Wednesday, November 29, 2006
Monday, November 27, 2006
Did anyone notice how profoundly and thoroughly confused Reid looked whenever the camera focused on him? It looked like he was perpetually in that hazy state when the telephone wakes you up out of a deep REM sleep, and you answer it even though you're barely conscious and can't process what's going on around you. At some level you are aware that you're talking to someone, but it's still feels like a few miles away, you have no idea what you're saying or who you're talking to, and don't remember much of anything in the morning. Well, that was the guy calling the plays last night.
And what would a losing season be without festering discontent in the locker room? Eskin has said that a lot of players have bristled at Trott's comments last week when he implied that other members of the D weren't really stepping up to play. He basically said something on WIP about how, at one point in the Titans game, he looked in the faces of the other members of the D and got blank stares back, and that he needed to see if they got any dawg left in them). And last night, when Trott was asked if he could fix what was wrong with the defense, he said that three weeks ago he would've said yes, but now he doesn't even know the answer. Apparently, some players think that's a hollier-than-thou approach, since Trott's not blameless for the defense's problems. I don't really know what to say about this, except that at this point, criticizing the guy criticizing them doesn't seem all that productive, especially when it seems like everyone has hung up their cleats for the season. Trott's show on WIP tonight will be fun...
I have to admit it, but Peter Pan played fairly well for us at QB, but I still am absolutely in favor of AJ -- as is every single person I have spoken with or heard from on talk radio. Everyone. I think Madden may have mentioned it last night -- that the possibility is that when Reid brought Peter Pan on, Reid promised that he'd be the #1 backup, no matter what. That would certainly jibe with Reid's Bush-like treatment of the media (saying after the Titans game that he hasn't decided who will start, but then mentioning that he knew it would be Garcia all along, but he just "didn't want to" tell the media that). Seems like Reid could have really wanted AJ, but then later remember his promise. But Madden said it best when he observed that we were running Westy because Westy could run a lot farther than Garcia could throw.
The giants lost to the Titans in glorious, embarassing style. At least something positive from this weekend. But here's an observation: After the game, Coughlin commented how that last pass thrown by Eli that was intercepted was a pass that never, ever should have been thrown in that situation. Now, that may seem like hanging Eli out to dry. But you know what? I think that's just a coach actually responding honestly to a question. Sometimes the answer isn't positive, but that's life. He's not calling Eli a bust or a horrible leader (as many have) but is just answering the media, who is part of the entire NFL machine that pays coaches' salaries. He just responded to the question truthfully and completely. And that's something that we'll never hear from Andy Reid.
Does anyone else think it's a little peculiar that we keep passing when we're ahead, and keep running when we're behind? That said, Westy did a great job yesterday. As we have all stated time and time again, he needs to get more touches like that. When he gets in a rhythm, he's really unbelievable. It's incredible the way he makes people miss, as if he's willing them to miss by using Jedi mind tricks or something.
Okay, most importantly, is there anyone who is still in favor of Reid as remaining as head coach and GM of this team? Even Ray Didinger, the authority IMO, mentioned that something is truly wrong with this team -- whether it's the communication between the players, or the players and the coach, or whatever -- and it needs to be addressed. If everything starts with him, and he is so responsible, why isn't he accountable? Claiming responsibility without any real accountability is meaningless, and frankly, insulting.
This leads into another point of mine: The Reid era is done -- not necessarily because it's just time for a change, but because Reid doesn't make any effort to change. When we were a novelty and were a little unpredictable, it was cool. We could come out in a weird set with Westy split wide, confuse defensive coverage schemes, and have some success. Now, as soon as we line up, defenses call out the plays we're going to run. Likewise on D -- when JJ's blitz packages were all new and never seen before, they were impossible to predict and counter. Now, it seems like there's enough film out on us, that everyone (not just Gruden) has our number. If Reid and his coaching staff had the ability to adapt even slightly, it would be another story. But like the old Model T that Reid still drives, we have become fixed in time and unadaptable. Reid is essentially a VCR -- he's good enough to squash betamax and look impressive doing it, but he has now been rendered obsolete because of DVDs, with no conceivable way to compete with the new technology. ...Um, okay, that was a horrible analogy, but you catch my drift.
So maybe we can at least get a solid draft pick out of this... I just hope that by then, someone else is in charge to select it.
Monday, November 20, 2006
Spadaro Getting Real
Below is his some commentary from "On The Inside" regarding the O-line:
"We know how big they are. We think they have the capability of being one of the best offensive lines in the league. Yet we don't really know how well the Eagles block in the running game for a consistent period of time because they haven't asked the line to do so. This is the time. I'm talking Brian Westbrook for 20 carries and Correll Buckhalter for 10 to 12. I'm talking using a move-the-chains principle rather than a throw-the-ball-around-the-yard theory. I'm talking 'bout managing the game offensively and winning the battle of ball control. I'm talking about short passes and pound-it-out offense."
I think this is the only way to go, so Spads is right on here. Force these guys to wake up and start playing smash mouth football. Our running game is actually pretty good when we use it - it's our receivers who can't catch or get open. Reid attempted 61 pass plays yesterday. Crazy. And stupid.
Spads continued by attacking the culture: "Intensity and focus sure seem to be fleeting for this team and these players. Andy Reid has always had a hierarchy in the locker room: The Players Committee reports to him with issues and then the veterans take it from there. The word filters down from above. The young players learn the ways from the older players. But now this team has so many young players that I wonder about the culture. I sure hope nobody is accepting losing at this level."
The culture is obviously very aloof right now. No leadership. The young players don't care because the veterans aren't leading by example. Leadership comes from the top and Andy Reid is providing no leadership whatsoever. He needs to light a fire under his veteran "player's committee" but I don't think he's capable of doing that anymore. The message has been lost on these players because they've heard it all before. Time for Reid to pack it in and someone new to come in. Look, coaching turnover is natural and has to happen from time to time to deliver a new message, motivating the same players in new ways.
It's nice to hear constructive criticism from Spads. It's about time.
The Dreaded ACL and what you can expect
I was asked to do a quick run down on what happened to 5 and what it means to blow your ACL and what he and fans can expect in the upcoming months and more importantly, next season.
Your ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament) is a major stabilizer of the knee. Most experts will argue that it is THE major stabilizer of the knee. Regardless, you cannot play any kind of sport without one with any real success. With that said, it MUST be repaired through surgery. This is not an injury that will heal on its own, ever.
McNabb will go under the knife immediately, probably tomorrow or the next day. I am writing this with no knowledge of the plans, but am basing that on my experience with pro athletes that need this type of surgery.
The ACL surgeries of today are 1000 X better than those that were done just eight short years ago. This means, much less down time, much faster healing times and ultimately a better success rate of 5 getting back on the field by training camp. Rehab is aggressive and the athletic trainers, and docs will have him running in no time. The mistake that is made by the public is taking this news and figuring that he is good to go. Running is one small step in the healing process, so if you see that in the news, don’t be so quick to think he is all better.
The new ligament will most likely be from a cadaver’s (yes, from a dead guy) achillies tendon. The tendon is harvested in a way that makes it able to be used as a new ACL. Although the tissues are different…one being ligament and the new tissue being a tendon, the body is amazing in its ability to “change” the tendon to a ligament. Once that happens, most healing has taken place and things are looking good. The problem is that it takes many months for this conversion to take place. Tendons are forgiving tissues and ligaments are not. It does someone no good to have a springy tendon where a rigid ligament should be. How long for this conversion? 8-12 months in most healthy people. Running, jumping, and lifting weights in a controlled manner are all possible and encouraged during this transformation, but the chaos of full contact football where cutting, is a must, can’t happen until much later. Besides, strength, speed, agility and conditioning must all get back to the same level they were before. That takes time and a good rehab program
Ultimately, the question is, “Will he be the same as he was before?” That is always impossible to answer, but based on the amount of these injuries that I have seen, I would have to say yes, or almost. Everyone is different and he is in pretty good shape physically (disregard my last post about his cardio condition) so healing and recovery to normal is possible. Carson Palmer had the same injury and the same surgery. The problem that I usually see is that the person will be “gun shy” for a bit when they come back. But most pro’s get over that quickly. I have been personally involved with about 8 ACL rehabs with athletes over the past 4 years and with all of those athletes they were able to return the next year with not much trouble at all…and these were high school kids.
Will McNabb be the same QB he was before the injury? I think so. I think he will get back to where he was, at least from a physical point of view. The injury is serious, but surgical techniques are the best they have ever been and as long as there are no other complications, he should be right back where he was before. But with that said, he may be just a bit slower, and in the pro's that could mean all the difference.
The real question is: Do we want him to be back where he was before, or maybe a little better than he was before?
Sunday, November 19, 2006
See Youse Guys in '07, Maybe
Football in this city has entered into its darkest days in 7 years with McNabb's injury. The ACL tear is a potentially career-ending, or at a minimum, career-dampening injury for McNabb, and the death knell for any Super Bowl shot we had for the forseeable future. As a mobile QB and not a strong pocket passer as it is, McNabb is not likely to bounce back too quickly from this one. Even if the knee heals by next season, I don't see him being as effective. In fact, we should go ahead and draft a QB to develop for the future on the offseason. Seriously. I don't want to be too negative, but the future looks bleak at Eagles QB.
Where do we go from here...can only up go fortunately. In the beginning of the season, I was counting on this being a re-building year. In between, there were some glimmers that it might be a playoff season, but now all of that is gone and we're back to re-building. What do we need to re-build? Answer: Pretty much everything.
This team cannot even do the basics competently. It is truly sad. And again, that all goes back to coaching. Just some random thoughts before I fall into a chemically-induced sleep:
* Jeff Garcia is entirely too old to be playing in the NFL. How can a guy complete 26 passes and only have 189 yards - that's a 3.9 yard average! He didn't even look downfield - just threw to his safety valve every time. No arm strength. AJ needs to start the next game.
* How depressing is it when Reno Mahe actually looked better than the rest of the team.
* We threw 61 TIMES today! Andy, do you have a learning disability??
* How does having the heaviest O-line in the NFL help? This squad is the least physical team I've seen play the game in decades. We don't intimidate anyone, we can't tackle anyone, we can't stop anyone, even on our home field.
* Can anyone catch passes anymore? Reggie has so many dropped passes, I'm beginning to get negative about him too.
* Finally, during the offseason, Andy Reid needs to be moved to GM permanently, or if I had my way, just go altogether. He's had his shot and his system isn't working - things are just getting worse in fact. We need a new head coach...one who can teach our players the basics again: how to tackle, how to be disciplined enough to avoid penalties, how to block and execute in the Red Zone.
[sigh of relief]
I feel a little better...my bloodpressure just dropped 30 points actually. At least now I'll be able to enjoy watching other games...after a period of mourning that is.
Friday, November 17, 2006
Running Backs Revisited
So, it's a good time to start thinking about our running game and where we go from here. Westbrook has already matched his season total for rushing yards for last season (617 yards last year on 152 carries compared to 613 yards this year on 119 carries) and his average per carry is way up to 5.2 ypc, which in fact is the league's best so far for running backs. That's a telling stat so that means: give him at least 20 carries per game, maybe even 25. It would probably open up the pass a little more as well. McNabb has been struggling a bit compared to earlier this season as it seems defenses are catching on to our "big play or bust" offense.
The main issue is that we have no real alternative to the Brook, like a guy who can carry the ball 10 times and punish the defense, wearing them out over the course of a game. Not that Buck is that guy, but the Birds' website is reporting that he is suffering from the flu and may be out this week so that's not good...does that mean we'll see Moats come out of his cocoon? Surely, Mahe can't be the alternative...or COULD HE? Isn't Sunday the Mormon Day of Rest or something?
One of the offseason priorities, other than a play maker on special teams, should be a bruising RB. Our running game can be solid with a guy like that - hell, we have the heaviest offensive line in the league...might as well use it to bust some heads.
Sunday, November 12, 2006
All is Forgiven....Nah
One important change today was the play calling which Big Red noted in his press conference - Andy finally let Marty and Donovan control the play calling. I thought that was a good concept, one which needed to be done...however, the offense didn't execute as crisply as they did earlier this season and a lot of the plays were predictable (uh, the flea-flicker, again?! Come on, Marty. I had a momentary flash-back to the on-sides kick to open the game that Reid did against Dallas for the second time a few years ago when it was run back for a TD. Been there, done the flea-flicker, now let's move on Marty).
Westbrook had a great day and is really developing as a more stable runner. Some of his runs were unbelievable. He carried the ball 22 times which is a season high for him, with good results (113 yards baby). The offense just doesn't tick without Westy around. I hope Andy and Marty will continue to focus on the importance of the running game. We'll be much better in the long run if they do.
And I wonder why it took Andy 7 years to realize he's not a great play caller? hmm.
McNabb wasn't very sharp today and either was the offense in general - they did OK, putting up 20 points. The magic beans McNabb was eating early in the season definitely wore off over the last 3 or 4 weeks. Although he didn't play poorly and the conditions were wet, he looked like the McNabb of old at times, throwing many errant balls into the mud. Strange kid - I'd love to know what's going on in his mind. I still love him in any case, but still...just strange........hey, maybe fashion is his thing and football is just a means to an end?
Overall, the defense played pretty well but the Skins were their own worst enemy, leaving points on the board, sticking with a broke-down QB and calling predictable plays. Despite that, the Birds still allowed the Skins to control the tempo of the game for a large portion of the game (into the 3rd Q or basically up until the time that Portis went out with his broken hand). The Skins managed to rack up 146 rushing yards overall, and they were gashing our D in the first half, which in turn aided them in controlling the clock to the tune of 20 mins of possession to our 10 mins. We still can't seem to stop the run very well - as we've been droning on about all season, that's going to present problems for us if we have any kind of playoff aspirations. We seem to be missing Kearse around the edges too - our ends and outside LBs don't contain very well. If I was an offensive coordinator, I'd throw screens all day against us - we can't stop it.
Dawkins had a great game today. I think his pass defense against Randle El's one attempt was incredible...it set the example man. He made a statement about hustle and aggressiveness on that one.
Anyone see Matt McCoy out there today? Thrown around like a RAG DOLL. Not sure whether he's the real deal or not - right now, I'm saying not.
On a positive note, we got better at controlling the clock in the second half - we made up a significant portion of time of possession by running out the last 9 minutes or so of the 4th Quarter, like the Saints did to us a few weeks ago. That was an impressive display of ball control and is a sign of a superior team. We need to build on that last drive and take it into the next game. Crafty running by the Brook and Buckhalter throwing himself into the breach a few times on that drive helped squash the Skins' hopes for a chance at winning.
Finally, I'd like to see Andy and Marty go for it on 4th down once in a while. They had a couple opportunities today and only took one of them, and succeeded with it. Give the guys a chance to be great, Andy. Have some balls once in a while!
Back on the subject of Reid staying or going - from listening to the callers during the post-game shows on WYSP and WIP, it seems that everyone is happy again, enamored with what Andy's doing. Short memories around here. People, he can't deliver the goods - a regular season win against a 3-5 team doesn't mean much. He's just teasing you again. Keep the big picture in mind: We have no Super Bowl trophies.
Eagles-Redskins - Last Minute Prediction
Final score: Birds win 31-20.
Thursday, November 09, 2006
What the Hell Did I Drink Last Night?
I spent most of the Bye Week questioning why I even watch anymore.
Is the game of football still enjoyable? Yes, I loved watching Peyton rip apart the Pats last weekend; Tom Brady and his Dudley Dooright chin, sulking!
Is watching the Birds enjoyable? No, not at all.
When has it been enjoyable? The only time I really loved watching the Birds play for more than a week at a time was during the '90s when it seemed that we were perpetually 5-11 and so much joy would come just from stealing a game from the Cowboys once in a while to put one of their Super Bowl runs in question, even if only for a week (or injuring one of their key players, perhaps to a neck injury?...cough cough).
These days, all I'm basically doing is just waiting for my beloved Birds to win a Super Bowl so that I can rest on those laurels for the next 25 years and enjoy my Sundays again. That's sort of what happened to me with baseball after the Phillies made it to the Series in 1980 and '83 - I stopped caring after that. I know that I'll never be quite that way with the Birds because I love the game of football a lot more than the pastoral romp known as the "sport" of baseball; but a Lombardi trophy would appease me for many, many years to come. But alas, being a Birds fan over the last few years has taken several years off of my life instead of getting me to the promised land of stress-free football...hopefully those years that Andy Reid has stolen from me will just be the diaper and drooling years at the end, so I'm not too bummed about it.
With the stress momentarily lifted during the Bye, I spent some time digging around to find out how our players were spending their undeserved week off...the results were not surprising and just made me more depressed:
*Last week, it started while watching the "Andy Reid Show". Watching him explain the Jags loss and what needed to be done to "fix it" was like watching paint dry.. I actually dozed off a little during one of his interviews that Spadaro was spoon feeding him. He had no new material to offer, not even now, in our most desperate hour. What a leader! By the way, even the hedge fund guru Jim Cramer called out Andy from his show 'Mad Money' last week: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/15445071/ Maybe Cramer has some pull and can regulate this horrific coaching situation.
*Reading player blogs has been similarly disappointing - everyone took the week off, visiting family and drinking with their boys. Look, I know that these guys are only human and need downtime, but to me, that comes AFTER the season ends. During the season, they need to be unstoppable machines with the single-minded goal of winning this city a Super Bowl. I know, I know. That's crazy, especially considering most pro players didn't even grow up in the area where they're playing, so in the end, it's mostly about the money and getting as much time off as possible, just like the rest of us in our boring jobs. But, that's what I expect them to be doing.
*McNabb seemed to be very productive during the Bye. Last Monday, the day after the embarassing loss to the Jags, McNabb taught some local Philly children the importance of dancing. Action News was there to cover all of his moves. This Tuesday (yes, this Tuesday, during the week in which they're preparing for a critical contest with the Skins), McNabb introduced his new clothing line called 'Super Five'. From Fox Sports: "'This is very near and dear to me,' McNabb said. 'I took a lot of pride in the design, the comfort level and the look.' While models strutted down a makeshift runway inside the RBK Concept Store on South Street, McNabb described the clothes they wore with intimate detail. He seemed to know as much about materials and textures as he does cover-2 defenses." Downright scary folks. McNabb might be the only guy who deserved a week off because his play has been pretty great overall, but things like this just make me worry even more. Can't this clothing line wait until after the season? Even Mrs Grundy said "shouldn't he be focusing on his playbook and not some clothing line right now?" Indeed, he should.
On a more positive note, check out the cool montage of McNabb from Philly.com: http://inquirer.philly.com/specials/2006/mcnabb_half/
*WIP's Howard Eskin was interviewed via phone on the NFL Network a couple days ago, and talked about whether Big Red's job is on the line. Eskin said that it's on the line with the fans for sure, but not management, not by a long shot. Very true statement of this current situation. Did you know that Andy has a contract extension until 2011? That's A LOT of paid time off if he gets canned. Popstar, I think you're right, Andy has just become too comfortable in his position. All hail King Reid, Ruler for Life.
*We've all heard that Big Red is 7-0 coming off Bye Weeks, which makes for a good stat but a bad prediction for this Sunday. Ever notice "streaks" that are hyped like this one invariably come to an end every time they are harped on? Like the stat that Tampa Bay could not win when it was below 40 degrees - MY ENTIRE EXISTENCE IN 2003 DEPENDED ON THAT STAT
HOLDING UP! (Jdubs was there with me at Popstar's pad, as we pledged our very souls to that stat!)
Speaking of Tampa Bay, this is interesting: Did you know that in their entire 30 or so year history (1700+ returns), the Bucs have never returned a kickoff for a TD? I heard that stat on Sirius NFL Radio earlier today...That is simply unbelievable.
Damn, I love football...please Andy, please allow me to enjoy it again.
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
How Bad Is This Season Already?
I'll tell you how bad it is. On sunday night 2 nights ago -- during the Eagles bye week, mind you -- I dreampt that the Birds were playing and that Reid ran the clock out before halftime instead of kicking a short gimme field goal! The worst part is not that I had Eagles nightmares during the bye week, which was supposed to be a break from the b.s. that was our last month of football. No, the worst part was that there was nothing unrealistic about that dream. I can see it happening. It totally could happen. It probably will happen!
Thursday, November 02, 2006
Now, is this really the most appropriate time for this? I mean, his performance hasn't exactly been getting any better over the course of this season. For example, in our last game against the Jags -- who ran the ball 36 out of 46 plays -- Patterson had a total of . . . two tackles. Before that against Tampa, he had 1 tackle and 1 assist; and against New Orleans he had 2 tackles and 1 assist.
I normally wouldn't care about any of this. In fact, it probably wouldn't even cross my mind. BUT I'm still fuming over McDougle's monstrously idiotic act of kicking the penalty flag -- but I'm not as mad about McDougle's act as I am at Reid for apparently not punishing him for it. (Presumably just like Cole's groin kick in front of the ref). Now what kind of message does that send? Patterson, like the rest of the DL, is not playing well right now. So we show him we appreciate him enough to give him a huge contract extension? How's that for incentive? If Big Red is having an increasingly difficult time motivating the team, it sure ain't hard to figgur out why.
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
...Okay, okay I know it was only their first game, and the Hawks are far from a juggernaut. (They weren't dead last last season -- they won nearly a third of their games and finished above New York and Portland). But hell, I'm just dying for something...
Pointless, Balls-to-the-Wall Negative Rant; Poll: Who Will Win Another Super Bowl Before We Win our First?
I've literally been sick to my stomach thinking about the current situation. Needless to say, I'm feeling VERY negative, so I've decided to go with it. Not that I need more reasons to hate football right now, but I can't stop thinking about how this team fails, year after year, and how much I resent Tom Brady and his Dudley Dooright chin, Merrill Hoge for being right, my parents for raising me in the Philly area, etc. We've had a lot of talent over the years - what became of it?
When you're playing poorly but with vigor, there is always hope left...but when the players have given up and only care about their days off, what's left? Not much.
On the plus side, I'm going to see La Boheme at the Academy of Music tonight, so that should cheer me up. It's an upbeat musical, I think.
Ok, who will win another Super Bowl before the Birds win their first? Pick your favorite:
(A) The Patriots : That Golden Boy Tom Brady disgusts me. I don't get it, they just get better and better all of the time. Brady is flawless and the players are ALWAYS up for big games...why? why I ask? There is always a team like this in every era, one that never seems to make mistakes, never miscalculates. So, so annoying.
(B) The Giants or Cowboys: or worse yet, maybe the Redskins. How is that every other NFC East team has multiple Super Bowl trophies, but we can't win one? This category probably is the worst scenario, watching T.O. or Shockey hoist the Lombardi Trophy - they might as well just take a dump on William Penn's head.
(C) The Stillers: a.k.a. the "good" team from PA. Yes, they need another one to throw on the pile.
(D) The Titans (or some other artificial team created since 1995): This might be worse than seeing the Cowboys win another one. Can you imagine the Jaguars, from Jacksonville, winning it all? Note: as a friend pointed out, the Ravens are not included in this category because Baltimore actually has strong football tradition and truly loyal fanbase.
Ugh, I'm worn out. I picked the wrong week to quit sniffing glue.