Sadly, Westbrook is Done
Philadelphia Eagles running back Brian Westbrook is done.
It pains me to say that as he has been such a great player for the Eagles over the last several years. This video shows one of his best (h/t Phinally Philly).
He’s a smart player too. I’d forgotten about how he passed up a touchdown with two minutes left in a 2007 game to ensure the Dallas Cowboys, down 10-6 without any timeouts remaining, would not get the ball back.
But Westbrook has lost his burst.
This was apparent to me the last few games of the 2008 season. Remember the expression “three yards and a cloud of dust”? With Westbrook anymore it’s a yard-and-a-half and a mob of tacklers.
While Westbrook was injured, the two-headed monster of rookie running back LeSean McCoy, Westbrook’s apparent successor, and fullback Leonard Weaver had established itself as a versatile, hard-to-defend force. Now that Westbrook’s back, Eagles coach Andy Reid is giving a lot — in fact, most — of the monster’s work to Westbrook; in the Dallas game, Westbrook had nine touches to only four for the monster. Reid has disrupted the chemistry of the Eagles offense and as a result its productivity has fallen off precipitously — at the worst possible time.
Yet Reid, when asked about Westbrook’s role in the wake of the Eagles’ pathetic 24-0 loss to Dallas Sunday, said the more Westbrook is used the better he’ll play.
Wrong answer, Andy. I cringed when I heard that.
Reid’s loyalty to Westbrook is misguided. Running backs in the NFL have pretty short careers? They play at their peak for three or four seasons. Then it’s downhill fast. Westbrook is a textbook case.
Hasn’t Reid been around the NFL long enough to realize what has happened to Westbrook? Evidently not. And that’s too bad for us Eagles fans because the Birds will need the most effective game plan Reid and his staff can muster to even have a chance to beat Dallas in this Saturday’s NFC wild card round playoff game.
Think it’s harsh of me to characterize the Eagles prospects in those terms? Well, gee, Westbrook himself concurs.
There’s some things we’ve got to correct … in order for us to have a chance. [emphasis mine]
The apparent lack of confidence on Westbrook’s part tells me something.
In fairness to Westbrook, Weaver sings much the same tune. From the same article:
We’ve got to come out and be prepared. Be focused, determined. That’s the only way you can compete with a team like that. [emphasis mine]
Ever the optimist pessimist, here’s how I see this Saturday’s game playing out.
- Kicker David Akers puts the Eagles up 3-0.
- Dallas takes the lead — for good — 7-3 early in the quarter.
- Eagles close to within a point, 7-6.
- Dallas extends their lead to 14-6.
- Eagles finally get into the end zone with six or seven minutes to go. They go for two, but Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb misfires and Dallas remains in front, 14-12.
- Dallas answers quickly, extending their lead to 21-12.
- In the last minute, Dallas intercepts McNabb and takes it back all the way, Final: 28-12, Dallas.
Prove me wrong, Brian Westbrook. That goes for the rest of you Birds.