IRVING, Texas -- The Cowboys are at Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday to take on the Eagles, so in this week’s installment of The Other Side we check in with Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer:
Archer - How much did the Eagles need a bye just to get straightened out after a slow start to the season?
McLane - The Eagles needed the bye more to get away from football than to straighten out the mess from the first six games. Some made the argument that the team should have practiced some during the week off because of the lockout, but Andy Reid stuck to his winning formula of giving his players seven days of rest. Reid is 12-0 all-time the week after the bye. It's hard to quibble with that kind of success.
Archer - The Cowboys failed to deal with the hype of a Super Bowl or bust season last year. How have the Eagles dealt with the "dream team" stuff?
McLane - Obviously, they haven't handled it well at all. You can understand why nearly every member of the organization distanced themselves from Vince Young's training camp faux pas. No one wants a target that massive on his chest. Still, the players could have relished in the role as the hunted. Instead, they shrunk under the spotlight. Never has a Reid-coached team made so many mistakes at crucial moments -- game-ending dropped passes, turnovers, penalties and missed field goals. Those errors appeared to come from pressing too much.
Archer - Michael Vick has eight interceptions this year. Has he regressed or is the offense just not clicking?
McLane - It's not that Vick is regressing as much as it is defenses figuring out how to stop the 2.0 version of the quarterback. We'll never see another six-game stretch out of Vick as we saw early last season. And that's not his fault. He just caught teams by surprise. Vick is still an above average quarterback that can burn teams through the air or on the ground. But his sloppiness with the football since last November has cost the Eagles. He still has trouble figuring out when to be aggressive or when a more conservative approach would work just fine.
Archer - The Cowboys were in on the Asomugha deal too, but couldn't get him. How has he played?
McLane - So far, Asomugha can be labeled a disappointment. Most of the cornerback's struggles have been related to scheme. In Oakland he almost strictly played man-to-man defense. In Philadelphia he has been asked to play more zone and shoulder various responsibilities more than any other time in his career. As a result Asomugha has looked lost at various points and has been burnt for long passes or has missed tackles. His play has been steadier the last two games, however, so the winds could be shifting.
Archer - What's your take on Andy Reid moving Juan Castillo from offensive line coach to defensive coordinator?
McLane - If an NFL season were six games you could say the Castillo experiment was an unmitigated disaster. Force fed defensive line coach Jim Washburn's "wide-nine" scheme up front, Castillo hasn't been able to design a defense that can stop the run. Much of that isn't his fault because he hasn't been given capable linebackers and safeties. But Castillo has been outcoached several times when he failed to make in-game adjustments and the Eagles coughed up three straight fourth-quarter leads. There is still time for Castillo to right the ship, and the defense did show signs of life against the Redskins last week. But if the Eagles lose to the Cowboys Castillo may not have much time left.