What Would Buddy Do?
Friday Eagles Hangover: this week, it’s mostly just the turkey (and all the alcohol)
Posted on November 28th, 2008 at 10:17 am by Cheesesteak Hoagie

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What a pleasant surprise: 48-20? Happy Thanksgiving!

In a game that couldn’t have gone better for the Eagles (save for Max-Jean Gilles getting hurt), all the flailing parts of the team suddenly looked competent and the team rolled over a Cardinals team that wasn’t actually ever in it. The quarterback was accurate and focused, the running back looked spry, the offensive line played their best game in months, the wide receivers held onto balls that didn’t hit them square in the chest, and the new-look secondary made a bunch of plays against the best wide-receiver combo in the league.

My day-after observations:

Oh no, this is going to make Andy Reid especially smug, isn’t it.  Let’s see, capture early lead throwing the ball, force other team to throw, run the ball against humiliated, desperate defense, pin ears back on defense, cruise to victory against tired opponent.  Great.  You were right all along, Andy!  Feel free to chuck it 55 times against the Giants.  The road to 7-8-1 is paved with wins like these!

The lines came to play.  When was the last time the Eagles pushed another team around this thoroughly at the line of scrimmage (on both sides of the ball)?  I can’t even remember.  The play consistently took place on the wrong side of the Cards’ line of scrimmage.  I guess the boys on the offensive side must’ve really taken those anonymous comments to heart.

The Cards must have really suffered in the short week.  Must not have been time for a lot of film study.  I mean, how else to explain not seeing the shovel pass?  Everyone in the Delaware Valley as well as each of the Birds’ NFC East opponents knew that was coming.  Comical.

Looks like opponents are taking the CamelCased One seriously.  Dare we say more seriously than the 36 Chambers of Brian Westbrook?  The Cards completely overpursued Jackson on the fake end-around that Westbrook took down to the three.  Huh.  Can’t say we hate that.

Take that, Prime Time curse.  The Eagles finally won one at night!  With the Browns looming on Monday Night in a couple weeks, well, they might even win a second.

I hope Lito Sheppard doesn’t have trouble selling his house.  Let’s see, undrafted free agent Joselio Hanson not only starts but picks off a pass, and Lito Sheppard had the coverage on not one, not two, but all three Cardinals’ TDs.  Looks like we’ve found the weakest link.

Pass me a vial of whatever they stuck in Brian Westbrook.  Didn’t look too gimpy last night, though most of his running was vertical and between the tackles (not a lot of stretch plays or sweeps).  Whatever.  It was a treat to have B-West making plays.

And we’re off.  Actually hitting up the Flyboys this afternoon, and looking forward to it.

Your post-game storylines, two hours early
Posted on November 27th, 2008 at 10:29 pm by Cheesesteak Hoagie

Expect the following from your post-game coverage:

1. Lots of bird puns: Eagles, Cardinals, Thanksgiving…yeah, there’ll be lots of that.

2.  “Andy, you had a lot of success running the ball this week.  Do you think that maybe you should run the ball a bit more?”

3.  “Donovan, did the benching last week at Baltimore motivate you to play a bit better this week?”  Also, there’s no way that the answer to this question doesn’t involve the words, “Not at all.”  (HT to Les Bowen for that one.)

Go Birds.

Birds - Cards Preview: Blackout Thursday
Posted on November 27th, 2008 at 7:40 pm by Cheesesteak Hoagie

I’ve been trying to figure out how our friends in Las Vegas have decided to anoint the Eagles three-point favorites over the Cardinals on Thursday night.  On paper, I guess it makes sense: teams from the Pacific time zone haven’t won in the Eastern time zone yet this season, and the Cards had a five-hour flight squeezed into a short week.  Under normal circumstances, I could understand the Birds being favorites here.

But, um, well, it sure looks like the Eagles are exploding before our eyes.  Wouldn’t it be nice if the Donovan-and-Andy sideshow of the past two weeks was really just a media-driven kerfuffle, and that the underlying performance of the team really wasn’t so bad?  Yeah.  Not so much.  This is as bad as the Eagles have looked since 2005, sloppy across the board, and distinctly uninterested in showing up for work.  And with Asante Samuel out against the best WR corps the Eagles have yet faced, plus what promises to be an even more feeble running game (hobbled B-West and no Buckhalter), well, it isn’t lining up well for the Birds.

Essentially, tonight feels like it can go one of two ways.  Since I’m only able to envision the future in terms of the past (like most people), all I’ve got for you is comparisons.  The hopeful comparison is the Carolina Monday Night game from 2006, in which the Eagles hung tough against a decent Panthers team and won the game 27-24 in the closing minutes when Lito Sheppard made a play in the corner of the end zone.  Big stage, a lot on the line, about the same point in the season (a week later, but close), and it came on the heels of a horrible road loss to an AFC team (45-21 to the Colts).  That was the play and the win that kicked off the somewhat improbable run to the NFC East title and playoff win that year.

Wouldn’t that be nice?

The Negadelphian comparison would be the Seattle Monday Night game from 2005.  You know, the one in the snow?  That ended 42-0?  That was the last time that the Eagles looked like they were quitting.  I really hope we don’t see that tonight.

Complete sucker that I am, I’m hoping that the Eagles show us something tonight.  I am.  But even in my post-gluttony haze I can’t conjure up the courage to convince myself that the Eagles are going to win tonight.  I’m just not feeling it.  Prediction: Cardinals 31, Eagles 13.

Happy Thanksgiving from BountyBowl
Posted on November 27th, 2008 at 1:42 pm by Cheesesteak Hoagie

Hope everyone is sated and peaceful ahead of this evening’s game.

Game preview forthcoming later in the afternoon, but for now we should all be thankful we don’t support the Detroit Lions!

Best wishes to you and yours.

Eagles Tix on the cheap: ~$50 gets you into the Cards game on Thanksgiving
Posted on November 26th, 2008 at 1:33 pm by Cheesesteak Hoagie

Geez, what a difference a couple weeks makes: while recent primetime contests at the Linc have fetched upwards of $180 for the cheap seats, Stubhub is telling me that one could get a pair of seats for the Cardinals game for only ~$52/ seat plus fees.  Not standing room only, not a random single seat.  Pairs of tickets to the Linc.

I know it’s Thanksgiving, but those prices are a pretty damning indicator of the Delaware Valley’s enthusiasm for the Birds right now.  And the weather’s supposed to be lovely: 42 degrees and clear at gametime.

Yikes.  $50 doesn’t even get you into the lower bowl for the Flyboys on Friday (though $35 gets you in).

Blackout indeed.

And then, on his 32nd birthday, Donovan McNabb made a decent joke
Posted on November 26th, 2008 at 10:25 am by Cheesesteak Hoagie

Yes yes, much has been made over the years of Donovan McNabb’s “outstanding” sense of humor and propensity for jokiness — in the huddle, at practice, on the sidelines, etc.  It’s just his way of keeping everyone loose and relaxed!  (Or it’s an adolescent response to panic and nerves — better make some jokes and let everyone know that I’m not feeling anxious here.  Whichever.)

For the most part, I’ve been on the “yeah, I don’t get it” team w/r/t Donovan’s jokes.  I mean, he seems like a nice guy, but he doesn’t seem funny in the way that a Charles Barkley or a Gilbert Arenas is funny.

But I’ve got to hand it to him: he definitely had a good joke ready yesterday for his presser:

On how he found out that he was named the starter for the game vs. Arizona: “(Jokingly) I was told by the janitor. Me and him have a pretty good relationship around here. It was a pretty good conversation that we had.”

Not bad, Donovan!  Not bad!  Maybe someone wrote it for him as a birthday gift?  Also, I like the stage directions added by PE.com.

Of course, even making the joke has offered fodder for a round of foreboding columns.  I especially like the black-and-white photo in this one — really brings the point home, doesn’t it?

Happy Belated Birthday, Big Five.

Leave it to R-Diddy
Posted on November 25th, 2008 at 1:03 pm by Cheesesteak Hoagie

In the midst of an avalanche of Eagles criticism in the past 48 hours, both local and national, I guess we shouldn’t be surprised that the most cogent — and damning — piece of analysis has come from Blathermonkey Emeritus Ray Didinger in his weekly Comcast Sportsnet column.

I already linked this in my del.icio.us, and I’m not in the business of overwhelming you with block quotes (if only for copyright reasons!), but for all the crap I like to fling at the local press, this column was a clear reminder of why some guys really really really know what they’re talking about (and why folks like me are mostly full of sh*t).  Enjoy:

For whatever you may have thought about Reid’s coaching in the past – and Lord knows I’ve had issues with his play-calling for years – there was always a sense that he mapped things out, that he thought things through and wasn’t given to impulse. That’s no longer the case. Now he has the look of a blindfolded man swinging a stick at a piñata, hoping he somehow makes contact and wins a prize, or at least converts a third down.

Consider how Sunday’s game unfolded. The Eagles come out in a no-huddle offense and McNabb completes six of his first seven passes. Then he gets hit from the blindside and coughs up his first interception and the offense falls apart for the rest of the first half. At halftime Reid makes the decision to pull McNabb and play Kolb. Based on what?

It isn’t like Reid was turning to a veteran backup who had been in this situation before, a Jeff Garcia or a Kerry Collins. This is a kid who had hardly played in the regular season and wasn’t even practicing with the first unit. Yet you are putting him on the field against the Ravens defense, which ranks third in the NFL, without even one healthy running back and asking him to win a game and, basically, save your season.

There was no good reason to expect Kolb to perform any better than he did. His skittish performance, which was every bit as dreadful as McNabb’s, was totally predictable. And the play call at the goal line – throwing a pass to the back of the end zone against one of the best red zone defenses in football – was dumber than dumb.

So what was the real upside of switching to Kolb? To win the game? The kid had no chance, not surrounded by that wreck of an offense, playing against a hungry Ravens defense. To begin the Kevin Kolb era? That doesn’t make sense either. If Reid wanted to do that, he could not have picked a worse time with just three days to prepare for Arizona and a trip to the Meadowlands to face the Giants defense looming the week after that.

So what conclusion can we draw? That Reid didn’t think it through at all. He just took a shot and as a result he turned a winnable game into a 29-point rout, he opened the door to a quarterback controversy and he left a lot of people – including some in his own locker room – scratching their heads and wondering if he has any clue at all.

To summarize, inserting Kolb was a bad move because the kid wasn’t really prepared for a pretty tough Baltimore defense, it wasn’t likely to win you the game, and that Andy pulled this stunt means that Andy really isn’t thinking clearly.

Pretty logical, and pretty damning.

Tip of the cap to you, Mr. Didinger.  Now let’s see if you’re right about that sabbatical theory.

At this point, why would we boo McNabb Thursday?
Posted on November 25th, 2008 at 11:43 am by Cheesesteak Hoagie

I was admittedly a little baffled by the question at the end of Andy Reid’s Monday presser regarding the potential fan reaction to Donovan McNabb on Thursday night:

On whether it concerns him that McNabb might not be well-received by the fans Thursday: “You can’t worry about all that, man. You take care of what you can control and you get rid of the ‘if’s’ and you play.”

Seriously, though, why would we boo McNabb?  I mean, beyond the standard he-threw-an-incompletion-on-third-down sort of thing.  Even if the guy is done in Philly (and he is), isn’t our anger better directed at the general manager and architect of this failing offense?  Booing the quarterback won’t make the offensive line any younger/ better, it won’t make a healthy running back or a real fullback materialize on the roster, and it won’t improve the playcalling.

I dunno, call me naive, but I actually think Philly might just skip past Donovan as a whipping boy for this ongoing disaster.  This is not to say they/ we won’t boo on Thursday night — we will — but I think we’re bright enough as a group to realize that the whole team deserves our scorn, not just the quarterback.

(I’m being naive, aren’t I.)

Monday Eagles Hangover: saved by Gossip Girl, 90210, MLS Cup
Posted on November 24th, 2008 at 11:47 am by Cheesesteak Hoagie

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So I had set the DVR to record the Eagles game yesterday. My plan was that I would watch it Sunday night after I got off the plane. Sure, I’d know the result (I’m not one of those people that can avoid an Eagles result), but I tend to enjoy watching the games anyway. That was the plan.

Mercifully, fate intervened, and I was spared the indignity of viewing what was essentially a snuff film starring Andy Reid and Donovan McNabb.

(Apparently what happened was that I had set two recordings before I split for the weekend, the Birds game and MLS Cup. Note that I do enjoy soccer, and support the NY/ NJ Vodka Red Bulls. So no excuses/ regrets there. The issue was that there wasn’t enough room to support both recordings on the DVR, due to the presence of, wait for it, a season’s worth of saved-and-do-not-delete episodes of Gossip Girl and 90210. I kid you not. So the DVR probably recorded the Birds game, then immediately recorded the soccer game over it.)

Seriously, this is for the best. I would have sat there working myself into an unholy lather and still been upset this morning. As it was, I watched Shaun of the Dead and went to bed early.

As such, my only observations can be from the meta-narrative; some quickies ahead of the much-anticipated Andy Reid presser at noon:

Not telling Dunavin directly is “Tie-gate” Lite: I loooooove that the dumping-via-text-message has become a story. It makes it so much easier to rally the masses against Andy Reid. The blathermonkeys are doing excellent work with this — no one is standing up for Big Red on this. Bee-yoo-tee-full. No one can defend that…except, of course, McNabb himself, who was willing to spin it as an unfortunate consequence of a short half-time period. NERD!

The part of the game that I absolutely can’t believe. They really dressed two running backs? And six wideouts? When one of their running backs is admittedly hobbled? Seriously? And we don’t imagine a Buck-gets-dinged-up scenario? Can we even be surprised by crap like this at this point? It must be that we morons in the stands don’t understand the subtleties of football — we think you might want to have things like punt returners and fullbacks on the roster. No no! We can convert players to new positions! We’re geniuses! Bill Belichick does it, why can’t we?

The other benchings. It’s really really hard to not acknowledge the contract situations of the other players who were benched yesterday. L.J. Smith hasn’t performed this season, sure, and there have been rumblings about Omar Gaither’s allergies to heavy contact, but that Lito Sheppard is starting to sound a lot less crazy, isn’t he? When he talked about getting blackballed if you refuse an extension (which Gaither apparently has done)?

Time to update my comparisons. I’ve been prattling along about how the 2008 Eagles were really just the 8-8 2007 Eagles (but with a better punt returner). Until two weeks ago, I’d felt pretty good about that. But that’s no longer applicable. The 2008 Eagles are actually the 2005 Eagles (but with a better punt returner). Let’s see…locker room dysfunction, a banged up Westbrook, a humiliated Donovan McNabb, rumblings that the locker room is divided/ pissed at management, yup, this is the 6-10 2005 team. Sweet!

Didn’t want to do it; felt I owed it to them. Call me a giant jerk, but when do we start the Brian Westbrook - Shaun Alexander comparisons. You know, have a huge season at running back in your late 20s, sign a big contract, get hurt, never be right again? We can’t pass judgment until camp next summer, but, well, this would be pretty terrible.

Instant pre-analysis of the noon announcement. If it’s Kolb, we are officially done with the season. If it’s McNabb, well, at least his swan song will be at home. (I assume the Birds lose Thursday and Andy takes the extra time ahead of the Giants game to prep Kolb.)

Smile, everyone!

At least there’s no more Illusion of Competence; it’s actually better this way
Posted on November 23rd, 2008 at 8:06 pm by Cheesesteak Hoagie

So when I last checked in, the Birds were down 10-7.  I was following the game on my phone, sitting on the tarmac, and I texted my brother to ask him if the commentators were talking about a potential McNabb benching.

Perhaps!  A benching and then some!

I haven’t seen the game yet, but have already caught up on the meta-narrative in the pressers and the papers.  I’m intrigued by the story regarding the manner in which the quarterback change was communicated (you really didn’t talk to either of them about it, Andy?), but the bigger story is that it’s all over. Reid-McNabb-Dawkins is over.  I’m not interested in offering my take on their obit quite yet (plenty of time for that in December), but can I admit that the 36-7 score that I saw on my phone when my plane touched down at EWR was actually very freeing?

It’s done.  This group of guys is finally done.  The three fraudulent wins tacked on the end of last season’s 5-8 effort snookered us into thinking these guys might have one more go in them.  Nope.  Today was their last chance to convince me that I could get excited about the 2008 season, and they blew it in the most spectacular way possible.  The Emperor weighs close to 400 pounds, and he is nekkid as the day he was born.

(In my head, I envisioned a close win against Baltimore, then a short week with an opponent who had to handle a cross-country flight then some extra time off before the Giants — yup, I’m a sucker.)

Whew.  We don’t have to worry about this season or this team anymore.  The fraud is over.  Now we can discuss ENDGAME.

I’m definitely in the blame-Andy camp, though I acknowledge that Donovan McNabb is done in Philly (he’ll be a much happier person for it).  The thing that distresses me (mostly because it’s what’s going to happen), is that they’ll rationalize this season as being somehow about Dunavin and a hurt Westbrook and insist that they were just a little bit off.  They’ll fire Mornhinweg and Heckert and Andy Reid will be back leading the circus next summer, pretending the poor roster design and game planning isn’t his fault.

It’s 2008.  I’m ready for change.  Seems to be the thing these days.



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