What Would Buddy Do?
My my, the king is generous today
Posted on January 15th, 2009 at 11:50 am by Cheesesteak Hoagie

Oh man.  Talk about the last guy we needed to hear from amidst all the Eagles goodness this week.  Bob Grotz checks in with a Lito Sheppard update, in which Lito congratulates himself for not causing a problem in the locker room in the middle of a great run from the Birds:

To his credit, Sheppard hasn’t made the scene that lesser men could have and probably would have.

“If I hadn’t been around these guys as long as I have been,” Sheppard said of his teammates, “things would probably be a little bit different. Not to say (Brian Dawkins) is the reason why I’m handling it the way I’m handling it, but when you think about the team, and you think about what’s important, Dawk does creep into your mind. He’s one of those guys that make you think, ‘Maybe I will chill out.’

“And it’s not that I’m going to get in trouble with anybody on the team. It’s just one of those things where I can’t change the situation right now, so why make it worse?”

To his credit?  Huh?  He should be lauded for not whinging?  The results are fantastic since he’s been removed from the lineup — the Eagles have given up 1 TD pass since the Cardinals game, versus 18 up to that point.  Whether that’s a result of Sheppard’s absence (and Hanson’s presence) is something for smarter football people to evaluate, but the last time he was out there (the Cardinals game), it sure looked like the guy he was covering scored more than once.  Also note the opening play in the Seattle game that was all his fault.

To summarize, recently ineffective player is removed from lineup, team succeeds, and ineffective player is worthy of praise for not complaining more.

Got it.

Friday Eagles Hangover: this week, it’s mostly just the turkey (and all the alcohol)
Posted on November 28th, 2008 at 10:17 am by Cheesesteak Hoagie

donovancards.JPG

What a pleasant surprise: 48-20? Happy Thanksgiving!

In a game that couldn’t have gone better for the Eagles (save for Max-Jean Gilles getting hurt), all the flailing parts of the team suddenly looked competent and the team rolled over a Cardinals team that wasn’t actually ever in it. The quarterback was accurate and focused, the running back looked spry, the offensive line played their best game in months, the wide receivers held onto balls that didn’t hit them square in the chest, and the new-look secondary made a bunch of plays against the best wide-receiver combo in the league.

My day-after observations:

Oh no, this is going to make Andy Reid especially smug, isn’t it.  Let’s see, capture early lead throwing the ball, force other team to throw, run the ball against humiliated, desperate defense, pin ears back on defense, cruise to victory against tired opponent.  Great.  You were right all along, Andy!  Feel free to chuck it 55 times against the Giants.  The road to 7-8-1 is paved with wins like these!

The lines came to play.  When was the last time the Eagles pushed another team around this thoroughly at the line of scrimmage (on both sides of the ball)?  I can’t even remember.  The play consistently took place on the wrong side of the Cards’ line of scrimmage.  I guess the boys on the offensive side must’ve really taken those anonymous comments to heart.

The Cards must have really suffered in the short week.  Must not have been time for a lot of film study.  I mean, how else to explain not seeing the shovel pass?  Everyone in the Delaware Valley as well as each of the Birds’ NFC East opponents knew that was coming.  Comical.

Looks like opponents are taking the CamelCased One seriously.  Dare we say more seriously than the 36 Chambers of Brian Westbrook?  The Cards completely overpursued Jackson on the fake end-around that Westbrook took down to the three.  Huh.  Can’t say we hate that.

Take that, Prime Time curse.  The Eagles finally won one at night!  With the Browns looming on Monday Night in a couple weeks, well, they might even win a second.

I hope Lito Sheppard doesn’t have trouble selling his house.  Let’s see, undrafted free agent Joselio Hanson not only starts but picks off a pass, and Lito Sheppard had the coverage on not one, not two, but all three Cardinals’ TDs.  Looks like we’ve found the weakest link.

Pass me a vial of whatever they stuck in Brian Westbrook.  Didn’t look too gimpy last night, though most of his running was vertical and between the tackles (not a lot of stretch plays or sweeps).  Whatever.  It was a treat to have B-West making plays.

And we’re off.  Actually hitting up the Flyboys this afternoon, and looking forward to it.

The challenges of asset valuation in these wintry economic times
Posted on October 29th, 2008 at 11:27 am by Cheesesteak Hoagie

Great piece by Bob Brookover in this morning’s Inky about the Eagles’ likely approach to contract extensions and cap management in the face of an increasingly likely labor dispute in 2011. Brookover reports that the Eagles are not likely to hand out any extensions this year — exactly how he knows this is never explained, but he’s a reporter and he talks to plenty of folks who’d prefer not to be quoted down there (perhaps this is a topic for another post?). So I’ll take him at face value.

The interesting bits of the article are the compare-and-contrast views of faux starters Lito Sheppard and Sheldon Brown regarding the decision to take an extension early in your career versus risking injury for a bigger payday at a later date. Sheppard is a bit conspiracy-theory about the whole thing:

“That’s basically how it is right now. You can write a book about it. Talk to people around the league, they’re going to tell you if you don’t take the extensions, they’re going to get blackballed. You hate to say that about it, but that’s the way it is.”

And what did Sheppard mean by blackballed?

“If you’re on offense, they can limit your production and not let you do what you’ve been doing, and on defense, they can start finding fault,” Sheppard said. “Every little thing you do, they can use it against you.”

Sheldon Brown takes a different tack:

“You have to do what’s right for you and your family and not listen to anybody else,” he said. “Some people may say they are low-balling you, but if it’s enough for you and your family, then take it. If you don’t feel like it is, then don’t take it. Only you can make that decision.

“It’s definitely a tough choice, but it’s just like the lottery. You’re playing with fire because if you look at somebody like [ex-Eagles safety] Damon Moore, he . . . tore his knee up. I just think in the end, if it’s good enough you, go ahead and take it and don’t be too greedy. If you perform more after that, you’ll get more.”

I agree with Brookover that Brown has “the better perspective,” but for different reasons. (And yes, of course I don’t believe that Jim Johnson cares about contracts when he puts players on the field.) What I really liked was Sheldon’s approach to valuation and negotiation. That is, Sheldon seems to understand the fictions of valuation: (1) you’re worth what the market will bear at a given moment, (2) said market is subject to random fluctuations, (3) only you can make a determination of your own value/ BATNA, and, most importantly, (4) beware the hindsight bias! Sure, you can hold on for a couple more years and break the bank like Nate Clements, but you can also explode your knee. This talk of conspiracy theories and blackballing assumes that you’ll continue to perform.

(Also, given the seemingly increased level of uncertainty facing the League and the CBA (see here for Commissioner Goodell’s assessment of the NFL’s economic outlook in these wintry economic times), cash now feels like a good plan.)

Still, it’d be cruel to focus on football players as somehow being irrational economic actors. Lito may bemoan his decision to sign an early extension, but it’s not like he’s Jerry Yang. Lito left a few million on the table; by refusing Microsoft’s $31-per-share bid for Yahoo (now trading at $12), Yang left, oh, about $26 billion in value on the table. Yang insisted that YHOO’s prospects were strong and that the $31 bid undervalued his company. What he chose to ignore was the possibility that said bid overvalued his company — which is essentially what happened when the economy blew out its ACL and demand for banner ads, umm, dipped a bit.

Jerry, my man, next time give Sheldon Brown a call!

[Editor’s Note: Derek was kind enough to explain why I was an idiot over at Igglesblog in re: Joe Banner’s recent comments about extensions — while not referenced by Brookover, a more careful blogger might have figured this out — especially one who had saved it to his delicious!  I am not that more careful blogger. Mea culpa! Someone let me know if this counts as a retraction.]

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

his trademark smile 

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

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

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

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

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

ATTN: Rod Graves, General Manager
Posted on August 20th, 2008 at 3:17 pm by Cheesesteak Hoagie

HANDSOMELY DRESSEDAugust 20, 2008

Rod Graves
General Manager
Arizona Cardinals
PO Box 888
Phoenix, AZ 85001-0888

Mr. Graves:

Hale and hearty greetings to you, good sir! I hope the crisp, clear desert air is treating you well and trust that you have had an appropriately relaxing and intellectually challenging summer. Surely a man of your character and disposition values his time away from the often discourteous wranglings of frontline capitalism; hopefully you’ve had time to peruse a few monographs or enjoy a brief hunting expedition along the northern frontier.

It has come to our attention here in Philadelphia that there exists a certain degree of disgruntlement amongst your corps of flanker and split ends. While we all understand that candid discussions of compensation are a bit gauche, we certainly appreciate that certain demotivated employees — especially if said employees represent the aforementioned flanker and split end corps — are capable of destabilizing organizational morale.   

With that in mind, we have a proposal that we believe might be beneficial for both your organization and our local professional gridiron affiliate.  Specfically, we might suggest an exchange of players in which we would offer the rights to our Pro Bowl cornerback, Mr. Lito Sheppard, for your disgruntled flanker.   

You might contend that your organization already boasts a number of players who competently play this position, including a recent selection from the NFL entry draft.  Sir, I shan’t insult your taste by assuming that you aren’t capable of discerning quality amongst NFL footballers.  And quality is what we have on offer!  

Perhaps you caught our training match last Thursday on the Fox television network?  You may have noticed that our Pro Bowler on offer scored an INTERCEPTION in that contest.  As you are well aware, the INTERCEPTION is the sine qua non of defensive backfield play — surely this augurs well for his future success.

As for the gap that the departure of your disgruntled flanker might create, well, it would be discourteous for us to ignore this need.  Thus we might also offer the services of one of our flankers in return.  Perhaps you’d be interested in Gregory Lewis?  He has caught a TOUCHDOWN PASS in both the NFL’s highly publicized Super Bowl game and in our recent training match, indicating consistent quality.  As you are well aware, the TOUCHDOWN PASS is the sine qua non of flanker play.

In closing, we know you are a man familiar with the rolling hills and charming populace of the Delaware Valley, having started your career as a scout for the erstwhile Philadelphia Stars.  We hope that your familiarity with our quiet hamlet and its kindly denizens will allow you to appropriately evaluate the prudence of this transaction.

Yours cordially,

Wideout-Obsessed Eagles Supporters d/b/a The Bounty

Lito Sheppard demoted to second string again; Westbrook to start at “Disgruntled”
Posted on July 17th, 2008 at 2:36 pm by Cheesesteak Hoagie

have a burger

And here we thought we’d have only manufactured drama heading into camp.

The 36 Chambers of Brian Westbrook has apparently been gently suggesting that he could use a new contract for months, and this afternoon he escalated the negotiation by changing agents.  Move over Lito!  Now there’s something meatier!

Sure, B-West got paid in 2005, but he was probably the best back in the NFL last year, and was certainly the Eagles’ best player (by a lot). 

The catch is that Joe Banner has a spreadsheet, and I would suspect that said spreadsheet has some very untoward things to say about the performance of running backs as they approach the age of 30 (and even more to say about the performance of said pushing-30 running backs immediately following the signature of a fresh contract, a.k.a. the Shaun Alexander corollary).  In B-West’s defense, inasmuch as he’s complained about not getting enough carries over the years, his overall mileage is relatively low — and the Birds know it.  Thus, if they’re keeping track of these things, Westbrook has a decent shot to Get Paid. (Read the rest of this story.)

They doth protest too much
Posted on May 5th, 2008 at 10:41 pm by Cheesesteak Hoagie

just hanging and stretching pretty standard really

You’ve got to hand it to the Birds for the PR efforts on the Lito thing. At the same time that the local papers are covering it from all angles like an affair of state (”I like they way they surround a story”), Eagles management are playing it straight, assuring us that Lito IS A PART OF THIS FOOTBALL TEAM.

Of course, let it never be said that the Birds are not responsive to the needs of their customers! Note well that there are no fewer than four (4) photos of Asante Samuel and Lito Sheppard together (three with just the two of them, the other with Dawkins third-wheeling it in the corner of the frame) in the Mini-Camp album on the Eagles site. Never mind that neither appears with Sheldon Brown in any of the photos, or really with any other player at all except for Dawkins. Nope. Nothing to see here, folks.

Check out the photo gallery.

Also, and I don’t mean to nitpick, but could we go a little lighter on the “Sheppard flashed (first sentence) his trademark smile (fourth paragraph)”?

Come on, guys. That’s just sloppy.

Say what we will about the Pats, their media training is solid
Posted on May 4th, 2008 at 6:01 am by Cheesesteak Hoagie

for a limited time only

On a day when even the 36 Chambers of Brian Westbrook was willing to discuss the weirdness of the Lito Sheppard situation (”It was definitely awkward for me to watch that”), you have to love the all-biznass attitude of newly minted Asante Samuel. Not one to get caught up in the intra-team drama (and it actually seems like this is real drama for the players; not just the standard blathermonkey-fabricated fare), Samuel offered the following gem to the assembled media:

“That ain’t got nothing to do with me,” Samuel said. “I just do what my coach tells me to do. It doesn’t matter what I’m used to - whatever my coach tells me to do, I’m going to do it. I was happy to be out there with my new team and show a lot of love. I like the way things are going.”

Attaguy. Company man all the way. And to think we might have expected something different from a man with a tattoo that says “Get Paid” on his arm (though Wikipedia claims that it actually says “Get Rich To This” — mostly I think we get the point)!

We would have also accepted “Asante has 57 million reasons to be happy.”

Day 2 Draft Checklist
Posted on April 27th, 2008 at 7:15 am by Cheesesteak Hoagie

sheppard_lito.jpgAnd we are back for Day 2 of the Draft in about 90 seconds. The Birds still have (gulp) ten (10) picks remaining, which mostly means that we’ll see plenty of petty fourth-round trades (”We’ll give you a fourth and a fifth to move up nine picks in the fourth round”).

Other things to look for:

  • The Lito Sheppard trade.  Um, they’re going to trade him, right?  And not just get pennies on the dollar for him?  It’d be cool if an actual pret-a-porter player was involved in the deal and not an additional slate of future considerations.
  • Two offensive linemen you’ve never heard of.  Come on, you know we’re not getting out of this thing without multiple behemouths added to the roster.
  • The obligatory I-AA/ DII/ DIII standout that the Birds will smugly tell us is a great player we’ve never heard of (and whom we’ll all secretly hope is the next B-West).
  • Fifth-round linebacker(s)!
  • Another running back?

Onwards.

Lito to Tampa really brings out the Negadelphian in me
Posted on April 25th, 2008 at 7:49 am by Cheesesteak Hoagie

i effing hate you rondeIt is truly a measure of the efficacy of my years of conditioning as a loser Philadelphia sports fan that the mention of a Lito Sheppard trade to the Bucs immediately initiated the following sequence in my brain:

“The Bucs?  I hate the Bucs.  They sure seem to have the Birds’ number.”

“(Though I do have a soft spot for the America’s Game about the ‘02 Bucs; lots of good stuff about the Vet and Gru-Dawg in there.)”

“Wait, and why do I think that the Bucs have the Birds’ number?  Because that Ronde Barber guy is always intercepting passes and scoring touchdowns.”

“(I hate that Ronde Barber.  Makes me want to puke.)”

“Wait, isn’t Lito Sheppard pretty good at intercepting passes and scoring touchdowns?  Especially in big games?”

“(Sort of.  Mostly against Dallas, and that’s good enough for me.)”

“OH NO!  Lito Sheppard is going to get traded to Tampa and then he’s going to, like, intercept some important passes and score touchdowns that knock the Eagles out of the playoffs.”

You WISH I was kidding here.  Essentially, the thought of a Lito trade to the Bucs is almost enough to sour my favorite Youtube clip ever

Almost.

Posted in Youtube, Lito | 1 Comment 

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