By Kevin McGuire
Just when you thought the 2012 season could not sink any lower for the Philadelphia Eagles, it manages to do just that. A season in turmoil continued this week with a frustrating loss, more injuries and roster moves.
Wide receiver DeSean Jackson was placed on injured reserve with fractured ribs, suffered in a Monday night loss to the equally lowly Carolina Panthers. Offensive lineman Jason Peters joined him with a ruptured Achilles that was suffered before the start of the season.
Running back LeSean McCoy is still in recovery from a concussion. So is quarterback Mike Vick. Even the release of Vick’s new personalized mobile app has had a share of public relations nightmares. Key offensive players are once again unavailable, so the Eagles must continue to get what they can out of a number of younger players, such as Nick Foles at quarterback and Bryce Brown at running back. Foles will likely start Sunday night in Dallas against the Cowboys, the first time Foles will see a team for a second time in his young career. Having already faced Dallas, Foles knows he can learn from his first game against the Cowboys, who were relentless on the rookie coming in to the game off the bench.
“We were able to watch the game; see how they played us and certain things,” Foles said of his game preparation for this weekend’s game. “But at the same time, they can watch the film too. They have the same film. So, be ready for anything. A lot of film work, a lot of preparation and, when the game comes, just read out what they’re doing and make the best decisions.”
Foles did not make many good decisions in his first game against Dallas, but in his defense, the former Arizona Wildcat had little to work with and was coming off the bench. This time around, Foles will have been practicing with the first team offense in practice all week and he has some NFL games under his belt. Still, making a start in Cowboy Stadium has potential to be an intimidating experience, especially with continuing changes on the offensive line. Guard Evan Mathis could be moved to center for Dallas Reynolds, but Foles is confident Mathis could handle the job.
“I know if Evan stepped in, he’d do a great job as well and he’d be ready to go,” Foles said. “He’s been out there fighting every day. He’ll step up.”
This week the Eagles also released defensive end Jason Babin, who was struggling this season with 5.5 sacks a season after recording 18 sacks. As reported by CBS Philly, the decision to release Babin may have come from above head coach Andy Reid and may have been driven by Babin’s potentially poisonous attitude and influence on younger players, as a player more concerned about individual success than team success. The move caught many younger players on the roster off-guard, but the some are quickly realizing life in the NFL is all about business decisions.
“The one thing that I’ve learned about football is that it is a business,” Foles said. “I love every teammate here, but it’s a business and you just have to go with it.”
“I’ve learned, as a rookie, that this is a business and things happen like that,” defensive tackle Fletcher Cox noted. Veteran players have not been as fazed by the development and put on a political hat when responding to the news Wednesday.
“I’ve been in the league for eight years now and seen people come and go and it’s just business,” Trent Cole said.
“I guess in a way you kind of expect something to happen,” defensive tackle Mike Patterson said. “You could look at it that way if you want to but you just feel like the team is trying to make the best choice for us to win games.”
Babin has already been picked up by the Jacksonville Jaguars. With the Eagles removing Babin from the picture the Eagles will look to give rookie Vinny Curry a chance to play more. Curry made his NFL debut Monday night and the next day the Eagles cut Babin. Read in to that what you may, but the message appears to be clear the Eagles are now focusing on evaluating their young talent as much as possible for the rest of the regular season that could possibly end with a head coaching change looming.
For this week, as hopeless as things may seem, the Eagles will focus on snapping the longest losing streak in Philadelphia since Rich Kotite was the head coach, in 1994. The last time the Eagles lost eight consecutive games was in 1968, when the team started the season with a record of 0-11. Even the two-win 1972 Eagles were considerate enough to stop the bleeding at seven straight losses.
Will this year’s Eagles be able to say the same?
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Kevin McGuire covers college football for Examiner.com and is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and National Football Foundation. Follow him on Twitter (@KevinOnCFB). His work can be found on Examiner.com.