What Would Buddy Do?
And here I thought we might make it to October without a craptastic loss
Posted on September 29th, 2008 at 12:17 pm by Cheesesteak Hoagie

about to break off the pattern

On a weekend that the Phils clinched their second straight NL East championship, we didn’t really think that we’d be twice blessed with an Eagles victory on the road, did we? Without Brian Westbrook?

Despite the text messges I received upon landing in the Pacific Northwest last night (”Don’t even bother watching the game”), I plowed through the tape of the game, and the Birds weren’t terrible. The defense, in fact, was excellent in the second half. McNabb was fine — not great, but certainly on his game. But you pile up a couple injuries and stumble on a couple important plays and voila! You lose to the Bears!

(I hate to admit it, but I was a little Nancy Negative ahead of this game, and it looks like my anxieties weren’t completely unfounded.  SIGH.)

The thing is, most NFL games are close, and you have to expect to lose a couple close games each year. Last year’s team probably lost about 1.5 more close games than the league average (Packers, Bears, Seahawks and second Giants game come to mind); previous years’ teams lost fewer of the close ones. We’d like to believe that the Eagles are so formidable that they won’t even be in very many close games, but that’s just not true. They blew a close one last night; let’s hope that the next couple break their way.

My observations upon viewing last night/ this morning on my PC screen via Slingbox:

The Birds need some sort of Team-minus-36 plan.  This will be the most obvious and pedestrian thing I write all week, but man, it sure does look different without the 36 Chambers of Brian Westbrook out there.  Andy Reid needs to start working on the binder of plays for when they don’t have the best back in football on the field.  Cause it doesn’t seem like he tends to have very many good ideas.  Also, they miss Westbrook in a ton of ways – not just running the ball and scaring people with his placement in the formation, but the blitz pickups and blocking as well.  Buck whiffed a bit last night on those.  We won’t talk about Booker, other than to say….

…Booker isn’t there yet.  Seems like a decent situational/ once-in-a-while substitute, but this guy is not serviceable as a first-down back in the NFL.  And suddenly we’re a bit thin at that position.  The portions of the second half when Buck was out were horrfying.  Horrifying. 

We’ve found the weakest link.  Another solid game from the young linebackers.  Gocong even got into it a bit more this week (good for him on the sack), though I think Gocong might be sticking out on film as the “one you can beat if you want to” — that first touchdown was on him, and looked pretty similar to the Marion Barber TD catch from two weeks ago. 

Question I’d like someone to answer.  I’m wagering against the Eagles in prime time games until further notice.  I’m desperate to be disproven on this, but they’ve just been awful in night games for too long now.  Is there some sort of Kerry Collins-on-the-sauce-with-the-Giants thing at play here?  (My theory on Kerry Collins on Sunday night games with the Giants was that since it was a night game he’d clear himself to have a few extra drinks on Saturday — since the game wasn’t until later and he wouldn’t have to get up early — and this would inevitably snowball and leave him in terrible shape for the whole day Sunday.  Yeah, you’ll see me in hell for that one.)

And suddenly DeSean Jackson is our best offensive player?  I mean, that was it, right?  No B-West and suddenly Jackson is the number-one option?  Is that really the deal at this point?  Nice to see Reggie Brown catch some balls last night, though.  He looks like he’s getting back up to speed, and he’s had some great games against the Skins in the past – they’ll need that Sunday.

Marvels on the defensive line.  Someone who actually knows something about football needs to explain to me how a little dude (all characterizations relative, of course) like Dan Klecko keeps getting to the quarterback (and why Broderick Bunkley can’t).  I could not have been more wrong about Dan Klecko all summer.  And he keeps making plays.  Remarkable.  Also, at what point can we admit that Juqua Parker is playing really well and isn’t some sort of undersized liability? 

I agree with Les.  Should have used Dunavin down on the goal line.  He’s the most gifted guy on the field.  Let him win it for you.

Don’t discount the other injuries.  The running game missed Westbrook, obviously, but it also missed The Big Kid and L.J. Smith (editor’s note: we’re about 3 mm away from affixing “much maligned” to the front of L.J.’s name in the Word Press templates).  Probably wouldn’t have hated having those guys out there for the goal-line offense.  Ultimately, the offense probably looked crappy because it was missing four ostensible starters — and that was before Buck got dinged up.

Yeah, this one sooked.  The B-West injury watch vigil will continue all week ahead of a tough division game against a confident Redskins team.  Yikes!  On the upside, I bought myself some tickets to that one and will get to see it firsthand.  

Onwards.               

Inconvenient work travel schedule foiled by Slingbox
Posted on September 28th, 2008 at 7:16 pm by Cheesesteak Hoagie

So I’ll be in an aluminum tube in the sky during tonight’s game.  Again.  I imagine some planning and a Jetblue flight might have solved this problem for me, but my frequent flyer loyalties (and the spoils thereof) have me on Continental this evening. 

Typically I’d be SOL in a scenario like this, but I bought a Slingbox last weekend and it looks like I’ll be able to watch the game whence I land over the Interwebs.  So I won’t be live per se, but I’ll at least get to see the game tonight.

(In case you’re wondering, I’ll definitely check the score before I watch the game.  You can’t expect me to pretend that it isn’t over.  I mean, come on.) 

Creepy Symmetries
Posted on September 28th, 2008 at 12:42 pm by Cheesesteak Hoagie

For the avoidance of doubt, the Eagles played on Sunday night in Week Four last year against a good defensive team on the road without the services of Brian Westbrook and one of their best offensive linemen (Tra Thomas).  Yeah.  That one sooked, and not just because (a) I had to watch it in person and (b) it was the effing Giants (on which my feelings are well documented).

I want to believe that tonight’s going to be different, and it should be: Donovan McNabb is acres healthier and more confident than he was at this point last year, and the Birds’ defense is playing with a ton of swagger.  But the Bears are no joke, at least on defense.  A vengeful Brian Griese may have lit up the Bears’ secondary (oh, the irony!), but the Bucs were completely useless running the ball (I know this mostly because I started Earnest Graham in one of my imaginary football leagues).  From the volume of third-person self references coming out of Tommie Harris, we should expect a similar performance this week.

I have visions of a lot of stalled dink-and-dunk offense from the Birds, nervous stops from the defense, and a game that isn’t decided until late in the fourth quarter.  I think the Birds win because the Eagles’ defense is feeling strong and because Donovan McNabb doesn’t like to lose in his home town, but I think it’ll be a hassle all the way.  Let’s call it 23-17 Birds.

(Also, really nice Fog Bowl segment on the ESPN pre-game show this morning.  No buddy interview, though.  SIGH.)

Farewell Spectrum, Go Phightins
Posted on September 28th, 2008 at 11:05 am by Cheesesteak Hoagie

farewell-to-the-spectrum-010.JPG

Heckuva day for the Illadelph yesterday.

I had the distinct pleasure of attending the Flyers-Hurricanes game yesterday at the soon-to-be-kaput Spectrum. This would have been the final Flyers game played at the Spectrum had they not sold it out in 35 minutes and decided to add a Flyers - Phantoms scrimmage to the queue as well. So yesterday’s game was actually only the final NHL game to be played at the Spectrum.  Good times, indeed.

I’d forgotten what non-shopping mall arenas were like; even Key Arena was an order of magnitude fancier than the Spectrum.  Still, it was quite a treat to visit one final time and see some old-time hockey (on the day Reg Dunlap passed away, no less!  He knew Eddie Shore!).  Other items of note: the holistic awesomeness of the Spectrum font; the absence of the video replay screen was positively crippling — however did we watch games with instant replay at the arena?

I also had the pleasure of drinking my first-ever beer at the Spectrum (seen below); I was definitely underage when the Flyers and Sixers played there.

farewell-to-the-spectrum-019.JPG

In other news, GO PHILS. Let’s see if we can’t hang around for a series or two more this time around.

Lots of goodness in Philly. Let’s embrace the good karma and get a W tonight as well.

Respek!

NERD ALERT: Possible Cylon on Birds’ coaching staff
Posted on September 26th, 2008 at 8:40 pm by Cheesesteak Hoagie

colonel-johnson.jpg

In honor of the kind words being heaped upon Eagles’ defensive coordinator Jim Johnson in this morning’s papers, I’d like to play another round of the people-who-look-like-other-people game.

I’ve got a treat on this go-round for all the sci-fi dweebs out there in the audience: how bouts Jim Johnson looks like the recently outed Cylon Colonel Saul Tigh from Battlestar Galactica.  Beyond just looks, they both have a certain gruff, no-nonsense demeanor. No word yet on whether JJ shares Tigh’s drinking problem, hot traitor wife, and general levels of pissedoffedness in re: Starbuck.

Of course, this could all be nonsense; as noted earlier, all white people look alike to me.

(Feel free to call me a giant dork in the comments.  N.B. that I’m also super into the Terminator show, but that’s mostly because I completely believe that killer robots will be the death of us all.)

Sean Considine finds new role; status of oven mitts unclear
Posted on September 26th, 2008 at 10:51 am by Cheesesteak Hoagie

look at dem mitts

A week after a cringe-worthy performance in Texas Stadium (one that earned the scorn of low-traffic Eagles blogs everywhere!), it seems that Jim Johnson got the memo on Sean Considine and kept him on the bench for most of the game against the Steelers.   Might this have been the end for Considine in the Illadelph?  Not quite so fast; in fact, he’s one of at least three people on the Eagles who’s contributed to helping Asante Samuel stand in the right place on defense:

Now he’s finding his way in the Eagles’ secondary - a process that will continue Sunday night against the Chicago Bears - with assistance from teammates Brian Dawkins, Quintin Mikell and Sean Considine, all safeties.

“Those guys,” Samuel said, “have been a great help to me - actually communicating with me, helping me understand the defense and giving me the calls so I can be playing the right plays. Without them, I don’t know where I’d be. I’d probably be a little lost.”

See!  We do need Sean Considine on the team — just think what might happen if he weren’t around and Dawk and Mikell forgot to tell Asante where to stand!  What then!?!?!?!?

No word on whether the oven mitt (pictured above) has been instructional for Samuel as well.   

McNabb panders to Philly fanbase, talks to blog
Posted on September 24th, 2008 at 11:37 am by Cheesesteak Hoagie

More McNabb this morning — looks like the esteemed quarterback used his day off to an online press junket, first posting on his own blog and then doing an interview with The700Level. 

McNabb’s blog post is pretty amusing.  Though I’ve dinged him for generic/ nondifferentiated sports chitchat in the past, I’m not going to argue with Dunavin pandering to the peoples:

I can’t believe that some people are dismissing Ryan Howard for the 2008 Most Valuable Player Award. I can’t think of anyone more deserving.  

And so on.  Might we go so far as to suggest that Mr. McNabb has the itch to pick up the phone and dial 963-0610 to talk some Phils?  Would his voice be recognized?

In more of a coup, he granted an actual interview to The700Level, in which he revealed that he and his boys were into old kung fu movies and the Wu Tang Clan in college.  Yeah.  That sounds about right. 

McNabb ovation legit, not quite Willis Reed
Posted on September 24th, 2008 at 10:51 am by Cheesesteak Hoagie

After reading a couple accounts from the press box of the ovation that Donovan McNabb received when he emerged from the tunnel in the third quarter of Sunday’s game, I decided to do a little “reporting” of my own (They still call it that?  Reporting?  When you ask someone what they saw?).  The always reliable Les Bowen was pretty even-keeled in his description of it,

The cheering started in the part of the Linc closest to I-95, right above the locker room passageway from which the quarterback emerged. It quickly spread through the stadium.

It wasn’t a foot-stomping, seat-pounding standing ovation, but it was loud. And heartfelt.   

Still, I felt like I needed to go straight to the source.  Since I didn’t get to attend Sunday’s game (sniff sniff), I had to go on the word of a buddy.  And he pretty much confirmed what Les told us: the peoples were psyched for Dunavin!  I quote:

I’d call it pretty hearty. They definitely noticed. 6.5 on a 10 scale, 10 being 4 and 26.  Sent from my iPhone.

Not bad for the third quarter of Week 3!  And don’t think that sort of thing doesn’t warm Dunavin’s little feelings — it should and I’m sure it does.  See, not everyone out there hates you and wants you to leave.  The vast majority of us get the part where you’re the best quarterback to play for this team that we’ll likely ever see. 

Let’s all have a hug.

The Dread High Ankle Sprain ranks third on list of most vaguely frightening/ common Eagles injuries
Posted on September 23rd, 2008 at 8:31 am by Cheesesteak Hoagie

ankle_syndesmosis_intro01.jpg

I did not like reading that Brian Westbrook described his ankle as “closer to being a high ankle sprain than anything else.”  We know of these high ankle sprains, and we don’t like them.  They’re a bit mysterious in that I don’t know a non-pro athlete to ever suffer one, and they seem capable of lingering for weeks and weeks with no discernible timetable for recovery (see also, hamstring injuries).

Of course, owing to our previously mentioned virtuoso command of a wide array sports injuries, we all know that the high ankle sprain is only the third most scary “injury none of us actually understand but which seems to have a fancy name,” behind (#2) the sports hernia and the undefeated/ still champion (#1) Lisfranc injury.

(Sorry about the image above, I couldn’t find one with out comic sans.  Like most civilized human beings, I too f*cking hate comic sans.)

Westbrooks limps, as noted in medically detailed presser
Posted on September 22nd, 2008 at 11:42 pm by Cheesesteak Hoagie

So the good news is that nothing serious appears to be wrong with Brian Westbrook’s ankle.  Andy Reid confirmed that he was off crutches and “limping” at HQ on Monday. 

Check.  That’s the top end of my expectation curve — cool. 

We didn’t get too much new data out of Andy Reid today; given the lengthy list of the infirm (among them the better part of the erstwhile starting offensive lineup: Shawn Andrews, L.J. Smith, Tony Hunt, Kevin Curtis, Reggie Brown, etc.), semi-precise medical details consumed quite a bit of time in his press conference. 

Said medical briefing was definitely one of those sports media moments that reminded me of how attentively the American press covers player injuries.  For example, the UK soccer press doesn’t offer nearly as many details as we’re accustomed to in the US.  They barely know the difference between ACL and MCL injuries, and nary a one of them can quote you the average recovery time for each (whereas who among us doesn’t know an ACL injury = a year at this point?).   

But we get details about concussions, spasms, MRIs, and what appears to be Andy’s new favorite, contusions.  Donovan McNabb has one of those.  In case you find this description a bit imprecise, rest assured it’s not unintentional:

A bruise, also called a contusion or ecchymosis, is an injury to biological tissue in which the capillaries are damaged, allowing blood to seep into the surrounding tissue. It is usually caused by blunt impact. Bruises often induce pain but are not normally dangerous. Sometimes bruises can be serious, leading to other more life threatening forms of hematoma, or can be associated with serious injuries, including fractures and internal bleeding. The likelihood of bruising, and severity of it, increases as one ages, because elderly human skin becomes thinner and less elastic. Minor bruises may be easily recognized, in people with light skin color, by their characteristic blue or purple appearance (idiomatically described as “black and blue”) in the days following the injury.

Contusion definitely sounds more serious than a bruise, but Andy Reid could totally knock it up a notch by dropping “ecchymosis” on everyone on Wednesday, with no further explanation.  As in, “McNabb has ecchymosis.”  And then if the assembled media cross-examined him, he could act indignant and just keep repeating, “I said ecchymosis.  He’s got ecchymosis.  How many times do I have to keep saying the same thing?”

Anyhoo, the Steelers game still feels pretty cool, and it’s good to hear that Westbrook isn’t seriously damaged.    



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