What Would Buddy Do?
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.)

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

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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.

Monday Eagles Hangover: not with a bang, with a draw
Posted on November 17th, 2008 at 11:24 am by Cheesesteak Hoagie

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Right. So this one isn’t sitting any better the morning after, is it. It isn’t just the quirky ignominy of the draw (there will be no talk of “ties” here at BountyBowl; this was a draw), it’s also the part where the game was completely brutal to watch and lasted almost five freakin’ hours. I meant it yesterday when I said that this was the worst Eagles TV show in years. Just horrible.

Anyhoo, what we’re still stewing about:

Dunavin doesn’t know what a tie is. Obviously, too much will be made of this, but it’s pretty odd that he didn’t know the rules. I mean, I don’t know all the rules either (eligible receivers? that crap with Eli and the line of scrimmage last week?), but I knew there were draws. Huh. Maybe it’s the nomenclature that tripped him up — all this talk of “ties” is confusing. He should show up for his Wednesday presser and insist that he was just confused because he didn’t know the reporters were talking about a draw — which he was OF COURSE aware of.

Let’s start pointing fingers. About midway through the third quarter, my brother and I had the “it’s going to take 20 points to win this game” conversation. He was admittedly more convinced that the Eagles defense would continue to hold than I was, but I guess I was more optimistic about the offense. Turns out he was a lot more right than I was. The offense was horrible yesterday, and the blame for the loss is squarely on them. Now let us all look forward to kickoff week for the the-playbook-is-stale meme.

More finger pointing. McNabb is going to take a ton of heat this week, for good reason. Bring it on. But it sure looks like other guys are struggling a ton too. I hate to blaspheme in re: the Eagles erstwhile best player, but Westbrook is not the player he was in 2007. And he may never be that guy again.

Even more finger pointing. So if it gets to “that point” where we’re talking about making changes to get guys experience and whatnot (and oh are we close), can we take a peek at what the Eagles offensive line of the future is going to look like? As in, with new tackles? Might as well get the nasty bits out of the way this season, right?

And just to make sure we don’t give the offense any credit at all. Don’t forget that the TD play was a screwup. McNabb and Westbrook were arguing about where Westbrook should stand up until the snap — they were lucky they didn’t earn a penalty for that. They were also pretty lucky that the improvised crap of a play they ran worked.

Pre-game predictions #1. I asked for a big game from the home-town kid, and he delivered. Trent Cole represented in a big way out there. Woe be unto that poor kid who was trying to block him in the first half (though of course it’s a shame he got hurt).

Pre-game predictions #2. I had begged that the Eagles “screw up” in a “new and innovative way.” A 13-13 draw definitely counts as a new and innovative way to screw up. Congrats, guys!

Pre-game predictions #3. Did I say Dunavin would throw it three dozen times? I meant to say 58 (!!!!!).

If we’re going to make excuses. I thought TJ Houshmandzadeh played a phenomenal game yesterday. Returning punts too? Yikes. He really wanted to win. Also, the Benglas were coming off the bye. (Also the Eagles are mediocre.)

Thank you Shayne Graham. Um, we complain about the tie now, but were it not for the Bengals crapulence, it would have been a loss. Anyhoo.

Hate to keep saying this, but it’s just last year’s 8-8 team, but with a better punt returner.

Oh wait, make that 7-8-1.

Birds - Bengals Preview: do they still do the GNR thing in Cincy?
Posted on November 16th, 2008 at 12:08 pm by Cheesesteak Hoagie

The Bengals used to rock the “Welcome to the Jungle” thing back in the early 90s, right?  Back in the immediate post-Ickey years? Always though that was cool at the stadium, and oddly topical, especially as we approach the long-awaited release of Chinese Democracy.

Oh right.  The football game.  Against the Bengals.  With the Eagles.

This is essentially a minimal-upside/ all-downside game for the Eagles.  They win, and we all agree they were supposed to win; they lose, and we commence with the Donovan McNabb obituaries (it seems folks have been warming those up already).

(Seriously, if they lose, the fans are allowed to be outraged.  If the Eagles can’t get it done against the Ivy Leaguer, Cedric Benson and Dhani Jones, well, then we were all lied to by the team in July and August.)

The more likely result is that they’ll win comfortably, suck us all back in, and start to convince us (yet again) that this isn’t just last year’s 8-8 team (but with a better punt returner).

Quick list of things I’d like to see/ not see:

A taste of power football.  Wouldn’t it be lovely if the Eagles were able to pull off a mostly-run/ power football/ mix-in-Buck-and-BWest sort of drive against the Bengals?  The Bengals defense isn’t particularly strong (#23 in DVOA, 26th against the pass, 16th against the rush) — wouldn’t it build confidence in our guys if they saw they could actually push someone around at the line of scrimmage?

A long kickoff return.  Yes yes, Demps has been close for a while.  Great for him.  We’d like it if he actually busted open a huge one.  Maybe even a touchdown.  It has been a while.

Start McNabb in your fantasy leagues.  Don’t think Big Red missed the stat above about the Cincy pass defense.  Dunavin will throw it three dozen times today, won’t he.

If the Eagles are going to screw up, please do so in a new and innovative way?  No sloppy two-minute drills, no stuffed at the line, no dumb challenges.  Try something new, like 12 men on the field or an ill-timed LJ Smith fumble.

Trent Cole, earn that jersey purchase today.  Hometown game for ya, big fella.  I’m wearing your shirt this week.  Make it happen out there.

I think the Eagles delay the apocalypse another week or two and roll the Bengals.  I’m watching out in the H-O-B.  Prediction = Eagles 31, Bengals 13.

It’s official: Birds are the worst short-yardage team in the NFL
Posted on November 14th, 2008 at 9:18 am by Cheesesteak Hoagie

As discussed last week, your eyes do no deceive you in re: the Birds’ short-yardage struggles.

But whereas a week ago the Eagles were merely the 30th-ranked short-yardage team in the NFL, last weekend’s performance against the Giants has secured them the well-deserved honor of the number-32 slot.  Yup.  Last place.  Worse than the Lions, worse than the Bengals, worse than the Raiders.

Full details here.

Of course, they’re actually now the fourth-best pass-blocking offensive line — just the way that Andy Reid likes it.

Monday Eagles hangover: I need something greasy
Posted on November 10th, 2008 at 11:53 am by Cheesesteak Hoagie

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Okay, we’ve all had the chance to sleep off last night’s loss to the Giants. And…yeah, it still isn’t sitting well. The response to the game has justifiably focused on some of the Eagles’ decision-making in the second half, but hey, let’s not be stingy with the blame — there was plenty to frustrate fans in last night’s game.

Some additional subheads from the Giants’ game:

So much for the post-World Series afterglow.  Baseball?  World Series?  Chase Utley?  Cole Hamels?  That’s all well and good, but ANDY REID WASTED HIS CHALLENGES!  THE MIDDLE-OF-THE-ROAD EAGLES LOST TO THE DEFENDING-CHAMP GIANTS!  PANIC!  DESPAIR!

What did Dunavin think about the coach’s play-calling at the end of the game? The first words out of McNabb’s mouth in his post-game presser were “I want the ball.” Couldn’t agree with you more, big fella. It was surprisingly impolitic from Big Five, but hey, they can write that sort of comment off as “All competitors want the ball in big situations, yadda yadda yadda.”

More Dunavin, pukey edition. I assume everyone else cracked wise as the Eagles let the clock tick down to the two-minute warning as Dunavin was visibly panting on screen? Something along the lines of “At least he didn’t puke”? I think Michaels and Madden even joined in.

Final Dunavin comment (the “It wasn’t all his fault” division). McNabb was not excellent last night, but I actually had a little bit of hope in the fourth quarter that he might pull something together. Silly me! That hasn’t happened in YEARS! Still, as much as we can get down on McNabb, I thought the Matt Mosley piece on ESPN was a bit wrongheaded:

On this night, even the most ardent McNabb apologists were sent scrambling for higher ground. He was 17 of 36 for 194 yards and three touchdowns, but don’t let that last number fool you. His interception in the second quarter was as bad as you’ll see in the NFL, a league that Brad Johnson and J.T. O’Sullivan still call home. McNabb rallied his team late, but it only served to highlight how poorly he’d played the rest of the game.

At this point, McNabb is the fourth-best quarterback in the NFC East. With all of his experience, he’ll still take a delay of game in the red zone or botch a handoff at crucial moments. As usual, Eagles coach Andy Reid stood by his man, saying McNabb simply has to “keep firing, and he’ll be fine.”

Yeah, tough night for McNabb.  But he wasn’t the headline, and it strikes me as a bit lazy to write the blame-the-QB piece after a loss (note: the Eagles did score 31 points in said game).   Especially when the defensive line was humiliated and the offensive line couldn’t push forward for a yard when they had to.  Note also that there was nary a word of criticism of Big Red in that piece — I guess Mosley is planning for the long term with his blame allocation strategy!  Better not piss off the big guy!

Saying the unsayable.  Was Westbrook a little dinged up last night?  Are we allowed to suggest that maybe the 2008 Westbrook isn’t as impressive as the 2006 and 2007 editions?  Also, are we allowed to write columns about how he couldn’t get two yards when he needed to?  To his credit, he owned up to it in his post-game comments, but no one in the press really bit.  Also, it’s worth checking out those comments to see that he also semi-distanced himself from the play call at the end of the game.

Boneheaded plays aren’t reserved for coach, QB.  Greg Lewis.  Dude.  Running into the punt returner?  It’s a tenuous hold on a roster spot as it is.  You don’t need to be handing the Giants 15 free yards.  Also, the Tank Daniels encroachment call (that could have ended the game) was the moment were I actually lost my temper a bit.  Horrible.

Yeah, still stewing on this end.  I’ll come up with something positive later today.  For now I’m content to wallow a bit more.

(Take that, post-World Series afterglow!)

We’re not imagining things in re: the Eagles in short-yardage situations
Posted on November 5th, 2008 at 1:52 pm by Cheesesteak Hoagie

Not to go all-DVOA-all-the-time on you, but what with the emerging meme of “the Eagles are crap in short-yardage situations” among the blathertariat, I figured it was worth at least ninety seconds of research to see if it was just our collective imagination. That is, are the Eagles really bad in short-yardage situations or are a few significant plays in big moments skewing our evaluation?

Yeah. I wish I had better news.

According the Football Outsiders Offensive Line stats, the Eagles are 30th in the NFL in “Power Success” through Week 8. Power Success is defined as follows:

Power Success: Percentage of runs on third or fourth down, two yards or less to go, that achieved a first down or touchdown. Also includes runs on first-and-goal or second-and-goal from the two-yard line or closer. This is the only statistic on this page that includes quarterbacks.

So we’re not imagining things about the short-yardage problems. The odd thing is that the o-line stats are otherwise not terrible — 13th overall on the run, and 10th in sacks allowed. That is, the Eagles offensive line appears to be above average except for those plays when they desperately need just a yard or two.

Let us all now feel 8 percent more vindicated about our opinions and 12 percent less confident in said offensive line.

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.

Push coming to shove: the most dispiriting part of the Eagles right now
Posted on October 27th, 2008 at 12:00 pm by Cheesesteak Hoagie

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Yes, the Eagles are 4-3, looking healthier than they have all season, and the gods of officiating looked upon them favorably yesterday. 4-3 is a lot better than 3-4, etc etc. Still, I’ve decided that I have a new overriding Eagles-related anxiety: that the offensive line has lost its confidence. That is, on third- or fourth-and-short, I don’t think they believe that they can get it done.

Obviously the Chicago game was the first — and most painful — data point for this hypothesis, but the Eagles also struggled inside the five-yard-line against the Redskins. And then this past week the Eagles had two chances to effectively seal the game in the fourth quarter, if only they could push forward for one yard:

2-1-ATL 1 (9:15) 5-D.McNabb pass short middle to 36-B.Westbrook to ATL 1 for no gain (56-K.Brooking).
3-1-ATL 1 (8:52) 5-D.McNabb up the middle to ATL 1 for no gain (94-K.Moorehead).
4-1-ATL 1 (7:59) 2-D.Akers 18 yard field goal is GOOD, Center-46-J.Dorenbos, Holder-6-S.Rocca.

and,

1-10-PHI 17 (3:42) 5-D.McNabb pass short right to 87-B.Celek to PHI 25 for 8 yards (24-D.Foxworth).
2-2-PHI 25 (3:01) 36-B.Westbrook up the middle to PHI 26 for 1 yard (59-M.Boley).
Timeout #2 by ATL at 02:54.
3-1-PHI 26 (2:54) 36-B.Westbrook left end to PHI 26 for no gain (92-C.Davis)

As Andy Reid is so fond of saying, it all starts up front. We like to get caught up in the fancy x-and-o-ifying, but ultimately football is about pushing people around. And right now, it sure doesn’t seem like our guys are confident that they can push the other guys around when it matters. It’s not like Andy Reid hasn’t noticed:

On whether he is disappointed the Eagles struggled offensively in short yardage situations: “These one-foot things, we have to change this. We’re going to keep working on it. We’ve been working on it, but we’re going to keep working on it.”

The thing is, pushing the other guys back a few feet probably isn’t about “working on it,” and Andy Reid knows that. It’s about an attitude and confidence regarding your ability to push. And the Birds don’t seem to have that right now.  Let us cross our fingers and hope they rediscover said confidence before it’s too late.

(And yes, SHAME ON ME for dropping negative energy in the midst of the glorious Phillies result from last night.)

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.



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