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TGI Friday’s NFL Weekend Preview: Indianapolis Colts vs Philadelphia Eagles

This series is brought to you by TGI Friday’s, where every Sunday means Food, Fun, & Football! Hut, hut, hut!

Why Should I Watch?

There aren’t many quarterbacks in the NFL who are more exciting to watch than Peyton Manning.  Michael Vick is one of the few.  Vick electrified the Eagles when he started filling in for the injured Kevin Kolb.  He was then forced to miss time with his own injuries, but he returns to action on Sunday to face the Colts.  We’re now right around the halfway point of the 2010 season, when we can really start to get a feel for who the real contenders are.  Philadelphia and Indianapolis are two of them.

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Despite Kevin Kolb’s Success, Andy Reid Says Michael Vick Still Eagles’ Starter

When Kevin Kolb had to be removed from the Philadelphia Eagles‘ week one game against the Packers with a concussion, Michael Vick stepped in and gave the Eagles a chance to win.  They came up short in that particular game, but Vick proceeded to tear it up when he was given a chance to start the following two.  Given the level Vick was playing at, there was no way Andy Reid could give Kolb his starting job back when he was cleared to play.

However, these things have a way of working themselves out.  Or do they?  The exact same situation arose again for the Eagles in their week four game against the Redskins, only this time it was Vick with the injury and Kolb filling in for him.  Like Vick, Kolb played effectively but came up just short of a victory.  Also like Vick, Kolb went on to lead the Eagles to wins the following two games.  In a win over the 49ers, Kolb threw for 253 yards and a touchdown with a passer rating of 103.3.  On Sunday, he threw for 326 yards and 3 touchdowns in a dominating 31-17 win over Atlanta, posting a passer rating of 133.6.

With Vick inching closer to being cleared to play, what does Reid do now?  The Eagles are winning with Kolb.  Oh yeah, they were winning with Vick, too.  The Eagles’ quarterback play is a huge reason they’ve been able to win with Kolb.  Oh yeahhh, that was a huge reason they were winning with Vick, too.  Despite Kolb’s success the past two games, Reid insists Vick still has his starting job locked down.

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McNabb Cheered in Return to Philly

For those of who are like Doug Gottlieb and were wondering what type of reception Donovan McNabb would get in his return to Philadelphia, you’ve got your answer.  The ovation for McNabb was overwhelming when his name was announced over the PA system at Lincoln Financial Field.  So there you have it — Donovan McNabb was cheered in his return to Philadelphia.

Eagles fans certainly did the right thing.  McNabb gave it his all while leading Philadelphia and was able to take the Eagles to a Super Bowl.  It’s not like it’s a situation where he left to take more money somewhere else, either.  He was traded and there’s nothing he could have done about it.  While we kind of saw it coming, the fans were right to show their appreciation.

Side note: Looks like McNabb came to play.  He currently has his Redskins on top 14-0 in the first quarter after throwing a touchdown pass to Chris Cooley.

Michael Vick is Absolutely Tearing it Up

It wasn’t long ago that we found ourselves wondering if Michael Vick would be able to resurrect his career after filling in for the injured Kevin Kolb.  Andy Reid went and answered that question for us when he named Vick the starter even after Kolb had been cleared to play.  Unless you’re one of the people who is strongly opposed to seeing Vick succeed because of his dog fighting days, he’s done nothing to disappoint.

Not only is Vick playing well enough to deserve a permanent starting job, he’s one of the best quarterbacks in the league at the moment.  Through less than three games, he’s thrown for 750 yards and 6 touchdowns.  He has yet to throw an interception and has had a passer rating of above 100.0 in each game.  Not bad for a guy who is better known for his legs.

That doesn’t mean Vick has lost his play-making ability on the ground, either.  He’s rushed for 170 yards in 2+ games and has one rushing touchdown on the year.  Like him, love him, or hate him, No. 7 is playing out of his mind.  The stats he’s compiled make him look more like Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, and Drew Brees than some sophomore’s backup.  Oh yeah, and Philadelphia rolled on the Jags today, 28-3.

The Eagles are sitting at 2-1 while their NFC East counterparts have all struggled to get to 1-2.  With Michael Vick looking like he’s never left the league, Andy Reid and the Eagles must be feeling pretty good about their chances to win the division.

Donovan McNabb Can Kiss His Request for a Top WR Goodbye with Peters Trade

Donovan McNabb’s made it pretty well-known that his future with the Eagles (he’s entering the final year of his contract) depends on what they do over the offseason. McNabb’s really only played with one top notch receiver in his entire career and that was Terrell Owens. Interestingly enough, not only did McNabb enjoy his best statistical season and a half ever with T.O., but Owens was also having his best season ever in ’05 before Philly shut operation T.O. down. Last year the Eagles took a step in the right direction using their second-round pick on DeSean Jackson who’s a pretty good playmaker. This year it seems as if two pretty high quality receivers (Braylon Edwards and Anquan Boldin) are available on the trade market, not to mention guys like Housmazilli and Coles who were available as free agents prior to signing deals.

The trade between Philly and Buffalo where the Eagles gave up three picks (their first, fourth, and one next year) for Bills left tackle Jason Peters, seems to have ended any chance of the Eagles picking up a big receiving option. The negotiations between the teams went so smoothly because Philly was willing to open up the vault for Peters and pay him top dollar — $60 million over five years with 25 guaranteed, if I’m not mistaken. I don’t know how they’ll have much left over for a receiving threat. Thing is, McNabb might be happier with some extra protection for his blind side than anything else. Remember that eight or nine sack game Winston Justice gave up to the Giants a few years ago? I’m sure McNabb does.

Problem for Philly here is that a $60 million investment in Peters is unwise. The guy got named to the Pro Bowl last year based on reputation, not performance. He gave up 11.5 sacks and even had to benched at the beginning of the year because his performance lagged from holding out during training camp. Peters said he wasn’t happy with his contract last year and admitted it may have adversely impacted his performance. The Eagles better make sure it was a lack of desire, not talent, that caused Peters to have the bad year. Either way they’re screwed because I wouldn’t want that much money tied up in a guy who’s performance is related to contract satisfaction.

Donovan McNabb Blames Defense for Playoff Loss to Cardinals

The enlightened and rational fan understands that the Eagles defense gave up 32 points to the Cardinals in the NFC Championship game, allowing 24 first-half points to leave them buried in a hole. The irrational fan screams that Donovan McNabb can’t win the big game and blames him for the team’s failure to make it to the Super Bowl. McNabb is so conscious of the irrational fan that he goes out of his way to defend himself for their sake, at the expense of his teammates. He did so in an interview with WIP in Philly, according to the Inquirer via Ben Maller:

“We were up, 25-24,” McNabb said. Then, in case people missed it the first time, he repeated it for good measure. “We were up, 25-24. [The Cardinals] drove down 72 yards by running the ball – probably, what, eight times? And it reminded me so much of [the NFC championship game in] St. Louis where, coming back in that second half, they ran the ball nine times with Marshall Faulk to keep our offense off the field. Because they were terrified of us going back out and scoring more points.”

375 passing yards, three touchdowns, and 25 points of offense usually is enough to get it done for a team, particularly one with a strong defense. No doubt the defense let the team down in that game. However, let’s not forget how critical the defense was to the team’s success the last month of the season, holding opponents to 12.5 points per game. Maybe Donovan should have recalled the wins over the Giants, Vikings, and Cowboys before implying the defense blew it. Let’s also not forget that despite the defense’s lack of performance in the game, the Eagles offense still had chance to tie things up with a successful final drive. Then again, swap Kevin Curtis for Boldin or Fitzgerald and you’re talking touchdown, but that’s another discussion for a different day.

Video: DeSean Jackson Loses a Touchdown Celebrating Before End Zone

I guess it’s kind of hard to completely call it celebrating because he really wasn’t taunting or dancing, but DeSean Jackson was definitely in error when he released the ball prior to reaching the end zone. Jackson had just caught a bomb from Donovan McNabb in the 2nd quarter of the Cowboys/Eagles Monday Night game and was cruising into the end zone untouched when he released the trigger too quickly. Check out this boneheaded play by Jackson:

Luckily Brian Westbrook punched it in after the mistake, giving the Eagles their 27-21 lead so the outcome wasn’t altered. I’m pretty darn sure that we won’t be seeing Jackson celebrate anytime too soon after that one. Still looking for his first career touchdown, he’s gotta be regretting that mistake.