What Would Buddy Do?
Unambiguous? Overwhelmingly the view of the fans, huh?
Posted on January 27th, 2009 at 12:46 pm by Cheesesteak Hoagie

Amidst the curiously significant volume of non-news in re: the Eagles, including a few pieces that I would have considered too much of a stretch for even a blog (that the players don’t care because they partied hard after a tough loss; an odd comparison of Eagles and Steelers fans), we have some fresh remarks from team president Joe Banner.

While the full interview won’t go public until tonight, CSN has released some excerpts, and it sure sounds like certain people who play certain positions are in the good graces of the senior leadership team these days:

“I thought and still think my answer was unambiguous. We thought that was important to clarify it because you don’t want those things to take on a life,” Banner said. “The reality is, my view and our view is unambiguous, that we can win a championship with those people, and they will be back. We believe we’re very lucky to have them. The good news is, that’s overwhelmingly the view of our fans. I know it doesn’t always come out that way, but Andy is a heck of a coach.”

To summarize, not only do we think Andy and Dunavin are doing a bang-up job, but we’ve also spoken to some of the customers, and they seem to be cool with these guys being the core features of the 2009 edition as well.

I actually think it’s kind of interesting that Banner was so confident regarding the view of the customers.  Do they poll?  Focus groups?  Or just check out the message boards and listen a bit to WIP and call it a day?  “Overwhelmingly” is a strong word.

****

By the way, we personally can’t get enough of Paul Domowitch’s ongoing class rage in re: NFL ownership and layoffs in various front offices.  Stick it to the man, Domo!  We can’t help but wonder how much of this rage is motivated by the precariousness of your own profession.

Wow. It’s getting pretty meta in here. We’d better embrace soon!
Posted on January 17th, 2009 at 2:11 pm by Cheesesteak Hoagie

Full slate of pressers on Friday, with Donovan McNabb, Brian Westbrook, and Brian Dawkins joining Friday regular Andy Reid at the podium.  With, ahem, a lack of fresh material for another full round of interviews, the topic of conversation kept to turning to the players and coaches’ relationship with the media and the fans, specifically what it will take for the city of Philadelphia to finally hug Andy Reid’s fat belly.

Showing the form that’s made them the scourge of the local press detachment, Andy Reid and Donovan McNabb had little to offer on the topic of Reid “being embraced” by the media and fans.  From Reid,

On what it takes to be completely embraced by this town and how he and Phillies Manager Charlie Manuel are “text” buddies: “Honestly, I don’t think about all that.  That’s for you guys to take care of.  Charlie’s (Manuel) a heck of a guy and a great manager and I just think he did a tremendous job.  We were supporting him 110 percent, our football team, and their baseball team has been great.  Our players are close and Charlie and I communicate and he did a great job.  I’m not going to get into all the comparisons and embrace myself.”

And then McNabb:

On what it will take for head coach Andy Reid to be fully embraced by Philadelphia: “That’s a question that I need to ask you. If we had the answer, then it wouldn’t be a problem. But, you know what? The thing about it is winning cures everything. When you’re winning, nobody digs deeper into finding much of what’s going on. I can personally tell you that we don’t get affected by what people may say on the outside too much. You use whatever you want as motivation and you move on. You can’t impress everyone. Not everyone is going to like you, but you just go out and you do your job and you enjoy doing it. That’s something that I can definitely say that hasn’t wavered by any means from Andy and it trickles down to the rest of us. You can’t let what people may say on the outside become a distraction of what you do here at your job.”

Right right.  These guys pay attention to their media training, so you can’t expect much more than that.  But maybe we’ll get something more interesting from Brian Dawkins, right?

On what he thinks it will take for head coach Andy Reid to be completely embraced by the city of Philadelphia: “You have to understand where we are. Here in Philadelphia they love you to death but they are still going to criticize you. They are still going to get on you. They are still going to ask questions. You have to have thick skin to play here, to coach here. Everybody can’t coach, everybody can’t play here. So obviously Andy is doing something that a lot of coaches could not succeed in by having thick skin, holding fast to what he believes in, and continue to move on. They are still going to question you regardless of success. As soon as you have a string of failure they are still going to question you, so you understand that. You just go out and do what you do and that’s what Andy has done; he has stayed the course in what he believes.”

Nope.  Maybe Brian Westbrook?:

On what it will take for head coach Andy Reid to be completely embraced by the city of Philadelphia: “I think everybody knows that Coach is a good coach. He’s done a great job here and in his ten years I want to say he’s one of the top two or three winningest coaches in that tenure. He’s done a great job for this team, and I also feel that he’s been great to the players here as well. Different people are always going to have something negative to say, but I think his players respect him and the people that know football respect him around the NFL and as a coach. I think that’s all you really can ask for. I think the fans are going to go up and down sometimes with the wins and losses. But, the true mark is how do you follow up those losses, and he’s done a great job of bringing this team back this year and now we’re playing for the NFC Championship and a lot has to do because of him.”

Though, in Westbrook’s defense, he did let down the guard a bit when they asked him the meta-question about how it feels to answer questions about his knee every week:

On whether he gets tired of answering the same questions every week: “It gets a little repetitive. I appreciate you bringing that up. It definitely gets a little repetitive, but my knee’s fine. I think, it hasn’t been said, but a lot of times, throughout games when you have injuries, you’re going to tweak your injury no matter what injury it is. This wasn’t the only game that I tweaked my knee, but it happens throughout football games.”

To summarize, no one can really say why the public doesn’t “embrace” Andy Reid (perhaps it’s because we all know that our arms would never make it all the way around his generous mid-section?), but Brian Westbrook is just as sick of answering the same questions as the press are of asking them.

Monday Eagles Hangover: come on, we were all looking past the Vikings
Posted on January 5th, 2009 at 6:29 pm by Cheesesteak Hoagie

djackvikings.jpg

Maybe the best part of this edition of Monday Eagles hangover is that…I’m not actually hungover!  At all! Note that said hangovers typically have little to do with alcohol consumption and more to do with my sensitive little bruised sports feelings. Said sports feelings are doing just fine today, thank you very much.

My day-after thoughts and bulletpoints:

Stay angry, big fella.  Surely after a season-vindicating playoff win against the Vikings, quarterback Donovan McNabb would be in an ebullient mood, no?  Oh wait.  Someone tried to ask Dunavin how he felt about Jeff Lurie’s comments regarding his future (which were all positive) at his post-game presser, and Dunavin essentially told them that he hopes that means they’ll stop asking him about it (not with a smile) and then cut off a follow-up question with “Nice try.”  He also bickered about the difference between wanting a meeting with the boss and wanting to stay in Philly.  I’d give you the quote but it wasn’t included in the transcription on the Birds’ site; this is the best I’ve got:

“Do you want to be back next year?” someone asked yesterday, reminding McNabb that he had asked for a sit-down with ownership when this season concludes.

“I’m here,” he said with a smile. “Excited.

“Nice try.”

The important thing is that the quarterback continue to think that everyone hates him and the only way he can really stick it to us is by winning many football games.  Keep it up!

Per lo usual, Sheldon Brown speaks the truth.  Nice work by BGN on picking this Sheldon Brown quote out of a post-game interview with Sal Pal:

I would never want to disrespect the Vikings by looking past them… but I kinda knew, we all did that it would come down to a rematch with the Giants.

Sheldon, I couldn’t agree with you more.  That was the thinking that led me to opt out of a flight to Minnesota in the hopes that the Eagles would play the Giants in my backyard here in New York the following week.  And it all worked out.  Excellent.  Let us also note that said ticket for the G-Men game was purchased by 11 pm last (Sunday) night.

And who says Andy Reid doesn’t pay attention to his critics?  From today’s day-after press conference:

On whether he stuck with the run yesterday in order to slow their pass rush: “Yeah, we were trying to get it going. (Jokingly) I can’t even believe that you asked that question, but I kind of feel good that you did. We tried to keep it as balanced as we could so I wouldn’t have to answer that question, but that’s all right.”

Outstanding.  Really.  Outstanding.  For everyone: the reporters, Big Red himself, all of them.  Still, even Andy Reid will have to admit that answering the same question about running the ball is better than the lot of the quarterback (”Dunavin, for the twentieth time, how did you feel about being benched and will you be back next year?”).

What made this not the Washington game.  You could argue that the offense struggled at times yesterday.  They did, especially running the ball.  But the difference for the team yesterday was that they caught the ball.  How many drops were there?  (Dawkins and Sheldon Brown don’t count.  We might even argue that Matt Schoebel shouldn’t count.)  And not all those catches were easy.  The wideouts were actually excellent catching the ball, and Brent Celek reminded us all why it’s so important that L.J. Smith rest up for free agency.  That makes a difference — sure makes Dunavin look good.

Speaking of, in re: tight ends.  L.J. Smith didn’t show up in the injuries portion of Andy Reid’s presser today, and no one asked about him.  Is he okay?  Or has he already been sent to gulag?

Guys who are growing up before our eyes.  Sure looked like Trevor Laws got more than a couple snaps on first down yesterday.  And was that Chris Gocong busting throw the line and blowing up running plays?  I thought that was what that Stewart Bradley fellow did?  And it definitely looks like Demps is going to be trusted a fair amount against the Giants as well, given that he was on the field in the three-safety alignment against the Vikings (you know, the one where the $57 million guy gets a break?).  Here’s to hoping that Demps doesn’t let any deep balls get behind him on the play fake (fingers crossed).

Go Birds.

Sorry for the lack of posts today.  We’ve had some connectivity issues, and the day job beckoned.  We’ll make it up later in the week.

Eagles - Vikings Game Preview: don’t pretend you know what we’re getting today
Posted on January 4th, 2009 at 11:38 am by Cheesesteak Hoagie

Well none of us are going to pretend we expected this.  Sure, we could envision this, but to expect this would have been a bit strong after the Washington game.  The Eagles are actually in the playoffs.

So, are they any damn good?

That’s the thing about the Eagles game today.  We don’t actually know what the narrative of this season is yet.  Is is the “Eagles go on a run like 2006 (Washington game is ‘just a blip’)” or is it “Eagles stumble into playoffs, but are who we thought they were”?  If they win today, many many sins will be forgiven — even if they lose the following week.  Then they’re good but not good enough, and that’s a lot better than we thought we’d get in mid-November.  If they lose today, especially if they do so in one of the ways to which we’ve become accustomed, well, then they were essentially last year’s team with a better punt returner: good on paper, but bad when it matters.

I wouldn’t be completely shocked if the Eagles didn’t show up at all today, but I don’t think it’ll happen.  Rather, I think that there’s a compelling reason why it might not happen: the Eagles defense.  But more about that in a bit.

What I’ll be shouting about in re: today’s big Wild Card Game:

Your storylines.  It’s a little overwhelming (and by overwhelming, I mean that it makes writing a preview really challenging) when your team makes the playoffs in re: the clear national storylines.  As in, (1) Jim Johnson versus Tavaris Jackson (must include reference to total available quantity of blitzes), (2) Can the suddenly elite Eagles’ defense contain Adrian Peterson, (3) Teacher-versus-Pupil.  What’s sweet is that I feel good about each of those.  And the thing that worries me most is just that they go out and throw it 48 times.  Andy Reid, you haunt me!

Storylines we refuse to consider.  You’re not allowed to say, “This is an extremely close game in simulations with the Eagles winning just under 51 percent of the simulations. The key to the game is turnovers,” in an article entitled “Intel Report” on ESPN.  Generally speaking, I think blathermonkeys should be fired on the spot for uttering the phrase, “The key to the game is turnovers.”  The key to scoring is touchdowns and field goals.  The key to defense is tackling.  Yes.  It’s all true!

Fan storyline that’s a bit odd.  I assume most of you are like me in that you feel good about defense and special teams, and have no idea what we’re getting from the offense.  It’s worth noting that said offense set the franchise record for points scored…and I still don’t think we’re remotely irrational for not trusting them.

The last time these guys played in January.  The future Mrs. BountyBowl got us tickets for the game as a Christmas gift, circa December 2004.  This was a very clever strategy of hers for currying my affections.  Seemed to have worked out for everyone.  F***ing cold that day, though!

Hip, whatever.  The Birds paid a lot of money for Asante Samuel.  Mr. Samuel has traditionally been very successful in elimination games (save for an awkward moment along the sideline last February).  It’d be lovely if he felt compelled to demonstrate his penchant for the big moment against the Vikings.  Also, I’m pretending that the injury thing is an illusion.

Speaking of, he doesn’t need to play.  L.J. Smith has his impending free agency to worry about.  Let’s cut the guy some slack and let him get healthy.  It’s for the best.

The CamelCased One.  What a wonderful opportunity for young Master DeSean to go out and demonstrate he has a feel for the big moment (and redeem himself for the Washington game) than to make a play against the absolute worst punt coverage team in the league?  Very tempting, no?  We’d hate to think the kid had issues with the spotlight.

Speaking of wideouts.  Both Kevin Curtis and Reggie Brown made circus catches against the Vikings when the Eagles played there last year.  A similar effort this afternoon would augur well for the Birds’ chances.

Jared Allen is scary, though not as scary as Demarcus Ware.  I think Allen will be slightly more dangerous than Ware was last week if only because Ware’s team completely quit.  But if the Birds can handle Ware, why not Allen?  (That said, I think Allen is excellent.)

Adrian Peterson is scary, though not as scary as Brian Westbrook.  Sure, AP (”Purple Jesus”) is a megastar guy who has a chance to be the best back of his generation.  But in a game that matters I feel extremely good about a Brian Westbrook, and not just because he might be the single smartest guy on the field.  He’s also good at not getting tackled!

Eagles thoughts from during the Cards - Falcons game.  While I know it’s not for everyone, it sure looks like you can run your offense through a couple dominant wideouts.  Those guys are good.

Eagles thoughts from during the Bolts - Colts game.  This was actually painful to watch for me, if only because there were so many little plays that almost but didn’t quite go the Chargers’ way (at least until the coin toss!).  Lots of dropped picks, bad bounces, that sort of thing.  It’s rare that I can feel like an Eagles fan watching another team.  Thanks, Chargers!

Things I’m glad I haven’t thought about in weeks.  How about that David Akers!  Doesn’t seem to be struggling any more.  And he’s got to feel good about a dome.

No one believes in you, Donovan.  I hope Mr. McNabb is on his laptop this morning reading the InterWebs just so he knows that NO ONE BELIEVES IN HIM.  Nope.  Not a one.  And the ONLY WAY HE CAN STICK IT TO THE FICKLE DOUBTERS is to play the game of his life.  That’s the only way you can really get us, Donovan.  Seriously.  It’ll totally piss us all off, because we don’t really like you and don’t want you to succeed.

Cardboard Box.  One of the things that makes me feel confident about the game today is that I think the Eagles actually will get the speed of the playoff game.  That is, there are a few guys on the field for the Eagles who won’t be intimidated by the moment and will come out playing fast.  Mostly I’m thinking that Brian Dawkins and/ or Sheldon Brown isn’t going to be afraid to endanger themselves in order to announce their presence with authority in the first few minutes of the game.  And now, because I can’t help it, is the link.  Treat yourself.

Game prediction. I think that the defense is going to show up this week for the Eagles, and that if the Birds can get it to 20 points they should be chill.  The problem is that I can’t really speak for the offense.  I think they could be awful.  I think it’s important that the Eagles wide receivers play well.  That means getting open and it means catching the ball.  Eagles 20, Vikings 13.

Andy Reid eats when stressed. You don’t say.
Posted on January 3rd, 2009 at 9:21 pm by Cheesesteak Hoagie

Ashley Fox offered a rather alarmist (at least from Tammy Reid’s perspective) walk down memory lane in the Philly papers this morning regarding Andy Reid and Brad Childress’s relationship and history.  Whilst these two guys might be buddies, Childress doesn’t seem to have mastered the art of saying absolutely nothing/ revealing no details in interviews.  In fact, Childress was more than happy to discuss Big Red’s health openly:

“There are two stand-alone factors in heart disease: smoking and obesity,” Childress said the other day, sitting in his office at the Minnesota Vikings’ practice facility in suburban Minneapolis. “Forget everything else. Your ticker can be good, blood pressure good, but those are separate drags on the spectrum.

“It’s amazing the discipline [Reid has] in every other area, but you’ve got to bend somehow, I guess, and that’s it. I hear him breathing through it. I hear the same thing, and it’s scary.”

Oh, so you’re saying Andy Reid is overweight and is a bit of a mouth breather?  Well well well.  You’re kind of bald and fugly looking!  So you’re not perfect either!

Childress also gave Fox a nice compare-and-contrast on the two men’s respective vices:

Childress used to smoke. Who knows why he started? Maybe it was stress or a mid-life crisis. Some men buy sports cars when they turn 40. Childress bought a pack of Marlboros.

So he gets it. Even though he sucked down his last cigarette outside of the Rose Bowl in early 1999, Childress understands that even the toughest or most resilient man needs an outlet.

“I could have gone to Philadelphia and gotten a cigarette anywhere I wanted,” Childress said. “I thought 100 times inside the Vet, I could have walked out to any employee at any time day or night and said, ‘Hey, can I bum a smoke?’ and it would’ve been, ‘Yeah, Coach, here.’ ”

These days, Childress will have an occasional vodka. He understands that Reid isn’t a “closet put-a-dip-in-his-lip guy,” but that he “loves to cook, loves to eat,” Childress said. Everyone has something.

So, the big Mormon guy — whose religion rules out the drinking and smoking — is prone to the occasional beatdown at the buffet table?  REALLY?  We hadn’t noticed!  I thought he had some sort of glandular problem.  I’d like to note that I think that it’s a little odd that the Mormon thing didn’t get mentioned in the article — is it uncool to connect the “not drinking or smoking but overeating” to the guy’s religion?  Maybe?  I dunno.

Also, if I was Childress I would ease up with the vodka chitchat; that’s the second one I’ve seen this week.

Bonus trivia question: what’s Andy Reid’s favorite food (according to a presser from two years ago that I’ll claim to remember)?  Answer tomorrow morning.

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.

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.

Eagles - Cowboys Game Preview: immanetize the eschaton
Posted on December 28th, 2008 at 11:32 am by Cheesesteak Hoagie

Much like Andy Reid and the Eagles, we’re playing this game preview straight.  Now is not the time to fret about playoff scenarios and the likely end of some very very very impressive Eagles’ careers.  Now is the time to focus on the Cowboys game and the last couple days of coverage in the papers.  We’ll have time later (and by “later” we mean “in thirty minutes”) for a lengthy discussion of our sports feelings and the end-of-days scenarios for our favorite players.

What we’re talking about today:

The new kid might also be a choke artist (!).  In what might be a hint of blathermonkey/ fan angst for years to come, we had a volley of DeSean Jackson coverage rounding out the end of the holiday week.  The CamelCased One is certainly primed to be the next star for this team, and as such will need to shoulder a fair amount of heavy scrutiny for the next couple years.  While it’s great to hear that he’s the team’s playmaker (which we’d been pushing for a while) and that Andy Reid expects him to make plays, catch the ball, all that, the thing that’s nagging me about DeSean is that maybe he gets nervous too.  That is, he dropped the ball with the game/ season on the line.  For the franchise whose quarterback famously puked in the Super Bowl, it’s not exactly sweet that the alleged best player on our team for the next few years appears to get nervous at the end of the game.  Not to panic, but I think it’s fair to be be VERY VERY disturbed by this.

Everyone’s favorite Eagle.  Fittingly, L.J. Smith won’t play today (listed as doubtful), in what has to be his final game as an Eagle.  How appropriate!  Topics that merit revisiting after the season: how terrible a decision was it to bring back L.J. Smith?  The cynics amongst us can pin at least two-and-a-half Eagles’ losses indirectly to him (Chicago, both Washington games).  What if a Terminator came back through time and prevented the Eagles from franchising him last year?  Would the Birds have won one more of those games?  Sort of like a retroactive roster abortion?

End of days, Part 1.  So now it looks like conventional wisdom has Dunavin coming back for the Eagles next year.  Sweet.  There.  I said it.  Also, that was about the only thing I got right in this set of mid-season predictions. By the way.  Though I was close on B-West not breaking 900 yards rushing (he’s at 886 right now) and Shawn Andrews not playing another down.

End of Days, Part 2.  So Dawk has to be back next year, no?  He made the Pro Bowl, which is probably partially a lifetime achievement/ he’s a popular guy around the league thing, but still.  He’s at least going to be in camp.    And those bitter, bitter comments from Tra Thomas.  Wow.  I hope he isn’t pissed on his way out.  GREAT Eagle.  Runyan too.  Big sigh.  We’ll have more time for this in the next few weeks.

Speaking of, an offseason of villainy.  Remember the guys who cut Duce Staley and Jeremiah Trotter?  Yeah.  They’re back.  Get ready to turn your hatred on the front office.

This week’s blathertariat non-story.  So the quarterback is telling people he’s played well.  Uh huh.  So maybe his delivery wasn’t perfect, but, um, doesn’t everybody do that?  That is, when you hand in your performance review at work, do you tell everyone you think you sucked?  Didn’t get the kerfuffle here.  What I thought was interesting was how Andy Reid addressed the non-story on Friday:

“He has done very well. I think, statistically, when you look at it, he has done a nice job. The only stat I really care about, however, is that the team plays well. That’s the most important thing right now. I think when and if you take that statement he made out of context, and you really know what Donovan is all about, he’s about the football team. If you finish reading the whole quote, I think he finishes up where I don’t see that as a negative statement.”

So no one asked Andy Reid if he thought Dunavin’s self-assessment was negative.  But Reid’s answer indicates that he realizes how the comment was chewed up and digested by the media, to the point that he suggests that it may have been taken out of context (”If you finish reading he whole quote…”).  So Andy Reid realizes that the press are trying to make a story out of this, but he won’t say that outright, though he still will give the politically correct answer.  Eerie.  The Birds’ media team definitely prep him for these things.  Or (most disturbingly), he reads it himself.  Reason number 467 that the Philly media is a lot of work to deal with (also why we love said media).

Speaking of, it’s been a long year for the press too.  Went through the game previews this morning.  That’s just some cold shit from Les Bowen right there:

Let’s say everything the Eagles need to happen earlier in the day happens. Are they then going to beat a divisional foe to close the deal? What’s their record in the division again (1-4)? Their coach thinks he could have run it “a few more times” after abandoning the balance that brought him a three-game win streak, calling pass plays, disastrously, 16 times in a row in the second half last week. The quarterback who can’t quite produce a game-winning drive when the chips are down thinks he’s had a “great” year and would just like to mention, with the season on the line, that he could use a new contract.

Bah, humbug.

Yikes.  These people all need a vacation from each other.

My own prediction.  Since it’s my blog and this might be the last Eagles game for a while, I’m treating myself to the twin fantasies of (a) the game actually mattering and (b) the Eagles playing well.  We’ll pretend that the Cowboys aren’t the Eagles’ superiors on both sides of the line and that the Birds haven’t been atrocious within the division this year.  Instead we’ll focus on Tony Romo struggling this time of year and imagine that the Eagles will make a couple big plays on special teams (hey, why not).  Birds prove that they aren’t just last year’s 8-8 team (or even 8-7-1) with a better punt returner: Eagles 27, Cowboys 23.

(Immanetize the eschaton definition link, in case you were wondering.)

Domo gets it almost, but not quite, correct in re: the pressers
Posted on December 24th, 2008 at 12:05 pm by Cheesesteak Hoagie

Real, real solid piece in today’s papers by Paul Domowitch about the incident in Detroit with journalist Rob Parker and Lions’ coach Rod Marinelli

Domo did a nice job of tethering the Detroit kerfuffle to the ongoing frustrations of Eagles’ fans (and the local balthertatriat) with the tone of Andy Reid’s interactions with the press.  Certainly worth a read.  Domo explains that he gets a lot of e-mail demanding that he and the rest of the blathertariat ask tougher questions of Reid, and insists that he and others actually do ask tough questions.  Domo gets most of it correct — I certainly believe that they ask tough questions — though I don’t entirely buy his characterization of the pressers (below): 

Once upon a time, nobody paid much attention to coaches’ news conferences unless somebody was being hired or fired or comparing the feeling of a loss to someone breaking into his home and sodomizing his wife and kids (Ray Rhodes).

That was before Comcast SportsNet. That was before the Internet and video streams and YouTube.

Now, news conferences have become reality shows. People watch them every week the same way they watch “The Hills” and “Flavor of Love.” They are looking for action. They are looking for confrontation.

After a loss, they don’t want no stinkin’ tough questions. They want my Daily News colleague Les Bowen throwing a shoe at Big Red. They want Comcast SportsNet’s Derrick Gunn giving him the finger. They want Bob Grotz, of the Delaware County Daily Times, asking him why his wife insists on sitting in on every damn postgame news conference, home and away.

They want Rob Parker or somebody like him stirring the pot and trying to make the coach lose his cool and say something he’ll later regret.

Now that’s real hard-hitting journalism.

So what he seems to be arguing is that the people don’t actually want tough questions in the press conference — they crave histrionics.  And Rob Parker is giving them exactly what they want: tabloid sports coverage (akin to “The Hills” etc). 

Some comments here:

1.  There is nothing more boring than listening to the reporters complain about the press conferences.  We’ve been over this before.

2.  I don’t consider it outrageous at all to characterize sports as cheap reality TV.  I mean, maybe not cheap — this thing has a HUGE TV contract, but let’s not forget that this is all entertainment, and it can rightly be described as Brad-and-Angelina for the Male 18-to-54 set. 

3.  I think the argument above makes sense for the out-of-town fans.  Did I watch the Marinelli clip on YouTube (after seeing links on The Big Lead and Deadspin and PFT)?  Of course I did.  (Same as the Shaun Ellis snowball thing, etc etc.)And I love the trashy tabloid stuff on those sites — but only when it’s not the team I care about.  For the national audience, this stuff sells.  

4.  For the local stories, I’m going to have to accuse Domo of not giving us enough credit.  Or, rather, of generalizing a bit.  I watch all the pressers.  All of them.  They’re my favorite TV show.  What can I say — I really like the Eagles, and I love that I get direct access to their content.  And I watch them so that I can make my own decisions about what the guys running the team are thinking and saying.  I don’t want incidents (though I giggle when they ask Dunavin about smiling too much — that kills me). 

4a.  Still, I listen to WIP, and I know that the tasts of the fans are…diverse.

5.  The unspoken/ unexplained element of Domo’s article is that the broadcast of those pressers further disintermediates an already threatened local press corps.  That is, why do we need them to take careful notes and write a story in the paper if we can watch/ read the precise quotes on the Birds’ site?  With the live video, the blogs, the local TV coverage — all of this threatens something that was once a differentiator for the local print media: access to the press conferences.  They still have the locker room, but Dave Spadaro and co. are working hard to film a lot of those interviews as well. 

5a.  And in a world where the newspaper biz is on life support (I assume I don’t have to explain why?), I have to feel for a guy like Domowitch: a total pro whom I respect a ton but whose world is imploding around him.  There will not be a Daily News and an Inquirer in 18 months (probably sooner, in all honest); there will be one local newspaper, and it’ll be thinner and lighter on local coverage.  So we feel for you, Domo, we do.  You guys deserve a bit better.       



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