Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Gang Green for real?

Four games into the season and the Eagles defense is looking good. They are 3rd in yards allowed and 7th in points allowed. We lead the league in sacks and run defense. We lead the NFC in takeaways.

Not too bad.

The defense was tough to move the ball on and score on last year, but didn't make enough plays. The takeaways are very encouraging. We've also scored a TD and gotten a safety. Again, this is what we needed.

The odd part of all this is that the front seven is getting the job done. The secondary still feels like a work in progress. The 3 CBs are not fully clicking at this point. Asante Samuel is doing his part. He's covered well and has 2 INTs.

Lito and Sheldon are the guys who seem to be figuring things out. They are getting moved around. Lito is in and out of the lineup. Sheldon is playing both RCB and the slot. He didn't get much time in the slot last year.

Part of the problem is that we've faced teams with mediocre receivers to this point. Dallas was the only passing challenge. We shut down TO for half the game, but Jason Witten was a problem all night long.

It will be nice to face some 3 WR sets and see just what the 3 CBs can do. Neither Lito nor Sheldon has an INT or even a pass breakup to this point. If we can get them going, the defense could be even better.

The D-line is looking good. Darren, Juqua, and Trent combined for 18.5 sacks last year. They already have 8 this year. We have 2 sacks from backup DTs. We're clogging running lanes. And we still haven't gotten help from Chris Clemons and Victor Abiamiri.

The LBs are actually making some plays. Omar has played really well the last couple of weeks. If he, Bradley, and Gocong continue to improve and make plays, the defense could be dominant.

There is still work to be done. Allowing the Bears to score 24 points shouldn't happen. Our defense is better than that. These kinds of growing pains are going to happen as the players learn and grow. Also keep in mind that the coaches are still figuring out exactly what they've got.

I like what I'm seeing to this point. We're only four games in, but the signs are very positive for the Eagles defense.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Flashback Time

The first time I remember hearing about flashbacks was in an episode of The White Shadow. The team's student manager had done LSD at a previous high school ( I wanna say St. Louis for some reason). The kid started experiencing all kinds of weird things and finally admitted to coach or the bossy assistant principal what the problem was. Flashbacks.

Watching the Eagles find various ways to lose last night gave me flashbacks. Peabody and I hopped in the way-back machine and set it for the year 2007. You remember the '07 Eagles, right? They couldn't score touchdowns. They missed field goals over 40 yards. They got burned for touchdowns on key pass plays. They had to deal with offensive injuries. They turned the ball over at key moments. In short, they found ways to lose.

I haven't finished reviewing the game carefully. I couldn't immediately get into re-watching it last night. The problem with night games is that you need some some time to relax after they are over. Game ends at 1130pm. You do a couple of things and veg for a while and it gets to be 1am in a hurry.

I took some notes during the game and re-watched some key plays. As disappointed as I was, it wasn't all bad. The defense was great in the 2nd half. The Bears had 2 yards and 3 turnovers in the 3rd quarter. The linebackers played great. That is what we've been waiting to see for a while. Those guys made plays and were around the ball all game long.

I thought Buck looked good when they fed him the ball. I really wish they'd get him more involved on a regular basis.

DeSean was up and down. That kid brings a lot to the table, but his muffed punt set the Bears up for points. You just have to know that rookies will make mistakes. He made enough plays to cover up for the blunder, but it did hurt us.

Trent Cole is getting hot. He's now played really well in consecutive games.

We lead the league in run defense and sacks. I do take great pleasure in that. I think that kind of stuff is in the DNA of Eagles fans.

If there is one Eagle I could throw off a bridge today it would be Matt Schobel. He dropped a pass over the middle in the 1st quarter. That pass would have given us the ball inside the 10. Luckily for Matt we still scored on that drive. He decided to go one better, though. On the 4th down run by Buck at the goal line, Matt whiffed on DE Alex Brown. My imaginary friend Roxy made a better block than Schobel. I was so angry last night that I'm sure my neighbors thought I was torturing some random hitchhiker named Matt. How the hell do you whiff on that play?

The problem I'm having with Schobel right now is that he brings ZERO to the table. He doesn't have one catch this year. Zilch. He does have at least one key drop. He isn't a good blocker. He isn't a good STs player. What the hell, man? Give me something. And he's a friggin vet. Lorenzo Booker has been disapppointing, but he's a 2nd year player in his first year with the Eagles. He's done a little bit. Schobel right now is as useful as packing some CopperTone for a voyage to the sun. I would strongly consider cutting him. Go get some street free agent who will come in here hungry to make it. Give me someone who will play with a sense of urgency in his limited snaps.

Enough ranting. We still lost the game. And I do have to give the Bears and Kyle Orton credit for playing well. They earned the win. Wish I could say the same for us.

Hopefully this flashback is a one-time deal. Let's all get back to 2008. I need to see the Eagles scoring touchdowns and winning games. Getting back 36,82, 73, and 80 would certainly be a step in the right direction.

I do have a PE.com article up on the game.


Sunday, September 28, 2008

Gameday Thoughts


The Bears game is an interesting test for the Eagles. This is the kind of game a really good team wins, and should look good doing so. The Eagles are banged up and that could have an affect. We still don't know if Westy will play. But...

We're facing Kyle Orton.

Can you really lose to Kyle Orton if you want to be a Super Bowl team? I guess it's possible, but there better be a lot of big mistakes and oddball plays in the game. You don't want him simply outplaying you.

Nothing against Kyle. He's a solid backup and okay spot starter, but I just don't see him as a quality starting NFL QB. Maybe I'm too harsh. He doesn't have a great OL or any special skill players. I just see him as a game manager, and not exactly a great one of those.

Back to the Eagles. The price of greatness is responsibility. That was said by either Arthur Carlson or Winston Churchill. I get my famous leaders mixed up. Either way it still ties in to tonight's game. If the Eagles want to be considered one of the best teams in the league, this is the kind of game to go win. Chicago is going to be desperate. They don't want to fall to 0-3 in the NFC. That would dig them quite a hole to climb out of.

The Eagles need to match the Bears desperation with talent and greed. We're the better team. Go play like it. I mention the word greed because the best teams always want more. Score another touchdown. Get another sack. Win another game. You can't let up, you can't be satisfied.

The game doesn't mean anything in the 100% definitive sense of things, but it will give us another hint about this Eagles team. So far, so good. Another test awaits tonight.



* The Bears led the NFL in fewest yards to go on 3rd down prior to the Tampa game. I'm not sure if they are still first, but that is a key stat. They need to stay "on schedule" to be effective. That means they need 2nd/6 or 3rd/3. Get them in 2nd or 3rd and long and they get uncomfortable.

* The Eagles are a first half team. Cumulative score is 61-30. The second half isn't so impressive, 29-20.

* Don't relax and assume anything on Special Teams plays. The Bears block kicks, run fakes, force turnovers, and have great return units. 4th down will be just as important as 1st, 2nd, and 3rd down in this game.

* Random prediction...Greg Lewis will catch a long TD. He'll then show his gratitude to his teammates by buying a round of Orange Whips for everyone. You can't go to Chicago without drinking an Orange Whip.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Eagles at Bears - Game Preview


CHI 1-2
PHI 2-1

This is a big game for Chicago. They have lost 2 games in a row after upsetting the Colts in the season opener. Normally that doesn't put you in must-win type territory, but things are tough in Chicago right now. Fans and media want blood. The SB team of 2006 seems like like a distant memory. The offense is built around a rookie 3rd round RB. The defense is starting to age a bit. Special teams remains a strength.

The game is important to Philly for other reasons. A win puts us at 3-1. That is a good start and builds even more confidence within the team. It also keeps the Eagles near the top of the NFC East. You don't want to slip much this year with the way the Giants, Skins, and Boys are playing. I don't think Washington is for real, but you never know in today's NFL. I'll certainly be pulling for them to beat Dallas on Sunday.


Top Players

QB Kyle Orton - He's on this list by default...he's the QB. We don't know how good Kyle can be as an NFL QB, but he's never really impressed me. He did make some nice throws last week in the 2nd half and helped his team build a solid lead. Not a complete bum, but I'm also not sure this is the guy you really want as your starting QB.

RB Matt Forte - Very impressive rookie. Upright runner with size and strength. Has some elusiveness as well. Fast enough to be effective off tackle and create big plays. Had a 50-yd TD run vs Indy. Good receiver. The Bears will throw him screens. They also line him up out wide and throw to him out there and down the field. Attempted a 34-yd pass to him last week. Not a typical rookie RB. Already has 86 touches.

TE Greg Olsen - Sure-handed receiver. Limited blocker. Only has 6 catches for 59 yds this year. Has also lost a pair of fumbles.

WR Brandon Lloyd - One of my least favorite NFL players, but I give him credit for playing well this year. Leads the team with 13 catches. Made a couple of tough, clutch grabs last week to help the Bears get a lead. The best of a bad lot (WR corps, that is).

C Olin Kreutz - Still one of the better Centers in the league. Quick and mobile. Pulls very well. Starting to show some age, but is still a long way from being done.

DT Tommie Harris - 3-time Pro Bowl DT who is very quick off the ball. Normally a very disruptive force. Last year he had 8 sacks and 11 TFLs. This year he's got just 3 tackles, including 1 TFL. A knee injury is slowing his play. Missed some practice this week. Tommie had 2 sacks against us last year.

LB Lance Briggs - Aggressive WLB. Playmaker. 2nd on the team in tackles. Has a TFL, 3 PDs, and an INT already. Playing up on the LOS a lot this year.

MLB Brian Urlacher - 3rd on the team in tackles. Hasn't been much of a playmaker to this point. Did bat a ball last week that Briggs picked off. Still a good athlete and interesting problem for offenses to deal with.

CB Charles Tillman - Having a terrific season. Leads the team in tackles. That's normally not good, but CBs in the Cover 2 are supposed to make more tackles than in other schemes. Tillman is hitting everything that gets near him. He punished Colts receivers like it was personal. I loved seeing that. He's got a couple of FFs and an INT this year. There is one complaint to make. Got called for a very costly penalty last week that gave the Bucs a 1st down and may have cost Chicago the game. His toughness and aggression got the best of him at that moment.


Simple. They run I-formation, Ace formation, and occasionally go 3-wide. I didn't see much innovation at all. They are all about execution and not trickery. That's great when you have top shelf players, but aside from Forte and Olsen the Bears are lacking weapons. I'd be highly frustrated if I were a Bears fan and yet...they are the 15th best offense in the league. Forte deserves a lot of that credit. He's come through for them in a big way. They're 8th in the league in rushing. The offense is averaging just under 19 points a game.

The passing game was short and controlled early last week. They struggled in that period. The offense came alive when they threw more downfield (passes of 15 or more yards). Bernard Berrian was the deep threat last year. He's now Viking. Mushin Muhammad was the big possession receiver. He's gone. His replacement Marty Booker has been banged up. Rashied Davis showed a lot of potential the last couple of years, but he's had some key drops. The long pass play all year is 32 yards.

The OL is a mixed bag:

LT John St Clair - LG Josh Beekman - C Olin Kreutz - RG Robert Garza - RT John Tait

St. Clair is a mediocre LT. He played RT against us back in 2002 as a Ram and ND Kalu beat him for 4.5 sacks. That should put things in perspective. Beekman is a young guy that I've not seen a lot of. The right side has some age, but those guys have been solid over the years.


The Bears run a 4-3. They gang tackle and fly to the football. You can normally count on the Bears to come up with at least one sack and one turnover a game. Last week was interesting. They forced 4 turnovers, but didn't get a sack. And that came in a game where Tampa threw 67 passes. 67! Chicago was aggressive with blitzing. Tampa used extra blockers a lot of the time and also threw quick, underneath routes. The Bucs noticed the Bears looked tired in the 2nd half. They went to more of an up tempo attack and scored 13 points in the 4th Qtr and OT after having only scored 7 offensive points in the first 3 Qtrs. The Bears also blew a lead the week before. Apparently they are wearing down this year.

The Bears are blitzing more this year than I've seen in the past. It isn't working in terms of sacks (only 5), but they are tied for 2nd in the league with 6 takeaways. Briggs and Urlacher have been lining up over the C a lot this year.

The DL seems to have slipped a little. DEs Ogunleye, Brown, and Anderson have only 2 sacks combined (both by Alex Brown). That's unusual for this group.

SLB Hunter Hillenmeyer has come under some attack. He's struggled with covering TEs the last couple of weeks. Hunter has never been a playmaker, but he's always been the reliable guy. His struggles have led to increased playing time for backup Nick Roach. That may not mean game time for Nick, but I'm sure it got Hunter's attention.

The secondary still looks solid to me.


P Brad Maynard is off to a semi-slow start. PK Robbie Gould missed a 49 yd'er last week, but has been a good kicker for a few years.

Devin Hester is the wildcard. He is hurt, but wants to play. He's obviously a game-changing kind of player. I'm not too worried about him as a punt returner. Sav Rocca has been brilliant this year with his directional kicking. He's getting good length on his punts, but is also pinning guys along the sideline. The Eagles have only allowed 14 punt return yards all year. Kickoff coverage is another story. The guys have been up and down. A strong effort is needed no matter who the returner is to force the Bears to go a long field.

Danieal Manning has filled in at KOR with Hester out. He averages 27 yds per return. No matter who is back there, I'll be nervous when kicking off.

Nathan Vasher is the PR. He's solid, but Rocca is the key in that matchup.

The Bears blocked a punt and scored a TD off it vs CAR.

They ran a fake punt for a 38-yd gain last week.


The key for our offense is who's going to play. I think McNabb will start. He practiced on Friday. It seems like Tony Hunt will play, but I haven't read much about that. I think LJ, Shawn, and Westy will sit. I'd love to see Brian try to play, but why risk anything if the reward isn't great. I want 36 healthy for the season, so I can live without him for a game.

How will the Eagles approach the Bears D? This is going to be tough for Andy. He likes to stretch the field and attack vertically. The Bucs showed last week that you can work the middle and underneath and drive the Bears crazy. Will Reid and Donovan be patient enough to do that? Also, we tend to struggle with scoring TDs when playing small ball.

I think DeSean Jackson will be a key in this game. If the Bears blitz and play man coverage, they don't have anyone who's a good matchup with DeSean. We can burn them deep if the blocking is good. If they play zone, I think DeSean will be sent deep to stretch the zone and open the middle of the field for other guys.

We should be able to at least have moderate success with running the ball.

One concern will be how Max handles the Bears blitzes up the middle. We don't want 54 or 55 coming free on Donovan.

Tampa used TEs very effectively last week. No LJ means Celek and Schobel get a chance to shine. We'll use them as blockers quite a bit, but also get them some chances. You may remember that last year Schobel had a TD vs Chicago and just missed on a couple of other passes. We need those pass plays this year.

I'm sure the Bears will hope to confuse Donovan with mixing blitzes and coverages. I think they know that turnovers will be crucial to them stopping our offense.

Don't expect to see Jim Johnson attack like he did last week. I'd love to see Jim come with another super-aggressive gameplan, but I doubt that will happen. The Bears offense fits perfectly into what he believes in. They play small ball and move the chains. He is willing to give up that kind of stuff so long as big plays aren't mixed in.

Jim will likely give the DL chances to get to Orton. We'll mix in some blitzes, but not nearly as much as last week.

I think Quintin Mikell will be huge this week. We need him to play the run well ... to be the 8th man up in a hurry. If we can stop Forte and force Orton to throw, the game really tilts our way.

Orton did get sacked a couple of times by the blitz last week. A slot DB got him once. He also panicked on one play and threw a pass to DE Gaines Adams that was picked off and run back for a score. Kyle can be rattled. Give him some credit, though. After a slow start, he didn't quit. He kept battling on and got better in the 2nd half. QBs have to be resilient.

I'll be very interested to see how we play Matt Forte when he lines up wide. I'm sure the Bears would love to isolate him on Stewart Bradley.

We must get to Forte and shut him down. We have the #1 run D in the league. We can beat the Bears OL and control the LOS. I'll be highly disappointed if the Bears can run the ball well on us. They have to try and stick with the run as long as they can, but we need to eliminate any runs of 10 or more yards and come up with some plays in the backfield that puts Chicago into 2nd/long and 3rd/long situations.

Cole better get good pressure when facing St. Clair. I don't expect 4.5 sacks, but that is a favorable matchup for Trent.


* The Bears defense that helped its team go 26-1 when leading after three quarters during the three seasons Ron Rivera was defensive coordinator has blown fourth-quarter leads in five of the past six losses under Bob Babich.

* WR Brandon Lloyd's 100-yd game vs Tampa was only the 9th 100-yd game by a WR in Lovie Smith's 5 years.

* We've gotten at least 2 turnovers in each of the past couple of games. Let's hope that continues.

* Reggie Brown is slated to play more this week. Let's see if he can contribute with a catch over the middle. Reggie does have good RAC ability. Be nice to have him come in and help us on a scoring drive.

* The Bears-Bucs game last week was very chippy from the beginning to the end. The Bears got the short end of a few calls. I wonder if Lovie will have them tone things down or if the guys will be just as spirited this week.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Some Interesting Numbers

* The Eagles have the #6 offense and #4 defense. They are #1 overall against the run, and that is after facing Steven Jackson, Marion Barber, and Willie Parker.

* Creating turnovers was a huge problem last year. The defense had 10 INTs and 11 forced fumbles. This year things are looking up. There are only 2 INTs (about the same pace as last year), but the defense already has 5 FFs.

* How much has Sav Rocca improved? His average is up from 42 a punt to 46.9. Even more impressive...his net was 36.4 last year and is up to 44.1 this year. His directional kicking is incredibly good. Sav is pinning guys along the sideline and allowing his coverage to really help him out. Through 3 games opponents have a total of 14 punt return yards.

* After Quintin Demps 37 yard KOR vs PIT, he now has 2 returns longer than what the team got all last year (47, 37 vs only 35).

* The LBs are off to a good start. Last year...3 sacks all season. This year already 2.5. The cover skills also look better. Stewart Bradley and Omar Gaither did a good job last week of covering the middle on plays when they didn't blitz. Chris Gocong looks much more comfortable in coverage this year.

* Last year backup DL had a total of 5.5 sacks. That number is at 3.5 already. Darren Howard is in good shape and finally won't be just getting pressure. Let's just hope the good play continues. Chris Clemons, Victor Abiamiri, and Trevor Laws have yet to contribute, but all have the ability to get to the QB.

* Rookie DeSean Jackson is off to a great start with 17 grabs for 256 yards and almost 1 TD. To put those numbers in perspective, let's compare them to future Hall of Famer Freddie Mitchell's rookie year. Freddie had 21 catches for 283 yards and a TD. His long play was 29 yards. Looks like Peanut will pass Fredex this week or the next. By the way...Freddie's hands bribed me to throw in the HOF comment.

* David Akers has yet to miss a FG (why jinx him then?). He's also getting good depth on his KO's. Maybe the extra weight of the mustache was slowing him down last year. Somebody shave Dawk's stache before Sunday night!!!

* Hank Baskett finished last year with 16 catches for 142 yards. He's already got 12 catches for 197 this year. Glad to see Hank getting worked more into the offense.

* Get Correll Buckhalter more touches. Period. He's too good to touch the ball a couple of times a game. Just ask the Steelers...

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Detailed Game Review - Defense vs PIT



COLE – Terrific game. Cole spent most of the game in the Steelers backfield. He went hard outside at times. He used inside moves with good success. They used a double-team on him several times. Even that didn't always work. There was one play when Cole got hit by a running back and just spun off the block to get pressure on the passer. He "only" had one sack. He just missed several others. The safety should have been a sack. Roethlisberger's knee was on the ground before he threw the ball. Beat TE with an inside move and got Parker in the backfield for a short loss. Used a hard inside move to flush Ben outside. Got his sack when he bull-rushed the LT and moved him backward, then released inside and got the QB. Unfortunately got the facemask on the play. Just missed getting his 2nd sack when he got Ben down from behind in the 4th Qtr. He was able to gain about a foot on the play. Just missed a couple of sacks on their final drive.

JUQUA – Played LDE and The Joker. Parker had a terrific game from the left defensive end spot. He led the team with 2.5 sacks and also forced a fumble, which led to a field goal. Stats aside, Parker had a big game. There were a handful of plays when Roethlisberger was forced to throw the ball because Parker was bearing down on him. With four quarterback hits, Parker got to Big Ben more than any other defender. He also made several hustle plays, chasing the ball from behind and getting in on the tackle. Parker was also used as "The Joker." That's when he lines up like the middle linebacker on certain passing downs. Sometimes he drops into coverage. Sometimes he blitzes up the middle. On Sunday, he seemed to be shadowing Roethlisberger so that Ben couldn't take off and run for the first down. Got pressure on an early 3rd down from Joker spot. Got his first sack when Ben was flushed over to his side. Got off his block and put Ben on the ground. Got badly held by a blocker on one pass play, but drew no call. Was imploring the officials to throw a flag. Got his second sack when Ben was driven toward him. Juqua knocked the ball loose and we got it. Looped inside on a pass play and got 1/2 a sack. Got pressure on final 3rd down of the half. Patt flushed the QB and Parker flew upfield to hit him just as he threw the ball. Beat a block on a running play to his side and just grabbed Parker by the jersey for a TFL. Hustled to tackle Ward from behind on a WR screen. Limited the gain to only a couple.

HOWARD – Good game. Drew a holding call when he rushed from DT and flushed Ben. Got his sack while playing LDE on 3rd/7. We used a 3-man line and only rushed the 3 guys. Darren got under and around the RT and just engulfed Big Ben. That sack knocked PIT out of FG range. Took a hard inside move from LDE and got Parker in the backfield. Got half a sack on the final drive when he cleanly beat the LG and got into the backfield.

CLEMONS – Played some LDE. Showed some burst off the ball. Ben scrambled on one play and Chris dove 4 yards to get a shot on him in the pile-up.


PATTERSON – Good game. Only had an assisted tackle, but got a lot of penetration and caused problems for the Steelers. Disrupted a running play by getting penetration and completely clogging the running lane. Exploded off the ball on one snap and almost got Ben for a TFL while he was handing the ball off. Got pressure on 3rd down pass just before the half. Lined up at NT and took a hard angle to his left. Got by the RG and just missed a sack. Chased down the FB when PIT gave him the ball on a running play. Good speed, hustle. Only gave up a yard.

BUNKLEY – Good game. Shed Kemo and helped stuff Parker on a run up the middle. Hit Ben on a passing play just after he got rid of the ball. Got a sack on a 2nd Qtr pass play. Ben tried to scramble up the middle and Brod shed his blocker to tackle him. Used a good move to get off a block on a pass play. The ball was already thrown or he would have lit Ben up. Recovered a fumble after JP knocked the ball loose from Big Ben. Got a shot on Ben on a 4th Qtr pass play.

LAWS – Played in the 2nd half. Didn't stand out or make any plays. He was in the game with 5 minutes to go, so you know the coaches trust him.

KLECKO – Played a decent amount. Was used at NT as well as DT. We lined him up as the Nose in some of our 3-man D-line packages. Got half a sack late in the game. Looped around the other DT and came free up the middle. He worked well as part of the blitz package because of his ability to get penetration. Didn't do much damage himself but helped to keep the PIT O-line scrambling.


BRADLEY – Good game. Had 6 solo tackles, 3 of them for a loss. Solid job in coverage. Grabbed Holmes jersey momentarily and helped to force an early incompletion. That's the kind of subtle holding that you can get away with. Slammed Parker down from behind for early TFL. Got another TFL by blitzing and driving the C backward, then shedding him and tackling Parker. Came free on a blitz up the middle. Started to chase Ben and didn't see the RT. Willie Colon put Stew on his butt with a big time block. Hustled to get downfield and in on tackle of WR after completion. Solid tackle of Parker on running play that came right at him. Got penetration on a run play to the right and got Parker down for a short loss. Flowed to the football and made a tackle on a 3rd Qtr Parker run up the middle.

GOCONG – Quiet game. Shed a block and tackled Parker on a run that came right at him. Had a solid game in coverage. No throws came his way.

OMAR – Good game. Had 7 tackles, 1.5 sacks, and broke up a couple of passes Came free on a blitz up the middle. Forced Ben to slide to his right, and into a sack. Blitzed up the middle late in the half and fought through RB block to get 1/2 a sack. Hustled to get in on tackle of Ward after short completion. Shot the A-gap just before the half and was able to sling Ben to the ground for a sack. Made a good, physical tackle of Parker after a short run. Made a good tackle on Parker when he tried to cutback on a run. Omar was right there in the hole to shut that down for a gain of one. Got into the passing lane and deflected a 3rd Qtr pass. Ball fell incomplete. Came free on a late drive in the game. Got his hands on Ben, but couldn't get him down.


DAWK – Good game. Made a good tackle on Washington after he caught a pass and got away from Samuel. Had good downfield coverage on the deep pass that Sammie picked off. Had the receiver covered from the inside. Good tackle on draw play before the half. Blitzed off the edge and hit Parker in the backfield when we had PIT pinned deep. Finished the game with 7 tackles, a sack, FF/FR, and a TFL. Showed he can still be an impact player around the line of scrimmage.

MIKELL – Another week, another good game. Led the team with 8 tackles. Came up quickly to tackle Parker on a run play. Came free on a blitz and got a hand on Ben, but overran him. Flushed Ben out wide and led to INCL. Pounced on Parker on a draw play up the middle. Came free on a delayed blitz. Overran Ben, but forced him to move into a sack. Came upfield on another delayed blitz and made a terrific tackle of Ben as he started to scramble. Stopped him for a short gain.

CONSIDINE – Didn't seem to play much. PIT used a lot of base sets and running sets.


SAMUEL – Solid game. Made a beautiful pick on a downfield throw. Was running stride for stride with the WR and just went up and made a good play on the ball. Really has good hands. Had tight coverage on a pass to Heath Miller. Broke up a pass in the endzone. Got his hand up when the receiver went to catch the ball. Asante will give up some underneath throws. He's not a "shutdown" type of CB.

BROWN – Quiet game in terms of tackles. Only had 1. Did come up in run support and just miss a TFL on Parker. Blew up a WR screen play by getting into his receiver and driving the guy backward into the passing lane. Ben wasn't able to even attempt the pass because of that. Almost got a pick on a throw away late in the game. Ben basically lobbed a ball in his direction. Brown and the receiver jumped up for it, but neither guy could make a clean catch.

LITO – Hines Ward pushed off on him to get open on an early 3rd down play. Had 3 tackles. I'm not sure how much Lito played. As I mentioned above, the Steelers used a lot of 2 and 3 TE sets.

HANSON – Had one tackle on defense and one on STs.



AKERS – 2 of on FGs. Pretty good depth on his kickoffs. KO to open the 2nd half was 5 yards deep in the endzone.

ROCCA – Great game. Rocca came up huge in the second half after not having to punt at all in the first half. His first punt only went 28 yards, but it had excellent touch and put the Steelers at the 10-yard line. His next one involved a slightly off-target snap. Rocca got the ball off, but it only went 39 yards and gave the Steelers good field position. The defense bailed him out. After that Rocca came alive. His next punt went 64 yards and flipped the field, putting the Steelers at their own 30. He launched a 54-yard punt that pinned them down at the 6-yard line the next time around. His next kick only went 37 yards, but again put Pittsburgh deep, this time at the 7-yard line.

Had the best game by an Eagles punter in a long time. 3 of his punts landed inside the 20, 2 inside the 10. Another punt flipped the field. That's impact from a guy you don't normally expect it from.

PR – Had one okay return. Used burst and a stiff arm to get wide to the right side, but only got 9 yards because he initially ran backward. Got a chance to return the free kick after the safety, but didn't get much of a return.

KOR – Demps had 2 returns for 58 yards. The first KO went for 37 and the second for 21. Greg Lewis caught a couple of KOs as well (short kicks).


* Q Mikell made tackle in KO coverage.
* Dorenbos had an off target snap to Rocca, threw off the punt.
* Demps and Considine combined to down a punt inside the 10.


* Blitzes *

They get a special section this week. I charted every play I considered a blitz (more than 4 rushing). I included plays with penalties as the penalties were due to the guys showing a blitz look. COMP means completion. INCL means incompletion.

3rd/2 - got pre-snap penalty
1st/10 - quick pass...COMP...no hit
3rd/4 - short pass...COMP...1st down...Roeth hurried by 75
1st/10 - run to right...TFL -1
2nd/11 - pass right...COMP...1st down
2nd/4 - run up middle...TFL - 1
3rd/4 - pass right...INCL...led to FG
1st/10 - sack
3rd/4 - pre-snap penalty...1st down
2nd/10 - short pass to right...COMP
3rd/3 - sack, FF
1st/10 - sack
1st/10 - false start penalty
1st/10 - short pass to left...COMP
1st/10 - sack
2nd/17 - pass to left...COMP

-----------end half-----------

2nd/6 - pass over middle...INCL
3rd/6 - false start penalty
3rd/11 - false start penalty
2nd/8 - run right...TFL
3rd/10 - QB scramble up middle for 1
3rd/6 - QB scramble up middle for 2
1st/10 - downfield pass to the left....INCL
3rd/10 - pass over middle...COMP...1st down
1st/10 - run right...gained 4
2nd/6 - run right...TFL
3rd/6 - QB scramble up middle for maybe a foot
1st/10 - run right...TFL
1st/10 - forced throw away
2nd/10 - false start penalty
3rd/15 - sack, FF...we got the ball
2nd/10 - pass over middle...COMP...1st down
1st/10 - pass into endzone...INCL

The Eagles racked up nine sacks. They had 6 (by my count) tackles-for-loss. They came up with two takeaways and a safety. The turnovers led to a pair of field goals. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was knocked out of the game with a hand injury and the Steelers gained only 180 net yards.

The gameplan was very aggressive and very successful. I hope we see more of it as the season goes along.

Detailed Game Review - Offense vs PIT


Another week, another nail-biter. Can we play the Rams again? These games are fun because every play is so important, but they also wear me out. I get nutso superstitious from whether I should lean back in my chair or stand up... whether I should talk to the TV (change that to yell) or stay silent (the neighbors preference)... whether I should drink a glass of water or not.

It was a lot of fun to watch the defense unleashed. Losing last week the way we did was very frustrating. Let's not discuss why we played that way, though. Let's focus on the fun of watching them attack Pittsburgh. Jim blitzed on about half of the plays in the game. Normally that number is 20%. This was a very aggressive scheme. Blitzing only works if 2 things happen. First, you need the blitzers to get to the QB. Second, you need the coverage to be solid. The defense came through in both areas. By my rough estimate 11 different defenders got their hands on Roethlisberger. The Steelers only play of more than 20 yards came on the final drive. Hit the QB and cover the receivers. Done and done. Amazing how much smarter JJ looks when the guys execute well. There is more on the blitzing at the end of the writeup.

The offense was up and down. Our first drive went down to the PIT 20 yard line, but Hunt fumbled. The next two drives got us 10 points. We got inside the PIT 45 a couple of more times, but had to punt. We finally got points off Dawk's FF/FR late in the game. Only a FG, though. We finished 0-2 in the red zone. That isn't good, but give the Steelers credit. Their defense (ranked #2 in the NFL) played well when it had to. I also think McNabb's chest injury really slowed him down. He was laboring to breathe at times. Donovan looked very good early on, but struggled as the game went along. In the end, we had just enough offense to win and that is all that matters.


* Ben was only 8 of 18 after the opening drive.

* We forced 2 turnovers for the 2nd game in a row.

* The defense scored points for the 2nd game in a row (safety).

* Each team had 6 points off turnovers.

* The Steelers were only 2 of 13 on 3rd downs.

* Mike Tomlin didn't do a good job in this game. As the announcers pointed out, he should have kicked the FG on 4th down with :35 seconds to go. PIT was down 9 points. They needed 2 scores. Going for it on 4th/long was dumb.

I also think the Steelers were dumb not to run the ball. They were struggling to run, but why keep getting your QB hit. Run the ball over and over and then punt and play defense. Westy was out early. McNabb was hurt. By throwing the ball they played into our hands. I'd be real frustrated with this loss if I was a Steelers fan.


* We finally ran a Flea Flicker. McNabb got sacked and hurt on the play. Foote came free through the line. Tra tried to get a hand on him at the last minute. When he did that, his DL came free. Both guys hit McNabb. Ugly play. The next play Westy got hurt. Brutal sequence.

* 3rd/3 play that preceded the TD pass. We lined up in "20 personnel", that is 2 RBs and 0 TEs (and obviously 3 WRs). Avant was in the right slot. DeSean was wide right. Jackson took a hard inside release at the snap and ran a shallow cross. Avant had a LB and CB directly in front of him. He went into both players at the snap, essentially blocking them. LoBo lined up as the right halfback. He released into the flat. Donovan hit him with a quick swing pass and he only had to make one LB miss to get the 1st down. Nicely designed and executed.

* TD play. We had 1st/10 at their 20. DeSean and GLew lined up to the left. They drove the defense up the field. Buck was a safety outlet on the play, running a short route. McNabb hit him with a pass on the move (right at the LOS) and Buck was able to turn upfield and use his speed to run away from the LB. He then hurdled a DB at the 2 yard line and got into the endzone.

* Kolb's first pass was an INT. LJ lined up wide right and ran a slant pattern. I think Kolb made a bad read on the play. The CB squatted on the route, meaning he played the slant and wasn't worried about a deeper route. The CB hit LJ prior to the ball getting there. It also looked like he may have gotten a hand on the pass. The ball popped up in the air and Polamalu made a great pick. Andy challenged it (which I agreed with), but the call was upheld.

* The Safety. We had a 4-man DL (75, 68, 90, 58). Bradley and Gaither lined up over the C and acted as if they were going to blitz. At the snap, they bailed into coverage. We only sent the 4 DL. Cole looped inside on a stunt. Howard drove the LT backward. Parker flew around the RT, who tried to hold him. Klecko beat the LG. Jailbreak. Trent got Ben around the waist and Parker closed ground quickly. Ben tried to throw the ball away, but hit Juqua with it. He almost picked it off for the TD. The refs called grounding and gave us the safety. There was a receiver somewhat in the area (Willie P.) and that had the PIT coaches/players fuming. Ben's knee was on the ground when he threw the ball. Trent Cole should have been fuming because he was robbed of another sack.

* Dawk's strip. It was 3rd/15. We rushed 7. Sheldon and Dawk came off the edges. Gaither came up the middle. The two blitzers off the edge kept Ben from being able to go right or left. He was trapped. Sheldon came free, but overran Ben and forced him to step up. Dawk was initally blocked, then got off that and dove for the ball. He knocked it loose, then grabbed it. Awesome.



DONOVAN – Weird game. Started off 15 of 15 and looked really good. As the game moved on, his injury seemed to bother him more. Was only 9 of 20 the rest of the way. I liked the checkdown throws he made. Donovan got the ball to backs and short receivers rather than hold the ball. He did mix in some deep and intermediate throws. Donnie was sacked 3 times, but I don't think any of them were due to his holding the ball excessively.

* Threw an absolute bullet to Baskett on 3rd/16. That was about as good a throw as I can recall McNabb making.
* Threw a beautiful pass to DeSean down the right side for a good gain.
* Didn't make a very good pass to LJ on 3rd down inside the PIT 10. The ball was low and didn't give Smith much of a chance.

KOLB– Played in the 3rd Qtr. Had a one-snap drive when his pass was picked off. Started the next series as well. Completed a couple of passes to the right side. One throw to Baskett was a bit forced into tight coverage, but Hank made the catch. Also had a couple of handoffs before giving way to #5.


WESTY – Had 5 carries before getting hurt. The injury came on a running play to the far left. A PIT DB cut Tra's legs out from under him. Brian jumped over them. He didn't want to put his cleat hard into Tra, so he tried to land hard on the other foot. He got caught off balance as he landed and the ankle just bent.

BUCK – Very good game. Buck had to alternate between fullback and running back because of injuries to Westbrook and Tony Hunt. He did both jobs as best he could. Buckhalter had 10 carries for 43 yards. He caught six passes for 44 yards, including a 20-yard touchdown. Caught a screen pass after lining up at FB. Got 11 yards on the play. Ran hard. Really hit the hole. Good chip block on #94. Tried to block Foote on a blitz up the middle. Got a good shot on him, but Foote kept going and was able to get McNabb for a sack. Had one run where he started to his left, stopped, and then used a spin move in the hole to make a LB miss. Got about 5 or 6 on the play. Made Larry Foote look a little bit silly. Longest run went for 11 yards to the right side. The blockers gave him daylight and Buck hit it hard. Had a good pass block on a LB in the 3rd Qtr. Cleanly took on a LB coming off the edge and stopped him. Used good form and actually looked like he knew what he was doing. Used a spin move to get away from the NT and back to the line on a busted running play.

LOBO – Okay game. Had 5 carries for 11 yards. Caught 2 passes for 5 yards. Made a horrible attempt to pick up a blitzing LB. Passively threw his shoulder toward the guy, but whiffed badly. McNabb was hit and picked off on the play. Best run was a 5-yard'er up the middle. Got low and burrowed. Made the one big 3rd down conversion, but overall another disappointing game.

HUNT – Only played on the opening series. Caught 2 passes for 12 yards. Unfortunately took a big hit on the 2nd pass and fumbled the ball while we were already in FG range. Suffered a concussion and didn't return.


L.J. – Quiet game as a receiver. Solid job of pass blocking. First pass that came his way was a red zone throw on 3rd down. LJ was sorta open, but the pass was real low and he couldn't come up with it. Had a good block on an 11 yard run by Buck. Occupied Woodley and helped to give Buck a big running lane. More of a blocker than a receiver for the 2nd week in a row.

CELEK – Didn't play a whole lot, but was primarily used as a blocker. No standout moments good or bad.


PEANUT – Solid game. Finished with 5 catches for 40 yards. I had us with 7 attempts to him. One pass was barley off target and the other picked off.

Caught a short pass to the right side. Tried to get away from the defenders, but couldn't do it. Only a short gain. Caught another short pass on the right side. This one came on 3rd/2 and got us the 1st down. CB was playing well off him on both early passes. Threw a WR screen to him. Turned short throw into 9 yard gain. Caught a short pass on the right side from Kolb. Got 6 on the play. Just missed a key 3rd down catch early in the 4th Qtr. The ball was high and wide. Jackson got one foot down, but not the second. Good try.

One dumb rookie moment and one smart rookie moment. On McNabb's pick late in the half, DeSean made sure to come over and get a hand on the DB while he was down. That eliminated a 13-yard return. The dumb moment came late in the game when we used DeSean on an End Around. He took the handoff coming from the far sideline. He couldn't turn upfield because of pursuit. Unfortunately went out of bounds instead of just going down. This stopped the clock at 2:38 and gave the Steelers a bit of hope. That is two mistakes in two weeks. Neither cost us, but one of them will down the road.

AVANT – Finished with 2 catches. Converted 3rd/long on opening drive. Had other passes come his way on 3rd down, but was either covered or the throws were off target. Tried to work the deep middle, but the Steelers had him covered pretty well. Did catch a short pass on the right side.

BASKETT – Terrific game. Caught the ball really well. Wasn't plucking the ball. Did use his body. Still, was able to make several tough catches. Baskett played his best game as an Eagle. I know he has some long touchdown catches in other games, but this week he made several important grabs in a tight game. His long touchdown catches have all involved mistakes by defensive backs. That wasn't the case against Pittsburgh. Baskett played well and earned each of his catches. He used his big frame to shield defensive backs and give McNabb a target. Baskett finished with a career-high eight catches for 85 yards. Hank adjust to the ball really well. He caught passes thrown high. He caught some thrown behind him. There was one questionable pass from McNabb that Phil Simms said was Hank's fault for not adjusting his route. That explanation didn't make sense to me based on what I saw, but Phil is the ex-QB and knows the passing game. I simply thought Donovan was off target.

GLEW – Quiet game. Caught one pass over the middle. Had another pass come his way, but was well covered. I actually thought he was limping a bit at one point, but that could have just been a tired player jogging off the field.

BROWN - Only had a couple of passes thrown his way. Ran an out cut and McNabb was just off target. Wouldn't have gained much. Had a deep ball come his way and almost connected.


TRA – Solid job in pass pro. He kept control of LB James Harrison. Tra didn't dominate the guy, but Harrison didn't have any QB hits or sacks. He was largely a non-factor.

TODD – Pretty good game. Sealed a blitzing ILB on a running play up the middle. Gave Buck a good running lane. Had a good block on a LB on a 3rd Qtr run by Buck. Had a good block on Foote on Buck's long run. Got into him downfield and just stuck with the block. Got called for a penalty on a 4th Qtr screen to LoBo. Is Todd allergic to playing well in the 4th??? Cost us a solid gain and put us behind the chains.

JAMAAL – Big man played well only a day after attending his brother's funeral. That's an emotionally strong dude. Casey Hampton and Chris Hoke both played NT in the game. They combined for 1 tackle. Good block on screen to give Buck a good running lane. Did a good job on Hampton on a running play up the middle. Struggled to block Hoke on a running play to the right. Got his arms on him, but wasn't able to really make solid contact and move him off the line. Drove Hampton off the ball on a LoBo run up the middle.

MAX– Okay game. Didn't really stand out good or bad. Didn't seem confused by any PIT blitzes. Good block on Farrior on screen pass. Hustled to get over to the left side to make the block. Solid block on NT helped on short run by Buck.

RUNYAN – Didn't have an easy time in pass protection. Woodley gave him trouble. Jon kept him blocked most of the time, but barely. Woodley stays low and is very active. He was always spinning to get off a block and had Jon reaching and lunging. Had a good block on the LDE on a LoBo run up the middle. Jon got him moving off the ball and then Max joined in. Set the edge on Buck's 11 yard run to the right side. Sealed the DE and gave Buck lots of room. Gave up a sack when Woodley got under and around him. Had a sloppy run block on Woodley on a Buck run to the right side.

Monday, September 22, 2008

New PE.com article is posted

Here's the link.


I'll be posting my Game Review in a little bit.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Must Win?

There has been some talk about whether the Steelers game is a must win situation. I don't think any game in the first 3 weeks is a must win game in and of itself. Certainly you may get to the end of the year and miss the playoffs or a division title or bye week by a game and look back to an early loss as critical. That is different that "must win".

A loss here isn't going to end the season. It won't mean the Eagles can't beat a good team. This is Week 3 of the 2008 NFL season.

I do think this is a very important game. The Eagles sit at 1-1. Getting to 2-1 would be very big. Last year the team never got above .500, not even for one week. That put a lot of pressure on the team. You're always fighting an uphill battle. Beating the Steelers would get the team above .500 and possibly get some momentum going.

The Eagles played a Super Bowl contender last week and should have won the game. They face another Super Bowl contender this week. A win here would do a lot for the team's confidence. A win over Pittsburgh could launch a winning streak. And if you look at the best teams in Reid's era there is always a long winning streak.

I like the vibe the Eagles have had the first couple of weeks. The team looks prepared and is playing well. They blew a chance for a big win last week, but get a shot at redemption today. The best Eagles teams always bounced back from losses by playing well. Seeing how they come out and play today will give us a good indication of what kind of team the Eagles are going to be this year.

So far...sorta good.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Game Preview - Pittsburgh comes to The Linc


PIT 2-0
PHI 1-1

The Steelers are one of the best teams in the AFC. They won the AFC North last year and look like the favorites to win the division again. They beat Cleveland in a bizarre game on Sunday night, 10-6. Bill Cowher has been gone for a couple of years now, but the team doesn't look all that different to me. They have a good defense, run the ball, and get big plays in the passing game. Mike Tomlin is maybe adding a bit more speed to the defense, but he hasn't changed too much since taking over. A smart coach knows you don't mess too much with a good thing.

Top Players

QB Ben Roethlisberger - I think Big Ben is underrated by a lot of people. He threw for 32 TDs last year. His career rating is 93.4. Ben has taken the Steelers to the postseason in 3 of 4 years, aside from '08 of course. He doesn't get to throw a ton of passes, so his totals will never rival Manning, McNabb or Gus Frerotte (checking to see who's paying attention). Ben does make his throws count. He throws a TD every 17.9 attempts. Donovan throws one every 21.7. Ben has a good arm. He's athletic and mobile. He will make some boneheaded passes at times. He'll throw his share of INTs.

RB Willie Parker - His nickname is "Fast Willie Parker". Guess what his best asset is? Parker isn't just a speed guy. He is a quality RB who can move the chains or bust off big plays. He has more than 320 carries each of the last two years. He's already got 53 this year.

WR Hines Ward - I think most people know about Hines. Leads the team with 11 catches and 3 TDs. Tough guy and clutch player. Excellent in the red zone. Lines up in the slot down there a lot and knows how to get open. More than just a possession guy, but not the big play threat he was in the past.

WR Santonio Holmes - The speed guy. Has the Steelers long pass play of the year (48 yds) and averages 16.1 ypc. Averaged 18 last year. Doesn't catch a lot of passes, but makes impact plays because of his speed.

G Chris Kemoeatu - The replacement for Alan Faneca at LG. Lots of potential. Huge guy and very physical blocker. Nimble enough to pull effectively. Still a young guy learning how to play, but could be very good.

NT Casey Hampton - Massive dude. Weighed in the 400-pound range in the summer. He's down to only 2 Whoppers a day and has shed some pounds. Does a great job of controlling the middle of the line and making running difficult for opposing teams.

DE Aaron Smith - The 3-4 is good when it has playmaking LBs. It becomes great when DL are able to make plays. Think about the Pats and Richard Seymour. Smith isn't on his level, but the Steelers are significantly better when Smith plays well. He's already got a couple of sacks this year.

S Troy Polamalu - Impact DB. Plays the run like a LB. Solid cover guy. Not the kind of DB who will shut receivers down, but does make things happen. Already has a couple of INTs and 3 PDs.


The Steelers believe in running the ball. A lot. They pound you with Parker, then mix in rookie Rashard Mendenhall. They will use Ward and Holmes on End Around runs.

The OL is big enough to pound on guys and move them off the ball. They also move pretty well. RG Kendall Simmons can pull and block out in space. Kemoeatu pulled to his right several times on Monday and was effective. They ran a version of the Counter Tray, with the LG and TE pulling to the right, agains the Browns. That worked well a few times. The OL is solid at pass protection, but not nearly as good as Dallas. Big Ben has been sacked 4 times this year and went down 47 last season. LT Marvel Smith isn't a shutdown pass blocker. He's more of a run-pass combo blocker.

Pittsburgh does throw the ball well when they do pass. Big Ben has the #1 QB rating in the entire league right now. He's completing more than 76 percent of his throws. He's only got one less TD pass than McNabb. They have 25 completions on the year. 18 have gone to WRs. 6 have gone to TEs. The FB has the other catch. The Steelers really believe in throwing to WRs. TE Heath Miller is a gifted receiver as well, but spends most of his time blocking.

Their offense has always used trick plays to keep defenses off guard. They haven't done anything too wild yet, but this is the kind of game where I could see them doing something.


The Steelers run the 3-4. They are a big, physical team (as opposed to Dallas which is built more for speed). Pittsburgh does a lot of blitzing. They zone blitz better than anyone else in the NFL. On any given play between 2 and 7 guys will rush the passer/attack upfield. You just don't know who. They do a lot of stemming. That is when defensive guys jump around and shift prior to the snap in order to confuse the offense. It works. They already have 15 TFLs.

The DL are used to control the LOS so that the LBs can attack and make plays. I didn't mention one LB in the Players section because there isn't really one guy who is significantly better than the others. The group is good. They also play quite a few guys, giving everyone a chance to contribute. James Farrior is the key ILB. James Harrison is the key OLB and pass rusher. LaMarr Woodley is a young guy with a good motor and a lot of potential.

The secondary is solid. Bryant McFadden and Ike Taylor are good CBs. Polamalu is an elite S and Ryan Clark is the other starter. I've liked him since he was in college. Not a flashy guy, but gets the job done.


Former Eagle Mitch Berger is the Punter and Jeff Reed is the PK. Berger, who played for us when Kotite was still coach, is filling in for Daniel Sepulveda who's out for the year. Reed is a good kicker.

The KOR is rookie Rashard Mendenhall. The PR is former Vike Mewelde Moore. PIT is only averaging 17 yds per KOR. That's a nice change from Felix Jones. Moore is having an odd year. He's only returned 2 punts...and only for -2 yards. Last week's bad weather game at CLE didn't help the return stats.


Our defense is in for a long day. They are coming off a short week and have to play arguably the most physical team in the league. That will be tough. The good news is that this is only September and guys are pretty healthy so the short week isn't a killer.

We know PIT will run the ball over and over. We have to control them. The Steelers ran the ball very well in our preseason meeting, especially early on. I think that was based on poor alignment and technique by our guys. Those problems should get corrected. Even if we do stop them, Pittsburgh will continue running the ball. That is just what they do.

Look at our defense in groupings. Mike Patterson, Brod Bunkley, and Stewart Bradley need to control the middle. That trio has to limit the effectiveness of inside runs. Outside runs will need the DE, OLB, and S to play well as a group. Someone has to set the edge and not let the RB get wide. You have to force the runner back to the middle or cause him to run way wide, where the pursuit can catch him. If Parker is able to get upfield easily, we're in for a long day. We also must tackle well.

Our defense loves to pursue. I'm sure PIT will work in some plays to try and take advantage of that. Cutback runs, End Arounds, bootlegs...those kind of plays test defenders. They force guys to be disciplined. You can bet we'll see them.

We've struggled with TEs the first couple of games. It will be interesting to see if PIT tries to get the ball more to Heath Miller because of that or if they stick with getting it to the wideouts. When they do throw, I think we can get pressure on Big Ben. Cole should be able to get by Smith at LT a time or two.

The defender who may need to come up big in this game is Quintin Mikell. He'll be the 8th guy in the box quite a bit. He has to get to the ballcarrier and make the play. That's his strength. A big game from Q will really help to limit their rushing attack.

Our offense should be able to move the ball on them. Anyone who saw the Browns game saw Braylon Edwards drop a few passes. There were openings in the pass defense. CLE did a poor job of executing. The Steelers don't have any DB who matches up well with DeSean Jackson.

The key for us will be protecting McNabb. The OL, TEs, and backs have to really do their homework to understand the PIT blitz scheme. If we block them, we can throw the ball. Last week Andy really focused on protection and it worked. I'll be interested to see if he tries that again.

The Steelers are built to stop the run. They want to force teams to throw so they can blitz. We throw all the time anyway. It will be interesting to see how this battle plays out. Westy didn't have a good day at all in 2004 against them, but he is much better now and we've got a bigger, stronger OL. I'd love to see Brian run for 80 yards in this game.

I think Andy/Marty will be aggressive early on. PIT isn't built to play from behind. If you can get up a couple of TDs, they have to throw the ball a bit more. Getting up a couple of TDs certainly isn't easy, though. I could see us going deep a few extra times in this game. Go with max protection and test their secondary. The Steelers are a much different team if you can get them out of their comfort zone. Could this be the week we finally see the flea flicker?

The Steelers have only given up 23 points this year. Dallas scored 24 on us in the 1st half. The flip side of that is they faced the Texans and a struggling Browns team in bad weather. Their defense hasn't played against an offense like ours to this point. They have a lot to prove.

Our defense struggled last week, but PIT doesn't have those kind of offensive weapons. Nor do they attack like that. We'll play better in terms of yards and points. The big test for our defense is to play strong, physical football and win the LOS. We got shoved around in '04. I actually laughed when watching the tape of that game. Darwin Walker looked like he was on roller skates. We're a different kind of defense now. We get to prove just how different on Sunday.


* We do have the #1 run defense in the NFL. You can say part of that is on STL being a bad team, but only allowing 2.7 ypc is pretty good.

* DeSean is 4th in the NFL in receiving yards. He should be one yard closer to the top, though. Hold onto the ball this week.

* Reggie is expected to play. I don't think he'll have a significant impact or anything like that. I am curious as to who sits. Could it be Schobel?

* We did force 2 turnovers on Monday. We need to keep that rolling.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Some Interesting Numbers

We're only two games into 2008, but there are already some interesting numbers to look at:

* The return units are absolutely better. Long KOR of 2007 was only 35 yards. Quintin Demps had a 47 yard return on Monday. The longest PR by our primary punt returner last year was 32 yards. DeSean Jackson took one back 60 yards in the opener. Westy did have a 64 yard return against Seattle last year. The Eagles were aggressive in dealing with Special Teams this year and it looks to have paid off.

* We scored a defensive TD on Monday. We didn't score any last year.

* We came up with 2 turnovers on Monday. Let's hope that continues. We had 19 all of last year.

* David Akers only made 2 FGs in the 40-49 range last year. He made a 44 yard'er against Dallas. His kickoffs seem to have better depth this year. His offseason workout must have actually worked.

* Brian Westbrook ran for 7 TDs last year. He's already got 3 this year.

* The passing game is back to being vertical. Last year Eagle QBs averaged 6.9 yards per pass attempt. That number is average. This year the figure is 9.1 ypa, which is outstanding.

We had, by my count, 4 pass plays of 50 or more yards last year. Curtis (75, 68), Westy (57), and GLew (50)were the targets. We already have 3 pass plays over 52 yards this year...Baskett (90), DeSean (60), and GLew (52).

* We have 75 points in 2 games. Last year we had 25 at this time.

* We have the #1 run defense in the NFL.

* All these numbers are great, but the key stat is 1-1. Let's hope a victory over the Steelers improves that to 2-1.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Dallas - Game Review ... Offense & Overview


Where do you start with a classic like this? Great game, horrible ending.

The Eagles played brilliantly in the 1st half and led 30-24. The Cowboys were the better team after halftime and won the game. We've seen this dynamic before. In 2006 the Eagles led the Giants 24-7 at halftime and lost the game in OT. Our offense can get into a rhythm and be really good, but then goes flat for seemingly no reason. A mistake here or there and that's it.

Can't be too mad at Donovan or the offense when we lose the game 41-37. Clearly a loss like that is on the defense. The lack of a pass rush was compounded by sloppy coverage. We did play the run well for most of the night. Marion Barber broke off a couple of good runs after halftime, but never took control of the game. The problem is that 3rd down would roll around and we couldn't stop them. Dallas was 6 of 10 on 3rd downs. That really killed us.

My immediate reaction is to be mad at Donovan for a couple of key mistakes. His sloppy handoff to Westy killed a drive that was already in scoring range. Then Donovan played poorly on the final drive. However…we scored 37 points. It isn't fair to blame him. We had a 3 point lead with 9 minutes to go in the game. The defense has to step up and hold Dallas to a FG or outright stop them.

Don't be too hard on the defense. Dallas has a great offense. Our D only gave up more than 28 points twice last year, once to Dallas and once to the Pats. Let's see how the guys do this weekend against PIT.


* We won the field position battle. I think the one drive they started inside the 5 skewed that stat.

* We won the TOP battle. Once again, TOP can be the most misleading stat in football.

* We really focused on pass protection. Andy and Marty were very creative. They kept backs in to block some of the time. They kept in TEs. They even used WRs to block. We ran a lot of bunch sets, where WRs line up close to each other and close to the formation. We did this so they wouldn't give blitzers open space to run in. We also had them chip on DEs and LBs. There were times when Avant and Baskett blocked initially, then released into a pass route. Where the hell was this game plan when Winston Justice needed it?

* Ran draw plays from the shotgun a few times. Spread out the Dallas D. This was done for effect and to set up a fake. More on that later.

* Dallas had 3 OL at least 5 yards downfield on the TE screen to Bennett. The officials will give you a couple of yards (we get away with that all the time), but 5? Very generous of the zebras.

* Both OLs got away with a lot of holding.

* We had 14 points off turnovers. Big help.

* This was a nightmare game for Jim Johnson. We gave up pass plays of 72, 42, 32, and 25. We had poor Safety play on 3 of those. We didn't register a sack. We couldn't stop them on 3rd down or in the Red Zone.

* Our offense did execute in the Red Zone. We were 3 of 5.

* Owens caught 3 passes in the first half, but none in the 2nd.


* DeSean Jackson catches a bomb and is headed straight for the endzone. Easy 61-yard TD…except...he drops the ball casually at the 1-yard line. WTF???? Celebrate after you score!!! EaglesNation was ready for blood. Luckily the mistake didn't cost us. Westy went over the top for a short TD run and all's well that ends well.

Back to the play itself, which was beautiful. We lined up with a TE on each side. The WR to the left was tight to the formation. DeSean was off to the right, slightly close to the formation. Westy was the RB. We lined up shotgun and Donovan faked to Westy. McNabb then went back a couple of steps and unleashed a perfect pass to Jackson. Hit him in stride at the 10-yard line. Just hold onto the damn ball, Peanut.

* We ran a WR screen to Westy. He lined up wide left with Baskett and Avant inside of him. Westy takes a step inside at the snap and the other guys go upfield to block. The timing is crucial. They can’t block until he’s caught the ball. The play worked perfectly and gave us a short TD. We ran a variation of this last year in Dallas. Didn’t work. We also ran it at NYG in 2006. I think that one worked.

* Dallas had a possession start inside the 5. Tony Romo fumbled the ball as he attempted a handoff. He picked up the ball and started to his left. Dawk was attacking the line at the snap to play the run. He nailed Romo and the ball popped loose. Gocong got on it for our first defensive TD since 2006.

* McNabb and Westy had a couple of botched handoffs. The first was caused by defensive penetration. Brian was able to fall on the ball and keep the drive alive. The second was due to McNabb double pumping the handoff. I don't know what exactly caused that. McNabb was watching the WR coming on a fake End Around. Of all the times to have a 1/2 second brain lapse. We were at the DAL 33. They recovered the fumble and then marched downfield to score the go-ahead TD.

* 2nd/22 from the DAL 46 late in the 3rd quarter. McNabb gets pressured and moves up in the pocket. Ware comes after him so Donovan goes right. As he approaches the line of scrimmage, McNabb underhands the ball to Westy, 7 yards downfield. Brian gets an additional 10 running after the catch. Tack on 15 more with a facemask penalty. All that gave us 1st/10 at the DAL 15. Key play for us.

* The final drive: We moved the ball out to our 48 with a couple of runs and a facemask penalty. Donovan got sacked on 1st down, setting up 2nd/13. He was about to throw the ball over the middle and felt Ellis about to hit him. Taking the sack was probably smart instead of risking the ball getting knocked loose or deflected. 2nd down was a downfield attempt to Avant. Jason didn't look all that open. Donovan had room to run and should have taken off downfield to make 3rd down more manageable. 3rd/13...Donovan dropped back and looked downfield. He didn't see anyone and drifted to his right. Ware chased and Donovan stupidly took a sack. He should have run upfield to get a yard or two and stepped out or thrown the ball away. Instead he lost yardage and gave us 4th/17. We tried the hook and lateral play, but ran it too close to the sideline and Westy went out of bounds short of the line to make. Not a good drive.



DONOVAN – Played brilliantly for 3 quarters. Got sloppy in the 4th Qtr and it cost us. For most of the game he played like a great QB. He threw the ball well. He used all of his weapons. Donovan dumped the ball off at times, but also threw downfield. He hit DeSean in stride for a big play. Almost connected with Greg Lewis for a huge play. Didn't focus on any one receiver. Was able to play small ball when needed and move the chains.

Ran the ball 5 times for 20 yards. Scrambled in and around the pocket on many other plays. His legs were a big help in this game.

*Good read on short pass to Buck. Went through his progression and got the ball to the open guy.
*Threw a beautiful pass to DeSean to set up the final FG of the half. Sat in the pocket for several seconds and gave his guys a chance to get open.
*Had DeSean open on a slant on the final play of the half, but was looking to the right side and didn’t see him.
*Overthrew Westy on late 3rd down. Ball was a foot too high or we’d have gotten the 1st.


WESTY – Solid game. Ran for a pair of TDs and caught a scoring pass. Best run of the night may have been a draw play that he bounced outside to the left. Got tripped up in the backfield, but put his hand down, re-gained his balance, and took the play outside for a gain of 6. Plunged over the top for a 1-yard TD after Jackson’s "play”. Landed awkwardly on his neck/back and I thought he might be hurt. Later they showed him on the sideline getting rubbed along his lower back. I was ready to kill DeSean if anything was wrong with Brian. Might have had the best 1-yard TD run of his career early in the 4th quarter. Got hit at the LOS, but he was on some bodies. Turned and stretched the ball forward to break the plane and give us the go-ahead score. Didn't post big numbers, but came up with key 1st downs and scored 3 TDs.

BUCK – Had to play both RB and FB. Best play was an 8-yd catch. Stayed in to block, then saw everyone was under control so he released into the right flat. McNabb got the ball out there and Buck made a nifty catch and got a 1st down. Dropped one pass, but it would have been a minimal gain. Caught his other pass in the 3rd quarter. Just a short dump over the middle to pick up positive yards. Solid lead block on Spencer on 3rd/1 run to the outside right.

LOBO – Caught 2 passes. The long one was a slant for 8 yards. Other catch went for no gain. Caught a short pass inside the 10 and had no room to work with. Made a bone-headed decision to go out of bounds. That stopped the clock. Would have been good to burn extra time and not leave so much for Dallas.

HUNT – Left with an injury. Saw little PT.

KLECKO – Got put at FB on a GL series. Drew a penalty when he went in motion and started forward before the snap. I think Dan was anxious to block someone. Did get to block on Westy’s 1-yard TD. Good job.


L.J. – Initially I was upset at LJ for the lack of production. After watching the tape I understand what was going on. Stayed in to block a lot of the time. Andy and Marty really focused on protection. Gave up a sack to Ellis on one pass play. Had a couple of passes thrown his way on seam routes, but wasn’t all that open. Had 1 catch for 10 yards.

CELEK – Caught one pass in the game. Interesting play. He and LJ doubled on a pass rusher on 3rd/6. The guy went wide. Brent gave him a shove, then released upfield. Caught a short pass and got 11 RAC yards.



PEANUT – Another good game, with one small exception (covered above). His 6 catches and 110 yards were a big part of our offensive success. By my count, we threw 8 passes to him. DeSean caught 6 and dropped 2. The first drop was costly. It came on a 3rd down play inside the 10. He had the ball initially, but bobbled it and the ball came loose. Almost a catch, but he never clearly showed control. That forced us to settle for a FG. The other drop came early in the 3rd quarter. It would have given us a 1st or at worst, 2nd and short. Caught the ball well and showed excellent speed in the game.

AVANT – Had 2 catches for 28 yards. The key catch came on 3rd/11. Ran a Dig route from the right slot. Got the ball crossing the middle. Took a big hit from S Pat Watkins. Fell to the ground and the ball was loose in midair. The ball fell to him and Jason grabbed it. Just your normal 12-yard catch on 3rd/11. Excellent awareness and concentration. Went low to catch a 16-yard pass on our final drive of the 1st half.

BASKETT – Great hustle to recover "fumble” in endzone on DeSean’s pass play that was ruled a drop. Had a good block on an early run to his side. Sealed a DB and gave the edge to Westy. Dropped a short pass in the left flat. Caught a pass on the next play and gained 9 yards.

GLEW – Solid game. Finished with 3 catches for 36 yards. Got open on a deep route late in the 1st quarter, but the CB closed on the play and knocked the ball away. Created a bogus Pass Interference call after Samuel’s pick. Grabbed Anthony Henry’s jersey and pulled the CB toward him as he went up for the ball. Trick worked and the flag came out. 1st/goal for us. Set up another short TD with a catch in the early 4th quarter. Caught a pass on a crossing route and turned upfield for a gain of 14. Just missed getting into the endzone. Bobbled a pass along the sideline on the final drive, but we got a 1st down a couple of plays later, so that mistake didn't hurt too much.


TRA – Solid game. Had a good block on Ware on a Westy run that went outside to the left. Sealed the edge on the play. Did a good job in pass pro for most of the game. Generally kept McNabb’s backside clean. Was badly beaten by Ware on a draw play when DeMarcus took a hard inside move and got Westy in the backfield. DeMarcus really turned up the heat after halftime and got more pressure.

TODD – Up and down game. Good seal on Ratliff on Westy run. Good double on a Westy run up the middle. Helped drive Tank Johnson several yards off the ball. Picked up Ware on an inside stunt on a pass play that got us a good gain. Whiffed on Chris Canty on a run play that turned into a TFL. Good seal block on Bradie James gave Westy a good running lane in the late 3rd quarter. Drew a dumb flag for blocking in the back on a screen pass late in the game. That hurt.

JAMAAL – Below average game, but did have some good moments. Terrific block on Zack Thomas on Westy’s 14 yd run. Made contact at the 44 and drove him back 4 or 5 yards. Picked up Ware on an inside stunt on 3rd/6 and gave McNabb time to throw. Gave up a bad sack to NT Jay Ratliff in the 2nd quarter. Ratliff used a simple grab and pull move and went right by JJ. Got away with holding Ratliff on a late 3rd quarter pass play. Got blown up on a run play when Tank Johnson fired off the ball at the perfect second. That led to the first awkward handoff/fumble between 5 and 36. Missed a block on James on late screen pass that hurt us.

ANDREWS – Solid game. Good in pass pro. Got driven back by Ratliff on a run play. Very surprising to see that. Did a good job of getting to LBs on run plays. Hurt his back and left at halftime. There was one play in the 2nd quarter when Shawn was on the ground and Westy landed right on his back after going airborne. Not sure if that was the cause or part of it.

RUNYAN – Okay game. Got a lot of help in pass pro from TEs and WRs. Did a solid job when he did face guys alone. Struggled late in the game when DAL knew we were passing. Gave up a sack to Ellis on the final drive. Was beaten on another play. His run blocking was okay, but didn't stand out.

MAX – Filled in at RG after halftime. Beaten by Ratliff for a TFL on the first play we ran. Got better as the game went on, but got a lot of help.

Dallas - Game Review ... Defense, STs


COLE – Won his share of battles. Got pressure several times, but could not get to Romo. Drew a critical holding penalty late in the 1st half that erased a long gainer to Owens. Drew another holding call early in the 3rd quarter. Got called for a penalty for shoving a blocker after a false start penalty. You can argue the call, but as soon as the Cowboy hit the ground I knew they’d get Trent. 15 free yards on a key drive.

JUQUA – Quiet game. Had a pair of tackles. Got little pressure. Best play came in the 3rd when he got by Colombo and flushed Romo to the right side. Struggled to take on double teams on run plays that came his way. Fought as best he could, but gave ground. You don’t expect a guy his size to handle double teams. Did flush Romo when he got pressure with a hard inside move in the 4th. Dallas ran at him on the final drive. J did everything humanly possible to stop Barber and kept him an inch or two short of the goal line. Used excellent burst and an inside move to get to Barber on late running play.

HOWARD – Played better than I thought initially. Got double-teamed on early 3rd down plays at DT. Played both end spots. Just missed a sack from LDE when Romo ducked under him. That pressure did lead to Asante’s INT. Made a good tackle of Jones on an End Around that could have easily turned into a big play. Darren handled the play perfectly. He came upfield at the snap, but held his ground. Had a blocker come his way. Took on the blocker, located the ball, then shed the blocker and tackled Jones. Hell of a play. Young DEs should watch this. Textbook stuff. Tackled Barber from behind on a short run up the middle.

CLEMONS – First time I noticed him at DE was in the 4th quarter. Only played a handful of snaps. Didn’t get any pressure.


PATTERSON – Got penetration on the opening play and hit Barber in the backfield. Battled Davis 1-on-1 most of the game. Might be 50 or 60 pounds lighter than Leonard, but wins his share of battles. Played with excellent leverage. Got handled by Davis on a good run up the middle in the 3rd. Almost made the stop on the go-ahead TD run. Fought off 2 blockers and got his hands on Barber, but didn’t seem to have his feet cleanly under him and couldn’t hold on. Played the run well, but didn't get a whiff of Romo. Has to be more of a factor as a pass rusher.

BUNKLEY – Beat the LG on an early pass and hurried a throw from Romo. Very stout against the run. Got a lot of doubles because of the backup LG playing, but Bunk held his ground. Came free on a stunt where he looped outside and nailed Romo. That was our best hit on Tony all night (sadly). Showed pretty good hustle in terms of chasing plays down from behind. Got Barber from behind, 15 yards downfield. Made a good play on 3rd/short to almost get Barber for no gain. Did finish with 4 tackles, but I need to see him making plays in the backfield, not the secondary.

LAWS – Had a shot at the ball in the endzone, but just missed it. Didn't play very much.

KLECKO – Played LDT in a Nickel set in the 2nd quarter. Also played some early in the 3rd. Tripped up Romo on a play where he was unblocked. Played in the GL sets also. Exploded off the ball on the final TD play. Davis was able to control him, though.


BRADLEY – Sorta quiet game. Had 4 tackles, only 2 solo. Blew up a running play right at the LOS, but couldn’t bring Barber down cleanly. Fell on his backside when trying to tackle Barber in space on a pass play over the middle. Got manhandled by Gurode on a run up the middle. On the next play Stewart had man coverage on Barber and got burned for a TD. He only trailed by a step, but that was enough. Not the Monday night debut he wanted.

GOCONG – Played better than I realized. Blitzed on early 2nd down and flushed Romo, but didn’t get very close. Scored his first career TD when he recovered Romo’s fumble in the endzone. Only got in on one tackle. Hustled to get in on a tackle of Barber after he’d gotten downfield a bit. Helped to save a TD on the play. Disrupted a running play by blowing up the FB in the backfield. Blew up a 3rd quarter run by hitting Barber in the backfield. Couldn’t bring him down. Blitzed in the 4th and just missed a sack. Unfortunately it was a screen pass run to the area where Gocong came from. Gain of 25. Got away with a shot to Romo’s helmet on the play.

OMAR – Up and down game. Beat the FB on an Iso run and helped Dawk to have a TFL. Made a shoestring tackle of Barber after a pass to the right flat. Got completely confused on an End Around to Felix Jones. Stayed with the RB, then saw Felix, and then still seemed confused. Overran a Barber run that started up the middle. Left a huge void and Marion cut back and headed to that area. Almost a TD. Got blown up by the FB on a run play, but oddly Barber took the run the other way. Couldn’t tackle Barber on a run play up the middle. Got his hands on him, but was a step away from really getting him solidly. Tackled TEs well after the catch. Romo threw some dump off passes to his TEs.


DAWK – Bad game. Age is showing. Struggled vs Jason Witten. Did have an early TFL on a Barber run. Got burned by Owens for a TD on a slant near the goal line. In fairness to Brian, that matchup is not good for him. Maybe 3 or 4 years ago, but not right now. Had the FF when he hit Romo in the endzone. Broke up a pass early in the 3rd. Romo put a lot of air on a downfield ball. Dawk got to the receiver just as the ball did. Dawk hit the ball as the receiver tried to catch it. Got burned by Witten on a seam route that went for 32 yards and put Dallas at the 5 and set up the winning TD. Got pressure when he blitzed on DAL’s final 3rd down. Forced an incompletion.

MIKELL – Good game. Had excellent coverage and broke up an early pass to Witten. Blew up a running play to the outside when he took out a pulling OT. That actually tripped up Barber for no gain. Blitzed up the middle on a 3rd/10 play. Looped around Bradley after he engaged the C. Nice design, but Q got a hand on Romo just after the ball was out. Made an excellent open field tackle of TE Martellus Bennett on a screen pass. Tackled Barber for a gain of only one on a 4th quarter run. Did that again on the next series. "Only" finished with 5 tackles, but always seemed to be in the middle of things.

CONSIDINE – Made a couple of critical mistakes. Bit on pump fake from Romo and let Owens get behind him. That led to 72-yard TD pass. Blitzed in the 4th quarter and hurried a throw on 3rd down. That forced Dallas to settle for a FG. Screwed up on the Dallas final TD. Was supposed to stay outside on the play. Saw Barber going inside initially and stepped in to help out. Barber came free from Patterson and went outside (where Sean was) and scored. Sean has to play that outside in. Dallas may have scored on the next play, but you never know.


SAMUEL – Solid game. Got his first pick as an Eagle. Romo threw a dumb pass and was off target. Asante just caught the ball and weaved upfield for a return of 14. You can see he’s got excellent ball skills. Had a couple of tackles. Energetic guy. Plays with a lot of emotion and enthusiasm. I like that. Made a good tackle of Barber out in space after he broke free on a run. Called for PI while covering Owens in the endzone on the final drive. That gave DAL the ball at the one. Legit call.

BROWN – Led the team in tackles, but didn’t exactly have a great game in covering Owens. Gave up completion for 1st down on the opening 3rd down of the game. Did take out one of Owens legs while he was in the air and that led to a nasty fall. Had solid coverage on a sideline throw to Owens that fell incomplete. Was beaten for a big gain when he bit on a double move, but a holding call erased the play. Made a terrific play to stop a run. Lined up in the slot. Saw the run coming his way. Fought through the block of a receiver and held up Barber for no gain. Knocked a ball loose from Patrick Crayton, but Crayton was able to fall on it. Got a TFL in the 3rd quarter when he tackled Barber on a run play. Played CB/S when Dallas went to a 1-WR set. Tackled Witten to keep him out of the endzone on the big play that set up the winning score.

LITO – Very quiet game. Had a couple of tackles. Didn't come close to making a play. Had underneath coverage on Owens on the long TD. Wasn't at fault, though. Normally Dallas brings out the best in Lito, but that wasn't the case this game.

HANSON – I don't know if he played at all on defense. Dallas didn't play any 4 WR sets that I recall.



AKERS – Generally got good depth on his KOs. Was 2 of 2 on FGs, including a 44-yarder.

ROCCA – Another good showing. Averaged 48 yards per punt.

PR – Only had 2 returns, the long one for 11.

KOR – Quintin Demps had a good game on KOs. He averaged 25.5 per return. His long was 47 and set us up in Dallas territory. The opening KO went out of bounds and gave us the ball at the 40. That is two weeks in a row teams have kicked for the corner to start the game. Demps has other teams attention.


* The KOR TD looked to be mainly due to Akeem Jordan taking a dumb chance. As he, Tank, and JR approached the wedge, a small gap opened up. Jordan went through the gap. The blocker got enough of him so that Akeem couldn’t get to Jones. Once Felix had a crease, it was all over.

To be fair, JR Reed was badly held on the play. FB Deon Anderson had his left arm solidly grabbing the back of Reed’s jersey in a bear hug for almost 3 full seconds (an eternity on KOs). There was also a block in the back on Gocong.

* Dallas got away with a ridiculous amount of holding and blocks in the back on kick returns. I didn't notice this live, but it stood out big time when I studied the game. Guys would just grab handfuls of jersey. Other guys would shove tacklers in the back blatantly. Some were called, but not enough. Our coverage unit didn't play well, but they had a major disadvantage with what the officials let go on.

* Tony Hunt couldn’t sustain a block on one KOR. Demps had a chance to get up the sideline.

* MmmBop tied for the team lead with 2 STs tackles.

* Felix Jones muffed a KO and the ball got behind him. He got control of the ball inside the 5 and had a pile of Eagles on him immediately.

* Q Mikell made an outstanding tackle in KO coverage just before the half.

* Chris Clemons is playing well on STs. He had one tackle. He is aggressive in KO coverage. About those sacks on defense…

* I’d love to tell you that Demps got great blocking on his long return, but it looked like the Cowboys were just slow to get to the ball on that side. Buck did give him a nice lead block when they were already 20 yards upfield.


New PE.com article is posted


I'll be posting a Detailed Game Review here this afternoon. Some good, some bad.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Quick Post Game Thoughts

I haven't finished going over the tape yet. I'll be working on that tonight and should have my Detailed Game Review posted on Wednesday.

For now...

* Great game

I hated the outcome, but it was a lot of fun to see the guys in a big game. The team played well overall. There were mistakes, but don't lose sight of the big plays and the parts of the game when we were clicking on all cylinders. Cliches rule.

* Defense?

In the first half we had no pass rush and gave up big pass plays. In the second half we had no pass rush and gave up short pass plays. You have to give the Cowboys credit for executing well. They have a terrific offense. Still, it was highly frustrating to see Romo not getting hit at all.

I wish Jim Johnson had blitzed more. It was effective when he did. I'd rather go down swinging than letting Romo be comfortable. Trent Cole was the only DL that seemed to win battles with any consistency.

* Weapon-X

There was a "Weapon-X" on the field last night. It wasn't Brian Dawkins, though. It was Felix Jones. He killed our kickoff coverage team all night long. They had him bottled up on several plays, but Felix would find a crack and come flying out of the cluster of players. He's going to be trouble for a long time.

As for Dawk...ouch. Jason Witten ate his lunch over and over. I think we can all see that this will be Brian's final year as our FS. He just doesn't run the way he did. Watching him last night was almost like watching JR Reed.

* DeSean's gaffe

Jackson catches a bomb and is headed straight for the endzone. Easy TD except...he drops the ball casually at the 1-yard line. WTF???? Celebrate after you score!!! EaglesNation was ready for blood. Luckily the mistake didn't cost us. Westy went over the top for a short TD run and all's well that ends well.

I actually wouldn't yell at DeSean for the mistake. He'll hear about that play from every person he sees for the next year, or two. Andy Reid simply needed to look him in the eyes and say "Lesson learned? Don't ever let that happen again."

* The Eagles offense is legit

We moved the ball very well, especially in the 1st half. We only had one punt prior to halftime and that came about because Donovan's deep ball to Greg Lewis was knocked away at the last minute on a 3rd down play. Dallas never really stopped us. Things changed after halftime. We lost some of our rhythm.

It is amazing to think that you can take the starting WRs off this team and we still move the ball and score points. A healthy McNabb makes such a huge difference.

* Bring me the head of Tony Kornheiser

He is awful in the booth. He's writing a newspaper column as the game goes along. He used the word "star" about 655, 321 times last night...mostly in reference to Romo and Owens. Tony talked about all kinds of peripheral stuff that had no business being mentioned in a game of that quality.

At one point, late in the 2nd quarter I think, he was going into McNabb having experienced some hard times in his career. The game was 21-20 or something like that and we were driving. That is no time to talk about Limbaugh, Draft Day, or the 2005 debacle. Focus on the great game at hand.

I think ESPN would be best served by having Kornheiser on site as a reporter. Cut to him a few times during the game to see what is catching his eye. He's good at looking for storylines. The problem is that he does that all game long and it ruins the broadcast.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Gameday Thoughts

* Will Lorenzo Booker, LoBo, actually be used creatively in this game?

He played last week, but was largely used in a conventional role. Andy Reid and Marty Mornhinweg weren't about to show anything creative in a game with the Rams. You save that stuff for key games...like a Monday night meeting with the Cowboys. LoBo won't be a key part of the offense or anything like that, but I'll be interested to see if they run any plays where he is the focal point. He got a lot of hype in Training Camp. We need to see if he is a guy to get the ball to or whether he's merely going to be a backup RB.

* What will Lito do?

He almost always comes up big against Dallas. Lito has at least one INT in each of the last 5 games against Dallas. You have to go back to October of 2005 to find a time when Lito didn't make a pick in a Dallas game. How long ago is that? Terrell Owens was still playing for us at that point. I've heard that Lito will shadow Owens around the field as much as possible. Those type games usually bring out the best in Lito. Let's hope that is true this time as well.

* Turnovers could be crucial tonight.

Getting takeaways has been a point of emphasis this offseason and in the summer. Let's see if all the moves, practice, and focus pay off. The guys were close last week, but it will be important to actually get the ball tonight.

* How will DeSean handle the spotlight?

DeSean had a terrific game in the season opener. This is a step up, though. He's facing the Dallas Cowboys. This is a MNF game. How will DeSean deal with the added pressure and excitement? I have faith in his ability, I just hope he doesn't get caught up emotionally. Jackson has acted like a seasoned veteran since arriving in Philadelphia. He's worked hard and stayed focused. He's been humble (by WR standards...he's not Saint Francis of Assisi). I hope the DeSean of the summer, of the preseason, and Week 1 is the guy who shows up tonight. Let Pac Man Jones jack his jaws. Just let your playing do the talking for you.

When the heck is 830pm gonna get here???

Sunday, September 14, 2008



Playing the Dallas Cowboys on Monday night is the kind of game that you really look forward to as an Eagles fan. Big games are just more fun. Watching the Rams get pummeled last week was enjoyable, but...what can you take from that game? We're much better than what is apparently a pretty bad team. Nice result, but not the same as facing a good team.

The reason I love watching football is to see big games. You want to see how good your team is, to see them tested. Big wins are fun, but big games are better. You need to sense that defeat is a real possibility in order to get maximum enjoyment from a victory.

What did you like more, the demolition of the Lions last year or the December win over Dallas when we were fighting for our playoff lives? The loss to Seattle was an intense game. When Westbrook busted off that punt return, I was going through the roof with excitement. We were trying to win a game and save the season. That kind of pressure and drama is what makes sports so much fun.

Going into a game knowing your team is likely to win takes the pressure out of the game. In a game that is even or where you are the underdog there is a certain importance to every part of the game. You really live and die with each 1st down and incompletion. God forbid there is a turnover or the other teams busts off a big play. Every moment seems so crucial.

This Eagles team expects to compete for the Super Bowl. The only way to know how good this team is and how it stacks up is to play good teams. Monday night will give us a hint. It's too early for anything to be definitive, but we'll see where the team is at this point. While I hate waiting for Monday night, seeing Eagles-Cowboys in primetime should be worth it.

As long as we win, of course...