I guess we're dealing with Andy Reid's final home game as an Eagle…
This doesn't make me happy. Yes, I know Andy's time has come and gone. He's brought me more good than bad, but we all know his tenure as head coach of this franchise has burned out like a candle in the wind.
So what now?
Welp, we play out the schedule. There's no getting around that. Sure, we could "legally" forfeit both of our remaining two games in 2012 to secure a better draft position…but that's not going to happen.
This is Andy Reid's final episode of "A Football Life in Philly"…and for Andy's sake, I hope it ends up with Big Red's getting rewarded with a final shot of team cohesion and confidence.
Of course we're talking about a team that's badly broken going into this game already…
I just hope the signs in the stands say "Thank you, Andy, for 14 years of Pretty Good"… You have to admit, he had us in the playoffs mix for a long time. He's lost his Midas touch here forever. But it was pretty good while it lasted.
Now it's the Redskins' time to step up…
After watching film of both teams, Scouts Inc. breaks down key elements of the Week 16 Redskins-Eagles matchup:
• More conservative offensive scheme: The Redskins expect to have Robert Griffin III back, but they may not need a full playbook to defeat the reeling Eagles. Philadelphia is coming off a tough outing and doesn't appear to be focused. We should look for Redskins offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan to condense the game plan and pound the football, with running back Alfred Morris carrying the bulk of the load.
After spraining his right knee late in regulation during a 31-28 overtime win over Baltimore in Week 14, Griffin didn't play last Sunday at Cleveland. Though the 2011 Heisman Trophy winner wasn't pleased with the decision, he surely felt better after watching Kirk Cousins lead the Redskins to a 38-21 win – their fifth in a row – and into a three-way tie atop the NFC East.
Cousins, who also helped Washington finish off its game-tying drive against the Baltimore Ravens after Griffin went down, completed 26 of 37 passes for 329 yards with two touchdowns and an interception in his first NFL start.
"I've never underestimated the importance of Robert," offensive lineman Kory Lichtensteiger said. "That guy has put the team on his back many times throughout the year, and we'd certainly like to have him back whenever he does come back on the field."
"But it's nice, it's really good, for Kirk to step in and to perform like that. It's good for the offense as a whole to kind of tell the football world that we're not just a one-trick pony of having a triple-threat quarterback that can do everything and that's the only reason we're winning. Robert certainly is the man, but being able to show that you're capable without him is a pretty fulfilling thing for us."
That said, the Redskins certainly won't be disappointed to get Griffin back. He practiced fully for the second straight day Thursday and is expected to start.
"I like what I see," coach Mike Shanahan said. "If there is no setback, he should be ready to go."
Griffin's play is a major reason the Redskins are in such a good position. He ranks second in the NFL in passer rating (104.2), throwing for 18 TDs and four interceptions while adding six rushing touchdowns and 748 yards on the ground.
Looking to win six straight for the first time since a seven-game run in 1996, Washington is tied with Dallas and New York but owns the tiebreaker over both teams. The Redskins host the Cowboys in Week 17.
"It definitely feels good," linebacker Perry Riley told the team's official website. "We're in first place, and it's ours to lose. We're not hoping somebody else has to lose; we control our own destiny. That's what we've been playing all year for, and to be here in this position with two games left, it's a good feeling."
Washington had dropped three straight against Philadelphia (4-10) before cruising to a 31-6 win Nov. 18 as Griffin completed 14 of 15 passes for 200 yards and a season high-tying four TDs.
Eagles running back LeSean McCoy was carted off with a concussion in the final two minutes of that game and went on to miss the next four contests, but will return Sunday. He'll start and rotate with rookie Bryce Brown.
Michael Vick (concussion) is also expected to be available following a five-game absence, but he'll be the No. 3 quarterback behind starter Nick Foles and Trent Edwards.
"I want to be out there, I want to play as a competitor, but it's just not the ideal situation right now, the way things are," said Vick, who went 3-6 as a starter before getting hurt. "So, I have to accept my role, accept it like a man and continue to find positives out of it."
After beating Tampa Bay 23-21 in Week 14 to snap an eight-game skid, Philadelphia saw its struggles resume last Thursday in a 34-13 loss to Cincinnati. The Eagles were limited to 42 rushing yards on 19 carries and matched a season high with five turnovers, losing four fumbles.
"I thought the effort was there and guys played hard," Reid said, "but you just can't have those turnovers. That's a problem."
It's unclear what kind of reaction Reid will get from the Philadelphia fans in this home finale with his Eagles tenure seemingly nearing its end. He has led the team to the playoffs nine times since taking over in 1999, but the franchise remains without a Super Bowl victory and it fell far short of lofty expectations the last two years.
The Eagles are at least hoping to finish up strong against a pair of division foes. Philadelphia concludes its season next week on the road against the Giants.
"A lot of people ask, 'What do you have left to play for?'," defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins told the Eagles' official website. "Playing against the Redskins and the Giants in the last two, there's plenty to play for there."
I guess you're playing for emotion and for your head coach…and also not to over-extend your effort to the point where you would expose yourself to serious injury. That seems to be the contradictory dilemma of motivation for the Eagles right now. It's a 5 o'clock world in a 4-10 season.