Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Let's Talk Defense

The newest version of Gang Green is playing brilliantly right now.

They held Dallas to only 6 points, their lowest output of the season. The week before, WAS got 10 points. Cleveland was held without an offensive TD. The Giants only scored 14 points (7 of which came via a blocked FG run back for a TD).

For the month of December the defense allowed a total of 2 TDs. They scored 3. Great, great stuff right there. You can ride a dominant defense to a title. Right now the Eagles D is playing dominant football.

Final rankings:

Yards Allowed - 3rd
Points Allowed - 4th
Rush D - 4th
Pass D - 3rd
Sacks - 3rd
3rd Down - 2nd
Opp. Comp. % - 2nd
Opp. QB Rating - 5th
Opp. YPC - 3rd
Opp. Rush TDs - 2nd
Fewest 1st downs - 4th
Fewest Penalties - 5th

The defense came up with 29 takeaways, an improvement of 10 from last year.

They scored 4 TDs (Parker, Samuel, Clemons, Hanson).

Yardage allowed:

DAL - 298
WAS - 249
CLE - 196
NYG - 211
ARZ - 260
BAL - 248
CIN - 226

I stopped there. That stretch of games is when Jim Johnson made changes. Akeem Jordan took over at WLB. Jim got more aggressive with his gameplans. He started to really challenge his defense. They responded by playing great football. Joselio Hanson took over as the Nickel back in that stretch as well. Lito did play some because of an injury to Asante. Lito was burned for 4 TDs in his limited time. Thanks for helping out, Lito.

Victor Abiamiri and Chris Clemons emerged on the DL in that stretch. Victor is out with a Lis Franc sprain and might be done for the year. Clemons got all 4 of his sacks in the 2nd half of the season. He started to offer impact at DE and as The Joker. His ability to run and chase gives JJ something to get creative with.

Trent Cole is the best player up front. He "only" had 10 sacks, but his presence is felt all game long. He came out of the Dallas game without a sack or tackle, but go ask Romo who hit him the most. Trent did.

Bunk and Patt are rock solid inside. Those guys clog the middle like a Frat house toilet on burrito night. They didn't make a whole lot of plays this year. They only combined for 2.5 sacks, 3 TFLs. Just look at the improved LB play. Last year our LBs had 22 TFLs. This year they had 27. Bunk and Patt occupied blockers and let the other players make the plays. Bunk is on the verge of becoming a Pro Bowl player. He's starting to really get disruptive.

You have to mention Darren Howard. He came up with 10 sacks this year to lead the team. Most of his sacks came from RDT in the Nickel/Dime defense. He's a big part of why the 3rd down defense is so good. QBs know he is going to be exploding off the ball and they must act quickly. He forced Romo into an INT on Sunday.

The linebackers were a sore spot for a long time. No more. Bradley looks terrific at MIKE. Gocong is improving at SAM and has good potential. Jordan has played very well at WIL. Gaither was up and down in his time as a starter this year, but is a top flight backup. Gocong is 250+ and runs well. Stew is 250+ and instinctive. Jordan is only around 240, but he's athletic and surprisingly physical. Akeem is very good at taking on lead blockers.

Safety play was a major issue in September. I was ready to put Dawk out to pasture. That was then, this is now (thanks, Emilio). JJ is using Dawk wisely and the results speak for themselves. Mikell has been rock solid all year. Even Quintin Demps is getting some reps. He's part of our D against 2-TE sets. Big pass plays aren't the problem they were early on.

We paid a lot of money to bring Asante Samuel in here. Sammie has been about as good as advertised. He dropped key picks vs CIN, WAS but those are my only two real complaints. Sheldon Brown didn't make a lot of plays, but he's been solid. Both guys will hit and tackle you. MmmBop Hanson is playing well right now as the Nickel corner. He lacks the speed to play outside, but he's a terrific role player.

We're getting plays from all 3 levels of the defense. The guys play well as a group. There is a real chemistry on this unit in the last 4-6 games. Don't underestimate the importance of that.

2005 - PIT rides their D to a SB win
2006 - Indy rides their D to a SB win
2007 - NYG ride their D to a SB win

Obviously the Bucs and Ravens did the same thing at the beginning of the decade.

I'm not telling you the D will carry us to Tampa and/or win the title, but it is possible. And not "it could rain chocolate pudding" possible. I'm talking about very doable.

Let's hope this version of Gang Green is able to come up big in the playoffs. If they do, watch out NFL. We'll have as good a chance as anyone.


Jim Johnson was very passive against Dallas in Week 2. He called a game based on not getting burned by deep pass plays. He limited blitz looks. Romo sat in the pocket and ate us for lunch. They scored 34 offensive points and got plenty of big plays.

This time around Jim wanted to be more aggressive. He did that in a couple of ways. Jim used the tactic that BAL had last week and came with delay blitzes. This is when a DB or LB hesitates for a second or so then takes off after the QB. The thinking is that the blockers will all engage a defender and won't see the blitzer coming on the delay. He'll then get a free run at the QB. Dallas adjusted for this pretty well. Our delay blitzes didn't eat Romo alive the way the Ravens did.

We also stacked the line on some plays. This was effective in terms of forcing quick throws and errant throws. The blitz isn't just designed to get sacks. It is effective if the QB has to get rid of the ball quickly and plays don't work right.

Tony Romo had some interesting comments after the game. On Dallas early FG drive we had blitzers coming off the slot. They would leave the receiver wide open at the snap and attack. Another defender would shoot over to the receiver and tackle him, but Dallas got short gains. Tony said we took that away after that drive and kept all the receivers covered. He and the Cowboys didn't respond well.

I liked the fact we were so versatile in the game. Jim brought pressure off both sides. He brought it up the middle. He rushed only 4 at times.

We played tight man coverage sometimes. We laid off and played zone on other plays. We didn't let Dallas ever get into a comfort zone.

We used the creative 2-man DL look. We'd have a couple of guys down in a 3-point stance. We'd have several other players milling around at the LOS. The offense didn't know who was coming and who was dropping. I didn't notice this having any particular success, but it gave the offense something else to deal with. They just got overwhelmed - physically, mentally, and based on the sight of Romo laying on the ground crying for mommy...emotionally as well.

Great gameplan. Great execution.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Still Smilin'

I don't know about you guys, but I am still one happy camper. We're in the playoffs and Dallas is sitting at home. Life is beautiful.

The DGR is posted:


I'll start focusing on the Vikings tomorrow or Wednesday. I'll be writing about our juggernaut defense tomorrow. Those guys have been great.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Cloud Freakin' 9


What a day. This is as good as it gets in the regular season.

The Raiders went to Tampa and won 31-24. Houston beat Chicao, also 31-24. That set us up with...win and you're in. We controlled our own fate last week and blew it. Would that happen again?


We got an early FG and led 3-0. Dallas adjusted to our blitzing by playing small-ball and went on a FG drive themselves. 3-3.

That was basically the end of the game. We scored the next 41 points to go up 44-3. We got big plays on offense, defense, and special teams. The coaches did a good job on both sides of the ball and the players were even better.

* Buck delivered a 59-yd catch and run. He also caught a TD pass.

* Celek caught a TD.

* DeSean had a big catch on 3rd down.

* Green Akers nailed a 50-yd FG.

* Q Demps forced a fumble on a KOR that led to the long FG.

* Dawk had a pair of FFs. Both balls were run back for TDs.

* Clemons had a sack, FF, and a FR that he ran back for a TD. He also got good pressure that led to poor throws.

* Sheldon came up with his first pick of the year.

* MmmBop Hanson ran back a fumble 96 yds for a TD.

* Akeem led the team with 11 TFLs and a 2 TFLs.

* Darren Howard got his 10th sack of the season.

I left Trent Cole, Brian Westbrook, and Donovan McNabb out of the list. They all came up big, but not necessarily with one play.

McNabb made a few terrific throws. He had 2 TD passes. He helped us to go 6 of 9 on 3rd downs in the 1st half. He executed very well late in the half when the clock was an issue. He sneaked for the other TD. It wasn't a great game, but he gave us what we needed. He led us to 1st downs and touchdowns. Well done, Donnie Mac.

Westy had 13 carries for 50 yards. He caught 2 passes for 12 yards. Those numbers are far from impressive, but he did have a big part in the win. Westy lined up out wide on 2 key plays. One was a long pass to DeSean and the other was the TD pass to Buck. His presence impacted those plays just by alignment. He also set up the QB sneak by running for 5 yards and getting us inside the 1.

Cole didn't have a sack. Or even a tackle. But he came off the left side like a bat out of hell the whole game. He hit Romo a few times. He drew double-teams on multiple plays. He was disruptive even though he didn't actually make any plays. I was really hoping he'd get his 10th sack of the year, but that didn't happen.


Our D has been sensational in December. They have allowed 2 TDs. Washington got one after McNabb fumbled and gave them the ball inside the 20. The Giants got a TD when they scored on our prevent defense with less than a minute left in the game. That's it for the whole month.

The D scored 2 TDs in December and allowed 2. How's that for balance?

We allowed the fewest points in the NFC. And that includes several non-offensive TDs that were scored against us.

I have to give special mention to Brian Dawkins. His energy and emotion were clearly infectious today. He made plays as well. His 2 FFs were huge. Both were run back for scores. You could see the other players reacting to Dawk today. It felt as if they couldn't lose for his sake as much as their own.

Great day.

Gameday Thoughts

Last night I went to a get-together with some old friends. One guy I hadn't seen in years. His name is Marty and he's a Raiders fan. Omen?

This morning I'm driving around and the last song on the radio "A Little Help From My Friends" by Joe Cocker. The Eagles need some help from our friends in Oakland, Houston, and New York. Omen?

It all probably means nothing, but some tough losses have put me in a position where I have to look for anything positive. When you don't take care of business you are left to watch the scoreboard and hope.

It makes the day fun in the sense that you have to watch several different games and they all matter. It sucks because you have to rely on other teams to help you out.

All we can do is watch and hope. And then take care of business when 4:15 rolls around. My nightmare scenario is to have things go our way early in the day and then for the Eagles to choke against Dallas.

Please Eagles...please...beat the friggin' Cowboys. No matter what else happens I want us to win today and keep Dallas out of the postseason. That's the Christmas present I want from the guys in green.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Dallas Preview is up


I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas. I wasted mine spending time with family when I could have been locked in a room studying game tape. Neither one of my nephews has any understanding of the Okie Package. How the heck am I supposed to have a good conversation with them? What's more important, Santa or delayed blitzes up the middle?

It was nice to take a short break from football, but I'm excited for the Dallas game and the onset of bowl season. We've had a few games to this point, but only one key game. TCU beat Boise State 17-16 in a good game on Tuesday.

The season finale against Dallas should be exciting. We might have a chance at the playoffs. At least we'll be able to play to keep them out. That's better than nothing.

I'm also really curious to see how the new and improved Eagles defense handles the Cowboys. They can run or throw. They have WRs and TEs. They have a mobile QB. If we control them or shut them down, I'll be incredibly impressed with how far our defense has come. We weren't even a good speed bump back in September against them.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

DGR + Some Akeem Jordan Stuff

DGR is posted:



Akeem Jordan has now played in 2 NFC-E games. The defense has been substantially better in each contest. Don't give him all the credit, but he's done his part.

With Gaither:

DAL - 34 offensive points ... 380 yards
WAS - 23 offensive points ... 388 yards
NYG - 36 offensive points ... 401 yards

With Jordan

NYG - 7 offensive points .... 211 yards
WAS - 10 offensive points ... 249 yards
DAL - ???

Omar had 15 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 FF in those 3 games.
Jordan has 14 tackles and 2 TFLs in his 2 starts vs NFC-E opponents.

I'd still like to see Akeem make more plays (sacks, INTs, FFs, FRs), but I'm very encouraged by what I've seen so far.

Dallas will be a huge test on Sunday. They have a talented, balanced offense. A good showing by Akeem and the defense would be a great way to close the season, no matter what else happens.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Monday Thoughts

I'm still working on the DGR.


The loss is no less frustrating today. I've spoken to several fans and we all try to joke about things, but everyone is pissed about the way yesterday played out. The biggest gripe is the lack of running, as you would imagine.

I told a friend prior to the game that all we needed to do was feed the ball to Westy and play good defense. He got 18 touches, but 2 of the runs were junk plays right before the half and 3 touches came on the final drive of the game. That means Westy had 13 touches during the other 57 1/2 minutes of action. Pitiful.

This is the part of Andy Reid that makes me want to kidnap him and give him the football version of the Ludivico Treatment. Brian Westbrook is our best offensive player, not Donovan McNabb. No offense to #5, but Westy is now the key to the offense.

There is no excuse for underusing him in our biggest game of the year. I'm sure Andy has some brilliant reason for why things played out like that, but I'm gonna side with my common sense over his "rationale".

The playoffs are a major longshot, but I'll be excited to see what we do against Dallas on Sunday. No matter what, you always want to beat the Cowboys.

I know a lot of people want to talk about Reid and his future. I'll get into that a little bit in the next couple of days, but I still want to see the whole season play out before saying anything definitive.


New PE.com article is up:



Sunday, December 21, 2008

Welcome To My Nightmare

Sorry I'm stealing from the great Alice Cooper, but the title seemed all too appropriate. Tampa Bay lost to the Chargers in an early game and gave the Eagles control of their playoff lives. The Eagles promptly swallowed a bottle of sleeping pills and took a long walk off a short pier.

The loss to WAS was miserable, just miserable. The offense that had been so balanced and so productive did not show up. Instead we got a pass happy attack that failed, whether ball control or big play. We had more incompletions (20) than runs (16). We had more passing attempts (46) than Westbrook had rushing yards (45).

How can you complain about a defense that only gives up 10 points? Let me try.

The guys did a good job overall. That isn't up for debate. WAS only had 249 yards and their lone TD drive came on a short field after a sack and fumble. WAS didn't have any offensive play of more than 19 yards. We forced them to play small ball.

The problem is that this kind of a game requires you to do more than just stop the opponent. The season is on the line. "Good enough" isn't good enough. You must make plays. We didn't. The defense missed several opportunities:

* Campbell fumbled on the first drive. The ball was in the middle of a pack of players, but an O-lineman fell on it.

* Campbell forced a pass in the Red Zone. Quintin Mikell hit the ball and it went up in the air. Q wasn't able to get it as it fell. A couple of LBs were also in the area, but neither could get to the ball. They kicked a FG on that drive.

* McNabb got sacked and fumbled. That gave WAS very good field position. The defense couldn't come up with a stop on the drive, when we desperately needed one. That proved to be the only TD of the game.

* Asante Samuel had a gift thrown his way. The ball came right to him with nobody around. It was an easy pick. The only question was whether Samuel would go out of bounds at midfield or be able to return it deep into their territory. Unfortunately, Asante dropped it. That cost us a minimum of 40 yards of field position.

* Stewart Bradley had 2 passes in his vicinity with a chance to make a play. He wasn't able to get to either ball. One of them would have been a pick-six.

* Chris Clemons blitzed up the middle on 3rd/long. He came out of control and got blocked, opening up a huge vacancy in the middle. Jason Campbell ran for 19 yards.

As bad as the offense was, it didn't help that we had horrible field position. We had 4 drives start inside the 10-yard line. We averaged starting drives (for the game) at our own 18-yard line. That is awful. WAS averaged starting at the 39.

McNabb didn't have a good game. He finished 26 of 46, but those numbers don't tell you of the stream of errant passes that he threw. McNabb had thrown the ball very well the last 3 weeks, but we got the wrong McNabb today. Donnie was back to hitting the ground too much. He failed to run in the 1st half on a couple of plays where he could have really helped us. He did run a couple of times in the 2nd half, but didn't have the same type of opportunities. The receivers didn't help him out. There were several drops.

DeSean Jackson had 2 chances for huge plays. Donovan hit him down the left sideline with a deep ball, but Peanut couldn't make the grab. The throw wasn't great and he did have to adjust to it. On the final drive McNabb threw a terrific pass down the right sideline. Jackson did a great job of going up for the ball. It hit him in the right forearm and he wasn't able to make the grab. That was in the endzone and would have tied the game at 10.

The Eagles are not out of the playoff hunt yet, but anytime you need the Oakland Raiders to come east and pull off an upset...not good. That's sorta like expecting Amy Winehouse to show up sober when you ask her to babysit.

I know a lot of fans are furious with Andy/Marty and the playcalling. They're mad at Donovan for coming up small in a big game. Do remember to give Washington credit. They have a Top 5 defense. LaRon Landry didn't make the Pro Bowl, but anyone who watched the game hopefully understands just how good he is. Landry is the best FS in the NFC. He just controls the middle of the field.

We knew the winning streak would end at some point. I just didn't want it to come so early. All any of us wanted was to control our own destiny. Tonight I can't help but think of the old saying "Be careful what you ask for, you just might get it." We got it. We blew it.

Saturday, December 20, 2008


The defense has been pretty good all year, but really outstanding here recently. We're up to 3rd in the league in total defense. We're first in the NFC. Very impressive stuff.

The defense hasn't been flashy. We don't have 50 sacks. We don't have a bunch of turnovers. The guys are playing sound, fundamental football and are doing a great job on 3rd downs. We're 2nd in the league in 3rd down D. They get off the field and turn the ball over to the offense, which has been a good thing for the past 3 weeks.

Reuben Frank has a good article with some numbers:


Here are a couple of key samples:

After allowing 20 points per game and 288 yards per game the first 11 weeks of the season, the Eagles are allowing 12 points and 222 yards per game the last three weeks.

the Eagles now rank third in the NFL in defense (first in the NFC), fifth in rushing defense, third in sacks, second on third down and second in first downs allowed.

Reuben's article focuses on some personnel changes. That certainly is part of the reason for the hot play. I also think Jim Johnson got more aggressive. He played safe in the first Giants game more than I cared for. He focused on limiting Plaxico Burress. They killed us.

Since then he's turned the guys loose. We've run more 8-man fronts and not been as obsessive about big pass plays. The ironic thing of course is that by being more aggressive the defense has played better and the big pass plays have gone away.

It also helps that Brian Dawkins seems to be playing his best football of the year. For some odd reason, he just comes alive in December games.

The defense also has gotten a boost from the offense. We're 33 0f 50 in the last 3 games on 3rd downs. That means drives keep going and the defense stays off the field. Arizona's potent attack couldn't do much while McNabb, Westy, and company methodically moved up and down the field.

As for the personnel changes...they have helped. Akeem Jordan has been very good at WLB. He's done much better at taking on the FB than Gaither did. Joselio Hanson is happy to be on the field and it shows in his play. Lito wasn't happy at all and it definitely showed in his play.

Up front, Victor Abiamiri is getting more and more of Juqua's snaps. He doesn't have much in the way of production, but he's come close to sacks and TFLs a handful of times. Victor has to learn to seal the deal. He's added a good presence at LDT in the Nickel as well. Chris Clemons only has a couple of sacks, but he's getting good pressure from LDE in the Nickel and Dime sets. He caused the INT to Samuel last week by pressuring Ken Dorsey. Chris has also had some good moments when they've used him as The Joker. JJ hasn't used the Okie much the last couple of weeks which has me wondering if that is something they've sorta shelved until the finale against Dallas.

There is still room for improvement (more "plays" from the DTs...more coverage plays by the LBs...etc), but I've really enjoyed watching this defense. The best thing is that the group isn't all that old. I'd love to see this group play well for the next few years. For now, I'll just settle for them getting us to the postseason.

Thursday, December 18, 2008



Green Akers looked like a goner at midseason. He missed several kicks early on and didn't inspire any confidence. Even when kicks did go through there was a ton of movement on the ball. You just felt nervous.

Things have changed since then. David seems to have figured some things out. His kicks are straighter. His kickoffs have generally had pretty good depth.

Akers really got my attention when he nailed a 51-yard FG against the Giants. In the Meadowlands, no less. He's now 29 of 35 for the year. 3 of the misses are due to blocks (not his fault at all). The other 3 misses all came from 50+.

What do we make of this?

I'd feel more confident if Akers had been nailing a bunch of 48-yard FGs, but he's generally kicking 42 and 43 yarders. He seems to be money inside of 43. Beyond that things are a question. He struggled early, but did hit the kick vs the Giants. And that kick was straight. Really impressive kick on a cold, windy day.

At this point I'm willing to bring David back for another season, but the Eagles must have competition for him. They need to bring in a kicker who has a realistic shot of pushing him next summer. I'll cheer for Akers to win the competition, but he does need to do just that..."win it".


The preview of the Skins game is posted.


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Fullback in 2009

I'm curious about some opinions on this situation.

I think Klecko has shown enough to be brought back as part of a competition. Beside that, what do you do?

The Eagles could spend a pick on a player, but college isn't developing great FBs anymore because of the dreaded spread offense. Relying on a pick would be similar to counting on Jason Davis.

The team could go sign a FA, but I'm not sure what decent FBs will be available.

Thoughts? Ideas?

DGR is Posted


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Future of Dawk


What do we make of Brian Dawkins for 2009? A month ago I thought his situation was a no-brainer. I thought he was done. Now, I'm not so sure.

I still have concerns about Dawk and his speed / ability to cover, but the issue is complicated. He just got his 7th Pro Bowl selection today. Dawk has played better in the last few games. 2 of his 5 pass break-ups came in the last 3 weeks. His only INT came in that span. He has 13 tackles, a FF, and 2 TFLs in there as well.

The defense has played lights out. They've only allowed 44 points. Actually, that isn't true. 14 of those points came on returns. 7 came against the prevent defense. The D has really only given up 23 points in the last 3 weeks. That is good stuff.

What makes me nervous is that Jim Johnson could adjust the defense in each game. ARZ had no real running game. That allowed him to keep the DBs back and let them attack receivers in front of them. The Giants were minus Plaxico Burress. They still had plenty of good talent on the field, but that team without Plax is very different. The Browns started their #3 QB.

I want to see what Dawk can do against a good, balanced offense. WAS is on a cold streak, but they are balanced. Dallas in Week 17 will be the real test. Dawk struggled against them in Week 2.

I still love Dawk and have also enjoyed Quintin Mikell this year. The problem is that both of them lack the speed and range to really control the deep middle. Both guys are very good around the LOS. Can you get away with a defense that has 2 Strong Safeties in the modern NFL? I have my doubts.

Dawk is a very important player to the history of the Philadelphia Eagles. I think he could be a HOF player. Keeping him would be great. The problem is that he'll be a year older next year. He won't get any faster.

You can look at Dawk's stats and see some good stuff. The big concern is the lack of INTs and pass break-ups. He has one pick on the year. He has 5 PBUs. One came on a deflected pass while blitzing. The fewest PBUs in a full season is 11. The fewest in any year is 6. He could finish with only 5 this year despite playing all 16 games and being healthy.

The sack and FF totals are good. He's making a lot of plays around the LOS. The problem is that you need someone to be the centerfielder. Dawk has been that guy for more than a decade. Can he fill that role next year? Do you bring him back, but pull him off the field on 3rd downs?

Dawk has to decide if he wants to play. He could go out while still playing at a solid level. He could decide that money is important and shop his services to the highest bidder. He could work out a one-year deal with the Eagles.

People are obsessed with Reid and McNabb's future, but every bit as interesting is what will happen to the man who's been here since April of 1996.

I have mixed feelings on the situation. I love Dawk, but we must get faster in the middle of the defense. We could bring him back, but give some of his PT to Quintin Demps or a rookie Safety. I think our defense needs a playmaking presence in the middle of the secondary to be at its best. We don't have that guy right now (although Demps could be that guy in 2009).

I'll cheat and reserve final judgment until all 16 games are in the books.

Dawk's stats for anyone interested:


New PE.com story is also up:


Monday, December 15, 2008

Postgame Thoughts

Good win. I was hoping for a comfortable margin and 30-10 was solid. The team got a little sloppy in the Red Zone or the score could have really been lopsided.

The defense had to blitz and pressure more than I expected, but they did a good job of it. We only came up with 2 sacks, but Dorsey could not get comfortable. He finished only 11 of 28. We also picked him off twice. Stewart Bradley had his first INT of the year. Heck, that was the first LB pick of the year. We need more of those.

The attack wasn't as balanced as I prefer, but the passing game was working real well and the run game wasn't having a lot of success. We did pound the ball with Kyle Eckel in the 4th. In the end RBs had 31 carries.

I didn't see any major injuries, always a crucial part of being happy after a game in December.

This wasn't the most crisp, error-free game of the year, but I don't want to make too much of that. I like the fact we got a lead and kept Cleveland at bay the whole game. We weren't smooth, but we always had control. That's the important thing.

We're now 8-5-1. We stay alive in the playoff chase. On to Washington...


There are some fans griping about Kolb and his night. Relax about Kolb. Look at his numbers:


Kevin played well vs STL in the opener. He played well against PIT in week 3. Why? He was fresh from playing at Lehigh and in Training Camp. He was in rhythm.

He's not getting a lot of practice reps with the starters or running our offense. He's looked sloppy the last couple of times out, but don't make too much of that. He and McNabb put up the same numbers in the BAL game. Kevin had a batted ball picked off tonight. That hardly means he's a bad player or not the future.

McNabb began his career 14 of 31 over the span of several games. Kolb is 17 of 32.

Kevin may in fact prove to be a bust in the future, but a sloppy pass in the 4th Qtr of a blowout is hardly reason to think a guy can't play.

Pregame Browns Stuff


Bottom line...we better win.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Sunday Stuff

* Sorry for the lack of posts. I was out of town for a couple of days.

* The Bucs didn't do us any favors today. The Falcons beat them 13-10 in OT. We need Atlanta to lose a game to give us a realistic chance for the postseason. The Bucs missed a FG late in the game. Their D came out and stopped Atlanta. Then they blocked a punt and got the ball deep in Falcons territory. I was very happy. Brian Griese and the Bucs stalled quickly and kicked the tying FG (barely). Tampa got the ball to start OT, but Griese took a terrible sack and Atlanta got the ball and marched down for the winning FG.

We now need Minnesota to come up huge next week. They host the Falcons.

* We can still cheer for the G-men to beat the Cowboys tonight. That would help. About the whole TO situation. They knew what they were getting into, so I have no sympathy for anyone in that organization. I hope this thing really explodes.

Reports now say there are some players calling Jason Witten a snitch. I don't fully understand how he's the bad guy in this debacle. That is the lunacy of Planet Owens. I know if Dallas feels they need to trade him that I'd gladly give up a 1st round pick for Jason.

* Game Preview is posted...


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The 4-headed Monster


An exciting, fact-filled look at the Eagles receiving corps!!!



* I hate the fact we have a Monday night game coming up. The team is hot. I want them to play Sunday and then to have full rest for the Redskins. Unfortunately, that isn't the case.

* I was talking to a friend on the phone yesterday about the team. We strayed into the area of draft talk. Trying to guess what 1st rounders the Eagles will be looking at is tricky. There may not be an OT or S worthy or available at either pick. That could make things interesting.

* You can say what you want about how Akeem Jordan got his job, but the bottom line is that he's doing it very well.

* The shine is starting to come off Jim Zorn a little bit. I can't say he's doing anything wrong, but WAS has now lost 3 of 4 and Clinton Portis is bitching to the press about how he's being used. Jim seemed great a month ago. He had the team winning and all the players were saying the right things.

* Amazing how good LJ Smith can look at times. He's not had a great year, but he has shown enough that teams will absolutely pursue him in March. Compare that to Lito "Did I just give up another TD" Sheppard. He's been awful of late and isn't sending a good signal to the other 31 teams. I'm sure Drew Rosenhaus is ready to argue something crazy (does the Chewbacca defense work in contract law?). LJ is an inconsistent player, but he has tried this year. I can shake his hand and wish him well. Lito...don't let the door hit ya where the good lord split ya. Go be fragile for some other team.

* Want to support an Eagles fan and add something "exotic" to your Christmas party? Check out this:


I'm a fish sticks, chocolate pudding, and PBR man myself.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

DGR is Posted



Reggie Brown was a healthy scratch. Good.

I don't think Reggie is a bad player. I still think Reggie is a capable starting WR. The problem is that he's not a good fit for the 2008 Eagles.

DeSean came in as a rookie and took his job. He's more athletic than Reggie and has better hands. He's a natural receiver. Reggie isn't nearly as gifted.

Curtis, Baskett, and Avant have all shown that they can thrive in our offense as starters and/or role players. They don't lose focus when they go 20 plays without a pass coming their way. They can come and go and still play at a high level.

We've seen both Hank and Jason show excellent ability to adjust to Donovan's passes over the middle. They can go up or down for the ball. Curtis is similar, but he's more effective adjusting to the ball downfield.

Reggie's biggest 2 biggest weaknesses are inconsistent hands and failure to adjust to the ball. I think he could thrive on a different team, but he simply isn't a good fit for us.

I know cutting/trading him in the offseason isn't an easy thought because he has been a good player in the past and is due some money, but that would be the prudent move. Hopefully we can get something like a 4th or 5th round pick for him. Some team should be interested in his services.

I know a lot of fans will say "Aw, he sucks man. Nobody will want Reggie." Not so. Reggie is 27. He's healthy. He has 163 career catches and averages 14.5 per reception. He has size and is a good route runner and blocker. Some team will be interested. Whether we can pull off a trade I'm not so sure about. Brown will be on some team next year and will probably be a productive player.

Monday, December 8, 2008

New PE.com Article is Posted


Taking a look at the Giants game.

I'm still working on the DGR.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Early Reaction

I sure didn't see that game coming. Did you?

I'm not not talking about the result. I knew we could win. I didn't buy the "Eagles will need a miracle to win" garbage. We almost won the last game and didn't even play all that well.

I was shocked by the way we won. I did not anticipate Westy running 33 times and the Giants not breaking 100 yards on the ground. We won the battle at the line of scrimmage, after the 1st quarter. Fred Robbins seemed to think he was Albert Haynesworth in the opening period. Luckily he remembered he's Fred Robbins after that and played at a normal level (which is good this year...Pro Bowl type DT).

Our OL just pounded on those guys. They blocked well. The receivers, TEs, and Klecko helped out. Westy ran well. We had success and the coaches stuck with the run. Amazing how that works. 37 called runs. That was a thing of beauty.

The defense played well. The Giants helped by dropping some passes and looking sloppy, but our guys deserve a lot of credit. They were much better than the first Giants game.

David Akers nailed a 51-yd FG to open the scoring. That was his longest kick of the year. I was really surprised to see him hit that long of a kick on a cold windy day at the Meadowlands (where he struggles).

He had 2 blocked (one was really just deflected). I didn't think either was Akers' fault. Winston Justice had a very poor block on Justin Tuck that led to the disaster before halftime. CB Terrell Thomas has to get a lot of credit on the second kick. He flew off the edge and just got part of a hand on the ball.

We really won this game by keeping control of the ball. We had a 17-7 lead and got the ball back with 9:26 left in the 4th quarter. I told the team (through the TV of course) that I wanted a 5-minute drive. They delivered. The Eagles went on a 14 play, 46 yard drive that ate up 7:17 and resulted in a FG. How's that for domination late in the game?

The win puts us at 7-5-1 and squarely in the middle of the playoff hunt.

Gameday Thoughts

One player who came up big last week was RB Kyle Eckel. He ran 6 times for 27 yards. Forget the numbers, though. He produced at the right time and in the right style. Eckel got the ball in an early 3rd/1 situation and ran over the right side for just over a yard. McNabb handed him the ball and Eckel (5'11, 237) ran to the right side. LJ Smith was down blocking. Eckel basically ran over Smith. He didn't want to go wide and give the defense a chance to get to him. He ran straight ahead.

Not all RBs are effective at this style of running. There is no vision or cutting ability involved. Quickness, agility, and balance aren't important. You just lower your shoulder and run into a wall. Eckel did this very well. There was no hesitation on his part. He wasn't worried about a big run. He knew that he'd either get the yard or be stuck on the bench.

Later in the game Eckel got some carries as the Eagles were trying to run down the clock. He looked pretty good. It was against the Cardinals and it was in garbage time, but still...it was nice to see him running the ball.

When he did get the ball deep in the I-formation he showed RB skills. He had a 12-yard run up the middle that was created by a nice cutback. The offense moved to the right. The defense all flowed that direction. Kyle saw this and made a simple cut back to the left. He didn't go too wide. He kept as N-S as possible and was able to hit it right up the field.

Eckel was tough for the Cardinals to tackle. He ran 6 times and I'm not sure they got him on the ground more than 2 or 3 times. The other times he was pushing the pile and defenders were fighting to stop his progress when the refs blew the whistle. That is exactly what you want in a power back.

Running like that could have made a significant difference in the first Giants game. Hopefully it will today.

Big Red better have Eckel active. Buck is out. Booker had a good showing last week, but we need Eckel in a game like this. If Kyle is inactive and we have 6 WRs in the game, Reid should not only be fired, he should be deported. I think AR and Marty will play Eckel and use him in short yardage situations.


We must do a better job against the run:

* DEs and LBs must set the edge and force the RBs back to the middle.

* Akeem Jordan must play the FB better than Gaither did. Win that battle and you disrupt what the RB wants to do.

* The Safeties must come down and tackle. They have to come down quickly and have to tackle cleanly. That's a tall order when talking about Giants RBs.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Dawk Talk


Brian Dawkins had his best game of the season in the win over Arizona. He came up with 5 tackles, a FF, and an INT. He helped the Eagles to control the middle of the field by coming up quickly and punishing receivers who tried to catch the ball.

I've talked about Dawk's struggles this year. He can no longer cover receivers or tight ends one-on-one with regular effectiveness. His speed and range as a centerfielder has really fallen off. Dawk is still a force around the line of scrimmage and as a hitter, but he's fallen to the level of a mere mortal in other areas.

What happened last week to make Dawk look so good? The circumstances of the game really helped out. ARZ is not a balanced offense. They cannot run the ball with any effectiveness. That meant Dawk could stay back and not worry about needing to fly up in a hurry.

Arizona doesn't throw to the TE very much. That helped. Dawk knew to mainly focus on the WRs. Not only that, but the Cards aren't a downfield attack. They throw a lot of intermediate passes. Those routes don't stretch the field, but they take long enough that the DBs have a chance to come up and get in on the play. Perfect scenario for Dawk. And he took advantage of it.

There is another scenario at work. Dawk has struggled early the last couple of years only to get hot late in the season. Look back at 2006. 3 of his 5 TFLs came in the last 5 games of the year. 3 of his 4 INTs came in that stretch. He had 6 passes defensed as well.

What about 2007? 2 of his 3 TFLs and his only INT of the year came in the final month. The defense played its best game of the year against Dallas, holding the Cowboys to only 6 points.

It could be that Dawk just plays with a heightened sense of urgency late in the year. Maybe Jim Johnson changes the way he uses him. I can't say anything definitively. I do know that each of the last two seasons Dawk looked done in October only to come alive in December.

He played great against Arizona. Let's hope this will be another season where he saved the best for last and he makes plays in the final month. A strong finish from Dawk will help this team to win some games and maybe even get back to the postseason.

Sunday's game against the Giants will be a huge test for the Eagles and Dawk. They have a complete offense. They can run and throw. They can throw short and long. They can throw to the backs, TEs, and wide receivers. The Eagles need #20 to come up big to come out of the Meadowlands with a "W".

Friday, December 5, 2008

Game Preview


One point I didn't cover in there that was brought up by someone on the EMB is that the game best not come down to a late FG. David Akers has really struggled with kicks at the Meadowlands. Add in the fact that the weather reports call for a cold, windy day (possible snow) and you don't want Akers kicking to win the game.

This is absolutely a winnable game, but the Eagles better not come out flat or play sloppy. You can't rely on the Giants to do anything other than play good football. You have to match their level and go one higher to beat them. We'd all love to see Eli be the guy from 2005, but that just isn't likely.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Some Giants Talk


Eagles Add OL to Practice Squad

Yesterday the Eagles signed Chris Patrick from the Practice Squad to the 53-man roster. To fill his spot they added OL Tala Esera of Hawaii.

Guess what position he played in college? LT, of course. He'll be a G for us. He was too short and not athletic enough to stay out there, but does have talent. He lists at 6'3, 310. Esera has spent some time with the Colts on their Practice Squad.

Why all the OL and not a RB? That is just Big Red's way of doing things. He loves his linemen. Don't complain too much. He could always cut Kyle Eckel and go sign another OL.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Eagles Add OL

Adam Caplan of Scout.com is reporting that the Eagles have signed Chris Patrick off the Practice Squad to take the roster spot of Max Jean-Gilles, who was injured in the Thanksgiving win over Arizona.


Patrick played LT at Nebraska. He didn't show the kind of athletic ability needed for playing on the edge, but he was a quality player. My big concern with Patrick as a prospect was his ability to handle athletic edge rushers. He has a chance to be an effective G in the NFL. The Eagles love to take guys who played OT, especially LT, and move them to C and G.

More on Gaither & the Running Game

Someone asked why the Eagles would play Omar so much as a starter if they truly intended him to be a backup. Excellent question.

The situation is complicated. Gaither played in 2006 because Matt McCoy was really struggling with a shoulder problem. They needed Omar on the field.

He moved to MLB last year because the team liked him and had high hopes. Plus, they wanted to get faster at MLB after seeing Trotter lumber around in 2006. I think we all have nightmares from that Saints playoff game. Gaither was up and down. Stewart Bradley really got our attention with his PT late in the year. They had to get Stew on the field.

Here was my review of Gaither's 2007 season:
* OMAR GAITHER - Began as our backup MLB in the summer and then got the starting job one day at Training Camp. The coaches had seen enough to know that playing him over Trot was the right move. Omar proved the coaches right. He had a good year. He led the team in tackles. The biggest concern most people had with Gaither was his ability to play the run. I'd say Omar handled the run just fine. Sure, he had some missed tackles and bad plays, but all LBs do. Considering it was his first year as a starting at MLB, you can say Omar had a very good season.

His strength came in playing the pass. Omar had 8 passes defensed. He had one INT. Picked off a pass intended for Shockey. Ran the ball back 49 yards. Broke up a pass in the endzone vs the Jets. Played the pass very well in the Pats game. Omar covered well, whether dealing with backs, receivers, or TEs.

On the negative side...Omar did show his limitations. In the second WAS game he read the play and yelled "screen pass". Omar knew what was coming, but still overran the play and gave up a gain of 12 to Portis. He's got to play under more control there. Gaither blitzed up the middle all year, but never got a sack. He only had 4 TFLs. That number should be closer to 8-10 the way we let our MLB attack up the field. Omar lacks natural power and closing speed.

I think the team loved the thought of a young set of LBs. Spikes got the heave-ho and Omar went back outside. The hope was that he'd be a better fit there. He had shown some promise in 2006. The biggest problem I have with Gaither is the lack of "plays". In 3 years he has 3.5 sacks, 2 INTs, 2 FFs, and one FR. That's more like a great game than a 3-year span.

Akeem Jordan has 2 FRs in his limited PT this year. Speed can make things happen. Omar is smart. He's a leader. He's not fast or athletic.

Gaither started 32 straight games from '06-present. Going from that to just STer is hard. Ike Reese didn't have to make that transition. Ike got precious few starts early in his career so being a backup was easier to accept (not easy though).

At this point just as important as the why of Gaither's benching are the results. Jordan has played well. The team allowed only 13 points in 5 quarters in his first start. In the next one he was part of an effort that slowed down the #2 offense in the league and limited them to 20 points. Those are good results. He's playing good football and the unit is too.

This is far from an ideal situation. Gaither has always been a high-character guy. Now he's put in a tough position. He is being told "we want you to sign an extension and to be part of our future" at the same time he's being told "you're not good enough". That has got to bewilder him. I know it would me.

Omar can complain about the timing, but he can't complain about not being given a chance. The Eagles have made moves each year to get him on the field. They wanted him to work out. This is a player they liked a lot. The problem is that they can't seem to find anywhere that he's suited to start and thrive in their system. Having him as a backup and STer would be ideal for the team. It just isn't ideal for Omar.

I hope something gets worked out and he stays around, but I have a bad feeling he'll go elsewhere. Omar could be a solid MLB in a different system...I think. I don't know if any team will be completely comfortable with the way he plays in space. I don't know if anyone will pay him what he wants and guarantee him a job. No matter what happens, I hope Omar finds his niche somewhere.


Playcalling had a definite part in the success of the running game. The coaches stuck with the rushing attack. ARZ stuck with their Nickel defense for basically the entire 1st half. That gave us a running advantage. Our passing attack was effective enough to keep the Cardinals thinking that the way to go was keeping their Nickel in the game.

It also helped that we ran from base formations and exotic looks. Shotgun could mean passing or running. That kept their defense on their heels and allowed our OL to control the line of scrimmage.

Clancy Pendergast, Arizona's very good Defensive Coordinator, was kept off balance throughout the 1st half. He didn't know what to expect. Our balanced attack and good line play kept him from ever getting a good read on exactly what we were going to do. We could run and throw with equal effectiveness.

That sure was a fun offense to watch, huh?

Monday, December 1, 2008

Misc Stuff

More on Shawn Andrews

This is a confusing situation. On one hand you've got me saying Shawn is done with football. PE.com is posting articles about him still trying to play this year.

What the heck is going on?

I've gotten info from multiple sources. They agree that depression is the main problem. It is causing him to not want to play football. Or I guess you could look at it that playing football is causing the depression. Either way, there is no passion for a game that requires a great deal of passion.

Shawn has never given less than 100% on the field from what I've seen. His weight and conditioning have gotten better each season. This is a focused, hard working young man. The problem is that he simply doesn't like football and all that goes into it.

Some fans will be shocked to read this. "He's getting paid millions to go play a game for Christ's sake". I understand that mentality. The key point I would tell them is that football is all encompassing. The season starts around July 4th and goes through New Year's, longer if you're lucky. Players are "off" from February through June, but even then they have mini-camps and passing camps to go to. They have to work out the whole time. You can't take time off. Do so at the risk of losing your job.

That puts a constant sense of pressure on players. I remember Shannon Sharpe talking about how he couldn't wait to retire so he could go to the movies and eat some popcorn drenched in butter. He was such a fanatic about his body that he wouldn't do that while playing, whether in season or not.

I don't think the average fan understands the level of dedication some players have to the game. They are handsomely rewarded for that, but it doesn't make it any easier.

I haven't spoken to Shawn himself. I'm going off reports I'm getting from sources. This isn't a 100% lock, but the sources I'm getting the info from are completely independent of each other. They also have no agenda with making the comments. This isn't a situation that makes anyone happy.

If true, why are the Eagles handling the situation so passively? Why is Shawn still on the roster?

I can only offer my thoughts. I don't have any inside info on that perspective.

My thinking is that the team is hoping that Shawn comes around and works his way through these feelings. They have been protective of him through this whole process. When you have a player who is one of the best in the entire league, you have to go out of your way to keep the situation positive.

Anyone who's read interviews with injured players knows that most of them feel like outsiders to the team. That's the way football is. You can't worry about the injured guys. The healthy players are the focus of the coaches and staff. They all work together toward winning games. By keeping Shawn on the 53-man roster you allow him to still be part of the team. You keep him in contact with his teammates. If there is a way to help Shawn through this it will likely be because of them. The bond in the locker room is strong and that can hold sway over a guy.

Just today the team put out an article talking about Shawn coming back this year. I think they are doing that in hopes that he will be drawn back to the organization, to his teammates.

I hope what I've heard about Shawn is wrong and he does in fact play. He is a great offensive lineman. He seems like a good guy who is battling a real tough situation. This is one situation where I hope my sources are 100% off target. I'd give anything to see #73 mauling defenders next year.

Here is the PE.com article on him still hoping to play in 2008:



Here is my newest PE.com article. There's some thoughts on division rematches and a look back at the Cards game.




Another complicated situation. Reports say that he was offered an extension, but turned it down. He was benched sometime after that. Are the two incidents related?

I've done some checking and they don't seem to be related. I think the team would love Omar to become the next Ike Reese. They'd love Omar to be a backup at all 3 spots. They'd love him to become the leader on STs.

The problem is that Omar sees himself as a starter. That is why there was a disagreement over his value.

Jim Johnson and the defensive coaches apparently weren't happy with the way he was taking on FBs or playing screen passes. Those factors led to the benching. Jim wants the best guys on the field. He doesn't care about money.

About Omar and his replacement, Akeem Jordan...I think Omar has been solid this year. He's looked really good in a couple of games, not so great in a couple of others. I don't think he needed to be replaced because he was a huge weak spot. I can't say that I noticed a specific problem with him and lead blockers, but the coaches know exactly what he's supposed to do and grade him accordingly.

As for screens, they have been a problem. Omar has struggled with screens going back to the CAR game in 2006. Deangelo Williams put moves on Gaither that probably still give Omar nightmares. I remember last year in the first Giants game Omar called out a screen. Sure enough, the Giants ran a screen. It went right at Omar and gained 8-10 yards. He knew it was coming but couldn't stop it.

I'm not going to tell you he's solely to blame for the problems with screen passes, but you do want the WLB to have enough speed, quickness, and agility to be able to get to the RB and make the play.

It doesn't help Omar's cause that the first game Jordan started he led the team in tackles and had 2 TFLs. I do like the added speed that Jordan brings to the lineup. Let's see how he does against a physical team like the Giants. If we handle the run better, then Jordan may deserve the job full time. If he struggles and the run defense isn't better, then maybe Omar deserves to get his job back.

I wish Omar had a hand in more turnovers. He has one FF and one FR. I'd prefer more than that from the WLB. Jordan has a FR in his 2 starts.

I am curious about Omar not playing at all. He went from starting WLB and being a Nickel LB to just STs. That is quite a drop-off. Is that a sign from the FO? Maybe. It could also have to do with matchups. Omar hit the bench against BAL, who likes to throw to RB Ray Rice, and ARZ, when our Nickel D was on the field a lot. Let's see if he gets any PT this week against the Giants.

They may just have to let Omar play out his deal and see what he can find elsewhere. Ike Reese was never thrilled with being a backup, but he made the best of the situation. The team benefited from that. I don't know if Omar is comfortable with the notion of "only" being the #4 LB and a STer.



A combination of factors led to better running by the Eagles. The Cardinals defense really helped by staying in the Nickel for most of the 1st half. That allowed us to have some early success. When the run works early, we will stick with it (at least more than usual).

Westy ran better than he has in the last few games. He had some pep in his step. He was able to hit the hole better and get positive yards.

The OL got some confidence the more they got to run block. They also got into a rhythm. Jamaal and Todd especially worked well together. They had several combo blocks where they'd double the NT, then one guy would release and go get a LB.

The WRs did a fantastic job. You have Avant and Baskett blocking DEs on some plays. And I'm not just talking about chicken-fight kind of blocks. I'm talking about taking the guys on forcefully.

Blocking is contagious. Once the guys get going, it spreads and everyone gets involved.

Kyle Eckel and Lorenzo Booker fit in well. Eckel used his straight-ahead style (plus size and power) to be effective. There was no hesitation. He got the ball and went upfield. He only made simple cutbacks. On short yardage runs he simply attacked the line and fought for yards. That is what this team has needed. Booker used his speed and elusiveness to find seams and get through them in a hurry.

This was a total team effort. Everyone involved, including the Cardinals, had a hand in the Eagles success on the ground. I hope we get to see more of this in the final month. I'll go nuts if we completely get away from this. Like Charlie and Dee eating the "human meat" on It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, I've had a taste of the running game and I can't go back to the way it was before.