What Would Buddy Do?
BountyBowl guest blathers on someone else’s site
Posted on September 15th, 2008 at 3:18 am by Cheesesteak Hoagie

So I guess I’m hitting the big time!  Other sites are looking to fill IP packets with my blatherings!  Seriously! 

The Most Valuable Network (MVN) did a little Q&A thing with me and some guy from a blog called The Landry Hat.  Personally, I liked my answers better, but that’s mostly because my part picked the Eagles to win.  Also, I’m pretty psyched that I didn’t have to write about T.O. and his “comments” this week, though I would have relished dropping a “Next Question!” in that scenario.  

Answers recycled below:

1. The Eagles started the 2008 season in a big way last week with a 38-3 win over St. Louis. Many analysts, however, are hesitant to put much stock into the blowout victory, as it came on Philly’s home turf over a helpless opponent. Is there anything significant we can learn about the Eagles from last week’s game, even if their win did come against one of the worst teams in the NFL?

Aside from the fact that a 38-3 win is one of the more spectacularly awesome ways to open an NFL season, I’ve been trying to keep my enthusiasm in perspective since last Sunday. The Rams probably aren’t going to be very good, and quite a few things went well for the Eagles. Still, the guys over at Football Outsiders are fond of observing that an important characteristic of elite teams is that they dominate weaker opponents. If that’s the case, it’s hard not to be, um, “encouraged” by the Rams game.

In terms of what we learned, I’d say there were a few things:

  • Big 5 is back, especially when the opponent’s pass rush is less threatening than 7-on-7 drills. The Birds had a couple backup receivers go over 100 yards last week. That isn’t because those guys became Pro Bowlers in the offseason. It’s because McNabb had tons of time to throw and has the arm to power a very vertical passing game (that is, lots of balls fired 25 yards down the field). McNabb was so good that the Eagles didn’t even really have to unleash very many of Brian Westbrook’s super powers.
  • The Eagles were awful on special teams last year. Awful. They made it an organizational focus in the offseason, and it sure looked like it paid off in Game 1. The got a big return from DeSean Jackson and number of punts skillfully downed just outside the Rams goal line. The only disappointment on special teams is that we didn’t get to see much of rookie kickoff-returner Quintin Demps with the ball in his hands, but hey, if that’s the price of the Rams scoring three points, I think we can live with that.
  • The rookies really are going to play. Those of us in the imaginary football community have been panting over DeSean Jackson for months (I was actually shocked that he kept going so early in fantasy drafts), but he isn’t the only Eagles rookie who played last week. Quintin Demps was very involved on special teams and defensive tackle Trevor Laws also got a fair amount of snaps. For a team that’s traditionally nervous about putting rookies on the field, this counts as news.

2. Do you see the Eagles as being a potential sleeper in the NFC East?

Let’s start with the caveats: you’re asking someone who thinks that the Eagles are going to win Super Bowl EVERY SINGLE YEAR if the Eagles might be a “sleeper” in the NFC East. Yes, it’s the best division in football, and yes the Eagles finished last in said division last year. But the Eagles weren’t a mess of a team, and given the ambient levels of randomness in your average NFL season (the three or four games that could have gone either way for any team), well, there’s an alternate universe out there (one where the Eagles had a punt returner in Green Bay, played some two-minute defense against Chicago and hit the field goal against the Giants) where last year’s Eagles may have done very well for themselves.

Unfortunately, this is the only universe I’m aware of, and they finished last in it. I think the Eagles have enough talent on the field and the coaching staff to compete for the division. I don’t know if we can call them a sleeper, though; some dude over at that, what’s it called, Sports Illustrated thinks they’re going to the Super Bowl? That kind of blew their cover a bit.

3. What is the single biggest key to Monday night’s game for the Eagles, and what’s your predicted final score?

So if I had to go all Xs-and-Os on you, I’d give you two answers, one for offense and one for defense.

On offense, I think pass-protection will be the most important thing for the Eagles. I think Westbrook will do his thing (and expect that the Dallas defensive game plan is all about stopping the 36 Chambers of Brian Westbrook) and the receivers will look a lot more mortal this week. McNabb got hit a bunch in both Dallas games last year, and the Eagles weren’t challenged by the Rams’ defensive front last week. The Dallas defensive front is big and fast; let’s hope the Eagles’ offensive line (as well as inexperienced fullback Tony Hunt) comes to play.

On defense, I think they’ll handle T.O. with their surplus of quality corners and that Barber won’t hurt them running the ball. I’m pretty terrified of Jason Witten and Barber catching balls against the Eagles’ linebackers, though. Fingers crossed that Bradely, Gocong and Gaither can hang.

I think the difference in the game for the Eagles is coaching. I think the Birds schemed their way to a win at Dallas last December, and I think they have a file on the Cowboys now. Dallas probably is more talented on the field, but I think the Birds’ coaching staff will be bringing a suitcase full of clever with them to Texas Stadium. Add that to the pressure differential (the Cowboys are HBO darlings and seven-point favorites with ample Super Bowl hype), and I think that Eagles can/will win 23-20.

There. And I didn’t mention Jessica Simpson even once!

They say you’re a homeschooled jungle freak who’s a less hot version of me
Posted on September 4th, 2008 at 12:21 am by Cheesesteak Hoagie

Rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!

So I guess “being b*tchy to each other” is one of the new ideas (along with 17 brand-new “blogs”) that got green lit at Philly.com HQ at the August editorial meeting.  This is the second day that they’ve run the faux e-mail exchange thing, and it sure looks like they’re not afraid to get a little Mean Girls in it:

From: Sheridan, Phil
To: Ford, Bob; Gonzalez, John
Subject: DeSean and DeShameless

Full disclosure on hugging. I have not hugged an athlete or coach, but I have been hugged. It was 1988 and the Eagles had just clinched the NFC East title in Dallas. When the door to the locker room opened to the media, I stepped in and was immediately in the clutches of Al Roberts, who was Buddy Ryan’s special-teams coach. I don’t believe we’d been building up to anything. I think I was just the next person in Al’s path.

I see Eskin as a kind of human barometer. If he’s targeted DeSean Jackson as his new, bestest locker-room buddy, that means he thinks Jackson is going to be a star here. And that probably comes directly on the Andy Reid batphone. So we all learn a little something while battling our gag reflex.

A few things here:

1. Someone needs to have an intervention with Bob Ford.  The fake e-mails plus yet another I-hate-my-job-my-readers-and-everything-about-my-life column today are really a cry for help.  Seriously.

2. I can see them not digging on Eskin.  I mean, he does make like 8x their salaries and has the ear of the coach.  Fairnuff. 

3. Isn’t the fake e-mail thing a little done?  Also, leave the snarkiness to the pros, boys.  And by “pros” I mean anonymous jackii on the Interwebs.     

The best Eagles drama in a while (thank you, Mr. Rosenhaus!)
Posted on September 3rd, 2008 at 11:59 pm by Cheesesteak Hoagie

his trademark smile 

That last caller stole my thunder, but WOW — Les Bowen crushed it with his post on the Sheldon Brown/ Lito Sheppard argy-bargy this afternoon.  Talk about capturing the drama; you could bring this script to a casting call. 

I especially liked Les’s transcription of this otherwise baffling self-descriptive paragraph from Sheldon Brown:

“I wouldn’t say it bothered me, because I’m bigger than that, I’m a professional … Drew hasn’t been with Sheldon Brown for 7 years; I think he’s been with Lito for 2 months. He hasn’t followed by [sic] career. He hasn’t broke down any film; he probably couldn’t tell you what number (Brown wears). It’s really irrelevant … (from watching the video) you would think the guy has been scouting tape and know(ing) the statistics and following us our whole career.”

I just applaud the use of third-person self-reference throughout from Brown and appreciate the challenges of following the pronouns in that interview scenario. 

Treat yourself — click on through if you haven’t yet.   

Matt Mosley stays on Philly’s good side (barely)
Posted on August 30th, 2008 at 12:00 pm by Cheesesteak Hoagie

I’ve been following Matt Mosley’s NFC East blog at ESPN with some trepidation.  Whilst I certainly have appreciated a handy roundup of NFC-East-focused news stories, I of course have been routinely offended by the lack of relative attention/ respect paid to the Eagles in said blog.  And it isn’t just because Mosley is a Dallas guy; he ran a mailbag column the other day that contained one sentence on the Birds and didn’t even mention Philly as a contender for Anquan Boldin (he focused his Boldin talk on the Cowboys).  Ew.

Still, his decision to rank the Illadelph faithful fourth (4th) amongst NFL fans (and tops in the NFC East) shows that he is at least capable of comporting himself like a gentleman if need be. He notes that the season-ticket waiting list is 70,000 people strong (on which I’m apparently number 898, if an e-mail from the Birds is to be believed!) and that we do an excellent job with loyalty and tailgating.  The excerpt:

No other team dictates a city’s mood like the Eagles. It’s a loyal group of fans, but don’t confuse it with blind loyalty. When the Eagles play poorly, they face the wrath of the fans. That rattles some guys, but players such as Jeremiah Trotter and Brian Dawkins have thrived on that tough love. Fans of opposing teams should tread lightly in the Linc.

Mosley also includes some generic quotes about Philly fans, which has only solidified my belief that I’m completely bored/ tired of reading hypotheses regarding why we like the Eagles so durn much; to be honest, I’m a bit bored with the “Philly fans are CRAZY” trope amongst the national blatherati:

“You could drop a Martian into Philly the day after a game, and within three minutes, he’d know if the Eagles had won or lost,” said Glen Macnow, a sports radio talk show host for the wildly popular WIP and co-author of “The Great Philadelphia Fan Book.” “When they win, you’ll meet the friendliest cab drivers, CPAs and newspaper sellers. Whey they lose, it’s like a five-day hangover.”

Unlike places such as Dallas and Miami, Philadelphia isn’t home to a lot of transplants. People aren’t trying to leave, and potential newcomers aren’t arriving any time soon. It sort of creates this bunker mentality that seems to fuel passion for local teams — but mainly the Eagles.

No transplants?  Bunker mentality?  Sure.  Your bullshit is just as valid as my bullshit on this topic.  But we appreciate the theorizing!  Maybe next week we can make the mailbag.

Iggles Blog Vs. BountyBowl Blogstravaganza (#10): The Final Blogstrav
Posted on July 15th, 2008 at 11:01 pm by Cheesesteak Hoagie

Looks like this is the end of the road for Derek and I, for the first time for the last time.  To be entirely honest, I’m pretty impressed I got this far at all. 

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6 Part 7 Part 8 Part 9

—–

Derek,

At the risk of lurching back into slurpfest territory, right back atcha.  It’s been an absolute pleasure to play this game over the past week, and not just because it’s helped speed the time until training camp opens.  Of course, we can’t go on forever — you’ll need to go back to writing about the actual team and delivering consistently good insight, and I’ll need to go back to call the local writers names and copy-editing the Birds’ web site. 

Nobody said it was easy being “the bountybowl guy.”   

(Les, my man, it’s BountyBowl.  Two capital Bs.  That’s how we roll over here.  CamelCase.  Though I appreciate the obviously begrudging shout-out.)

That said, I’m glad you bit on the coach question.  We tend not to think about a world without Andy Reid (well, sort of), and we all assume that the coach will outlast the QB (which is probably correct), but is it so inconceivable that Dunavin gets a John Elway second-coach-new-system-and-couple-Super-Bowls? 

(No.  No it isn’t.  It’s just that that second coach will be in a city not called Philadelphia.) 

My comments on your coaches: (Read the rest of this story.)

Iggles Blog Vs. BountyBowl Blogstravaganza (#9)
Posted on July 15th, 2008 at 3:15 pm by Cheesesteak Hoagie

Derek has just issued his long, fond farewell to this Blogstravaganza of ours.  We’ll miss you, dude.  Stay classy.

The other eight (8) parts: 

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6 Part 7 Part 8

Iggles Blog Vs. BountyBowl Blogstravaganza (#8)
Posted on July 14th, 2008 at 11:39 pm by Cheesesteak Hoagie

Looks like we’re going for two with entry number eight. 

The first touchdown (+PAT) of entries: 

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6 Part 7

—–

Derek,

Whoa whoa whoa whoa whoa.  How did “Philly is a tough town to be the quarterback” get turned into “Philly doesn’t have good fans”?  These are not logical equivalents, and trust me, I’m just as bored as you are with the standard national media tropes about the Philly faithful.  I mean, sure, some of it is true (yes, they like to boo a lot; yes, it can be a little PG-13 in the stands at the Linc), but it’s all in the context of a town that (a) really can’t get enough of their sports (the freakin Soul and Phantoms can fill their arena) and (b) rather desperately wants to win at something.

I’ll spare you my well-considered treatise on why the people in Philly act this way — we’re limiting our armchair psychobabbling to the plight of Mr. McNabb this week.  Still, I don’t really think calling the Eagles QB job (especially as the face of the franchise/ guy in the commercials/ dude who has a $100 million contract) one of the toughest in U.S. sports is a matter of opinion; this feels more like pretty obvious fact.  The media scrutiny and the intensity of the fans plus the sheer scale of the sports media business in the Delaware Valley all makes this a tough situation for anyone (I hope young Master Kolb is up for it), much less an otherwise reasonable guy like Dunavin.

(Past the New York baseball examples floated in the earlier post, I’ll also toss “National Soccer Team Coach” onto the list.  This isn’t a tough job in the U.S., but is a horrific job everywhere else.  I mean, it’s only the entire nation’s pride and integrity that’s been placed in your control.  Also, the competitions might contain the “patriotism of your average war.”  Tough job.)

Yeah, so I agree they weren’t booing McNabb at the draft (I think I said as much in an earlier post — that it was about how badly Philly wanted a stud back) and that it’s boring to hear the freakin Santa Claus story.  I’ll add that we don’t always hate hearing some of these stories; I invite you to admit that it makes you feel a little bit more hardcore than the rest of the fans out there (gutless cowards that they are).  I sure will. (Read the rest of this story.)

Iggles Blog Vs. BountyBowl Blogstravaganza (#7)
Posted on July 14th, 2008 at 1:48 pm by Cheesesteak Hoagie

After a charming weekend, it’s game-on again with Derek over at IgglesBlog.  His latest is here.  I’m doing a bit of a cleanse right now (must rinse away the shame of the 36 ounces of steak I ate) but should have something up and running later tonight. 

The story of the film so far:

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6

Iggles Blog Vs. BountyBowl Blogstravaganza (#6)
Posted on July 11th, 2008 at 12:17 pm by Cheesesteak Hoagie

And the dialectic continues.  I think today’s the day I start calling Derek names.  It’s what Buddy would do.

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5

—–

Derek,

So the missus told you that we’ve been a little too needs-and-feelings so far?  (Note that Jason also dinged us for sucking up to each other over at BGN.)  She give you a little a pat on the butt and tell you that as long as you try harder everything will be better next time?

WELL I DIDN’T KNOW YOU WERE WRITING LIVE FROM THE SPORTS GUY MANSION.  Maybe now you’re going to tell me about your dog and your latest trip to Peet’s coffee and how TOTALLY CRAZY things can get in Vegas and how you tended bar in the late 90s and kept it real with some hardcore/ straight-from-the-streets sports knowledge.  Maybe you can have the missus do a guest column with HER Eagles analysis!  That’d be adorable!

(Everyone feel better now?)

In re: your thoughts on the wide receiver position, let me summarize my response by saying: it’s nice to see that you actually have a soul.  That is, it’s comforting to realize that behind your very rational web site and tons of cogent analysis, you believe in magic too.

And by “magic,” I mean “swagger.”  That is, there’s something out there that we can’t measure, but it really matters in re: who’s winning and who’s losing, and we know it when we see it.  It’s the confidence that the team will exert its will over the opponent, and will be the ones who make the plays in the last few minutes to win the game.  With T.O., the Eagles definitely had swagger.  No doubt.

Which makes the current iteration of the Birds so frustrating — because it’s so obvious the swagger is gone.  Are the Giants really that much better than the Eagles?  Hell no.  But they’re convinced that they are.  For example, put a BOUNTY on Antonio Pierce and his big effing mouth for blabbing about how the Giants owned the Eagles last year (even though the Birds had knocked them out of the playoffs the year before).  I fully believe that the Giants have a huge swagger edge over the Birds coming into this season, and that it’s going to take a serious bump in confidence for the Eagles to reclaim that. (Read the rest of this story.)

Iggles Blog Vs. BountyBowl Blogstravaganza (#5)
Posted on July 11th, 2008 at 8:22 am by Cheesesteak Hoagie

Dere’s next post is fully operational.

Is it weird that I’m jealous that Derek got to do Post #5?  Hmmm.  I mean, it isn’t not weird.

The story of the film so far:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

It’s a tricky day for me, but I’ve got all sorts of nonsense percolating.



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