Hooray, it’s time for 5 Questions. This week we trade Q&A with Bleeding Green Nation, a blog some of you guys got familiar with earlier this week. Bleed Green is the man that answered our questions and he may not know much about Dallas fans, but he knows a lot about the Philadelphia Eagles.
Blogging The Boys: What's your take on Donovan McNabb? Has he returned to good health and making plays like he used to do? Which McNabb can we expect to see this week?
Bleeding Green Nation: Well, he's getting better every week. He's not at 100% and may not be for the rest of the season, but he's certainly well ahead of where he was in weeks one and two. His injury actually happened last November, so we're approaching that year mark that the doctors always seem to say is a big milestone. Earlier in the year he was having trouble avoiding the rush and was holding onto the ball too long... but in the past few weeks that's improved. He's gotten more mobile and seems to be feeling the rush and seeing the field better. I'm expecting you'll see a McNabb this week that's a bit better than last week, although maybe not totally the one you're used to seeing.
BTB: I keep seeing stories about Andy Reid and McNabb. They say Reid might quit or be let go, or that McNabb has to go, or some combination of stuff like that. What's the real story on Reid, McNabb and their futures with the Eagles?
BGN: The story is that Reid's contract runs through 2010, he's flat out said he has no interest in leaving, and the organization has said they have no doubts in their coach whatsoever. The reports as far as Andy Reid goes have been complete speculation and have no basis in fact whatsoever. Some reporters seem to think that because his son got arrested that the guy will just step down as coach/president of an NFL team and forfeit millions of dollars to "take care" of one of his twenty-something kids. It's really a ridiculous assumption. Seeing as how he's won the division and made the playoffs 6 of the last 7 years it's equally as ridiculous to think he'd get fired.
As for McNabb, the situation is a little more interesting. I'll say this. If he finishes this year healthy and playing well there is absolutely no chance whatsoever he won't be the starting QB for the Eagles in 2008. There's no "drama" in the organization that would prevent that. However, were he to get injured again this season... who knows? Surely, the Eagles can't keep going into a season assuming their QB will get injured again and we've seen that they've bought themselves an insurance policy in the form of Kevin Kolb from Houston. So basically, as long he's healthy he's here. Another major injury and I'd seriously doubt his future as an Eagle. At that point, our faith would be put into a kid born & raised in Victoria, Texas that grew up a Cowboy fan!
BTB: You got Lito Sheppard back a while ago, now Brian Dawkins looks like he'll play; what's that going to do for your defense? They've been playing well before, how much better can they get? Who is making plays on defense?
BGN: The Eagles defense this year has been solid. Solid is probably the perfect description. They've filled their gaps, they've tackled soundly, they've covered reasonably well, and they've been much more physical(esp in the linebacking corps) than year. A quick glance at that the stats shows that the Eagles defense is near the tops in run defense and points allowed... but the loss of Lito & Dawkins has stripped the defense of arguably it's two biggest playmakers. As solid as the defense has been, they haven't been very dynamic. They haven't forced turnovers and made those big game changing plays. That's what Lito & Dawk have done over the past few years. They get those big picks and big strips that have changed games. Hopefully getting them healthy will bring that element back to the defense.
As for who has been making plays, the obvious guy is DE Trent Cole who is leading the NFL with 9 sacks. He's a guy who was drafted in the 5th round in 2005 who has just steadily gotten better every year. He's really transformed this year into a great two way defensive end who is just as solid against the run as he is rushing the passer. He was a big part of the reason the Eagles held Adrian Peterson to just 70 yards last week. Cole has had at least a sack in all but 2 games this year.
BTB: What is the main problem with your offense? They haven't being scoring TD's as often as they should in the redzone. What's going on there?
BGN: As always with this type of problem, it's hard to pinpoint just one thing. It's been down to a lot of stuff. At times I've criticized the playcalling down there... Injuries have been a factor... Westbrook was out for the Giants game and we weren't able to do anything in the red zone, TE LJ Smith has been hurt most of this year and he's always been a favorite red zone target of McNabb, McNabb himself and his struggles as he's tried to get back healthy has certainly been a factor... I have to think that much of it has been mental. This offense has actually moved the ball very well this year, they're getting a lot of yardage just not punching it in. They did manage two red zone TDs last week and I'm hoping that gets them in a better mindset going forward.
BTB: When looking at the Cowboys, what do you think the Eagles will do on Sunday? How will they attack Dallas and what is the key to an Eagles' win?
BGN: On defense, the Eagles are going to bring pressure. It's what they do best and it's worked well against the Cowboys & Romo last year. The guy that scares me and who always seems to have big games against the Eagles is Jason Witten, who will probably line up against a first year starter in Chris Gocong. Gocong has been very solid against the run, but hasn't been asked to do a lot in coverage this year. I'd expect Jim Johnson to give lots of safety help on Witten so he's never matched up one on one with a linebacker. The Cowboys have several good playmakers, but Witten specifically has always been big against the Eagles. I'm sure he was sad to see Dhani Jones get cut! He owned Dhani.
In going back and looking at previous Eagles/Dallas games I've noticed the Eagles have had a ton of success attacking DeMarcus Ware. In those two games last year they ran right at him and thew to Westbrook short on his side and had a lot of good results from it. As good as he is a pass rusher, I think he's struggled against Eagles in run containment and coverage. I think he is going to see a lot of Brian Westbrook Sunday night. Plus, as always McNabb is going to get a big grin on his face if he ever sees Roy Williams in single coverage... I know he struggles in general when it comes to coverage, but he's specifically always given up some big plays against the Eagles.
BTB: Bonus question: If I grew up in north Florida, hundreds of miles away from an NFL franchise and started rooting for the Cowboys when I was six, and have never lived in Dallas, but have lived in Atlanta for most of my adult life, where does that put me on the fan scale? ;-)
BGN: Aren't most colleges in Florida basically NFL franchises? Who knows, the Gators may actually be able to beat the Dolphins this year!