The first two Eagles games have been roller coasters, to say the least.
The Birds have come from behind and edged out nail-biting one-point wins in both games, leaving fans in a distressed, relieved kind of euphoria on each occasion.
How have they done this?
The answer is consistent play from some, and gutsy, ferocious crunch-time tenacity from others.
The following is a short list of a few key players without whom the Eagles wouldnât have two in the NFL standingsâ wins column.Â
8. Nate Allen
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How about Nate Allen not missing critical tackles? In fact, heâs got 15 total, which leads the team.
Allen is starting to develop into the player we wanted him to be.
Heâs looked great in coverage, which says something about his instincts for the game: theyâre developing.
I havenât once thrown up my hands in disgust after seeing him biteâ"hardâ"on a play action and get burned for a huge gain, or miss what appeared to be an easy tackle that cost the team mightily.
If Nate Allen continues to play the way he has, it may be time to start calling him a good player instead of an overachiever.Â
7. Brandon Boykin
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Joselio who, son?
Is it me, or is Brandon Boykin a relentless, ferocious little monster? Iâm not even talking about returning anything; I mean in the slot.
Aside from being all over the field last Sunday, with less than two minutes to play, Boykin knocked down a rocket headed for Jacoby Jones that could have ultimately won the game for Baltimore.
That was a huge stop, especially considering what could have followed. After all, the Ravens were down by one, and Justin Tucker may as well have been making field goals from the parking lot.
6. DeSean Jackson
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DeSean Jackson has looked great because heâs happy. Heâs happy because of his contract.
Itâs wonderful to see him as fiery as ever, pointing ahead on first down catches, making plays in the middle of the field, and even throwing punches (even though thatâs bad, it could have cost the team, and he shouldnât have). To see Jackson this into things is encouraging.
Even with all of that, the fact that DeSean is seriousâ"a 180 from last yearâ"was evident on that 49-yard bomb he caught with Ed Reed lurking, waiting to strike.Â
5. Brent Celek
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Thereâs no question the Eagles donât win last Sunday without Celek.
Celek does it all: he blocks, he can catch, he can hurdle safeties, and heâs not easy to bring down.
Is he the best tight end the Eagles have ever had? I donât know, but heâs certainly the best Iâve seen in my 26 years.
Sometimes Celek doesnât get the credit he deserves, but his contributions to the teamâs offensive success are definitely noticeable. Â
4. LeSean McCoy
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I know he only had 81 yards and one touchdown on Sunday, but he could have had two if it werenât for the Vick draw play.
Even though the numbers may not indicate it, McCoy has looked fantastic when he gets the ball. And his ability to move in space and juke defenders is outstanding.
However, he canât be expected to be effective and sturdy, playing every down for the Eagles. If McCoy is going to succeed, one of the other three running backs needs to get more reps.
For now, though, Shadyâs been a beast whose presence alone has contributed to the Eaglesâ success because of his versatility. Heâs a threat that opposing defenses need to account for on every down.
3. The Pro Bowl Cornerbacks
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I havenât decided yet if Asomugha and DRC are more like two regular blankets or two thick, heavy, uncomfortable quilts in the summer time.
Granted, Jacoby Jones beat Nnamdiâ"bad, tooâ"for a touchdown; but, other than that heâs been outstanding.
You could tell Nnamdi Asomugha meant business from the get go when he stopped a Travis Benjamin run from the other side of the field in the Eaglesâ Week 1 victory over the Browns. Thatâs the kind of hustle that makes you feel like itâs okay to trust Asomugha. And, aside from the Jones touchdown play, there hasnât been much to complain about from the $60M cornerback.
Opposite Nnamdi is Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who may very well be the teamâs best corner.
Rodgers-Cromartie has uncanny athletic ability, and closing speed that makes you think twice any time a receiver looks like heâs got a step on DRC.
Even though he hasnât been perfect, heâs been good. Very good.
Iâm looking forward to a few more picks this year, as well as a possible Pro Bowl start from Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.
2. Michael Vick
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It was nice to see Mike Vick throwing the ball to guys wearing green on Sunday.
Even though the stats say he threw two interceptions against the Ravens, Iâm really only holding one of them against him. That second pick was a freak deflection off Brent Celekâs hands.
Even though he was a part of two drives that ended in handoff fumbles which could have resulted in points on the board, Vick looked comfortable.
Michael Vick has led the Eagles to two game winning fourth-quarter drives in consecutive weeks. It didnât have to be that way because of turnovers, he won the game nonetheless.
He was running, he looked good scrambling, and he looked poised the entire time.
Perhaps what was most impressive was the way he got up after being knocked down every time. Itâs like the pain didnât affect him.
Iâm comfortableâ"confident, in factâ"in Michael Vick this year. Sure, heâll probably miss some time, but while heâs out there the Eagles have a chance to win. Thatâs what matters.
1. The Linebackers
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It was hard not to make Vick No. 1. I'm a huge Vick supporter; but all things considered, he's been a part of too many turnovers, and at times has failed to do his job. These guys have done their job: stop the other team from scoring, or at the very least minimize their offensive threat.Â
So far, thereâs a lot to like about the Eaglesâ defense.
In fact, if you evaluate the Birdsâ D based on the offensive performances of the Ravens in Week 1 and the Browns in Week 2, you could make the case that the Eaglesâ defense is one of the best in the NFL.
Even if it isnât, their success is due in large part to the outstanding play of both veteran DeMeco Ryans, and SAM rookie Mychal Kendricks.
It seems like every series, one of these guys is making a huge play to disrupt the opponentsâ offense. Whether itâs stuffing runners; DeMeco Ryan picking off passes and coming up with fourth-quarter sacks; or Mychal Kendricks using his freakish athleticism to make tackles in the open, these two are nothing to scoff at.
Perhaps no play was more crucial than Mychal Kendricks on the Ravensâ last down in the fourth quarter of Sundayâs winâ"Ray Rice couldnât make the play, and Kendricks was on him.
Regardless, weâve seen these guys play well in coverage and be huge contributors on stopping the run.
DeMeco Ryans is proving that preseason performance doesnât hold any water when the games matter, and Mychal Kendricks has been one of the most pleasant defensive surprises in recent memory. Â
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