Eagles are desperate and dangerous


Eagles are desperate and dangerous

FOXBORO - There's no getting around the fix the Philadelphia Eagles have put themselves in. The paper champions of August are 4-6. Another loss and this season that began under the Dream Team banner will quite likely be trending toward nightmare.

On Wednesday, four days before the Eagles will take on the Patriots in Philly, Eagles head coach Andy Reid stiff-armed talk that asked about his team's desperation level.

"It seems like every week in the National Football League is a do-or-die game," said Reid. "Thats kind of how you approach it I think from a coaching standpoint.

But to be 4-6 after all the expectations?

"You know what? I dont get into all that. I just get into I think as coaches youre problems solvers," he explained. "You get in and you try to figure it out and make sure you put the guys in the right position and coach your guys up thats kind of what you do. Theres no time to look back or look forward you get so entrenched in the moment and making sure you get that right."

In this particular moment, the Eagles are coming off a huge NFC East win over the Giants. But all that did was, essentially, extend their season. The Cowboys lead the division at 6-4. The Giants, tied record-wise with the Cowboys, aren't even a Wild Card team currently. The 7-3 Lions and Bears hold those. So the Eagles have to win their division. Too much ground to make up in the Wild Card race.

They are desperate. And, as Sunday's win showed, they are dangerous even with Michael Vick nursing broken ribs and the newly reconditioned Vince Young directing the offense.

In some ways, it's appropriate Young now has to try and cover the checks his mouth wrote when he somewhat innocently used the term "Dream Team" to describe the collection of talent Philly amassed.

Reid wanted no part of the long-since stale Dream Team talk on Wednesday.

"I dont worry about all that. I dont worry about that stuff," he said. "Ask somebody else on these questions. Im a very simple guy, so I dont get into all the whole philosophies and things and all that stuff."

Cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, signed as a big-ticket free agent after finally leaving the Raiders, gave his take on the nickname.

"I didnt think anything of it when I first heard it," he explained. "I just thought it was Vince talking about how he felt and how he was excited and how it was like a dream come true, something like that. You learn very quickly how things can get spun. I mean I think we all got a lesson in that after that statement he made. Then it turned into us just being cocky and us being over-confident and saying way too much, etc, etc which we were never doing. No one ever took it like that when he said it. It was just something like that hes always looked forward too or hes happy to be in this situation."

No Eagle is happy to be in the situation they now find themselves. They must know kick the lid off the coffin and climb out.

"We knew from the start that things dont happen overnight," said Asomugha. "We knew that expectations were going to be great and it was going to be assumed that we would be undefeated, but we knew there was going to be some work to be done. Everybody was ne, everybody was learning, and coaches included. We just needed to be real with ourselves and I think it becomes a bigger issue when you think about what the expectations have been and rightfully so.

"We try to keep it in perspective between what those expectations have been and what the reality of the situation is," Asomugha added. "When you bring a team together you have to build them. The team has to build and there has to be chemistry and they have to gel before things start to happen. You think you are going to play like what people would call an all-star team or something like that and you should just win every game, but not everybody got to be on the same page.

"You see teams over the years win many games and even Super Bowls without the most talented players, but those type of teams have been in the same types of systems for four or five years. Theres been a growth period that has finally clicked for them. So, thats pretty much what weve been hoping for and experiencing that moment for when it just clicks, which has happened in several games this year. It just has to happen for the entire game and we got to make it happen every game."

This week, it's the Patriots the Eagles have to step over if they want to keep their season alive. And then they have to do it again and again and again. They have to make it happen, as Asomugha said, every game.

Not a lot of talk about Cannon this season, and that's a good thing for Patriots


Not a lot of talk about Cannon this season, and that's a good thing for Patriots

Marcus Cannon has had his run as a piñata. The Patriots offensive lineman is a frequent target when things go wrong up front and, usually, he’s deserved it.

A bit of anecdotal evidence? 

Sunday, I tweeted that every time I watched Cannon, he was making another good play.

On cue, about 10 tweets came back at me with variations of “Keep watching him!”

I asked Bill Belichick if he agreed with the layman’s assessment that Cannon’s playing well.

“I think Marcus [Cannon] has done a good job for us for quite a while,” Belichick began. “I mean he’s stepped in for Sebastian [Vollmer] and then last year when Nate [Solder] was out [and he substituted] for Nate. He has played a lot of good football for us.

“We extended our agreement with him off of his rookie contract which I think speaks to the fact that we want him on the team and we like what he’s doing and so forth and he’s continued to I’d say show with his performance [that he has] validated the confidence that we have in him.”

Cannon’s ending to 2015 – a poor performance (along with the rest of the line) against the Broncos in the AFC Championship Game was followed by a performance against the Cardinals that was marred by late-game holding calls.

But with Sebastian Vollmer injured (and still injured) it was sink or swim with Cannon which had plenty of people rolling their eyes.

But – as I said – every time I see Cannon, he’s either holding off a defensive end in pass protection, steamrolling downfield in the running game or making really athletic second-level or cut blocks in the screen game.

“Like every player, as they gain more experience they do get better,” said Belichick. “I think our offensive line’s certainly improved over the course of the year and playing with more consistency than we did last year. But there’s always room for improvement and the continuity that we’ve had there since (right guard) Shaq [Mason] has gotten in the last few weeks – we had Shaq over on the right side a little bit at the end of the season last year and then this year most all of the year except when Shaq was out for a few weeks there at the end of training camp and the start of the season – but our overall consistency and communication on the offensive line has been better because we’ve had more continuity there so that helps everybody.”

It can’t hurt that the lineman whisperer, Dante Scranecchia, has returned to coach the group. Cannon’s conditioning and physique looks better. He just appears more athletic and explosive. And he’s seemed more relaxed in the limited time the media’s in the locker room.

All off that added up equals nobody really talking about Marcus Cannon.
“Like any lineman, the less you call his name probably the better he’s doing,” said Belichick. “It’s probably a good thing when you guys don’t talk about him. Then that probably means they’re not doing something too noticeably wrong, right?”