What Would Buddy Do?
In response to this week’s Donovan McNabb non-story, I offer you a quiz
Posted on February 5th, 2009 at 12:26 pm by Cheesesteak Hoagie

Cheers to Derek for admirably tackling the Donovan McNabb non-story yesterday (and if you’re not reading Igglesblog this week, you should be — TONS of great stuff over there, heavy on the charts) — this is yeoman’s work!

In lieu of actually engaging in said conversation, I’m going to offer an observation and a link.  The observation is that our attraction to Donovan McNabb is no longer a sports attraction, it’s a celebrity attraction.  It’s not Elton Brand, it’s Britney Spears.  That is, we’re just following drama at this point, not sports.  And for a page-view hungry Philly.com, well, this is just a bear on a bike for them.

If we (or the local media) were really interested in local sports this week, they’d have plenty to talk about: two showdowns with top-of-the-table Boston teams (both close losses — yes, I’m counting the Flyers as a close loss), and the realization that maybe Elton Brand is stealing from the Sixers.  But no, we get some hearsay from Jeremiah Trotter and Hugh Douglas, amplified by an all-too-willing cadre of local blathermonkeys.  Whatever.

If you’re hung up on Dunavin this week, might I suggest that you click this link and take a little quiz.  Consider it a reminder of how bad things could actually be.  For the record, I got 11 of 27.

(Who’s going to be the enterprising Iggles fan who will create one of these quizzes for Eagles QBs since Jaws retired.  Who?  Pointing at nose, staring at ground….)

Posted in Blathermonkeys, Dunavin | 9 Comments 

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Unambiguous? Overwhelmingly the view of the fans, huh?
Posted on January 27th, 2009 at 12:46 pm by Cheesesteak Hoagie

Amidst the curiously significant volume of non-news in re: the Eagles, including a few pieces that I would have considered too much of a stretch for even a blog (that the players don’t care because they partied hard after a tough loss; an odd comparison of Eagles and Steelers fans), we have some fresh remarks from team president Joe Banner.

While the full interview won’t go public until tonight, CSN has released some excerpts, and it sure sounds like certain people who play certain positions are in the good graces of the senior leadership team these days:

“I thought and still think my answer was unambiguous. We thought that was important to clarify it because you don’t want those things to take on a life,” Banner said. “The reality is, my view and our view is unambiguous, that we can win a championship with those people, and they will be back. We believe we’re very lucky to have them. The good news is, that’s overwhelmingly the view of our fans. I know it doesn’t always come out that way, but Andy is a heck of a coach.”

To summarize, not only do we think Andy and Dunavin are doing a bang-up job, but we’ve also spoken to some of the customers, and they seem to be cool with these guys being the core features of the 2009 edition as well.

I actually think it’s kind of interesting that Banner was so confident regarding the view of the customers.  Do they poll?  Focus groups?  Or just check out the message boards and listen a bit to WIP and call it a day?  “Overwhelmingly” is a strong word.

****

By the way, we personally can’t get enough of Paul Domowitch’s ongoing class rage in re: NFL ownership and layoffs in various front offices.  Stick it to the man, Domo!  We can’t help but wonder how much of this rage is motivated by the precariousness of your own profession.

Monday Eagles Hangover: at least they found a new and innovative way to FAIL
Posted on January 19th, 2009 at 12:55 pm by Cheesesteak Hoagie

cardinalsloss.JPG

You know, I really thought they would win yesterday.  I thought they would win because their defense was good enough to best the Cardinals’ offense, and that the Eagles’ offense would be able to score against a Cardinals’ defense that wasn’t as tough as the Vikings or Giants.

Instead, the defense — the one I felt confident calling the best Eagles defense since 1991 — was exposed and fooled by a very clever Cardinals team.  We all sort of knew that the Birds would struggle to handle the Larry Fitzgerald superhero act, and he hurt them, but I didn’t expect the linebackers to look so confused and for the tackling to be so sloppy.  All credit to the Cardinals and their coaches for outcoaching and outscheming the Birds.

Even with all that, the Birds were leading this game with five minutes to play (!).  It was there.  But neither the offense nor the defense were good enough to win the game in the fourth quarter.  It was there.

It’s been there before, and we can only hope it will be there again.  Ouch.

Some day-after storylines:

I didn’t expect to be down on Jim Johnson this morning.  It’s just not what we expected, right?  That Jim Johnson, who was rightly praised for the efforts of the defense over the past seven games, would be a goat this Monday morning?  The Cardinals saw something on the right side of the Eagles defense, and certainly seemed to prey on Akeem Jordan a bit.  They got it a bit figured out at halftime, but, um, that was after they’d surrendered more points than they had since the Baltimore game.  Ouch.  Also, Stew Bradley looked like a first-year starter for the first time in a while.

Brian Westbrook was a non-factor.  Save for the great fingertip catch and sprint out of bounds on the Birds’ final drive, Westbrook didn’t really make a difference.  It actually looked like the Eagles’ offensive line was getting a good push on their running plays, but big plays did not result.  The Eagles got away with a win last week sans a big effort from Westbrook, and they almost repeated the feat this week.  It doesn’t matter if he was injured or just old and slow, but that was not a dangerous Brian Westbrook the past couple weeks.  And that hurts.

Speaking of, the dread run-pass ratio.  I’m sure the score had something to do with this — as well as the state of the Cardinals’ pass defense –but the Birds did end up throwing on 72 percent of their plays.  Luckily they were doing a fairly decent job of throwing it, but they didn’t look very committed to balance.

Speaking of, please, enough with the crying about the wideouts.  Sure, there were a couple drops and none of our guys look like Larry Fitzgerald, but the Birds’ wideouts made some huge plays yesterday.  I feel pretty good about Jackson, Curtis, Avant and Baskett (assuming they bring Baskett back).  This is not a position of concern heading into the offseason.

Positions of concern heading into the offseason.  Running back!  Running back!  It’s either a gimpy B-West or a free-agent Buckhalter.  Or Lorenzo Booker.  Or Kyle Eckel.  Yes.  It’s feeling very cold in here.  Also offensive tackle — both those guys looked their age yesterday.

Are we really talking about Donovan McNabb’s future?  McNabb missed a couple throws on that final drive, and the haters will focus on that, but he also had the cape on for the better part of the second half.  No running game, a lot of pressure from the edges, and the guy actually brought the team back from an 18-point halftime deficit.  Dude.  McNabb was not the problem for the Eagles yesterday.

Too much hitting, not enough tackling.  Whilst we like the idea of dropping a couple big hits on the opposing team to let them know it’s going to be a physical afternoon, it sure seemed like the Eagles’ defense was throwing shoulders and not wrapping up at all.  Shoulders aren’t enough against Larry Fitzgerald.

A guy we hate to admit didn’t make the big play.  Quintin Mikell almost — ALMOST — made a season-saving play on the fourth-down run in the fourth quarter.  Ugh.  That would have been nice for Mikell.

Asante Samuel.  Sigh.  After picks in two consecutive games, we can overlook a weak effort from Samuel yesterday.  Apparently he ducked reporters after the game?  Don’t know about that, Asante.  Philly doesn’t appreciate that sort of thing.  Even if you were hurt.

Guys who didn’t really duck reporters, but could’ve been forgiven for it.  Reggie Brown, L.J. Smith, it’s been a pleasure.  I guess the Birds thought Greg Lewis had some big-game magic in him?  Ummm, not so much.  Still, Brown didn’t even dress?  Yikes.  And Brent Celek’s big day yesterday really makes it that much easier to pretend there never was an L.J. Smith; I wonder what rookie will get #82 next summer?

Lucky breaks we’ve likely forgotten already.  How about that DeSean Jackson forcing a fumble for the Birds after the pick?  Pretty lucky break!  Though not as lucky as the Abiamiri call on the kickoff.  Whew.  Close one.  If you’re whinging about pass interference in the fourth quarter, you need to keep that kickoff call in mind.

Was Akers going to make a fourth-quarter field goal?  It sure seemed like he was Chuck Knoblauch unable to find first base by the third quarter.  A missed PAT?  The kickoff out of bounds?  Mercifully the Birds needed a touchdown and not a field goal for the go-ahead points.  Kind of a meltdown, no?

That’s it for now.  I’ve intentionally avoided the good season/ bad season ruling.  Plenty of time for that later this week.

Eagles - Cardinals Game Preview: If it’s the NFC Championship, shouldn’t it be fraught with anxiety?
Posted on January 18th, 2009 at 11:59 am by Cheesesteak Hoagie

There were a couple years there where “NFC Championship Game” was a phrase that had a certain “High Ankle Sprain” set of connotations for me (and I suspect many other Eagles fans).  By the time the Birds actually won one, we’d already suffered enough through enough disappointments — none more cruel than the loss to Tampa, that was the effing worst — in those games that the resulting emotions were more about relief than elation.

Well, well, well — doesn’t that feel like a long time ago!

Am I going to feel relieved if things go the Birds’ way this afternoon?  No way!  I’m going to be giddy.  Am I nervous as the game approaches?  Sure, but there’s no sense of dread or fear.  I actually couldn’t be more excited about seeing what happens.  For the first time in a long time (well, at least since the Phils won, but still…), I will approach a big Eagles game with nothing but cheerful anticipation.

(I know, I know.  Crazy.  But I really do almost feel like a normal, rational human being about this game.)

I imagine that a lot of the good vibes here have to do with the part where I don’t think the Eagles will lose.  Certainly we’ve been shocked before, but this time my heart and my head are agreeing on things.

What I’ll be shouting about:

It’s the defense, stupid.  The Eagles certainly can’t win without playing well on offense, and casual fans tend to focus on the skill position guys (dudes they might know from their fantasy team or the highlight reel), but if you’re paying attention to the team at all, you get that the Birds are rolling because of their defense.  Right?  Everyone gets that?  Points allowed over the past seven games (most recent game first) = 11, 14, 6, 10, 10, 14, 20.  As noted yesterday, passer ratings allowed over the past seven games (most recent game first) = 40.7, 45.4, 55.8, 65.7, 28.3, 73.5, 65.7.  This is the best Eagles defense since 1991.  That’s not a bad asset to have heading into the NFC Championship game.

Further along with the defense-matters line of reasoning.  The charming folks at Cold, Hard, Football Facts (CHFF) have a statistic called Defensive Hog Index that has correctly predicted the outcome of 18 of the past 19 NFL playoff games (the only one it missed was the AFC Championship from last year, when the #7 Pats beat the #5 Chargers).  The Defensive Hog Index:

The top defensive front is that which posts the highest average rating across the board. The Defensive Hog Index is based upon these criteria: YPA – Yards Per Attempt. So simple, even you can understand it. This rates a defense’s ability to stuff an opposing ground game.NPP% Negative Pass Plays, expressed as a percentage. This is how often an opponent’s pass plays end in either a sack or interception. Defenses that get after the quarterback and overwhelm the opposing offensive line naturally force sacks and INTs. These negative pass plays are calculated as a percentage of attempts. So if a team forces two sacks and two INTs in 40 pass plays, their NPP% will be 10 percent (4/40).3down% - Opposition success rate on third down. The lower the percentage, the higher the defensive success.

As an FYI, the Birds are ranked 2nd and the Cardinals are ranked 17th.  The Steelers are actually #1 and the Ravens #3 (the Vikings were #4 and the Giants #9).

Speaking of, for those who are overly concerned about the Eagles’ offense.  Note the rankings of the Vikings and the Giants above.  While the Cardinals’ defense has played well in recent weeks, it will be the worst-rated defense that the Eagles have faced in the playoffs.  Certainly that must bode well for the Birds.

I hope being three-point favorites hasn’t ruined the “Nobody Respects Us” thing.  In a moment of extreme weakness, I attempted to watch the Donovan McNabb Show on PE.com.  It’s definitely worth a quick look, if only for the intro sequence, which includes on-field footage from just before the start of the Giants’ game last Sunday.  They have this bit where Dawkins goes around the horn with the other guys in the secondary and explains to each of them why the Giants don’t respect them (”Hanson, you’re too small to play football — THEY DON’T RESPECT YOU!” and so on).  It’s very worth it.  (Bonus sideline audio: I really liked hearing A.J. Feeley making the case against the intentional grounding call in the footage on Inside The NFL.  Very solid.)

Looks like there will be chances for the kids to shine.  Like the Vikings, the Cardinals are crap in the return game (good details at the FO NFC Championship Preview).  DeSean Jackson scored TDs in the state of Arizona the past two years in college…that has to count for something, no?  And Quintin Demps might feel at home in the Southwest?  I’m reaching here, but the bigger point is that the indicators point to a big play in the return game.

This counts as a home game for McNabb.  Finally, a chance for Dunavin to play in front of his neighbors and friends: people who love him, not like those jerks back in Philly who are always complaining and criticizing.  The important thing is that McNabb remain focused on how much everyone in Philly hates him and how the only way to really stick it to those losers is to play really really well and win again.

Also, let’s not pretend that we don’t like that sly smile from B-West.  I dunno, if Brian Westbrook is saying things like the following,

On how he feels right now: “I feel great.”

On whether today was the most he’s practiced all week: “Yes.”

On how the knee feels after practice: “It feels good.”

On whether it feels better than last week: “Yes, I would say better.”

On what has changed that his knee feels better: “It just feels good. I don’t know what it is.”

On whether it’s something about playing the Cardinals that makes his knee feel better: “I don’t know if it’s the Cardinals, I just feel good right now.”

Then we can’t feel too too terrible about how he might play in this game?  Sure, he seems gimpy, but, well, maybe he has one more big game in him?

The only letdown is for the fans.  In the early part of the week, I was concerned that this had the potential to be a letdown game for the Birds.  GCobb was chasing this as well.  But after listening to the team all week, I don’t think this’ll be the case.  I think the Birds will be appropriately focused.  For me, well, yeah.  This is a letdown game — the Giants game was the biggest one I could imagine.  But luckily I don’t actually play.

Actual game prediction.  I think the Eagles will win because their offense is better than the Cardinals’ defense, because their defense is better than the Cardinals’ offense, and because they’re better than the Cardinals on special teams.  Puh-retty straightforward.  Crazy things can happen, McNabb could turn into a turnover machine, the wideouts could drop the ball like the Washington game, a kickoff could be fumbled and returned for a TD, etc etc.  But even if some crazy things go down, I think the Birds will still get it done, and I’ll be making travel plans for Tampa by the end of the afternoon.  Eagles 27, Cardinals 17.

Wow. It’s getting pretty meta in here. We’d better embrace soon!
Posted on January 17th, 2009 at 2:11 pm by Cheesesteak Hoagie

Full slate of pressers on Friday, with Donovan McNabb, Brian Westbrook, and Brian Dawkins joining Friday regular Andy Reid at the podium.  With, ahem, a lack of fresh material for another full round of interviews, the topic of conversation kept to turning to the players and coaches’ relationship with the media and the fans, specifically what it will take for the city of Philadelphia to finally hug Andy Reid’s fat belly.

Showing the form that’s made them the scourge of the local press detachment, Andy Reid and Donovan McNabb had little to offer on the topic of Reid “being embraced” by the media and fans.  From Reid,

On what it takes to be completely embraced by this town and how he and Phillies Manager Charlie Manuel are “text” buddies: “Honestly, I don’t think about all that.  That’s for you guys to take care of.  Charlie’s (Manuel) a heck of a guy and a great manager and I just think he did a tremendous job.  We were supporting him 110 percent, our football team, and their baseball team has been great.  Our players are close and Charlie and I communicate and he did a great job.  I’m not going to get into all the comparisons and embrace myself.”

And then McNabb:

On what it will take for head coach Andy Reid to be fully embraced by Philadelphia: “That’s a question that I need to ask you. If we had the answer, then it wouldn’t be a problem. But, you know what? The thing about it is winning cures everything. When you’re winning, nobody digs deeper into finding much of what’s going on. I can personally tell you that we don’t get affected by what people may say on the outside too much. You use whatever you want as motivation and you move on. You can’t impress everyone. Not everyone is going to like you, but you just go out and you do your job and you enjoy doing it. That’s something that I can definitely say that hasn’t wavered by any means from Andy and it trickles down to the rest of us. You can’t let what people may say on the outside become a distraction of what you do here at your job.”

Right right.  These guys pay attention to their media training, so you can’t expect much more than that.  But maybe we’ll get something more interesting from Brian Dawkins, right?

On what he thinks it will take for head coach Andy Reid to be completely embraced by the city of Philadelphia: “You have to understand where we are. Here in Philadelphia they love you to death but they are still going to criticize you. They are still going to get on you. They are still going to ask questions. You have to have thick skin to play here, to coach here. Everybody can’t coach, everybody can’t play here. So obviously Andy is doing something that a lot of coaches could not succeed in by having thick skin, holding fast to what he believes in, and continue to move on. They are still going to question you regardless of success. As soon as you have a string of failure they are still going to question you, so you understand that. You just go out and do what you do and that’s what Andy has done; he has stayed the course in what he believes.”

Nope.  Maybe Brian Westbrook?:

On what it will take for head coach Andy Reid to be completely embraced by the city of Philadelphia: “I think everybody knows that Coach is a good coach. He’s done a great job here and in his ten years I want to say he’s one of the top two or three winningest coaches in that tenure. He’s done a great job for this team, and I also feel that he’s been great to the players here as well. Different people are always going to have something negative to say, but I think his players respect him and the people that know football respect him around the NFL and as a coach. I think that’s all you really can ask for. I think the fans are going to go up and down sometimes with the wins and losses. But, the true mark is how do you follow up those losses, and he’s done a great job of bringing this team back this year and now we’re playing for the NFC Championship and a lot has to do because of him.”

Though, in Westbrook’s defense, he did let down the guard a bit when they asked him the meta-question about how it feels to answer questions about his knee every week:

On whether he gets tired of answering the same questions every week: “It gets a little repetitive. I appreciate you bringing that up. It definitely gets a little repetitive, but my knee’s fine. I think, it hasn’t been said, but a lot of times, throughout games when you have injuries, you’re going to tweak your injury no matter what injury it is. This wasn’t the only game that I tweaked my knee, but it happens throughout football games.”

To summarize, no one can really say why the public doesn’t “embrace” Andy Reid (perhaps it’s because we all know that our arms would never make it all the way around his generous mid-section?), but Brian Westbrook is just as sick of answering the same questions as the press are of asking them.

So it wasn’t the benching; let’s try the human interest angle
Posted on January 14th, 2009 at 9:14 pm by Cheesesteak Hoagie

In an act of extreme patience and restraint, the media assembled for today’s round of Eagles pressers managed to not mention Donovan McNabb’s Benching Against Baltimore, as has been their recent custom.

I suppose they got just as tired of asking as we did of reading.

So today they tried another angle.  It wasn’t the benching that was the turning point — the benching was just a result of McNabb’s anxiety about his wife’s pregnancy.  A ha!  Perhaps this would work — I mean, it wouldn’t be showing weakness to admit that maybe one was a bit preoccupied by an extremely complicated pregnancy, right?

Try.  Again.

On whether there was a point, during his wife’s pregnancy with twins, that he thought about stepping back from football: “No. Family is family and football is another issue. It was tough, but we all have been through difficult situations, whether it deals with family or football.”

Of course, as Lew Bowen has some aptly pointed out, McNabb’s media training is such that he’s unlikely to agree that the sun rises most mornings without first offering a “Not at all.”  So you can’t think you were going to get an easy win out of Donovan.

So why not try the more reasonable — and less skittish around the press, for good reason — Brian Dawkins?

On whether it was difficult for QB Donovan McNabb to concentrate on football due to concern for his wife and expected children during the delivery process: “I would say yes. I’m not in his shoes obviously, but I just know where I was as my wife was going through the ordeal with our babies. Had that been during the season, it would have been very, very tough to focus.”

Voila!  Hit up the guy whose wife ALSO had a complicated pregnancy and ask him the hypothetical!  Without speaking for Dunavin directly, Dawk’ll give you what you wanted.  There you go — now you’ve got copy for a sensitive piece that probes the quarterback’s complex psyche for Thursday morning.

We won’t comment on whom we expect to write tomorrow’s pregnancy story.

Yes! They’re going to rip you! They hate you! (Please keep winning.)
Posted on January 12th, 2009 at 8:51 pm by Cheesesteak Hoagie

Dude, the grand master plan in which Donovan McNabb plays the me-against-the-world card continues to work to perfection.  Personally, I can’t get enough of it.  From Michael Silver’s column on Yahoo:

On a day in which McNabb had once again provided the people who criticize his personality with ample ammunition – he was called for a personal foul with three minutes remaining after scrambling out of bounds, picking up a phone on the Giants’ sidelines and pretending to have a quick conversation with who knows who – the quarterback was ready for the inevitable barrage.

“I’m gonna get ripped,” he said, looking over to teammates DeSean Jackson and Hank Baskett, and a few other amused players dressing nearby. “That is the story of my life. It’s something to talk about: ‘Donovan, what an idiot.’ ”

The subject turned to Mondesire, a Philadelphia newspaper publisher who charged that McNabb “played the race card” to explain a decrease in rushing attempts.

“That guy ripped me because I wasn’t black enough!” McNabb said, drawing more laughs. “What do you mean, brother? Damn, do I need to hit a tanning salon?”

Maybe it’s a little cruel that it has to be this way — that this seemingly decent dude can’t actually bask in the glow of all the folks who do adore him — but whatever.  It only needs to work for three more weeks.

Monday Eagles Hangover: the cure for hangovers is obviously EAGLES AWESOMENESS
Posted on January 12th, 2009 at 8:42 pm by Cheesesteak Hoagie

thatza touchdown

Been quite an interesting 36 hours for your humble author. From a windswept and cold tailgate at the Meadowlands to the best Eagles game in recent memory to the Happiest Place On Earth ™ and back, I can’t certainly complain of a lack of variety in my stimuli. And as I return home this evening in my big-boy pants and assorted standard-issue Banana Republic work clothes (with my cold-weather Eagles costume furtively stuffed into my carry-on baggage like some sort of smuggled sports-feelings WMDs), I’ve still got a glow about me.

Surely that’s the only way I made it through this little trip, which should have left me pretty worn out and haggard.  (Certainly my decision to “celebrate” throughout the day alone should have left me a little slow.)  Nope. I’m feeling great. Been feeling great all day. Such is the impact of this level of Eagles Awesomeness: it might have the power to cure hangovers and remove the need for sleep. We’re having scientists, trained scientists, look into it right now.

My day-after storylines and bulletpoints (written mostly without my usual embarrassingly exhaustive review of the mainstream post-game content, but we’ll take what we can get):

All hail the defense. Um, so at what point can we suggest that this is the best Eagles defense since 1991? What will it take? That defense, you might remember, didn’t shine like this one has in the post-season, and were more consistently dominant. They also had a bit of mean-spirited swagger that doesn’t seem evident in this team. For all the ferocity that this Eagles defense brings on the field, they’re not bullies. They’re not the Ravens. They just succeed, but without seeming to engender many bad vibes from opponents.

All that said, the worst thing I’ve ever heard uttered about Brian Dawkins. I actually heard someone a few rows back say, “I hope Brian Dawkins breaks his leg.” Out loud! Doesn’t he know that God might be listening and will surely punish him dearly for such a remark?

One of these weeks someone will figure it out. Westbrook doesn’t have it. He doesn’t. He’d love to prove us all wrong (like he did on the screen pass against the Vikings), but the jump isn’t there. We probably won’t get a straight answer on how hurt he is for a long time — some knee thing, the dread high ankle sprain, the ribs — hopefully at least three weeks. But he isn’t the weapon that we imagine him to be. Part of that probably has to do with the defenses he’s faced in the last month, but he just doesn’t look quite as quick. Still, as long as he’s willing to step on the field, folks will have to ignore him at their peril — especially in a warm-weather game on grass.

So if B-West isn’t carrying the offense, who is? Well duh. It’s the quarterback and a suddenly consistent group of receivers. Is it fair to say that McNabb has entered a new stage in his career over the past two months? This might be worth it’s own post, but it sure feels like he’s bringing the polished passing skills he’s acquired in the past couple years together with a determination and desperation (especially on third down) that he seemed to have last had in 2002. And I’m probably imaginging things here, but he actually seems more confident than he has in a while. Even when things haven’t gone well the past couple weeks, he’s been fairly unflappable. Makes me smile.

The things we carried.  I took a commemorative white towel with Giants’ logos all over it from a marketing/ promotions drone when I entered the stadium. The attendant looked at my Trent Cole jersey and Eagles hat and gave me a “Really?” “I want a souvenir to remember this by.” Pretty happy with that decision. I’ll put it on the shelf with my Phils towel from the NLCS and my plastic coffee mug from Fourth-and-26.

Stoppable (!).  I couldn’t tell who turned on Eli first: the fans or Tom Coughlin. Folks in section 108 were not happy with young Mr. Manning yesterday. The pick to Samuel prompted a chorus of anti-Eli haterade from the assembled Giants’ fans. I cannot explain how happy this made me.  To see them turn so quickly: it meant they were very much on edge heading into the game, and suggested that they were rightly terrified of the Eagles.  And with so much time to play!  It was truly glorious.  Though I guess Coughlin wasn’t far behind the fans, in that he essentially gave up on throwing the ball in the second half.

Speaking of, you know who loves to say, “I told you so?”  Everyone.  But mostly Derek gets to say it today.  When he wrote this, I was just psyched that he was telling us the Giants wouldn’t win the Super Bowl (I was happy with “anyone but the Giants” at that point).  But to have the Birds be the ones to beat them, TWICE?  Heh heh heh. Take a bow.

And one more shot at the Giants’ fans.  Dude, y’all certainly left that stadium puh-retty early — certainly a lot earlier than I was personally convinced that the game was over.  I guess my pessimism about games not being over until they are actually over — which is what happens when your team surrenders two blocked-kick TDs at the end of the first half in a single season — is stronger than your willingness to cheer your team, THE DEFENDING SUPER BOWL CHAMPIONS, until the final whistle of the season.  I mean, really, why bother?

Yeah, I’m still soaring with this one.  Go Birds.

(Correction: I unforgivably misspelled Brodrick Bunkley’s first name in an earlier post.  No excuses.  Bad form from me.  Sloppy.)

A thousand gold pieces to the one who can get McNabb to admit benching had some impact on him!
Posted on January 8th, 2009 at 11:29 am by Cheesesteak Hoagie

While most observers of the Birds are willing to concede that Donovan McNabb’s benching at Baltimore was at least an inflection point for the team this season, good luck getting “never let them see you sweat“ Dunavin to admit it.  As far as he’s concerned, the benching didn’t really mean anything, nothing has changed since then, and any apparent evolution is just a coincidence.

Of course, that hasn’t stopped the blathertariat from purusing this angle.  Every.  Single.  Time.  They.  Talk.  To.  McNabb.  For some reason, Dunavin refuses to offer a simple, “Yeah, it’s obvious the team needed a kick in the butt, and it sure looks like things have gone well since then.”  Of course, that would imply that he wasn’t playing his best all season, and that’s not the sort of thing one is eager to talk about when one is asking for a raise.  So we’ll cut him some slack there.

Still, you’ve gotta love the ongoing effort (what dedication!) from the media to coax some sort of reflection out of the quarterback over the past month.  It’s actually a very impressive body of work:     

January 7

On whether being benched has had any effect on the way he has been playing or whether it’s coincidental: “I think it’s completely coincidental. I don’t think that that played a factor into the way that I am playing now. So, that’s in the past and we’ve moved on.” 

December 31:

On what his range of emotions has been since the game at Baltimore: “No range of emotions. I’m happy.”

On whether he was happy after he was benched at Baltimore: “I was happy then and I’m happy now.”  

December 17:

On whether he thinks his benching at Baltimore was an attempt to make the team play better: “I think the team is playing well. I think we’re all playing well together. For me to be used as the guy to motivate other guys, I really don’t think that was needed, but I guess we’ve all seen what happened and have learned from it and moved on. It’s a different situation when it’s really not you that’s being the guy to motivate everyone else. I think, in light of it, I guess we’re all playing well together.”

On whether his relationship with Andy Reid has changed since his benching: “My relationship hasn’t changed with Andy. I guess that would be an assumption that people would make because of the situation and the coverage which it has received. I guess maybe they took it from ‘we’ll have to talk after whenever’, but in this situation, we’re professionals. We know what our job entitles us to do and that’s for me to go out onto the field and lead this team to successful wins and try to get us in a position to make the playoffs. Anything else after that is after we’re done. As far as right now, we’re focusing on what we need to do to beat Washington.” 

December 11:

On whether he thinks that sitting in the second half of the Ravens game has helped him over the last two weeks: “No.” 

Of course, this all would have been a lot easier if he hadn’t allowed himself to be a human being for just a moment after beating the Cardinals, which begat this on December 3:

On his statement after the Cardinals game that he would like to sit down and talk with people in the organization at some time: “I said that I’ll be talking to Andy, (president) Joe (Banner) and (owner) Jeffrey (Lurie).”

On what it is that he wants to talk with them about: “We’ll discuss that when the time comes. I think that at this particular point, it’s just really for us to focus on who we are playing and that will be the Giants and continue on from there. And the conversation will happen.”

On whether he is secure with his position as the quarterback of the team: “I am the quarterback and I will be the quarterback, so if that’s where you’re going with it, I don’t look at anything else that’s happened.”

And so on and so forth.

See!  That’s what you get for having feelings, Dunavin!  Hope you learned your lesson! 

All that said, national media (especially you, Michael Strahan and Deion Sanders), you’re welcome to get f*cked on this front.  This is our issue, and we’ll deal with it locally.  We don’t need your holier-than-thou crap, especially since most of you have been more than happy to casually beat up on McNabb when he struggled (tell me more about how good Tony Romo is, I’m listening).  Go away.

Monday Eagles Hangover: come on, we were all looking past the Vikings
Posted on January 5th, 2009 at 6:29 pm by Cheesesteak Hoagie

djackvikings.jpg

Maybe the best part of this edition of Monday Eagles hangover is that…I’m not actually hungover!  At all! Note that said hangovers typically have little to do with alcohol consumption and more to do with my sensitive little bruised sports feelings. Said sports feelings are doing just fine today, thank you very much.

My day-after thoughts and bulletpoints:

Stay angry, big fella.  Surely after a season-vindicating playoff win against the Vikings, quarterback Donovan McNabb would be in an ebullient mood, no?  Oh wait.  Someone tried to ask Dunavin how he felt about Jeff Lurie’s comments regarding his future (which were all positive) at his post-game presser, and Dunavin essentially told them that he hopes that means they’ll stop asking him about it (not with a smile) and then cut off a follow-up question with “Nice try.”  He also bickered about the difference between wanting a meeting with the boss and wanting to stay in Philly.  I’d give you the quote but it wasn’t included in the transcription on the Birds’ site; this is the best I’ve got:

“Do you want to be back next year?” someone asked yesterday, reminding McNabb that he had asked for a sit-down with ownership when this season concludes.

“I’m here,” he said with a smile. “Excited.

“Nice try.”

The important thing is that the quarterback continue to think that everyone hates him and the only way he can really stick it to us is by winning many football games.  Keep it up!

Per lo usual, Sheldon Brown speaks the truth.  Nice work by BGN on picking this Sheldon Brown quote out of a post-game interview with Sal Pal:

I would never want to disrespect the Vikings by looking past them… but I kinda knew, we all did that it would come down to a rematch with the Giants.

Sheldon, I couldn’t agree with you more.  That was the thinking that led me to opt out of a flight to Minnesota in the hopes that the Eagles would play the Giants in my backyard here in New York the following week.  And it all worked out.  Excellent.  Let us also note that said ticket for the G-Men game was purchased by 11 pm last (Sunday) night.

And who says Andy Reid doesn’t pay attention to his critics?  From today’s day-after press conference:

On whether he stuck with the run yesterday in order to slow their pass rush: “Yeah, we were trying to get it going. (Jokingly) I can’t even believe that you asked that question, but I kind of feel good that you did. We tried to keep it as balanced as we could so I wouldn’t have to answer that question, but that’s all right.”

Outstanding.  Really.  Outstanding.  For everyone: the reporters, Big Red himself, all of them.  Still, even Andy Reid will have to admit that answering the same question about running the ball is better than the lot of the quarterback (”Dunavin, for the twentieth time, how did you feel about being benched and will you be back next year?”).

What made this not the Washington game.  You could argue that the offense struggled at times yesterday.  They did, especially running the ball.  But the difference for the team yesterday was that they caught the ball.  How many drops were there?  (Dawkins and Sheldon Brown don’t count.  We might even argue that Matt Schoebel shouldn’t count.)  And not all those catches were easy.  The wideouts were actually excellent catching the ball, and Brent Celek reminded us all why it’s so important that L.J. Smith rest up for free agency.  That makes a difference — sure makes Dunavin look good.

Speaking of, in re: tight ends.  L.J. Smith didn’t show up in the injuries portion of Andy Reid’s presser today, and no one asked about him.  Is he okay?  Or has he already been sent to gulag?

Guys who are growing up before our eyes.  Sure looked like Trevor Laws got more than a couple snaps on first down yesterday.  And was that Chris Gocong busting throw the line and blowing up running plays?  I thought that was what that Stewart Bradley fellow did?  And it definitely looks like Demps is going to be trusted a fair amount against the Giants as well, given that he was on the field in the three-safety alignment against the Vikings (you know, the one where the $57 million guy gets a break?).  Here’s to hoping that Demps doesn’t let any deep balls get behind him on the play fake (fingers crossed).

Go Birds.

Sorry for the lack of posts today.  We’ve had some connectivity issues, and the day job beckoned.  We’ll make it up later in the week.



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