Friday, October 31, 2008

Couple of Things

I posted a Game Preview.


ProFootballTalk has an item up about LJ missing the game. They think that Lawyer Milloy should be suspended since LJ is going to miss the game.

No way.

Milloy got penalized for that hit, but it wasn't dirty. It wasn't malicious. He was half a step late. He hit LJ in the chest with his shoulder. I'm all for player safety, but you cannot start punishing players for hard hits. That would ruin the game of football.

Had Milloy hit him clearly out of bounds...had he hit LJ head-to-head...had he speared him a few seconds after the play then maybe I could understand the notion of a suspension.

There is no way in the name of Wes Hopkins, Andre Waters, Terry Hoage, Mike Zordich, Tim Hauck, and Brian Dawkins that I am going to say a suspension would be fair.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Incredible Bunk


Brodrick Bunkley was drafted 14th overall in 2006. The Eagles thought they had a stud defensive tackle to anchor the defense. Things have been up and down since then.

His rookie year was basically wasted. Bunk came to Lehigh late and out of shape due to a holdout. He played some, but did little. He took over as the starting RDT in 2007 and had a solid season.

Would Bunkley breakout and be even better in '08? He was pedestrian in the season opener. The coaches weren't thrilled with him. They know he's got the talent to be a dominant kind of DT. He was up and down through the SF game.

In the 4th Qtr of the San Francisco game, Bunkley came alive. He started playing like a man on a mission. That performance carried over to the Falcons game. Bunk was the best DT on the field for either team. He took on double teams and clogged running lanes. He beat single blocking. He chased the ball when it went away from him. That was the Brodrick Bunkley we've been waiting to see.

Brod has the potential to be a dominant DT. He is strong as an ox. He can take on blockers, even double teams, and hold his ground. He's strong enough to shed blocks. He is quick off the ball and has athletic ability.

Bunk won't be considered a dominant player until he is able to play at a high level consistently. The other key for him is that he needs to make a few more plays. The best DTs create plays for others, but also come up with some sacks and TFLs for themselves.

Last year Bunk had 3 sacks and 9 TFLs. Those were pretty good numbers for a DT, especially in his first year as a starter. This season Bunk has 1 sack and 1 TFL. I don't think they are letting him penetrate as much, but I'd still like more production from him.

I don't see Bunkley ever becoming Albert Haynesworth good. He is able to control games. Bunk doesn't quite have that kind of potential. I do think he's just scratching the surface of how good he can be. If Brodrick is able to take that next step and become a real force at DT the defense could go from good to great.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Sunday Night Thoughts

The Eagles won 27-14. It wasn't pretty, but it was a win. The Eagles have now taken two games in a row. Let's hope that is just the start of a nice winning streak.

I wrote about the need for the Eagles to funnel the offense through Brian Westbrook in my last post. They did just that and it paid off big time. Brian ran for 167 yards and 2 TDs. He led the Eagles with 6 catches (for 42 yards).

The offense is explosive when McNabb throws the ball downfield and goes all over the place, but it is efficient and consistent when it focuses on getting the ball to the RB, whether Buck or Westy.

If we can get Westy hot, that will make winning games a whole lot easier. Sunday was a great start.

* The run defense came to play. They clogged the middle. They sealed the edges. It was a total team effort. The Falcons finished with 24 carries for 77 yards.

* The Eagles ran the ball very well, 32 rushes for 192 yards and 3 TDs. They did a couple of things. The OL blocked well and let Westy get free up the middle. The edge blockers sealed well a couple of times and let Brian get outside.

Philly also had success running against the Falcons Nickel defense. With only 6 defenders in the box, the Eagles were able to get a hat on a hat and give Westbrook plenty of room to run.

* I was very impressed with QB Matt Ryan. About halfway through the 2nd Qtr I wasn't sure which team had the rookie passer. Ryan made some mistakes, but he played very well overall. His receivers didn't help him out. They had a couple of drops and sloppy routes.

McNabb really struggled until about haflway through the 2nd Qtr. He missed LJ on a seam route for a big gain and I screamed "DONOVAN!!!" so loud that I figured my neighbors would be coming over to inquire as to who this Donovan fellow was and what he did that got me so pissed off.

Once McNabb got in rhythm, he was fine. He made some great throws. I was especially happy to see him finally run some. He had 6 runs for 25 yards, including a TD. The best run was a 12-yard scramble. That set up a QB draw for a TD.

* The botched call late in the game was just terrible. You hate to see the refs miss a call like that, especially in a close game and at a crucial time. The one thing to remember is that there was no guarantee that Matty Ice would have led the Falcons down for a score. I consulted Miss Cleo directly after the game and she assured me that the Eagles would have picked a pass and run it back for a TD. Always trust Miss Cleo.

* Roddy White showed that he is the real deal. He had 8 catches for 113 yards. Samuel and Brown did a good job on him for part of the game, but Ryan kept feeding him the ball.

Atlanta has the makings of a good offense. They need a TE (or two) and some OL.

* The Falcons had great field position most of the 1st half, but could only come up with 7 points. They were too conservative with their playcalling. The offense came alive in the 2nd half when they got desperate and started throwing the ball. I was shocked to see Ryan finished with 44 pass attempts.


* Trent Cole didn't have a sack, but still played a good game.
* Chris Gocong played his best game of the year. He had a sack, 2 TFLs, and stuffed the run.
* Asante was mixed. He gave up a couple of TDs, but had a pick and 3 PDs. The TDs weren't all on him.
* Lito Sheppard had his best game by far. He had a pick and 4 PDs.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Go West, Young Man


Brian Westbrook really established himself as the key to the Eagles offense in 2006. You can argue about 2003-05, but his high carry total was 177 and his high reception total was 77.

Things changed in 2006. McNabb got hurt and the offense really went through Westbrook. McNabb wasn't 100% in 2007 and Westy again was the workhorse.

2006: 240-1217-7 TDs ... 77-699-4 TDs
2007: 278-1333-7 TDs ... 90-771-5 TDs

Both years the Eagles had a top ten offense. Points weren't a problem in 2006. They were in '07 because of a poor Red Zone offense. Westy certainly did his part by scoring 12 TDs.

The Eagles offense needs to go through Brian to be at its best. That hasn't really happened so far in 2008. He's been hurt. When he has played we haven't gotten him the ball enough. That has to change.

With 10 games left we need to see Brian Westbrook breakout.

Buck: running 48-207-2..........receiving 17-168-1
Westy: running 54-193-4..........receiving 14-97-2

Brian's long run is 18 yards. His long catch is also 18. Buck is 28 and 25.

I know teams don't gameplan for Buck like they do Brian, but we need to see Westy really come alive. Our offense is at its best when it goes through Westy.

Brian can turn a handoff or short throw into a big gain. He puts constant pressure on the defense. Even though we are a passing team, the foundation for every offense is the running game. When defenses have to focus on him, it helps to create space for the receivers. It makes our play-action passes that much more effective.

Get the ball to 36, Andy. That's an order.

He should be fairly healthy this week. We need a big game from him. And let's hope the coaches also keep Buck involved. He's too good to sit beside Big Red all game long.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Patience is a virtue, but can also be a vice

Andy Reid is a patient man. Sometimes agonizingly patient.

Big Red will stick with a gameplan for a long time because he knows it is about to start working any minute now. The plan is logical. It is well thought out in advance. It has been practiced and has every reason in the world to work.

When it doesn't, because of the annoying x-factor...people have to execute it, Andy doesn't adjust quickly. Which is also to say that icebergs don't set speed records. Andy gives that plan another chance. "The guys will get it right next time", I'm sure he says to himself. "We were close".

When given time to self-scout and make adjustments during the bye week or before playoff games with a bye, Andy and his staff do a terrific job. They see what didn't work and fix it. They have solid evidence.

Why can't Andy see those things in a game? He does sometimes, but all too often in-game adjustments aren't what they need to be by the offense. The most glaring example was the debacle last year where Osi Umenyiora and the Giants racked up 12 sacks.

Andy was desperate to burn their struggling secondary. The way to attack was to spread them out and throw the ball. Makes sense. Donovan McNabb didn't have a good night throwing the ball. LT Winston Justice started in place of Tra Thomas and struggled mightily with blocking Osi. Donovan was sacked all game long and the offense scored just 3 points.

At some point the entire world (all 5 or 6 billion people actually watched the game) expected Andy to help Justice out with a TE. Or to call shorter passes. Or to go to the running game. None of that happened. The Eagles stuck with the original plan and it never came close to working.

Andy did learn a lesson. This year the team is more protection oriented. We have kept the TE in to block more than I can ever recall. Big Red can adjust. It just took him 10 months in this case.

That patience of his has served us well in some aspects. Andy isn't going to make rash moves. The problem is that he is too patient during games. You certainly have to give your plans some time to work, but adjustments are crucial.

The best analogy for Andy sometimes is Roy McAvoy from Tin Cup. Remember at the end of the movie when he keeps going for the green? That's like Andy sticking with his plans. The difference is that McAvoy's attempts had some sense of delusional charm. Andy's are flat out frustrating.

Mark Whipple is new to the staff this year. It will be interesting to see if he was able to offer some worthwhile advice to Andy and Marty to make the offense more consistent down the stretch. Sometimes outside perspective can make all the difference in the world.

We'll see starting on Sunday how well the Eagles adjusted and also how well they adjust during the game. To be fair, the NFL could help Andy out by putting a bye week between all 16 games. That's not asking too much, is it?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Game Preview - ATL


Very winnable game. We need the guys to come out and play well.


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

New Article Posted

An early look at ATL/PHI.



The Eagles added FB Kyle Eckel to the roster and G Nevin McCaskill to the Practice Squad. Sadly, JR Reed was cut.

Eckel was a really good FB at Navy. However, he was much more of a runner than a blocker. Here are his college stats:

Kyle has played with NE and the Dolphins off and on since 2005. He has enough talent to play in the league, but obviously isn't such a good player that anyone felt compelled to keep him. He's not great in any area. Kyle isn't huge. He isn't a great blocker. He's not a great athlete or receiver. Kyle only has one career catch.

The Eagles are going to leave Dan Klecko at FB for now. Eckel will be worked into things. We could see an interesting lineup near the goal line with Klecko blocking for Eckel the runner. Of course, that would require that both guys are active and I don't know how likely that is.

McCaskill (6'4, 292) played LT at Hampton. I don't have extensive notes on him from his days at HU. Nevin didn't have the footwork I thought a good T prospect needed. The Eagles have a habit of taking guys who played OT in college and putting them all over the OL. They especially love LTs.

Herremans, Jamaal, Nick Cole, and Mike McGlynn all started at T in college. Max started off at OT before shifting inside. Obviously Tra and Jon played outside in college.

I hate to see JR Reed go. He is such a good guy and you want him to make it. The NFL has plenty of jerks and lazy guys who don't appreciate how lucky they are. JR fought to keep his job by working his tail off. Unfortunately he only had 3 tackles this year on STs. If you keep a guy to primarily play on STs he has to standout. JR wasn't doing that. I wish him the best of luck and hope he lands with another team. He's the kind of player you can be proud to have playing for your organization.

Can the Eagles shut down Turner?

The last time the Eagles faced a red hot running game when coming off a bye week was 2005. LaDainian Tomlinson and the Chargers came to The Linc. Jim Johnson had his guys ready and they played great. LT finished the game with 17 carries for 7 yards. And he had to get hot to get up to that total.

Honestly, I'm still not sure how JJ and the boys pulled that off.

The run defense was outstanding the first few weeks this year. They got gashed by Washington and San Francisco. Right now the D is 7th overall and 9th against the run. That's pretty good. The question is how they'll fare against the Falcons and the #2 running game in the NFL.

The real key isn't playing 8 in the box or doing anything special. The DL has to get off blocks and the LBs need to tackle well. Do that and you'll control Turner. Dawk and Q need to help out by coming up quickly at times to outnumber the Falcons blockers.

Turner is more of a speed guy than a bruiser. Portis and Gore ran through a lot of our tackle attempts. Turner won't be as good at that. He's more of a threat to go all the way, but will be easier to bring down.

The Falcons have one really good WR, Roddy White. Their TEs have only caught 6 passes all year. There is no excuse for JJ and the defense to not be able to control Turner. He might have some early success as we adjust to playing against a faster guy, but we should be able to keep him under control for the most part.

We need to put this game in the hands of rookie QB Matt Ryan. He's not a typical rookie, but is a rookie nonetheless. Ryan has played 2 good defenses (TB and CAR). He struggled against both, totaling 316 yards and 2 INTs and not leading the Falcons to a TD in either game.

I expect Jim Johnson to come up with a good gameplan for shutting down Atlanta's running game and I think the guys will play with an edge. They have to be embarrassed a bit by the porous run defense of the last two weeks. Time to come out and make a statement with a dominant showing.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Nice Flashback


I watched the Patriots demolishing of the Broncos last night. I don't have strong feelings for either team, but I do hate the way that Denver is such a media darling when they win. That made me enjoy the game a bit more than had the Donkeys beaten Pat the Patriot.

I loved the New England offense. They ran, ran, and ran some more. They mixed in different backs. They ran from creative formations. They threw just enough passes to keep the defense honest. Seeing that kind of running game made me jealous. I'd love to see Big Red turn the RBs loose and really pound the ball.

That got me to thinking when the last time we saw anything like that. I didn't do any research. Just used the ol' brain. Nothing came to mind initially, then I remembered a MNF game against the Giants in 2002.

The game was at The Vet and took place about midseason. We won 17-3. Donovan was 14 of 30 passing for 137 yards. None of that is very impressive, but check out the running game.

We ran the ball 40 times for 295 yards and a TD. 40 runs by an Andy Reid team? In just one game? Yep.

Duce: 24-126
Dorsey: 5-33
Westy: 3-29
D-Mac: 8-107

Here's the box score for the game:

I want to go break out the tape and re-watch that game. I loved watching us run all over the Giants. They had a solid defense, but we just dominated them up front that night.

People forget that Big Red hasn't always been pass crazy. He used to run more of a balanced offense. TO arrived in 2004, the NFL changed the passing rules, and we went from pass happy to pass insane. Reid was never going to be a power football kind of coach, but things were better in the past.

We've had some games in the last couple of years where Andy teased us with the running game. Westy had 32 carries against Miami last year, for example. I just wish things like that didn't take an injured QB or a backup QB playing in the game. Our OL has the ability to be good run blockers, but not if they only do it 18 times a game. You have to let the guys up front beat on the defense and wear them down.

Back to last did help that the Pats ran against the Broncos. Denver's defense did a lousy job of playing the run. That running attack wouldn't fare so well against Tennessee or Baltimore. You do have to be able to throw the ball to win against good defenses.

Our receivers are getting healthy so we'll be throwing the ball. The one bit of good news is that we have yet to see Andy's annual game where he runs the ball more than usual. It's nice of Big Red to save us a treat like that for after the bye. Keeps us on our toes.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Safe vs Soft

I wrote a piece for about the balancing act the NFL has to do with wanting violent collisions while also protecting players.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

How 'Bout Them Cowboys!!!

I guess the 'Boys really do miss PacMan. Or Dat Nguyen. Or Deion Sanders. Maybe Ken Norton, Jim Jeffcoat, Randy White, Everson Walls, and/or Bob Lilly. Dallas defense was putrid against the Rams. They put the "oooh" in St. Louis.

If you recall Week 2, the Eagles played at Dallas. The score at halftime was PHI 30 and DAL 24. One of ESPN's intrepid sideline reporters asked Wade Phillips at halftime what he thought needed to be done to fix the defense. He replied that there was only a couple of mistakes and that the defense was fine overall. Up in the booth, Ron Jaworski asked what game Wade was watching. I sat in my living room and asked what drugs Wade was on and whether they were available to the general public.

The defense has had some really good moments. They were ranked 10th in the league in yards allowed coming into Sunday. However, they were only 20th in scoring. The Arizona game was a metaphor for the whole season. The Cardinals only gained 276 yards on Dallas, but scored 24 offensive points. They got TDs when they did get into the Red Zone.

Fast forward to Sunday. The 'Boys went to St. Louis to face the Rams. All the focus was on QB Brad Johnson, filling in for Tony Romo, and newly acquired WR Roy Williams. Could the backup QB and new weapon help Dallas to a win? How well would they play?


Veteran QBs are supposed to be reliable backups. Brad had a bad game. He threw 3 INTs. I saw the Rams drop a handful of potential picks. Brad was making bad reads and poor throws. He doesn't have the arm to force balls into tight windows. To be fair, Brad did lead the Cowboys right down the field to a TD that put them up 7-0.

The problem is that the Rams didn't back down. And the Cowboys defense didn't show up. You have to come up big when your offense is down. The team has to step up its overall level of play.

The Eagles and Rams played a similar game in 2002. That was AJ Feeley's first ever NFL start. The Eagles had lost Donovan McNabb and Koy Detmer. The offense was not going to put up a bunch of points with a young guy making his first start. The team knew they had to help the kid out. The defense came up with 8 sacks, harassed Kurt Warner all game, and only allowed the Rams 3 points. Philly won the game 10-3. That was a team win.

The Dallas defense was shredded. Steven Jackson ran 25 times for 160 yards. Marc Bulger was 14 of 19. 4 of his 14 completions went for 16 or more yards. Rookie WR Donny Avery caught a 42-yard TD pass. The Rams had the ball 5 more minutes than Dallas did. DeMarcus Ware did his part. He had 7 tackles and 3 sacks. He truly is a great player. I'm not sure about the rest of the D. Jackson's long run was especially troubling. It looked like several defenders had a shot at him but couldn't get off blocks, took poor angles, or just couldn't make the stop. You cannot give up plays like that in a game like that.

Tough situations call for tough teams. Dallas wasn't close to tough on Sunday. I talked about the problem with the Roy Williams trade in a recent post. It seems as if Jerry Jones was trying to solve problems by acquiring more talent. The NFL doesn't work like that. The coaching staff has to get with the players and get them to step up. You overcome adversity with hard work, focus, and leadership. Jerry Jones had great intentions, but I think the Williams deal was a bad move for the 2008 team. It will certainly help when TO moves on in the future.

A lot of people are going to start predicting gloom and doom for the Cowboys. Don't buy that stuff quite yet. They still have a lot of talent. Romo will do everything in his power to play next week. Roy Williams will have a full week of practice as a Cowboy and will have a better feel for the playbook. Veteran leaders like Greg Ellis and Zack Thomas need to get the defense re-focused. I'd certainly love to see the Cowboys unravel, but I think they will right the ship. I don't see this group winning the Super Bowl, but I also don't see them becoming a full-fledged mediocre team.

I had a friend suggest that Jerry Jones will fire Wade Phillips if there is another bad game. I don't see that happening. I do think that Phillips is a big part of the problem. I have a lot of respect for Wade, but his laid back style of coaching is not what this team needs. They need a leader, not a cheerleader. You know that locker room is a volatile place right now.

What do Martellus Bennett, Jason Witten, Miles Austin, and Patrick Crayton have in common? They all had more catches or more receiving yards than Terrell Owens. I'm sure that fact isn't lost on #81. Will he take it like a man or does he turn into Mt. St. Helens? You know the press will be all over the Cowboys this week. I just don't know if TO can stay quiet in that situation.

Whatever happens, it will be interesting to watch.


The Redskins and Giants both won. The Redskins tried to let Cleveland win the game, but the Browns refused. Despite sloppy play and questionable coaching, Cleveland had a chance to tie the game late. Naturally, they missed a long FG. No one misses against the Eagles so they have to miss against our division rivals.

New York was just too much for the Niners.

The bye week was nice...I guess. I didn't want to break anything today. Sorta nice to have a Sunday where anger management isn't a major issue. That said, I'm ready for next Sunday to hurry up and get here.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Crowded House at WR

Kevin Curtis and Reggie Brown should be healthy for the upcoming Falcons game. That will give the Eagles 6 WRs to deal with. Normally it is easy to say who should sit and how the others should be used, but things aren't quite as clear this season.

I think DeSean and Kevin will be the base WRs. I don't use the word "starting" because we could come out in some weird package that doesn't feature those guys, but the base offense should have DeSean at Z (flanker) and Kevin at X (split end).

That move would entail making Reggie Brown a backup. Would Big Red to that to him? I believe so. Andy drafted DeSean in the 2nd round. He talked about signing Randy Moss and looked into trading for Anquan Boldin and Roy Williams. Clearly he is willing to upgrade at WR.

In the spring I was certain that DeSean would play the X spot. That receiver generally runs deeper routes and is a speedier guy. The coaches threw me a curveball by putting DeSean at Z. Their thinking focused on the point that the flanker lines up off the line most of the time and can go in motion if needed. This would help DeSean to avoid some press coverage and physical jams from big NFL CBs.

I also think the coaches want competition there. Reggie Brown is a talented player. He just hasn't clicked for a full season. You see him in some games look so good and then he completely disappears at other times. Can't have that. I think the coaches wanted DeSean to push Reggie. Good plan that went awry. Reggie got hurt in the preseason and that meant a lot of playing time for DeSean. He changed everything by showing that he was ready for Freddie.

DeSean was everything we hoped for and more. Not only was he fast and talented, he looked like he knew what he was doing. He ran good routes. He got open. He showed good hands. DeSean, all 5'10 and 170 pounds, also showed he was tough. He took big hits and got right back up. Peanut came ready to play as a rookie, to make a difference.

Jackson has 29 catches in his first 6 NFL games. Reggie Brown's best 6 game stretch...29 catches. That came at the end of last year.

Andy is a patient and stubborn man to be sure, but he is feeding the ball to DeSean unlike any WR that has been here aside from TO. That should tell you that Andy/Marty value this kid's ability and what he means to the offense. They might think highly of Reggie, but taking DeSean off the field would make no sense. They will mix Reggie in for some plays. He is a player they still believe can help the team. The problem is that he now has 2 better players in front of him, Kevin Curtis and DeSean Jackson.

Reggie will be used quite a bit, but he'll have to move around and fit into the scheme of things. He won't have his old situation. The question about that is how he'll handle things. Will he pout? Will he play well and fight for more snaps and throws to come his way?

The coaches have to figure out which of the 6 WRs will sit. I hope Greg Lewis is the inactive player. DeSean, Kevin, and Reggie have to play. Avant is the 3rd down specialist and a good STs player. Hank has earned playing time. Greg has done his job, but to quote my good friend John Rambo...he's expendable.


DeSean - Most talented receiver. Explosive speed. Good to very good hands. Natural player. Excellent RAC ability.

Kevin - Good speed. Good hands. Very good on slants. Good RAC ability. Best combo of speed/experience/skill.

Reggie - Complete receiver. The problem is that he's not great in any area. Also needs to be more consistent.

Hank - Finally learning how to play as a big WR. I was ready to cut him this summer, but Hank has seen the light and starting to show some progress. Don't play like you're 5'11 when you are 6'4.

Jason - Great moves to get open. Some quickness. Very good hands. Possession/slot receiver.

Greg - Good speed and quickness. Pretty good hands. Nothing special about him. Excellent role player. Best running seam routes, especially vs backup DBs.

This is the best WR corps from top to bottom. DeSean is the only guy who is a legitimate weapon, but the other guys are good in certain areas. They just aren't special.

Getting Curtis back healthy adds a new dimension to the offense. With Hank or Reggie opposite of DeSean, teams didn't have to worry about speed or RAC ability. We can throw slants, quick hitches, and WR screens to either side at this point. Also, both players have the speed to get vertical.

AR, Marty, and Donovan have to figure out the best way to spread the ball around and score some TDs. While there aren't any great playmakers in the bunch (yet), this is a good corps of receivers. There is enough talent and versatility that the offense should play at a high level.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Season Review & Roy Relocates

New article is up. I took a look at some of what has gone right as well as some things that have gone wrong.



Eagles fans are not happy about Roy Williams trading silver and light blue for silver and dark blue. I understand the mindset. Roy is a very talented player. He's only played the Eagles twice, but had a huge game each time.

The fear is that he and TO will give Dallas a lethal pair of WRs. Combine that with Patrick Crayton, Jason Witten, Marion Barber, Felix Jones, Tony Romo, and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and you have an unstoppable offensive attack.

I think Jerry Jones erred in making the deal. The Cowboys had enough talent to win the Super Bowl without Roy. They had enough talent last year. Pure talent hasn't been an issue recently. What the Cowboys lack is intestinal fortitude.

In 2006 Dallas lost on the final day of the season to a poor Lions team when they could have wrapped up the NFC East title. The Cowboys were sloppy that day and didn't show the kind of urgency you'd expect with a division title on the line. They went to Seattle the next week for a Wildcard showdown. The Seahawks were beset by injuries to their secondary. In comes a good Dallas passing attack. The Cowboys struggled to come up with key plays and lost the game when Romo bobbled the snap late on a FG attempt.

Last year Dallas was 12-1 in December before losing games to Philly and Washington. No big deal, though. They won the division and had a bye week. In come the Giants, minus Jeremy Shockey and a couple of other players. The Gmen won the game and broke the hearts of Cowboys fans.

Dallas had more talent, but they didn't have the better team. New York had started the season 0-2 and overcome it. They had lost players to injury. They had lost Tiki Barber to retirement in the offseason. None of this seemed to phase them. They showed up and played hard for Tom Coughlin, who had barely kept his job. The Giants understood pressure. They faced tough times and battled through them.

Dallas had none of that. And it showed. They didn't know how to respond in a clutch moment when the other team was punching away. Dallas was able to make a miracle comeback vs Buffalo in a Monday night game, but that is because they were just flat out better than the Bills. When push came to shove, Buffalo backed down. The Giants didn't back down. They stood up to Dallas and dared Tony Romo to beat them. They dared the Cowboys OL to block them. Neither happened and the Giants went on to win a SB.

When I initially heard about the Cowboys injury situation I was happy. You never want players to be hurt, but as an Eagles fan it gets frustrating at times when our guys constantly seem to go down and our rivals stay healthy. Then I started thinking about the situation.

Suddenly Dallas was faced with adversity at midseason. This wasn't a curse for them, it was a blessing. They would run the ball more to protect Brad Johnson. The OL would become dominant. They could mix in rookie Tashard Choice as a backup to Barber. Being more conservative on offense would put pressure on the defense and give them a chance to develop an edge. In short, they could find the formula for winning in the postseason. The Cowboys would be ready for January football.

And then Jerry Jones went and blew it by trading for Roy Williams. The move makes Dallas more explosive now. The move gives them a #1 type of WR for the future. I mean, TO does have to retire at some point...right? This wasn't a dumb move by Jerry Jones. It just wasn't the right move to bring the Cowboys a Super Bowl.

The Patriots had a ton of firepower last year. They lost. The 3 Patriots teams that had solid offenses managed to win the SB. Winning in the postseason requires a certain edge. Teams that score a ton of points rarely have that edge. See Indy from 2001-04. See the Vikings of 1998. See the Rams of 2001. See the Redskins of 1983. And so on. The 1999 Rams won the SB, but had low scoring defensive battles in the NFC-CG and the Super Bowl. The Colts won with defense and running in 2005.

I applaud Jerry Jones "win at all costs" mentality, but it would be better served in basketball. Talent has to mesh in the NFL. The Cowboys are not exactly meshing right now. Wade Phillips, once a gifted coach, is more a cheerleader than a leader of men. Anyone who saw him on Hard Knocks had to shake their head after a preseason loss "Men, that was on me." You save that speech for the regular season. Preseason is a time to blame the players and yell at them so they correct their mistakes. There is very little game preparation. By taking the blame for the loss, you're coming across as being full of BS. Can you imagine Jimmy Johnson ever telling his guys..."that game was on me", whether preseason or regular season?

Jerry has built a team of star players and big personalities. Groups like that need a strong leader. Troy Aikman loved playing for Jimmy Johnson. Troy knew the other players feared "Helmet Hair". Troy was a grinder by nature and didn't need any prodding. Do you think any Cowboy fears Wade Phillips? Jimmy put up with crap only if players delivered. Guys with baggage had to be really good. Tank Johnson and PacMan would likely have gotten the boot. Why deal with their crap unless it pays off on Sunday?

Jerry knows how to build a Pro Bowl team. We still don't know if he knows how to build a Super Bowl team. Jimmy gets credit for the 1992-1995 teams. Parcells then put together the nucleus of the current group.

We'll see how things play out. Maybe Roy will be a great fit and Dallas will be unbelievable. Maybe. Or TO could go nuclear after a bad loss where he catches 2 passes and Roy gets 6. The Cowboys locker room could look like Dresden after a situation like that.

My bet is that the Cowboys don't make it to the Super Bowl, let alone win it. They won't lack talent. They simply won't be able to overcome some other team that has a bit more junkyard dog than the 'Boys. Toughness can outdo talent in the postseason.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Eagles Make a Move...

Just not the right one. They cut FB/RB Tony Hunt and signed LB Tracy White. I liked White a lot when he came out of college. He is a good STs player. White hasn't been able to carve out a role on defense, but he is excellent on punt and kickoff coverage.

Did the Eagles really need to make this move on the same day as the trade deadline? Really? Couldn't have waited til tomorrow to let the dust clear and people's anger subside. This move will come as a slap in the face to some fans, even though it isn't any such thing.

Hunt wasn't going to be the FB. He wasn't going to get touches on offense. He wasn't making the desired plays on STs. Cutting him makes sense. Adding White makes sense. Doing it on the same day that Dallas adds WR Roy Williams will just set off some fans.

Welcome, Tracy White, to the wonderful world of Eagles football. Prepare for an interesting journey over the next 10 or so weeks as we head to the postseason... or the land of mediocrity, where I almost got elected Governor once.

The "right" move I referred to would have been trading for Chiefs TE Tony Gonzalez. The reported asking price for him was a 3rd Rd pick. If that is true and Tony was willing to come here, the Eagles are dumb to pass on the offer. The same day we cut our 2007 3rd Rd pick for not working out we pass on trading the '09 pick for a former All-Pro? I have to believe that there is more to the story. Maybe Gonzo didn't want to come to Philly. Maybe he feared we wouldn't make the postseason. Maybe KC wanted a 2nd Rd pick. I don't know why, but the move didn't work out. I'll be incredibly disappointed if we learn that the Eagles FO just passed on him because they didn't want to give up a 3rd Rd pick.

Game Review is Posted ... Any Trades Coming Up?

Here is a link to the Detailed Game Review:


The trading deadline will be upon us in a couple of hours. I would love to see the Eagles make a deal for TE Tony Gonzalez. The Chiefs are shopping him. We're hearing talk of 2nd or 3rd round picks as the asking price. I would deal a 3rd for him with no question.

A good TE with great hands could make a real difference to this offense, especially in the red zone. Gonzalez is still one of the better TEs in the league. He caught 99 passes and had 5 TDs last year. He has 21 catches and 2 TDs this year. Both years he has suffered from mediocre QB play. Give him a guy like McNabb to throw him the ball and Tony could again be more of a playmaker.

Tony's career stats:

Eagles fans love to rip on LJ Smith. And LJ loves to give them reasons to do that. The problem with LJ isn't lack of talent. I think he's simply a bad match for Donovan. LJ is a terrific athlete. He does not have great hands. He will make spectacular catches, then drop a simple one. LJ needs the ball to be thrown really well to make him his most effective.

McNabb is not a smooth passer. He guns the ball at times. He puts the ball high and low, back and front. Look at the difference a guy like DeSean has made. He's a gifted receiver and catching Donovan's passes hasn't been a big problem for him. Reggie Brown, like LJ - doesn't have great hands, struggles with some of Donovan's throws. I think a player like Gonzalez would handle McNabb just fine. Tony is athletic, but also has very good hands. Catching passes that are a bit off the mark would not be a problem for him.

I doubt a deal will get done, unfortunately. NFL trades rarely work out in midseason. I still don't understand why so many teams are so hesitant to make trades. They can prove incredibly valuable in hockey, basketball, and baseball. Football is more of a team sport, but mixing in the right guy at the right time still seems like a good idea to me.

I know a lot of fans will want the team to pursue a WR. That isn't a big priority for me right now. I'm ecstatic with DeSean to this point. I think Hank Baskett deserves more PT. Jason Avant is a good 3rd down player. And I think Kevin Curtis will be a nice addition to the lineup after the bye. I'm still figuring out what I think of Reggie Brown. I have to tell you at this point that I'm leaning toward giving some of his PT to Baskett. Hank has come up big in wins. He is starting to win me over.

Can't say I'd be mad to see the team land Roy Williams, but I would not trade a 1st for him and I'm not sure Detroit will settle for less. If they took a 2nd, that would interest me quite a bit more.

I will be shocked to see us deal for a PK. I still get the feeling that Andy is willing to work with Akers. David is money from inside the 40. That does have value. Beyond the 40 is a whole other story. I don't see him in practice, so I can't have much faith because all I see are his misses in games. Andy and the staff see him kick on a regular basis and must feel he can be saved. We'll see. Wouldn't upset me to see us add a PK. I'm just not expecting that move right now.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Monday review


The Eagles got 2 of my goals...they played good defense on 3rd downs and they won the game. They almost got a 3rd goal. DeSean had 7 offensive touches. I wanted 8.

About not giving up any points in the last 2 about 10? That was an awful end to the half. Even with the FG we were up 17-9 and I felt pretty good. I was glad to see the offense get into FG "range". I was hoping Akers would nail his long kick and he'd start to get some confidence back. Plus we'd have a 20-9 lead. What I didn't count on on was the disaster that ensued. It seemed like half of San Francisco got penetration on the play and that meant an easy block. The ball bounced perfectly and they ran it back for a TD.

I went from feeling pretty good to pretty awful. That was a sucker punch and then some. The more I thought about that the madder I got. Thank god halftime is only 12 minutes long.

I came unglued when the 49ers moved the ball so easily in the 3rd Qtr. Our season flashed before my eyes. I started thinking about who to fire and who to cut. I started thinking about another 8-8 type season. But then we held SF to a FG on their 2nd drive. That "only" put us down 9, 26-17. Our offense came on the field and moved the ball right down to the red zone. McNabb got picked off and I started to go into another emotional tailspin, but then I begged the defense to wake up and make a play. They forced a 3 & out. I immediately felt confident. SF hadn't really stopped our offense all day. We went right down the field and scored a TD to cut it to 26-24. The pressure was back on them. The defense forced another 3 & out. The offense moved down for a FG that gave us the lead. The D got the ball back on an INT by Q and we posted a FG to go up 30-26. This was suddenly getting fun. The defense got the ball back via a fumble and we got another FG. We now had a 33-26 advantage and SF was desperate.

Juqua picked off a pass from O'Sullivan and ran it back 55 yards for a TD. Game over at 40-26. That felt so, so good. What a glorious way to wrap up a glorious day. The Eagles won without Westy and the starting WRs. The Skins blew a game to the Rams. The Cowboys tried to steal a game from the Cardinals, but couldn't do it. Suddenly things don't look so dire. The Giants are sitting pretty, but have only played one division game. Dallas and Washington are now 4-2. We're 3-3, just a game back. We are back in the position of controlling our own destiny. We could still play mediocre football and miss the playoffs. This win over SF proves nothing in and of itself. It just put us in a position where we are back in the hunt. Thank god for that.

I went from punching a pizza box about 6pm to being on cloud 9 about 730pm. Amazing what a difference a little time makes. The Eagles woke up and took care of business, possibly saving the season. Let's hope that win turns out to be important. They can make it count by going out and winning games when we return from the bye. Don't rest on your laurels, boys. That win means nothing if you don't go build on it. That was the foundation, not the finishing touches.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Gameday Thoughts

We finally get to see Victor Abiamiri in action. He will play some at LDE and some at DT. Victor got snaps at DT in the Nickel last year so this isn't some radical shift. He returns at the right time. Dan Klecko has shifted to FB. That opens up some DT reps. Juqua Parker isn't 100% and may miss the game.

Victor was expected to challenge (or win) the LDE job this summer. His wrist injury derailed that idea. He played sparingly as a rookie, but got on the field enough to have some idea of what the NFL is like. Players make their most progress from year one to year two. I don't know that VA will come in and play lights out, but he can be a good rotational player. Hopefully he will play about 20 snaps. The bye is next week and then maybe he'll be ready to go close to full speed after that.

If Juqua is out, Darren Howard should start at LDE. He's played well enough this year that I'm pretty comfortable with that. Chris Clemons needs to get some reps at LDE today. He has played well on Special Teams, but we brought him here to rush the passer first and foremost.

I'm going to be very interested to see how we use the RBs with Westy out. Hunt is back at RB. Buck has run well this year. Booker has been disappointing to be sure, but he does have talent. At some point you expect he'll make a play. We need 20 touches by RBs, even with #36 out of the game. A TD or two would be nice as well. The coaches have to use the RBs.

Kevin Curtis may play. Reggie Brown is out. I'm all for Curtis playing as long as he's ready to go. With the bye next week I don't want rush him at all. We're gonna need Kevin down the stretch.

Dave mentioned in one of his columns that Quintin Demps may get some reps at Safety. I'd be all for that. We need more plays from our Safeties in the passing game. My big concern with Demps was his tackling. He was very sloppy in the preseason. His tackling in STs coverage has been pretty good the last couple of weeks. That's very encouraging.


* 8 touches by DeSean on offense
* no points allowed in last 2 minutes of 1st half
* good 3rd down defense
* win the freakin' game...we have to get to 3-3

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Donovan's Take on the Situation

Donovan McNabb called a player's only meeting earlier in the week. He told the players he was embarrassed by what took place on Sunday against Washington. Donovan didn't just play the blame game (not as good as Monopoly anyway). He admitted that he is at fault and has to play better.

Other players talked about what they felt and one can only hope that after the airing of grievances there was an impressive feats of strength period. I certainly think it was good for the players to get together and talk about the situation. The problems with this team are not lack of talent or character. The Eagles are like an engine that is misfiring. Something is just off.

There is no way to tell if the meeting will actually have any effect. We won't know that until we see the team take the field on Sunday. I think having the meeting was the right move. I just hope that it has the right effect.

A lot of fans get on Donnie Mac for not being a leader. Well, this is the kind of thing those people want to see...Donovan taking control of the locker room. I hope that guys like him Dawk, Westy, Runyan, Gaither, and Sheldon are able to convey the importance of the situation to the other players.

There is a fine line between winning and losing in the NFL. Little things can make a huge difference. I know a lot of people think the Eagles winning from 2000-04 had as much to do with a weak NFC East as anything else. There is some merit to that theory, but why wasn't any other NFC East team able to break through? The Eagles won because Reid and his staff did a good job and the players made winning plays. They also avoided the kind of mistakes that lead to losses.

The 2008 Eagles are not making those winning plays. The players meeting may or may not change that, but at least the guys realize this isn't the coaches or injuries. The bottom line in pro football is that players have to execute. Block, catch, tackle. That is football at its most basic. You screw one of those parts up on a key play and all the talent and great playcalling in the world is meaningless.

The players have to look within and find that part of them that wants to win, to be great. They have to tap into that on Sundays. Why is Tiger Woods so good at golf? There are guys who can hit as far or even further than him. There are guys who can hit all kinds of crazy shots around the green. There are good putters. Woods is the best because he's clutch. He hits the shots/putts when it matters.

The Eagles need some of "that". I don't know how to define it...the soul of an assassin, guts, mental toughness, killer instinct, will to be great, balls, etc. Come up with whatever you want. The Eagles need that. The Patriots had bucketfuls of it from 2001-04. Since then it has popped up in teams here and there, but hasn't stayed for long.

The Eagles have done the talking. They know they are in a hole. Sunday is the time for action. We'll see if the Eagles can translate the vibe from the players meeting onto the field. If so, we will win.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

New article is posted


Sunday can't get here soon enough.

Some moves

Tony Hunt is moving back to RB. Dan Klecko will wear number 49 and shift to FB.

The opening at DT now gets filled by Victor Abiamiri. He participated in his first full practice today.

Westy is not practicing and these moves would indicate he's not likely to play on Sunday.

This is some interesting stuff. Klecko is solely going to be a sledgehammer. That's okay by me. We haven't used the FB as receiver that much in several years. Hunt had one carry on Sunday and got 6 yards. He's caught the ball well the last two weeks.

We've wanted to see a power runner the last two weeks. Hunt can be that guy. He was a good power runner at Penn State. Tony just has to remember to hit the hole and drive the pile. Forget about running to daylight. Attack the assigned spot and drives those legs. That's what Portis did to us on Sunday.

Abiamiri can play DT and some DE if they like. He played some DT last year. That isn't a problem for him. I'm glad he's healthy. I want to see what VA can do for us. He's got very good ability.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Time to panic? Not yet, but closer than I'd like

I haven't finished watching the tape so my Game Review is still a work in progress. I wanted to post some general thoughts anyway.

The sky isn't falling. The world isn't over. 2-3 is a very disappointing start to the season. We still have plenty of time to turn things around. That said, an NFL season is only 16 games long. You can't afford to dig much of a hole if you want time to claw your way out of it. This team has got to come up with some answers in a hurry. Slow starts and blown chances can kill you in the NFL.

The team has lost 2 games in a row and it feels like we blew both games. I understand we're all in a bad mood because of that. I was absolutely miserable yesterday. I watched the 415 games, but sat in silence. I had 3 TVs on, but the volume was off on all of them. I was pissed off and wanted to just sit there in bitter silence. I avoided some phone calls, but finally talked to a couple of people. You find that venting a bit helps you to get it out of your system. The Eagles are frigging killing me. Back to back losses, and brutal ones at that.

On the flip side of that...the games were 24-20 and 23-17. These are close games where mistakes are killing us. Drastic changes are not needed. Firing Andy Reid isn't the answer. Benching McNabb? No way. The big key right now is that we are making crucial mistakes. Our opponents are taking advantage of them.

I would tell you if I saw a team that wasn't good or couldn't compete. That simply isn't the case. I see a team that is coming up short at the wrong times. The most troublesome aspect of that is the mistakes aren't by one guy, one unit, or one side of the ball. It's like the Whack-A-Mole game. Solve one problem and the next arises.

* David Akers has missed 3 FGs in the last 2 games.

* Jamaal Jackson gets called for an illegal snap when we have the ball near midfield with plenty of time before the half. That penalty put us behind the chains and the drive ended up in a punt.

* Andy Reid failed to challenge some questionable plays vs CHI. Probably as an overreaction to that, he challenged a play vs WAS that cost us a timeout.

* Greg Lewis dropped a key pass on a 3rd down play that would have gotten us inside the 30.

* Asante Samuel slipped on a 3rd down play when he had good coverage. The WR caught the pass and moved the chains on a FG drive.

* Chris Gocong looks back to the QB a second or so early and that lets Greg Olsen get enough separation to make a TD catch (maybe).

* We gave up 3 TD passes vs CHI and decided to focus on that vs WAS. Then they go and run the ball for 200 yards on us.

This is just a sampling of things. There are plenty of other mistakes to point out. I was just trying to show how seemingly random they are, but also how important.

There is a real small difference in winning and losing in the NFL. Anyone who saw the CIN/DAL game got a good example of that. A couple of plays go differently and the Bengals win instead of losing by 9. A couple of plays. Unfortunately Dallas made those plays yesterday and against us in Week 2. We made the key plays against Pittsburgh, but not Dallas, Chicago, or Washington. That's why we're 2-3.

Do changes need to be made? Tough question. I'm always for upgrading positions, but I don't know that there are many upgrades available. I am not a believer in change for the sake of change. That is something you do in a drastic situation. Being 2-3 is not good, but it isn't a drastic situation.

I have no problem with the team looking at other kickers, but I'm not sure than anyone available would be an improvement. I know David has missed some costly kicks. I also know that I trust him inside the 40. A kicker off the street would be someone who might be erratic all over the place.

I know some people are really mad at LJ Smith. "Start Celek" and that kind of thing gets mentioned quite a bit. I don't agree with that. I was hoping Celek would challenge for LJ's job this summer/season, but Brent looks to me like a #2 TE. LJ is the better player.

Fullback Tony Hunt has been about what we expected. His blocking ranges from okay to bad. He has caught the ball well the last couple of games. Tony is learning on the job and it shows.

As bad a day as the defense had on Sunday, I really like the group. I'm sure some fans will want some heads to roll, but I can't see anyone over there who is a regular problem.

Make no mistake about it...2-3 puts us in a hole. We're 0-2 in the division and 1-3 in the NFC. Our fudge room is gone. And now we find out that Westbrook has a couple of broken ribs. The only thing left to do is join the army with our good friend Russell Ziskey.

The team can't sit around feeling sorry for itself. They need to prepare and practice for the Niners. Sunday is now a huge game for us. Gotta win to get back to .500 heading into the bye. The worst part of that situation is that normally we struggle in the game before the bye week. That "luxury" is gone this year. Sunday's game is critical.

I know some fans will look at the schedule and try to figure out who we could and should beat. Forget about that stuff. Focus on one game at a time. In a month let's see where we stand.

The Eagles don't lack talent, but they do lack wins. That is very troubling. Underachieving can be a tough habit to break out of. I wish I knew the problem and could point it out. Some on the EMB think emotion and sense of urgency are needed. Emotion is overrated. Dawk got his guys in a huddle and fired 'em up yesterday, but that didn't help on the field at all. WAS ran the ball down our throat. Pro football is a game of execution. Fans don't like to hear that because it is boring, but that's the truth. Does emotion make Greg Lewis not drop 2 passes, Akers hit his FG, or Asante not slip on 3rd down?

One thing I think we have to do is run the friggin' ball. We have 106 running plays in 5 games ( I threw out the QB runs). That isn't enough. I know we're a passing team, but we have to run the ball more and better. Andy has to stick with it. I don't care if Westy is hurt. Run Buck. Run LoBo. Put Klecko or Celek at FB and run Hunt. Figure something out. We have a big OL. We need to let them pound on defenses. Doing that between the 20's will pay off when we get to the goal line. You can't ask a team to be finesse all game long and then magically turn physical inside the 5. We have to let the big boys beat up on defenses. I'm gonna be really disappointed in Mary and Andy if they don't work on this aspect. Jim Zorn and the Redskins showed yesterday why it is so important. They trailed 14-0 but stuck with the run. Those running plays wore us down as the game went on. It was huge for them in the 4th Qtr. I know we'll never be a running team under Reid, but we have to run more.

2-3 does not mean the season is over. Far from it. The crappy start does mean we have a trickier road to navigate if we are to make a run at the playoffs. We still control our own destiny, but we can only afford a couple of more losses the rest of the way. That puts a lot of pressure on the team. We don't need perfection, but we do need the team to get greedy...more points, more yards, more sacks, more wins, etc. No let up. Keep the pedal to the metal. We're too talented to be sitting at 2-3. When the guys play up to their talent, we can beat anybody in the league. When they don't...they lose. Just get the job done, guys. Get the job done.

Thoughts on the game


I'll be writing a more in-depth review as well.

That was a brutal game. It sucked the life out of me. Normally I love watching football all day on Sunday, but I was pretty miserable yesterday.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Game Preview

Gameday Update

WAS used a lot of pre-snaps tricks to fool Tony Romo last week. That stuff worked very well because Romo gets rid of the ball so quickly. The Redskins shifted into different coverages right at the snap, making the pre-snap look useless. Donovan McNabb and the Eagles passing game will be a different challenge. We really like to throw deeper routes. McNabb holds the ball to let his guys get down the field. Shifting into different looks shouldn't be as effective against us.

We do need McNabb to make good reads. He's got to identify where the LBs and DBs are. WAS won't make that easy.

The Redskins like to run to the left. Cole and Bunk are going to need to be stout. Portis loves to look for cutback lanes. The LBs need to flow to the ball, but stay under control and maintain gap integrity.

Turnovers will be huge. WAS has only one turnover all year. If we can get the ball away from them, it will help our offense and erode some of their confidence. Scoring a defensive TD...too much to ask for?

It's official. Westy will play. Getting him back is huge. Buck is a good backup RB, but he isn't a backup playmaker. #36 just adds something special to the offense.


WAS 3-1
PHI 2-2

"But I'll tell you something, kiddo. You couldn't find Big Time if you had a road map. "

The Eagles don't lack talent. They lack that certain something that turns talent into wins. This team could easily be 4-0. Instead they have blown a couple of games and sit at 2-2. The good thing about football is that teams change over the course of a season. The Giants did it last year. The Colts did it in 2006. The team just needs to find that groove where the players start making winning plays and we look..."Big Time". Sunday would be a great place to start.

This is a huge game for the first weekend in October. The Redskins are a surprising 3-1. A win here keeps them near the top of the division and gives the team even more confidence. The Eagles sit at 2-2. A loss puts us at 1-3 in the NFC and 0-2 in the division...bad places to be. It isn't a "must win" game because there is too much season left, but this sure as heck isn't just another October game. The Eagles need this one like the US needed Midway in '42. Quick, somebody call Joe Rochefort.

Washington is coming off a huge win in Dallas. How will they respond to success? We're coming off a tough loss at Chicago? How will we respond to adversity? This game is going to be interesting from that kind of a perspective, as well as the obvious NFC East battle.

I'll be highly surprised if the Redskins can go on the road in back to back division games and play at a really high level. That's tough for a team in transition to do. The Eagles certainly can't count on that. They need to come out ready to roll on Sunday. They need to score TDs early and get a lead. Make WAS try to come from behind. Don't let them play with a sense of confidence. Put the pressure on them.

We made just enough mistakes to lose last week. Can't have that happen this week.


Top Players

QB Jason Campbell - Zorn and Campbell have really hit it off this year. Campbell ran the West Coast offense in college and is now back in that system. I'd say it suits him well. His quarterback rating is over 100. He has yet to throw an interception and his team is 3-1. This young man is playing good football. A couple of things stood out to me as I watched him. First, Campbell is "running the offense." You'll see him drop back and read his progressions. He's not just looking at his first option. Campbell is trying to find the best option. Some quarterbacks when young or in a new system just drop back and force the ball to the primary target. That isn't happening with him.

I'm also impressed at how Campbell is using his legs. He is running more than in the past. He is also buying time in the pocket. He had a couple of plays on Sunday where he extended the play by eluding pressure and giving his receivers extra time to get open. Campbell isn't running because he can't pass. He is running when he needs to. That makes him a dual threat quarterback. He can throw the ball effectively and efficiently, but also make plays with his legs.

RB Clinton Portis - Portis looks really good this year. They are feeding him the ball and he's producing. Portis already has 369 yards on the ground. His average per carry is up from last year.

TE Chris Cooley - He's having a solid season. Has 17 catches, but no TDs so far. Always kills us on 3rd downs. Has a knack for catching the ball short of the sticks and fighting for exactly the yardage needed.

WR Santana Moss - Moss is off to a great start. He already has 27 catches and three touchdowns. Last year, he finished the season with 61 catches and three touchdowns. He looks quick and fast. He's moving the chains and giving WAS big plays.

WR Antwaan Randle-El - More of a possession receiver this year. Only averaging 10.5 per catch, but already has 18 grabs. Still has good RAC ability.

DE Andre Carter - The Redskins best pass rusher. Off to a slow start this year. Only has one sack so far. Only has 4 solo tackles.

MLB London Fletcher - He's the leading tackler and on-field leader as well. Has good speed. Has excellent range and is effective in coverage. London has 2 TFLs and a FF on the year. #59 is around the ball all game long. He's getting up there in age, but it hasn't shown on the field. Watching him chug Geritol instead of Gatorade is sorta weird.

FS LaRon Landry - Fast and talented. Good young centerfielder. Plays deep a lot of the time. Hasn't picked off a pass yet this year, but has broken up 4. Good hitter and tackler.

SS Chris Horton - Late round rookie is playing well. NFC Rookie of the month. Leads the Skins with 3 INTs. Blitzed well in the preseason, but has been playing off the ball during the regular season from what I've seen. WAS isn't afraid to use him creatively. Had a really impressive pick vs Romo last week while executing a tricky scheme.


Jim Zorn brought the west coast offense to DC. The Skins are 9th in yards, but only 18th in points. Let me describe a team for you: big, mobile QB...speedy WR...possession WR...good TE...workhorse RB...solid OL. That is the Redskins and the Steelers. They don't do things the same way, but I think the two groups are much alike in terms of size and player descriptions. While Zorn uses the WCO, he is 50/50 run and pass.

The passing game isn't standard WCO right now. They are feeding the ball to the starting WRs and the TE. That's about it. James Thrash is the #3 WR. He's got 3 catches. RBs have a total of 11 catches.

Washington likes to run wide, but not outside. They'll use a toss play, but don't go all the way out. Portis is most dangerous as a downhill runner. The Redskins have tailored the running plays to fit what he does well. Running wide gives Portis a chance to build up a head of steam while also reading blocks and looking for a running lane.

The Skins do use non-RBs as they did last year. 3 different WRs have carries already.

The biggest difference from last year's offense is that they use very little motion. Al Saunders liked to move guys around and try to fool the defense. Zorn only does a bit of that. He prefers his guys set so they can concentrate on proper execution. The players all say they prefer the current system.

* OL *

LT - C. Samuels ... LG - P. Kendall ... C - C. Rabach ... RG - R. Thomas ... RT - J. Jansen

No new faces. Rabach had a really tough game last week. He had a couple of crucial penalties that took a TD off the board. Jansen was the backup a couple of weeks ago, but Stephon Heyer is hurting. Jon started last week and is expected to play this week. Campbell has been sacked 7 times... sorta average. The run blocking is good.


They run a 4-3. Gregg Williams is gone, but Greg Blache appears to be doing many of the same things. Washington likes to rush with their DL and have the back 7 cover and limit big plays. The system is not working great so far. Part of the problem is that Jason Taylor isn't healthy and Andre Carter is off to a slow start. They have only 2 sacks combined. The team only has 6.

They are 14th in the league in yards allowed and 12th in points allowed. Washington does seem to make timely plays on defense. They have five interceptions. In the Dallas game, they just had a knack for doing what needed to be done on a particular play. The Redskins just came up big when they needed to. That was also true in the win over the Saints. Washington stopped them on a third-and-one run play late in the game. The Saints had moved the ball all game long, but not getting that one yard changed things entirely. Moss caught a long touchdown pass on the next offensive play and the Saints never recovered.

CB Shawn Springs is iffy to play. CB Carlos Rogers is finally starting to play like the Skins expected him to when they used a top ten pick on him. SmootSmack will start in place of Springs if he can't go.


The P is Durant Brooks. He's not having a strong year. The PK is Shaun Suisham. His numbers are solid.

Rock Cartwright is the KOR and a good one. Randle-El is the PR. His numbers aren't great, but we've seen him enough to know he can break a big one.

Kickoff coverage has been excellent. Punt coverage is solid, although they have given up one long return.


The Eagles love to throw the ball deep and attack. Against Dallas the Skins kept their Safeties deep and forced the Cowboys to throw underneath and play small ball. I would tend to think they will use that strategy against us as well.

I've heard from my sources that Westy will play. That adds a major weapon back to the attack. Without him the offense doesn't have the same kind of versatility. We threw the ball deep pretty well vs CHI, but had trouble throwing short and creating nice gains. Buck had a long screen, but other guys were tackled quickly after catching the ball. Didn't get much RAC yardage. Westy gives us a player who can catch the short pass and make something happen.

Because the Skins don't blitz a ton this is the game to use 4 WR sets a lot. Spread them out. Run the ball with Buck or Westy. Throw quick passes and give the guys a chance to get RAC yards. Dallas had a lot of success with crossing routes in the 2nd half of last week's game.

We will move the ball. Scoring TDs will be the key. I think our OL will control their DL...for the most part. Demetric Evans played pretty good last week in place of Taylor, but McNabb should have time to throw the ball.

I mentioned earlier that WAS reminds me of the Steelers. I hope Jim Johnson feels the same way and attacks the Skins like we did the Steelers. That was the best our defense has looked in a long time. Turn the guys loose and let them play.

The Skins will try to run. I think they'll be our toughest challenge yet. Portis is healthy and playing well. They will stick with the run. We can't count on shutting them down early and Zorn going pass happy. They will stay balanced. That said, the only top ten run defense they played was the Giants, a game that WAS lost.

Moss is the kind of player that makes you nervous all game long. Our CBs match up with him pretty well, but he is a big time playmaker right now. Cooley will be a challenge on 3rd downs. Hopefully we can get Gaither on him in most of those situations.

WAS would be smart to go max protect and attack our Safeties with downfield passes. They should test Mikell and Dawk. The key for us is getting them into known passing situations and attacking Campbell. Play-action passes are probably their best weapon against us.


* We have the #1 run D in the NFL. We lead the league in sacks.

* We have only allowed 15 punt return yards all year. Rocca has the best leg I've seen since Lilly Von Schtupp.

* WAS is doing a great job of protecting the ball...0 INTs and only 1 fumble.

* Interestingly, Campbell led the NFL in fumbles last year.

* We're 2-0 at home after struggling at The Linc last year.

* We've forced 9 turnovers the last 3 weeks. That does need to continue.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

4 Games in...

I like to break the NFL season down into 4-game segments. Let's take a look at what we know now that 4 games are in the books.


Can't really make any conclusive judgments. The Eagles have looked different in each game. There is no real trend to be found. The first game was a blowout of a poor team. Next up was a tough loss at Dallas, one of the best teams in the league. The Eagles rebounded with a home win in a defensive struggle with the Steelers. Brian Westbrook went down early in that game and his loss has greatly affected the last game and a half. Philly's defense was able to control the Steelers. Last week the Eagles lost at the Bears in a game where Westy would have really helped. The offense was able to move the ball, but several drives stalled at key moments, most notably the late drive where the Eagles could not punch the ball into the endzone.

The games have had different styles. You can't say the Eagles are a defensive juggernaut because of giving up 41 and 24 points in losses. You can't say the Eagles have a great offense with 15 and 20 points in 2 of the 4 games. The team lacks a personality right now.

The one trend we do see is the Eagles losing a pair of close games. Playing without Westy in Chicago really hurt, but that is when you need someone else to step up. No one made a huge play.

I feel like the Eagles are going to be a very good team. The offense needs to get into the endzone. FGs don't win games. The defense has had 3rd down breakdowns in the two losses. Dallas beat us with downfield throws. The Bears beat us with a mixture of screens and downfield throws. The pass defense has to tighten up in key situations. Our secondary is too good to get burned like that. One thing to remember is that the coaches and players are still figuring this thing out. Football is a game of adjustments.


While you can't say anything too definitive about the team, there are some players who deserve comment. I'm not looking to talk about every good player, just some guys who have improved and/or impressed.

* Donovan McNabb - He's healthy (mostly) and is playing at a high level. McNabb has good numbers despite not having all of his projected starting skill players on the field in the same game.

* DeSean Jackson - Peanut is the real deal. I don't know how good he'll be, but we have finally found an impact WR. Jackson has the speed to make plays when he gets the ball. He also has the receiving skills to be a good WR. He's small, but tough. This is not a Todd Pinkston kind of player. Jackson has also shown his ability as a returner. He did have one muff against the Bears, but his speed and elusiveness make every return potentially a big play. I can't stress enough how impressed I am with this young man.

* Jason Avant - We hoped he would develop into a good slot receiver because of his ability to get open, work the middle of the field, and make tough catches. Check, check, and check. Avant doesn't have the big plays of Baskett or GLew, but he is steady and comes through on 3rd downs. Guys who move the chains allow the playmakers to do their thing. As Reggie and Kevin come back to the offense they will become the focus of the passing game. Avant will still be key on 3rd downs.

* Darren Howard - He reported to Lehigh in great shape. Eagles fans said "great, but call us when he actually does something in a game". Guess what? The phone is ringing. Darren has 2.5 sacks. He has a TFL and an INT. He is providing pressure from LDE, RDE, and RDT. Darren is offering impact off the bench. Can he keep this up for the whole year?

* Dan Klecko - Sacks by all of our backup DTs in 2007 - 1. Sacks by Klecko this year - 2. Dan is a good role player. He is getting pressure off the bench. He plays FB in some goal line sets. Excellent FA pickup.

* Omar Gaither - I wondered if WLB might be a top offseason priority in 2009. Omar is a solid player, but isn't a great fit at any one LB spot. We have not gotten good WLB play the last few years. That guy has to tackle well and make plays. I figured Omar would tackle, but could he be a playmaker. I especially got worried when he was super quiet in the preseason. Omar has been sensational the last two weeks. I hope he's not just "hot" and this level of play can continue. He has 16 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 2 TFLs, 2 PDs, and a FR. I'm cautiously optimistic.

* Stewart Bradley - The real deal at MLB. I'm not saying that Stew is a great player or anything like that, but he is the answer at MLB. He is an excellent run defender. He's a work in progress when it comes to coverage, but there is potential. He seems like a leader and I love the emotion and enthusiasm he plays with. Bradley is an excellent downhill player. Last year Gaither had 4 TFLs while starting the entire season at MLB. Bradley already has 5. He is big enough to run through blocks and make plays in the backfield. He can also shed blocks and tackle RBs just as they get to the 2nd level.

* Quintin Mikell - We are getting our best SS play since 2004. Mikell has some coverage issues at times. He struggles when covering WRs in certain packages. He plays the run very well and does a solid job in zone coverage. Q leads the team in tackles. He had an endzone pick against the Bears that kept points off the board. He's been an effective blitzer. I do think he'll play at this level all year. It always makes you happy when a guy moves from role player to starter and is able to take advantage of the opportunity by playing well. Because of his age, SS is a position that could be addressed next Draft.

* Asante Samuel - I'm impressed with our pricey offseason pickup. He has terrific hands and plays the ball very well. His tackling has been solid. He does give up some underneath catches, but makes up for that by being a playmaker. Sammie already has 2 INTs and 7 pass breakups this year.


* Run Defense - We lead the NFL in run D. I don't think this is a fluke. Teams average less than 3 yards a carry. Give credit to the entire front seven. The DTs are clogging the middle. The ends are chasing the ball. The LBs are getting penetration and tackling well. It also helps that Dawk and Q are excellent in run support.

* Sacks - The Eagles lead the NFL with 17 sacks. This total is boosted by a 9-sack game vs PIT. We didn't pressure Tony Romo at all in Week 2, but the other games have featured a good pass rush mixed with very effective blitzes.

* Running Game - This area needs help. We've only run for 354 yards. We only average 3.5 a carry. Not good. Losing Westy has hurt, but the OL and other RBs need to play better. We have enough talent to run the ball no matter who is on the field.

* Red Zone Offense - Looked pretty good after 2 weeks. We scored TDs in the first two games. Things slowed down vs PIT. Things got troubling in the loss at Chicago. We had no LJ Smith and no Westy. That hurt us big time. We also had poor execution. Donovan tripped on an OL. Avant couldn't catch a tough pass. There were multiple breakdowns on the late drive that stalled inches short of the goal line.

Many fans are furious that these are the same issues as last year. I'm concerned, but I think people are going a bit over the top. You take a starting WR, TE, OL, and RB away from an offense and it will have some issues. This isn't me making an excuse. That is reality. Reid and the coaching staff have to adjust. The players have to adjust. And get healthy. If the RZ struggles carry over to the next several games, then it is a flat out major problem.

Football is a game of trial and error. Coaches try different plays, different combinations of players until they find what works. The group that spent all offseason and spring working on RZ situations wasn't on the field the last 6 quarters. Let's see what happens this week and next week. We have enough talent on the field and on the sidelines that I feel the situation will be fixed. It absolutely is concerning and bears watching, but don't overreact to one game. On the flip side, one good game doesn't mean the problem is gone. We need to see how things shake out over the course of multiple games.

* Special Teams - A lot of fans wanted Rory Segrest fired in mid-August. The Eagles STs struggled for the first couple of weeks in the preseason. Our KOR unit is better. Our PR unit is better. Our punt unit is great. Our KO unit needs work... I think. We struggled against Felix Jones and gave up a long one to Devin Hester. Those guys are really good. Kickoff coverage overall needs work, but I do think the problem looked worse because we faced two dynamic guys.

I talked about David Akers the other day. He's adjusting to more leg strength this year. He had an off night in Chicago. Does he bounce back from that or is this another crappy year from 40+? We need more games before we know for sure. Akers is on probation. If this keeps up, he'll kick his way out of a job.

* 3 CB System - I'm not sure what to say. Rams WRs were a non-issue. TO burned us in the first half of the Dallas game, but the biggest play was caused by S Sean Considine getting burned. Other TD passes came against Safeties and Linebackers. Steelers WRs didn't have much of a chance to catch the ball with the pressure we brought. The Bears did have some luck throwing to WRs. That was disappointing. We haven't faced a whole lot of 3-WR sets so far. Other teams have had injured wideouts that limited what they could do. I'm not sure how many snaps Lito, Sheldon, and Asante have been on the field together. It hasn't been as much as we'd hoped from what I've seen.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Thoughts, Thoughts, and Mo Thoughts


Sounds like Westy will play on Sunday. That is great news. We need him for this game. L.J. Smith is also projected to play. That would be great. He played well in the 33-25 win over Washington last season.

Shawn Andrews and Kevin Curtis are out. DE Victor Abiamiri finally got on the field. He only did some light practicing, but that's a great sign. Adding Victor to the D-line rotation can only help. His wrist will still need some more time before it is 100 percent.


We're all frustrated with Green Akers, but the case isn't as open and shut as most fans would like it to be. Last year he was 2 of 10 from 40-49 yards. That was bad. We knew it. So did the coaches and David.

He did something about it. Akers got in great shape in the offseason. His leg has looked stronger this year. His kickoffs have been deeper than in the recent past. Prior to Sunday he looked terrific on FGs.

On Sunday he missed FGs of 47 and 50 yards. Fans saw this as 2007 all over again. Yesterday coach Rory Segrest explained that Akers missed the other night because he's still adjusting to improved leg strength. Segrest said that Akers adjusted his kicks because he thought the wind would affect them, then kicked the balls so hard that the wind didn't move them and they missed.

Is Segrest BS'ing us? I don't think so. Akers really nailed both kicks. The 47 yd'er hit the upright at the last minute. A yard closer and that ball is almost certain to go in.

The way I look at it Akers is on probation. Let's see what he does from here on out. Maybe he is done in terms of long FGs. Maybe not. A bad start doesn't mean the whole season will go that way. Unfortunately we'll all be nervous until DA hits some 40-yd kicks.


I get a lot of questions about this. I'm not sure exactly what is going on. One thing that a lot of people overlook is defensive adjustments by the other team. Those coaches and players get paid too. As fun as it is to blame the Eagles you have to occasionally give credit to the other long as it isn't Dallas.


Thank god we play at 1pm on Sunday. Monday night, 415pm, and Sunday night the last 3 weeks. That has been killing me. I hate the wait. I look forward to switching from ESPN's pre-game coverage right over to Fox to watch the game. Unfortunately I think we get Joe Buck this week. He's one of my least favorite human beings. The good news is Troy Aikman is good to listen to. Let's just hope they have something positive to talk about with regard to our performance.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

What do we make of the Eagles?

There wasn't too much buzz around the Eagles back in the spring. Everyone talked about the Giants (didn't they do something important last February?) and the Cowboys (didn't they do something important...back in the 90s?).

The Eagles went off to Lehigh. Donovan McNabb looked good. The new players fit in. There was a buzz that started to build around the team. Some people picked the Eagles to go to the Super Bowl. Others had us winning the division. Things seemed pretty good.

Then came the season opener, The Silence of the Rams. The Eagles won 38-3 (the game wasn't even that close) and the hype machine kicked in. Suddenly the Eagles were one of the top couple of teams in the entire league.

Never a group to keep things simple, the Eagles went off to Dallas and played great for part of the game, but still found a way to lose. The record was only 1-1, but going down in a game like that didn't hurt Philly's rep at all. They even went up in some power rankings.

The win over Pittsburgh didn't seem to have too much sway one way or the other. That was a defensive struggle...a methodical win. The Eagles had beaten a big, physical AFC team and that was a good sign.

Then came the trip to Chicago. Philadelphia didn't have a slew of key offensive players, but still had the better team. The only problem with that is that the Bears made more key plays and won the game. So much for Donovan's trip to Sweet Home Chicago...

Now the Eagles sit at 2-2. What do we make of this team? The defense looks very good, but has given up some big pass plays. The offense moves the ball, but hasn't scored enough TDs the last couple of weeks. Is this still one of the better teams in the league or have the Eagles been exposed as pretenders?

I lean toward the team being pretty good when all is said and done, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't nervous about them. I think the team is good. Andy Reid thinks the team is good. Chris Berman thinks the team is good. All that thinking will start to fade if it isn't backed up with some wins, and quality wins at that. As I love to say, the proof is in the pudding, preferably chocolate. We'll see how the team does in a key game on Sunday. Beating Washington would be a good way to show people that the Eagles can handle some adversity and bounce right back. We won't know for sure if the Eagles are a good team until we're 10-12 games into the season, but winning Sunday would sure be a step in the right direction. As my friend Shrub would say, "All we can do is hide 'n watch".


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