What Would Buddy Do?
Monday Eagles Hangover: Wow, so that actually happened
Posted on December 29th, 2008 at 12:35 pm by Cheesesteak Hoagie

clemonsavant1.JPG

Yup.  Still here.  Just checked the Internet, and it appears that the Eagles did, in fact, make the playoffs.  Yesterday will be fondly remembered as pretty much the best day to be an Eagles fan since 2004.  Sure, there were some solid moments in 2006, but nothing so singularly glorious as what went down yesterday.

I dunno.  I’m still reeling.

What I’m chewing on this morning (besides bacon):

The last two minutes of the first half.  The end of the first half has been something of a bugaboo for the Birds over the course of this season.  I guess we should have known that this was truly a special day when — instead of having a field goal blocked and returned for a touchdown, as has been their style — the Eagles scored 17 points in the final 2:09 of the first half.  Wow.

Guys we couldn’t be happier for, Part 1.  Correll Buckhalter, you’ve hung in there for years and years, and yesterday, you were the guy.  We’ve always enjoyed rooting for Buck, and this was a great Buckhalter game — made plays when he had his chance, made sure he ran north and south, and did it with a big smile.  Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.

Guys we couldn’t be happier for, Part 2.  I take back everything I ever said about Dawkins being done (though that was mostly in August/ September).  I liked GCobb’s comments about Dawk: essentially that Dawk’s game yesterday will be featured prominently in his Hall of Fame resume.  Yup.  Keep talking.

Guys we couldn’t be happier for, Part 3.  Sheldon Brown, good for you.  We thought you might have fallen into a pick by accident by this point, but hey, we’re glad you got one before the season was over.

Discussions we’ll no longer entertain.  Don’t want to hear it about Tony Romo.  Nope.  Not a word.  Until he wins any sort of game that matters, we’re not allowed to call him the best quarterback in the division.  He’s the third-best quarterback in the division.  At best.  Sure, the sample size is small, but it sure looks like Tony Romo has failed in every playoff situation he’s faced.  I’ll look forward to his skewering in the national media.

What you saw if you were at the bar with me.  So when Michael Bush broke the long run for the Raiders, the noises I was making might be best described as “uninterested porn star simulating orgasm.”  I was one of about three people watching the Tampa game at that point (in a packed bar); I think folks were a little taken aback.

Other things mentioned at said bar.  “Is that the same Ryan Moats who just scored for Houston?”  Why yes!  I suppose it is!

Better late than never.  I guess we can’t call Chris Clemons a bust signing if he shows up and delivers in the biggest game of the year.

Things we’ve already talked ourselves into.  A wild-card team with a hot defense can actually reach and/ or win the Super Bowl.  Seems to be how it goes down these days.  We get to think that for at least the next six days.  And that’s a glorious thing.

Dunavin talked about his feelings.   You know what, Big Five, you get to crow a little bit after yesterday.  You earned it.  In re: the constant criticism he faces, McNabb gave us the following in his post-game presser:

“We’re human beings, you get tired of it, but you never let them see you sweat. And you never show that it bothers you because you kill them with kindness, and when you kill them with kindness and you go out and you do your job, people understand that it never really affects you.”

Let it out, big fella.  Let it all out.

The return of Shawn Andrews?  So he’s not on IR (still).  Might the Big Kid actually get a look in a playoff game?  Huh.

I remain baffled and giddy regarding yesterday.  Go Birds.

Shawn Andrews Addendum: it’s called “the bar” big fella, and there’s one on most corners here in “America”
Posted on December 2nd, 2008 at 10:56 am by Cheesesteak Hoagie

And I know this probably isn’t the best advice for an NFL guy after this past weekend’s events, but when I see a quote like this I’m just taken aback:

“It was kind of lonely out there and very boring. I got to watch some [Eagles games] but all of them were not available. The best thing I can say is that the weather was warmer than it is here.”

DUDE.  You didn’t watch all the games?  Are you kidding me?  Find a hat and sunglasses and roll to a local sports bar!  Or at least buy the radio package on NFL.com!  I don’t play for the team but I dragged my ass to the bar at 9:15 am every Sunday for three years out in Seattle!  Come on!

Shawn Andrews returns, offers predictably goofy quotes
Posted on December 2nd, 2008 at 10:27 am by Cheesesteak Hoagie

With no day-after Andy Reid presser, the Monday story at the NovaCare Complex was the return of erstwhile Pro Bowler Shawn Andrews from his Southern California surgery and convalescence.

As we have come to expect from Andrews, his media interactions approximated those of some sort of heavily mustached “free spirit” relief pitcher from the mid-70s, including descriptions of his diet plan (pescatarian — meaning fish but no red meat or chicken) and his favorite meal at the California Pizza Kitchen:

“It was kind of lonely out there,” said Andrews Monday, back at the NovaCare Complex for the first time since mid-October. “It was lonely and boring.

“Just sit in the hotel kicking back and go to California Pizza Kitchen, have a Cobb salad with no chicken, bacon or avocado, with herb ranch dressing, tortilla soup, and a margarita pizza with mushrooms, green peppers and pineapples. Then go back for dinner and have the same thing.

“Every day. That’s all I did. I was at CPK so much they started giving me every third meal free. They even gave me my own parking space.”

His own parking space, huh?  Sounds like some sort crappie indie film (injured millionaire football star finds peace and solace at chain restaurant, changes direction of life, finds true love).  Though I can agree with him about Marina Del Rey.  I stayed their once on an LA trip for work, and it was pretty beat.  On the water, sure, but beat.

The positive news seemed to be that he was in decent shape and hadn’t packed on a ton of pounds.  The bad news seemed to be suggested by his comments regarding his relationship with some of his teammates:

“My offensive line, they’ve been struggling, and it’s tough to not be able to be here and struggle with them,” Andrews said. “If I were them, I’d probably have some kind of feelings toward me, but I can’t do anything about the back surgery.”

If you asked me to guess and triangulate a bit, I’d guess he’s referring to comments like this one from Jon Runyan.

Also, given that he’s admitted he hasn’t done any sort of physical activity beyond walking for the past five weeks, well, I just can’t believe that the Birds haven’t stuck him on IR.  I appreciate their confidence, but, um, this guy ain’t playing this year.

What’s all this about The Dread High Ankle Sprain?
Posted on November 19th, 2008 at 11:20 am by Cheesesteak Hoagie

Oh man, that Occam’s razor is a b*tch.

Amidst a week of Andy-and-Donovan-must-go, the most shocking news I’ve heard is the revelation that Brian Westbrook is more banged up than we may have thought. Whether it’s in pieces like this one or on Brian’s weekly radio show, it’s pretty evident that the Eagles’ erstwhile best player is hurting — and that he isn’t likely to get better any time soon.

There has even been mention of — gasp! — the Dread High Ankle Sprain, which we all know to be among the most mysterious and crippling of the football injuries.

A couple things here:

1. We’re not allowed to be shocked that the Eagles aren’t exceptional running the ball if the two guys who made the Pro Bowl last year — and who are pretty important in the running-the-ball thing — are missing or very banged up. This is the simplest answer. We are allowed to be shocked at the coach’s reaction to those events and his lack of a back-up plan. Even if you’re not exceptional, you still need to be effective.

2. I’m feeling exceptionally horrible for even suggesting the following a month ago, though it looks like it might be pretty true:

“Brian Westbrook never really gets healthy and rushes for fewer than 900 yards on the season (he’s at 194 after six games, so I’m saying he doesn’t break 70 yards/ game over the remaining ten).”

Yeah. Let’s not think about that too too much.

In other news, Dunavin faces the blathermonkeys shortly. I hope he has a plan for explaining away the tie thing. And I hope it has multiple references to being “ambushed” by “gotcha” questions from the “liberal elite.” Don’t ever let them see you sweat, big fella!

Can someone get to stalking Shawn Andrews?
Posted on November 13th, 2008 at 1:39 pm by Cheesesteak Hoagie

A sub-bullet of this week’s discourse on the failures of the Eagles running game has been speculation regarding the prolonged absence of Pro Bowl right guard Shawn Andrews. Andrews, if you remember, had back surgery in Southern California a few weeks ago and has yet to travel back to Philly to rejoin the team. Oddly, he also hasn’t yet been placed on IR.

Andy Reid fielded a few inquiries on Andrews in his presser yesterday, and the always intrepid Les Bowen decided to follow up with Shawn directly:

Reid said “several of us” are in contact with Andrews, whose recovery remains “on track.” Andrews has not been placed on injured reserve, which would end his season.

In a series of text messages yesterday with the Daily News, Andrews said Watkins communicates directly with Reid and head athletic trainer Rick Burkholder, and not with Andrews, on his status. Andrews said he is waiting for Reid or Burkholder to tell him he has the OK to return to Philadelphia. (Maybe what we have here is a failure to communicate?)

Asked how he is spending his time out there, Andrews, who missed the first 17 days of training camp while struggling with depression, texted that he is “doing a lot of thinking. Lots and lots and lots of thinking! Walking and thinking!”

Maybe in his wanderings, Andrews will hit upon a solution to the short-yardage running woes, and text Reid with it.

Here’s my question for civilian and blathermonkey alike: why can’t we track down Shawn Andrews in person? Are there no unemployed Birds fans in Southern California? How about an amateur photo or two sent through to the Daily News?

I only ask because someone managed to find the illustrious Jocelyn Kirsch (of Bonnie and Clyde fame) while she was laying low working at coffee shop in Napa. Surely the key to the Eagles offensive line merits the same treatment!

(Though we don’t need any shots of the Big Kid in his swimming costumes.)

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.

I’m not buying the Trap Game theory
Posted on September 20th, 2008 at 11:35 am by Cheesesteak Hoagie

For about half the week I had myself completely convinced that the Steelers game had low-effort/ letdown/ Trap Game written all over it.  The Birds had just lost a tough one on the road to a division rival, they never play well against decent AFC teams, and the Stillers were no joke.

But I don’t think that’ll be the problem tomorrow.  The Birds lost a tough game in Week Two to a division rival last year as well (albeit at home) and then completely humiliated the Lions the following week.  So I’m going to point to that scenario and say that they’re not going to write the Stillers off this week.

Of course, that doesn’t mean this looks like a good matchup for the Eagles.  No Shawn Andrews = badness.  But at least it won’t be a lack of effort that does the team in.  Or so I’d like to believe.

Birds fall to Cowboys in a close one, deny me decent night of sleep
Posted on September 16th, 2008 at 8:46 am by Cheesesteak Hoagie

dunavindallas.jpg 

I wish I could pretend that I didn’t watch this one pretty much live. I really do. This was going to be a real turning point for me, maturity wise. I would be able to wait and watch it at a normal hour like a regular human being.

Yeah, not so much.

In retrospect, I think the problem was that I wasn’t completely asleep at kickoff. I needed to be unconscious when it started, otherwise I was going to get sucked into it and end up watching the whole freakin thing, compromising the better part of a night of sleep in the process. Of course, it didn’t help my cause that the game was ridiculously exciting. Sigh. I’ll just be paying for it all day. Should be a hoot!

My takeaways:

McNabb dusted off his mask and cape. For a guy who claimed his days of 14-second scrambles were behind him, it sure did look like Donovan McNabb wasn’t above the occasional superhero stunt last night. It wasn’t just the brave scrambling within the pocket, it was his willingness to absorb some pretty vicious shots (especially that scramble inside the Cowboys’ 10 near the end of the first half) that was most impressive. Sure seemed like this was a veteran guy making it clear that he was playing for keeps last night. Also, aren’t we Philly fans supposed to respond to that gritty “leave it all on the field” stuff? Or will we nitpick because it’s Dunavin?

Speaking of masks and capes. I know we already knew this, but that DeMarcus Ware – yikes! I wish the Eagles had one of those. That he still had the motor to bring McNabb down on that third-down play at the end of the game was keenly impressive. That’s the kind of dude/ play that wins games.

The Big Kid was already looking forward to that turkey burger. Obviously it has to hurt the team to lose a player like Shawn Andrews, especially against a defensive front like the Cowboys have. But the unaided eye certainly must have noticed a couple whiffs from Andrews early in the game. I don’t think the tape is going to be very kind on that front.

Tell the whipping boy that his flogging post is ready. On a night where the secondary seemed to underperform across the board, Sean Considine looked especially useless – not just in coverage but on the second long kick return as well. I guess it doesn’t help that the Eagles weren’t getting much of a pass rush put together, but I thought the Eagles had three starting cornerbacks? I thought one of them might be able to cover that fellow, what’s his name, rather spirited young man, what is it again? Also, was Romo even looking for the other Dallas wideouts?

The broader point in re: the above. The defense looked pretty vulnerable last night. They didn’t get to Romo at all, to the point of frustration, because every time they did bring a little pressure, Romo seemed to falter a bit. Sitting back in coverage was not the answer in the passing game. File that away for December.

It was the facemask we didn’t see. Apart from the Cowboys’ efforts to twist Brian Westbrook’s head clean off (some of which were called, some of which weren’t), did ESPN ever show a replay of the apparent facemask on Asante Samuel on his runback after the pick? Or was there no time for that amidst all the blathering from the booth?

Speaking of blathering. I’m a longtime PTI fanboy, but Kornheiser was especially awful in the booth last night. As the game went on, he went from extraneous to intrusive to downright irritating. It’s nice having Jaws in there, but even that was tempered by a limit to my passion for discussions of quarterback mechanics…in the National Football League.

And one last thing. The hook and ladder and ladder? Seriously? The Birds don’t have any 20-yard plays? What happened to that 4th-and-26 fighting spirit?

I’m shocked that I’m not more bummed out this morning. I was bummed last night, but beyond my dream of an undefeated season, the long-term damage from last night feels minimal. Mostly I’m more convinced than I was the week before that the Birds can be pretty legit this year.

And that’s not so bad.

Giants’ Super Bowl victory finally explained; as expected, it was Beelzebub
Posted on September 2nd, 2008 at 7:44 pm by Cheesesteak Hoagie

tyree.jpg

What I gleaned from my first viewing of ESPN E-60 tonight (besides a conviction the format and opening titles must be intended as self-parody): that G-Men Super Bowl hero David Tyree was once, in his own words, possessed by the Devil himself.

Far be it from me to make light of someone’s faith or mental condition, but, um, demonic possession?  Seriously?  Notify Father Damian and take us back to medieval Europe!  I mean, I knew something was cosmically wrong when the Giants won the Super Bowl, but I had no idea how deep it went; this actually makes the injustice of said Super Bowl triumph all seem a bit more palatable.

(Note that Tyree was actually institutionalized, also had drug and alcohol problems, and seems to have gotten help, though he still describes himself as having been possessed.  Possessed.  Said it on TV and everything.) 

Man, this sure makes the whole Shawn Andrews thing seem pretty tame. 

Coming clean with Shawn Andrews
Posted on August 17th, 2008 at 12:45 pm by Cheesesteak Hoagie

shawn comes clean

After watching Shawn Andrews’ soul-searching press conference yesterday and the attendant coverage thereof, I’m not ashamed to admit that I had a few moments of reflection myself.  Not just about Shawn and what he’s been dealing with, but also my role in the whole affair.  Still, if Shawn can man up and talk about his issues, then certainly I can as well. 

With apologies to the very excellent Bleeding Green Nation, I’d like to step forward and admit my role in this little drama.  Those leaks to the press and the blogs that Shawn was talking about?  The outrageous rumors coming from Shawn himself?  Yeah, that was me.  The Bounty.  And it’s time to own up to it.

I guess I first knew something wasn’t right with Shawn about a month and a half ago.  We were playing Scrabulous (as an aside, Shawn really enjoyed him some Scrabulous, and we can’t discount the impact of its removal on Shawn’s mental state) and he sent me a Scrabulous chat message indicating that he’d been spending a lot of time thinking lately.  I didn’t think much of it, but resigned to keep an extra-careful eye out on Shawn’s status updates in the coming weeks.

If only I knew how bad it would get!  Shawn was updating his Facebook status two, three times a day.  Sure, it started innocently (”Shawn is feeling tired this afternoon,” “Shawn is wondering what he wants to do with himself”), but pretty soon things started to get a little scarier (”Shawn can’t believe the things they’re saying on talk radio,” “Shawn is sorry he isn’t picking up his phone, but he really doesn’t want to talk about football or see any of you ever again”).

After leaving a few unanswered messages on his Wall, I decided that I need to be more direct.  So I tried winking at him on SuperPoke.  No response.  Then I bought him a margarita.  Nothing.  Finally, I threw a sheep at him.  Full stop.  If he didn’t have time to defenestrate or fling a thong at me in reply, I knew we had some real issues.  But no, crickets.  And he’d almost totally stopped updating his Twitter! 

After a few more unreturned SuperPokes, I was close to giving up when I caught Shawn lurking on Google Chat.  Now I knew I had him, so I reached out directly.  Was he feeling good?  Not so much.  Did the team know the story?  Not really.  Was there anything I could do to help?  And that’s when I agreed to be his uncredited voice to the media.  Seeding wild rumors didn’t seem like the most prudent or mature way to deal with some tough times, but hey, who among us would say no to a friend?  

And so it began.  The anonymous message board posts.  The awkward comments on obscure blogs.  The late-night calls to WIP.  The threatening letters to Tom Coughlin (seemed a bit off-topic, but if Shawn wanted it, I couldn’t say no?).  And finally my own “mock” Shawn Andrews post a few weeks back.  In retrospect, I may have tipped my hand a bit with that one, but we thought it would be a clever way to throw suspicious parties off the case. 

I wouldn’t say I felt good about any of this, but I’ve never been one to ignore a friend in need.  So you can imagine my relief when Shawn finally spoke to the press yesterday and shared the details of his struggles — dirty laundry and all.  And now that he’s shared his story, I think we can all move forward together.  Sure, it’ll be a little tougher without Scrabulous, I always thought Shawn was cheating anyway.   



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