Luke Waltons Forehead presented by the Sports Dude.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005 at 9:21 AM

The Philadelphia Eagles.

This is my second of four parts leading up to Super Bowl Sunday. Today we will look at the NFC Champion Eagles, where as yesterday we looked at the Patriots. Tomorrow I will discuss some of my keys to winning for each team and Friday you all will receive the much anticipated pick from yours truly. Now, onto the Eagles.

The Eagles were to the NFC Title game what the Buffalo Bills were to the Super Bowl - perennial losers. For three years straight they got to the NFC Title game, only to choke it all away on the field. All the things they did great during the regular season would just seem to disappear once the game began. This year they finally shook that monkey off their backs, defeating the Atlanta Falcons 27-10 to win the NFC Title and represent their conference in the Super Bowl. Many players openly cried on the side lines as the game came to a close, finally ridding themselves of the ghosts of three years past. The question is, can they now do it in the Super Bowl as well?

With or without Terrell Owens, this is still Donovan McNabb’s unit. In years past he was known as a scrambler, opting to run first and pass second. His passing game was considered adequate at best and he was better known for the things he did with his feet. This year he has improved his passing game and even when he does scramble he keeps his head up constantly looking down field. Then, when all else fails, he will tuck the ball away and run. He is a two way threat that has to now be respected for his passing as much as his running. Without Terrell Owens in there the receivers are a bunch of #2’s and #3’s at best, led by Todd Pinkston and Freddie ( loud mouth, nice hair ) Mitchell. They have a formidable running back in Brian Westbrook, who is also the teams’ second leading receiver although he lines up in the back field. He too, just like McNabb, is a double threat. They have a strong, gritty offensive line anchored by Pro Bowler Jon Runyan ( a former Wolverine, no real shocker there! ). A balanced offensive unit that helped them go 13-3 during the regular season, get the first round bye and home field advantage, and take them (FINALLY!!) to the Super Bowl.

Cast-off’s, that is the word that comes to mind for me when I think of the Eagles defense. Jevon Kearse, let go in the off season by the Titans because he was too old, too expensive, on the decline. He signs with the Eagles, helps them get to the Super Bowl with a very stingy defense. Hugh Douglas? He left the Eagles to sign with Jacksonville last season. He got the big money but didn’t pan out. So the Eagles don’t hold a grudge and bring him back. He has a pretty good season and helps anchor that defensive front. Jeremiah Trotter? Same thing as Douglas, he leaves for the “big money” the Washington Redskins are throwing his way, but in two seasons there he never really pans out. He put up some decent numbers for the Skins, but he never really fit into their scheme. The Eagles let him come back, again without a grudge, and he has a good season and again looks at home. They also signed Dhani Jones this off season ( U-M slappy in the house!!!! ) and have a solid defense all around. If they can get to Brady it may be a good night in Philly on Sunday.

David Akers is a solid veteran kicker. The most I know about him, to be honest, is that ESPN commercial where they pick the meter man over him to play some flag football. Why? Because he is a kicker dude! The commercial closes with him saying “You need a kicker!?!?” – well, the Eagles have a good one in him.

Andy Reid heads up the staff with Brad Childress as his offensive coordinator and Jim Johnson handling the defense. Much like Belichick and his assistants, it seems that whenever a head coaching position pops up, one of Reid’s assistants gets mentioned as a candidate. Reid took over the Eagles in 1999, posting a 5-11 record in his rookie season as a head coach. He has posted a winning record and playoff appearance for his team every year since, finally reaching the Super Bowl in his sixth season on his fourth try. He coaches like he looks – cool and calm, but everyone knows he is the man running the show. He may not get the acclaim and attention his opponent Belichick does, but he is a good coach in his own right.

They finally got over the hump, so what now? Are they “just happy to be here.” Or are they going to make some noise and be heard? Will T.O. play? Will he sit? Will he become too big a distraction? In all honesty I think this has the makings to be one of the best Super Bowls in a long time and I look forward to kickoff.

Later - the sports dude.

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