What Would Buddy Do?
People of Minneapolis, you disgust me
Posted on December 31st, 2008 at 1:18 pm by Cheesesteak Hoagie

Tickets are still available?  11,000?  And now you’re petitioning the League for an extension on the blackout deadline?

It’s an NFL Playoff game.  This is high-end entertainment.  There are eleven (11) of these each year.  I went to two in Seattle even though I didn’t care about the Nerdbirds.  And it’s not even like it’s expensive: $35 gets you a seat in the upper level, and $110 gets you a lower bowl ticket.

For shame.  For shame.

Well this seems to be an appropriate time to speculate about Andy Reid’s future
Posted on December 31st, 2008 at 12:55 pm by Cheesesteak Hoagie

As Derek has ably noted, the Shanahan firing last night was pretty surprising.  Were it not for the collapse in Tampa, Andy Reid looks a lot like Mike Shanahan: single point of authority with a great career record who’s had a couple tough seasons (not terrible, just mediocre).

So sure, it makes you think a bit.

But despite the fact that Ray Didinger his own self has suggested that Andy Reid might be interested in a leave of absence after this season, I’m not sure I’m on board with the Deep-Throat-style speculation in Bob Grotz’s column this morning:

Unless I’ve misread everything gleaned from sources this season, there’s a pretty good chance Reid will decide this is his last year as head coach of the Eagles.

Making such a choice on his terms would be priceless, for some believe he’s a yes-man for upper management.

It sounds like head coach/executive vice president of football operations Reid and his supervisors have had just enough conflict over some personnel decisions that a change would be good for both sides. From the information available to me, it would seem some of the micro-managing may even have undermined the coach. You can’t un-ring the bell, as they say on “Law and Order.” [Emphasis mine.]

We’ll overlook the part where we should be focusing on this week’s game (though it’s a clever strategy from Grotz to get his conspiracy theories on the record early) and try to parse all of this.  So if Grotz has heard that Reid is tussling with his superiors, that can only mean two people, right?  Joe Banner and Jeffrey Lurie.  And I can’t imagine that Lurie has detailed opinions about personnel beyond the stars.  So that mostly means Joe Banner and Andy Reid aren’t getting along?

I mean, sure.  I don’t know anyone who works for the Eagles, so this could be true.

But I don’t know about about there being a “pretty good chance” — a much simpler theory (currently favored by 7.5 over Andy Reid stepping down) is that the Birds made the playoffs, and Andy Reid + Dunavin are most definitely back for 2009.

Brian Westbrook pimps Buckhalter for a new contract, starting job
Posted on December 30th, 2008 at 5:14 pm by Cheesesteak Hoagie

Checked out the Brian Westbrook show on the podcast (file under “there is no Eagles-related content I won’t consume this week”) on ESPN 950.

Fun chat, everyone was obviously in a good mood.  The only thing that stuck out for me was when Westbrook talked about how Correll Buckhalter was going to get paid as a starter next season, and that it might be somewhere else.

I’m sure part of that is just B-West trying to promote his friend and teammate (one who’s never uttered a word of complaint regarding his role on the Birds), but part of it has to be a reflection of Westbrook’s ongoing conversations with Buck.

While I certainly wish Buckhalter the best, I have to imagine that it’ll be tough for a guy with his injury history to pull in too too much cash.  As a selfish Eagles fan, I hope he doesn’t get any offers that are too tempting.  Either way, look for at least one back to be part of the Eagles’ draft strategy.

(Did I just mention “draft strategy”?  What am I thinking?  PLAYOFFS PLAYOFFS PLAYOFFS!)

Birds finish season #1 in Nerd Rankings
Posted on December 30th, 2008 at 1:32 pm by Cheesesteak Hoagie

Sure, they may have needed the heavens to open and gravity to reverse itself on Sunday in order to secure a playoff spot, but our much-maligned Eagles (at least among the commenters on FO) have finished the season ranked #1 in the Football Outsiders DVOA rankings.

In terms of splits, the offense finished 12th, the defense finished 3rd (behind Pittsburgh and Baltimore), and the special teams 13th.  Last year, the Eagles finished 12th overall, with the offense at 7, the defense at 12, and the special teams at (gulp) 31.

As you may or may not have imagined, this is the first time the Eagles have finished first in said rankings.  Would you call them the best team of the Andy Reid era?  Me neither.  So I guess DVOA isn’t quite exactly perfect yet.

Other DVOA notes:

NFC East.  The Eagles finished 1st, the Giants 3rd, the Cowboys 15th and the Skins 18th.  Like last season, we can argue that the NFC East was the best division in football.  Though the NFC South was a bit more consistent — the four teams ranked 6, 9, 12, 13 (CAR, NO, ATL, and TB, respectively) — the NFC East was better on average.  That is, the average NFC South ranking is 10 versus 9.25 for the NFC East.

NFC Least?  Worst division is the NFC West (you’re shocked, I know), with an average ranking of 26.25 and no team higher than 20 (ARI).  Ouch.

Schedule.  The Birds had the 13th hardest schedule in the league.  The Giants had the 8th, the Cowboys the 5th, and the Skins the 12th.  That’s what that last-place schedule in the NFC East gets you!  Also, if you’re looking to stick it to the Pats or Jets fans in your life, you might mention that the AFC East played the 29th-, 30th-, 31st-, and 32nd-ranked schedules.

QB rankings.  Dunavin finished 8th among QBs versus 14th last year.  Also worth noting that he finished with the best ranking in the division, though all the guys were pretty close (Eli 9th, Romo 11th, and Campbell 16th).  I’m just sayin is all.

RB rankings.  A year after finishing numero uno among NFL RBs, the 36 Chambers of Brian Westbrook dropped to 11th.  That’s what happens when you’re hurt most of the year.    Buckhalter finished 10th among those with fewer than 100 carries, versus 3rd a year ago.

Go Birds.

Comparative Media Studies
Posted on December 30th, 2008 at 12:20 pm by Cheesesteak Hoagie

Shame on me for being shocked/ disappointed by this, but there’s actually been a thread of discussion on WIP over the past two days regarding Donovan McNabb’s post-game comments following the win against Dallas, with some hosts and callers arguing — essentially — that Donovan was whining and bellyaching in even victory.  I suppose they mean the comments I posted yesterday,

“We’re human beings, you get tired of it, but you never let them see you sweat. And you never show that it bothers you because you kill them with kindness, and when you kill them with kindness and you go out and you do your job, people understand that it never really affects you.”

As well as some overhear/ reported words before said presser:

Donovan McNabb was heard on his way to the locker room saying ‘They love me for one more week.’

Got it.  So the guy feels like he gets a bum rap from some of the media and fans, and he was happy to prove them wrong.  Personally, as noted yesterday, I think he earned it.

But compare to the Lew Bowen-Andy Reid exchange from yesterday, in which Bowen asked Reid if he felt that the Birds had stuck it to their critics (with clever sound effects included by the team at PE.com):

On whether he would like to take this opportunity to say “nah-nah nuh-nah-nah”: “Not at all. Listen, that’s not how I operate. You know what, I know it’s crazy but we’re all in this thing together trying to make a living at doing what we are doing and I know it’s not an easy job day in and day out. We’re blessed to be here in Philadelphia with a great fan base that is knowledgeable about the game. I mentioned to somebody that in a lot of cities it’s game to game. In Philadelphia it’s play to play and you have to love that. You have to love that part of it as a coach and a player and from your standpoint. From play to play, and you’re criticized for the bad and praised for the good. It’s a great atmosphere for football.”

My my, quite the study in contrasts!

Still, it’s understandable that they’d both react that way.  The guy with rumors circling about his departure, who’s always been a little sensitive, and who is in the top 2 percent of US athletes regarding “sh*t taken on a day-to-day basis from the media/ fans” is puffing his chest after a win?  Can’t say I’m shocked.

On the flip side, the guy who runs the whole shebang, calls the plays, decides who stays, who goes, who gets snaps, is comfortable and confident with the media?  No kidding.  And I even appreciated the meta-commentary from Big Red in there (the line about them all trying to make a living in there — you’re right, Big Red: you do all sell the same product, you’re just in different departments).

What I’m hoping here is that McNabb is actually really pissed off at all of us.  That is, I hope he’s brewing a full-on “Us against the world/ No one believed in us” mindf*ck for himself and his teammates.  That sort of thing totally works — the Birds just never get to use it because we all believe they’re going to win the Super Bowl every single year.  Yes yes, Donovan, they hate you, and they only way to really stick it to the customers is to win four games in a row.  That’ll learn us!

But hey, I’ve always been a sucker for cheap motivational tactics, especially that one.

Monday Eagles Hangover: Wow, so that actually happened
Posted on December 29th, 2008 at 12:35 pm by Cheesesteak Hoagie

clemonsavant1.JPG

Yup.  Still here.  Just checked the Internet, and it appears that the Eagles did, in fact, make the playoffs.  Yesterday will be fondly remembered as pretty much the best day to be an Eagles fan since 2004.  Sure, there were some solid moments in 2006, but nothing so singularly glorious as what went down yesterday.

I dunno.  I’m still reeling.

What I’m chewing on this morning (besides bacon):

The last two minutes of the first half.  The end of the first half has been something of a bugaboo for the Birds over the course of this season.  I guess we should have known that this was truly a special day when — instead of having a field goal blocked and returned for a touchdown, as has been their style — the Eagles scored 17 points in the final 2:09 of the first half.  Wow.

Guys we couldn’t be happier for, Part 1.  Correll Buckhalter, you’ve hung in there for years and years, and yesterday, you were the guy.  We’ve always enjoyed rooting for Buck, and this was a great Buckhalter game — made plays when he had his chance, made sure he ran north and south, and did it with a big smile.  Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.

Guys we couldn’t be happier for, Part 2.  I take back everything I ever said about Dawkins being done (though that was mostly in August/ September).  I liked GCobb’s comments about Dawk: essentially that Dawk’s game yesterday will be featured prominently in his Hall of Fame resume.  Yup.  Keep talking.

Guys we couldn’t be happier for, Part 3.  Sheldon Brown, good for you.  We thought you might have fallen into a pick by accident by this point, but hey, we’re glad you got one before the season was over.

Discussions we’ll no longer entertain.  Don’t want to hear it about Tony Romo.  Nope.  Not a word.  Until he wins any sort of game that matters, we’re not allowed to call him the best quarterback in the division.  He’s the third-best quarterback in the division.  At best.  Sure, the sample size is small, but it sure looks like Tony Romo has failed in every playoff situation he’s faced.  I’ll look forward to his skewering in the national media.

What you saw if you were at the bar with me.  So when Michael Bush broke the long run for the Raiders, the noises I was making might be best described as “uninterested porn star simulating orgasm.”  I was one of about three people watching the Tampa game at that point (in a packed bar); I think folks were a little taken aback.

Other things mentioned at said bar.  “Is that the same Ryan Moats who just scored for Houston?”  Why yes!  I suppose it is!

Better late than never.  I guess we can’t call Chris Clemons a bust signing if he shows up and delivers in the biggest game of the year.

Things we’ve already talked ourselves into.  A wild-card team with a hot defense can actually reach and/ or win the Super Bowl.  Seems to be how it goes down these days.  We get to think that for at least the next six days.  And that’s a glorious thing.

Dunavin talked about his feelings.   You know what, Big Five, you get to crow a little bit after yesterday.  You earned it.  In re: the constant criticism he faces, McNabb gave us the following in his post-game presser:

“We’re human beings, you get tired of it, but you never let them see you sweat. And you never show that it bothers you because you kill them with kindness, and when you kill them with kindness and you go out and you do your job, people understand that it never really affects you.”

Let it out, big fella.  Let it all out.

The return of Shawn Andrews?  So he’s not on IR (still).  Might the Big Kid actually get a look in a playoff game?  Huh.

I remain baffled and giddy regarding yesterday.  Go Birds.

A theory
Posted on December 28th, 2008 at 5:51 pm by Cheesesteak Hoagie

We focused all week on how the timing of today’s game would likely demotivate the Eagles. What we didn’t think about was that the Cowboys might have assumed that the Birds would quit(!).

That is, they didn’t expect a real game.

Oh boy.

Ummmmmmm, so this is awesome
Posted on December 28th, 2008 at 5:42 pm by Cheesesteak Hoagie

Birds up 24 at halftime?

I’m…at a loss. This is phenomenal.

Game On
Posted on December 28th, 2008 at 4:11 pm by Cheesesteak Hoagie

Bring it.

Thank you, Michael Bush. Thank you, Al Davis. Thank you, Jeff Garcia.

Combinations and Permutations
Posted on December 28th, 2008 at 1:23 pm by Cheesesteak Hoagie

So I think karma and the Oakland Raiders owe us one, especially w/r/t the Bucs.

That is, I still consider that 2002 Super Bowl the one that got away from the Birds.  Whomever showed up to play the Raiders and their batsh*t crazy/ AWOL center and overmatched coach was going to win.  It was lined up for the Eagles, and they screwed it up.  For that injustice, I demand that karma amend its previous decision and hook us up with a giganto upset in Tampa today.  I demand!

The problem is 13.5 points (the spread in the Tampa game).  The other games of interest (Bears - Texas, Vikings - G-Men) seem a bit more reasonable and potentially up for grabs.  But 13.5 is a lot.  A lot a lot.  Vegas does not seem to hold much hope for the Birds.  Nor does the scheduling of these affairs do us any favors.

Still, it’s the NFL.  Goofy stuff happens, especially at the end of the season.  People get nervous and soil themselves.  Not just our favorite team.

Fingers crossed, let’s go Raiders.

Also, since I didn’t mention it earlier, the Cowboys can s*ck it.



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