Panic! At the Linc (or, Why you should back away from that ledge)
No dude, really, you gotta chill.
As I said yesterday, we really should have been bracing for a disappointment. And from this point on, there is actually a reason or two to be optimistic. No, really.
First off, Ken Wisenhunt has had Andy Reid’s number for quite some time now. It’s a strange thing to see a coach consistently beat Reid so many times while finding ways to lose to the rest of the league. Since 2007, Wisenhunt is 43-40 in regular season games, including yesterday. In that span, he is 3-1 against Andy Reid. Since their first meeting, a 48-20 regular season blowout by the Birds in ’08, Wisenhunt has gone 3-0 against Reid with a scoring margin of 80-48. Few coaches besides Belichick have had this kind of repeated success against Big Red.
Secondly, the Eagles have a terrible record when traveling West. Reid is 9-9 all time when playing away games between Denver and the Pacific ocean. Since 2005, he is just 4-7. The fact is that the Eagles don’t travel well across two time zones, and this has been going on for years. The Arizona game was the only game this season across the country. The most westerly away game left is in Dallas.
Third, the Eagles have turned the ball over at an incredibly high rate. They are currently averaging 4 offensive turnovers per game in 2012. Vick has been picked 6 times, and lost two fumbles. Lesean McCoy has put it on the ground twice (after doing it only once all last season). Damaris Johnson added one more yesterday on what would have otherwise been a very impressive return. Frankly, if you roll last year’s turnover problems over into this year, it’s a simply remarkable streak of failure. They are on a 12-game offensive turnover streak, with 33 turnovers during that span. The Eagles haven’t gone two weeks in a row without a turnover since weeks 9-10 of the 2010 regular season. In 27 games since then, the Eagles have committed 67 turnovers, an average of 2.48 per game. You must be thinking now, “Hank, that’s crazy. How could you possibly be optimistic after seeing that?!” The fact is there is a lot of luck involved in turning the ball over. In the Eagles case, it’s been bad luck. This streak is just a massive, terrible outlier in the grand scope of the sport. This is not to acquit the Eagles of all their terrible performances over the last few seasons, but to say that this streak will likely, eventually, end. The Eagles’ turnovers should, eventually, regress to the mean.
Finally, the Eagles always seem to get up for division opponents. This Sunday’s test against the Giants may prove vital in determining the fate of the NFC East this year, and Reid rarely comes up empty against Eli Manning and Big Blue. I wouldn’t say I expect the Eagles to win, but I sure as heck don’t read a first-half 0-fer or Giants blowout in the tea leaves. Still, if you find yourself in a panic this week, breathless and terrified at the notion that the Eagles really are that bad, just rememeber: It doesn’t get worse than what we just saw. So it can only be uphill from here.