Sunday’s 34-10 victory over the visiting Redskins was the Eagles’ fourth straight victory. Their four-game winning streak allows the Eagles to finish with an 8-8 record. But do those four straight wins have any significance in terms of the offseason and next year?
The Eagles ended their disappointing season with a 34-10 triumph over the hapless Redskins, extending their winning streak to four games. The four-game winning streak improved the Eagles’ record to 8-8, but there are questions about how much meaning one should place in those four wins.
Do the four wins indicate the Eagles have turned a corner? Do the wins demonstrate that it simply took more time than expected for all the new faces to develop into a cohesive team? Or were the victories virtually meaningless, hollow wins compiled against team’s with awful offenses?
Eagles head coach Andy Reid started with the positive spin regarding the four-game winning streak, but added, “At the same time, you’re humbled because you didn’t make the playoffs.”
Reid was even less clear when asked about his future. Does he expect to be the Eagles’ coach next season? Does he want to be the Eagles’ coach next season? Regardless of how the question was asked, Reid didn’t provide an answer.
Reid’s non-answers leave it open to speculation whether he’ll be back next season. Expect rumors to run rampant about Reid going to San Diego, where head coach Norv Turner is expected to be fired.
Even if Reid returns, there are uncertainties concerning the coaching stuff. Will offensive line coach Howard Mudd, who was coaxed out of retirement by Reid, remain with the Eagles or return to retirement? Will Juan Castillo return for a second season as defensive coordinator? Castillo’s difficulties were often cited as a prime reason for the defense’s struggles.
The biggest decision the Eagles must make regarding players this offseason is whether to re-sign receiver DeSean Jackson, who caught a 62-yard touchdown pass Sunday, the longest of his four touchdowns this season. Jackson possesses game-breaking speed, although we only saw flashes of it this season. Jackson didn’t appear to give full effort at times . The inconsistency in effort will hurt Jackson’s market value, whether he stays with the Eagles or signs with another team as a free agent.
Playing without injured running back LeSean McCoy (ankle), Michael Vick finished a forgettable season by completing 24 of 39 passes for 335 yards and three touchdowns (one apiece to Brent Celek, Chad Hall and Jackson). On the negative side of the ledger, Vick threw an interception and lost a fumble.
The defense gave up 256 yards passing to Rex Grossman and allowed rookie Evan Royster to rush for 113 yards on 20 carries, but only allowed 10 points. The defense allowed 10 or fewer points during three of the four games during the Birds’ season-ending winning streak. But the Dolphins, Jets and Redskins don’t have explosive offenses. The Cowboys lost starting quarterback Tony Romo during the first quarter of the Eagles’ victory on Dec. 24, a game that was rendered meaningless to both teams when the Giants completed a victory over the Jets during the first quarter of the Eagles-Cowboys game.
So, although the numbers are better, it’s difficult to determine whether the Eagles defense improved significantly toward the end of the year. Whether or not the defense will get better under Castillo is one of the most important questions that must be answered during the offseason.
The answer might depend on how much significance is attached to the Eagles’ four-game winning streak at the end of the season.