One season trending up, another spiraling downwards out of control. It was a tale of two halves from Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday, as the Philadelphia Eagles held off the Washington Redskins in the final minute, 24-16.
Now a 1/2 game ahead of the idle Dallas Cowboys, the Eagles (6-5) have their sights set on the NFC East crown with several weeks remaining.
For the Redskins, well, the 2013 season has been a far cry from last year and now at 3-7, questions abound on head coach Mike Shanahan's future and the progress of RGIII (who seems to be a lightening rod for criticism).
Here's five things we learned Sunday:
1. The Redskins were not only outplayed but outcoached in all three phases in the game.
Postgame quotes had several Redskins' players not only questioning if the Eagles knew what was coming but debating their own current scheme which seems to have become rather predictable.
In 2012, the zone-read option was a revelation behind RGIII and his rookie of the year campaign. However in '13, it just hasn't found the same results. Too many two-man wide reciever routes giving Griffin not enough options in the passing game. Several times throughout the game it seems like the Redskins are running the exact same play. Change it up!
Granted, the Redskins don't have the most explosive receiving core in the NFL but the scheme also is failing right now and I don't think Offensive Coordinator Kyle Shanahan and Co. recognize that adjustments have to be made. The scheme leads to way too many hits on the franchise QB.
Don't even get me started on the defense, where DC Jim Haslett must go by season's end. Not even a doubt about that. Eagles Head Coach Chip Kelly toyed with the Skins' defense in both meetings this season and that is unaccpetable in the nation's capital.
2. The Eagles will win the NFC East
As much as it pains me to say it, the Eagles after Sunday's victory will ultimately wind up as the NFC East Champions.
They broke an 11-home game losing streak (mind boggling) and have the best overall talent in the division. The Cowboys (5-5), have suffered numerous injuries on both sides of the ball and you just get the feeling the Eagles are peaking at the right time of year.
QB Nick Foles has been a revelation and continued his strong error-free play today (16 TDs, 0 INT). It cannot be understated how important that has been for the Eagles turnaround. (Michael Vick's time in Philly could be over).
Turnover differential is a key factor of success and the Eagles have been terrific in this department all season long.
3. Redskins' head coach Mike Shanahan is officially on the hot seat.
This had been quietly floating around the D.C. media last week following the Week 10 loss to the Minnesota Vikings in heartbreaking fashion. At 3-6 for the third consecutive season, Shanahan was feeling the heat despite the magical run to the playoffs in 2012.
Now at 3-7 and with no realistic chances of any playoff run this year, Shanahan (now in his 4th year) will start feeling the pressure by not only the media but the passionate fans in D.C.
The results have been struggling to say the least but I'm not sure all can be blamed on the Super Bowl winning coach. He has one year left on his original five-year deal and I think it would be detrimental to the organization to once again find a new coach (the merry-go-round in DC never ends).
Now if the Redskins don't show any promise by year's end, then it might be time to look elsewhere but it'd be foolish to give up on Shanahan now. The next three to four games will be very telling and it's a fluid situation to watch for any diehard Skins' fan.
4. Eagles RB LeSean McCoy is filthy.
Aside from Mr. Peterson is Minnesota, I'd ask one fan who might be more exciting to watch than Eagles' RB LeSean McCoy with the ball in his hands in the open field.
He is this generation's version of Barry Sanders. The wiggles, shakes, bakes and jukes he makes are sensational. When you think you have him contained in the backfield, McCoy seems to find a way out of the tackle, spin and gain positive yards.
Any avid football fan can relate and understand the Eagles have a special one in McCoy. He finished the day with 20 Rushes for 77 yards and 2 touchdowns and had a 49-yard reception where it felt like he was toying with Skins' defenders.
The NFL's leading rusher is must-see TV whenever he is on the field as hard as it is for me to admit that. (However, I didn't enjoy seeing McCoy rip a Redskins' fan banner down in pregame near the players tunnel). But I guess it fits with the pure classlessness nature of Philadelphia as a whole.
5. The Eagles defense is better than one might think
On Sunday, the Iggles' defense held the Redskins to zero points through three quarters while limiting the Skins' passing game and containing RB Alfred Morris. Led by DE Trent Cole (2 sacks), the defensive front seven of the Eagles harrassed and battered Robert Griffin III all day long.
As I mentioned earlier, the Redskins offense seemed predictable but the Eagles did their job in containment on the zone-read option passing game. Despite some lackluster personnel in the seconday the Eagles have pieced things together nicely and were in the WR's hip pockets on numerous occassions throughout.
DT Fletcher Cox has really come into his own and was seen making plays time and time again on Sunday looking like a solid selection from last year's draf class in Philadelphia. He is having a pro-bowl caliber season.
One season trending up, another spirialing out of control all in a day's work in the NFC Least.