Eagles v. Redskins, Sunday, January 1, 2012
The game may have been "meaningless," but it sure was nice to end the season with a win. Actually, 4 wins.
Stud of the week: other guys posted bigger numbers, but I have to give it to pint-sized Chad Hall, who scored his first NFL TD on Sunday, and did it by plowing over Perry Riley and DeAngelo Hall, who had him dead to rights stopped at the 1. Chad Hall is never going to be a starter -- in Philly or anywhere else -- because he's really not that good. But he plays every snap he gets with his whole heart, and you have to love him for that.
I also have to give a shout out to Jason Avant, Mr. Third Down, nearly all of whose receptions this season went for third downs. And to Alex Henery, who, thanks to Dan Bailey's miss Sunday night, set the record for rookie kicking accuracy and single-season kicking accuracy, passing even the great David Akers (who can apparently also throw TDs, as you'd know if you saw the 49ers game).
This was definitely a day, even a month, of "if only."
If only... the Eagles had taken better care of the ball.
If only... the defense had started to gel a little sooner.
If only... Mike Vick hadn't gotten hurt.
If only... Vince Young was a competent backup.
If only... Alex Henery had gotten over his rookie jitters by week 4.
If only... the team could've figured out how to win at home before week 15.
If only... the offense had figured out how to score some points in the 4th quarter before December. Or even realized that scoring in the fourth quarter might be important.
So now we look ahead to an extra-long off-season. For the other teams, and from the crucible of the Eagles' experiences this season:
If someone says: "Hey! I have a great idea! Even though there's going to be virtually no off-season this year, let's convert our offensive line coach into our defensive coordinator!" just say no.
As if 13 years of watching the LOLskins wasn't enough, we now have definitive proof that you cannot buy a bunch of high-priced free agents and expect them to magically morph into a team. Really. REALLY.
Win at home. If all else fails, win at home.
It's not as if there weren't bright spots: LeSean McCoy had an amazing year, and there's no reason it won't be the first of many. Howard Mudd revamped the o-line into a top-10 group. The defense was a sack machine this year, led by a nearly record season for Jason Babin, and supported by another excellent (partial) season from my boy Trent Cole. And a four game winning streak is not a bad way to go out. But 8-8 is 8-8, even if the team did go 5-1 in the division.
Get the rest of the recaps at Snarkin' the NFL, which is also where I'll be covering the playoffs, if you're interested.