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Thursday, November 29, 2012
The Other Side: Jeff McLane, Philadelphia Inquirer

By Calvin Watkins

Well, the rematch with the Philadelphia Eagles is Sunday night at Cowboys Stadium, and in our weekly segment, The Other Side, we get a chance to chat with Jeff McLane, the Eagles beat writer for the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Enjoy.

Q: Is the Philadelphia defense this bad?

A: It sure looks it. It wasn't that bad in the first six games under Juan Castillo. He had significant struggles last season but appeared to have the defense playing as a cohesive unit before Andy Reid fired him in October. But since Todd Bowles took over, things have gone ridiculously downhill. In five games, opposing quarterbacks have a 139.9 passer rating, completed 75.2 percent of their passes and averaged 9.7 yards per attempt. They’ve thrown 13 touchdown passes and no interceptions. When Castillo was in charge, opposing quarterbacks had a 69.4 passer rating, completed 52.6 percent of their passes and averaged 6.2 yards per attempt.(And they tossed seven touchdowns against seven interceptions.

Q: Is it worth it to even play Michael Vick at this point?

A: For the Eagles, no. Vick may see things the opposite way. He will obviously want to play once he's cleared to return from a concussion to show prospective employers that he can rebound from the head injury and that he isn't one of the primary reasons for his team's demise. But the Eagles need to see what they have in Nick Foles. And with the final eight games all but meaningless, now is as good a time as any to see if the rookie can be the quarterback of the future.

Q: Do the Eagles have any young players worth watching Sunday night?

A: While the 2010 and 2011 drafts were busts, the Eagles' 2012 class looks promising. Defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, the Birds' top pick, has been their most consistent lineman all season. He has a lower back contusion, however, and probably won't play in Dallas. Linebacker Mychal Kendricks has hit that proverbial rookie wall, but he still comes up with a play or two every game. Second-round pick Vinny Curry finally dressed on Sunday and showed lots of promise. The defensive end's effort paved the way for the release of Jason Babin on Tuesday. And then there's Nick Foles, of course.

Q: Any chance Andy Reid gets one more chance to coach the team in 2013?

A: I think I have a better chance of coaching the Eagles next season than Reid. Owner Jeffrey Lurie said before the season that the Eagles needed to show "substantial improvement" upon last season's 8-8 finish for Reid to return for a 15th season. The Eagles, of course, have already reached the eight-loss bar Lurie set. He also said it would be obvious at the end whether Reid should stay or go. And this season's disaster -- after last season -- makes it's perfectly clear that Reid's time has come to its end.

Q: Can the Eagles beat anybody that's left on their schedule?

A: Good question. A few weeks ago it looked like Tampa may be their easiest opponent, but the Bucs have come on strong. The Eagles still have all three of their NFC East rivals to face. Those games almost always seem to be up for grabs. So I think they should be able to win one of those games. They did already beat the New York Giants, as hard as that is to comprehend. The unknown question, though, is whether Vick will be at quarterback for any of those games. He at least gives them a fighter's chance every week.