What Would Buddy Do?
Thank you Cowboys and Redskins; Giants, if you would be so kind?
Posted on October 12th, 2008 at 11:49 pm by Cheesesteak Hoagie

Regression toward the mean paid a visit to the NFC East in Week Six.  We can’t claim to be surprised.

Now if only the G-Men will play along.

The season is over because the NFC East will never lose another game
Posted on October 9th, 2008 at 11:33 am by Cheesesteak Hoagie

Eagles - Redskins at the Linc, 2008

While it’s difficult to argue with the strength of the NFC East as a division this year — definitely the best division in football, only one game lost outside of the division, thanks to the Birds’ craptasticness versus the Bears — I think we can towel off a wee bit about just how good the Cowboys, Giants, and Redskins are.  That is, when we read Reuben Frank’s relatively sober analysis of the Birds’ remaining schedule and it includes dire predictions about what needs to happen for the Eagles to catch their division rivals (8-3 the rest of the way, and hope that the other teams in the division go .500), the scary part should be the 8-3 part, not the “other teams go .500″ part. 

I mean, maybe the NFC East will win every game they play, but it doesn’t seem very likely.  Five games into the NFL season, we haven’t seen very many twists and turns in the division quite yet.  But the first week of October is a long way from the first week of December.  Things like “major injuries,” “ridiculous off-the-field issues,” “contract disputes,” and ”meddling owners” all have a tendency to show up and impact performance.  Will all four starting QBs in the division start 16 games?  Not likely (and let’s hope #5 isn’t one of the ones to go down).  Will the Cowboys and Giants manage their brewing dramas with Pacman and Plax?  Probably, but crazy things can happen.  Will T.O. keep it together?  Will the Skins keep their offensive line healthy?  On top of that, sometimes teams just don’t show up and they take a bad loss to a “bad” team.  It happens.   

The bigger point here is that the Eagles can stay in the hunt with a couple wins, and that worrying about the rest of the division heading into Week Six seems a bit premature.  Wining some of the games against those division rivals will make a difference, but they don’t have to worry about that until November 9.  Plenty of football between now and then.  Until then, we can let the cruel laws of statistics take their course — Reversion to the Mean, you’ve never looked so good!      

Birds outshove Steelers, make Ed Rendell smile
Posted on September 21st, 2008 at 9:14 pm by Cheesesteak Hoagie

In the game that was the inverse of last Monday’s shootout against Dallas, the Eagles roughed up the Steelers in a tough-ass defensive struggle, 15-6. 

Quick-hit reactions to a very satisfying TV show:    

Jim Johnson and the defensive front, take a bow.  Six days after giving up 34 points (I won’t blame them for the special teams TD), the Birds’ defense channeled the 1991 Eagles and just humiliated the Steelers.  The ball was snapped, and the line immediately moved two yards backward on pretty much every down.  It seemed like the Steelers gave up running the ball pretty early, and stubbornly instructed Roethlisberger to try to throw the ball.  Nope.  It wasn’t just a couple plays worth of pressure, it was pressure on every single down.  Darren Howard, Juqua Parker and Trent Cole were monsters.  The body language from the Steelers’ receivers was the most telling part — you could tell they were sick of running routes and not even having the ball come out.  Jim Johnson and the defense have officially made it up to us for the Dallas game.

Speaking of making it up to us after the Dallas game.  I guess the Dawkins retirement can wait another week.  His pterodactyl Makhtar (Editor’s note: Makhtar is a slang term used to describe the act of violently smacking an object out of another’s hand; derived from Makhtar N’Diaye and his proclivity for clumsy fouls) on Big Ben was the best Eagles’ play of the season so far. 

$57 million seemed like a lot, but, well, we like interceptions.  Asante Samuel is definitely earning it after three weeks.  I’ll argue that he’s actually been a little lost in the media shuffle so far, and that he’d definitely be a big story in most other towns, but given the unique, ahem, landscape of storylines amongst the local blathertariat, he’s gotten off pretty easy.  I can’t say I’m anything but impressed by this guy. 

I don’t think I’ve ever been that excited about the punter.  Get ready for a week of “This is the week it clicked for Sav Rocca” though he’s been pretty good so far this season.  He absolutely made a difference today. 

And suddenly it’s the third quarter of a preseason game.  When Kolb checked in with Buckhalter and Booker in the backfield and Baskett and Avant split wide, well, it got pretty chill in my apartment.  It got a little warmer when McNabb checked back in, but even that was an Eagles team without its starting backfield, Pro Bowl guard and presumptive top wideout.  Yikes.

Booker is a liability in pass defense.  Booker whiffed horribly on the McNabb pick, kind of fell down in the act of not even getting a finger on the blitzer.  Not so impressive.  Westbrook and Buckhalter don’t miss like that.    

Think happy thoughts. Let’s pretend the 36 Chambers of Brian Westbrook isn’t actually hurt and will be back at practice on Wednesday.  Somewhere GCobb is working on a blog post about how Westbrook can’t stay healthy. 

Also, The NFC East still hasn’t lost a game to anyone but an NFC East team.  Though I hope the Cowboys lose in a barrage of injuries to fix that.  Obviously.

Great game.  Go Birds. 

Tank Daniels skillfully panders to the locals
Posted on September 1st, 2008 at 10:26 am by Cheesesteak Hoagie

Welcome back Tank Daniels!  Whilst we’ll try not to begrudge you your odious Giants’ Super Bowl ring too too much, we can at least take some minor solace in the winning attitude you’ll be toting back to the Delaware Valley:  

As for going back and forth from the Eagles and Giants, Daniels said there is one thing he loves equally about both teams.

“They both hate Dallas,” he said. “Even though I’m from Arkansas, I grew up hating the Cowboys, and I’m fortunate that I can still hate them.”

Generally, I think, yes, you’ve got the gist of it.  Now just substitute “given the opportunity, would gouge an opposing fan’s eye out with a rusty spoon” for “hate” and I think it’s perfect.

Matt Mosley stays on Philly’s good side (barely)
Posted on August 30th, 2008 at 12:00 pm by Cheesesteak Hoagie

I’ve been following Matt Mosley’s NFC East blog at ESPN with some trepidation.  Whilst I certainly have appreciated a handy roundup of NFC-East-focused news stories, I of course have been routinely offended by the lack of relative attention/ respect paid to the Eagles in said blog.  And it isn’t just because Mosley is a Dallas guy; he ran a mailbag column the other day that contained one sentence on the Birds and didn’t even mention Philly as a contender for Anquan Boldin (he focused his Boldin talk on the Cowboys).  Ew.

Still, his decision to rank the Illadelph faithful fourth (4th) amongst NFL fans (and tops in the NFC East) shows that he is at least capable of comporting himself like a gentleman if need be. He notes that the season-ticket waiting list is 70,000 people strong (on which I’m apparently number 898, if an e-mail from the Birds is to be believed!) and that we do an excellent job with loyalty and tailgating.  The excerpt:

No other team dictates a city’s mood like the Eagles. It’s a loyal group of fans, but don’t confuse it with blind loyalty. When the Eagles play poorly, they face the wrath of the fans. That rattles some guys, but players such as Jeremiah Trotter and Brian Dawkins have thrived on that tough love. Fans of opposing teams should tread lightly in the Linc.

Mosley also includes some generic quotes about Philly fans, which has only solidified my belief that I’m completely bored/ tired of reading hypotheses regarding why we like the Eagles so durn much; to be honest, I’m a bit bored with the “Philly fans are CRAZY” trope amongst the national blatherati:

“You could drop a Martian into Philly the day after a game, and within three minutes, he’d know if the Eagles had won or lost,” said Glen Macnow, a sports radio talk show host for the wildly popular WIP and co-author of “The Great Philadelphia Fan Book.” “When they win, you’ll meet the friendliest cab drivers, CPAs and newspaper sellers. Whey they lose, it’s like a five-day hangover.”

Unlike places such as Dallas and Miami, Philadelphia isn’t home to a lot of transplants. People aren’t trying to leave, and potential newcomers aren’t arriving any time soon. It sort of creates this bunker mentality that seems to fuel passion for local teams — but mainly the Eagles.

No transplants?  Bunker mentality?  Sure.  Your bullshit is just as valid as my bullshit on this topic.  But we appreciate the theorizing!  Maybe next week we can make the mailbag.

Preseason injuries are silly (with just a tiny bit of haterade and imaginary religion)
Posted on August 25th, 2008 at 3:41 pm by Cheesesteak Hoagie

Osi on the cartNothing is more beat than pre-season injuries, especially to star players. We don’t like to see the more popular entertainers felled in training matches. And as much as we’d like to secretly gloat about Osi Umenyiora’s season-ending knee injury, we don’t like to see good players go down for the year (minor injuries that cause them to miss the Eagles game, well that’s a different story…).

Still, and we’re knowingly dodging bolts of lightning here, can we at least point out that it was Umenyiora who knocked Browns QB Derek Anderson out of the Cleveland-G-Men preseason match the Monday prior? Concussed him, to be more precise. In a preseason game. Sure, it was a clean hit, but he drove him into the turf — as a viewer, I wasn’t shocked when Anderson didn’t get up. And if I was, say, a Browns supporter, I’d've been mighty cheesed off at that hit.

We might also note a corollary here with the inexplicably unfined Dawkins helmet-to-helmet shot on Moosh the week before; Dawk left the following game with an ankle injury.

That karma is a pesky nemesis.

NFC East by Web Site Traffic
Posted on June 25th, 2008 at 1:09 pm by Cheesesteak Hoagie


Thanks to the good folks at Google (Do No Evil!  We swear we’re not tracking Google Toolbar users all over the web and then using that data sell more Ad Sense!  Honest!), we now have another way to stack rank the teams in the NFC East: web-site traffic!  See above for a trailing 12-month summary of site traffic at philadelphiaeagles.com, giants.com, redskins.com, and dallascowboys.com, ranked by daily unique visitors.  Probably best to click the image (will open in another window) to get a better view.

A few things worth noting here, beyond my mad skillz at getting the colors to map to each of the teams (Respek!): (Read the rest of this story.)

How to spend your summer vacation: rooting for divisional rivals to get arrested, cause discord
Posted on June 23rd, 2008 at 5:59 pm by Cheesesteak Hoagie

bradshaw.jpgThings have been a little quiet on this end for the past week or so. Expect that to continue as we slowly approach the Long, Dark Teatime of the NFL Offseason. Not much going on right now for the Birds, and when we say not much, we don’t mean “not much” in a week-before-the-draft sort of way. This is the “not much” of the NFL-happenings-will-be-limited-to-mid-round-draft-pick-signings-and-occasional-arrests variety. Ain’t nothin’ doin’ in Birds land.

Still, the absence of actual news doesn’t mean we need to put away our Haterade for the next month. Oh no! There’s plenty to root for over the next month, specifically the ongoing mishaps, malfeasance and general discord of the Birds’ divisional opponents! While the goody-two-shoes Eagles don’t seem up to much this time of year (NOTE: said goody-two-shoes distinction does not apply to families of coaching staff), the G-Men and Cowboys seem happy to oblige will all sorts of pre-camp argy-bargy and nonsense.

(Read the rest of this story.)

Facci Sognare!
Posted on December 16th, 2007 at 1:49 pm by Cheesesteak Hoagie

dallas fans eat catsI really wish I was a little more excited about the game this afternoon. The Birds’ season is pretty much through, and I’m mostly concerned that the team has already quit — meaning that I’m going to watch them capitulate to the Cowboys this afternoon with little to no resistance.

That would not be sweet.

All I can think of as kickoff approaches is the opening lines from the very fabulous A Season With Verona by Tim Parks:

FACCI SOGNARE says the banner. Make us dream! Please!”

And really, that’s what I’m asking for this afternoon. I know there are no playoffs (much less a Super Bowl) in the Birds’ immediate future. I’m rational. That’s all done.

I just want something to get excited about. Something to convince me that these guys are worth rooting for and that next year might be better than this one. (Read the rest of this story.)

Even 7-9 is going to be a stretch
Posted on December 9th, 2007 at 11:46 pm by Cheesesteak Hoagie

again again again
If the Eagles were deliberately trying to hurt my precious little sports feelings, it might actually look something like this season.

The Birds lost again. By a couple points again. In a game where they had their shots again. In the infuriating manner common to losing NFL teams.  Again.

No more pretending that they’re close to pulling some big miracle together. There’s no miracle. None. Just a middle-of-the-road NFL team that struggles to do any of the things required to consistently beat other NFL teams. We all thought they’d be better, but they’re not. They’re a six-win team at best. Just like 2005, but without the excuses.

(Read the rest of this story.)

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