Wow, what a difference a year makes. Remember this time last year when we were all walking around with our chests puffed out. Not only were the Eagles dominating, but it was getting noticed. No fewer than nine Eagles were selected for the NFC Pro Bowl roster and Brian Westbrook's addition as a replacement in the backfield brought the number to an even ten. This year, it's one.
Jeremiah Trotter is the lone Eagle headed to Hawaii and will be making his fourth trip to the island paradise. There is no denying that Trotter deserved an invite. His presence has been a constant highlight reel. This season has brought a couple of firsts for Trotter:
So, was there a snub among the Eagles players for the Pro Bowl?
- First game with at least one sack and one interception. (October 23 vs. San Diego)
- A career-high 14 tackles - 11 solo - against Kansas City on October 2.
Brian Dawkins comes to mind. Even Trotter expressed his surprise that Dawkins wasn't chosen for the game. It's not out of the question that Dawkins could get there since he's a first team alternate. With some pretty good safeties in the NFC, it's likely that Dawkins may have been hurt by the overall performance of the team this season. Let's face it, winning teams are going to get more notice and recognition.
Tight End L.J. Smith is a second team alternate. Smith is quickly developing quite a reputation around the league and it's not a matter of if, but when he will be a Pro Bowler. If Dawkins was hurt by the team's performance, Smith was hurt by the loss of Terrell Owens and the injury to Donovan McNabb. Smith was at or near the top of tight ends in the league in receptions for much of the early part of the season. Then, Owens was gone and when McNabb went down, Smith shrank from the offensive arsenal.
Shawn Andrews is also a second team alternate, but his play hasn't been quite as steady as some. Perhaps as one of the lingering effects of a broken fibula suffered last season in his first NFL game, Andrews has had trouble making plays side-to-side and he's been exposed at times.
While the debate rages on regarding the merits of losing the final two games and getting a better draft pick or winning the final two for pride, another debate is over. The Eagles will officially finish last in the NFC East, which means a schedule full of other last place and near last place teams for next season.
Yes, the Eagles will have to travel to Indianapolis and Tampa Bay next season, but the rest of their road games consist of visits to Houston, New Orleans (or wherever the Saints are playing) and San Francisco. At home, the schedule is a little tougher with visits from Jacksonville, Carolina and Atlanta along with the Tennessee Titans coming to the Linc. Of course, the usual division home-and-home games are on the schedule and there is still an unknown home game. The Eagles will have either the Detroit Lions or the Green Bay Packers coming to town, depending on which of them gets last place in the NFC North. As of now, that would be Green Bay.
To a man, the Eagles were as shocked as anybody to learn of the death of 18 year old James Dungy, the son of Colts' coach Tony Dungy. James was found dead in his apartment early Thursday morning of unknown causes. Coach Andy Reid noted the loss in his meeting with reporters Thursday, saying "It's a small fraternity. You hate to see anything like this happen. I don't know the details of what happened, I know the result there and nobody likes to see that. Tony is a great person and (has) a great family and our blessings go out to him."