I waited for the results of the Giants-Vikings game Monday night before passing judgement on the Eagles' tough loss to the Cowboys this past Sunday...
The Giants won and are now 1-6. They are our next opponent.
As far as the Eagles go, I think we have made progress defensively. I think we are so improved on defense that we are capable of neutralizing our offensive shortcomings against divisional opponents the rest of the way. That means a lot when you are handicapping the fact that the Eagles lack a true leadership presence at the QB position.
Injuries happen to QB's. Inexperience is revealed at the backup position. We all knew that going into the 2013 season. That's when you must hope and rely upon your defense to pick up the slack.
Chip Kelly in his presser yesterday said as much. He even hinted that he might have to go out and pick up a free agent QB while Vick and Foles are on the mend.
One of the most positive guys in the Eagles' reporting business is Brad Wilson of the Lehigh Valley Express-Times. Here's what Wilson took away from the loss to Dallas on Sunday:
1. The Eagles really miss Jeremy Maclin. The passing game right now depends on one home-run receiver, DeSean Jackson, and a bunch of possession receivers, who are very good at what they do but don't stretch the field. That allows teams to throw a blanket of double coverage over Jackson. Maclin, done for the season with a knee injury, would change that.
2. The Cowboys have a winner in rookie safety J.J. Wilcox, a third-round draft pick from Georgia Southern. He made an acrobatic interception in the end zone (overturned on replay but still a remarkable play), broke up a sure TD pass to Jackson, and delivered some crushing tackles in run support. Eagles fans were green with envy.
3. Matt Barkley will be a better NFL quarterback than he showed Sunday. The Eagles' rookie had to come in in an impossible situation against a defense that had the Birds completely figured out. Tough spot for a debut. He'll learn and improve.
4. Chip Kelly made the right call on the 60-yard field goal before the half. At the time three points would have been huge and Alex Henery's kick had the distance so it was makeable. Certainly better than a Hail Mary.
5. Vinny Curry will be a very, very good NFL pass rusher with more experience. The second-year man from Marshall's motor is always running and his quickness is impressive. He needs to be stronger against the run but his pass rush techniques are getting better and better, as defensive coordinator Bill Davis noted afterwards.
In fact, lost in the wreckage of the Philadelphia Eagles' dismal offensive performance Sunday was their best defensive effort of the season.
The Birds' 17-3 loss to the Dallas Cowboys can certainly not be laid at the feet of the defense, which kept the Eagles in the game, set up the offense' only score with a turnover and held Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo to a 69.2 quarterback rating.
"There are a lot of positives," Eagles defensive coordinator Bill Davis said. "... (but) you always have to outplay the opponent's defense and we didn't."
Davis may be a little hard on himself. Dallas had just 368 yards despite having the ball for 36 minutes to the Eagles' 23. The Birds sacked Romo twice, intercepted him twice, and got pretty consistent pressure on the veteran who started his 100th game for Dallas Sunday.
"Their defensive line did a good job of putting some pressure (on) and we weren't able to expose some things we thought we could," Romo said. "They rushed the passer pretty good and did a lot of good things on the outside."
The Eagles held Dallas to 2.8 yards a carry rushing and just 74 yards on the ground overall. It was the third straight game an Eagles foe scored 21 points or less.
Inside linebacker DeMeco Ryans' interception set up Philadelphia's lone score and lit up the stat sheet with a team-leading eight tackles, a sack, a quarterback hurry, and a pass defended.
"I am proud of the effort and the way our defense played," Ryans said. "It was probably the best defensive effort we have had all season and it was against a good football team with a good offense. The guys played hard."
Bill Davis agreed. "I think the guys are tightening down their coverage in the secondary and we are getting familiar with our techniques and our calls... our technique is really getting better," he said. "You wish you could have come away with a win but the defense is slowly taking steps forward."
Chip Kelly liked what he saw.
"I think we're really excited how our defense is playing," he said. "I just think overall through the course of the game, I thought they played with great effort. I thought they did a really good job against an explosive passing operation. (Wide receiver) Dez Bryant was out there and (tight end) Jason Witten, Romo is one of the top quarterbacks in this league. So I think our defense gave us some optimism."
The Eagles made a minor roster move on Monday, releasing cornerback Shaun Prater and signing linebacker Emmanuel Acho from the New York Giants practice squad.
Acho spent the entire preseason with the Eagles, leading the defense in tackles in four pre-games. His release was considered a surprise and did not go over well with the fan base.
The signing of Acho likely has to do with the injury to Jake Knott, who suffered a hamstring injury during the Eagles loss to the Cowboys. Acho was also a strong special teams player, an area the Eagles have struggled with recently.
Picking up Acho forces the Eagles to pay him for three weeks or keep him for three games on the active roster, meaning this move likely isn't being made just to potentially get some tips about the Giants for their upcoming game.
As for Prater, the release ends a disappointing stint in Philadelphia for the 23-year old cornerback. Prater was picked up by the team prior to Week One, but has been active for just one game. The team signed cornerback Roc Carmichael two weeks ago, and it seems like they decided to keep Carmichael over Prater.
The Eagles now have just four cornerbacks on the roster, so another move could be coming.