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5 Good Questions: Philadelphia Eagles Edition

With Sunday's game against the Eagles in Philly looming and considering the fact that we haven't really discussed this game much yet, what better time to hear from the writer of the web's best Eagles blog on the net, Bleeding Green Nation.  Jason and I did a 5 question exchange.  Be sure to head over to his site to check out my responses to his questions.  Below are his responses to my questions.   Enjoy!

There's been a lot made about what's going on in Andy Reid's household.  We've all heard by now about 2 of his sons and their troubles.  What do you think about all this and how do you think it has affected the team?

As to what I think about it... It's an unfortunate situation, but I'm having trouble understanding why such a big deal has been made of it in the sports media. I've read Andy Reid called everything from a bad father, shameful, to a coward. It's been almost hard to believe how much hand wringing there's been over what should have been a private family matter.

As to how I think it affects the team... I don't think it's mattered all that much. I find it hard to believe any guys on the field aren't making plays because they are thinking about the coaches' adult kids in trouble.

Speaking of Reid, is his job in danger due to the team's poor performance thus far?  And what has been the cause of these surprising struggles?  I'll be honest, I had the Eagles pegged for 11-12 wins and an NFC East title.  What in the world happened?

First, I doubt Reid's job is in any trouble. Eagles owner Jeff Lurie loves Reid and has already said he's not going anywhere which makes sense. What kind of owner fires a guy that has won him 5 or 6 division titles over the past 7 years and 8 or 9 playoff games over that time after one bad year? I think the Eagles' struggles this year have been down to a lot of things. I think they overrated their talent in some key areas and decided not to address some needs in free agency or the draft. When you trade down and pick a project QB for the future, I think the message you've sent is that you're ready to win it all right
now. Obviously, that thinking was flawed. Aside from that there's been some injury concerns, some coaching decisions, and just some plain bad luck that have all conspired for a pretty disappointing first half for this team.

I have to ask you about the Eagles' quarterback situation.  Ever since Kevin Kolb was taken by Philly, it has seemed as though Donovan McNabb's job has been in question when talking long-term.  Couple that with McNabb's struggles this year, what does the future hold for both McNabb and Kolb?  Is there a chance that late in the season, if Philly is eliminated from playoff contention, that Kolb gets some playing time?  And what's with these trade rumors involving McNabb going to Minnesota or Chicago?

I doubt that Kolb will see any time this year if McNabb stays healthy. I think the Eagles drafted him because they knew they'd have time to develop him and have him learn on the bench and I doubt they'd feel any need to rush him by making him play in his rookie year. Beyond this year? Who knows?

This week McNabb will officially hit the one year mark since his knee injury from last year. When that injury happened the doctors said that it would take at least a full year before he could hope to be back to 100%... so I think this second half of the season is going to be very important for Donovan McNabb. If he begins to look more and more like the injury is getting better and starts to look more like the McNabb of old then I think he'll be back next year starting. If he were to get injured again or regress... then I think we could be very well see Kevin Kolb get his chance to start next year.

I think the rumors of a trade are more just speculation than anything. Basically someone thinking "Maybe the Eagles will trade McNabb and since he grew up in Chicago and they need a QB that's where he could go!" Same for the Vikings since ex Eagles offensive coordinator, Brad Childress, is the head coach there. I highly doubt there has been any
actual discussion between those teams.

Despite the surprising struggles of the team, I'm sure there have to be some unsung heroes on the team.  What player or players would you say have played well but don't get the credit they deserve from either the fans or the media?

I think the one unsung hero, especially in a national sense, is DE Trent Cole. His 9 sacks are second most in the NFL(behind only Allen from KC who has 9.5) and on a defense that sports some highly paid and higher profile ends like Jevon Kearse & Darren Howard... Cole is clearly the best of that bunch. Not only can he obviously get to the
QB, but he's just as tenacious and effective at stopping the run. He's definitely one of the young pieces that this Eagles defense will be built around going forward.

Turning to Sunday's game, what do you think Philly's gameplan will be and how do you see the game playing out?

Well I think the Eagles will win this game. The offense has moved the ball all year, but struggled mightily in the red zone... In the past 3 weeks they seem to have turned that around. In fact, the Eagles scored 4 times in the red zone against Washington last week. On defense, they've been solid all year but haven't been able to create turnovers. Last week they forced a couple fumbles and picked a pass off against the Cowboys the previous week... basically they seem to be turning the corner in that department as well.

Game plan-wise... expect to get a healthy dose of Brian Westbrook as he basically is the Eagles offense right now. He leads the team in rushes, rushing yards, receptions, and TDs. So if you stop him, you stop the Eagles offense...

On defense, expect the Eagles to bring pressure from the blitz. Especially if John Beck plays, because Jim Johnson is notorious for throwing a lot of exotic blitzes at young QBs. The key to beating the Eagles' blitz is understanding where it's coming from. On a given play Jim Johnson could bring a corner, a safety, or a linebacker and he'll bring them up the middle or off the edge. He never wants you to know where the blitz is coming from, but a QB that can read and react quickly can beat it. That's often too much to ask of a young QB.

Certainly some good stuff from Jason.  A big thanks to him.

And be sure to head over to Bleeding Green Nation to read my responses to Jason's questions.