Birdfeed: Vol. 18.12; Dare to Hope

With their season hanging by a thread, the Eagles finally came through with perhaps their best half of football in over a month. (Photo by Hunter Martin/Philadelphia Eagles)

The Eagles won a football game. I know it’s pathetic our season has come to this, but I took wins for granted. Even if they come against the lowly Giants, they still feel oh so good.

With that said, does a win over the Giants generate enough hope to float our sinking ships? Yes. Maybe. No. I’m really not sure.

Let’s not forget, the Giants were mopping the floor with the Eagles for most of that 1st half. Saquon Barkley looked like Bo Jackson among highschoolers. Barkley ran for nearly 100 yards in the 1st half alone. The Eagles secondary wanted no business of tackling him, as they clearly demonstrated on Barkley’s 51 yard TD scamper. The Giants offense looked unstoppable too, or perhaps more accurately, the Eagles defense looked unplayable. New York’s first four drives went for 291 yards and 19 points. Their next six went for 78 yards, 3 points and an interception. Did the patchwork Eagle defense all-of-sudden find their 2017 groove? Did Jim Schwartz solve New York’s offense? Or did Pat Shurmur sink his own ship by ignoring Barkley for almost the entire 2nd half?

If you missed it, Shurmur spoke this week about monitoring Barkley’s touches and not overusing his rookie star. It’s an interesting move considering his team’s season was on the line Sunday. Is Shurmur that dumb or is he playing the long game? Maybe he knows his team isn’t playoff worthy. Why kill your future franchise back for a win that will only haunt you in 5 months. Of course, there’s less than a 1% chance Shurmur had these thoughts, but it’s the only explanation for the Giants 2nd half play-calling outside of, you know, Shurmur is just a complete dope.

Anyway, seeing the Eagle defense get stops, force punts and actually give the team a chance to win was a welcomed surprise, regardless of opponent. Playing one good half won’t be enough against teams like Dallas, Los Angeles or Houston, so Schwartz better find a way to get four strong quarters out of his pass rush or the Eagles will be sitting ducks like they were in the 1st half Sunday.

A strong defensive outing wasn’t the only positive turn of events against the Giants. Doug Pederson actually ran the football. Some things about football aren’t complicated. I know coaches get caught up in surprising opponents and exploiting weakness and so on and so forth. Football is football though, and sometimes looking at the numbers is the easiest place to find answers. The Eagles are 6-1 when they rush for over a 100 yards this season. 6-1!! That lone loss was the fluky disaster in Tennessee. When Doug is committed to the running game the Eagles are better. It’s that simple and impossible to ignore. The Eagles beat the Giants Sunday because they bully-balled their way to the game-winning field goal. I understand Pederson wants the Eagles to be the high octane, explosive offense they were a year ago, but they’re not. He needs to come to grips with that if the Eagles have any chance of winning the division. Good coaches adapt to their team on the fly. It’s why Bill Belichick teams are always good. It’s why Andy Reid’s teams are competitive year in and year out. Adapt or die.

If the Eagles take care of business AT HOME, ON MONDAY NIGHT, AGAINST A BACKUP QB, then they’ll play for the top spot in the NFC East a week later in Dallas. This is put up or shut up time for the defending champs. Will they finally play 60 minutes of spirited, inspired football, or will we have to suffer through an excruciating first 25 minutes waiting for either the offense or defense (or both) to break through and finally kick the team into gear. There’s no more time. Sunday’s win extended their season by 60 minutes. Run the football effectively Monday, and it’s likely they’ll have bought themselves another 60 minutes. There’s hope. It may only be a fool’s hope, but hope is hope. At this point, I’ll take it.

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