What Would Buddy Do?
Monday Eagles Hangover: time for the airing of grievances and the shaving of beards?
Posted on December 22nd, 2008 at 1:15 pm by Cheesesteak Hoagie

almostreggiebrown.jpg

Okay, so football season ended a week earlier than it probably should have.

We got to live the dream a bit over the past month — a dream that definitely didn’t exist after the gloomy Cincy-and-Bal’more fortnight — and now it’s 98 percent over.  Sure, crazy things happen in the NFL, and they’re not out of it yet, but they’re pretty much out of it.  Certainly we as fans have it better than the players and coaches: at least we can mentally move on at this point and maybe even enjoy unwrapping a Phillies DVD on Christmas morning.  Those poor bastards still have to pretend they’re in it for another week and get ready to be pushed around by the Cowboys.  Consider yourself blessed!

Day-after storylines to help you nurse your hangover.

For the avoidance of doubt.  Andy Reid’s Monday presser was a predictably grim affair.  When pressed to explain who might have been at fault on the game’s final play — the one that ended six inches short — Reid actually answered the question (obliquely, at least).  He observed that he thought the quarterback did a good job getting the football into a tight spot, but that the route needed to be run into the end zone.  Hmmm.  I hope Reggie Brown doesn’t have too much trouble selling his house in these wintry economic times!

Run-the-ball-Andy meme.  That old chestnut?  It was tough to find an article/ game report that didn’t highlight the run-pass ratio.  It predictably came up again in the Monday presser, in the context of “Does it feel like you’re answering the same questions every week?”  Reid’s answer was that the reporters weren’t very creative, but, well, I’m not sure that they’re the ones lacking for imagination in this one particular case.

Westbrook isn’t well.  A theory on Brian Westbrook’s health — this is the first game in a month for which he didn’t have an extended period of rest (and in fact lost a day).  He had two full days of rest from Thanksgiving to the Giants’ game, and then an extra day ahead of the Monday Night Game.  At this point, it probably all matters to a guy like Westbrook.  Oh well.  That’s what happens when the offense depends so heavily on one guy (and that one guy, while awesome and deserving of my man-crush, sturggles to be healthy every week).  Depth in the backfield needs to be addressed in the offseason.

Peter King update.  No mention of the Eagles play-calling this week.  Funny, that.

Playoff Beard update.  It looked like Andy Reid hadn’t shaved yet, but it’s unclear if the rest of the locker room is still on board with the beards.  If you shave, does that mean the team has given up entirely?  Perhaps there’s a hybrid solution that would appropriately reflect the Birds’ post-season prospects: little Hitler mustaches?  Slightly longer-than-average sideburns?

Reflections on a losing record in the NFC East.  I mean, do you really think a team — which has won one (1) of its five division games so far — that can only win 2 out of 6 division games should be in the playoffs?  That sounds pretty mediocre to me.  Stranger things have happened, but it’s not like we can complain about unfulfilled potential or tough breaks or whatever.  You are your record, and the Eagles’ division record is 1-4.  Yuck.

Yeah, that’s what I’ve got for you today.  Yuck.

Birds fall to Skins in Platonic ideal of Bad Eagles Loss
Posted on December 21st, 2008 at 8:57 pm by Cheesesteak Hoagie

Well that wasn’t very fun at all.

Not quite Cincinnati-game frustrating, and not Baltimore-game terrible, and not even Redskins-home-loss humiliating, but pretty crappy.  Nothing shameful about the defensive performance (though the Redskins’ offense doesn’t conjure up memories of the Greatest Show On Turf), but the offense was a bad in all of our old/ familiar/ favorite ways.

That is, today’s loss approached the Platonic ideal of a bad Eagles game: no plays or playmakers amongst the wideouts, an abandonment of the running game, some iffy clock management, and — most importantly — a horrific performance from L.J. Smith.  If they could have just managed to somehow surrender some points at the end of the first half (in some particularly surprising/ unlikely manner involving the special teams?), well, the universe just might have exploded.

After a couple weeks of strong performances, we can’t pretend that the Birds weren’t due for one of these efforts.  They certainly didn’t get blown out, they just didn’t really make any of the plays that are required to win.  Pretty standard, really.

Highlights of frustration below:

Welcome back, the-wideouts-aren’t-good-enough meme.  The drops were bad throughout, but the Redskins dropped their fair share as well.  This was a game where I wish I could have been in the stadium to see if guys were actually getting open (my guess is an emphatic no).  We love the CamelCased one, but young DeSean dropped a couple that would have made a difference.  He’s a rookie, yup, but he was also the best guy the Birds had out there today.  I dunno.  At least we’re all pretty well-versed in beating up on the wide receivers.  I look forward to closely monitoring which diva pass-catchers from around the league are unhappy this off-season.

There’s something about Jason Campbell.  Does this guy play this way every week?  I mean, it doesn’t seem threatening and explosive at all, nothing vertical or down the field, but he’s a pain in the ass on third down.  Those scrambles for first downs are insanely frustrating.

The Redskins’ best player.  Helluva a day from the Redskins punter.  Seriously — that Ryan Plackemeier did himself proud out there.

Intrigue remains in re: Big Five.  McNabb wasn’t great today, but he also wasn’t terrible.  He’ll take heat for this game, sure, but it didn’t look like he had a ton of help out there — from his teammates or the play selection.  And he did make a couple big throws in the fourth quarter, only to get let down by the overwhelming lameness of the wide receivers.  Net net, it means that we can’t emphatically ship him out of town in this week’s papers.

L.J. Smith and his personal quest to lose games against the Redskins.  Was it the two drops in the first half on third down?  Or the horrific missed block on the screen to Westbrook at the Redskins’ five (lots of good questions in the postgame pressers about that one)?  Which specific play was the worst?  I actually think that he might have been the one who was out of position at the beginning of the third quarter when the Birds burned their timeout as well.  Maybe we wouldn’t get down him so much if he hadn’t also been personally responsible for goal-line mistake against the Skins in October as well.  Not impressive. I hope the fans at the Dallas game remember that this will be their last chance EVER to boo L.J. in an Eagles uniform.

Other BOOOOOs.  Asante Samuel for dropping that pick.  Reggie Brown for being almost but not quite good enough.  Sav Rocca for being outpunted.

My goal is to not spend the rest of the evening moping about and reading every word bit of Internet content on the game.  I’m putting in a movie, ideally something really stupid and/ or cartoonishly violent.  More tomorrow.

Cooley family taunts Donovan McNabb in intradivision blog spat
Posted on October 22nd, 2008 at 4:13 pm by Cheesesteak Hoagie

Shame on me for missing this a few weeks back, but Tanner Cooley (brother and blogging partner of Redskins’ tight end Chris Cooley) took the time to gloat on the family blog (www.ChrisCooley47.com) regarding Donovan McNabb’s blog posting following the Redskins game; you know, it was the one where he claimed that the Eagles were better than the Redskins. Oops. Tanner Cooley didn’t seem to agree:

When I played football the team that won the game was usually the better team. When Donovon McNabb plays, it doesn’t matter who scores more, has better stats, and leaves the field victorious. All that matters is how you feel inside.

I [Donovan McNabb] believe that we lost to teams we should have beaten. Not because I think they are not good - they are. But I still believe we are better; we just didn’t show it.

He must not have watched game film because going 30 minutes without a first down didn’t show the Eagles being better. 4 straight 3 and outs didn’t do it. And I’m pretty sure getting out-rushed 203 to 58 and being booed off their own field definitely didn’t prove the E-A-G-L-E-S to be the superior team. But either way, a fact is fact and the Eagles were the only NFC East team to not make the playoffs last year and they are right on track to repeat this year. So if they know in their heart’s that they are a better team after losing games, I guess they don’t know what “better” is.

RRRRRRRRRR!

So a couple things here.

(1) Generally speaking, the Chris Cooley blog is totally sweet. Whether it’s posting half-nekkid pictures of his wife, completely nekkid pictures of himself, or videos of the Redskins’ internal fantasy draft, this is all goodness. Good for Chris Cooley for having a sense of humor in re: his good fortune and not taking himself too seriously.

(2) Whilst Tanner Cooley is certainly correct in his taunts from the fan perspective — and really, he’s just a fan, and he’s allowed to talk as much smack at NFL players as the next fan — it does complicate things to post this on an official player site. Not that it isn’t funny, but you can imagine how certain folks on the other side of the equation might not appreciate it.

(2a) Let us all note the obvious parallels with the McNabb family blogging efforts.

(3) I, for one, think it’s puh-retty cool that “saying b*tchy things about other players on one’s blog” has a chance to become the next step in the bulletin-board-material evolution of “running your mouth in front of a camera.” Certainly the players can’t complain that they’ve been misquoted if it’s their own web site. If anything, this could pave the way for dueling videos on YouTube, snarky Twitter entries (note: even I have avoided Twitter to date and I typically go in for the latest techie fad), awkward Facebook Wall posts. The future is now!

This train is leaving the station
Posted on October 5th, 2008 at 9:16 am by Cheesesteak Hoagie

Actually, we’re driving, so the gameday postings will be a bit light, BUT, let me quickly say the following:

1.  This will be a nervous afternoon by any definition.  The Redskins don’t seem capable of playing games that aren’t decided in the fourth quarter, and I imagine that’s how this one will go.  That plus the Phils game should have the folks in the stadium on maximum anxiety levels for most of the aftenoon.

2.  I’ve got a good Reggie Brown vibe for today.  Can’t tell you why (other than the part where he’s made big plays against the Skins in the past).  It’d also be nice to see the secondary end that whole “Jason Campbell hasn’t thrown a pick” thing.   And I wouldn’t be shocked to see David Akers need to make a big field goal today (like in the fourth quarter when it matters).

3.  Letdown versus High Pressure in re: the respective psychoanalytics today.  We’ve got the Skins pegged for a letdown after a big win against Dallas, right?  And we have the Eagles feeling a ton of pressure in the face of 2-3 and another division loss.  Usually the more desperate teams get the win in these scenarios (”Parcells’ Axiom of Sportscliche #43″).

4.  In case I didn’t mention this four time already, I couldn’t be more psyched to actually be attending the game today.

5. I like the Eagles to win, call it Eagles 23, Redskins 16.

The best play the Eagles have made all season
Posted on November 11th, 2007 at 10:35 pm by Cheesesteak Hoagie

runyan1.jpg

Thanks to a lopsided result in the Green Bay - Minnesota game/ the glorious and generous mercies of the respective gods of football and television, the Fox affiliate here in Seattle switched to the Birds game with about 3 minutes left in the third quarter.

I wasn’t actually here to watch it (airplanes today; San Antonio to Seattle, layover in Houston where I was able to catch the first three quarters), but my extremely clever roommate DVRs all the games, so the exciting conclusion was waiting for me when I got home later tonight. I mean, I knew the result thanks to the refresh button on ESPN’s mobile site and a minor delay on the tarmac in Houston, but it was pretty sweet to get to see the screen pass to Westbrook, AKA THE BEST PLAY THE EAGLES HAVE MADE ALL SEASON on my very own TV.

(Read the rest of this story.)

Getting pushed around like it was 2003!
Posted on September 18th, 2007 at 2:27 pm by Cheesesteak Hoagie

at least rocca hasnt screwed up with the holdingSo we’ve all heard this story before.

Many moons ago, back in the days before TO and the trip to the Thuper Bowl, the Eagles used to grind out wins with their QB, a feisty defense, some talent at TE and RB — despite a completely overmatched WR corps. If last night’s game is any indication of a larger trend, it sure looks like this team needs to start thinking about winning in the 2003 style and not the 2004 style, because their WRs are getting pushed around like Trash and Stinkston.

(Read the rest of this story.)

2007 Washington Redskins Preview: because they’re the NFC East team I find the least disagreeable
Posted on August 30th, 2007 at 1:10 am by Cheesesteak Hoagie

is that the flash?In a relatively charming turn of events, a loose confederation of Eagles bloggers sent me a mail this morning inviting me to write a preseason preview of the Washington Redskins. The general idea is that each blogger covers a major NFC rival of the Birds and we all post links to the other blogs/ previews.

Sounds like a plan.

Turns out that they managed to gather previews for a bunch of other teams (the Giants, Cowboys, Bears, Niners, and Saints) but no one had gotten around to dealing with the Redskins (or the Nerdbirds, but that’s understandable — no one cares about C@L — go east-coast media bias!). I can see why no one wanted to do the Skins; of the three other NFC East teams, I definitely hate the Redskins the least. (In case you were wondering, I hate the Giants the most, but that’s only because I’ve recently gotten over a residual Cowboys hatred that was directly tied to Emmitt Smith taking off his helmet to celebrate garbage TDs in the fourth quarter against overmatched opponents behind the best offensive line of the 90s.)

Check out the other previews:

Dallas Cowboys at Iggles Blog
New York Giants at Eagle Scout Blog
Chicago Bears at Fortress of Pillows
New Orleans Saints at Bleeding Green Nation
San Francisco 49ers at Depressed Fan

Despite my relatively modulated hatred of the Redskins, I still dislike them enough to assemble a snarky preview on short notice. Note — this column contains no predictions. I’m no good at predicting the future. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have opinions about the Skins; here we go:

(Read the rest of this story.)