NFC East: 2011 Week 17 Wrap-ups
January, 1, 2012
By Dan Graziano | ESPN.com
A few thoughts from the final game of the season for both the Philadelphia Eagles and the Washington Redskins:
What it means: The Eagles won their final four games of the season to finish at 8-8 and avoid what would have been Andy Reid's third losing season in 13 years as their head coach. The Redskins lost their final two and finish at 5-11, one game worse than they were last year in Mike Shanahan's first season as their coach.
Turnovers, turnovers: Washington quarterback Rex Grossman threw his 20th interception of the season in just his 13th game, stretching his streak to 12 games in a row with at least one. He won't lead the league, though, because Buffalo's Ryan Fitzpatrick threw four of them today to get to 23 for the season. Philadelphia quarterback Michael Vick also threw an interception -- giving him 14 in his 13 games -- and lost a fumble. Vick also threw three touchdown passes, including a 62-yarder to DeSean Jackson -- but the turnovers were a reminder of the problem that really sank the Eagles early in the season when they were outplaying teams but finding ways to lose.
Pay the man: By sitting out the last game of the season with an ankle injury, Eagles running back LeSean McCoy might have made an even stronger case for a contract extension than his brilliant first 15 games of the season made. The Eagles just didn't have anything in the run game without him. Ronnie Brown offered one final bit of proof for why he didn't get any better offers, and Dion Lewis looks like he has work to do to learn the playbook. Jackson's poor season might have eliminated his chance to get the extension he wanted, and you wonder if the Eagles will look to lock up McCoy long-term instead.
Running Redskins: Rookie running back Evan Royster cleared 100 yards rushing for the second week in a row, getting the bulk of the carries ahead of gimpy Roy Helu. But Helu did catch a 47-yard touchdown pass, and it seems clear that, especially if Tim Hightower can come back from his ACL injury, the Redskins will be extremely strong at running back in 2012.
Eagles' defense finishes strong: The Eagles' pass rush harassed Grossman all day, and the Eagles will end the season as statistically one of the best defenses in the league. Between the defense and Jeremy Maclin and McCoy and the way Vick finished the season, I imagine Eagles fans would be feeling very optimistic about next season if they weren't so justifiably disappointed by the way this season went.
Kicked out? Graham Gano had a field goal attempt blocked for the fifth time this season. I have to believe the Redskins will find a replacement.
What's next: The Eagles need to make some decisions about their coaching staff for 2012, then go out and hunt for linebackers. The Redskins need to start preparing for a draft in which they will pick somewhere between No. 4 and No. 7, and begin the process of finding themselves a quarterback.