What Would Buddy Do?
Make that extra gravy on mine: Eagles beat Vikings, advance to Divisional Playoffs
Posted on January 4th, 2009 at 9:45 pm by Cheesesteak Hoagie

Suh-weet.

Absent a complete meltdown next week against the Giants (something along the lines of what happened to Dallas last week), the 2008 Eagles season has brought me considerable happiness and I shall remember it fondly.  Sure, they snuck into the playoffs, but they won a post-season game.  Remember how hard it was to do that 20 years ago?  Now we’ve done it 7 of the last 9 years.  Can’t complain too much about that.  If making the playoffs was all gravy, then we all just got a second helping.  Yum.

In the short term, I’m just psyched to get another week of thick Eagles media coverage.  Lay it on thick, national media — there’s no end to the amount of Eagles content I can consume.

My quickie post-game thoughts (minimally ordered):

What a difference a year makes — Birds’ special teams play well.  Take a bow, Rory Segrest, because the Eagles were great on special teams.  David Akers was very sharp, the kickoff coverage was solid, and DeSean Jackson had a big day returning punts.  If I had any complaint about the special teams, it was a that a hyped-up Quintin Demps abandoned his typical just-go-straight return style on the opening kickoff and tried to run around the corner of the coverage.  Come on Quintin, only the other guy gets to do that.

Speaking of young Master DeSean.  Really nice game from the rookie in his playoff debut — he even blocked on the Westbrook TD.  Still, I wonder if he gets a special talking-to from Andy Reid about yapping in Brad Childress’ face after his second long punt return?  Maybe he was telling Childress to quit hassling Big Red about his figure?  Or to go easy on the vodka tonight?

The Vikings DEs came to play.  We’ll avoid the angle that notes that the Eagles’ aging tackles had a long day out there and instead focus on the excellent play of the Vikings’ two defensive ends, who consistently got pressure on McNabb and played the run well.  Those guys were impressive.

The jokes about Brad Childress being as clumsy with the clock management as Andy Reid.  Yeah, I guess that stuff is all true.  Huh.  Very comforting to see someone else screw up.

Our favorite camera angle.  Due to some tough field position for the Birds, we were treated to the back-of-the-end-zone punter cam for a couple Donovan McNabb throws.  Very very cool.  Also, unlike the Washington game, McNabb was great inside his ten.

Speaking of Donovan.  He was sharp today.  The turnovers were tough, especially the misguided/ I-think-I’m-tricky-like-Peyton-Manning pick, but he made some extremely tough throws on third down.

A new candidate for the single-best play of the season (which looks a lot like the single-best play of the 2007 season).  That screen pass was glorious.  Ten guys blocking, Westbrook making a huge play (after a pretty tough day to date), random offensive linemen being heroes (how about that Nick Cole with two big blocks AND a little hop over a defender), and even the wideouts helping him home.  Looked a lot like that play against Washington last year.

All Chris Clemons does is make internet video highlights.  Clemons was very good again this week, and managed to make the Youtube highlight reel by body-slamming Tavaris Jackson.  Already been posted.

Things that went as well as we could have hoped and with which we cannot argue.  Dawk dropping a signature welcome-to-the-playoffs hit on Peterson; Asante Samuel pulling the quick six; and the Eagles holding the Vikings under 17 points; the Eagles advancing to a game at the Meadowlands (which means I get to go).

Things that worry us.  The red-zone offense.  The inability to solve the Vikings defense in the first half.  The continued struggles running the ball (but at least they tried!).

Man, that was cool.

(Early line is Giants favored by 4.)

Tuesday Eagles Hangover: Well, that was mellow
Posted on December 16th, 2008 at 11:30 am by Cheesesteak Hoagie

SEXYTIME

The first sign that this was going to be a low-stress affair in South Philly was the complete absence of traffic at the Lincoln Tunnel at 5:45 on a weekday.  We actually thought something was wrong (a bomb?  the tunnel was closed?).  Nope.  Nothing wrong, and nothing but a smooth ride all the way down the turnpike.  Said smooth ride continued in the stadium, as the Birds cruised in a game that was completely lacking in any sort of anxiety and/ or drama.  About the most stressful moment of the whole affair was the part where we walked up the wrong stairs to get to our seats and had to watch the Curtis TD from behind a Miller Lite cart.

Other talking points and observations:

Dunavin was sharp sharp sharp.  It didn’t hurt that the Browns didn’t really manage to pressure him all that well, but he seemed to really enjoy playing against the Browns’ zone.  That was definitely a you-only-get-to-see-this-in-the-stadium sort of thing, but McNabb and the Eagles receivers were extremely methodical about gaining 10-15 yards in front of the Browns’ safeties and deep cover guys.  Of course, McNabb was also pretty sharp against the man defense that he saw (the extremely tight ball to Avant on the intermediate crossing route comes to mind).  Yeah, pretty solid stuff from the QB.

Slightly less solid stuff from Dorsey.  God bless that Ken Dorsey, but this looked really hard for him.  What balls he did complete were essentially bailouts from a very talented (and sure-handed, at least tonight) Braylon Edwards.  Both picks were pretty bad (balls thrown directly to Eagles), and Hanson should have had a third (which was slightly less bad).  We shouldn’t make fun, because this sort of thing can/ has happened to the Birds as well.  Somewhere, Mike McMahon was reliving 42-0 at home on Monday night in 2005.

Why were people booing Stallworth?  Lots of boos for Donte Stallworth.  What did Stallworth do to offend us?  I didn’t get that.  Hank Fraley was at least the guy who snitched on Dunavin puking in the Super Bowl (until the video tape also snitched on Dunavin puking in the Super Bowl).  As I remember it, Stallworth was a solid part of the 2006 team, which I believe we should all remember fondly.  Then the Eagles said thanks-but-no-thanks and he signed with another team.  Um, that’s chill.  I don’t get it.

Shaking head, staring at ground.  Big double-you-tee-eff in re: Asante Samuel “pulling a D-Jack.”  Who do you think has the least patience for that sort of thing in the Eagles’ locker room (after Andy Reid)?  I have to assume it’s Runyan, right?  As in, he goes over and picks up Samuel by the scruff of his neck and reminds him to “Never f*cking do that again”?  The only cool part of that play was that my buddy got a GREAT photo of it in realtime — we’ll post it as soon as he sends them out.  Very very solid work, and the folks sitting near us appreciated our own instant replay.

Speaking of DJack.  I know it worked in the Redskins game, and we all appreciate his boyish confidence out there.  But dude, enough with the “It’s just like college and I’m fast enough to loop around the back side of the punt coverage” sh*t.  Forward, young fella.  Forward.

Just in case you thought the Eagles were perfect and weren’t the same team from a month ago.  Can I roofie myself for the last two minutes of the first half of Eagles games from now on?  Is anyone keeping stats on this?  The Birds’ penchant for sniffing out and then embracing the most unlikely of calamities as the first half ends is uncanny.  And when you layer on the comical clock management and general level of disorganization, well, it’s just not very impressive.  The was covered thoroughly (and appropriately) in this morning’s papers.  A f*cking illegal formation penalty coming from a timeout?  Dude.

Speaking of the timeout.  The stadium announcer actually preemptively called timeout over the PA before Andy Reid got it in (and the Birds lost a few seconds as a result).  This prompted a discussion of having the “clock coach” just sit next to the PA guy and call Andy’s timeouts for him.  Just completely take it out of Reid’s hands and have the voice of God boom out the timeouts over the loudspeaker.  That way Andy can be pleasantly surprised by the appropriate use of the timeouts.

Three cheers.  To Jason Avant, for catching pretty much everything thrown his way, including some high-degree-of-difficulty snags.  To Trent Cole, for another dominant game on the left side of the line (I say this expecting him to get snubbed for the Pro Bowl).  And to B-Dawk, for breaking the team record for games played.  That’s just extremely classy.

Appropriate booing.  I mean, sure, it’s a small sample size, but, um, does Kevin Kolb look like the guy?  Maybe Dunavin has paid him off to throw picks in mop-up duty?  Dunavin’s owed like $9 million next season — you think it isn’t worth $20K to him to get Kolb to look terrible out there?  Or is Kolb just not very good?  One of those.   I’ve got a lengthy follow-up post coming on this topic.

The Birds defense (and the NFC East) warms my heart.  I really like what we’ve got going on in the NFC East right now in re: teams playing some nasty defense.  All four teams in the top 13 on Football Outsiders coming into this week, with Dallas the lowest-ranked team (the Cowboys D looked completely scary against the Giants last week).  Very old skool, very classy.

Go Birds.

Holy crizzap! The people on the talk radio were right!
Posted on September 5th, 2008 at 5:48 pm by Cheesesteak Hoagie

no go for Reggie Brown

Count me among the Eagles cognoscenti who thought that the whinging about the state of the wide receivers corps was the surefire sign of an unsophisticated Eagles/ football fan. Sure, everyone WANTS to have a top-flight wideout, but everyone should also want to have a top-flight corner, defensive end, running back, etc., and well, you can’t have everything. Those who insisted that the Eagles upgrade at wideout were still living in 2004 and hadn’t reset their expectations.

(Of course, we’ll discount the part where Andy Reid took a run at Randy Moss in February and where I’ve been lusting after Anquan Boldin. That means nothing!)

So don’t I feel a bit silly right now as the Eagles enter Week One without the services of their two presumed starters at wide receiver. Sure, they’re still 7.5-point favorites (can we really lay ALL those points on an Andy Reid team opening weekend?) and the backups are at least familiar with the team and the offense (with the exception of wunderkind DeSean Jackson), but, um, shouldn’t this be cause for concern? I’d be lying if I told you I wasn’t having horrific visions of Green Bay last September, and a Birds team that thought it could play without a punt returner.

I’ll admit that I have no idea who’ll actually catch the most balls on Sunday.  I needed to grab a Birds WR off the waiver wire (DeSean Jackson was already on a roster) in one of my imaginary football leagues, and I really didn’t know who to take.  Seriously.  I was at a total loss.  AND I READ THIS FREAKING STUFF NON-STOP.  My final analysis was that Avant was the best imaginary football bet (for some imagined red-zone value), even though the team seems to be higher on Baskett?  Anyone?  Seriously, I’m baffled here. 

We can only dream, as Rich Hoffman did earlier this week, that the absence of the starting wideouts will convince Andy Reid to play Big 8 football circa 1985.  If nothing else, it’ll help resurrect the “Eagles should run more” meme that’s been so noticeably absent this off-season.  Though I guess it’s tough to b*tch about playcalling when the Eagles haven’t called a play since December 2007.   

(My bad being offline the past day or so — lots of airplanes and not much free time.  We got some catching up to do this weekend!)

Trips to Arizona are for backups, the infirm, and informercial product placement
Posted on July 16th, 2008 at 3:00 pm by Cheesesteak Hoagie

the ab dollyAnd so with the annual visit to (and attendant reports from) Donovan McNabb’s pre-training-camp bonding throwdown at his place out in Arizona, as reported by Dunavin his own self via his blog.  Good to know that everyone’s spending some QT together and doing lots of crunches. 

Oh wait, not quite everyone.  Certainly not either of the starting wideouts or the Best Player On The Team.  I’ll speculate to say that the guys who are most interested in staying in 5’s good graces were the ones hopping that US Air (nee America West) flight to Phoenix.  As in, L.J. Smith, Avant, Baskett and Booker.  Certainly L.J. is going to need Dunavin on his side if he wants to have the big year required for him to Get Paid.  And the other guys are jockeying for spots on the depth chart. 

We don’t want to call it sucking up, but we would say that it’s certainly in one’s best interest to have the trust of the quarterback, and if earning that trust includes a four-hour flight and some obsequiousness in re: his cooking, so be it. (Read the rest of this story.)

Soft focus feature stories teach us all important lessons about gangs in Chicago
Posted on October 9th, 2007 at 7:54 pm by Cheesesteak Hoagie

I dont really know what this isSo I guess The Eagles Official Site is now in the needs-and-feelings feature story business? I thought even SI was cutting back on these things (in favor of more fantasy news, celeb-style coverage of athletes’ favorite foods, and, of course, straight-up boobs)? Isn’t the format a little tired? This thing even has sections separated by the little asterisk thingies (”*****”).

That said, I read today’s piece about Jason Avant, and walked away (predictably) thinking that he seemed “like a really solid guy” who’d “been through a lot.” Sure. Got that.

Of course, my other big takeaways were squarely focused in the “I didn’t know that about gangs” department. (Read the rest of this story.)