Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Week 2 wrap

After the Eagles stunning collapse against the Giants, Eagles coach Andy Reid took full responsibility for his team's loss. This wasn't a case of a veteran coach covering for his players -- Reid's decision to shrink the playbook and slow down the Eagles' highly effective West Coast offense in the middle of the third quarter was what cost the birds the game.

Yesterday, still reeling from the loss, I foolishly subjected myself to a bunch of the Monday Morning Quarterback shows. The Eagles-Giants game was the first topic of discussion and a few analysts trotted out the old you-can't-be-a-Super-Bowl-contender-without-an-effective-power-running-game bugaboo in reference to the Eagles' inability to run out the clock.

Let's forget two of the Eagles' late game possessions ended on badly dropped passes and a third on a fumble by a
running back who had put the ball on the carpet exactly once in the previous three years and acknowledge, generally, the Eagles ability to run between the tackles is average at best. Does that really prevent them from being contenders?

Or is it one of those sports axioms-- like the team with the superior starting pitching wins the playoff series -- that is always true until it's false.

I'm not sure if it even reaches that standard. Of course it's nice to have a power running game. Just like it helps to have very good quarterback and an upper echelon defense-- two other attributes a Super Bowl contender "needs."

And if your team has all three and isn't led by Peyton Manning you will have a great chance of winning it all.

But recent history shows two out of three ain't bad. One just has to look at the Patriot dynasty. They won 2001 with a
rookie quarterback who certainly came into his own in the Super Bowl, but was far from dominant before that. They took the title in 2003 without a 650 -- let alone 1000 -- yard rusher. In 2004 they were firing on all cylinders and still barely beat an Eagles team that ranked close to last in the league in rushing.

Maybe the lesson of the Patriot's success is that having a great coach is key to winning a Super Bowl. I can only hope Andy Reid -- generally one of the better coaches in the NFL -- hasn't decided this is the year to try to prove that one wrong.

Picks -- I finished 10 - 6 against the spread last week. Not bad for my first time out. Although there were a lot of clear mismatches and all those favorites covered, so it was probably a profitable week for gamblers and a bad one for Vegas. I'm sure they'll make up for it.

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