NFC East: MNF15 Browns
Don't underestimate what the Eagles did Monday night against the Browns. They've had a penchant for allowing inferior teams to stay in games with them -- or even tie them. But in a 30-10 victory, the Eagles imposed their will on the Browns from the start.
They exposed backup quarterback Ken Dorsey early and were able to keep the ball for nearly 38 minutes. Last week, Andy Reid depended on the running game to beat the Giants. But on Monday, he turned Donovan McNabb loose, and the quarterback responded with a superb effort. He was 26 of 35 for 290 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. McNabb has thrown seven touchdowns and only the one interception in the three games since he was benched against the Ravens.
After Monday's game, he told ESPN once again that he didn't like being the "scapegoat" three weeks ago, but you can't argue with the results following the benching. Against a pretty good secondary, McNabb was able to fit the ball into some very tight spots. He completed passes to nine different players and Jason Avant had 101 yards receiving. McNabb waited for the Browns to line up in Cover 3 and then he started working the cornerbacks over.
Westbrook only had 16 carries for 53 yards -- and that may have been by design. Coming off a 33-carry game, Reid didn't want to push Westbrook. With the Eagles up 17-3 at halftime, the Browns didn't have a legitimate shot at a comeback.
The Browns have no running game and their passing game relies too heavily on Braylon Edwards. In the past, the Eagles have messed around against bad teams. On Monday, they scored on five of their first seven drives and didn't have to punt until the game had already been decided. If Philadelphia can get past a fading Redskins team at FedEx Field on Sunday, they'll be 9-5-1 heading into the final game of the season against the Cowboys.
We often complain about teams tanking games at the end of the season in order to avoid injuries. It would be nice to see the Cowboys and the Eagles playing for a single playoff spot.
On defense, linebacker Stewart Bradley had a big game with six tackles and a key interception and Asante Samuel had an interception and his first touchdown as an Eagle. Trent Cole and Quintin Demps each had sacks, but the Eagles' defense didn't spend much time on the field.
The Browns were 3 of 12 on third downs and were held to 196 total yards. It was a dominating performance for the Eagles. Now, it's time to focus on the Redskins.
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
I've found the guys at Scouts Inc. to be a tremendous resource throughout the season. Gary Horton watches all the film and then provides some interesting nuggets each week:
- "Without wide receiver Plaxico Burress , Eli Manning did not see many rolled coverages before the snap," writes Horton. "Instead, the Eagles played balanced coverages, which didn't allow him to make any pre-snap reads. He was forced to read the defense after the snap, which is a lot tougher."
- "Philadelphia designed a game plan that caters to Donovan McNabb 's skills," says Horton. "Their passing game has become short and safe with shovel passes and screens. The coaches also seem to be designing more rollouts and bootlegs to take advantage of McNabb's ability to extend the play and break down defenses."
That's an interesting observation by Horton. In my mind, McNabb's always been more of a downfield passer. He actually struggled with his accuracy on some of the shorter passes. It makes sense that he's playing better, in part, because a healthy Brian Westbrook makes the offense 10 times more explosive. And Reid's commitment to the running game actually opened up some things in the passing game. The Eagles have been designing rollouts and bootlegs for most of the season. The only difference now is that they're working. On a sour note, there's a chance they cough one up on "Monday Night Football." These are the same Browns that took down the mighty Giants on MNF. They don't play well on Sunday, but on Mondays, the Browns are ready to go.