What Would Buddy Do?
Make that extra gravy on mine: Eagles beat Vikings, advance to Divisional Playoffs
Posted on January 4th, 2009 at 9:45 pm by Cheesesteak Hoagie

Suh-weet.

Absent a complete meltdown next week against the Giants (something along the lines of what happened to Dallas last week), the 2008 Eagles season has brought me considerable happiness and I shall remember it fondly.  Sure, they snuck into the playoffs, but they won a post-season game.  Remember how hard it was to do that 20 years ago?  Now we’ve done it 7 of the last 9 years.  Can’t complain too much about that.  If making the playoffs was all gravy, then we all just got a second helping.  Yum.

In the short term, I’m just psyched to get another week of thick Eagles media coverage.  Lay it on thick, national media — there’s no end to the amount of Eagles content I can consume.

My quickie post-game thoughts (minimally ordered):

What a difference a year makes — Birds’ special teams play well.  Take a bow, Rory Segrest, because the Eagles were great on special teams.  David Akers was very sharp, the kickoff coverage was solid, and DeSean Jackson had a big day returning punts.  If I had any complaint about the special teams, it was a that a hyped-up Quintin Demps abandoned his typical just-go-straight return style on the opening kickoff and tried to run around the corner of the coverage.  Come on Quintin, only the other guy gets to do that.

Speaking of young Master DeSean.  Really nice game from the rookie in his playoff debut — he even blocked on the Westbrook TD.  Still, I wonder if he gets a special talking-to from Andy Reid about yapping in Brad Childress’ face after his second long punt return?  Maybe he was telling Childress to quit hassling Big Red about his figure?  Or to go easy on the vodka tonight?

The Vikings DEs came to play.  We’ll avoid the angle that notes that the Eagles’ aging tackles had a long day out there and instead focus on the excellent play of the Vikings’ two defensive ends, who consistently got pressure on McNabb and played the run well.  Those guys were impressive.

The jokes about Brad Childress being as clumsy with the clock management as Andy Reid.  Yeah, I guess that stuff is all true.  Huh.  Very comforting to see someone else screw up.

Our favorite camera angle.  Due to some tough field position for the Birds, we were treated to the back-of-the-end-zone punter cam for a couple Donovan McNabb throws.  Very very cool.  Also, unlike the Washington game, McNabb was great inside his ten.

Speaking of Donovan.  He was sharp today.  The turnovers were tough, especially the misguided/ I-think-I’m-tricky-like-Peyton-Manning pick, but he made some extremely tough throws on third down.

A new candidate for the single-best play of the season (which looks a lot like the single-best play of the 2007 season).  That screen pass was glorious.  Ten guys blocking, Westbrook making a huge play (after a pretty tough day to date), random offensive linemen being heroes (how about that Nick Cole with two big blocks AND a little hop over a defender), and even the wideouts helping him home.  Looked a lot like that play against Washington last year.

All Chris Clemons does is make internet video highlights.  Clemons was very good again this week, and managed to make the Youtube highlight reel by body-slamming Tavaris Jackson.  Already been posted.

Things that went as well as we could have hoped and with which we cannot argue.  Dawk dropping a signature welcome-to-the-playoffs hit on Peterson; Asante Samuel pulling the quick six; and the Eagles holding the Vikings under 17 points; the Eagles advancing to a game at the Meadowlands (which means I get to go).

Things that worry us.  The red-zone offense.  The inability to solve the Vikings defense in the first half.  The continued struggles running the ball (but at least they tried!).

Man, that was cool.

(Early line is Giants favored by 4.)

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

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

*****

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

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

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

Aight.  Time for football.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bring it.

Eagles - Steelers Preview: Ed Rendell looking to rebound
Posted on September 21st, 2008 at 12:22 pm by Cheesesteak Hoagie

vote for hil

Ed Rendell backed the wrong horse in the Democratic primary; let’s hope he has slightly better luck this afternoon.  What I’ll be shouting at the television about:

Ralph Wiggum lost his shin guard! Hack the bone!  Far be it from me to suggest anything untoward, but it’d be nice if the Eagles could get some pressure on Big Ben early in the game and maybe even hit him a little bit.  Let’s see how that shoulder’s doing.  The Steelers gave up a ton of sacks last year (only two fewer than the Birds) and it’d be nice if the defensive front could rebound from a pretty dull performance on Monday.  A sack from the defensive tackles would have me extra giddy here.

My least favorite NFL Player?  There’s just something in the physical manner of that Hines Ward gentleman that really ruffles my feathers.  There’s always an extra bit of taunting from Ward, though for some reason the blathermonkeys freakin love the guy (mostly this means John Madden).  Expect some exceptionally creative and loud swearing from me if Ward gets in the end zone.       

Another test for the linebackers.  I’m going to be anxious all afternoon about how the Eagles’ linebackers will handle runs to the outside and the short passing game.  I’m feeling bullish on the Birds’ ability to stop the interior running game, but I’m more worried about the fast parts of Fast Willie Parker on the outside.

Absolute terror in re: the offensive line.  Not only is Shawn Andrews out this week, but Jamaal Jackson dealt with some horrific family stuff and the entire left side of the line headed to Miami to support Jackson at the end of the week.  This either leads to an “inspirational performance” or “high levels of disorganization against a clever defensive scheme.”  Hmmm.

More vertical passing.  I cannot get enough of the way that the Eagles are throwing the ball right now.  No dink-and-dunk crap — they’re running 15-20-yard patterns and the ball is flying down the field.  This is definitely the big-boy passing game, available only to those teams with Howitzer-armed quarterbacks.  And I think that the return of Reggie Brown only makes that passing game more dangerous.  Certainly the success throwing the ball has silenced the Run-The-Ball-Andy meme in Philly. 

Quintin Demps watch.  Whether it be as a replacement for Sean Considine or in the kickoff return game, few things would get me more fired up than more big plays from the rookies.  Same deal for Trevor Laws.

I know this sounds crazy, but.  Doesn’t it seem like the 36 Chambers of Brian Westbrook hasn’t really blown up on someone yet?  We haven’t seen enough magic tricks from Westbrook quite yet (though he’s obviously been quite excellent).     

Checking in on B-Dawk.  Remember the awkward play against Santonio Holmes in the preseason game that started the “Dawkins is done” whisper campaign?  Right.  It’s week 3, and the volume of chitchat is only increasing.  It’d be nice to see Dawkins make a play or two this afternoon. 

I’m planning to head to the Town Tavern for the game this afternoon — looking forward to a great day of football. 

Go Birds.

Mr. Green
Posted on September 17th, 2008 at 7:04 am by Cheesesteak Hoagie

“Why do I have to be Mr. Green?”

“Because Mr. I-Got-Beat-In-Coverage-By-The-Running-Back-For-A-Touchdown was taken.”

all right mr fcking compassion i will call someone

(Must admit that I dig the Reservoir Dog look from Stew Bradley.)

If there was a way to grill and eat a Ram this afternoon, I would
Posted on September 7th, 2008 at 10:48 am by Cheesesteak Hoagie

stupidjersey.jpg 

FINALLY FINALLY FINALLY. 

Football.  

I’m headed to Hoboken for the game and look forward to making some noise with the crew.  What I’ll be shouting at the TV about:

Not to start with a negative, but spare us the obligatory drive-killing false start penalty on third down in the first quarter.  Seriously.  Those are totally beat.

And to get the other negative out of the way, the timeouts in the first quarter just kill me.  Seriously.  Also beat.  Please skip. 

I’m totally fired up to see the rookies on returns.  Can’t remember the last time I was even vaguely excited for our return game.  Maybe J.R. Reed (Westbrook cameos don’t count).  I’m actually more curious about Demps than I am Jackson.  I feel like I’ve seen enough of Jackson running around to understand what he’s bringing.  Demps is still something of a mystery. 

Speaking of DeSean Jackson.  Geez, the hype machine for the camelcased one is really cranking at full power, no?  I was expecting to scoop the kid up in all of my imaginary football leagues; nope, he got taken relatively early in all of them.  Was there some sort of fantasy-nerd special bulletin distributed on the topic?  I mean, I think he’ll get his shots, but WOW, this is still a rookie, right?    

The Rams have to be eight in the box/ all-eyes-on-36, right?  I wonder who else will get it done for the Birds?  Because the Rams have to be game-planning almost exclusively for Westbrook.  Someone else might have to score some imaginary football points this week!      

Fear the wet field!  I hope there aren’t any otherwise preventable injuries due to the condition of the field.  Also, if the Eagles are supposed to be “fast” on defense, then a wet field will neutralize them more?  Or something?  Whatever, the Rams are a dome team.  They’ll hate it out there.

Three things that will make me irrationally happy: (1) deep ball from McNabb to anyone (though something to Jackson would bring the house down) — I just hope they take a shot down the field; (2) sack from one of the young linebackers, Gocong would be best; (3) Lito Sheppard gets a pick — it just means that incentives are properly aligned. 

Moment of lightning-dodging confidence: I think the Eagles scheduled a Championship Subdivision cupcake opponent for the home opener.  They come correct to the tune of 27-10.

My freakin jersey didn’t get here in time.  BOOOOOO.   

Andy Reid longs to eat his linebackers
Posted on April 3rd, 2008 at 9:39 am by Cheesesteak Hoagie

Andy Reid is very hungry

Let it never be said that I am one to keep my respective passions for Food Porn and the Phildelphia Eagles separate!

In an interview session with a mix of local and national blathermonkeys at the NFL Owners Meetings, Andy Reid reaffirmed his deep and special relationship with Donovan McNabb, dissed his breakfast sandwich, and (shockingly) suggested that the wide receiver thing was “overrated.”

Most importantly, however, he gives us some insights into the brain of Andy Reid, which (predictably) involves thinking about food. A lot. His comments in re: the Eagles’ young and potentially delicious linebackers (someone pat me on the back for not saying “linebacking corps”): (Read the rest of this story.)