What Would Buddy Do?
Okay, that seals it.
Posted on January 4th, 2009 at 12:57 pm by Cheesesteak Hoagie

It’s unanimous — no one knows anything:

It might be a motivational ploy.  Regardless, it’s an accurate observaton.

A member of the Eagles front office has told ESPN’s Sal Paolantonio, “We don’t know which team will show up [on Sunday at Minnesota].  We have no idea.”

The statement is a reference to the fact that, while generally playing well since Thanksgiving, the Eagles still have the potential to lay an egg, like they did in Cincinnati and Baltimore in successive weeks prior to the Turkey Night thrashing of the Cardinals, or like Eagles did two weeks ago, scoring only three points at Washington.

Yup.

Oh, Ed Rendell, you know us all too well
Posted on January 4th, 2009 at 12:09 pm by Cheesesteak Hoagie

I mean, it’s not like we’re allowed to be surprised that Ed Rendell has complicated, multi-paragraph opinions about the Birds, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be mildly amused when he drops a few bon mots to the press.

Definitely check out the Rendell interview in the paper this morning; some excerpts:

You sound a little worried that the Eagles might still disappoint everyone.

Absolutely. This is a hugely important game, but so was Washington. It’s been such a strange season. They were really the only team to dominate the Steelers this year. And they beat the Giants on the road. And they crushed the Cowboys. But they also tied the Bengals. It’s hard to fathom that the same team did all that. Right now, I’m excited. The fans are excited. We have all the momentum. But I have that little nagging thing in the back of my mind because you’re never sure which team will show up for the playoffs. If it’s the team that beat the Steelers, Giants and Cowboys, I think the Eagles will play the Steelers in the Super Bowl.

Well, that would be nice for Pennsylvania.

It wouldn’t be so good for the city of Tampa. They’d end up leveling it. It would be like Sherman marching through Atlanta - there wouldn’t be anything left.

Some comments:

(1) Way to suck up to both fanbases there, Ed.  We all love hearing just how wild and/ or crazy we are.  Take that, grown adults who happen to enjoy watching pro football!  We’re WAY more hardcore than you.

(2) Rendell’s comments on the team are hilariously on-message from a media/ fan perspective.  You can’t say that he’s faking.

(3) While I’m sure that said fanbases would do their best to “level” Tampa, let’s not forget the burning down of South Philadelphia — that’s something the feel-good Phils were never going to occasion.

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.

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.

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.       

Monday Eagles Hangover: time for the airing of grievances and the shaving of beards?
Posted on December 22nd, 2008 at 1:15 pm by Cheesesteak Hoagie

almostreggiebrown.jpg

Okay, so football season ended a week earlier than it probably should have.

We got to live the dream a bit over the past month — a dream that definitely didn’t exist after the gloomy Cincy-and-Bal’more fortnight — and now it’s 98 percent over.  Sure, crazy things happen in the NFL, and they’re not out of it yet, but they’re pretty much out of it.  Certainly we as fans have it better than the players and coaches: at least we can mentally move on at this point and maybe even enjoy unwrapping a Phillies DVD on Christmas morning.  Those poor bastards still have to pretend they’re in it for another week and get ready to be pushed around by the Cowboys.  Consider yourself blessed!

Day-after storylines to help you nurse your hangover.

For the avoidance of doubt.  Andy Reid’s Monday presser was a predictably grim affair.  When pressed to explain who might have been at fault on the game’s final play — the one that ended six inches short — Reid actually answered the question (obliquely, at least).  He observed that he thought the quarterback did a good job getting the football into a tight spot, but that the route needed to be run into the end zone.  Hmmm.  I hope Reggie Brown doesn’t have too much trouble selling his house in these wintry economic times!

Run-the-ball-Andy meme.  That old chestnut?  It was tough to find an article/ game report that didn’t highlight the run-pass ratio.  It predictably came up again in the Monday presser, in the context of “Does it feel like you’re answering the same questions every week?”  Reid’s answer was that the reporters weren’t very creative, but, well, I’m not sure that they’re the ones lacking for imagination in this one particular case.

Westbrook isn’t well.  A theory on Brian Westbrook’s health — this is the first game in a month for which he didn’t have an extended period of rest (and in fact lost a day).  He had two full days of rest from Thanksgiving to the Giants’ game, and then an extra day ahead of the Monday Night Game.  At this point, it probably all matters to a guy like Westbrook.  Oh well.  That’s what happens when the offense depends so heavily on one guy (and that one guy, while awesome and deserving of my man-crush, sturggles to be healthy every week).  Depth in the backfield needs to be addressed in the offseason.

Peter King update.  No mention of the Eagles play-calling this week.  Funny, that.

Playoff Beard update.  It looked like Andy Reid hadn’t shaved yet, but it’s unclear if the rest of the locker room is still on board with the beards.  If you shave, does that mean the team has given up entirely?  Perhaps there’s a hybrid solution that would appropriately reflect the Birds’ post-season prospects: little Hitler mustaches?  Slightly longer-than-average sideburns?

Reflections on a losing record in the NFC East.  I mean, do you really think a team — which has won one (1) of its five division games so far — that can only win 2 out of 6 division games should be in the playoffs?  That sounds pretty mediocre to me.  Stranger things have happened, but it’s not like we can complain about unfulfilled potential or tough breaks or whatever.  You are your record, and the Eagles’ division record is 1-4.  Yuck.

Yeah, that’s what I’ve got for you today.  Yuck.

One more, because I couldn’t help it (Peter King bonus!)
Posted on December 21st, 2008 at 9:13 pm by Cheesesteak Hoagie

74.19 percent.

That’s what 46 passing plays and 16 running plays — the Eagles’ play selection this afternoon — gets you as the percentage of passing plays called.

This is what professional journalist Peter King said about the Eagles less than a week ago:

Philadelphia 33, Cleveland 13. The old dog, Andy Reid, has learned a new trick: running the ball. In the Eagles’ last three games, Donovan McNabb has thrown it 87 times and Brian Westbrook has run it 69 times. Contrast that to the previous three games, when the Eagles won just once: McNabb 137 throws, Westbrook 47 runs.

You don’t win with McNabb, or anyone, throwing it 46 times a game. And you don’t win letting Westbrook carry it 16 times a game.

I’d be shocked if Reid and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg go back to throwing it 65 or 70 percent of the time. Ever. And certainly not tonight against a team they ought to be able to beat into submission. (Emphasis mine.)

And then this is what I said about that:

“Shocked,” Peter?  Period ever period?  Really?  Ever is a strong term: would you care to place a wager?  As in, you bet me that the Eagles will never again throw the ball more than 65 percent of their offensive plays in a single game?  And I get your house when it happens?  Like next week?

Uh huh.  No word yet on whether I get his house.

In all fairness, Peter was right about one thing: you don’t win when you throw it 46 times and run it 16 times (though only 12 of those were Westbrook).  Nice work with the math, Peter!

(Also, the fact that the math did work out so neatly only adds to my earlier convictions in re: the Platonic ideal of a Bad Eagles Loss.)

Your Peter King moment
Posted on December 15th, 2008 at 2:01 pm by Cheesesteak Hoagie

The KSK guys got to this already, but wow, this was a doozy from this morning’s Peter King column:

Philadelphia 33, Cleveland 13. The old dog, Andy Reid, has learned a new trick: running the ball. In the Eagles’ last three games, Donovan McNabb has thrown it 87 times and Brian Westbrook has run it 69 times. Contrast that to the previous three games, when the Eagles won just once: McNabb 137 throws, Westbrook 47 runs.

You don’t win with McNabb, or anyone, throwing it 46 times a game. And you don’t win letting Westbrook carry it 16 times a game.

I’d be shocked if Reid and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg go back to throwing it 65 or 70 percent of the time. Ever. And certainly not tonight against a team they ought to be able to beat into submission. (Emphasis mine.)

“Shocked,” Peter?  Period ever period?  Really?  Ever is a strong term: would you care to place a wager?  As in, you bet me that the Eagles will never again throw the ball more than 65 percent of their offensive plays in a single game?  And I get your house when it happens?  Like next week?

Dude.

The Giants are the best team in the NFL, so why am I cautiously optimistic about tomorrow?
Posted on December 6th, 2008 at 3:24 pm by Cheesesteak Hoagie

I have absolutely no business being confident about tomorrow’s game at the Meadowlands: the Giants are the best team in the NFL, they barely seemed to notice the off-field controversy stuff last weekend, the conditions — snow in the morning with cold and wind to follow — certainly favor a team that runs the ball and plays defense.  The line sits at 7, and that seems more than fair.

But it’s the line that makes me feel good about this game: let me postulate that this Eagles team struggles with the expectations in Philly (and in Vegas) that have them Super-Bowl-bound every summer and an underdog in only two contests so far this year (not counting this week), respectively.  The pressure is on the Giants, and while they’re playing like the Terminator right now (they cannot be reasoned with, they don’t feel pain), at least that means the pressure isn’t on the Birds.

(Nor should it be.  It’s just tough to get too tuned up about the underdog quarterback’s future (much less his family life) as a storyline when the star wide receiver and starting middle linebacker on the defending champion other team are subjects of an ongoing criminal investigation in the media capital of the known universe.)

I dunno, I sort of have the New England game from last year on the brain, if that makes sense.  Another game against an overwhelming opponent where the coaches and the players showed a little something extra.  But hey, I’m an optimist.

Okay.  End unfounded speculations.  Game preview forthcoming tomorrow morning, but in the meantime I leave you with two photos (courtesy of PE.com) of Eagles defensive players schlepping fast food to New York:

like the skinny tie on Stew

asante is happy to pick up snacks for teammates

Yum.



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