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December 22 Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Bob Ford:
“When the Eagles traded Donovan McNabb to the Redskins on Easter Sunday, turning the final page of a long chapter in team quarterbacking history, there was no lack of theories about how that move would work out.
Nobody had the right one, however.
The trifecta of McNabb, benched-Kolb, demoted-Vick MVP was a ticket that went unplayed. Who would have believed it? But that improbable reality has unfolded during a strange football season, one that might get even stranger before it is finished.
As has been mentioned a lot in the national media – and somewhat less often locally – Andy Reid, his staff, and the front office look like geniuses. It’s just one big Mensa meeting in sweatpants down there at the NovaCare Complex. When they aren’t busy divining the future of the NFL, the boys sit around debating the string theory of particle physics and doing the Sunday crossword in French.
This is what you deserve when things work out as they have since the McNabb trade, but it overlooks the fact that Reid had an MVP-quality player on his roster at the beginning of the season but wasn’t starting him. If Green Bay linebacker Clay Matthews hadn’t given Michael Vick his chance by dribbling Kevin Kolb off the turf at Lincoln Financial Field, who knows how different the season would have been or how smart the Eagles would look now.
That hardly matters, of course. What happened here happened, and what happened in Washington happened, and the Eagles might have clinched the NFC East already, depending on what the Giants do in Green Bay on Sunday afternoon. That outcome will be known before the Eagles take the field against the Vikings, meaning that Vick might not need to be exposed to a lot more pounding in the regular season.
There still will be a first-round bye to pursue, but depending on what the Bears do against the Jets earlier on Sunday, they’ll have a good idea about that probability as well.
December 22 Camden Courier-Post:
“People thought Andy Reid gambled and lost when he deactivated veteran backup linebacker Omar Gaither against Dallas, leaving rookie Jamar Chaney as the only option behind Stewart Bradley.
And when Bradley got knocked out of the game early with an elbow injury, in went Chaney for his first defensive snaps of the season.
But it wasn’t a mistake then and isn’t now, after Chaney made 16 tackles in his starting debut Sunday against the Giants in the team’s miraculous comeback.
Chaney has now led the defense in tackles for two consecutive games, with 23 overall.
He’s barely 6 feet tall and weighs just 242 pounds, but Chaney flies to the football. He spearheaded a defensive effort that held running backs Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs to 100 total rushing yards on 31 carries after the Giants had rushed for more than 400 yards total in their past two games.
“I think I played pretty good. There’s always stuff you can improve on,” Chaney said. “One thing Coach (Sean) McDermott and (linebackers) Coach (Bill) Shuey make sure I do is play fast and physical and no matter what I make sure I play fast and physical throughout the whole game and let it go from there.”
Chaney and another fellow seventh-rounder, safety Kurt Coleman, were long shots to the make the roster out of training camp. Now, they’re being counted on to step into starting positions on a team that’s on the verge of clinching the NFC East title.
Bradley remains sidelined for the final two games of the regular season but is expected to be available for the playoffs. Coleman takes the place of free safety Nate Allen, who underwent surgery Tuesday to repair a torn patellar tendon and won’t return until next season.”
December 22 Philadelphia Inquirer:
“The Eagles used the 13th and 37th picks in April’s NFL draft to bring in two highly regarded rookies who were supposed to bolster the defense.
But as the team heads toward the playoffs, the Eagles who were drafted 220th and 244th will have key roles for a defense that still needs improvement, particularly against the pass.
Safety Nate Allen – the smooth player taken 37th – went on the injured reserve list Tuesday after tearing a right knee tendon against the Giants. He joined top pick Brandon Graham, lost the week before to a torn right knee ligament.
Allen will be replaced by seventh-rounder Kurt Coleman.
Middle linebacker Jamar Chaney, drafted 220th overall, also has stepped into a prominent role, taking over as the defensive signal-caller for Stewart Bradley, who is out with a dislocated elbow.
Chaney and Coleman, drafted 11th and 13th, respectively, by the Eagles, have had their moments, and both played big roles. Chaney recorded 16 tackles or assists and Coleman had a key blitz late in the Giants game to force a punt. But they also have shown liabilities, particularly against the pass.
“All of our young guys are doing a good job. Are we leaving some plays on the field from an experience standpoint? Yes,” defensive coordinator Sean McDermott said after the Giants game. “We’ve got to keep working on hammering those out or minimizing those. Those are going to happen when you have young players. But . . . I’m certainly happy with the end result.”
Coleman, in spot duty and one start, has been strong against the run, sometimes going onto the field in place of cornerbacks in running situations. But he has been beaten deep several times this year.
Chaney also made his biggest impact while attacking the Giants’ runners. But he had his most glaring struggles while chasing tight end Kevin Boss.”
December 22 Philadelphia Daily News:
Jackson, appearing on ESPN’s SportsCenter, was asked about fumbling the ball and having to pick it up to start his return.
“I think it froze a lot of people,” Jackson said. “Everybody was coming down so fast and just trying make a big play . . . when I dropped the ball and tried to go right, I couldn’t go right, and I just looked back left and there was a huge crease. I looked up and Jason Avant made a huge block” on long snapper Zak DeOssie, the last defender who really had an angle, at about the Giants’ 40. “That’s something we love to do, go out there and make it look like a video game.”
Jackson reiterated that he was making sure the clock had expired, when he ran parallel to the goal line at the end of his return, but he acknowledged he was “trying to think about doing something crazy, but I just kind of kept it clean out there.”
Jackson said that quarterback Michael Vick has “taken a lot of leadership here; everybody’s looking at him, he’s being accountable . . . that’s what you look for in your quarterback. Everything he has going for him this year, he deserves it all. I’m just blessed to be able to play with him.””
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