What Would Buddy Do?
Cooley family taunts Donovan McNabb in intradivision blog spat
Posted on October 22nd, 2008 at 4:13 pm by Cheesesteak Hoagie

Shame on me for missing this a few weeks back, but Tanner Cooley (brother and blogging partner of Redskins’ tight end Chris Cooley) took the time to gloat on the family blog (www.ChrisCooley47.com) regarding Donovan McNabb’s blog posting following the Redskins game; you know, it was the one where he claimed that the Eagles were better than the Redskins. Oops. Tanner Cooley didn’t seem to agree:

When I played football the team that won the game was usually the better team. When Donovon McNabb plays, it doesn’t matter who scores more, has better stats, and leaves the field victorious. All that matters is how you feel inside.

I [Donovan McNabb] believe that we lost to teams we should have beaten. Not because I think they are not good - they are. But I still believe we are better; we just didn’t show it.

He must not have watched game film because going 30 minutes without a first down didn’t show the Eagles being better. 4 straight 3 and outs didn’t do it. And I’m pretty sure getting out-rushed 203 to 58 and being booed off their own field definitely didn’t prove the E-A-G-L-E-S to be the superior team. But either way, a fact is fact and the Eagles were the only NFC East team to not make the playoffs last year and they are right on track to repeat this year. So if they know in their heart’s that they are a better team after losing games, I guess they don’t know what “better” is.

RRRRRRRRRR!

So a couple things here.

(1) Generally speaking, the Chris Cooley blog is totally sweet. Whether it’s posting half-nekkid pictures of his wife, completely nekkid pictures of himself, or videos of the Redskins’ internal fantasy draft, this is all goodness. Good for Chris Cooley for having a sense of humor in re: his good fortune and not taking himself too seriously.

(2) Whilst Tanner Cooley is certainly correct in his taunts from the fan perspective — and really, he’s just a fan, and he’s allowed to talk as much smack at NFL players as the next fan — it does complicate things to post this on an official player site. Not that it isn’t funny, but you can imagine how certain folks on the other side of the equation might not appreciate it.

(2a) Let us all note the obvious parallels with the McNabb family blogging efforts.

(3) I, for one, think it’s puh-retty cool that “saying b*tchy things about other players on one’s blog” has a chance to become the next step in the bulletin-board-material evolution of “running your mouth in front of a camera.” Certainly the players can’t complain that they’ve been misquoted if it’s their own web site. If anything, this could pave the way for dueling videos on YouTube, snarky Twitter entries (note: even I have avoided Twitter to date and I typically go in for the latest techie fad), awkward Facebook Wall posts. The future is now!

Back to work, it’s been real
Posted on October 20th, 2008 at 9:16 am by Cheesesteak Hoagie

Derek tastefully finished off the blogganza last night.  Many thanks to Derek himself for putting up with me for a few days; certainly I get a lot more out of these things than he does (I also usually learn a thing or two).

Now we can return to our regularly scheduled programming already in progress: Igglesblog will present data and sound hypotheses about the Eagles’ performance, and I’ll give you details on my experience signing up for Brian Westbrook’s fan club at bwestbrook.com.

Joe Banner’s doing a State of the Team appearance on Soviet Central Media at 12:30?  I expect a six-paragraph explanations in re: “Well you might have heard that we tried to trade for this player or that player, and we do make inquiries if we think that they can help our team, but really, we’re very happy with the guys we have and think we can win the Super Bowl.”

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!

Iggles Blog vs BountyBowl Bye Week Blogganza (#5)
Posted on October 17th, 2008 at 6:01 pm by Cheesesteak Hoagie

Dude, Derek, you’re effing killing me with the quick response.  Seriously.  I can’t keep up with that.

Uncle.  At least until tomorrow.

Iggles Blog vs BountyBowl Bye Week Blogganza (#4)
Posted on October 17th, 2008 at 4:32 pm by Cheesesteak Hoagie

In which I defend Darren Howard’s honor (sort of) and make a bunch of random predictions of my own.

The story of the film so far: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.

*****

Oh my heavens!  I think we might need an intervention here.  I’d like all the Iggles Blog readers to note that Derek just said that he’s only been to two Eagles games!  (I mean, there are legitimate reasons for this, but still.)  I bet more than a few of the fans of Iggles Blog have season tickets.  This is your hint to send Derek an e-mail and invite him to a game.  Think of all the joy (and charts, and graphs, and lengthy defenses of Donovan McNabb) he’s brought you over the years — don’t you think you owe it to him to bring him to a game?

At the very least, the Birds organization should comp you as some sort of blogger outreach program.  (NOTE WELL anyone from Birds HQ who might be reading this: I would also like to come to more games!  Right here!  The Bounty!)

Cheers to the SAWX for their big comeback last night.  Though I can’t help but note that there really isn’t a good answer in re: which city the Phils face in the World Series — it’s essentially the two cities respsonsible for the Worst Eagles Experiences of the last decade (being, of course, the 2002 NFC Championship/ Final Game at the Vet and Super Bowl XXXIX).  Depending on your inclination with these things, it’s either a win-win or a lose-lose.  I’d like to suggest some sort of Flyers-esque “Vengeance Now” value prop for the local marketing efforts, but I think the Phils are a little too PG for that.

On to the football, first with some comments on your replies to my questions.

WHOA.  Damn skippy you need to be careful what you’re saying in re: Darren Howard!  It certainly isn’t outside the realm of possibility, but man, that’s quite a bit to suggest.  I mean, I obviously love an elaborate conspiracy theory as much as the next fellow, but the Occam’s Razor answer seems a bit more plausible; can’t we just assume he signed a big contract, loafed around and then finally got in shape when he was worried about his job?  I mean, that’s what I would have done….

But while we’re on the topic, were there ever rumblings when Dunavin showed up for work a couple years as Bulky Donovan?  Or was he just lifting too much?  I mean, McNabb is obviously a guy who’s going to need to be careful about the waistline once he’s done playing; maybe he’s just big-boned?  Also — and you’ll love this one — I’m sure you read the section in Pro Football Prospectus about how remarkably healthy the Cowboys have been over recent years…don’t tell me it didn’t lead you to wonder if there was a little something-something added to the salad bar at Valley Ranch.

Thus concludes the Unfounded Accusations portion of today’s post.

Also, you should really be more careful about what you say about David Akers.  You know he’s sitting on his couch right now sporting his fashionably rimless spectacles, catching up on Mad Men, and hitting F5 on Iggles Blog.  At the rate you’re going, you’ll never get another interview out of those Reebok people.

And now for your questions of me.

1.  Favorite / least favorite Eagles and why?  No cheating by picking old-timers, I’m talking current roster.

This is actually a pretty easy question.  It’s Sheldon Brown by about two touchdowns.  My reasons: (a) I’ve always had a fondness for big-hitting DBs, and he’s been the biggest-hitting DB for the past three seasons (with apologies to Dawk; the days of the Dawkplex are past); (b) he actually speaks honestly and intelligently to the press, and doesn’t appear to be completely full of sh*t — it’s like he skipped media training; (c) he plays every week.  That counts for a lot.  So yeah, I’m a big fan.  I’m actually staring at a framed copy of the SI cover photo of him drilling Reggie Bush (”Cardboard Box“) right now.

2.  Fill in the blanks: “The Phillies winning the World Series would feel like __________.  The Eagles winning the Super Bowl would feel like __________.”

You know, this is a really hard question to answer without sounding like a complete pervert, so apologies in advance for my answer (which draws upon the amount of time I spend on airplanes): “The Phillies winning the World Series would feel like getting a surprise upgrade to first class for a seventeen-hour flight to Australia. The Eagles winning the Super Bowl would feel like getting a surprise upgrade to my own private jet for a seventeen-hour flight to Australia, only we’re not going to Australia, we’re going to a special island in the South Pacific where cheesesteaks grow on trees, clothing has been outlawed, and I am about to be named emperor.”  (Too much?)

3.  You’re really not going to ask about Tony Hunt?

Okay, so tell me about Tony Hunt.  I just assume he’ll end up in Minnesota, right?  You can just ask him, right?  I assume he’s spending his time off chilling at your place?  He’s playing XBox right now?

4.  Over the past 10 months, the Eagles have been linked by rumor to approximately two dozen players not currently on their roster.  Of the guys who actually changed teams — yes, we all wanted Larry Fitzgerald — who are you most annoyed about not getting?  (NOTA is an acceptable answer if you show your work.)

Let me get the obvious and popular answers out the way first: the answer isn’t going to be a wideout, so we can cross off Randy Moss and Roy Williams.  My answer might have been different six months ago, but that was before young Master DeSean was dropped at our doorstep.  The Moss thing was especially tempting, more so than Roy Williams.  I’m just not as completely obsessed by this position as your average Birds fan.  I mean, I guess I could say Jared Allen because, well, he’s Jared Allen and it remains relatively difficult to find dominant defensive ends.  But I don’t know if that was actually ever in play.    (The Skins can have Jason Taylor, though.)

I actually would have been pretty psyched if the Birds could have nabbed Jeremy Shockey.  There.  I said it.  He’s better than L.J., and would have played like a complete psychopath against the Giants.  But my actual answer — and admittedly, this is very fresh — is Tony Gonzalez.  DOOOOOOOOOOOD.  That’s pretty much exactly what the Birds need.  A red-zone beast who’d be reinvigorated on a new team?  Plus he’s a veteran guy who’s a non-idiot and seems like he has the personality and temperament to handle the Illadelph?  Also, he comes with a lovely commitment partner.

Also it’s worth noting that I really like the guy they did get: Asante Samuel.  This is just the beginning of the Asante Samuel era in Philly.  This guy definitely counts as a playmaker, and he’s not going anywhere.  Seriously.  He’ll be a “real Eagle” soon enough.

5.  I cheated on your bonus question, but now I’m kind of interested in hearing your answer to it.  I’m rubber, you’re glue …

First off, I know I thought that the Eagles would lose to the Nerdbirds before the season began, but I herby update my opinion on this topic.  Seattle has to be the most disappointing team in the NFL right now.  The Eagles had better win that game.  Of course, none of us care about that because, well, no one cares about the Left Coast teams (nor should they — West Coast teams are, as well know, soft).    Let me throw a couple random ones out there:

a.  Shawn Andrews doesn’t play another game for the Eagles this year, and spends the off-season musing about retirement.

b.  Dallas misses the playoffs.  Wade Phillips is fired shortly thereafter.  Jason Garrett is named the head coach.  Wow.  That was awesome to type.

c.  Washington makes the playoffs.  I can’t believe I’m typing that, but playing solid defense and running the ball can get you pretty far in the NFL.  And for the life of me I’m not going to say nice things about the Giants.

d.  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).

e.  Finally, at long last: Donovan McNabb starts 16 games, and, GASP, is welcomed back as the Eagles presumptive starter for 2009!

What say we to that?

Iggles Blog vs BountyBowl Bye Week Blogganza (#3)
Posted on October 17th, 2008 at 9:35 am by Cheesesteak Hoagie

Derek just fired off number three (#3).  I really hope David Akers doesn’t read it!

See here for #1 and #2.

Iggles Blog vs. BountyBowl Bye Week Blogganza (#2)
Posted on October 16th, 2008 at 3:07 pm by Cheesesteak Hoagie

So we’re rolling with another call-and-response dialectic with Derek at Iggles Blog.  He led off, and now I’ll attempt to provide some mildly witty/ interesting responses.  Game on! 

*****

Derek, Derek, Derek.  If our recent series of presidential debates have taught us anything, it’s that the form requires, no, demands that one ignore the first question and instead take 90 seconds to graciously welcome and thank everyone in attendance.  So screw whatever it is that nerd from PBS wanted to know about “economic policy,” I need to thank the janitorial staff here at Hofstra for doing such a nice job with the wastebasket in the green room.  The Philly sports blog equivalent is the following:

“Before we say another word about the Birds, CONGRATS TO THE PHIGHTINS!  The Phils are going to the World Series!  Our oft-jilted city is four wins away from a moment of great rejoicing!  Let us send each other celebratory text messages!”

(Seriously.  We couldn’t be more fired up about the Phils.  I’m not going to say that they’ll actually take over as the city’s number-one team, but, um, with the bye week looming, well, I assume we’re all going to enjoy an affair with the Phils.  Now I need to make my peace with the amount of money I’m going to throw at tickets.)

Aight.  Time for football.

First things first — the CamelCased one, young Master DeSean.  Two weeks ago, after seeing him in person, I decided to go all-in on DeSean.  I had tried to play it cool, act all cautiously optimistic about him, poo-poo his achievements by insisting that he was just a rookie, etc etc.  Nope.  I’m there.  I agree with you that he’s the most exciting thing to happen to the team since early 2005 (?); what I think you mean here is really “most exciting thing since #81 started doing sit-ups in the driveway”?

Certainly my newfound fondness for DeSean is not without its risks.  That is, said fondness hasn’t changed the fact that DeSean is still 168 pounds.  Seeing him get clotheslined in the second half against the Niners was particularly sobering; that’s the sort of hit that reminds us that small guys happen to get injured more frequently than more stout fellows.

All that said, WOW.  The speed is what the eye notices first, but I agree with you that he seems to get how to get open against zones.  And his hands have been fairly reliable (with some exceptions), especially for a rookie.  I’m actually at the point where I consider any play that involves DeSean to be “an excellent coaching decision” that demonstrates Andy Reid’s subtle and uniue genius.  As in, it is never a bad idea to give DeSean the ball.  For the past couple years, the only other person whose qualified for that sort of praise is Westbrook.  (The opposite of this would be any play involving Lorenzo Booker.)  So there we are.  Six games in, I’ve got him in the same category as the Best Running Back In the NFL in 2007.

DeSean also puts to rest one of the most boring Eagles memes of the past 8 years: The Eagles Need A Number-One Wideout ™.  Seriously.  It’s done.  And I don’t want to hear that he’s too small to be a Number-One guy.  Steve Smith is 5′9″ (though a fair amount heavier than Jackson).  It’s done.  DeSean Jackson is this team’s playmaker for the next 5-6 years (pending catastrophic injuries, of course).

This is part of the reason why I wasn’t particularly bothered by the Roy Williams (sub two) trade to the Cowboys.  We actually didn’t really need that as desperately as we all had thought in March, and we certainly didn’t need it at the price the Cowboys paid.  Cheers to Jerry Jones for making a potentially franchise-crippling trade for an admittedly mercurial guy.  Couldn’t happen to a better group of folks!

Now to your other points.  I’m not sure I totally understand your presumptive blame of the coaching staff for mistakes they might make in the future, but I’m definitely on board for “the rest of the league has film on Andy Reid and they pretty much know what’s coming.”  You know how I know that?  Because we all know what’s coming.  An incompletion on first down?  What do you think we’re doing on 2nd-and-ten?  I imagine we’ll hear Big Red describing how they’ve been self-scouting over the bye, looking for tendencies, blah blah blah.  I’m sure they will.  But will it be enough?  Or is the playbook just stale?

Things I do blame the coaches for: that horrific play at the goal line against the Skins.  There was confusion on the field?  Right.  That’s all on coaching (not just poor, predictable LJ Smith).  And of course the Dallas game.

Now it’s my turn.  The bye week is a good time to revisit old predictions and invent some new ones.  So what’s going to shock us over the second half of the season?  What’s shocked you in the first half?  If you’d prefer a bit more direction, a couple nominees:

1.  This Darren Howard fellow.  Do my eyes mistake me, or is Howard actually playing well right now?  Was this the guy we were supposed to see two years ago?

2. Your buddy David Akers.  I feel badly talking about it since he might actually read one of these things, but, um, things aren’t looking so good there.  Do you think that he’ll be the kicker at the end of the season?  Give me the scenarios that might put his job in jeopardy?

3.  Finally one of your favorites: do the Eagles have one of the best young linebacking corps in the NFL or are they still a player short at best?

4. Is the NFC East still the best division in football?

5. BONUS: give me something I don’t see coming but should, both for the Eagles and the rest of the division.

Bring it.

Bye Week Blogganza? You betcha.
Posted on October 16th, 2008 at 1:20 pm by Cheesesteak Hoagie

And here you thought that we’d be taking the bye week off! 

Instead, we’ve decided to mix it up again with Derek from Igglesblog in what we’re cautiously dubbing a Blogganza.  We would call it a blogstravaganza, but we’re not quite sure we have a full ten parts in us this time around.  Still, we think we have enough material for a couple days of rantings and/ or musings.

Derek was gracious enough to kick off — check out his opening salvo over at Iggleblog (which I hope you’re reading regularly anyway; it really is the best one of these things going). 

After twenty-some-odd years, I still don’t understand the rules
Posted on October 7th, 2008 at 11:07 am by Cheesesteak Hoagie

Good catch by the consistently excellent Les Bowen in this morning’s papers in re: a baffling first-quarter play from Sunday.  In describing Andy Reid’s struggles with the challenge flag this year, Les explains:

Of more import was an unchallenged mistake earlier in the game. Late in the first quarter, leading 14-0, the Eagles had first down at the Redskins’ 42. Correll Buckhalter ran right for 5 yards, and Washington was called for having 12 men on the field. The Eagles accepted the penalty and should have then gotten a first-and-5 at the 37. Instead, they were given first-and-10 at the 37. They gained 5 yards on two runs, then threw an incomplete pass, before David Akers came on for a 50-yard field-goal attempt that he missed.

But had it been correctly marked first-and-5, the Eagles would have gotten the first down and had a chance to move closer for the field goal, or even score another touchdown. It’s kind of amazing that nobody on the officiating crew noticed this, but it’s even more amazing that Eagles players and coaches didn’t notice, or that somebody from the Eagles sitting upstairs didn’t call down to the field to alert Reid.

My wife asked me to explain what was going on on said play, as there was also a bit of confusion on the scoreboard (which had it correct) versus the chains on the field (which had it incorrectly marked first-and-ten).  I stammered something about the scoreboard being correct, but then I saw the chains and could only offer up a “Yeah, I don’t actually know what the story is on that.”

(As you might imagine, my wife was suitably unimpressed by this explanation.)

File under: “Further proof that even after watching football fairly closely for twenty-some-odd years, I still don’t actually understand all the rules.”  And people wonder why it’s hard to market this game globally!  Can you imagine explaining penalties to a bunch of guys that don’t speak the same language (like you have to do in soccer all the time)?  Not gonna happen.

*****

Of course, it would be disingenuous to omit comment on the main thrust of Bowen’s piece, which was that Donovan McNabb needs to show a bit more ownership/ leadership for the Birds.  It seems like Les and Dunavin should have e-mailed each other this morning before they both pushed publish, because that’s pretty much exactly what Dunavin wrote on his blog this morning

So.  I guess we’re all in agreement then.

McNabb panders to Philly fanbase, talks to blog
Posted on September 24th, 2008 at 11:37 am by Cheesesteak Hoagie

More McNabb this morning — looks like the esteemed quarterback used his day off to an online press junket, first posting on his own blog and then doing an interview with The700Level. 

McNabb’s blog post is pretty amusing.  Though I’ve dinged him for generic/ nondifferentiated sports chitchat in the past, I’m not going to argue with Dunavin pandering to the peoples:

I can’t believe that some people are dismissing Ryan Howard for the 2008 Most Valuable Player Award. I can’t think of anyone more deserving.  

And so on.  Might we go so far as to suggest that Mr. McNabb has the itch to pick up the phone and dial 963-0610 to talk some Phils?  Would his voice be recognized?

In more of a coup, he granted an actual interview to The700Level, in which he revealed that he and his boys were into old kung fu movies and the Wu Tang Clan in college.  Yeah.  That sounds about right. 



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