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Halfway point brings perspective

With eight weeks in the books, players, coaches with local ties prepare to embark on second half of the 2011 season.

November 06, 2011|By Gabriel Rizk, gabriel.rizk@latimes.com

At the halfway point of the 2011 season, very little has gone according to plan for the locally-connected athletes and coaches on the NFL landscape. That's not to say all has gone wrong for head coaches Andy Reid and Hue Jackson and players Ramses Barden and Eben Britton, but more so it speaks to the volatile nature of the week-to-week gauntlet that is professional football and how best laid plans can quickly be scattered in the wind by injuries, unforeseen circumstances and the overall parity of a league in which a game can go either way on any given Sunday.

There's plenty of football left to look ahead to and plenty of first-half highlights to pore over. The following midseason update will offer a look at both.

REID WAKING FROM

BAD DREAM

With each prominent player the Philadelphia Eagles added to an already talent-studded roster via free agency and trade in the offseason, the Dream Team drumbeat grew stronger, through media hype and fan expectations alike.

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Once the Eagles actually started playing games, however, it became ever more apparent that a stacked roster on paper doesn't automatically translate to success on the field.

Losers of four in a row after opening with a win over the hapless St. Louis Rams on Sept. 11, the grand experiment threatened to blow up in the face of Reid, who is also the team's executive vice president of football operations. Mired in a mess of turnovers, penalties and bad breaks, the Eagles suffered frustrating losses to the Atlanta Falcons (Sept. 18), New York Giants (Sept. 25), San Francisco 49ers (Oct. 2) and Buffalo Bills (Oct. 9).

Now, having won their last two against divisional foes, a 20-13 win over the Washington Redskins on Oct. 16 and a 34-7 dismantling of the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday, the Eagles (3-4) are in a three-way tie for second place in the NFC East and the expectations and pressure seem to have ratcheted down to a level where the Eagles might actually have a chance to begin to mesh as a team and salvage the season.

"It's important you have the right attitude to correct mistakes," Reid, a former offensive lineman at Glendale Community College, told the Associated Press after the win over Dallas, which saw the Eagles improve to 13-0 following a bye week under Reid. "We'll continue to do that. We've got plenty of room to improve."

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