Eagles get ready for Big D; Vick leads Pro Bowl voting

By JEFFREY WARNER
Staff Writer — jwarner@highhopesblog.com
_______

Jason Garrett has turned the Cowboys around, making this Sunday's matchup that much more interesting.

It’s Dallas week in Philadelphia and the town is hyped up for the Eagles NFC East matchup with the hated Cowboys. Last season was a year the Eagles and their fans would like to forget as they were embarrassed by their rival, losing all three times the two clubs met including the wild card round in the playoffs. With playoffs still in balance, the Eagles will look to make sure they don’t come away with a similar result this year.

The Birds were outscored 78-30 last season, including a shutout loss, 24-0, Week 17 where the winner clinched the NFC East crown. But this year is a different season and Coach Andy Reid is moving forward.

“We’re not worried about what happened last year or in the future or anything else,” Reid said. “It’s all about right now and making sure that we focus in on right now and exhaust that process of getting ready to play a good football team.”

As Reid tries to forget it, some of the players are moving on from it as well. “We’re not thinking about last year,” quarterback Michael Vick said. “We’re focusing on this year, 2010.”

Vick has moved on but still has those memories of a season ago and knows this season this season has to do better.

“It was a tough feeling last year, going down there and losing two weeks back to back, and the way we lost,” Vick said. “We just have to come out and play with confidence, be poised, stay patient, weather the storm. We know they’re going to be fired up in the beginning and [we have to] just play smart. But it was an ill feeling leaving out of there last year and there was nothing we could about it, because they ended our season.”

Coming into this season though, there was a lot of hype for Cowboys behind Wade Phillips and franchise quarterback Tony Romo to finally make the run after being so successful and become the first team to host a Super Bowl in their own stadium — “Jerry World.” And for the Eagles, after deciding to go forward without their face of the franchise, Donovan McNabb, it was supposed to be a long rebuilding year in the cellar of the NFC East. However, neither club played at expectation.

The Eagles right now are 8-4, in first place in the NFC East and fighting to make the playoffs in the tight race. The resurgence of Vick has been the cause of the Eagles success this season. With magnificent play, Vick is showing the country that he not only still has it in him, but is better than ever.

As for Dallas, they aren’t playing for anything, sitting at 4-8. They lost their QB Tony Romo for most of the season and fired their head coach after struggling for the first half. Now since the change, the Cowboys have been playing very well under interim head coach Jason Garrett, who has lead the team to a 3-1 record since taking over. Dallas will be motivated though — they are trying to play the spoiler for the Eagles. Despite the record, Reid knows this a different football team since beginning of the season mainly because of the new coach and that his team will have their hands full.

“They’re playing good football right now and our team knows that,” Reid said. “I think Jason Garrett is a very good football coach. They’re running the football a little bit more, they don’t have quite as many turnovers on offense and they’ve increased their turnovers on defense. That turnover margin becomes a big stat for them.”

No matter what the records are for these two ball clubs. The Eagles-Cowboys rivalry is always a game to watch as they are known for a tight, smash mouth battle between these two ball clubs and don’t expect anything less come Sunday night.

Vick leads charge to Hawaii

Through 13 weeks of the NFL season, Eagles’ starting quarterback Michael Vick is not only getting the respect of his peers on the football field but now the fans.

Two years removed from serving an 18 month jail sentence after pleading guilty to involvement with a dog fighting ring in 2007, Vick currently leads all NFL players in Pro Bowl fan votes with over 729,000 votes, the NFL said on Wednesday. In second place is Colts’ QB Peyton Manning with almost 39,000 fewer votes than Vick.

Since becoming the starter in Philly earlier this season, Vick has been on a tear. With his elusiveness and versatility to make plays not only through the air but on the ground, he has eclipsed over 2,700 total yards and 21 touchdowns. He has done a tremendous job with ball security only turning it over three times this season. And he is the NFL’s leading passer with a rating of 105.7

Vick was a three-time pro bowler in Atlanta and was signed by the Eagles in the beginning of the season last year after NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell re-instated Vick in July of 2009. Vick’s life has come around full circle and he has done great getting things back in order.

His flawless play so far this season has done wonders to put the Eagles in a position that no one coming into this season would have thought of — a playoff race. Vick has made this team into a contender this season and he continues to do so as the Eagles sit at 8-4 going into Sunday’s game.

The online fan Pro Bowl voting ends Dec. 20th so get your votes in now for your favorite NFL stars.

On the injury front…

Right tackle Winston Justice was the only Eagle to miss practice on Wednesday with a knee hyperextension suffered last week. Backup tackle King Dunlap will take his reps in practice. Justice’s status Sunday is uncertain. Said Reid: “We just have to make sure he can function at a level where he can play in a game. He’s not there right now.”

CB Asante Samuel and DE Juqua Parker both returned to practice and could possibly play this week. “I think they’re ready to go,” Reid said when asked if both are fully healthy. “We’ll see. They feel good and we’ll just see how they do in practice.”

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