What Would Buddy Do?
BountyBowl guest blathers on someone else’s site
Posted on September 15th, 2008 at 3:18 am by Cheesesteak Hoagie

So I guess I’m hitting the big time!  Other sites are looking to fill IP packets with my blatherings!  Seriously! 

The Most Valuable Network (MVN) did a little Q&A thing with me and some guy from a blog called The Landry Hat.  Personally, I liked my answers better, but that’s mostly because my part picked the Eagles to win.  Also, I’m pretty psyched that I didn’t have to write about T.O. and his “comments” this week, though I would have relished dropping a “Next Question!” in that scenario.  

Answers recycled below:

1. The Eagles started the 2008 season in a big way last week with a 38-3 win over St. Louis. Many analysts, however, are hesitant to put much stock into the blowout victory, as it came on Philly’s home turf over a helpless opponent. Is there anything significant we can learn about the Eagles from last week’s game, even if their win did come against one of the worst teams in the NFL?

Aside from the fact that a 38-3 win is one of the more spectacularly awesome ways to open an NFL season, I’ve been trying to keep my enthusiasm in perspective since last Sunday. The Rams probably aren’t going to be very good, and quite a few things went well for the Eagles. Still, the guys over at Football Outsiders are fond of observing that an important characteristic of elite teams is that they dominate weaker opponents. If that’s the case, it’s hard not to be, um, “encouraged” by the Rams game.

In terms of what we learned, I’d say there were a few things:

  • Big 5 is back, especially when the opponent’s pass rush is less threatening than 7-on-7 drills. The Birds had a couple backup receivers go over 100 yards last week. That isn’t because those guys became Pro Bowlers in the offseason. It’s because McNabb had tons of time to throw and has the arm to power a very vertical passing game (that is, lots of balls fired 25 yards down the field). McNabb was so good that the Eagles didn’t even really have to unleash very many of Brian Westbrook’s super powers.
  • The Eagles were awful on special teams last year. Awful. They made it an organizational focus in the offseason, and it sure looked like it paid off in Game 1. The got a big return from DeSean Jackson and number of punts skillfully downed just outside the Rams goal line. The only disappointment on special teams is that we didn’t get to see much of rookie kickoff-returner Quintin Demps with the ball in his hands, but hey, if that’s the price of the Rams scoring three points, I think we can live with that.
  • The rookies really are going to play. Those of us in the imaginary football community have been panting over DeSean Jackson for months (I was actually shocked that he kept going so early in fantasy drafts), but he isn’t the only Eagles rookie who played last week. Quintin Demps was very involved on special teams and defensive tackle Trevor Laws also got a fair amount of snaps. For a team that’s traditionally nervous about putting rookies on the field, this counts as news.

2. Do you see the Eagles as being a potential sleeper in the NFC East?

Let’s start with the caveats: you’re asking someone who thinks that the Eagles are going to win Super Bowl EVERY SINGLE YEAR if the Eagles might be a “sleeper” in the NFC East. Yes, it’s the best division in football, and yes the Eagles finished last in said division last year. But the Eagles weren’t a mess of a team, and given the ambient levels of randomness in your average NFL season (the three or four games that could have gone either way for any team), well, there’s an alternate universe out there (one where the Eagles had a punt returner in Green Bay, played some two-minute defense against Chicago and hit the field goal against the Giants) where last year’s Eagles may have done very well for themselves.

Unfortunately, this is the only universe I’m aware of, and they finished last in it. I think the Eagles have enough talent on the field and the coaching staff to compete for the division. I don’t know if we can call them a sleeper, though; some dude over at that, what’s it called, Sports Illustrated thinks they’re going to the Super Bowl? That kind of blew their cover a bit.

3. What is the single biggest key to Monday night’s game for the Eagles, and what’s your predicted final score?

So if I had to go all Xs-and-Os on you, I’d give you two answers, one for offense and one for defense.

On offense, I think pass-protection will be the most important thing for the Eagles. I think Westbrook will do his thing (and expect that the Dallas defensive game plan is all about stopping the 36 Chambers of Brian Westbrook) and the receivers will look a lot more mortal this week. McNabb got hit a bunch in both Dallas games last year, and the Eagles weren’t challenged by the Rams’ defensive front last week. The Dallas defensive front is big and fast; let’s hope the Eagles’ offensive line (as well as inexperienced fullback Tony Hunt) comes to play.

On defense, I think they’ll handle T.O. with their surplus of quality corners and that Barber won’t hurt them running the ball. I’m pretty terrified of Jason Witten and Barber catching balls against the Eagles’ linebackers, though. Fingers crossed that Bradely, Gocong and Gaither can hang.

I think the difference in the game for the Eagles is coaching. I think the Birds schemed their way to a win at Dallas last December, and I think they have a file on the Cowboys now. Dallas probably is more talented on the field, but I think the Birds’ coaching staff will be bringing a suitcase full of clever with them to Texas Stadium. Add that to the pressure differential (the Cowboys are HBO darlings and seven-point favorites with ample Super Bowl hype), and I think that Eagles can/will win 23-20.

There. And I didn’t mention Jessica Simpson even once!

Comments so far:

Link Here | September 15, 2008,

This Landry Hat guy is the asshat who wrote the “McNabb is the definition of choke” post that you deigned unworthy.

Comment by BrianS

Link Here | September 15, 2008,

Yeah, I’ve since sorted all that out.

I need an audio clip of Eskin saying “Cockroach.”

Comment by Cheesesteak Hoagie |

Link Here | September 16, 2008,

Did he not choke?
Listen guys, for the last time, I have fully admitted that Tony Romo has choked in big games. But you guys refuse to admit it. Donovan McNabb did not lose the Super Bowl. He didn’t choke you guys believe. It’s hogwash.

Comment by The Landry Hat |

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