What Would Buddy Do?
Iggles Blog Vs. BountyBowl Blogstravaganza (#6)
Posted on July 11th, 2008 at 12:17 pm by Cheesesteak Hoagie

And the dialectic continues.  I think today’s the day I start calling Derek names.  It’s what Buddy would do.

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5

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Derek,

So the missus told you that we’ve been a little too needs-and-feelings so far?  (Note that Jason also dinged us for sucking up to each other over at BGN.)  She give you a little a pat on the butt and tell you that as long as you try harder everything will be better next time?

WELL I DIDN’T KNOW YOU WERE WRITING LIVE FROM THE SPORTS GUY MANSION.  Maybe now you’re going to tell me about your dog and your latest trip to Peet’s coffee and how TOTALLY CRAZY things can get in Vegas and how you tended bar in the late 90s and kept it real with some hardcore/ straight-from-the-streets sports knowledge.  Maybe you can have the missus do a guest column with HER Eagles analysis!  That’d be adorable!

(Everyone feel better now?)

In re: your thoughts on the wide receiver position, let me summarize my response by saying: it’s nice to see that you actually have a soul.  That is, it’s comforting to realize that behind your very rational web site and tons of cogent analysis, you believe in magic too.

And by “magic,” I mean “swagger.”  That is, there’s something out there that we can’t measure, but it really matters in re: who’s winning and who’s losing, and we know it when we see it.  It’s the confidence that the team will exert its will over the opponent, and will be the ones who make the plays in the last few minutes to win the game.  With T.O., the Eagles definitely had swagger.  No doubt.

Which makes the current iteration of the Birds so frustrating — because it’s so obvious the swagger is gone.  Are the Giants really that much better than the Eagles?  Hell no.  But they’re convinced that they are.  For example, put a BOUNTY on Antonio Pierce and his big effing mouth for blabbing about how the Giants owned the Eagles last year (even though the Birds had knocked them out of the playoffs the year before).  I fully believe that the Giants have a huge swagger edge over the Birds coming into this season, and that it’s going to take a serious bump in confidence for the Eagles to reclaim that.

Also, you’re not going to get me to take the position that the 2004 Birds weren’t absolutely positively the best Eagles team I’ll see in my lifetime.  No way.  What I want to argue is that because of a certain Eldorado Owens and the magic of 2004, the city is obsessed with the WR position and we’re overlooking the tremendous/ non-replicable contributions of #36.  Let me pose this a different way: would you trade Westbrook for T.O. or, say, Chad Johnson?  Imagine a one-year time horizon, no more NFL after this year, straight up, no salary cap?

I wouldn’t.  Westbrook is exactly the right player for this offense: great runner, catches the ball perfectly, brilliant blocker, etc.  2006 proved you can make the playoffs with a turnover-free QB and #36 (it did NOT prove Jeff Garcia was better than Dunavin).  So for all the hemmin’ and hawin’ about the wideouts, I actually think we’d be in a much worse spot if we had Chad Johnson but no BWest.  That is, an average RB but a great wideout.

This isn’t to say the Birds don’t need another semi-scary option on offense.  While the fans in Philly may not have fully figured out how important Westbrook is, the rest of the division sure has (certainly the G-Men).  They do need another playmaker.  And yeah, it’d be pretty pimpin’ to have a top-five wideout AND BWest.  But the Birds can probably get away with a B+ second option so long as their A+ guy stays healthy.

(Also, it sure looks like this is the plan we’re going with, so everyone kindly make their peace with it.)

So conventional wisdom that’s unlikely to be true in November…this is a tough one, actually.  Requires that I come up with a list of items.  Luckily, I love making lists, so you’re in luck.  Let’s give it a whirl:

1. Dunavin has to have a big 2008 to stay in Philly…but he’s probably gone anyway.  Unfortunately for Big 5, this one feels very true.  I don’t know what actually gets him a contract extension.  The playoffs?  A win in the playoffs?  Will that be enough?  Or will the specter of his injury history just be too much for Joe Banner’s spreadsheet?  I think the spreadsheet wins here.

2. The Eagles invested in special teams and it will make a difference this year.  The Birds stunk on special teams last year, but went big in the offseason, and they should have a better year (if only because it would be hard to have a worse year).  Even with a declining Akers (btw, I really like when you give Akers a hard time), they have to improve.  This feels pretty true.

3.  Trent Cole will lead a young defense from ”decent” to ”pretty durn good.”  I dunno, I’m just a believer in lots of young disposable guys on defense.  I think Cole is still on the upswing and the rest of the front seven will only get better.  I think Samuel might make a big difference.  Maybe I’m a sucker, but I’m actually psyched to see these guys play.  And in my heart of hearts, I’ve been waiting for the return of a dominant defensive Eagles team for so long that maybe I’m reaching a bit here.  Guilty as charged.

4.  The rest of the division won’t be as strong as last year.  The numbers tell me that this should actually be the case.  The Redskins rode the Sean Taylor thing into the playoffs, but now they have a bunch of new coaches (again).  The Cowboys have the most talent in the division, but they also have been ridiculously healthy the past couple years, and are one PacMan bachelor party away from a complete sh*tshow.  And the Giants, well, let’s just say that they had a lovely run last year that will be very difficult to replicate.  And they’ll have a Super Bowl hangover, which is not insignificant in New York.  I’ll call this true as well.

Now my two candidates for things that might not be true in November:

1. The Eagles own Philly.  I know we’re all nuts for the NFL, but, man, this Phillies team is puh-retty charming.  Can you imagine if Chase Utley played quarterback?  He’d be elected Emporer shortly thereafter.  And I can definitely imagine a couple things breaking right for the Phightins and then, BAM, the championship drought is over.  That might actually bump the Birds down a few pegs.  Not permanently, mind you, but long enough to reduce Sunday evening domestic violence in the Delaware Valley for a couple months/ sell a significant amount of Phillies Officially Licensed Products.

2. Westbrook continues to be a good citizen about his contract and the endless effing drama surrounding Big Five.  This one’s a bit out of left field, but hear me out.  So we’re not talking about Westbrook getting a raise all that often.  And yes, he already got a raise in 2005.  But, wow, what happens if they don’t pay him?  And he continues to perform?  I have complete confidence in Westbrook’s professionalism on the field, and I’m equally impressed by his media presence.  He doesn’t say anything stupid, but he’s also not afraid to speak his mind.  He’s already rumbled about his contract a bit in his offseason press conference.  Is it so crazy to think that maybe Westbrook gets a little bit more chatty about his wages?  And is it even crazier to think he might also be sick of carrying this team?

Westbrook’s always been deferential to Dunavin, but if I had to speculate, I’d guess they weren’t BFF.  Does Westbrook go to Arizona to train with 5?  (Speaking of, aren’t we due for the obligatory off-season story about how Dunavin likes to bond with his guys down in Arizona?  Isn’t that usually this week?)  Where did Westbrook come down on the T.O. thing?  Do we believe the rumblings that it was Westbrook who stepped into a leadership role when McNabb’s ACL exploded in 2006?  Why shouldn’t this be HIS team?  Do any of us see a Westbrook-McNabb tiff looming?  Is it really so crazy?

(I mean, yeah, it’s a little crazy.  But stranger things have happened.)

Speaking of, time for my much ballyhooed Dunavin rant.  Here goes: I think Philadelphia has made Donovan McNabb absolutely paranoid, and borderline crazy.  Full stop.  I think he reads every bit of criticism, I think he listens to WIP, and I bet he’s even browsed a couple of these blogs from time to time (it’s not like he doesn’t have a laptop).  Most importantly, I think we are all kidding ourselves if we believe that the Philly media do not impact his performance and thus the performance of the Eagles.

Sure, everybody thinks their town is the worst with the criticism.  Trust me, it’s not.  Being the quarterback of the Eagles, much less the NON-WHITE quarterback of the Eagles is easily one of the top-five worst jobs in American sports.

The only thing I’ll admit is clearly worse than quarterback in Philly is baseball in New York City.  Those guys not only get abused about their play (multiple tabloids with clever headline writers, and they can break people outright — remember Chuck Knoblauch) but also get stalked like f*cking Britney Spears.  Dude, this A-Rod thing?  Out control.  And it was LoDuca before him, and Piazza before that.  That’s a step we haven’t yet taken in Philly — we don’t get photos of which guys are cheating on their wives (though obviously this is an unmet market opportunity in the local media…don’t act like we all wouldn’t love a Dunavin marital scandal, or, even better, photos of a BIG RED sex romp with some hookers and Andy in his Ben Franklin costume!).

It isn’t the same for football in New York.  Sure, the tabloids can be unkind to Eli, but if you turn on the FAN in November, more than 50 percent of the calls are about baseball.  It’s a baseball town.

So if we’re starting from a point where Philly is a tough town for football, adding a guy who’s obviously something of a sensitive little emotional flower is not an optimal scenario.  Every single word he says is parsed/ dissected/ analyzed.  Everything.  (If only we paid as much attention to our representatives in Congress!)  His feelings obviously get hurt.  T.O. hurt his feelings.  Jeff Garcia playing well hurt his feelings.  The Kevin Kolb thing hurt his feelings.  The non-stop criticism and speculation hurts his feelings.  And so we get to the point where he’s juggling his PR staff, starting a blog, and wearing goofy t-shirts with slogans.  Do Tom Brady or Peyton Manning do these things?  Maybe they would if they played in Philly (Peyton seems more likely than Brady), but I don’t really think so.

I think it would actually be better if Dunavin were a bit dumber, if that makes sense.  I think he’s actually too rational/ nice a guy to block it all out.  He needs to power down the emotion chip and go into full robot mode, because we’re all obviously occupying way too much real estate in his brain.  Essentially, don’t think, it can only hurt the ballclub.

There’s a part of me that feels a fair amount of compassion for the guy (inasmuch as I need to feel compassion for guys with $100 million contracts).  It’s just obvious that this was never the right place for him.  I don’t think he’ll ever forget the boos on draft day.  Never.  And it really leads me to speculate about what his career would have been like in a smaller/ nicer market.  Like Cincinnati.  Or Indianapolis.  Or San Diego.  Or Green Bay (can you imagine McNabb or Kolb getting away with insulting the customers like Aaron Rodgers just did?).  He may have still puked in the Super Bowl, but I bet he would have been a much happier person.  And probably a better quarterback.

Comments?  Questions?  Concerns?  You’re SuperFan #1 for Dunavin — do you think he’s crazy?

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go to a bachelor party so I can behave like a degenerate for 48 hours.  I mean, I’d invite you, but it sounds like you need to make puppy-dog-and-ice-cream cupcakes with your wife.

(!!!)

Gabe

Comments so far:

Link Here | July 11, 2008,

I would never trade Brian Westbrook for a top-flite receiver. I think that the Eagles need to add a true #1 to the currently in place nucleus of Westbrook, Smith, Kurtis, McNabb, and the O-line.
I don’t know if I have an opinion on Donovan’s psychiatric state, but I do think that his time in Philly is drawing to a close, and there’s nothing short of adding MVP, Super Bowl MVP, and Vince Lombardi trophy to his resume is going to change that.

Take Westbrook out of the discussion, and what do you think the depth chart at running back is going to look like?

Comment by BowenNation


Link Here | July 11, 2008,

I mean, sure, I’d like a #1 receiver AND Westbrook too. But it’s like Chris Rock says: it’s tough finding a woman that loves Seinfeld AND the Wu-Tang Clan.

RB Depth Chart (my guess):
Buck
Booker
Hunt

I wish I didn’t have an opinion on Dunavin’s psychiatric state; I wouldn’t if I didn’t think it impacted his performance.

Comment by Cheesesteak Hoagie


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