What Would Buddy Do?
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.

Proper Birds handle Nerdbirds; woe be unto sports fans of C@L
Posted on November 3rd, 2008 at 4:11 pm by Cheesesteak Hoagie

coaching em up

And we’re back.

Following a sometimes soggy but always glorious weekend in the Pacific Northwest, BountyBowl is back on Eastern (Standard) Time and ready to sign. Respect must be paid to our hosts out west as well as the benefactors who hooked us up with game tickets and other entertainments — it was a great trip. Mercifully, the Eagles pitched and made sure we also got a result. We wouldn’t say it was a barnburner of a game, but, well, 26-7 is a lot better than it otherwise could have been, especially coming out of a nervy first quarter. What we noticed at Qwest Field:

About the first five minutes. Whew. Ugly start for the Birds — both flavors. You know it’s an odd game when there have been five total possessions and there are still 10 minutes and 45 seconds left in the first quarter. That’s what a 90-yard touchdown and four three-and-outs will do to you. For the uninitiated — essentially, non-NFC West opponents — the opening quarter at Qwest Field is usually pretty dicey. The crowd is always on their feet and screaming for the better part of the first quarter; I liked that the Eagles kept their poise and didn’t panic. Then the crowd settles in a bit, the initial chaos clears, and things get a bit more balanced. Good on the Eagles for not freaking out.

Lito the ostensible starter. Sheldon Brown was initially on the field for the Birds’ first defensive play, but was replaced before the snap by Lito. So that means that Lito was the starter? I think I liked him better as a backup — he bit on the pump fake like a rookie on what was really the Birds’ only horrible defensive snap.

Evil Dunavin returns! I was making jokes to my Seattle crew before the game about how Evil Dunavin had shown up for the first quarter against the Falcons, and lo — he returned for the opening frame against the Nerdbirds! I guess Dunavin must not like seafood, because he looked just plain miserable on the Jumbotron all day. Mercifully he came around after the awkward start and made a couple sweet plays dodging traffic in the pocket. Those definitely looked cool in person.

Poor L.J. Smith. Andy Reid did a nice job standing up for L.J. today (by essentially claiming that Brent Celek’s big day was possible because he doesn’t command the sort of attention that L.J. does), and for this we admire Big Red. Thankfully, this sort of game didn’t happen at home. Also, the conspiracy theorists on the team (Lito, we’re looking at you), would likely point to Celek’s big day as some sort of contract-fueled scheme to highlight the backup guy at the expense of the potentially pricey vet. I don’t think so, though. Celek was great all day — I especially liked that tight-end screen they ran in the fourth quarter. Very classy.

David Akers lives! Good for increasingly beleaguered David Akers — it isn’t kicking at Qwest, and he was rock solid. You keep your job another week!

The heavens smiled on Seattle. I don’t know how or why it happened, but we got extremely lucky with the weather for the game. It was flat-out pouring just 30 minutes before kickoff, and we were sitting in an uncovered part of the stadium. That could have been horrible. Luckily the heavens cleared and — gasp! — it was even sunny for parts of the afternoon. Remarkable!

Things my homer brain was probably imagining. Did it seem like the Seahawks DBs were getting away with a lot of contact in the first half? Or are Kevin Curtis and the CamelCased One just on the small side? (We’ll also accept “a little from column A and a little from column B” here.) Also, The Seahawks PA guy kept exaggerating the Seahawks’ success on a play-to-play basis; he just seemed to be rounding up rather aggressively. Luckily, the refs are still in charge of awarding first downs.

More shaky stuff from Dawk. Because of our collective fondness for Brian Dawkins, let’s try to forget how he whiffed on the Koren Robinson TD and focus instead on the big hit he delivered on the sideline to force an incompletion later in the first quarter. Moving on….

Things that deserve their own post. I’m starting to have dark, lonely thoughts about the Eagles’ offensive line. They just don’t seem to be capable of lining up and pushing the other guys around. And they’ve got a BIG test coming up.

And, finally, a word for our hosts. Dude, I feel ya, Seattle. These are some dark times (literally and figuratively) for sports fans in the Northwest. The Sonics are gone, the Mariners were the worst team in baseball, the Huskies just lost 56-0, and the Seahawks are having a down year. Not a ton of goodness there. I’ve already heard some of the Philly press giving you grief about leaving early, but I can’t say I blame you. Your team didn’t have it yesterday, and it’s not like better days are coming soon.

For the most part (the exception being the drunk jackass in the row in front of us), the Seahawk fans were a chill bunch — folks in our row even leant us a towel to wipe down our seats. That doesn’t mean that we didn’t take any abuse, but it sure subsided after the first quarter. Thank you kindly for hosting us in your stadium and proving that we can all watch sports together without getting too upset about things.

The least interesting Eagles game since last December
Posted on October 26th, 2008 at 12:36 pm by Cheesesteak Hoagie

So which Philly sports fan isn’t hungover this morning?

After a crazy late-night ending for the Phightins, the Delaware Valley should be flooded with happy brain chemicals this morning.  I can’t believe that I’m saying this, but the Birds game this afternoon actually feels a bit inconsequential.  I mean, I’m going to leave the comfort of my home to watch it, and I’m sure I’ll get swept up in it once it starts, but, really, I’m definitely preoccupied by the baseball right now.  And I imagine I’m not the only one.

So. Eagles.  Sounds like you have something of a pass this week.  Try not to screw it up.

What I expect to shout about, abbreviated edition:

I hope the Eagles have a Pittsburgh-game-level commitment to defensing the run.  I hope the Birds are excited about  tackling Michael Turner, because they’re going to spend most of the afternoon doing it.  Turner is definitely a fantasy start this week.  The Falcons are silly if they don’t spend the afternoon handing off.

Similarly, I hope Andy Reid indulges himself.  Football Outsiders have the Falcons as 27th against the pass.  No one’s going to complain if McNabb throws the ball 35 times.

Welcome back, Kevin Curtis!  I hope it’s a big day for the Birds’ wideouts, Curtis included.  I hope they don’t just ease him back in — none of us would hate a deep ball to Curtis.

The ostensible best player on the team.  Very curious to see how many snaps Westbrook plays.  Will they take it light with B-West?  Surely his broken ribs plus a strong proof-of-concept from Buckhalter two weeks ago should be encouragement enough to share the carries, no?

Abiamiri watch. They said he was going to play a bit more, and I’m excited to see it.  If they thought this guy was better than Parker, then, well, I’m more than a bit curious.  Wasn’t he supposed to be the big end who could play the run?  The Birds will likely need that today.

It’s probably just the lingering Phillies endorphins talking, but I think the Eagles will win in a game that will feel a lot like the San Francisco game — the Falcons will hang around and create moments of darkness and despair for the good guys.  But I think the Birds will have another big fourth quarter and get it done.  Eagles 30, Falcons 20.

Kevin and DeSean, huh?
Posted on October 22nd, 2008 at 4:49 pm by Cheesesteak Hoagie

Just watched Andy Reid’s presser. It contained actual information!

Most interesting/ compelling thing he said: “…it’d be Kevin and DeSean” in re: who will be starting at wideout. Sorry, Reggie Brown!

Least interesting/ compelling thing he said: “I feel like I have an All-Pro tight end” in re: a question about L.J. Smith. That’s probably why you guys went after Tony Gonzalez! So you could have two All-Pro tight ends!

I think there are plenty of footballs (also, Greg Lewis can have a seat)
Posted on October 21st, 2008 at 10:30 am by Cheesesteak Hoagie

G Lew

With the ostensible return of Kevin Curtis and Reggie Brown to the Eagles’ lineup this weekend (though there’s still plenty of time for Brown to strain a groin before Sunday), talk has turned to the Eagles’, hold on, deep breath, suddenly deep and talented receiving corps.

With the what now? 

Are we actually using phrases like “There are enough balls to go around”?  Really?  Because of a win against the Niners?  What about the two weeks of lousy against the Skins and Bears?  Personally, I think the Eagles’ receivers are just fine — certainly not elite, but definitely competent when healthy.  But this isn’t the 1992 Dream Team; I expect most fans will be content if the Eagles can muster up just a few big plays from their wideouts.  I certainly don’t think we have to worry about hurting these guys’ feelings.

Of course, a healthy Curtis means that someone among Baskett, Avant and Greg Lewis is likely going to sit this week.  Um, again, I don’t think this is an advanced-placement-level question: the answer is Greg Lewis.  I guess he and his 172 lbs. play a little special teams, but so do brand-new linebackers. 

Of course, the larger question here is what happens to young Master DeSean.  I really hope that having Curtis and Brown healthy doesn’t land him on the bench, and instead is used “as an excuse to find him deep in single coverage.”  That’d be sweet. 

Sad referendum on Curtis’s status with Birds: No Burkholder post-op PC
Posted on August 21st, 2008 at 4:23 pm by Cheesesteak Hoagie

more groinsIn the midst of the whinging, pining and rationalizing that has attended the announcement of the Kevin Curtis groin injury, I’ve been eagerly awaiting a medical update from the Eagles on the surgery. Specifically, I wanted to know if we’d be treated to a rare Rick Burkholder presser (or at least statement) briefing us on the specifics of Curtis’s surgery. Not everyone gets the Burkholder media treatment, but certainly Curtis — an 1,100-yard receiver a year ago — is an important enough player to merit some fanfare?

Alas no. All we got was a quick piece on PE.com. I suppose there’s only so much we can say about groins at this point. If Curtis wants that kind of attention, he’ll need to keel over in training camp and get rushed to the hospital.

(Let me know if we need me to post more photos.  There’s just so much I didn’t know about groinal musculature!)

Curtis adds nookie to list of things he’s not allowed to enjoy
Posted on August 20th, 2008 at 4:12 pm by Cheesesteak Hoagie

anatomy lesson

Wow.  Forgive the pun, but this kind of sucks for Kevin Curtis.  (Is it a pun? Or do I have too much groin on the brain? Wait, groin on the brain?)  And the Eagles.  And all of us. 

Past the considerable football implications, we can only assume that this sort of injury means a significant no-nookie period for Curtis.  Given that his religious inclinations take most other fun stuff off the table, it sure looks like Kevin’s going to need to make his peace with a lot of long nights ordering pizza, playing Bioshock and slurping down Sierra Mist.

As an FYI, the wide receiver corps is now officially a “shambles.”  That’s a highly technical term meaning “a condition that yields eleven defenders whose eyes are exclusively glued to the numbers 3 and 6.”

Cacophony of horrified screams from the rest of the blogertariat:

Yikes.