Editor’s note: Staff writer Steve Fini breaks down the difference makers in the Eagles’ thrashing of the Jets.
Lesean McCoy (RB/Eagles) – Remember when Eagles fans were worried about Brian Westbrook leaving the team? Well, McCoy has erased those concerns. I really can’t say enough about what he’s done this season. With only 18 carries Sunday, he amassed 103 yards and three touchdowns, breaking Steve Van Buren’s mark for rushing touchdowns in a season by an Eagle. Even if the Eagles miss the playoffs, Andy Reid gets fired, and the entire season ends in heartbreak (feeling optimistic today), at the very least fans should be thankful they’re getting to watch McCoy. He’s still extremely young, raw, and has the uncanny ability of turning nothing into something.
And he can still be better. He needs to improve his work in the screen game–a staple of Westbrook’s success as an Eagle. And if he can become a more vocal leader than this team should and will do great things in the near future.
Jason Babin (DE/Eagles) – I will be the first to admit I was not excited when the Eagles agreed to terms with Babin. I thought he was a one-year wonder who was on the downside of his career and was just looking to cash in. Luckily, I have no say in what the Eagles organization does. Babin’s year has been incredible as he’s on the verge of breaking Philly’s single-season sack record. Babin is flourishing in this system and is in the midst of finishing one of those remarkable seasons by a defensive end in franchise history. He can be criticized as a one-dimensional defense end, and at times such criticisms are justified, but if that one dimension happens to produce 18 sacks, well, I can live with that.
Mark Sanchez (QB/Jets) – I really didn’t understand why the Jets traded up to get him a few years back, and he’s proving me, along with several other of his critics, right. The guy just isn’t a NFL starting caliber quarterback right now. His decision making is terrible, and although the Jets have a good run game and defense, they still can’t compensate for his untimely turnovers. The biggest difference between Sunday’s win and early season flops were that the Eagles finally took advantage of a turnover prone quarterback. This is what they should have been doing all season.
Brent Celek (TE/Eagles) – Welcome back, Brent. It’s been a long time since we’ve seen this kind of performance from you. His ability has always been there but the lack of chemistry with Michael Vick and the Eagles growing need for Celek to block really hurt his production. It’s finally coming together. Vick has placed an emphasis on getting rid of the football in a more timely fashion and it’s been to Celek’s benefit. The Eagles have an offensive line that they feel comfortable with, allowing Celek to get free in the passing game. And with Vick becoming more comfortable in the offense and teams trying to shut down the Eagles big play ability, it has opened up room on underneath routes for Celek. The offense has been inconsistent, but moving forward with with an improving offensive line and a dynamic set of skill players, the future looks bright.
Rex Ryan (Head coach/Jets) – Everyone has been quick to say the Eagles ran their mouths this summer about having the best roster in the NFL. That’s not exactly true. But why let facts get in the way of a good story. Such talk actually did come from Rex Ryan, a coach who starts every season with the redundant prediction that his team is Super Bowl bound. Every year he makes jokes about how much better his team is than everyone else. And every year they fall short. He’s a really good coach and I definitely wouldn’t mind having him on my sidelines. He does what he’s supposed to do and takes the heat off of his team and accepts puts it on himself. But it’s become detrimental in many ways. Ryan is already chirping again this week. This time, the Eagles season depends on Ryan and his squad backing up the head coach’s words.