Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Diagnosis: Drowning Rat Syndrome

I've been pretty lax in posting recently. There's a reason for it. You see, I've been dealing with a personal illness that has simply limited my ability to care. Doctors don't have a name for it, but I've decided to call it Drowning Rat Syndrome.

Here's how it works. Let's say you are emotionally and physically tied up in the ultimate success or failure of your favorite football team. Now let's say that your team appears to be solid, has a good D and an offense that leads or is near the top of the league in most important categories. Now let's say your team has exploded all over a hated division rival, and is up 17 points on that division rival with 10 minutes to go in the game. Then assume that your team just stops playing.

Being up 17 points with 10 minutes to go and then losing, see, that's what I liken to a rat -- drowning in a toilet -- who has almost made it to the top, and is juuuust on the cusp of being able to clamber out and save it's own life. But then, it slips back into the water, forced to try that awkward climb once more... Let's say the rat tries this several more times. All the while, that favorite team is playing supposedly inferior opponents like New Orleans, Tampa Bay, and the Jags. As a fan, you get up, you have hope in a victory (reasonable or not), before each one of these games. Even when the team gets off to a shaky start, you tell yourself that they're notoriously slow starters, they can pull it out in the second half.

Now, assume that that favorite team teases its fans and comes close to beating all those inferior teams. The defense does a pretty steady job of keeping the team above water, and the offense gets countless opportunities to put some points on the board --keeping you just on the edge of that proverbial toilet bowl leading to freedom, happiness, and life-- but then keeps slipping you back into that toilet as a fan to drown. Each time that rat has to gear itself back up for another climb. Each slip during each climb, that rat has to tell itself that it's just a minor setback, it's going to make it to the top.

But there comes a time when the rat just has to give up, and prepare itself for the afterlife. Worn out from swimming, and climbing, and slipping to the point of death by the effort of trying to climb out, trying to stay afloat, trying to keep from drowning... At a certain point, it just gives up, and lets the water overtake it.

That's where I am in the season right now.

The Leaders Speak Out

Both Trotter and Dawkins spoke out this week on the lack of motivation during Sunday's game.

Last night on the local Comcast station, Trotter was interviewed, basically saying that during the game he tried to motivate the team and even Jim Johnson and other coaches asked him to get the team motivated, but no one responded.

In Dawkins' press conference he also noted the Birds's lack of motivation (from the Birds' Website):

"On what he thinks is missing from this team: 'What is missing is that sense of urgency in the beginning of the game. I don't know if we are waiting for something to happen, waiting for that big play, but the sense of urgency is not where we need it to be as a team. There are not too many times that you can start out a game so-so and then get your momentum going. We were never able to get it going, if that is what we were waiting for. That is something that as a team, it has nothing to do with the coaches, we have to find out whatever it is we need to do.'"

Who am I to disagree with Bdawk, but it's my opinion that a sense of urgency does stem from the coaching staff. Reid doesn't have one, so why would his players?

Watching the Patriots execute last night makes me wonder what motivates them week after week, especially considering that most of their players have already won 3 Super Bowls in the last 5 years. Belichick and Brady always have the same countenance on the sidelines - it's a look of militant seriousness. I guess the difference is that Andy Reid, McNabb and most of the Birds just don't mind losing all that much. There's no quick fix for that.

Monday, October 30, 2006

You're damn right I have to worry about it, Andy

This has really been bothering me lately, and was brought to a head on Sunday during Reid's post-game press conference. When a reporter said "You say you'll do what you need to do. What do you need to do?" Reid responded:

"You don't have to worry about it I'll take care of it. I'ma take care of it."

Sorry, but that response really, really, really pissed me off, and everytime I think about it I get hot all over again.

Now it's not that I think it was necessarily an arrogant statement. Maybe it just sounded that way, since he was pretty angry at the time. (Which is understandable, since he just lost his third straight game to an inferior team because he was outcoached and just didn't do his job).

And it's not that the comment was a profound insult to the tens of thousands of season ticket holders (like me) who pay exorbitant sums for tickets and insanely priced food and beer. Or that it was an insult to the hundreds of thousands fans who buy Eagles merchandise (again like me). Or that it showed an indifference to the fact that all of these things are what pays for his recent four-year contract extension worth approximately $17 million dollars. . . . Now, I'm no mathematician, but that averages something like 4.25 million per season. Hmmm. So that would mean that he makes over $265,000 per game, and thus far in this season, he has made 2.12 million dollars. But I digress.

And it's not that the comment seemed rude or even patronizing.

But what does bother me about Reid's comment is that it underscores an alarming lack of accountability. He acts as if he has life tenure. Also being General Manager certainly doesn't do much to separate him from the front office. To the contrary, he is part of a Lurie-Banner-Reid Triumverate, which rules on its own terms, completely insulated from the masses. And his actions reinforce that.

Even today, when answering virtually every question in his day-after press conference, he made sure to mention that he accepts responsibility for everything. Clearly nothing more than empty words -- the words of someone who doesn't have any concern over his job security. Time and time again, he makes the same stupid mistakes, and time and time again, he says he accepts responsibility for them and will work on them. And time and time again, he makes the same stupid mistakes again. And again. And again . . . .

If there were any accountability whatsoever, he would be extremely worried about getting canned for the team's consistently poor performance. It's not like this is a novel concept. Jim Cramer even talked about Reid's lack of accountability.

Now I am very appreciative of what Andy Reid has done for this franchise. He has the most wins of any Eagles coach, and really transformed the franchise from a feeble joke to a world-class team.

But for better or for worse, his time has passed. It seems that as a coach, he has already been figured out and no longer has anything special to offer. As a GM, he made some truly excellent moves (like getting McNabb, obviously) but was always far too concerned about finding free-agents who were bargains, rather than spending the money that they had to really make a run for it all.

After years of making the same stupid mistakes even after he says he will fix them, and after three consecutive games of getting outcoached and fielding a team that committed countless mental errors, I believe that it is now time for Reid to go. At the very least, he needs to give up one of his two jobs, although I think he needs to go entirely. If he truly felt "responsible" for this team's incompetence and his failure to fix its mistakes, he would resign. If he truly were accountable to anyone in the front office, he would be asked to leave.

Right now, there's just something fundamentally wrong with this organization. But then again, I "don't need to worry about it."

I guess neither does Reid.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

If the Team Doesn't Care, then Why Should the Fans?

For the third week in a row, the Birds got manhandled by a horrible team...this time at home. You would think that coming off 2 games that they "shouldn't have lost", the entire Eagles organization would be pumped up to tear the Jags apart. Yes, that would be the case in other cities, but we're talking about the Philadelphia Eagles here, a team that has trouble staying motivated for NFC Championship Games.

It was evident from the kickoff that the Birds, especially the O and D lines, were more interested in getting to their Bye Week than playing today. They only have to play once a week - motivation shouldn't be a problem. In my opinion, this Bye Week is coming at the worst possible time.

Anyway, my conclusion is simple and a reiteration of what I've been saying for a while: ANDY REID'S TIME AS HEAD COACH IS OVER.

It's evident that Big Red's formula and coaching style don't produce championships. As I've been saying, he's a very good GM and gameplanner, but sucks as a leader, as a field general. He's never going to lead this team to a Super Bowl.

This loss was the most embarassing, but also the easiest to explain. The same problems plagued us this week as other weeks:

Motivation - The coaches did not prepare the team to play this week. The players lacked any kind of spark or drive, and the coaches stood there and watched it happen, not caring much either. I've never seen a team literally not care if they won or lost. Today I saw that for the first time.

The Running Game, on both sides of the ball - We can't stop the run on Defense and we can't run the ball on Offense. The Jags racked up 209 running yards; the Birds had 85 running yards, and many of those 85 yards were broken plays where McNabb scrambled. When you can't run the ball, you lose the Time of Possession battle too -like every other team has done against us this season, they destroyed us on Time of Possession. The Jags held the ball for 36 mins to our 23 mins. As everyone knows, that wears out the Defense. On the offensive side of things, Big Red has made it clear over the years that he doesn't value a potent running game. Well, on days like today where you can't pass the ball because of the elements, you lose every time. We never seem to learn from our mistakes. Just Sad.

A final note on the coaching - in the 4th Quarter, there was 7:36 left on the clock, the Birds drove a little and had a big 4th down on the Jags 45 YL....they punted. Why punt at this point? They still needed 2 scores to tie the game, so why not just go for it and then play defense from there if you don't make it? The game was over right after they punted it. On the flip side, the Jags managed to convert a couple key 4th downs during the game and in the process, made the Birds look stupid in their own house. Complete lack of aggressiveness.

Again, Andy Reid needs to go. He had his time, and he's failed to make this thing work. There is no point in having a man lead a team who doesn't care about winning and has absolutely no sense of urgency. Football is a game of urgency and emotion. You can't win if you don't have it. Move Andy to GM if stays, but in any case, we need a leader out there on the field, showing these players what it takes to win it all.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Receivers Gone Wild

Although the Birds only have a quietly competent receiving corps this season, they are racking up nice numbers; thanks mostly to DMac in my opinion. Reggie already is about to bust through his numbers for his entire last season. Bottom line is that it's nice to be rid of all of the off-field drama.

Over the last 5-10 years, it seems that Receivers have taken the lead on being trash talking thugs and getting into trouble...anyone know why that is? Receivers really don't touch the ball that much, at least compared to Running Backs and QBs, and can really only impact games if their respective QBs are good.

It seems to be getting worse too, especially in light of all of the media attention surrounding the T.O. craziness. Just this week:
* Chad Johnson called out D'Angelo Hall, and then the two of them exchanged challenges through the media (CJ seems to call out somebody new every week)
* Plaxico Burress was ripping on T.O. for slipping on the turf and dropping balls in Monday Night's game.
* Bengals are activating Chris Henry this week.
* Even KeyShawn was on Sirius NFL Radio basically saying that T.O. has been copying all of his career moves.

These guys are out of control. And dropped balls seem to be on the rise this season (maybe that's just with the Birds). Anyway, these guys probably should just shut up and catch balls.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Into the Minds of the Powers that Be

Sometimes I'm inspired by hearing the press conferences but more often it just confuses me. The Birds' Website has quotes from the coaches and players made during the various press conferences held that week. The mindset of a lot of these guys, well, I just don't get...Taking a step back, we're talking about the NFL here, a professional sports league where the players are being highly compensated to play this game with precision and discipline and in the end, attain the goal of winning the Super Bowl. In general, statements from players (not only on the Eagles) often indicate a failure of these athletes to transition mentally from college where they were playing for free or often just for fun to the pros where it became their profession. Their jobs are to be cogs in the machine, a machine that wins games for their club. It's probably just me being too critical, but...come on, do these guys want to win a Super Bowl or not?

Anyway, here is a look into the minds of the People in Charge from this week:

Andy Reid:
"On how you can't practice not kicking a flag and how you get that message across on the practice field: 'You have to keep your composure. [DE] Jerome [McDougle] probably said it the best, he blew it. He got caught up in the moment and that's what happens. You learn from it and move on.'

"On whether there are repercussions for such incidents: 'Yeah, I talked to him.'"

Oh boy, he TALKED to him. Do you think McDougle will ever forget that tounge lashing? I think not...man, I would've hated to be McDougle, being talked to and all. Wow, with the Birds, the consequences for contributing to blowing the game are pretty serious, huh? ...you get TALKED TO.

From Donovan:

"On whether after looking at the film he saw if WRs Reggie Brown and Hank Baskett were open on the play at the end of the first half where he threw to TE L.J. Smith and didn't get in the end zone: 'On that particular play, L.J. ran past the linebacker, so there was nothing but him and Ronde, who was supposed to be guarding Hank Baskett in the corner route at that particular time, but he made a great play and they were able to converge on L.J. Looking back on it now, I should have just thrown the ball out of bounds, but in that situation you have to have the confidence in your guys to be able to make that play to get in the end zone. It just didn't work, but maybe it will next time.'"

Please tell me I didn't read that correctly..."next time" it might work, does he mean another toss to LJ in front of the goal line might work? That's a play that you have to assume will never work that's why it's strategy from Pop Warner to the pros to never throw it. Having confidence in your guys has nothing to do with it. He should have just stopped at "I should have just thrown the ball out of bounds." I hope someone told him that.

"On the fact that the decision making on offense has been heavily criticized and how he feels about it: 'I personally don't care. I get criticized for everything, so it doesn't matter to me. I play the game to try and help my team win. There are going to be plays in the game that people are going to question. There are going to be plays that people are going to enjoy, but you take away three interceptions, it puts us in a position to come out with points and score points. You make mistakes, but you have to be able to bounce back from it. I regret throwing the interceptions, but there's nothing that I can do now but learn from it and move on.'"

Hearing DMac make statements like "I get criticized for everything" makes me think that playing in the COBL is weighing on him, which is understandable. It hasn't been easier for him so far. Maybe all of that laughing and joking on the sidelines is just a cover - the pressure in big games has been evident on his face. I mean, I didn't see anyone else throwing up during last week's game. Not even Gradkowski.

From Dawkins:

"On how they avoid the mentality of thinking that it just isn't our year': 'That goes straight from up top, start with the coaches to the leaders and then it filters on down. That's why we go out and continue to practice the way we are going to practice today. We're going to come into this thing and have a good time in practice, work hard, and prepare ourselves to win games.

'We've already talked about paying attention to detail, and that is something we always talk about. But, also, we just talk about controlling those things that you can control and don't worry about those other things. As far as any calls that don't go your way, you can't worry about that. The only thing that you can control is your play. Our play has been inconsistent and that is something we have to get better at.'"

As usual, Dawkins gets it right. The focus needs to be on the attention to detail, working hard and controlling their play. In any week, the opposing team may just outplay you or be a better team, but if you concentrate on getting the little things right, eventually things will go your way, or at least, you will play the best you can play. The Birds are getting a lot of the big things right at this point (#1 offense in the league, big plays, etc), but they keep messing up the little things and that's why they're losing. It's time for them to act like professionals, not ex-college athletes just winging it.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Open Letter to Donovan McNabb

Dear ‘5’,

I am writing this letter to you not out of criticism, rather I am writing because I am concerned about you. I am very worried that something is physically and maybe even psychologically wrong with you.

You see, in my 30-some years of life, I have watched a lot of football games. Actually, I will venture to say that I have watched more football games already, than most people will watch in a lifetime. I have also had the opportunity to train countless numbers of football players over the years. I have trained players in the midget football system at 8 years old all the way up to old timers in the NFL. I have always taken pride in the fact that the players I worked with were in the best physical condition possible during the season. You see, my job was to make sure these guys were machines during the whole entire game. Even when our 17 year old quarter back would scramble and run for 60 plus yards, he was always able to recover quickly and run the next play with no problem. Furthermore, he was able to play defense the very next series when needed too. This is not an isolated example, but more the norm when players are conditioned “correctly”.

I know for a fact that you have a very intense conditioning program during the off-season, and I know that you probably show up to camp during the summer in better condition than most of the team. If only games were played during camp. It is my understanding from countless hours in exercise physiology class, and even more hours working directly with athletes, that de-conditioning occurs at a much faster rate than it takes to actually properly condition your body. For example, each day that you don’t run sprints with the team; your heart rate might actually increase up to a ½ a beat per day. This means that your heart will have to work harder than it did the day before to deliver needed oxygen to the muscles in the body. If enough days go by, your heart will not be able to do its job and you will hit the “wall.” When this happens, muscles don’t work as well, and performance goes way down. Add extreme heat to this, and things really go down hill fast. Being in proper game condition can and will prevent all of this from happening most of the time.

Why am I telling you this? I have witnessed more than once over the last few years that you seem to suffer during games when you have to overexert yourself more than a few plays at a time. This suffering affects the quality of your play greatly. Since I know that you are in top condition, and I also know that a 17 year old can do 3 times that amount of running and still perform at a high level without taking a break, and without vomiting, even in the biggest games, then there must be something wrong with you medically or even psychologically.

Please get yourself checked out to make sure you don’t have some strange disease. Maybe you are not able to process your carbs well, or energy yielding fats effectively. I assume you eat the right way too. Maybe you have some other condition that no one knows about. Either way, get yourself checked out. I once had a high school football player that had almost the same exact problem as you. I almost sent him for medical tests to find out what was wrong. Instead, I tried something else, something more obvious and to some, extreme…I made this player stay after practice and RUN sprints with the team and then some extra with me after the team was done. It was just a hunch, but something weird happened…after 2 weeks of “running sprints” and conditioning with the team, his problem went away.

So, you might want to try that option first and my guess is maybe things will clear up and your “problem” will go away. If not, get yourself to the doctor ASAP.

Stay Well,

Monday, October 23, 2006

Steering back on track . . . while asleep at the wheel

According to the team's website, on Monday Reid broke with the long-standing tradition he has set in giving the players the day off after games. Today, the authoritarian coach actually required the players to show up and make a brief appearance, where he sternly lectured them. As Spadaro reported:
Andy Reid spoke briefly to them, reiterating how much he believes in them and how he is confident the team will get back to winnning the right way -- as a team.

Okay, I may not be a coach, but just maybe this fluffy, snuggly technique isn't really working? I accept that positive reinforcement can be good and negative reinforcement can be counterproductive; but this does not mean that getting mad and being critical of a player's performance is negative. This isn't a charity softball fundraiser where everybody's a winner. This is actually their profession -- for which they are very well compensated. By us.

It seems to be a growing problem that there are absolutely no consequences whatsoever for poor performance on the field -- or even assinine on-field actions that hurt the team like McDougle's absurd unsportsmanlike penalty. The biggest problem is that Reid sets this example himself with his constant mia culpa refrain of "that's my responsibility" and "I need to do a better job". Because Reid neither fears nor faces any consequences for each week's many poor coaching decisions, they are just words. Nothing more.

As for the players, when McDougle came off the field after kicking the penalty flag, Reid did not read him the riot act, express slight disapproval, or even make an effort to speak with him. That play -- as jaw-droppingly stupid as Cole's in the giants game -- hurt the entire team and was one of the contributing factors to our shameful loss. McDougle and all of the players should not only understand that it's not a great idea to go out of their way to take actions that will unequivocally result in a 15 yard penalty and a first down, but that they face some serious consequences from the coach. When they outlawed horsecollar tackling after Roy Williams' T.O. tackle, he said something to the effect that he would rather keep doing it than face the wrath of Parcells for missing a tackle.

This team as simply made too many undisciplined mistakes. Those mistakes are often best addressed by instilling -- and imposing -- discipline. I'm definitely not suggesting that Reid should follow Parcell's example of ruling by fear, but somethin sure is broke and needs fixed.

(Sorry -- this was just a rant).

"Westbrook Should Have Killed Some Time Off of the Clock..."


Ever since the game ended yesterday, I've heard dozens of comments from fans and commentators (i.e. on WIP, Sirius NFL Radio, NFL Network, etc.) about Westbrook not killing a few more seconds off of the clock at the end of his spectacular TD run in the 4th Quarter...do you remember the run, the one in which he took a poorly-planned clock-killing, mid-field pass from McNabb and then made 5 guys miss to score the go-ahead TD which almost allowed us to win a game that we didn't deserve to win in the first place? Yes, that's the one.

There is no expectation that a player who just executed like that should even remotely have the presence of mind to stand on the goal line and kill the clock some more. He already had to be a superhero as it was...should we expect him to be God?

Bottom line is that we found a thousand and one other ways to let that game get away, including our poor coverage on the ensuing kickoff and the weak defense which allowed Tampa to move the ball into any fathomable FG range.

Sunday, October 22, 2006


OK everybody, good teams find a way to win, and what do bad teams find a way to do? Simply put, our Eagles are just a bad TEAM right now - the roster doesn't say it, the stats don't really say it, but the subpar coaching and the creative ways in which the players are allowing the opposition to win is speaking volumes right now. The Birds are poorly prepared and organized as a team that has playoff aspirations. With the talent they have, the Birds should not be 4-3 given the opponents they've faced.

When the offense tallies over 500 total yards and the defense holds the opposition to less than 200 yards of total offense, the win is in the bag, right? No, not if you turn over the ball 4 times and fail to manage the clock properly.

Although I've been harping on this for a while, the lack of organization stems from Reid and his coaching staff and the horrible decisions they've been making. Again today, I blame the coaches for this loss - they just don't care about fixing the many little things that make up a big loss...

CONDITIONING: So, it was apparently really hot down in Tampa. So what? These players are supposed to be conditioned to play in all temperatures, for 60 minutes. McNabb supposedly spends part of the offseason training in Arizona...what exactly is he doing out there? I don't mean to rip too hard on D-Mac because I love him and all, but this has been a major problem for us at the end of tight games (ahem, the Super Bowl!). The coaches need to fix this problem immediately because some of these guys, particularly McNabb, are consistently worn out by the 4Q. Funny, I haven't seen Tom Brady throw up from exhaustion.

CLOCK MANAGEMENT YET AGAIN: What is there to say about a nice 8-play, 78-yard drive at the end of the first half which culminated on the Bucs 2-yard line but yielded zero points? Turns out we could have used that easy 3 points at the end of the game - instead we left the points on the field, again. If there is 9 seconds left on the opponents' 6-yard line, you have time for ONE quick pass play...a brief look into the endzone if you will. If you can't handle that, then just kick the FG and end the half. First, why wasn't McNabb in shotgun for this play so that he could survey the D (and avoid a sack more easily) and second, why isn't he coached that under no circumstances should he throw the ball short of the goal line? That's high school football 101. This is how our 2 minute drills have gone all year (and since Big Red took over in fact). All of our plays during the "2 minute drills" are passes or runs up into the middle of the field, killing time-outs or running the clock down. That final "drive" was a great example of this; the only reason it resulted in a TD is because Westy had to be Superman and avoid 5 tackles. Otherwise, the clock would have been killed again. Reid needs to spend some time on the 2 minute drill. Invite Montana and even Peyton over for dinner.

TURNOVERS: The 3 INTS appeared to be mostly on McNabb. Falling out of character this game, he made some very poor decisions for those throws. He was obviously trying to get something going and force the ball - bad results happen when you do that as McNabb should have learned from that hard lesson that Roy Williams taught him last season on Monday night. In any case, the WRs may have run poor routes and may not have been getting the separation they needed to get; but in those cases, I don't understand why McNabb doesn't just RUN?? Run like hell. Andy, give him a designed run in fact...how about that?! I've always said that they need at least one designed run for McNabb every game - it causes the LBs to freeze for a precious half second on many passing plays which can make all of the difference in the success over the course of a game. Wasn't it interesting that McNabb finally did run after the 3rd INT?...with outstanding results too. He racked up over 50 rushing yards in the second half, leading us on scoring drives.

The fumbles are inexcusable too, except I blame the coaches and not the players. As my boys and I discussed watching the game today, Tiki Barber doesn't fumble anymore ever since his new coaching staff took an interest in correcting that major problem of his. It's the little things that Andy Reid and his staff don't do. LJ CARRIES THE BALL LIKE A SIX-PACK.

SLOW STARTS: We just cannot get going until the second half. Are the guys not motivated Andy? What's the problem when you have to rely on halftime to rejuvenate? Consistently playing from behind gets old after a while. Today, we scored TDs on each of our final 3 possessions - that's all the scoring we had.

Other key problems, mostly coaching issues again:

*Stupid penalties - like McDougle's which cost us 30 yards and led to a Tampa field goal. Like Trent Cole's kick in the groin a few weeks ago, this type of behavior is inexcusable and can cost us games, maybe even a playoff spot. Coaching.

*Dropped passes - yet again, even some of our sure-handed guys like the Brook dropped have caught the disease. Does McNabb put vaseline on the ball? None of these guys can catch his passes. I don't understand this, but we're basically leading the league in dropped passes. Imagine D-Mac's numbers if even half of them would have been caught.

The Final Insult: A 62-yard field goal (the 3rd longest in NFL history) by a below-average kicker to win the game. Wha? I don't even know how to describe the reasons why this FG was a predetermined sure-thing, but my buddy Scoot called it before Matt Bryant even lined up for the kick. "I can't believe he made that kick!" Scoot said, as we all gave him a hard time for being negative, but he needed to get prepared for the disappointment...he knew as well as all of us, it's what we can count on from this broken-down, trophy-less franchise: Disappointment.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

I just need to do a better job . . .

According to the transcript from Reid's press conference yesterday, he said just under 700 words. Not surprising -- he certainly isn't known for being overly yaky with the press. However, it's interesting that he still used the word "better" a total of 11 times...

"We've got to do a better job there."

"We need to do a better job in the first quarter and the fourth quarter when you really look at it."

"We need to do better there."

"I've got to do a better job of getting (plays) in sooner and then you add in there a little bit of the noise."

"We can do a better job there - I guess is what I'll tell you."

"We just have to do a better job of handling that situation."

Just an observation. Feel free to draw your own conclusions...

Monday, October 16, 2006

Something Positive: BRIAN DAWKINS

Not only is he my favorite player, but after all of these years, B-Dawk has earned his place as a Philadelphia sports icon. Every team needs at least one player like Dawkins: He genuinely loves the sport (rare these days), is a student of the game and hits bigger than he is. In short, the town loves him because he's the consummate Eagle of this generation of players.

There was little news on this last week after the win over Dallas, but B-Dawk became the Philly Eagle to play in the most wins in franchise history (87 wins), surpassing the great Chuck Bednarik, the consummate Eagle of his own generation.

Let's hope B-Dawk will play another 10 seasons for us.

Too Disgusted To Write A Real Post...

Honestly, yesterday's game was much more painful for me than the Gnats' comeback a few weeks back. Why? Because almost EVERY single time we had an opportunity to make a play -- not even a big play, mind you, but ANY play -- on offense, defense, or special teams, we blew it. Almost every time we blew it, whether it was a drop, a bad call, a stupid penalty, you name it. Was it the let-down game many predicted after the big Dallas win? Was the crowd noise too much for us? Did everyone stay out past curfew on Saturday night? Is Reid incapable of beating more than 50% of teams we play after wins over the Cowboys? And the way we played almost makes this a legitimate question: Did we give the game to the Saints as part of the NFL's new affirmative action plan when it comes to letting the Saints look good?

Seriously. 12 men on the field, negating a sack that would have pushed them back to a long field
goal and gotten us the ball back. Wasting all of our 2nd-half timeouts. 12 men on the field! Way too many dropped passes (AGAIN!) 12 men on the field! Horrible play-calling. No blitzing. I mean, if you're going to do all of that, why not simply kick somebody in the balls again to lose the game? And Michael Lewis, did your coverage skills peek as a rookie? WTF?

It was sad to the point where even converting a 1st down led me to a minor celebration. And that's not what we've come to expect from this team. They should have blown New Orleans out of the water yesterday. They should never have been trailing. They should not have lost. they should have at least kept them from holding the ball for the entire last 8 and a half minutes of the game!

Like I said, I'm thoroughly disgusted.

But at least we're not as bad as the Redskins.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

The Saints Whoop the Birds, as Big Red is Outcoached Again

As it turns out, the Saints appear to be for real. Head coach Sean Payton is squeezing everything out of the team that he can. They turned out to be a good match for the Birds, but only because the coaching staff blew a lot of key opportunities. Overall, I thought our players did pretty well today, with the exception of a couple bone-headed plays (i.e. Moats running into Dexter Wynn and M.Lewis blowing his coverage).

Rather than a detailed breakdown, there are just a few questions that I need to ask the coaches about how they blew this one:

1) Marty Morningweg, Is our entire offense relying on Big Plays to sustain drives this season? If so, it's a long-term recipe for failure. Is this the best you and Reid can contrive with the roster we have?? Why didn't Westbrook spend more time outside today, in the h-back or slot positions? He's great out there. I've never seen a team attempt so many low percentage plays downfield on key downs. Yes, a good number of these big plays have paid off over the first 5 games, which has been exciting; but defenses will scheme around it as the Saints did today. We need to develop a synchronized short-yardage gameplan and convert 2nd and 3rd downs with higher percentage plays. We went deep on 12 PLAYS today - only one of them worked (Reggie's TD). That's eleven squandered second and third down attempts. There is no reason to go deep more than 2-3 times a game, unless it's just undeniabily available. Morningweg, you get an D- today (the only reason I didn't fail you is because of the nice Reggie Brown misdirection play for a TD). POOR PLAY SELECTION IS ALL ON YOU.

2) Andy Reid, are you ever going to learn how to control a play clock? Again, at the end of the game, we had no timeouts left, mainly because we allowed the play clock to run down to zero multiple times during the second half and had to burn TO's to save from getting penalties. Yes, it was loud in there, but didn't everyone know that the Saints play in a dome? At the end of the game, Sean Payton wisely just let time dwindle down to 3 seconds and then kicked the game-winning field goal. TIME MANAGEMENT IS THE HEAD COACH'S RESPONSIBILITY.

3) Jim Johnson, What happened to all of those nice blitz packages? Did we blitz like what, 4 times today, maybe? We had ZERO sacks against a decent but not great offensive line. Brees just sat back there, comfortably going through his progressions. The couple of times we did threaten Brees, he was rattled. Our D line was completely contained - we could've made that Brees's day miserable. And at what point do you think Joe Horn should get more attention from us - when he had 200 yards receiving? Then, we had that horrible 12-men on the field penatly on a key third down stop at the end of the game; Trent Cole had the sack and we probably would have gotten the ball back. AS GREAT AS LAST WEEK'S DEFENSIVE GAMEPLAN WAS, TODAY'S WAS JUST AS BAD.

Finally, one player who didn't have a good game was Michael Lewis which is a shame. I really like that guy, but he hasn't been playing well lately - I wonder why that is? They benched him during the game, and Andy Reid seemed unhappy with him during his press conference; so looks like Considine will be starting next week.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Is McNabb the Birds' Leader or just a Talented QB?

No doubt that Donovan is having a career season so far; his MVP-like play has been well-covered by the media. His play this season has made me think a lot about him - how he's matured over the years, how he endured the stress of playing in this city, and whether he is our team's leader or just a very good player. Journalists and announcers routinely, especially this season, refer to McNabb as the Birds' "undeniable leader". Is it undeniable that he's our leader?

Before answering that question, I'll put aside his play on the field and the duties that come with the QB position: McNabb is for sure one of the most electric and talented players on the team and in the NFL, and may end up being considered a great QB one day (let's all hope). And QBs are forced to be leaders of the offense because they touch the ball on every offensive play. So, beyond his role on the field and the offensive leadership that has been thrust upon him, does McNabb voluntarily take on the role of team leader?

Well, if he does, he's certainly not vocal about it - like Andy Reid, he's very measured in his interviews and on the sidelines. I like that trait personally because he conducts himself with class and doesn't appear to overeact to any situation. It's easy to have the expectation that your team leader should be boisterous and more showy, which is what you get from players like Ray Lewis. For sure, it's certainly easier for players and fans to be attracted to that type of leadership - there is little doubt as to who is in charge. Trotter and Dawkins seem to share a role like that on defense (and probably for the entire team).

McNabb's more measured approach would seem to translate to poise on the field in high pressure situations - that hasn't necessarily been the case however. His performance in his biggest games has been covered thoroughly so I won't get into that in detail here, but merely reference it as evidence that he may be a reluctant leader. I think the pressure does get to him, but how could it not? For the most part, he has deflected it or bottled it up for the last 7 seasons, but it comes to the surface from time to time. Take the Super Bowl for instance. Let's face it, in the Super Bowl, McNabb looked flat-out scared. It may have been fatigue and the aches from the pounding he took (which is what I like to believe), but his face showed signs of fear...and while his performance was great in some respects (he had 350 yards passing and 3 TDs in that game), it was horrible in other respects (3 INTs and basically a shutdown at the end of the game). He wasn't able to rally the troups when it counted the most - which to me is a key sign of a leader. As an aside, the general failure to show a sense of urgency when the game is on the line exists among both Reid and McNabb and is one of the reasons why our 2-minute drills are horrible.

As everyone knows, McNabb is playing best when he's loose and smiling, joking with his teammates on the sidelines. To me, this indicates he views himself as one of the boys rather than their leader. I think the Birds' leadership resides for the most part in its defensive players, who play like crazed dogs; but to be honest, it's hard to tell sometimes.

Of course, none of this is intended to be criticism of McNabb, but just a thought about what his role is on this team. The city is really fortunate to have a franchise QB of his caliber, especially when you see teams like the Skins, Cowboys and Ravens suffer for years with journeymen signal callers. In any case, I don't know yet whether he'll be the one to lead this team to a Super Bowl trophy, but I really hope so.

Friday, October 13, 2006


Who remembers when the New Orleans Saints were the 'Aints? After going 7-9 in 1978 and 8-8 in 1979 (which was actually their first non-losing season in the history of the franchise, which was formed in 1966), they finished 1-15 in 1980.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Newtown to New Orleans and Back Again

This is from a Marc Narducci article in the Inky today -- I just thought it was worth sharing. It's about the Saint's head coach (and former Eagles assistant coach) Sean Payton. It explains how he grew up in the area (the hardscrabble hood of Newtown Square) until 7th grade, and how his brother lives in the area and remains a Birds fan:

Payton's brother Tom, who lives in Cape May County, N.J., is proof of how passionate Eagles fans are. Even when Sean Payton was an assistant coach with the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys, Tom remained loyal to the Eagles.

"It's a little bit easier that the Eagles are out of the division, but there would be years when there would be no conversation for six months," Payton said. "He is like the rest of the town. He grew up watching their teams play, and that is what makes the fans there special and makes it a tough place to, obviously, play."

I think that's awesome. But seriously, is that a big deal? I mean, if I had a brother who worked for Lyndon LaRouche, that doesn't mean I'd vote for that nutjob or donate to the LaRouche PAC. (I see enough inchoherent, babbling, mean-spirited and paranoid rantings at work; I have no desire to underwrite any more of them). Hell, I'd want this fictional brother of mine to be sucessful at what he did, but I damn sure wouldn't want his party to win, and would have no problem actively campaigning against it.

So my point is that I don't find anything the least bit wrong with Tom Payton's refusual to support his brother's teams. He's just a real fan. Or more specifically, an Eagles fan.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

The RePlay on the NFL Network

I re-watched Sunday's game on RePlay last night. After seeing it play for play and removing myself from the drama of being in the stadium, I don't see how anyone could think Dallas is the better team (for the record, I didn't think this before I watched Replay, but this solidified my recollection from the game).

It definitely lived up to its billing as a close game, and each team played sloppily at times, but overall we outplayed them on both offense and defense. They had a few sustained drives, mostly in the first half when momentum shifted to them for a quarter or so; but then again, they had 16 possessions - and when you allow a team to have that many, your D can only do so much. The Birds D disrupted the Cowboys passing game and knocked around Bledsoe the entire game - no wonder he was so rattled. Although Bledsoe was not good that day, I think the Cowboys fans and analysts need to stop blaming Bledsoe so much and starting blaming the offensive line and the coaches for not countering our superior blitz scheme for most of the game. At one point in the 4th quarter when Bledsoe rolled out to avoid the blitz and completed a nice pass, even Aikman said "it's about time they start using plays like that." Offensively, the Birds moved the ball when they had to and put the points on the board - mostly through big plays of course, but the big plays were there and Dallas's D didn't stop them.

Anyway, I'm anxiously awaiting the Christmas Day game - one thing is comforting about that game however, since everyone is into excuses, we'll be able to use the excuse that it's our 3rd staight Division ROAD game in December so we won't be at our best. I'm sure the analysts will miss that facet however.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

The Birds didn't Win - the Cowboys just Lost

So, I expected to come home on Sunday night to a plethora of coverage of this game, but have since seen only some brief highlights here and there - and not because I haven't been searching and searching. What commentary there has been on the game has focused solely on the state of affairs in Dallas and how the Cowboys just had an off-day and layed down, handing the game to the Birds: Bledsoe made bad throws and is old, so it's his fault; youth in the secondary broke down coverage, Parcells use of T.O. was poor...on and on.

Some of that is true, no doubt. But what, the Birds didn't have any mistakes that day (and still won)? And whatever happened to a straight-up WIN?...maybe the Birds just outplayed the Cowboys and deserved it? Or maybe, just maybe Salisbury, Hoge, Theismann, and the rest of you meatheads, the Cowboys just aren't that great of a team at this point? And maybe the Skins and Giants aren't either. No, Say it ain't so! The Birds had more total offense and disrupted the Cowboys offense with sacks, forced passes, fumbles and strong secondary play. Isn't that an indication that the Birds just may be a better team? a remote possibility perhaps? The hatred the NFL gentry has for the Birds is palpable and it disgusts me. I can't believe that they allow these idiots to analyze a complicated game like football - remember when the Birds made their Super Bowl run in 2004? Yeh, that was when Merril Hoge tirelessly "predicted" all year long that the Birds wouldn't even make the playoffs! And then he predicted us losing throughout the playoffs and then finally, a 35-0 loss in the Super Bowl. Has no one held that idiot accountable? How about his continued ridiculous statements? NFL Primetime is now hosted by Salisbury and Hoge...guess I can't watch that show anymore. Well, unfortunately, the only way this bias is going to stop is when the Birds finally get a trophy and stick it in these clowns' faces.

Back to the Cowboys - Even Len Pasquerelli wrote on ESPN.com: "In the long run, though, many came away from the contest believing the Cowboys had outplayed the Eagles in several facets, and Dallas might ultimately become the better team. Right or wrong, such a suspicion was based on two factors: First, despite surrendering seven sacks and five turnovers, and with quarterback Drew Bledsoe playing miserably, Dallas still had a chance in the closing seconds to send the game into overtime. Second (and far more meaningful), the Cowboys have assembled a defense that could emerge as a terrific unit."

So yes, I agree with some of this commentary about Dallas, but the same could be said for the Birds, but strangely I haven't heard anything about it; plus wasn't this game supposed to be close? Sure it was, but the Birds were the better team.

Monday, October 09, 2006

semi-rational exuberance

Yes, it was an extremely important win.

Yes, the D-line (and blitzing LBs who often freed up some of the DTs and DEs) played out of their minds.

Yes, Donovan played incredibly and really seems to be the best and most consistent in the NFL right now.

And yes, it was immensely satisfying to see T.O. have another borderline meltdown on the sidelines, pull a Pinkston and miss a ball because he heard Michael Lewis' footsteps fast approaching, and angrily unsnap his chin strap after each underthrown -- or undercaught -- Bledsoe pass.

But despite the warmth and fuzziness, and despite all of the Monday morning headlines characterizing the win as decisive, I can't help but recall the way I felt at halftime . . . .

I was thinking how we were losing 17-21, with the cowgirls' last TD coming with just 3:23 left in the half -- the result of a hard-nosed 75 yard drive down the field. We looked tired and vulnerable, and they looked relatively in control.

I also kept thinking back to our first TD drive, which was a marathon 12 yards, and the result of a rare flubbed punt snap. (By that I mean that it is rare in the NFL -- but it was certainly not rare when I was long snapping in high school). Similarly, our next scoring drive started within spitting distance from the goal line at the 'girls 14, courtesy of Cole's fumble recovery. We drove hard and long -- a total of 5 yards in 3 plays -- before we settled for a FG.

And I was thinking about how our other TD in the half was mostly the result of the one long pass to LJ (the one he actually caught).

What stuck out in my mind was that except for the Ware fumble return for their 2nd TD, the cowgirls' points came from two long, sustained drives (the first TD was from a drive of 57 yards on 10 plays, and the third TD was from a drive of 75 yards in 12 plays).

So all of that was swirling around in the soup between my ears going into the third quarter. We obviously turned it up and ultimately came out with a huge win, but it damn sure wasn't as easy as it is now reported and portrayed.

It wasn't a dominating 14 point win, but was an extremely hard-fought, dangeroursly close battle that really could've gone either way. For christ sakes, our time of possession was 23:01 and theirs was 36:01; our third down conversions were 2-12 and theirs was 7-18, and we only had 16 first downs to their 23. Sure, there are some fun stats in our favor, but the game was far from one-sided.

My point? We need to be realistic about the win. (As Leeks said, "we have a lot of plugs to hole.") So as great of a victory as it was in many respects, I'm still far from satisfied.

The feelings of exuberance from Lito's nail-in-the-coffin TD still do not ease the feelings of the trepidation, fear and portent that I felt at halftime. The feeling that even if we played well we would still find some way to fold. The feeling that I have during every game, up until the final second ticks off the clock.

Funny, you'd think I'd be used to those feelings by now. Maybe it's the winning I will never fully get used to -- but hey, I'm still interested in trying.


First off, let me apologize. As Popstar called me out for yesterday, I was actually on the road for part of the game (a 7:45pm flight out of Buffalo forced me to miss much of the 2nd half). But the football gods were smiling on me, as they saw fit to deliver me an 87-yard touchdown strike from McNabb to Baskett just before I left for the airport. For God saw what he had created in a quarterback, and he was pleased. - Negadelphia 3:16. And, I have already been punished, as the football gods saw fit to make sure that I could just barely make out WIP through the white noise on the a.m. dial on the way to the airport in Buffalo. Just enough to hear a "Brown" or a "Bledsoe" or a "ties the game at 24," but nothing else. I only got confirmation of the win right before the plane started taxiing down the runway - imagine my flight if Dallas had tied that game up right before my flight takes off! And, to top it off, I forgot to play Philly's D yesterday in fantasy football, so I lost about 15 points (playing the Pitt D did last night against the Chargers). Doh! Anyway, lesson learned. Family does NOT come first. I'm sorry. Will never do it again. Now, on to business...

Paulumon already hit many of the high points I was gonna write about in my Prop 10 this week:

(1) D-Walk - not only for nailing Bledsoe 6 times (3 sacks, 1 FF, 3 hurries), but for the amazing restraint he showed in not doing his patented "crawl" after each sack. He's really growin' up!

(2) Quinten Mikell - this guy has been a demon in ST coverage much of this year. He did a great job nailing Terrence Newman on a couple of punt returns yesterday.

(3) Trot - the Lumberjack's been playing (and yapping) like a madman all year, and he brings a lot of fire to this D. Honorable mention - Shawn Barber, who was all over yesterday in coverage and run support, and recovered the fumble on Dallas' botched punt to set up a score.

(4) Receivers - Aikman made the point yesterday that we've had a different #1 receiver every week this year (Stallworth, Brown, Lewis, Baskett, LJ). Basically, we can have a guy out for injury, or they can take a guy away or gameplan for him, but then someone else steps up. Just imagine how hard they'd be to defend if they actually didn't lead the NFL for the 2nd year in a row in dropped balls?...

(5) Ssecondary - Lito comes back from a 3-game ankle-vacation to pick off Bledsoe twice and run one back 102 yards to clinch the victory, and, defend 6 passes to boot. Lito's back, folks. Hansen even held his own against TO several times, and there were many times Bledsoe had all kinds of time to throw but no one was open. Bang up job from a banged up bunch. Oh, yeah, and Dawkins grabbed the 29th pickle of his career, moving him up to #5 all-time for the Birds. These guys had to listen to the TO/Glenn hype ALL WEEK, and all they did was pick off Bledsoe 3 times and knock down several more passes; TO and Glenn were covered most of the game, and they came up and popped Witten when he caught the ball.

(6) Trent Cole - led the team with 9 takles, including several for either a loss or no gain, and notched another sack, which gives him a league-leading 6 on the year. This guy is a beast, and clearly playing much better (and bigger) than he did in his 5-sack rookie season. I love that he's so good against the run, in addition to being a pass-rush demon. He's a keeper.

(7) Darren Howard - 2 sacks, 1 forced fumble, 2 hurries (1 that led to a pickle, and another that Lito dropped). Howard was a 1-man wrecking crew, especially in that 1st half. Great pickup. I was thinking back yesterday to his signing this offseason, and how quiet the press (and a lot of the fans) were. I wasn't so sure myself how good he'd be - he came off a New Orleans D that just always seems to plug guys in who then produce, and he was also coming off an injury that limited him last year. But he's been everything we've asked of him this year, and could easily be our defensive MVP if he keeps it up.

(8) Hank Baskett - Damn, rook! 87-yd TD, first 100-yd receiving game, and going into the MNF game, his 3 catches for 112 yards led ALL NFL receivers this week.

(9) NcNabb - You all know what he did, and Paulumon already wrote him up pretty good, but I just wanted to mention 1 thing. Actually, on second thought, I won't, don't want to jinx it. I'll give you a hint though: it has 2 letters, it's something to do with an honor the league picks every year, and, oddly enough, the first mention I heard if it yesterday (because I missed Aikman's commentary until I saw it late on TIVO) was from a Cowboys fan...

(10) B-West - quiet game... Ya gotta love it when a guy chips in 85 total yards running and catching, adds a 1st-quarter touchdown, and it feels like an off-day for him. He gets special props for showing up after not practicing all week, and leading the entire league with 6 TDs. (BTW, I had already forgiven his fumble when he ran that TD).

Shameful 5:

(1) T.O. - let's see, his last week consisted of OD'ing then lying about it, lying about not getting a well-wishing text message from McNabb, then flopping in the biggest (and most hyped) game of his season. 3 for 45 is subpar, dude. The worst thing he did this week, though, was call Bledsoe out in the post-game Q&A with the press.

"I felt like I was open," Owens said. "You guys are smart enough. You guys watched the film. You guys are some experts. You guys can break the film down. I felt like I was open. I felt like there was some opportunities out there for me to make some plays. I just didn’t make them."

"I don't know," Owens said afterward. "You watched the game, didn't you? Who pulled the trigger? I’m just out there doing my job." (Henceforth, all TO quotes I use will be in pink? why? Because he has the mentality of a 13-year old girl, that's why.)

As 2 other QBs that he's thrown under the bus can attest, we all saw this coming. Guess what, TO, those balls you dropped when you heard footsteps? Those weren't Bledsoe's fault. Seems like he "pulled the trigger" just fine then...

(2) Bledsoe - that being said, this relic finished the game with a dismal, 7 sacks, 50% completion, 3 INTs (shoulda been 4), and 2 fumbles. Granted, he had Gang Green in his face the whole game, but there are still a lot of passes he wishes he had back today. He better step it up, or the chants of "Romo!, Romo!" are just going to get louder.

(3) Parcells - I almost threw up my spicy chicken finger sub every time they downed his leaky lactating man-tits hanging out of his underarmor shirt. Come on, dude, show some class, and do what every other fat guy in the country does, put a sweatshirt on and cover those bad boys up!
Not only that, but every shot of Parcells was him chewing out one of his players. as someone said last week, look dude, you obviously don't like the players, you don't like the fans, you don't like the press, and you don't like your owner, so why are you still hanging around?

(4) Reno Mahe - just because.

(5) Hands - as in, those belonging to our receivers. We're putting up sick #s this year. But imagine how much sicker they'd be if these guys caught the ball with more consistency than my grandmother's cakemix. I mean, COME, ON!

A Character Win

Needless to say, a huge win yesterday - 38 points is a lot to score against a Defense like the Cowboys have. And I don't think I've ever been to a more exciting sporting event, and I've never felt such positive energy from a Philly crowd. As a sidebar, I saw the fewest opponent jerseys ever at a game - either the Boys' fans were flying under the radar or the Birds' fans bought up all of the tix for T.O.'s homecoming (also, I think opposing fans have been well-warned about wearing opposing jerseys; not that it's the right way to be, but there will always be drunk belligerent Philly locals ready to pound you, whether we win or lose)...in any case, I was thankful to have been there - I think I'll even keep the ticket stub to remember this one.

Len Pasquerelli summarized the game nicely in the linked article - check it out (http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/columns/story?columnist=pasquarelli_len&id=2617884). I love Lennie because he give the Birds props on a regular basis. There were a lot of positives from this one:

* McNabb continued to show that he's having an MVP season. For the first season ever, I do not even have one piece of constructive criticism right now. He is doing everything right - his 3rd 300 yard game this season, 11 TD passes, only 1 INT, a couple rushing TDs, making smart throws and avoiding the rush....he's come into his own. When Stallworth returns, IT'S ON!

* Our Secondary stepped up on all fronts. Other than that poor decision by M.Lewis on 4th down in the last minute of the game, the DBs covered well and bullied the talented Cowboys WRs. Glenn and T.O. were pretty ineffective. And Lito was the player of the game - 2 INTs, a 100 yard return for a TD (to seal the game), and multiple blocked passes, all with a recovering high ankle sprain - can you imagine him missing this game? Joselio even stepped up and covered T.O. very well when Sheldon went out with an injury.

* The blitz package was money - once Bledsoe gets touched, he tends to crumble and that was the case yesterday...oddly, that's the opposite of McNabb who seems to throw better when he's being pressured. Darwin and Trent Cole were HUGE. 7 team sacks. Our D-line is sick this year, making swiss cheese out of almost every O-Line.

* Big Red adjusted at half time! The Boys were killing us with the run (J Jones had 100 yards rushing, most in the first half) and the second half we shut that down for the most part.

* Offensively, our O-line was superb in protecting McNabb for the pass, although the run game was a little weak - more on that later. The coaches did a good job picking out a weak point in the Cowboys' D - the rookie #25 Pat Watkins, who got toasted on Hank Baskett's 87-yard TD (Hank's 1st of the season in fact) and Watkins was weak with his pass coverage overall. We don't have the most talented WR corps in the league, but these guys have been playing hard and McNabb is using every last bit of talent they have. Glew stepped up and made some nice plays again.

As usual, there were some things that we didn't do well and need to improve if we're going to have a shot against playoff caliber teams:

1) The 2-Minute Offense & Defense: Our 2-minute drill...um, doesn't exist right now. I have yet to see a well thought-out game plan for moving the chains with a couple minutes on the clock. We always seem to take our time, even when we go no-huddle - it took 20 seconds for McNabb to get off no-huddle plays. Then, we run up the middle and kill the clock. I also was a little disappointed at the end of the game when we had a couple of 4th downs where we could have wrapped things up...instead we went to a dime package (i.e. the "prevent defense" which prevents you from winning) and they put zero pressure on Bledsoe and allowed him to make some throws. I think we should've just stuck with our game plan, blitzing an extra LB and having a centerfielder back there to ensure nothing deep. Maybe I'm over-simplifying but come on..stuff it on 4th down!

2) Our Hands: Man, there were a LOT of dropped passes yesterday. LJ had that nice 60 yard play, but wow, he had 2 or 3 key drops, including a TD (plus that horrible attempt at a tackle on McNabb's fumble). I'm sorry, I don't care how hard McNabb is throwing - if it hits both of your hands or hits your chest, you need to catch it, every time. That's what you do for a living, and nothing else.

3) Our Running Game: If we're going to compete against the best, we need to have a running game that can kill some clock and give our D a rest. The time of possession for almost every game is in favor of the opposition. Dallas was sustaining 12 play drives while we'd be on and off the field in 4 plays. A quick-strike offense is exciting and sexy, but you can't play a team like the Bears for instance and think that's going to fly. The Boys had 16 POSSESSIONS yesterday - an average team has about 10-12 per game. Our D is simply going to be spent by the end of the game at this pace. I assume the coaches understand this and it will be addressed. The Boys have a nice run D, so that could have been part of the problem.

Terrell Owens postlogue: Did you think I forgot about him? Yeh, I almost did...That's how irrelevant he was yesterday. But isn't it crazy how this talented WR is just on his way to becoming a sad tale? Reminds me of Michael Jackson in the late '80s. It was great seeing him shut down yesterday and watching him whine to his QB and anyone who would listen. I imagine Parcells will let that continue for about another day or two before squashing him. At the same time, I kind of feel bad for him - he could've had a great end to his career here in Philly and probably could've run for mayor after he retired. What a waste.

Friday, October 06, 2006

"Expert" picks versus the cowgirls

Quick recap of what some of the paid professionals think of this Sunday's contest. Personally, there's so much checkout-isle-magazine hype around this game, I doubt the lines will really reflect the game but will sway back and forth with the crowd. It opened around 2 1/2, and is currently hovering between 2 and 1. The over is 44 right now.

The lame sites that only pick straight up are generally evenly split:

The ESPN sages are evenly divided. Mark Schlereth joins Jaws, Golic and Eric Allen who all give props to their homeys and pick the good guys. Those who pick the cowgirls include Mortensen, Salisbury and even more shockingly, superstar analysist Joey "Sunshine" Thesiman and the beloved and unbiassed Meril Hoge. You can always count on those two heavyweights to give their unbiassed, thougtfull and well-articulated opinions and analysis.

Peter Queen at SI believes it will be the Cowgirls 23-20. His complex analysis is, in total: "
From what I hear, four ticket-holders dressed as nurses behind the Dallas bench will attempt to throw aspirin at Terrell Owens at some point Sunday. Oh, yes. There is a football game planned as well." Thanks, Pete. Very insightful, and as helpful as always.

FoxSports' Rundown takes perhaps the safest route by stating: "
We don't have a pick for this week, just some advice: don't go to Lincoln Financial Field wearing a blue jersey. But you probably knew that." However, the Fox Panel Roundtable banter seems to weigh more heavily towards the cowgirls because of their single-minded view that the Eagles are banged up more than the 'girls. Jimmie Johnson broke down the situation regarding Lito as: "I mean, how healthy is his ankle really?" (Yes, he certainly must have some pretty solid inside information to offer such certainty for his conclusion). And Howie Long thinks for the Eagles to win, McNabb has to win the game by himself. You have to wonder if any of them knew that their discussion was being recorded.

If this even counts, the guys at Inside the NFL were evenly divided. Collingsworth and Marino go for the Birds, while Costas and Chrissy Carter (perhaps showing some solidarity with his brother in disgraced-and-discarded-eagles-receiverdom) go with the cowgirls.

The picks against the spread are pretty similarly split:

Sportsline's six visionaries also balanced the scales: Harmon, Judge and Greg Bromberg all take the Eagles, while Prisco, Ron Davis and Dave Richard don't. (For what it's worth, Harmon and Judge have the best records this season, with 33-24-3 and 28-29-3 respectively). Harmon predicts a 26-21 Eagles win, and makes clear that he stands by the pick even if Westbrook is a scratch. Prisco predicts the cowgirls by 27-23, claiming that T.O. will be the go-to playmaker "more so [sic] than anybody on the Eagles offense." Seems like he must've overlooked that little fact about Parcells greatly favoring Glenn over T.O., and that little thing called Westbrook.

The consensus pick at Pro Football Weekly is for Philly, on a 2 1/2 point spread, and this is even one of their three "best bets" of the week. (Of course, so far the consensus best bet picks are a whopping 2-2 -- but that's still better than their consensus record to date of 28-31-1 ATS).

handicapper Brandon Lang told WIP on Friday morning that he's still not sure about the score, but likes the over. Mathmatical Mark Lawrence told Eskin that he actually likes the under, and most importantly, thinks the Birds will win fairly big (and obviously big enough to cover, with such a tiny spread).

So the prevailing view of those who are paid to analyze football games for a living is that it will be a high-scoring, smash-mouth brawl. Wow, are these guys omniscent or what?

For what it's worth, I get the impression that most of those who like them 'girls think they'll be able to eek out a small win. Of those who think the Birds will prevail, there are some -- a minority no doubt -- who think they'll actually win pretty handily. Or maybe that's just wishful thinking . . . which I know has no place here.

Bottom line: Go Eagles.

an informal poll...

So what if we were presented with these two -- and only these two -- options:

1) We win the game, but T.O. has a record-breaking performance, burns Lito and Sheldon for multiple TDs, and continually springs right up like nothing happened after full-speed tackles by Dawk, Trotter and others ; or

2) We lose the game, but T.O. is not only shut down completely, but has a career-ending injury off a bone-crushing hit, a play after he tried to get cocky with the crowd?

You'd think the choice would be so easy to make wouldn't you?

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Secondary Update

Obviously, covering Terry Glenn, Witten and T.O. will be Priority One this weekend. So, on a positive note, looks like our 4 horsemen are back: Lito returned to practice and played through all of the drills. My concern is that he's not in shape to cover those guys for a whole game however, but I suppose the coaches have to make that decision...Is an 80% Lito better than a 100% Joselio Hanson? Probably. Our nickel package will be a little weak in any case, as it looks like Rod Hood is doubtful for the game. Dexter and Joselio can't really fill Hood's shoes, but they have been playing a little better lately. The nickel's going to be important in this one, either to help open up some secondary blitzing or just double-teaming T.O.

Speaking of Dexter, his returns have been pretty good lately, much better than Mahe's. I'm hoping that he's going to stay our main return guy.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

4:24 Left In The Second Period

The time in Monday's win over the Pack that Theismann started gushing about the Super Bowl ring he won with the Redskins. I think it's a new record. How about a round of applaase for ol' Joe for waiting so long into a game to start talking about his old career? And, to think, he might've even lasted longer if Tony Kornhole hadn't egged him on!

Speaking of which, you know what really grinds my gears?!?

What was that tripe Kornhole was spewing about "revisionist history" when Tirico was talking about how McNabb's and the team's production went down due to his injuries last year? Kornhole comes back with something to the effect of, yeah, that's the revisionist history everybody's saying these days, that it wasn't the TO debacle that caused the team's demise last year, it was McNabb's injuries. Uh, ya think?

Let's see, McNabb has had every kind of adversity thrown at him during his NFL career (boo'd on draft day, Rush Limbaugh comments, etc.) and overcame or played out of all of them. Right, Tony. Some bitchy, whining, everybody's-against-me, everything-I-evah-did-wrong-is-because-that-kid-spit-in mah-mouth-on-da-schoolbus-dat-one-time primadonna, emotionally-handicapped, OD'ing-cos-his-girlfriend-dumped-him-uh-I-mean-reaction-to-mah-supplements punk-ass wide receiver, is really the reason for the team's demise --- and not the fact that it's star quarterback and most vital team member suffered a bruised sternum in Week 1, and tried to play through an excruciatingly painful sports hernia that eventually ended his season in week 9 but even before that limited his primary strength (mobility) as well as his range, accuracy, timing, etc, etc. --- was the main reason for the team's demise? You are on crack, Tony. Seriously. How's that for "revisionism"?

And I think all of us are just a little worn out --- and it's only week 4, people! --- by your little snark schtick. They tried it with Dennis Miller, and he bombed. but at least he was creative, Tony. The only thing creative on you is how you manage to get that whiq combed over and molded into the shape of the Shoney's Big bBy coif. Seriously, dude, you haev a whole week to write your "jokes," and I use that term loosely for the sake of argument...

Here's to the day when Theismann finally comes out of the alcohol and too-many-blows-to-the-head-induced, reminsicent fog he's always in, realizes that you're egging him on a bit too much, and throws you out of the booth and onto the stands below, where you will be immediately chewed into cud by rabid Eagles fans, then tossed onto the field, stopping play only long enough for Andy Reid to pick a play on his chart before incurring another delay of game penalty.

Some Eagles & Cowboys Trivia

So, it's Wednesday before "the Game of the Year", as many have dubbed it. Momentum is building for the circus on Sunday. Coming off of last year's 21-20 Monday night embarrassment, the Birds should be even more motivated than ever for this classic division match-up.

Here are some tidbits about the respective franchises...um, for fun:

* The Eagles all-time record against the Cowboys is 40-53.

* The Cowboys franchise was established in 1960 which was (coincidentally?) the last season that the Eagles won a league championship. The Cowboys were 0-11-1 that year (ah, how it would have been nice to see those games) - the Birds beat them 27-25 that year, the difference being 2 blocked extra points.
* In their 46 years, the Cowboys have had 29 winning seasons (and 2 .500 seasons), made the playoffs 27 times, and have been in 8 Super Bowls, winning 5. Between 1966 and 1985, the Cowboys had 20 consecutive winning seasons.
* 9 Hall of Famers:
Troy Aikman (QB 1989-2000)
Tony Dorsett (RB 1977-87)
Tom Landry (Head Coach 1960-88)
Bob Lilly (DT 1961-74)
Mel Renfro (S/CB 1964-77)
Tex Schramm (Pres/GM 1960-89)
Roger Staubach (QB 1964-79)
Randy White (DT 1975-88)
Rayfield Wright (OT 1967-1979)

*The Eagles franchise, as we should all know, was established in 1933 - known as the Frankford Yellow Jackets originally (pretty intimidating!), it was re-named in that year in honor of the symbol of FDR's New Deal.
* The Birds have 9 Division championships, 4 of which have come under Andy Reid. Wow, that's pretty weak for 73 years!
* 14 Hall of Famers:
Chuck Bednarik (1967) - 1949-1962
Bert Bell (1963) - 1933-1940
Bob Brown (2004) - 1964-1968
Mike Ditka (1988) - 1967-1968
Sonny Jurgensen (1983) - 1957-1963
Ollie Matson (1972) 1964-1966
Tommy McDonald (1998) - 1957-1963
Earle "Greasy" Neale (1969) - 1941-1950
Pete Pihos (1970) - 1947-1955
Jim Ringo (1981) - 1964-1967
Norm Van Brocklin (1971) - 1958-1960
Steve Van Buren (1965) - 1944-1951
Reggie White (2006) - 1985-1992
Alex Wojciechowicz (1968) - 1946-1950


Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Eagles Fight Song Revisions

At the game last night, the cheerleaders as usual led the fans in singing the Birds' fight song after each TD:

"Fly Eagles Fly, On The Road To Victory.
Fight Eagles Fight, Score A Touchdown 1-2-3.
Hit 'Em Low.
Hit 'Em High.
And We'll Watch Our Eagles Fly.
Fly Eagles Fly, On The Road To Victory."

Popstar and I feel that a few minor updates need to be made to this parochial tune - to make it more grammatically correct and believable.

First, Popstar was really concerned with the use of a "mixed metaphor" - 'birds' (the Eagles in this case) flying ON a road. So, let's see, if we stick with the road theme, then let's just make the first and last lines begin with "Drive Eagles Drive"...wait, maybe that should be "Ride Eagles Ride" because the team as a whole can't all drive, but they could all ride.

OK, now the Eagles are riding on the road TO Victory. Well, hmm, that really doesn't work either now, does it? "Victory" isn't an actual destination, so let's just say the Eagles are riding on a road "named Victory" - that's a little more realistic I think. So, the first and last lines will be "Ride Eagles Ride, on a Road Named 'Victory'".

Next, we need to the fix the improper reference to a Touchdown being 1-2-3. Actually, it's 1-2-3-4-5-6, so we'll change that too.

Finally, I guess I don't even need to address what's wrong "'Em" so we will correct that. Bringing it all together, you get the catchy tune:

"Ride Eagles Ride, On a Road named 'Victory'.
Fight Eagles Fight, Score A Touchdown 1-2-3-4-5-6.
Hit them Low.
Hit them High.
And We'll Watch Our Eagles Ride.
Ride Eagles Ride, On a Road named 'Victory'."

I know, I know....You're welcome.

Monday Night's Game: Good Thing the Packers Are Terrible

It's 1:30 a.m. and I just got back from the game... and I want to go to sleep but there are a few things I need to get off my chest:

1st - a win is always nice, so I'm thankful for that. After leaving 17 points on the field in the first half, we were lucky we were playing such a bad team - the Birds would never survive a game with a division rival by playing this sloppy.

2nd - if there was any doubt as to how important Westbrook is to our offense, there isn't any longer. Wow, we just looked like a deflated balloon without The Brook. McNabb's legs saved us tonight, plain and simple. His mobility provided the spark for us in the second half to freeze the Packers D so that we could make some plays. By the way, I can't say enough about McNabb right now either, so I won't bore you with the details - let me sum it up though: League MVP season so far.

3rd - What in THE HELL was that sorry excuse for a fake field goal attempt at the end of the first half? The entire scenario was nonsensical -I can't even list everything wrong with that but...
* why fake a field goal when you're only down by 2 points? A FG would have put us in the lead into halftime.
* and what message does it send to a talented kicker like Akers to not let him attempt a 54 yarder? why not either let him kick it or if you'd rather not let him try, just let McNabb take one more shot at the endzone?
* and if you are going to fake it, why run the clock to 1 second before doing so? That left no time for a follow up play if you DO get the first down. We had 3 timeouts with 45 seconds left on their 30 yard line - Result: no points.
* and then, let's say you go for the fake - why give the ball to your slowest offensive player, Schobel? Were they expecting him to go the distance to paydirt?
* again, back to the basic question - why even fake a field goal with a guy like Akers who could actually make it?!
I need to reference my post from last week - Big Red is a very talented game planner and personnel administrator but he's a shaky decision maker during games
(To wit - the horrible decision to challenge that obvious reception that BDawk knocked loose), and Andy is the worst clock-manager I've seen in pro football (no exaggeration).

4th - We'll need to talk more about this in the coming week with the Cowboys match up, but injuries are killing us. With the Cowboys coming to town, both our secondary and our WR corps have to check themselves into a hyperbaric chamber for the entire week. We need every swinging J out there for this one.

5th - Props to Foots for making a couple nice plays tonight. Visit his website: http://www.glew83.com/.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Speculation Time: The Falcons Threw the Saints Game

This thought has little to do with the Eagles, but it fits with the skeptical 'joie de vivre' we live for here in Negadelphia....I have been thinking about this since last week and waiting for some national commentary on it, but haven't seen anyone tackle it - did the Falcons take a dive last Monday night? All of my sources haven't reported yet, but sure, they did.

I mean, the way in which the Saints handily whipped the Falcons on such a meaningful night for the Saints was uncanny: the choreographed blocked punt, the complete inability of Vick or Dunn to get positive yards, and more than anything else, the look of acquiescence in eyes of Jim Mora and Ron Mexico....I imagine that Shoeless Joe had a similar look in his eyes back in 1919.

Not only did Mora and Company play like they were serving up a victory, but Mora basically admitted as much: "As hard as it is to lose this game tonight, I'd be lying if I didn't say there was a little, little, little, little piece of me that didn't just appreciate what this game meant to this city," said Falcons head coach Jim Mora Jr., whose father skippered the Saints from 1986 to 1996." What coach says that? NO PART of you should appreciate losing. Mora went on: "Unfortunately, we made it way too easy for the Saints," Mora said. [quotes from a CBC Sports article on 9/26/06]. That's right, they MADE [engineered] it too easy for the Saints.

The League should look into this, or maybe I will continue in their place. I'm just scraping the surface here - the rabbit hole goes deep.