What Would Buddy Do?
Monday Eagles Hangover: Birds no longer in last place
Posted on December 8th, 2008 at 11:51 am by Cheesesteak Hoagie

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Well this is definitely the best Eagles Monday in a good long while (since the Pittsburgh win?).  It’s one thing to get a big road win to rejuvenate the season against the Best Team In The League (who also happens to be my least favorite team).  It’s quite another to live in the losing team’s city and get to spend your morning surveying the hometown headlines (very few of which were kind to the Giants): “Philadelphia Flattens Giants”; “Giants Back Into Playoffs” (editor’s note: 11-2 is backing in???); “Big Blue Butterfingers Shoot Selves In Foot.”

Excellent.

My morning-after thoughts:

You need to pin the Terminator down, remove its CPU chip, then burn the endoskeleton with that thermite plasma stuff.  So the Giants aren’t completely inhuman.  They hardly played their best game yesterday, and while they certainly didn’t try to make any excuses afterward, well, when your second-tier wideouts drop balls and your under-investigation MLB gets torched a few times, I mean, it doesn’t take much speculatin’ to conclude that maybe this whole Plaxico thing caused more problems than safety alignments from the opposition.  They’re still a strong team, but the NFC looks a lot less decided than it did a week ago.

The failures of the soon-to-be-selling-out-his-buddy Antonio Pierce (Part 4).  We were sitting at the other end of the stadium, so we couldn’t see that the first Westbrook TD (the run) was actually (at least partially) Pierce’s fault as well.  Damn.  ‘Tis the season for giving!

The rest of the story in the NFC.  For those of you boarding the Eagles bandwagon this morning (see you there!), we have reason for optimism: pretty much all the teams that the Eagles wanted to lose were willing to accommodate us.  I mean, the Birds still need to win all their games (no small feat), but still, they’re at least in the mix until they lose.  And that’s really all we’re asking from the football TV show: a relevant December.

Other consequences of a relevant December.  We get to stop talking about where Donovan McNabb will play next year.  Plenty of time for that in January/ February.

Brian Westbrook Mancrush Watch (Part 1).  Right, so all those things I said about Brian Westbrook’s age and deteriorating health?  Let’s remember that I don’t actually know what I’m talking about.  Let’s instead focus on the fact that Brian Westbrook is the Best Player On The Eagles and really the only one capable of stepping up and owning a game against the Giants.  He did it in 2006, and now he’s done it in 2008.

Brian Westbrook Mancrush Watch (Part 2).  I might suggest you go over to nfl.com and treat yourself to the highlight of the 40-yard TD reception.  My photo of the celebration below.  Note that this effort is currently scoring well in my top-three-plays-of-the-Eagles-season list.

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In an alternate universe. Man, it would have been a very very different game if Hixon had caught that deep ball. Sheldon Brown got beat on the play, but the safety who was supposed to be playing deep (and who was lined up WAY deep) was young Quintin Demps. He got sucked forward on the play (hence the acres of space in the middle of the field). I know this is the case because I was telling my buddy before that snap how excited I was to see Demps getting some reps, and how I thought he was a playmaker, blah blah blah. Oops. Still a rookie.

Speaking of rookies.  Very very quiet day for the CamelCased One, even with a dinged-up Kevin Curtis and a suddenly-on-the-verge-of-waivers Reggie Brown.  By the way, I effing hated that inside end-around thingie they ran to DeSean on third down in the first quarter.  That prompted lots of “Andy Reid has to be so f*cking cute doesn’t he” chitchat from yours truly.

I dunno, I’m still in a good mood.  Andy Reid presser coming soon; I hope he’s feeling jolly.

Eagles - Giants (Extended) Game Preview: Birds Salvation?
Posted on December 7th, 2008 at 10:06 am by Cheesesteak Hoagie

Well, it was kind of a disaster the last time I went to Giants stadium, both on the field and off.  The Eagles got clobbered, and my night may have included some unnecessary heroics.  Both the Eagles and I survived the evening, but only barely.  Thankfully, my then-fiancee was there to witness it, and she still married me.

(Winston Justice, never doubt the potential for forgiveness and redemption!  There’s hope for you yet!)

I wasn’t kidding when I dropped the Terminator jokes about the Giants this week.  That they played so well in the middle of all the nonsense last weekend was actually pretty unnerving.  Shouldn’t they have been at least a little bit distracted?  And to go on the road against a tough divisional team on Sean Taylor day, I mean, yikes.  THEY CANNOT BE REASONED WITH.  THEY DON’T FEEL PAIN.

(Speaking of Terminator, I hope everyone caught the new teaser trailer.  And that you’re enjoying The Sarah Connor Chronicles as much as I am, which is a lot.  If I have any complaint with the Terminator TV show, it’s that they’ve trivialized the act of killing a Terminator.  It used to take two full hours of feature film to kill a Terminator and entire city blocks were routinely destroyed in the process; now they kill one every other week on TV.  Anyhoo, no more killer-robot talk for now.)

If they actually show up and play well again this week, well then I think we can consider Tom Coughlin for Hank Paulson’s job.  It’s just very difficult to argue that Tom Coughlin isn’t doing the best coaching job in the NFL right now.  It’s impressive and commendable as a management exercise, and it’s not like I’m eager to say nice things about the Giants.  These guys are good.

Some talking points ahead of this afternoon’s game:

The 36 Chambers of B-West’s relative assessment of his health.  So early in the week Brian Westbrook was telling folks that this was the “best [he’d] felt” since the beginning of the year, but then he didn’t practice Thursday or Friday and was listed as questionable in the final injury report.  These two seem like contradictory conditions, unless you consider that “best [he’d] felt” means that Westbrook has been feeling “terrible” for most of the season and that the extra rest over Thanksgiving has given him the opportunity to feel “marginally better than he will for the next month of his life.”

The rest of the RBs.  No Buck, so the Birds will be one gimpy #36 ankle tweak away from Lorenzo Booker and Kyle Eckel gamely attempting to pick up Steve Spagnuolo’s blitzes.  I’m sure it’ll be fine.

Obligatory Plax impact.  Yup, Igglesblog had it right, it’s silly to pretend that the Giants won’t miss Plax.  Against some other teams, it’ll matter.  Against the Eagles, it shouldn’t, unless the Giants’ offensive line doesn’t play well.  That is, it makes sense that the Birds sell out against the run and hope their secondary can hang and Eli doesn’t have a big day in the cold and wind.  But I actually think that the Giants will still run well against a stacked Birds line.

That which I envy most about the Giants.  Having a dominant offensive line really does make a difference, doesn’t it.  Things that the Giants aren’t afraid to do include, but are not limited to, “running on third-and-1.”

That which I envy second most about the Giants.  It’s not that the Eagles are afraid to spend expensive draft picks on defensive linemen.  They just didn’t manage to pick Justin Tuck.  He’ll only be killing the Birds for the next five to six seasons.  While similarly branded, Victor Abiamiri and Trevor Laws aren’t quite the same thing (though both went higher in their respective drafts).

As dominant as the Giants’ defense is.  Huh, the Eagles actually have three more sacks than the Giants this year (the teams are 3 and 4 in the NFL rankings, respectively).  We’d all be very surprised if the Birds weren’t at least minorly successful against the Giants’ passing game.  I’m having happy flashbacks to the 2006 game at the Meadowlands that ended with Trent Cole returning a pick for a TD.  If nothing else, I expect we’ll be able to say nice things about the 2008 Eagles defense.

Do they show these ads everywhere?  The Eli Manning “Unstoppable” ones?  Please tell me I see these just because I live in New York.

Yup, I’m calling it the Meadowlands.  Doesn’t it seem like everyone’s a little slower on the Meadowlands’ turf?  Or do I just imagine too many late-season games when I think of the Meadowlands and everyone looks slower in the cold?

Guys I hope seem fast.  Wouldn’t it be lovely if young Master DeSean or Quintin Demps made a big play on special teams?  (I’m actually assuming that DeSean will be the Birds’ leading receiver tomorrow.  It’s his first time in New York — I think he appreciates the big stage.)

No one can say the Eagles aren’t getting their shot.  The season could end today at the Meadowlands.  Given that there are 3 games remaining, that would be, um, disappointing (though not entirely surprising).  Yet the Eagles probably won’t be the last team to have their season end on the road against the Giants.  Even if the Eagles explore the edges of quantum possibility and sneak into the playoffs, any significant success will involve a trip to the Meadowlands (yup, going to keep calling it that).  So today is as good a day as any to see if the Eagles are really anything more than last year’s 8-8 team (but with a better punt returner).

What I’m wearing.  20-30 mph winds at the stadium and temperatures in the 30s?  We’re going to need to layer.  Also, we’re going to hope that the Eagles don’t try to throw it 55 times.

End of the turnpike/ road.  We have to acknowledge that this is likely the last game that Donovan McNabb, Brian Dawkins, Jon Runyan, and Tra Thomas will play as Eagles at the Meadowlands.  It might be the last game that some of them play as an Eagle.  I’m happy to absorb some abuse in the stadium to see it live.

My predicted final score.  So I definitely like the Eagles to cover 7 points (if you’re interested in such things).  They got a couple extra days off, and this week’s events have to have some impact on the Giants, right?  But can the Eagles actually win?  I’m not convinced.  And I really really really wanted to be convinced.  There’s a best-case scenario where the Eagles bring everyone to the line of scrimmage and dare Eli to throw the ball against them in the wind and it somehow works.  The flip side of that scenario is that I don’t know how the Eagles are going to score in windy conditions either.  I just can’t believe that anything but the totally predictable will happen today.  That is, I can’t believe that the Eagles will stop the Giants from running and somehow manage to score a bunch of points on the Giants’ defense.  Final score: Giants 27, Eagles 21.

Off to Jersey and the ancestral homeland.  Go Birds.

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.

What’s all this about The Dread High Ankle Sprain?
Posted on November 19th, 2008 at 11:20 am by Cheesesteak Hoagie

Oh man, that Occam’s razor is a b*tch.

Amidst a week of Andy-and-Donovan-must-go, the most shocking news I’ve heard is the revelation that Brian Westbrook is more banged up than we may have thought. Whether it’s in pieces like this one or on Brian’s weekly radio show, it’s pretty evident that the Eagles’ erstwhile best player is hurting — and that he isn’t likely to get better any time soon.

There has even been mention of — gasp! — the Dread High Ankle Sprain, which we all know to be among the most mysterious and crippling of the football injuries.

A couple things here:

1. We’re not allowed to be shocked that the Eagles aren’t exceptional running the ball if the two guys who made the Pro Bowl last year — and who are pretty important in the running-the-ball thing — are missing or very banged up. This is the simplest answer. We are allowed to be shocked at the coach’s reaction to those events and his lack of a back-up plan. Even if you’re not exceptional, you still need to be effective.

2. I’m feeling exceptionally horrible for even suggesting the following a month ago, though it looks like it might be pretty true:

“Brian Westbrook never really gets healthy and rushes for fewer than 900 yards on the season (he’s at 194 after six games, so I’m saying he doesn’t break 70 yards/ game over the remaining ten).”

Yeah. Let’s not think about that too too much.

In other news, Dunavin faces the blathermonkeys shortly. I hope he has a plan for explaining away the tie thing. And I hope it has multiple references to being “ambushed” by “gotcha” questions from the “liberal elite.” Don’t ever let them see you sweat, big fella!

Monday Eagles Hangover: not with a bang, with a draw
Posted on November 17th, 2008 at 11:24 am by Cheesesteak Hoagie

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Right. So this one isn’t sitting any better the morning after, is it. It isn’t just the quirky ignominy of the draw (there will be no talk of “ties” here at BountyBowl; this was a draw), it’s also the part where the game was completely brutal to watch and lasted almost five freakin’ hours. I meant it yesterday when I said that this was the worst Eagles TV show in years. Just horrible.

Anyhoo, what we’re still stewing about:

Dunavin doesn’t know what a tie is. Obviously, too much will be made of this, but it’s pretty odd that he didn’t know the rules. I mean, I don’t know all the rules either (eligible receivers? that crap with Eli and the line of scrimmage last week?), but I knew there were draws. Huh. Maybe it’s the nomenclature that tripped him up — all this talk of “ties” is confusing. He should show up for his Wednesday presser and insist that he was just confused because he didn’t know the reporters were talking about a draw — which he was OF COURSE aware of.

Let’s start pointing fingers. About midway through the third quarter, my brother and I had the “it’s going to take 20 points to win this game” conversation. He was admittedly more convinced that the Eagles defense would continue to hold than I was, but I guess I was more optimistic about the offense. Turns out he was a lot more right than I was. The offense was horrible yesterday, and the blame for the loss is squarely on them. Now let us all look forward to kickoff week for the the-playbook-is-stale meme.

More finger pointing. McNabb is going to take a ton of heat this week, for good reason. Bring it on. But it sure looks like other guys are struggling a ton too. I hate to blaspheme in re: the Eagles erstwhile best player, but Westbrook is not the player he was in 2007. And he may never be that guy again.

Even more finger pointing. So if it gets to “that point” where we’re talking about making changes to get guys experience and whatnot (and oh are we close), can we take a peek at what the Eagles offensive line of the future is going to look like? As in, with new tackles? Might as well get the nasty bits out of the way this season, right?

And just to make sure we don’t give the offense any credit at all. Don’t forget that the TD play was a screwup. McNabb and Westbrook were arguing about where Westbrook should stand up until the snap — they were lucky they didn’t earn a penalty for that. They were also pretty lucky that the improvised crap of a play they ran worked.

Pre-game predictions #1. I asked for a big game from the home-town kid, and he delivered. Trent Cole represented in a big way out there. Woe be unto that poor kid who was trying to block him in the first half (though of course it’s a shame he got hurt).

Pre-game predictions #2. I had begged that the Eagles “screw up” in a “new and innovative way.” A 13-13 draw definitely counts as a new and innovative way to screw up. Congrats, guys!

Pre-game predictions #3. Did I say Dunavin would throw it three dozen times? I meant to say 58 (!!!!!).

If we’re going to make excuses. I thought TJ Houshmandzadeh played a phenomenal game yesterday. Returning punts too? Yikes. He really wanted to win. Also, the Benglas were coming off the bye. (Also the Eagles are mediocre.)

Thank you Shayne Graham. Um, we complain about the tie now, but were it not for the Bengals crapulence, it would have been a loss. Anyhoo.

Hate to keep saying this, but it’s just last year’s 8-8 team, but with a better punt returner.

Oh wait, make that 7-8-1.

Monday Eagles hangover: I need something greasy
Posted on November 10th, 2008 at 11:53 am by Cheesesteak Hoagie

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Okay, we’ve all had the chance to sleep off last night’s loss to the Giants. And…yeah, it still isn’t sitting well. The response to the game has justifiably focused on some of the Eagles’ decision-making in the second half, but hey, let’s not be stingy with the blame — there was plenty to frustrate fans in last night’s game.

Some additional subheads from the Giants’ game:

So much for the post-World Series afterglow.  Baseball?  World Series?  Chase Utley?  Cole Hamels?  That’s all well and good, but ANDY REID WASTED HIS CHALLENGES!  THE MIDDLE-OF-THE-ROAD EAGLES LOST TO THE DEFENDING-CHAMP GIANTS!  PANIC!  DESPAIR!

What did Dunavin think about the coach’s play-calling at the end of the game? The first words out of McNabb’s mouth in his post-game presser were “I want the ball.” Couldn’t agree with you more, big fella. It was surprisingly impolitic from Big Five, but hey, they can write that sort of comment off as “All competitors want the ball in big situations, yadda yadda yadda.”

More Dunavin, pukey edition. I assume everyone else cracked wise as the Eagles let the clock tick down to the two-minute warning as Dunavin was visibly panting on screen? Something along the lines of “At least he didn’t puke”? I think Michaels and Madden even joined in.

Final Dunavin comment (the “It wasn’t all his fault” division). McNabb was not excellent last night, but I actually had a little bit of hope in the fourth quarter that he might pull something together. Silly me! That hasn’t happened in YEARS! Still, as much as we can get down on McNabb, I thought the Matt Mosley piece on ESPN was a bit wrongheaded:

On this night, even the most ardent McNabb apologists were sent scrambling for higher ground. He was 17 of 36 for 194 yards and three touchdowns, but don’t let that last number fool you. His interception in the second quarter was as bad as you’ll see in the NFL, a league that Brad Johnson and J.T. O’Sullivan still call home. McNabb rallied his team late, but it only served to highlight how poorly he’d played the rest of the game.

At this point, McNabb is the fourth-best quarterback in the NFC East. With all of his experience, he’ll still take a delay of game in the red zone or botch a handoff at crucial moments. As usual, Eagles coach Andy Reid stood by his man, saying McNabb simply has to “keep firing, and he’ll be fine.”

Yeah, tough night for McNabb.  But he wasn’t the headline, and it strikes me as a bit lazy to write the blame-the-QB piece after a loss (note: the Eagles did score 31 points in said game).   Especially when the defensive line was humiliated and the offensive line couldn’t push forward for a yard when they had to.  Note also that there was nary a word of criticism of Big Red in that piece — I guess Mosley is planning for the long term with his blame allocation strategy!  Better not piss off the big guy!

Saying the unsayable.  Was Westbrook a little dinged up last night?  Are we allowed to suggest that maybe the 2008 Westbrook isn’t as impressive as the 2006 and 2007 editions?  Also, are we allowed to write columns about how he couldn’t get two yards when he needed to?  To his credit, he owned up to it in his post-game comments, but no one in the press really bit.  Also, it’s worth checking out those comments to see that he also semi-distanced himself from the play call at the end of the game.

Boneheaded plays aren’t reserved for coach, QB.  Greg Lewis.  Dude.  Running into the punt returner?  It’s a tenuous hold on a roster spot as it is.  You don’t need to be handing the Giants 15 free yards.  Also, the Tank Daniels encroachment call (that could have ended the game) was the moment were I actually lost my temper a bit.  Horrible.

Yeah, still stewing on this end.  I’ll come up with something positive later today.  For now I’m content to wallow a bit more.

(Take that, post-World Series afterglow!)

Giants game preview part 2 (what I’m watching)
Posted on November 9th, 2008 at 6:05 pm by Cheesesteak Hoagie

As I’ve already covered the top-shelf storylines and offered a proposed final score for the Eagles - Giants game tonight, I apologize for the high miscellanea-to-actual-football-content ratio in this post. But it wouldn’t be the Giants game if I didn’t spoil myself a bit. So in addition to the overeating I’m planning for the game tonight (pulled pork that I’ve been slow-cooking for hours, mac and cheese, cole slaw, cocktail weenies, pecan pie — yeah, bad), I’m also treating myself to a bonus game preview/ football Sunday post.

What I’ll be shouting about during tonight’s game (or have already shouted about this afternoon):

Feeling oddly at peace in re: Plax. I’m typically paranoid about Plaxico Burress ahead of Giants games, but this time I’m feeling pretty relaxed about him. Not that he isn’t a great player who seems to enjoy Eagles-killing plays, but I guess I’m just taking it for granted that he’ll score against the Birds. As in, there are plenty of other things to worry about that might not actually happen; it isn’t worth sweating the givens, however disagreeable they may be.

Just to repeat in re: top-shelf storylines. Yup, I’m just as apprehensive in re: the Birds’ ability to handle the Giants at the line of scrimmage as I was yesterday. Just checking in on that.

Early test of the post-Phils afterglow? Now that the Phillies have won, we’re all supposed to be relatively mellow about the other teams for a little bit, right? As in, the Phightins won the World Series, so we all should have a sense of perspective w/r/t the other teams in town. Yup. Looks good on paper, doesn’t it. The Seahawks were a pretty easy landing last weekend, but bringing in the Giants for a primetime game at the Linc just a week later? That’s a cruel, cruel test of the constitution of our Sports Feelings’ Soul. And I wish I could pretend it was one I wasn’t going to fail miserably.

Update your bookmarks. Ugh. Enough with the splash page on the Birds’ official site. That splash page is the Saved By Zero of philadelphiaeagles.com. You want “index2.html” to go straight to the content. Speaking of, they’re pushing extended online coverage of tonight’s game on NFL.com — need to make sure I keep an eye on that.

Speaking of game coverage. The Jets were the Fox early game in New York. That would be the 40-0 at halftime Jets game. Fox stayed with it until halfway through the fourth quarter (it’s the home team, I know, they have to, but still). Yawn. If the NFL was willing to sell me more games, I wouldn’t have flipped the channel to a very exciting MLS game (Allez les RBVs!). Oh well.

Things I’m dreading ahead of the game. Brian Dawkins getting turned around and then run over by a Brandon Jacobs with a bit of momentum. McNabb losing a fumble on a sack. The Eagles throwing eight times in a row in the first quarter. A David Akers miss. Wasted timeouts due to jumpiness in re: blitzes.

Things I’m hopeful about ahead of the game. DeSean Jackson going out of his way to make a big play on national television. A more mobile McNabb extending plays. A stout game from the Eagles’ defensive tackles. A pick from Omar Gaither. Continued heroics from Juqua Parker. Brian Westbrook’s deep personal animosity for the New York Giants manifesting itself in many many touchdowns.

And that’s what I’ve got for you. Off to negotiations with the pulled pork. Go Birds.

Blown call denies Eagles opportunity to crush fans’ souls in win over Falcons
Posted on October 26th, 2008 at 5:21 pm by Cheesesteak Hoagie

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Bank error in our favor this afternoon, as a pretty hideous call on a seemingly muffed punt snuffed out any chance for a final Falcons comeback attempt. Certainly we can’t assume that the Falcons would have driven those 60 yards for the go-ahead score, especially with a rookie quarterback and no timeouts, but, well, as Eagles fans, we’re given to a certain glass-half-full worldview at the end of games. So it was lovely of the referees to hook us up on that.

Other thoughts and takeaways from the Eagles’ glorious victory this afternoon.

The Best Player On The Team. Welcome back, Brian Westbrook! That Eagles offense sure looks a lot more confident when the best player on the team is on the field. Westbrook looked limber and quick and didn’t seem to be feeling the effects of his recent rib injury. A buck-sixty-seven will do very well, thank you very much.

The long-awaited quarterback sneak. After weeks of braying from the blathertariat (yours truly included), we finally saw a Donovan McNabb quarterback keeper at the goal line. Which then touched off a Donovan McNabb touchdown celebration/ silly dance, which, quite frankly, we hadn’t seen in a while. The good folks at PE.com were kind enough to post the following ridiculous photos. We start with some Thriller…

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…followed by dog-at-the-hydrant…

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…and finished with a groin-loosening flourish.

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David Akers quiets the haters. It wasn’t the most challenging afternoon for David Akers, but whatever. He made all of his tries, and spared us all the awkwardness of discussing his job security for at least another week.

“Best of the Eagles Playbook” on display this afternoon. As if the split-back set on the goal line leading to a shovel pass wasn’t enough, the Eagles managed to call the fake-dive-and-pitch-outside to Westbrook on third-and-short late in the fourth quarter. That particular call was especially galling, since the result was exactly what our table at the bar expected. That is, prior to the play we specifically discussed how the Eagles would call this exact play as well as the precise manner in which it would fail. We mention this not to beat our chests, but as a stern warning: if idiot fans can call the play, I’m assuming that opposing defensive coordinators can as well.

The redemption of Lito! Good for that number-twenty-six fellow…what’s his name again? The backup cornerback who took that bad PI call but then made the big pick in the end zone? If he keeps trying super hard in practice, maybe he’ll play a little bit more!

Speaking of DBs. We loved the pick from Samuel, but the first Roddy White TD seemed to be as much Asante’s fault as anyone’s — especially since it looked like he was trying to jump the route and go for another interception. Oops. Don’t know if they discussed that on the telecast — we didn’t have audio at the bar.

Another rough day for the officials. In addition to the horrific blown call on the muffed punt, there were a couple other head-scratchers from the zebras, most notably the personal foul on Trent Cole for what was a perfectly textbook hit on Matt Ryan. There was no helmet-to-helmet contact, he hit him as he was throwing…I didn’t really get it.

The CamelCased One shows his age (yet again). So we can understand how DeSean Jackson has convinced himself that he’s still in college and that he can just run faster than everyone else, even if it means running backwards on punt returns. It worked against the Skins, why not try it again? Ugh. Forward, DeSean. Forward. Though it’s worth noting that we’re still excited enough about Jackson that we’re willing to write off yet another brain fart as a “harmless part of his maturation.” Enjoy it whilst it lasts, young fella!

Can Philly go 4-0 for the weekend (the Flyboys won yesterday as well)? We sure hope so. Go Phightins.

The least interesting Eagles game since last December
Posted on October 26th, 2008 at 12:36 pm by Cheesesteak Hoagie

So which Philly sports fan isn’t hungover this morning?

After a crazy late-night ending for the Phightins, the Delaware Valley should be flooded with happy brain chemicals this morning.  I can’t believe that I’m saying this, but the Birds game this afternoon actually feels a bit inconsequential.  I mean, I’m going to leave the comfort of my home to watch it, and I’m sure I’ll get swept up in it once it starts, but, really, I’m definitely preoccupied by the baseball right now.  And I imagine I’m not the only one.

So. Eagles.  Sounds like you have something of a pass this week.  Try not to screw it up.

What I expect to shout about, abbreviated edition:

I hope the Eagles have a Pittsburgh-game-level commitment to defensing the run.  I hope the Birds are excited about  tackling Michael Turner, because they’re going to spend most of the afternoon doing it.  Turner is definitely a fantasy start this week.  The Falcons are silly if they don’t spend the afternoon handing off.

Similarly, I hope Andy Reid indulges himself.  Football Outsiders have the Falcons as 27th against the pass.  No one’s going to complain if McNabb throws the ball 35 times.

Welcome back, Kevin Curtis!  I hope it’s a big day for the Birds’ wideouts, Curtis included.  I hope they don’t just ease him back in — none of us would hate a deep ball to Curtis.

The ostensible best player on the team.  Very curious to see how many snaps Westbrook plays.  Will they take it light with B-West?  Surely his broken ribs plus a strong proof-of-concept from Buckhalter two weeks ago should be encouragement enough to share the carries, no?

Abiamiri watch. They said he was going to play a bit more, and I’m excited to see it.  If they thought this guy was better than Parker, then, well, I’m more than a bit curious.  Wasn’t he supposed to be the big end who could play the run?  The Birds will likely need that today.

It’s probably just the lingering Phillies endorphins talking, but I think the Eagles will win in a game that will feel a lot like the San Francisco game — the Falcons will hang around and create moments of darkness and despair for the good guys.  But I think the Birds will have another big fourth quarter and get it done.  Eagles 30, Falcons 20.

Iggles Blog vs BountyBowl Bye Week Blogganza (#6)
Posted on October 18th, 2008 at 12:55 pm by Cheesesteak Hoagie

Derek pwned me a bit yesterday afternoon, and then assured me that no one would be reading anything on the bye weekend anyway.  So that’s pretty sweet.  

Let’s go to the highlights: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5.   

*****

I didn’t expect us to actually discuss the performance-enhancing drug thing at all.  I dunno.  This isn’t something that tends to get me too spun up; do we feel betrayed by Lenny Dykstra, or are do we treasure our memories of the ‘93 Phillies?  And if we’re talking about football, I mean, dude.  Even if these guys aren’t on banned substances, they’re clearly stretching the boundaries of natural human development.  They’ve chosen to play a hideously violent game, one which might bring them glory and riches, but which undoubtedly will remove some quality from their later years.  They’re willing to carry extra bulk and smash into other dudes.  We can’t see their faces out there anyway; if some of the killer robots want to use special fuel, well, I don’t think it really ruins the TV show.

(Unless it’s the Cowboys or Giants.  Then it’s f*cking cheating.  But I guess I generally don’t romanticize it all that much.)

Of course, it would be irresponsible to discuss performance-enhancing substances without noting that two players from the NY/ NJ Vodka-Red-Bulls were suspended on Thursday for using banned supplements.  This is MLS we’re talking about here!  What will the children think?  (Both Philly guys, by the way.)  Seriously, this is bad news.  Luckily, they were both fined 10 percent of their salary; as my brother noted, that’s like $4,000!

(What, we don’t follow MLS?)

Far be it from me to dodge a question, I’ll admit that I actually forgot that “least favorite Eagle” was in play.  I was hoping to debut a regular feature on this topic (no kidding, I was), so I’ll give you a sneak preview: his name begins with an L, ends with an R, and in the middle there’s a lot of “Orenzo Booke.”  The tight end is obviously a close second (if only because he seems to be a much bigger jerk than Booker; Booker’s just overmatched).

On to some of your points before my final volley of questions:

I don’t understand in re: Sheldon Brown.  What leads you to believe he’s only in it for himself?  Because he avoids the media-training cliches when talking about contracts?  The guy plays every single game and is by all appearances extremely irresponsible when it comes to contact.  You think he’s 100 percent healthy every week?  Big hits don’t get you contracts; gambling for picks does.  I bet Sheldon Brown has a lot of respect from the rest of the team.  And, frankly, I’d prefer it if you didn’t continue to impugn his good name!

I’m glad your commenters gave you grief for the Nerdbirds.  As loud as that stadium is, and as much as Homlgren seems to be in AR’s head, the Seahawks are a train wreck right now.  The Eagles had better win that game.

Please tell me that the MySpace story is true.  Seriously?  You really stalked Tony Hunt on MySpace?  That’s fantastic.  Also, when are you going to get your ass on the Facebook?  We have a great officer position waiting for you when you do.

You missed my rather pessimistic point on the 36 Chambers of Brian Westbrook.  I don’t doubt Westbrook’s pride or his toughness.  My bigger concern is his health.   Are broken ribs going to heal quickly?  Does the rest of the league know that he’s banged up in the mid-section?  I mean, I hope so.  He’s the best player the Eagles have.  But I think we might be overly optimistic about the rate of his recovery.  I mean, I hope not.  I hope he’s spending extra time in the hyperbaric chamber this week.  But we have to confront the fact that he might not be whole for a while.

Dude, you totaly dodged the McNabb question!  You’re right to note that he hasn’t had a bad stretch yet to prompt the inevitable larger conversation amongst the blathertariat, but I’m asking you now what you think.  Before the season, I certainly thought it was a done deal that this would be his final season in Philly.  Now I’m not so sure — I think he has a shot to stay for a couple more seasons (if he so chooses).  Where are you landing on this topic?  You think he’s still gone?

Also, we’re both obviously complete nerds about the Football Outsiders thing — what’s your professional opinion on the Eagles being #1 in DVOA this week?  Hidden indicator that the Eagles might be better than we all think, or proof that Aaron Schatz and the boys might need to reconfigure their spreadsheet?  I obviously think it’s the model’s fault.  While they do a nice job of trying to create a taxonomy that understands that not all plays are created equal, it’s obvious that the model doesn’t capture the value of the half-dozen plays in a game that matter a ton — and that the Eagles seem prone to screwing up.  Plays on the goal-line, big stops in the fourth quarter, sloppy stuff at the end of the first half: these seem to be themes every week.  Am I imagining things here?

It’s also worth noting that I blame Andy Reid for those screwups.  Discuss!



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