fourth game in a row and avoiding a losing record at 8-8. Then, they can remind us again how lucky the Green Bay Packers, New Orleans Saints and all the other playoffs teams are that they arent in the postseason because, boy, they would just kick their butts. (I think I just figured out why this was called the Dream Team. They are dreaming, all right).

The Redskins? Well, they are assured of their fourth straight last-place finish in the NFC East and their third consecutive season with double-digit losses. Need we elaborate?

While a part of me thinks it would be a good thing for the Eagles if the Redskins punched them in the mouth and brought them back to reality, I just dont think they are capable. It should be a fun day for those hearty Eagles fans that bother to show up.

Eagles 31, Redskins 14.

E-mail Ray Didinger at viewfromthehall@comcast.net.

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