It took a while to get going, as the Eagles once again played a shaky first quarter, allowing a long touchdown and doing virtually nothing on offense. After that, however, it was all Eagles as they dominated the rest of the game on both sides of the ball, as well as special teams, with Akers finally seeming to get on track after a two-season slump. McNabb was near perfect after the first quarter and Curtis looks like he is back at full speed from sports hernia surgery, but the star of the game was Celek. I’ve liked him from the beginning, and remember thinking last year that he could be special if given the chance.
Celek was a big reason why I couldn’t have cared less whether they re-signed LJ this past offseason. He doesn’t have the speed and physical gifts of the elite TEs, but he catches everything you throw at him, and he was certainly fast enough to make some big plays today. However, we need to be realistic—Celek is not going to put up huge numbers like today very often, but I’ll settle for a guy who’s dependable and can stay healthy, something LJ has never been able to do. Chad Lewis was a guy without great physical tools, but McNabb knew he could count on him when he needed a big catch, and that is something that has been missing from the Eagles’ arsenal ever since Lewis left. I believe Celek can be that guy for McNabb, and sooner rather than later. LJ may have the talent of an elite tight end, but we have rarely seen it during his tenure in Philly, whether due to injury or inconsistency. I know LJ is making a lot of money, but at this point Celek has earned the right to show whether he can be the long-term option. We already know LJ won’t be.
It’s still hard to get a good bead on the Birds though, as they have now won three straight over mediocre-to-lousy teams. Next week will certainly give us a good idea of where the Eagles are when they host the Giants. I am still not convinced the Giants are as good as their 7-1 record, but it will nevertheless be a big test for the Eagles, and it is a must-win game, as a loss would essentially knock them out of the division race.