What Would Buddy Do?
Eagles - Vikings Game Preview: don’t pretend you know what we’re getting today
Posted on January 4th, 2009 at 11:38 am by Cheesesteak Hoagie

Well none of us are going to pretend we expected this.  Sure, we could envision this, but to expect this would have been a bit strong after the Washington game.  The Eagles are actually in the playoffs.

So, are they any damn good?

That’s the thing about the Eagles game today.  We don’t actually know what the narrative of this season is yet.  Is is the “Eagles go on a run like 2006 (Washington game is ‘just a blip’)” or is it “Eagles stumble into playoffs, but are who we thought they were”?  If they win today, many many sins will be forgiven — even if they lose the following week.  Then they’re good but not good enough, and that’s a lot better than we thought we’d get in mid-November.  If they lose today, especially if they do so in one of the ways to which we’ve become accustomed, well, then they were essentially last year’s team with a better punt returner: good on paper, but bad when it matters.

I wouldn’t be completely shocked if the Eagles didn’t show up at all today, but I don’t think it’ll happen.  Rather, I think that there’s a compelling reason why it might not happen: the Eagles defense.  But more about that in a bit.

What I’ll be shouting about in re: today’s big Wild Card Game:

Your storylines.  It’s a little overwhelming (and by overwhelming, I mean that it makes writing a preview really challenging) when your team makes the playoffs in re: the clear national storylines.  As in, (1) Jim Johnson versus Tavaris Jackson (must include reference to total available quantity of blitzes), (2) Can the suddenly elite Eagles’ defense contain Adrian Peterson, (3) Teacher-versus-Pupil.  What’s sweet is that I feel good about each of those.  And the thing that worries me most is just that they go out and throw it 48 times.  Andy Reid, you haunt me!

Storylines we refuse to consider.  You’re not allowed to say, “This is an extremely close game in simulations with the Eagles winning just under 51 percent of the simulations. The key to the game is turnovers,” in an article entitled “Intel Report” on ESPN.  Generally speaking, I think blathermonkeys should be fired on the spot for uttering the phrase, “The key to the game is turnovers.”  The key to scoring is touchdowns and field goals.  The key to defense is tackling.  Yes.  It’s all true!

Fan storyline that’s a bit odd.  I assume most of you are like me in that you feel good about defense and special teams, and have no idea what we’re getting from the offense.  It’s worth noting that said offense set the franchise record for points scored…and I still don’t think we’re remotely irrational for not trusting them.

The last time these guys played in January.  The future Mrs. BountyBowl got us tickets for the game as a Christmas gift, circa December 2004.  This was a very clever strategy of hers for currying my affections.  Seemed to have worked out for everyone.  F***ing cold that day, though!

Hip, whatever.  The Birds paid a lot of money for Asante Samuel.  Mr. Samuel has traditionally been very successful in elimination games (save for an awkward moment along the sideline last February).  It’d be lovely if he felt compelled to demonstrate his penchant for the big moment against the Vikings.  Also, I’m pretending that the injury thing is an illusion.

Speaking of, he doesn’t need to play.  L.J. Smith has his impending free agency to worry about.  Let’s cut the guy some slack and let him get healthy.  It’s for the best.

The CamelCased One.  What a wonderful opportunity for young Master DeSean to go out and demonstrate he has a feel for the big moment (and redeem himself for the Washington game) than to make a play against the absolute worst punt coverage team in the league?  Very tempting, no?  We’d hate to think the kid had issues with the spotlight.

Speaking of wideouts.  Both Kevin Curtis and Reggie Brown made circus catches against the Vikings when the Eagles played there last year.  A similar effort this afternoon would augur well for the Birds’ chances.

Jared Allen is scary, though not as scary as Demarcus Ware.  I think Allen will be slightly more dangerous than Ware was last week if only because Ware’s team completely quit.  But if the Birds can handle Ware, why not Allen?  (That said, I think Allen is excellent.)

Adrian Peterson is scary, though not as scary as Brian Westbrook.  Sure, AP (”Purple Jesus”) is a megastar guy who has a chance to be the best back of his generation.  But in a game that matters I feel extremely good about a Brian Westbrook, and not just because he might be the single smartest guy on the field.  He’s also good at not getting tackled!

Eagles thoughts from during the Cards - Falcons game.  While I know it’s not for everyone, it sure looks like you can run your offense through a couple dominant wideouts.  Those guys are good.

Eagles thoughts from during the Bolts - Colts game.  This was actually painful to watch for me, if only because there were so many little plays that almost but didn’t quite go the Chargers’ way (at least until the coin toss!).  Lots of dropped picks, bad bounces, that sort of thing.  It’s rare that I can feel like an Eagles fan watching another team.  Thanks, Chargers!

Things I’m glad I haven’t thought about in weeks.  How about that David Akers!  Doesn’t seem to be struggling any more.  And he’s got to feel good about a dome.

No one believes in you, Donovan.  I hope Mr. McNabb is on his laptop this morning reading the InterWebs just so he knows that NO ONE BELIEVES IN HIM.  Nope.  Not a one.  And the ONLY WAY HE CAN STICK IT TO THE FICKLE DOUBTERS is to play the game of his life.  That’s the only way you can really get us, Donovan.  Seriously.  It’ll totally piss us all off, because we don’t really like you and don’t want you to succeed.

Cardboard Box.  One of the things that makes me feel confident about the game today is that I think the Eagles actually will get the speed of the playoff game.  That is, there are a few guys on the field for the Eagles who won’t be intimidated by the moment and will come out playing fast.  Mostly I’m thinking that Brian Dawkins and/ or Sheldon Brown isn’t going to be afraid to endanger themselves in order to announce their presence with authority in the first few minutes of the game.  And now, because I can’t help it, is the link.  Treat yourself.

Game prediction. I think that the defense is going to show up this week for the Eagles, and that if the Birds can get it to 20 points they should be chill.  The problem is that I can’t really speak for the offense.  I think they could be awful.  I think it’s important that the Eagles wide receivers play well.  That means getting open and it means catching the ball.  Eagles 20, Vikings 13.

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.

Monday Eagles Hangover: Wow, so that actually happened
Posted on December 29th, 2008 at 12:35 pm by Cheesesteak Hoagie

clemonsavant1.JPG

Yup.  Still here.  Just checked the Internet, and it appears that the Eagles did, in fact, make the playoffs.  Yesterday will be fondly remembered as pretty much the best day to be an Eagles fan since 2004.  Sure, there were some solid moments in 2006, but nothing so singularly glorious as what went down yesterday.

I dunno.  I’m still reeling.

What I’m chewing on this morning (besides bacon):

The last two minutes of the first half.  The end of the first half has been something of a bugaboo for the Birds over the course of this season.  I guess we should have known that this was truly a special day when — instead of having a field goal blocked and returned for a touchdown, as has been their style — the Eagles scored 17 points in the final 2:09 of the first half.  Wow.

Guys we couldn’t be happier for, Part 1.  Correll Buckhalter, you’ve hung in there for years and years, and yesterday, you were the guy.  We’ve always enjoyed rooting for Buck, and this was a great Buckhalter game — made plays when he had his chance, made sure he ran north and south, and did it with a big smile.  Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.

Guys we couldn’t be happier for, Part 2.  I take back everything I ever said about Dawkins being done (though that was mostly in August/ September).  I liked GCobb’s comments about Dawk: essentially that Dawk’s game yesterday will be featured prominently in his Hall of Fame resume.  Yup.  Keep talking.

Guys we couldn’t be happier for, Part 3.  Sheldon Brown, good for you.  We thought you might have fallen into a pick by accident by this point, but hey, we’re glad you got one before the season was over.

Discussions we’ll no longer entertain.  Don’t want to hear it about Tony Romo.  Nope.  Not a word.  Until he wins any sort of game that matters, we’re not allowed to call him the best quarterback in the division.  He’s the third-best quarterback in the division.  At best.  Sure, the sample size is small, but it sure looks like Tony Romo has failed in every playoff situation he’s faced.  I’ll look forward to his skewering in the national media.

What you saw if you were at the bar with me.  So when Michael Bush broke the long run for the Raiders, the noises I was making might be best described as “uninterested porn star simulating orgasm.”  I was one of about three people watching the Tampa game at that point (in a packed bar); I think folks were a little taken aback.

Other things mentioned at said bar.  “Is that the same Ryan Moats who just scored for Houston?”  Why yes!  I suppose it is!

Better late than never.  I guess we can’t call Chris Clemons a bust signing if he shows up and delivers in the biggest game of the year.

Things we’ve already talked ourselves into.  A wild-card team with a hot defense can actually reach and/ or win the Super Bowl.  Seems to be how it goes down these days.  We get to think that for at least the next six days.  And that’s a glorious thing.

Dunavin talked about his feelings.   You know what, Big Five, you get to crow a little bit after yesterday.  You earned it.  In re: the constant criticism he faces, McNabb gave us the following in his post-game presser:

“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.”

Let it out, big fella.  Let it all out.

The return of Shawn Andrews?  So he’s not on IR (still).  Might the Big Kid actually get a look in a playoff game?  Huh.

I remain baffled and giddy regarding yesterday.  Go Birds.

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.)

Put a BOUNTY on the Kevin Kolb jersey
Posted on December 17th, 2008 at 12:08 pm by Cheesesteak Hoagie

And now for the Kevin Kolb post.  Or at least the post about his jersey.

Initial disclaimer: we do not know nearly enough about Kevin Kolb to evaluate his talent/ potential as a future starting quarterback for the Eagles.  A couple pick-sixes notwithstanding, we’re going to need to see a lot more from him before we can either (a) hand him the keys to the car or (b) blow him out the airlock (not to mix metaphors).  He could be fantastic, he could be a failure, we just don’t know.  We hope (obviously) that he can play.

Today I just want to talk about the misanthropic malcontents who wear a Kevin Kolb jersey to Lincoln Financial Field in 2008 (note that I saw two (2) of said jerseys Monday night).  While I’m certainly open to alternate explanations, this is how I imagine the decision to first purchase and then wear the Kevin Kolb shirt plays out in the mind of the owner:

I really, really, really hate Donovan McNabb.  A lot.  It isn’t that McNabb isn’t my favorite player, or that I admire another player (say, Brian Dawkins or Brian Westbrook) more than McNabb, it’s that I really detest number 5.  Like, a lot.  It’s his fault we lost the Super Bowl, Rush Limbaugh was right, and this team will never win anything until he’s run out of town.

As a result, I’ve decided to pick up this nifty Kevin Kolb jersey.  I mean, sure, unless I’m a member of Kolb’s immediate family or a big Conference USA football fan (unlikely), I’ve never seen Kevin Kolb play a full game of football.  No matter.  So concentrated and focused is my loathing for Donovan McNabb that I’ve chosen to sport his ostensible replacement’s jersey (custom made for about US$300 as it’s not currently available for sale the Eagles store, though you can find them other places for a little cheaper).

Someone suggested that I was cleverly getting in early on the Kolb shirt, but it doesn’t really work like that — it’s not this is a hot start-up and you get a discount for buying guys on the bench.  Nope.  I just wanted to be sure that folks knew where I stood on Donovan McNabb, and if it costs me a few bucks, so be it.

In fact, I’m so eager for folks to know where I stand on McNabb that I actually buy tickets to the games and wear my Kevin Kolb jersey as an act of passive-aggressive protest: “I hate you, Donovan, I hate you, and I want everyone in this stadium to know how much I hate you.”

Never mind that he’s the starting quarterback for my favorite team and the success of the starting quarterback tends to correlate pretty highly with the success of the team.  That’s not my concern.  My concern is letting the world know that Donovan McNabb is a big loser and that I am the sort of discerning football fan who has recognized that fact.

Go Birds (except, of course, for the full avoidance of doubt, Donovan McNabb — he can go suck a phat one).

Thus shall I declare that we PUT A BOUNTY on the Kevin Kolb jersey.

Okay, 37 readers of BountyBowl.  Someone explain this to me.  I’m willing to listen.  Why wear the Kevin Kolb jersey?  Note that I’ve left the topic of race out of the discussion to date, but don’t be afraid to go there (BountyBowl is not afraid to acknowledge the role that race plays in the Philly fans’ relationship with Donovan McNabb).

Tuesday Eagles Hangover: Well, that was mellow
Posted on December 16th, 2008 at 11:30 am by Cheesesteak Hoagie

SEXYTIME

The first sign that this was going to be a low-stress affair in South Philly was the complete absence of traffic at the Lincoln Tunnel at 5:45 on a weekday.  We actually thought something was wrong (a bomb?  the tunnel was closed?).  Nope.  Nothing wrong, and nothing but a smooth ride all the way down the turnpike.  Said smooth ride continued in the stadium, as the Birds cruised in a game that was completely lacking in any sort of anxiety and/ or drama.  About the most stressful moment of the whole affair was the part where we walked up the wrong stairs to get to our seats and had to watch the Curtis TD from behind a Miller Lite cart.

Other talking points and observations:

Dunavin was sharp sharp sharp.  It didn’t hurt that the Browns didn’t really manage to pressure him all that well, but he seemed to really enjoy playing against the Browns’ zone.  That was definitely a you-only-get-to-see-this-in-the-stadium sort of thing, but McNabb and the Eagles receivers were extremely methodical about gaining 10-15 yards in front of the Browns’ safeties and deep cover guys.  Of course, McNabb was also pretty sharp against the man defense that he saw (the extremely tight ball to Avant on the intermediate crossing route comes to mind).  Yeah, pretty solid stuff from the QB.

Slightly less solid stuff from Dorsey.  God bless that Ken Dorsey, but this looked really hard for him.  What balls he did complete were essentially bailouts from a very talented (and sure-handed, at least tonight) Braylon Edwards.  Both picks were pretty bad (balls thrown directly to Eagles), and Hanson should have had a third (which was slightly less bad).  We shouldn’t make fun, because this sort of thing can/ has happened to the Birds as well.  Somewhere, Mike McMahon was reliving 42-0 at home on Monday night in 2005.

Why were people booing Stallworth?  Lots of boos for Donte Stallworth.  What did Stallworth do to offend us?  I didn’t get that.  Hank Fraley was at least the guy who snitched on Dunavin puking in the Super Bowl (until the video tape also snitched on Dunavin puking in the Super Bowl).  As I remember it, Stallworth was a solid part of the 2006 team, which I believe we should all remember fondly.  Then the Eagles said thanks-but-no-thanks and he signed with another team.  Um, that’s chill.  I don’t get it.

Shaking head, staring at ground.  Big double-you-tee-eff in re: Asante Samuel “pulling a D-Jack.”  Who do you think has the least patience for that sort of thing in the Eagles’ locker room (after Andy Reid)?  I have to assume it’s Runyan, right?  As in, he goes over and picks up Samuel by the scruff of his neck and reminds him to “Never f*cking do that again”?  The only cool part of that play was that my buddy got a GREAT photo of it in realtime — we’ll post it as soon as he sends them out.  Very very solid work, and the folks sitting near us appreciated our own instant replay.

Speaking of DJack.  I know it worked in the Redskins game, and we all appreciate his boyish confidence out there.  But dude, enough with the “It’s just like college and I’m fast enough to loop around the back side of the punt coverage” sh*t.  Forward, young fella.  Forward.

Just in case you thought the Eagles were perfect and weren’t the same team from a month ago.  Can I roofie myself for the last two minutes of the first half of Eagles games from now on?  Is anyone keeping stats on this?  The Birds’ penchant for sniffing out and then embracing the most unlikely of calamities as the first half ends is uncanny.  And when you layer on the comical clock management and general level of disorganization, well, it’s just not very impressive.  The was covered thoroughly (and appropriately) in this morning’s papers.  A f*cking illegal formation penalty coming from a timeout?  Dude.

Speaking of the timeout.  The stadium announcer actually preemptively called timeout over the PA before Andy Reid got it in (and the Birds lost a few seconds as a result).  This prompted a discussion of having the “clock coach” just sit next to the PA guy and call Andy’s timeouts for him.  Just completely take it out of Reid’s hands and have the voice of God boom out the timeouts over the loudspeaker.  That way Andy can be pleasantly surprised by the appropriate use of the timeouts.

Three cheers.  To Jason Avant, for catching pretty much everything thrown his way, including some high-degree-of-difficulty snags.  To Trent Cole, for another dominant game on the left side of the line (I say this expecting him to get snubbed for the Pro Bowl).  And to B-Dawk, for breaking the team record for games played.  That’s just extremely classy.

Appropriate booing.  I mean, sure, it’s a small sample size, but, um, does Kevin Kolb look like the guy?  Maybe Dunavin has paid him off to throw picks in mop-up duty?  Dunavin’s owed like $9 million next season — you think it isn’t worth $20K to him to get Kolb to look terrible out there?  Or is Kolb just not very good?  One of those.   I’ve got a lengthy follow-up post coming on this topic.

The Birds defense (and the NFC East) warms my heart.  I really like what we’ve got going on in the NFC East right now in re: teams playing some nasty defense.  All four teams in the top 13 on Football Outsiders coming into this week, with Dallas the lowest-ranked team (the Cowboys D looked completely scary against the Giants last week).  Very old skool, very classy.

Go Birds.

Things I learned about (embattled?) Eagles wideout Reggie Brown and classic rock today
Posted on December 12th, 2008 at 12:11 pm by Cheesesteak Hoagie

After being a healthy scratch Sunday against the G-Men, erstwhile Eagles starting wideout Reggie Brown seems to be inching toward earning a permanent “Embattled” prefix to his name.  Certainly I’m surprised (as a fan and close follower of the team) to see that Reggie Brown can’t even earn a spot on the substitutes bench — even Greg Lewis dresses! — though that probably has more to do with the fact that the rest of the backup WRs play special teams than anything else.

Still, we don’t often see guys with extensions sat down like this, so I appreciated the always intrepid Les Bowen’s blow-by-blow of his attempt to squeeze some quotes out of Brown in the locker room yesterday.  Of particular interest was this passage:

Brown has a weekly Monday night radio show on WMGK, done in tandem with the station’s nightly “Get the Led Out” Led Zeppelin hour. That’s an odd mix, the quiet, reserved African-American wideout from Georgia and Robert Plant’s castrato wail. This past Monday, Brown and the show’s host, Ray Koob, talked about the victory over the Giants and Brown’s razzing of Giants receiver Domenik Hixon, from the bench, after Hixon dropped a long bomb from Eli Manning. They talked about how Brown dressed warmly for the cold, blustery afternoon.They did not discuss the fact Brown did not play in the game.

Yesterday, as Brown stepped into the weight room, off-limits to reporters, McNabb advised the persistent reporter to “ask Andy.”

A couple things here:

1.  Reggie Brown has a radio show?  On WMGK?  And it’s a Led Zeppelin show?  WHUH?

2.  Gotta love Dunavin playing protective older brother with Brown.  Guess he doesn’t hate Brown as much as had been rumored (and as much as Bowen had subtly suggested in the article).  Good for McNabb.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some talking points ahead of this afternoon’s game:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Off to Jersey and the ancestral homeland.  Go Birds.

Rick Reilly’s “Duhnovan”? FAIL
Posted on December 4th, 2008 at 11:51 am by Cheesesteak Hoagie

As noted in my little delicious newsfeed over yonder, I believe that yesterday’s Rick Reilly ESPN link — in which he quizzed a set of NFL players on various game rules ostensibly in defense of Donovan McNabb — was the first time I’d ever linked to a Rick Reilly story.

We won’t take issue with Mr. Reilly and his work at a macro level, other than to say it really isn’t for us (that is, we’re not 50-year-old suburban SUV drivers who eat regularly at the Olive Garden and favor corporate golf shirts tucked into our Target jeans, not to put too fine a point on it…), and good for him for pulling down so much cash as top dog amongst the blathertariat.

However, we will take issue with his irresponsible spelling of Donovan McNabb’s first name.  That is, in reference to Mr. McNabb, he cheekily dubbed him “Duhnovan.”  I don’t know if this was meant to emphasize the “Duh” part of McNabb not knowing the rules around ties, but I do know that Reilly is treading on dangerous ground here.

That is, the proper misspelling of “Donovan” is “Dunavin.”  Done.  Baked.  Completed.  Patented by BountyBowl on July 20th 2007.  Mr. Reilly, feel free to follow up with me directly if you have any additional questions or concerns.

*****

In re: the “Dunavin” thing, I don’t know that I’ve ever offered an explanation, so here goes: “Dunavin” is my best representation of the Official Terrell Owens ™ pronunciation of “Donovan.”  As in, “I don’t hate Dunavin, I never hated Dunavin.”  Given that other folks seem to actually call McNabb “Don” — emphasizing the short “o” sound — the TO version always charmed me.

Also, in the grander scheme of “I like to pretend that these guys aren’t actual people and are just characters on a TV show,” using a fake name makes me feel better about this whole BountyBowl enterprise.  That is, I feel like less of a jerk making up nonsense about an imaginary TV character than I do a decent-seeming guy who has three kids and takes a whole load of sh*t from the blathertariat, including me.

So there you go.

Donovan McNabb aspires to gun ownership, plays coy about the contents of his estate
Posted on December 3rd, 2008 at 6:00 pm by Cheesesteak Hoagie

In what was best described as childbirth-and-handgun day at the NovaCare Complex, Donovan McNabb accepted congrats on the birth of his twins (boy and a girl, no names yet, but we’re pulling for “Donovan Jr.” and “Donovina”) and reluctantly fielded Plaxico Burress questions.

While Donovan doesn’t yet own a gun of his own, he isn’t ruling it out:

“As far as carrying one, I don’t have a gun. Not to say that I will not get one. It would be registered if I did. But I don’t have any comment.”

I don’t have a gun either, Donovan.  And I also like to keep an open mind about things — a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds, after all!

The weird thing is that the Eagles QB actually seemed to take the Plax thing a bit seriously, at least in the context of players fearing for their safety (and given the number of NFL guys who’ve been victims of holdups over the past couple years, he actually isn’t wrong to be afraid — especially with a recently expanded family at home):

“Obviously, we all know what happened to (former Redskins FS) Sean Taylor. And then now, people are talking about the Plaxico incident where (Giants WR) Steve Smith, I believe, was held at gunpoint. And he’s not the first and not the last. I remember a teammate of mine (in college), (Dolphins CB) Will Allen who was with the Giants, it happened to him. I think people need to look more into security because some people just kind of have that mindset of ‘I’m going to go after this guy and take his money and take his jewelry’ and you never know what it can lead to.”

Of course, we weren’t buying his bullsh*t about what may or may not be in his home:

“Now, if you go into someone’s house, that’s on you. I mean, you’re not just going to walk into my house freely either. I’m not saying what’s in my house, but I know that you’re not going to get it. You might get something else.”

Dude, we already know what’s in your house.  It’s a big white piano, some awkard-looking suits and a bunch of creepy statues.  I mean, duh.



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