Monday, December 25, 2006

Bizarro Birds

Merry Christmas - did everyone like the gift that the Birds' gave us today?

First off, I couldn't have been more wrong about this team over the last 4 weeks. Not that Jeff Garcia cares what I think, but I need to apologize to him for my poor assessment of his abilities. Based on his performance in other systems over the last few years, I thought he was a complete dud. Yet, he has run this offense with optimum efficiency...and dare I say that he's been running this offense the way that a west coast offense is supposed to be run?...and could I say further, that he's been running it better than McNabb had been running it? Ok, maybe I went too far there...or did I? That sure is an interesting topic for debate.

There's no way a few weeks ago that I thought I'd be saying the following now:

* Eagles beat Dallas on Christmas 23-7in Dallas.

* Third straight Division road win, catapulting our team to first place in the East.

* We clinch a playoff berth.

COMPLETE DOMINATION TODAY. I haven't been able to say this very often, especially recently. Even Bill Parcells said that the Cowboys had no real shot at winning at any time during the course of the game today. The Birds played their best game of the season and in my opinion, had their best overall performance that I've seen in years.

More than usual, today's game was won on the Lines: Along with Jeff Garcia, the O-line deserves a commendation medal for its performance. They were blowing the Boys' D-line off the ball, gouging large holes for Buck and the Brook. The "heaviest line in the League" pulled more than its weight today. Andrews played to his Pro Bowl abilities. The Brook had 122 yards rushing - what a great season he's had. He's an elite RB now - how fortunate are we to have a guy like this? Pro Bowl snub is all I can say! In any case, it was nice to see a sense of urgency back in the offense...Garcia doesn't saunter up to the line, letting precious time tick away, he doesn't hesitate and go deep every time. I actually love the way he runs the offense now. I hated him a month ago, now he's completely earned my respect.

I am all about clock control and gaining the edge on time of possession - today was a great example of how that translates to victories. Marty Mornhinweg called a great game, sticking mostly to the run and the occasional short pass: 42 RUNS, 23 PASSES, which helped us control the ball for 37 minutes, and thereby dictate every aspect of this game. I love that ratio. Um, can I ask where the run has been all of these years? I don't get it Andy. You're an enigma.

On the Birds defensive side, the D-line again stepped up and put good pressure on Romo, but better yet, they completely killed the Cowboys' running attack, holding them to 83 total yards. HOW ABOUT THAT 4TH DOWN GOALLINE STAND? What an idiot Parcells is for going for two 4th down conversions on one drive - Dallas had no points then - why not just take the 3 points? Why risk it? At that point, it would have been 7-3 and it was still early in the game. After that crushing blow on the goalline, Dallas had no wind in its sails...good for us I guess, but just a strange decision to me. Overall, I was most surprised by the Birds' run defense. Romo was the rushing leader for Dallas, and those yards were mostly from broken plays. Lito and Dawkins had a couple of nice INTs, again created from pressure from the D-line. Has the decision to move Gaither in for McCoy been important?

As an "added bonus", wasn't it nice to see TO have 2 key drops today? Did I hear right that he's leading the League with 14 drops? I hope that's correct. Man, I hope he just disappears over the offseason - mostly I'm just sick of hearing and talking about him.

So, I really don't have a lot of criticism of this team after today's performance, except...

...the only negative I see from the win today is that it will delay the Birds' organization in moving Reid to a GM only spot and getting a new on-field head coach. Another playoff berth will contribute to Reid's tenure as being a "success". I know, you're thinking, how can Big Red not be considered a success given all of his victories? But I still don't have confidence in him, that is to win us a Super Bowl. Again, I'm a broken record, but I don't understand Andy Reid: Why does it take a coach so long to realize that a running game is essential? That Pinkston and Thrash aren't championship caliber WRs? That controlling a clock is crucial? That throwing deep 12 times in a game isn't a good plan? etc. etc. All I'm saying is that it's been interesting to see how different the team looks when they finally do the things that we've all been bitching about for the last 5 years. Things that winning coaches do. So, Andy's not going anywhere for a long time now.

In any case, it's amazing how quickly ones fortunes can change. "One more bet and I'm up" as Poppy the Jew likes to say.

Can anyone figure the NFC out at this point? What does this win mean to our playoff hopes? Not too much in my opinion - it's wide open right now so we don't have a better chance than any other team. And most importantly, I still need to protect my egg-like psyche from another crushing disappointment, so I think it's best not to worry about it for now. I think I'll just bask in this third straight Division road win, and let visions of sugar plumbs (whatever they are) dance around in my head.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Being a Superstar in Negadelphia

As we've heard, it's not easy playing in the COBL. I think that's mainly because this city is starving for a championship. It's been too long.

From A.I., our latest superstar to depart the COBL:

"'Iverson repeatedly thanked his fans for all of their support, but he appeared relieved to be leaving the Philadelphia sports pressure cooker.

"'I love my fans in Philadelphia, but this is the hardest place in the world to play in," Iverson said. "And I think it's the hardest place to play in to be a superstar. Just to be the No. 1 guy. All eyes on you -- because everybody wants you to be perfect, but not themselves.'" From

Monday, December 18, 2006

Nibbling on Crow but Staying the Course

Well, well. Looks like we played like a motivated team yesterday. I was dead wrong in my prediction, for this week at least. The players care after all! But do the fans?? Most probably are still watching with one eye. Me? Well, I didn't even bother watching the game - I was sure that it was going to be disappointing. Plus, I needed a week off. So, I can't provide any real commentary on the game. Looking at the stats however, I'm glad that Big Red stayed with a balanced attack. The Brook didn't get 20 carries, but close. It seems that the more the Brook handles the ball, the better he gets. Even Buck contributed. Rumor has it that Reno almost broke one for a TD...and was subsequently caught from behind. We haven't run one back since 2001, I believe. And it ain't happening with ol' Stubby Legs returning kicks. Props to Reno though on 60 yard effort.

Apparently, the Giants are not as good as I thought they were. Now the big question - Is Dallas? Yes, I still say that they are. I sound like a broken record, but I just don't see us winning a third straight division road game. Not this team at least. They've played pretty well the last 3 games, but we're going to lose big next weekend. I'm sticking with my prior prediction: 41-20. It pains me to say it, believe me, but Dallas is looking way to good at this point for us to even have a chance at winning. However, seems like we can still make the playoffs since everyone else in the NFC sucks like we that's something to be mildly interested in.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Will the "Streak" Continue?

Answer: No.

First of all, there is no streak. Second, we're not a good team so let's all come back to reality.

Everyone is talking up our "playoff hopes" and how Garcia's play has been better than McNabb's MVP-like play from earlier this season. Peter Queen said "Maybe I'm overselling Jeff Garcia, but this three-game starting streak he's on? Donovan McNabb had a great opening-season stretch this year, but it wasn't better than the last 12 quarters played by Garcia."

Jeff Garcia, League MVP? Not quite. Like I've said he's done a nice job stepping in and I respect his heart, but let's not get crazy here. Everyone's crowning this guy the second coming all of a sudden.

Jdubs wrote to me today: "garcia has 8 tds and no picks in 3+ games. that's better than mcnabb. and his qb rating is the 1st time in eagles history that we've had a qb rating that high 3 games in a row. and he's only been sacked twice. look at how long some of our scoring drives have been in those games. i admit, i was way down on garcia after his 2.6 ypa outing vs the colts, despite being efficient, but yards don't mean shite. scoring does."

I disagree with this assessment for a bunch of reasons, but for the sake of brevity here during my lunch, let's just say that we've been playing bad teams during this stretch, and we have some other players stepping up and playing a little better as well.

Fun to listen to all of this...I mean, funny. These people need something to talk about so they start talking streaks as soon as a team wins one game. The NFC is so replete with average teams, they are scrambling to make sense of it all so they can write stories. If anyone can recall the early parts of the last 5 seasons, the Redskins were continuously being crowned as the "hot" team every time they scored a TD... that's what I'm talking about here.

Focus on the big picture people: We have no playoff hopes and it's best for everyone to come to grips with that now. We're an average team who needs to focus on the offseason at this point - LBs, D-linemen and a RB should be our priorities. Sure, let's play the next few games and try to win; however, fans are getting themselves psyched up for another let-down. Let it go.

In any case, the streak is going to end this weekend, so we can all get back to feeling bad about this team again...hopefully, we will all get mad enough and get Reid tossed out on his large behind.

My predictions for the next couple of weeks:

Giants 31, Eagles 17
Cowboys 41, Eagles 20
(this game may even be worse than this - the Cowboys are going to whoop us hard...I'm just saying, be ready)

um, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah...and a safe and healthy Kwanzaa to all!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Among Our Many Problems

Can you imagine the difference these dropped balls could have made over the course of a season?

NFL Passes Dropped
Rank Team Passes Dropped
1 Philadelphia Eagles 33
2 Green Bay Packers 31
3 Seattle Seahawks 29
4 New Orleans Saints 28
5 Miami Dolphins 27
6 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 27
7 Cleveland Browns 26
8 New England Patriots 25
9 Carolina Panthers 25
10 Indianapolis Colts 24

From "Real Football 365".

Monday, December 11, 2006

Move Along People, There's Nothing to See Here

Yep, the Birds won another one. Where does that leave us? Absolutely nowhere. The Birds' website described it as a "big win": "It wasn't pretty, but a win is a win, especially during the stretch run to the playoffs and the first of three straight road games against NFC East foes." Indeed, it was a win. And better yet, it was a win against my least favorite team in the league, so that was nice.

There were some bright spots yesterday. The Brook had another good game - his presence is so critical to our Offense. Question: With the Brook averaging over 5 yards a carry, why isn't he getting 25 carries every game? I guess the answer is that we don't control the ball long enough to have enough plays to allocate 25 handoffs to him. Time of possession again was heavily in favor of the other team. Every team we play controls the tempo of the game, even bad teams. We'll never be good until we fix that huge problem: championship teams dictate the tempo.

Garcia has been touted as a hero during these last few games. To his credit, he hasn't made critical errors, and that has made him a "success" in filling in for McNabb. I like his grit for sure - He's an older QB and still pushing hard to win. However, he threw for 164 yards, going 15 for 23. How does that really help us against a good team? He's a good back up for McNabb and that's all he is.

Michael Lewis made a couple of nice plays to help redeem himself from earlier this season. I like how they are using him and Considine together out there. Our Run D is pathetic. We made Ladell Betts look like Ladanian - he almost had 200 yards rushing. If the Skins had Portis yesterday, it would've been a bloodbath. We obviously see the value of the Freak right now. Our D Line went from being amazing during the offseason to nonexistent. Can we sack anyone anymore? I don't get it. Maybe another year or so of development will make Patterson and Bunkley more effective? McDougle is just a bust altogether so it's probably time for him to move on.

Also, all of you people out there, talking about us being back in the "playoff hunt"? Please, please stop. We're an average team in a very weak Conference. The win yesterday was the result of 2 fortunate turnovers in the first half. That was exciting for sure, but mere fortune only. Given a few more minutes on the clock, and the Skins were on their way to winning that game. The second half showed our true colors.

Even the announcers were talking the Birds up as a team that's getting "hot", and those are the types of teams that do well in the playoffs...huh? Have they watched us play? We're not good, although we have moments of brilliance here and there. We managed to beat 2 average to below-average teams. We've lost to every good team we've played this season. In the playoffs, you generally face good teams.

Vaughn Hebron on Eagles Post Game Live summed it up best last night in saying that the fans have lowered their expectations and are simply enjoying the games as entertainment. And that's fine for now. When the season ends, hopefully we can take this average team and make it better. However, the next two weeks are going to be UGLY, but then again, so has this season.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Showing Some Heart; Booing Garcia?

Last night was a very nice win (for a mediocre team over another mediocre team). Although I despise Hoge, he nailed it in saying that these 2 teams wouldn't even be mentioned as playoffs contenders if they were in the AFC. The circle of life continues...

On offense, I liked the play selection by Big Red overall although he did stick win the same off-tackle running plays at times that were getting stuffed. The Brook did a great job as usual. We of course have to tip our collective caps to Garcia for playing very well, especially in light of the overall consensus that AJ should be starting. I think the O-line should be commended as much as Garcia should be in this case, and the WRs did a nice job overall making plays to help Garcia's cause. Runyan owned Peppers. I understand from JDubs that DUUUUUUCE has been cut from the Stillers - let's grab him! Hell, I'll take a bruiser like him right now, slow or not.

The Defense still showed signs of weakening in this game as Smith ran circles around us, and they have yet to have an outright dominating performance this season; but at the same time, they made key plays when they had to. Lito's interception to seal the victory was very nice - but I have been hoping that our DBs would learn from that goalline fade play that burns us frequently. At least the D demonstrated SOME heart this game, as opposed to none at all. It's as if they showed they want to contend this season, albeit a bit late in the season.

Booing Peter Pan: A friend of mine commented how horrible the Philly fans were for booing when AJ didn't come in as Garcia appeared to be injured - he didn't understand why fans would boo a player who is playing well for us, as Garcia was last night. Why did they boo? The answer to that is more complicated then can be addressed on my lunch break, but suffice it to say that it's been the topic of countless rants and posts on this blog, and in the end, I believe the fans were justified to boo. Those boos have been a long time in coming, and if we were in Green Bay, Dallas or Pittsburgh, then Garcia may have received a ticker-tape parade for his performance under adversity. Here in Philly however, a town starved for a championship and destined to be second-rate in perpetuity, Garcia will hear the gentle sound of Boo-birds. And I say, too bad for Garcia. It's not easy playing here. Win us a Super Bowl and those boos will disappear.

Despite Garcia's very nice game, I still prefer AJ. I can see Garcia's meltdown around the corner, as can the other fans I assume. When it's all said and done, AJ and Garcia are completely different QBs, but AJ can make many completions that Garcia fails to make - AJ is taller and has a better arm and would deliver the football more effectively. Garcia oftens dances around in the pocket and appears panicky. Having said that though, I'll repeat that he had a very nice game, and I am proud of him for sticking in there and performing well...

I'd still boo though!

Monday, December 04, 2006

Is it (next) Monday yet?

So, is everyone ready for the NFL season to be over? I am. It always starts out with such energy, then by December, I have nothing left. I can't imagine how the players feel. 16 games is entirely too long of a season, especially considering our preseason was 5 games. I know the NFL Officials, like all pro sports officials, are money-grubbing bastards and have forgotten what the game is the way, what is the game about? I think I've forgotten too...oh yeah, it's about competition and providing local fans something to root for to help them escape their miserable lives for a few hours and possibly providing kids with role models here and there. Anyway, what I'm trying to say is that the regular season needs to be cut back to 14 games. I'm ready for the playoffs, and thus the end of the season. Even when the Birds are playing well, I get antsy around this time of the season.

Having said that, the Birds are now entering into their most challenging part of the schedule. Three division games on the road and 2 others against playoff contenders, all in December. I think we'll finish strong though...HAHAHAHAAAAAAHHAAAAAA. HA. ha.

It's completely unfounded for me to say this, but I think that the Birds have a good chance to win tonight. Although there hasn't been any evidence of it thus far, at some point the D-line and LBs are going to have to find their pride and start playing aggressively. If nothing else, they should at least be worried about their JOBS and start playing harder. The Panthers are very beatable right now. If we get to Delhomme early and often, that should set the tempo. Steve Smith will be difficult to contain and Considine, although a great tackler and container, will be mismatched against him; so, I assume he'll be double-covered most of the game. All the more reason to blitz the hell out of Delhomme. It's really all up to our D-line right now.

On the other side of the ball, the Panthers will obviously be focusing on the Brook, so I say let's unleash Moats tonight and create some mismatches. I'd like to see both Moats and the Brook out there at one time. Also, I'd like to see a 4 WR set once in a while and some designed QB runs - Peter Pan can actually scramble a little still, so let him do it. He certainly doesn't have an arm at this point.

Lest I be mistaken, I do not expect us to win this game or any of the remaining games (although I really hope we don't lost to the Skins), but I think we could win tonight if the stars align...and maybe if Steve Smith contracts food poisoning around 4 or 5 today.

Enjoy the game everyone!