Friday, January 30, 2009

Coaching Changes Official

Good and bad news.

I hate to see Pete Jenkins retire. What a quitter. The man is 67 years old, but that's hardly an excuse. Jeff Feagles is 65 and still punting. Kurt Warner is 68 and he's in the friggin' Super Bowl.

Pete did a terrific job for us. He brought in 2-gap stuff to a defense that had done very little of that. Trent Cole developed on his watch. Bunkley is looking like he could be a star DT. Abiamiri showed very good potential this year.

I'm not too worried about Rory Segrest taking over for Pete. Rory has spent time helping with the DL in Philly. Hopefully he's learned from Pete. He'll bring a youthful energy and enthusiasm to the job. And I'm sure Pete is always a phone call away for advice.

I'm happy to see Ted Daisher take over STs. We needed some change there. Segrest had his ups and downs, but 3 blocked FGs in one season is crazy. Ted has some good pieces to work with. I'd love to see STs become a strength of this team again.

Can't say I have any particular thoughts on Urban taking over the QB coach role. Doug Pederson coming back to the team is a good thing. We'll see if he can develop into a good coach. He obviously knows the offense and NFL football.

Interesting to read that David Culley is getting more responsibility. He'll now help with the gameplans. I hope his first suggestion is to cut back on the number of passes.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Some Signings

The Eagles have signed a couple of CFL players.

CB Byron Parker was a big time playmaker in the great white north. He picked off 18 passes over the last 3 years. He's dangerous when he gets the ball in his hands. 6 of those picks were run back for scores. He lists at 5'11, 193. Parker is a good athlete. He played basketball and football at Tulane. He actually won the dunk contest at the Final Four while in school.

He isn't guaranteed anything in Philly, but he is the kind of CB we've been going for recently. Jim Johnson seems to have decided that ball skills are critical. Parker could come in and challenge for the #4 CB spot. We have our starters. Hanson needs to be re-signed as the Nickel. That leaves Jack Ikegwounu and Trae Williams battling for #4. Jack has the most talent, but is coming off a bad ACL injury. There's no guarantee he'll be a good player in the future. I like the signing of Parker. Good competition for the guys.

CFL stats:

DE Charleston Hughes
led the CFL with 12 TFLs, but he will be a SAM candidate down here. He's 6'1, 245. Collegiately he played at D2 Northwood. He led the nation in solo tackles as a Senior and was an All American. We could use a backup SAM. Tank Daniels is better in space. He's more of a WLB. Hopefully Hughes can handle the move. I'm sensing the next Greg Richmond. Somebody call Canton and make a reservation.

Here's a Michigan paper's article on his signing.

We've added some other guys recently. DT Amon Gordon is an interesting addition. He's already 27 years old and has been around the league since 2004. He's played for the Titans, Ravens, Broncos, and Browns. Goes 6'2, 305. I like adding a veteran DT to the mix, although I don't think of him as anything more than a camp body at this point.

WR Danny Amendola
was on the Cowboys practice squad last year. He's a PR and slot receiver. Lacks size and speed, but he is quick, has good hands, and knows how to get open. He could develop into a #3 or #4 WR with time. The Eagles wanted him on the practice squad this year, but he showed loyalty to the Cowboys and stayed there since they had signed him as a UDFA. At the end of the season he decided to get the hell out of Dodge and come to a real organization. Smart kid.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009 Article is Posted


Nothing brilliant. Just an article about how the team should approach the offseason from a general perspective. I'm still working on specific ideas for the Eagles.


Les Bowen is reporting some interesting info. There could be some changes on the Eagles staff. Doug Pederson returns as a coach in training. That still leaves QB coach open.

There is the possibility of Pete Jenkins retiring, although I wonder if that is purely speculative. Former STs assistant Ted Daisher could be returning to take over STs. Rory Segrest could take over DL if Jenkins leaves.

I'm not too thrilled with Segrest job on STs last year so a change there would be fine with me. Can't say I want Pete Jenkins to leave. The DL did some really good things last year.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Oddball Note

I'm in the process of writing an article for and something just occurred to me. The Eagles had Jeremy Bloom on IR in 2006. His injury was hardly all that serious, but it was a way to get him ready to take over the RS job in 2007. He failed. Miserably.

The Eagles had Jason Davis on the Practice Squad in 2007. He spent the year preparing to take the fullback spot when Thomas Tapeh left. He was a disappointment in TC and the preseason and got cut.

Both players failed despite basically spending a year getting ready to take a job. Heck, they each were all but given the job. And that made sense. The players fit the profile of young guys to develop.

I wonder if the notion that it was "their time" built a sense of complacency that ruined each guy. Chris Gocong had a similar situation, but worked out. He did see the team draft Stewart Bradley and initially project him at SAM. Competition. It also probably helped that Chris is very talented and an extremely high character guy.

Let's hope King Dunlap and Mike Gibson are ready to compete for jobs this summer.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Any Justice For Us?

The forgotten man in talking about the 2009 OL is Winston Justice. Could he play a part? Could he be the starting RT?

My belief for this season was to keep Justice around "just in case". He knows the offense and could have stepped in and played at least "good enough". My attitude toward the future was to cut him and move on.

Now that the '08 season has played itself out I have mixed feelings. We have a hole at RT. Runyan is a FA. Shawn Andrews is MIA. There is no one on the roster who projects as a good RT immediately. It was much easier to casually dimiss Justice when Andrews was in the picture and Jon hadn't struggled for a season.

Justice didn't play much this year. He got some snaps in blowouts. He was part of the STs units for a while. Justin Tuck got by him and blocked a FG in the 2nd Giants game. Winston was replaced as a blocker by rookie Mike McGlynn. That was pretty damning in my book. If the coaches don't trust you as much as they do a rookie, how can you be part of future plans? That sealed my thoughts on Justice.

But wait. Late in the year he started getting snaps at LG in the goal line offense so that Herremans could move out to TE. Now the coaches trust him enough to put him on the field in goal line situations? Color me confused.

One of the popular Philly criticisms of Justice is that he's got no heart. I don't agree. You don't last in football very long with no heart. To use a boxing analogy, I think his problem is that he's more of a dancer than a puncher. It takes special guys to get away with that. Winston isn't special. He needs to play with more fire. I'm not talking fake rah-rah emotion, though. I'm talking about competitive spirit...where winning and losing on each snap is vitally important to you. Runyan has lost plenty of battles over the years. It isn't for lack of effort or caring. He hates getting beat. When he gets a chance to mash on a guy, he does it.

Here are my preseason notes on Justice:

Steelers game
JUSTICE - Up and down game. There was more good than bad, but it was still frustrating to see some of the mistakes. Set too hard to the outside and was beaten by inside move. Looked quick, athletic at times. Good pad level. Got his hands out. Whiffed on a LB on a run to his side. Whiffed on a DL and Hunt got tackled for a short loss. Generally did well in pass pro. Needs to play better considering he's in year 3.

Panthers game
JUSTICE – Moved his feet well in pass pro. You still wish he would anchor better. Played pretty well. Didn’t let his guy get free. Had a good game as a pass blocker. Didn't show much as a run blocker. We ran a lot of draws and that type thing. I'm not getting much of a chance to see him drive a DL and really be aggressive. Played better than last week.

Pats game
JUSTICE – Backup RT. Still not anchoring as well as you’d like. Does re-set after getting pushed back, but that would lead to trouble in a real game against a good DE. Got no push on the LDE on a run to his side. Pulled on a Moats run to the right side and did okay. Gave Ryan a running lane outside.

Jets game
JUSTICE – RT – Pulled and had a sloppy block on Gholston. Had poor sustain on a run block and the defender got to Hunt right at the LOS. Beaten in pass pro by Gholston. Vern was able to pressure Kolb, but not hit him. Justice did stay with the block. Justice put his head really low on the play. His pad level was too low. He needed to make himself bigger. Didn’t anchor well. I know I say this every week, but it bugs me that he is having the same problem over and over. Gets driven back toward the QB way too much. Got called for holding late in the half, negating a big gain.

Here are my notes from the 2007 finale when he played RT most of the game:

* JUSTICE – Played well when you consider he didn't practice and prepare for the game. Also take into account that he has played LT in the NFL and filled in at RT in this game. Took over at RT when Runyan was knocked out of the game. Pulled on a Tackle Trap and got a solid block on a DB. Handled his first 3rd down well. Started blocking the DE, then passed him to inside blocker, and got the DT who was looping wide. That shows good awareness and teamwork. His DE was able to deflect a pass. Justice hit the DE initially, then pulled off him. Winston has to stay on that block so the DE doesn’t get a free jump at the ball. It was a 3-step drop and Justice should have known that and blocked accordingly. When you have a quick pass, you block aggressively because you expect the QB to throw the ball almost immediately. Had a good block on Westy’s long run to the right side. Got his DE and stuck with him for several yards. Kept his hands on the guy as he pushed him downfield, but didn’t hold when the guy went to chase the play. Did get called for holding on a pass play, but it wasn’t his fault. We had a screen to the right called. Justice blocked his DE. The DL read screen and stayed with the RB. Donovan rolled right, outside of Justice. The DE went to pursue and Winston held him for a moment. Simply a busted play. Had a play-action pass where the TE stayed in to block (on his side). Justice looked inside for a defender at the snap. He helped the RG block a DT. A blitzer then came and Justice peeled off his block and picked that guy up. Good awareness. Got called for a False Start. Struggled at times with staying with the DE to the outside. Could be this is due to him playing mostly LT in practice and having to adjust to covering wide right in this game. Poor run block on play to his side. The DE got into him and pushed Winston back a step. Got knocked to the ground on a bull rush by Kelsay. Chris beat him a couple of plays later with a good swim move. Winston handled him better on the next play.

I don't know what to make of Justice. There is absolute logic to keeping him around and seeing what he does. The problem is that he played so marginally in the 2008 preseason. A guy in year #3 needs to show you that he's made good progress. He flat-lined. That scares me. I know Winston has talent, but he doesn't play with much confidence and that can get you killed on the OL.

The reason you would keep him around is to challenge for the RT spot. The thinking would be to bring in a RT in the draft, somewhere in the first 3 rounds. The kid and Justice would battle for the job. If the kid wins, you have to deal with the ups and downs of a rookie starter. Justice would at least give you someone who is young, athletic, healthy, and who knows the offense. I don't think he'd ever become a good player, but he might prove to be an adequate starter until the prospect is ready to take over in year 2.

We know Winston isn't a good role player. Can he be the starter? He did play okay at RT in the '07 finale. Maybe he's one of those guys who is fine for 60 snaps, but can't be effective for 6. Some guys struggle when they aren't "the man".

The fact that Justice still has this many questions heading into year 4 of his career bugs me. I'd probably cut him and move on. I prefer grinders and fighters. I trust them. The Eagles deal with Justice every day and should have a better feel for the situation. Let's hope they make the right decision.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Senior Bowl

The Senior Bowl is Saturday at 7pm and will be shown on the NFL Network. A few future Eagles will be featured in the game. Guys like McNabb, Westbrook, Avant, Max, Mike McGlynn, Trent, Brod, Patt, Stew, and Sheldon have all played in the game in the last decade. A few busts have also been in it, most notably Tony Hunt who was the MVP. It is the premiere showcase for Senior draft prospects.

As an Eagles fan I'm looking for:

* OT , RB, FB, TE, WR, CB, S

There are several RT candidates.

* Phil Loadholt - 6'8, 343 - Oklahoma
* William Beatty - 6'6, 291 - UConn
* Xavier Fulton - 6'5, 300 - Illinois

Kraig Urbik of Wisconsin will probably play only at RG, but he did start games at RT in his career. He's 6'5, 323 and could be the kind of player the Eagles are interested in.

RB to watch...

* Andre Brown - NC State
* Cedric Peerman - Virginia
* Rashad Jennings - Liberty

These guys are mid-round kind of players who could come in and fit our rotational style. All 3 have either size or run hard.

FB to watch...

* Quinn Johnson - LSU
* Eric Kettani - Navy
* Tony Fiammetta - Syracuse

All 3 looked good this week. Eric is more the runner. The other guys are outstanding blockers.

TE to watch...

* Shawn Nelson - So Miss

I know everyone is in love with Brandon Pettigrew. Forget about him. Brandon is a blocker first, then receiver. We need someone who can catch first, then block. Shawn has been that guy this week. I know Eagles fans want a blocker. So do I. Just not with a high pick. The blocker to watch is Anthony Hill of NC State.

WR to watch...

* Brian Robiskie - Ohio State

He's polished. He's 6'3, 207. He has good hands. This might be the kind of player we need to add to the rotation.

CB to watch...

* Alphonso Smith - Wake Forest

He's an inch shorter than Sheldon. He has 21 career INTs. Very quick. Plays the ball well. Makes plays.

S to watch...

* Louis Delmas - Western Michigan
* Patrick Chung - Oregon
* Michael Hamlin - Clemson

We have a likely FS of the future in Quintin Demps. We need a SS. The guys listed above could play either spot. Delmas is a hitter and playmaker. Chung showed good man-cover skills. Hamlin is a little bit of everything.

Friday, January 23, 2009

DGR is Posted


Thank god I'm done with that. I can now concentrate on the draft and the offseason.

I was very encouraged by the play of our WRs, Brent Celek, and Victor Abiamiri. I think we can try to upgrade at TE, but Celek is capable of being the starter and being effective, if not good.

I'm excited about Victor taking over at LDE next year. We need better play at LDE. Juqua had a quiet game. He's meant to be a role player.


Someone mentioned we need to focus on RZ play in the offseason. I agree completely. Last year we made STs a huge part of the offseason plan. We loaded up on returners to address the issue.

This year we need to do the same with the RZ.

We must look for a strong, physical WR. We must improve at FB. We must find a TE who can block in running situations. Send Matt Schobel to the worst gulag in Siberia. We must think about OL change. The lack of push on GL runs was pitiful.

I'll be writing out specific thoughts in the coming weeks.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Busy Week

Sorry for the lack of posts. I'm not in denial. Or jail.

I've been busy studying college prospects. The East-West Shrine Game was played on Saturday. The Senior Bowl practices started on Monday and the game is this Saturday. Those two all-star games will feature the bulk of the Senior players who get drafted in late April.

The Eagles should be intrigued by plenty of guys. I'll list a quick few that have caught my eye as our kind of prospects:

* OT Sebastian Vollmer - Houston --- He played LT for UH this year. He played RT in the EWSG. You took one look at him and immediately thought of...Jon Runyan. Vollmer lists at 6'8, 315. He carries it well. He looked good as a run and pass blocker. Really impressive kid. I'll be watching a lot of tape on him.

* FB Quinn Johnson - LSU --- I have him as the #1 FB and he's done nothing to disprove that down in Mobile. Outstanding blocker and okay receiver. Might be good, actually. Doesn't get many chances to catch the ball so I'm not sure what his ceiling is in that area.

* RB Cedric Peerman - Virginia --- Lists at 5'9, 210. N-S runner with some speed and a physical style. If the Eagles wait til the 3rd or 4th, Peerman could be of definite interest.

* TE Shawn Nelson - So Miss --- Measured in at 6'5, 238. Good frame. Has stood out as a blocker. We know from college he can catch the ball. Might have played his way into being the #2 TE prospect in the draft. The Eagles might prefer Shawn to Pettigrew actually. Shawn is an outstanding receiver and solid blocker. Pettigrew is the opposite. Since we're a passing team Shawn might be more our kind of guy.

* CB Alphonso Smith - Wake Forest --- Playmaker. Excels at man coverage. Yes, he's only 5'8 and 3/4, but the kid can cover and plays the ball like...Asante Samuel. It wouldn't shock me to see the Birds grab a CB in the 1st. Sheldon didn't set the world on fire in the postseason.

No OL has stood out at the Senior Bowl as a slam dunk RT target for us. There are several guys I'm interested in. I think we need to see the game to really get a feel for the OL. Those guys are better judged off game tape than drills.

No Safety has looked great, but I love the way Louis Delmas hits a player every chance he gets. Even when he's not supposed to...


I'll be working on the Game Review for the playoff loss hopefully tonight. I need to get that posted.

I'll work on the Season Review next week and then focus on some kind of Offseason Preview.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Monday Thoughts

I haven't gone back over the game. I watched some highlights, but I haven't got the stomach to thoroughly study what happened. Hopefully I'll get to that on Tuesday.

The Eagles made too many mistakes. You can focus on the gameplan, McNabb, or the defense, but everyone had a hand in this. I went over the mistakes in my article:

We had far too many guys "underachieve" in this game. I think a lot of that is due to the Thanksgiving game. We whipped them completely that night. I have to believe that subconsciously that game gave us a false sense of confidence.

There is also the stat about teams that beat the defending champions losing the next week. I think the record is 0-12 after yesterday. I wondered if beating the big, bad Giants would soften our edge a little. That game felt more like the NFC Championship than yesterday did.


There will be change coming in a couple of months. Don't count on major moves. This team is pretty good right now. They underachieved overall, but still got to the NFC-CG.

The defense should look the same. I expect us to re-sign Dawk. I expect us to re-sign Hanson. We'll adjust some backups, but the D is pretty set. Now, if you get the chance to add Asomugha or Haynesworth...go for it. Those are elite players. You don't pass on them unless you already have elite players. I doubt the Eagles will get either guy, but they should be talked to.

The offense will look different. The skill players are basically back. I don't see us making a change at WR or Westy or McNabb. Celek showed enough that he can be the starter next year. We might try to upgrade, but it isn't a necessity. FB is needed. Backup RB is needed.

While I don't see Westy going anywhere, a good young RB is needed. Our offense needs someone who can overcome bad blocking and add that "oomph" to the offense. I don't care how big he is. Just give me a physical runner. In a fantasy world Maurice Jones-Drew would become trade bait.

The OL will be different. I don't want to get into all the permutations right now. Herremans is a lock to start somewhere. Jamaal Jackson is probably back. Runyan is gone. No chance at him returning. Tra looked old in the postseason. I'm starting to think they'll let him walk as well. We have a bunch of guys fighting for G spots. All I can say about Shawn Andrews is don't believe anything you read. He is all over the place and changes his mind on a regular basis. He could start the next 7 Pro Bowls or never play again. What a shame.

I agree with Lynch's comment on the last post that improving in the Red Zone is huge. This is where a good FB and good blocking TE are important. We need a RB with the ability to push the pile. We also need a physical WR. We can get this guy in the draft to develop as a RZ threat and Curtis' eventual successor at X. We must be able to score TDs more efficiently next year. We lost games because of our inability to score TDs. That fact can't be lost on Andy.

As for the question about "the regime"...Andy Reid isn't going anywhere. He bought at least another year with the way the team played in December and January. If he will commit to a more balanced offense and focus on the RZ, I'm fine with him coming back. Andy has been slow to change. Glacially slow. However, he has adjusted over the years more than people think. I hope seeing the change of '06 and this year will finally get it through his thick skull that we must run more. We'll always be a passing offense, but there is a need to run more and be better at running the ball.

I don't see major changes on the coaching staff. Spags may take a guy or two down to St. Louis. I doubt anyone gets fired, although Segrest certainly could.

I don't know that the regime in place is a problem. The way they do certain things is. We have to hope there are changes in that. Andy focused on pass protection this year more than ever. He built the passing offense around a rookie. That was different. He quit rotating WRs late in the year. He will adjust at times. We need him to make the right adjustments between now and July so that we start the season with some of these problems solved. There are always new problems that creep up.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

And Then Depression Set in...

Arizona 32, Philadelphia 25. Season over.

I never expected our defense to struggle the way they did. This was their worst game since Week 10 vs NYG. They gave up 3 long TD drives. They gave up a big play TD. They were given a lead in the 4th Quarter and couldn't hang onto it.

I felt like the Eagles lost this game more than the Eagles won it. Mistakes, mistakes, and more mistakes.

McNabb left 3 or 4 TDs on the field. Our WRs ran free and open for much of the game. Donovan made poor reads and also made poor throws.

Hank dropped a pass.

GLew dropped a pass.

Tra Thomas came up small.

Quintin Demps had a ridiculous roughing the passer penalty.

Several defenders missed tackles.

Buck had a false start penalty. So did Avant.

Klecko had a holding penalty.

And so on.

David Akers had a nightmare game. He missed a 1st half FG. He missed an extra point. He had a KO go out of bounds. The score should have been 32-30 on our final drive.

Several receivers did come up big. Curtis delivered a couple of long plays. DeSean had a 62-yard TD catch. Celek caught 10 passes and 2 TDs.

I'll go back and re-watch the tape in a day or two. I'll try to see what the problems were, especially on defense. We do have to give Kurt Warner a lot of credit. He came up huge when his team needed him.

The season is over. We have some key issues to deal with, but we'll get to them in the near future. I'm bummed. I've had a few beers. We'll start the offseason talk soon enough.

2008 was a very weird, but fun season. I hate that we came up short (again), but there is a lot to be happy about. I just hope we're able to build off it.

Gameday Thoughts

The key to this game is our defense. They have to control the Cardinals offense and limit points. Our guys did this in the first meeting. They've also played great defense since that game.

The stats are crazy. We haven't allowed a passing TD since the Giants game in early December (and that was a throw to the TE with :15 left in the game). We've only allowed 7 TDs in the last 7 games. Our defense has scored 4 TDs and returned a ball to the 2-yard line in that stretch.

I watched the NFL Network's Playbook show on the Eagles/Cards matchup. They showed some real interesting highlights. Jim Johnson had his guys really prepared in that game, despite playing on the short week.

They did a great job of creatively pressuring Kurt Warner and covering the Cardinals WRs. The Eagles knew what routes were coming on multiple plays and either jumped the routes or closed on receivers in a hurry to limit the play.

The Cardinals will certainly make adjustments because of that. The problem is that many of those plays were base plays. You can't completely go away from the base plays of your offense. What the Cardinals will do is run some variations to try and burn the Eagles. They did this last week vs CAR. The Cards run the WR screen on a regular basis. Against the Panthers they faked a WR screen and had Larry Fitzgerald take off downfield. He was uncovered and delivered a big gain. That was a great play call by the coaches.

One of the things I noticed in re-watching the Thanksgiving game is that Stewart Bradley had a hard time getting outside to cover RBs. It didn't hurt the Eagles because Warner didn't get the ball out there very much. I'm sure the Cardinals saw this and will try to work in some throws to Hightower or JJ Arrington on the outside. Bradley has improved since that game. He now understands the importance of getting outside in a hurry when he's got the RB. He takes good angles and gets out there under control. The Giants tried to burn him with a pass to the RB inside the 10, but Stew made the tackle just inside the 5 and forced a FG attempt.

Brian Baldinger had some great stats about the Red Zone pass defense. Since the Cardinals game the Eagles have faced 15 passes in the RZ. Teams are 4 of 13 for 18 yards. They have no TDs. They have 2 sacks and 2 fumbles.

This will be a huge test for our guys. They face a veteran QB, a veteran RB, and a great pair of WRs. That is a daunting task, but I believe in Jim Johnson and our defense.


Kevin Curtis --- The Cards will likely put DRC on DeSean when they go man. I'm sure he'll also draw some Safety help. Kevin will face solo coverage plenty of times. I think Donovan will get him the ball. Kevin will also get open when they play zone. Look for a big gain from him.

Quintin Mikell --- He will come down against the run more than Dawk. He played great vs ARZ in the first game. He was terrific last week. I think Q comes up big again. He'll be solid in run support and make some plays in coverage.

Chris Clemons --- He can rush the passer from LDE. He can blitz up the middle as the Joker. He can drop on zone blitzes and has the speed to be good in space. He doesn't need sacks to make a difference.

We may not come up with many sacks, but the DL needs to keep Warner off balance. They can knock down passes and just get in passing lanes. Hitting and sacking Kurt would be nice as well.

I didn't mention Westy as a key player, but I sure hope he's able to deliver a big game. We can win even with him being held under control, but a big game from him would really be nice. It really helps the offense to click, plus it would be great to see him rewarded after the last two weeks.

Touches for Buck and Westy. Pressure on Warner. Good defense. Eagles win.

Friday, January 16, 2009

How the Cardinals Can Win

Eagles fans are very confident right now. It's almost eerie, actually. I don't think they are overlooking Arizona so much as they are just sold on the Eagles. Very unusual stuff.

I think the Eagles should be favored, but Arizona can absolutely win this game. Here are some of the ways they'd do it:

* Protect Warner --- The Eagles didn't sack Kurt once in the first meeting. He was pressured regularly, but never got really pounded. The Cardinals OL is playing better right now. They have more of a running game and that helps. Also, good OL play is about timing and rhythm. ARZ only ran 10 times in their loss to us. No OL can get into a good flow with that few runs. That makes Andy Reid look like Chuck Knox. Late in the year the Cardinals re-inserted Edgerrin James as the starter and Tim Hightower went back to being the backup. This made them better at each spot. Edge isn't a good backup and Tim struggled as the starter.

Running more helped the OL. Those guys are playing with more confidence now. Teams can't just tee off and rush the passer. That helps when they do decide to throw the ball. Warner has only been sacked twice in the last 3 games. He's getting time to make his reads and get the ball out.

If the OL can keep Warner clean on Sunday it will be tough for the back seven to cover the Cards. They have a great receiver in Fitz, an almost great receiver in Boldin, and a heck of a #3 in Breaston. Then you mix in throws to the TEs or Urban or dumpoffs to the RBs. Warner has a lot of options. If given time he will find the right guy and they will move the ball.

* Score TDs --- The Cardinals have a pair of great Red Zone WRs in Boldin and Fitz. They are tough to keep out of the endzone if they get down close. We've been very up and down inside the 10-yard line in the last couple of games. If the Cards can score TDs that will put a lot of pressure on us.

* Hope Fitz Stays Hot --- Larry Fitzgerald is on a hot streak in the playoffs. He's catching everything thrown his way. He's coming up with big plays and scoring TDs. Most frustrating, he's even beating good defense. He's been double-covered a couple of times and still made the catch. How do you stop a guy who outjumps double teams? Westy got shutdown by the Giants. They took him away. No one has been able to take Fitz away from the Cards offense to this point.

* Get Off The Ball --- Darnell Dockett can explode off the ball when he times his get-off right with the snap. He'll guess and take a penalty from time to time, but will also deliver some big plays. He knocked the ball loose on the handoff vs ATL and it turned into a defensive TD for Rolle. Bert Berry can fly off the edge. Antonio Smith is good for a big play on occasion. Guys like Chike Okeafor, Gerald Hayes, and Karlos Dansby can make plays in the backfield.

If ARZ can get penetration and be disruptive they'll put a lot of pressure on the Eagles offense. Penetration leads to TFLs, hurried throws, and possibly fumbles. The Cardinals aren't good enough to shut down a good opponent without creating some havoc plays and getting turnovers. They can do both, especially at home.

* Big Game Kurt --- Kurt Warner is 3-1 in NFC-CGs and SBs combined. That's pretty good. He had some elite company in those games (at least 3 HOF players on his side in each), but he still came up big when needed. He's tough to rattle.

I think the Eagles defense will be too much to overcome, but this game is hard to get a handle on. How much better will the Cardinals be because of being at home? Will they respond to the game with nerves or will they come out loose? Can the Eagles adjust from running teams to a passing team with a great receiver?

I'm sticking with the Eagles because I see them taking care of business right now. They aren't just "hot" per se. They're playing really well. No luck plays or flukes are involved. This is good execution. They've won in 2 hostile places. They've beaten great runners and defenders. It's hard to believe a great receiver will be their undoing (although that would be very ironic based on Reid / fanbase's attitude toward star receivers).

Less than 48 hours til kickoff.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Preview and Other Stuff

Long preview is posted.



The Eagles and Cardinals have played some memorable games. I never thought these two would be fighting for the Super Bowl. Here's a bizarre trip down memory lane:

1992 - PHI 7, PHX 3 --- This is the game where the Cardinals got 7 plays at the goal line and couldn't score a TD. We kept jumping offside and they kept running right at us. Joe Bugel and Reggie White both did their part to keep the Cards out of the endzone. Cunningham was awful that day. This was really the beginning of the end for him in Philly.

1993 - PHI 23, PHX 17 --- We beat them in the season opener. The game was nothing special until the end. Herschel Walker fumbled the ball late, but the officials didn't call it a fumble. We came very close to blowing the game. We'd make up for that in the future.

1994 - PHI 17, PHX 7 --- Buddy Ryan returned to Philly as HC of the Cards. One of his favorite players, "Arkansas Fred" Barnett, had a huge game. Fred hauled in 11 passes for 173 yards and a pair of TDs. He caught a couple of great deep balls.

1995 - PHI 31, ARZ 19 --- Philly got to see Thunder and Lightning for the first time. Ricky Watters ran for 94 yards. Charlie Garner fan for 71. Randall got benched by Ray Rhodes and Rodney Peete laid the foundation for becoming the eventual starter.

1996 - ARZ 36, PHI 30 --- A classic. Boomer Esiason had a career renaissance in the month of November. He threw for 367 yards against us and looked great. The game went crazy in the 4th Qtr. Watters ran for a short TD to cut the lead to 22-20. Arizona had a TD drive of their own to match that. I gave up hope at that point. Derrick Witherspoon then ran the KO back 95 yards for a TD to cut the lead to 29-27. We did an onside kick and recovered it. We then marched right down the field into FG territory. We worked the clock and kicked the go-ahead FG. 30-29, PHI. Boomer and Co. got the kickoff and proceeded to march down the field and score a last second TD to win the game. They burned Troy for the winning score. I was depressed for at least a week. One of the all time heartbreaking losses for me.

1996 - PHI 29, ARZ 19 --- Game played on Christmas Eve. The Cards were bad. On a play prior to the half we rushed only Mike Mamula and William Fuller. Those two guys collapsed the pocket and sacked the QB. One of my favorite meaningless plays of all time.

1998 - ARZ 17, PHI 3 --- A sign of things to come. The game was tied 0-0 at the end of 3 quarters. I think that was the first time in NFL history a game had gone scoreless for that long. Hoying was bad. I thought it was a phase. Wrong.

1999 - ARZ 25, PHI 24 --- Season opener and the beginning of Andy Reid's time in Philly. We led 24-6 at halftime. I was ready to marry Big Red and have his kids. The Cards crept closer in the 3rd Qtr. We did have the lead late. We threw a pass to Brian Finneran along the left sideline to try and burn the Cards. Finneran bobbled the ball and it was picked off and run back deep. They scored and won the game. Tough, tough loss. Basically the end of Finneran's career as an Eagle.

2000 - PHI 33, ARZ 14 --- We had a 4th/4 play in FG range. Lined up for the kick. The ball came to Koy who then casually flipped it over his shoulder to Akers. David ran 15 yards to get the 1st down and keep alive a TD drive. LSU used this play in 2007 and the football world went nuts. We used it a long time before that, but very few remember.

2001 - ARZ 21, PHI 20 --- We outplayed them, but Jake Plummer wouldn't die. He led the Cards on a drive late, late in the game. Jake threw downfield to MarTay Jenkins on 4th/forver. Troy got turned around and Jenkins caught a 35-yard TD. Game over. A real kick to the groin.

2002 - PHI 38, ARZ 14 --- Donovan broke his leg early in the game. We all thought it was simply a sprained ankle. He played the whole game. Donnie was purely a pocket passer and he picked the Cards apart. One of his best games. He then missed the rest of the regular season.

The rivalry basically stopped there. 2001 was the final year with the Cardinals as part of the NFC East. The '02 game still had a lot of familiarity because we still knew each other so well. We played them in 2005 and it meant nothing. This isn't as epic as rivalies with the Skins, Gmen, or Cowgirls, but it was special in its own way. And very, very frustrating.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

DGR is Posted


I was just as impressed re-watching the game as I was sitting through it the first time.


I hope the Eagles remain focused. We've played with an edge for quite a while now. I hope beating a rival like the Giants doesn't lull them into a sense of accomplishment. I think this is a grounded group, but you never know how guys will react to a situation like this.

This is a real tough time of the year for players and coaches. You want to celebrate a big win, but also want to remember that there is work left to do. That can make for a tricky balancing act.

I feel pretty confident in the Eagles because many members of the team have had playoff success before. We're also not blowing people away. Playing in tight games can help to keep you on edge.

I've written a few times that I really like the character of this team. One of the good things is the mixture of grizzled vets (McNabb, Dawk, Tra, Jon, etc.) and youth. Guys like Stewart Bradley, Brodrick Bunkley, and Chris Gocong are new to this. They're bringing a lot of enthusiasm. I also like what Asante Samuel brings to the mix. His INTs are nice, but he's also got some attitude. I like a defense that plays with emotion.

One other very encouraging thing is that the team hasn't played a great game yet. The Eagles haven't had a masterful performance. They are just playing good football. There's nothing fluky about what is going on.

Let's hope Sunday is a fun day. It sure feels good to be back in the hunt for a Super Bowl.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Postgame Article

I'm still working on the DGR, but here's the EMB article.


Sunday, January 11, 2009

Big Win

Onto the NFC Championship. The Eagles beat the Giants 23-11 to keep the playoff run going. Well done, gentlemen.

This really was a team win. The defense kept the Giants out of the endzone. The offense came live late in the first half and continued that into the 2nd half. They piled up 16 points and more than 240 yards in that span. Special teams had one miscue, a long KOR, but came up big with field goals and was good at coverage most of the game.

Donovan McNabb came up huge. He threw the ball well. The wind had little affect on his throws. He made good decisions. He threw for a TD and sneaked for 1. He did throw a couple of picks, but neither was completely his fault and neither really hurt us.

Individuals made some huge plays. McNabb and Avant connected on a pass play that moved the chains on 3rd/20. We ended up getting a FG on that drive. That put us ahead and we never relinquished the lead. Asante Samuel had a huge INT and returned it to the 1-yard line. That set up our first TD. David Akers got Bradshaw out of bounds on the long KOR and kept him from scoring. Akers also was 4 of 4 on FGs. Kevin Curtis made some key catches in the 2nd half and also made a huge tackle of Fred Robbins after an INT. Sheldon Brown showed great hustle in chasing down Jacobs from the other side of the field and tackling him after a long run. That could have turned into a huge gain.

The defense was awesome. Sure, they did give up 138 rushing yards. They kept the Giants out of the endzone and they came up big on 3rd downs. And 4th downs. The 2 4th down stops were huge. That vaunted rushing attack couldn't come through on key plays. Our defense did.

The thing I like most about this team right now is their character. They don't panic when something goes wrong. They re-group and go to the next play. They don't relax when things go well. They stay focused. There seems to be a real sense of togetherness with this group. It is hard to put a value on that, but I think it is key to the winning right now.

I really like this team.


Gameday Thoughts

The Titans went down. The Panthers went down. Wow. Does that bode well for the Eagles or does that mean that all the upsets happened yesterday? I mean, what are the odds that both #1 seeds lose in the Divisional Round?

The teams that lost yesterday had turnovers to blame. The Titans had 3 turnovers inside the 30. If they just get FGs on those possessions they win the game. Jake Delhomme was a turnover machine for Carolina. He had 5 picks and a fumble. Talk about nightmare game. I live in Panthers country and can't wait to hear the fans going after him.

Turnovers could be huge today. Unfortunately the Giants are very protective of the ball. They set an NFL record with only 13 this year. Miami also had 13 this year. Then they fell apart in their playoff loss. Pennington threw the ball to Ed Reed a couple of times. Teams that are safe and smart in the regular season can come undone in the postseason. Let's hope that happens to New York today.


I know some fans are concerned about the team getting off to a fast start. That isn't a big deal for me. We're a defensive team at this point. As long as they aren't getting scored on the offense can take a few series to really get going. I do want us to move the ball so that we can play good field position football.


Something has been bouncing around in my head this week. Is the Giants D overrated? The group that won a SB isn't around this year. Osi is on IR and Strahan is stuck between Jimmy Johnson and Howie Long at Fox.

I watched the NFL Network's Playbook show. Sterling Sharpe and Brian Baldinger went on and on about the Giants D. You'd think we were facing the '85 Bears. We finished ahead of them in most key defensive categories. We have the better defense this year. We have the hotter defense right now.

The Giants finished 5th in yards allowed. However...they faced the 4th fewest plays. Their offense ran a lot and that shortens the game. The Giants allowed 18 yards a game more than us, but they faced 63 fewer plays. That is basically like an extra game.

They finished 6th in sacks, but their reputation is that of a dominant DL. People are thinking about last year. 6th is very good, but it isn't dominant.

Maybe they'll raise their game a notch in the playoffs. That can happen. I just find it odd that we put points on them in both games, but some analysts act as if the Giants D owns us. Not the case.

They are good...very good, but they haven't been dominant in a while.


It feels great to be back in the playoffs, playing in these big games. I'd forgotten just how much fun this is. If our defense is able to play like they have been and the offense can get us at least one TD, we'll win this game.

I want a big game from Trent Cole and lots of touches for Westy and Buck.

Give us a W Birds. Let's keep this thing going.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Importance of Youth

In 2006 we had a tough Wildcard win over the Giants. The game was decided by a FG and we won 23-20. The Giants ran for just over 150 yards in the game. It was a hard fought, intense, physical affair. The next week we went to New Orleans and really struggled on defense. We allowed over 190 rushing yards. Our guys wore down in the 2nd half.

That was also the game where Jeremiah Trotter went from being the Axeman to being the old man. Deuce McAllister made Trot look old and slow with a couple of moves. Sadly, that was the last we saw of Trot on the field as an Eagle.

The Giants are going to be well-rested on Sunday, just like the Saints were in '06. Will we fare better this time around?

I can't tell you we'll win the game, but we won't look the way we did in 2006. That defense was older in some key spots. Darwin Walker, Dhani Jones, and Trot have been replaced by Brodrick Bunkley, Chris Gocong, and Stewart Bradley. We're bigger, faster, and younger at all 3 spots.

Darwin was a turnstile in that game. Trot only had 5 tackles despite 37 runs by the Saints, most of them up the middle. I don't think you'll see this group get run on like the 2006 group.

We had to live with some mistakes by the young guys in the season. Gocong gave up a TD to Greg Olsen that he shouldn't have. He's been out of position on some run plays. Stew has had his ups and downs as he adjusts to being a starting MLB. He's had some games where his run defense wasn't great. He struggled at times in coverage. Both guys have also played very well for most of the season.

Bunkley is infinitely better against the run than Darwin Walker ever was. Bunk is developing into quite a good DT. He's big and strong and plays like it.

Hopefully that youth will show up on Sunday in the form of fresh legs and guys that can win individual battles. We have to match the Giants in terms of being physical.


It sounds like Klecko is out. Buck and Eckel are each getting reps with the offense. Buck will get the majority of the snaps based on what is being reported.

You'd rather have Klecko than Buck as the lead blocker, but the Eagles can work around this. They can run from 3-WR sets more often. They will use Brent Celek as a lead blocker on some plays. Buck can be effective a few times.

The problem comes on 3rd/1 when the D is playing the run and LBs are going to attack the gaps. Buck isn't going to block many 240-lb guys that are attacking upfield. Maybe Eckel gets worked in on those plays. We also could get creative. Spread the D out and run a QB draw. Stuff like that.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Couple of New Players

The Eagles added a couple of guys recently:

G Kevin Duckworth

WR Danny Amendola

Both guys will come in to compete for roles in 2009. Here's the pre-Draft write-up I did on Kevin...

We had him as the #8 G in the 2007 Draft class. I'm not a huge fan of his, but he does have some ability. I see him more as a camp body than anything.

Amendola is interesting. Anyone who saw last year's Hard Knocks knows the kid has some talent. Danny has good hands. He has some quickness. He knows how to get open. He lacks ideal size and speed. He projects as a #3 or #4 WR at best. People will want to compare him to Wes Welker, but Wes was more of a playmaker at Texas Tech.

The Eagles tried to sign Amendola to the Practice Squad last summer, but he turned down more money from Philly to stay in Dallas. He thought he had a chance to develop down there. Things didn't work out and now he's headed here.

I am interested by the situation. The Eagles really wanted this guy. Why? In the past Andy hasn't really gone after many guys like him. Big Red loves to collect big WRs (Gaperson, McMullen, McCants, etc.). I think going for a guy like Amendola is smart. He has PR experience. He has some KOR experience. He was very productive in college (204 catches, 15 TDs). Danny might lack measurables, but he's an overachiever type. We've had plenty of guys with measurables who didn't pan out. I'm all for adding guys like him. Here's a link to his career stats from Texas Tech.

Neither guy has much of a shot to make the roster in 2009, barring injuries. They are players to help in Training Camp and/or put on the Practice Squad for the future.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

The Great Deodorant

The old joke in sports is that winning is a great deodorant. Winning makes everything okay. It covers up problems.

Winning also brings out good stuff from strange places. Did you see Lito Sheppard actually making a nice tackle last Sunday late in the game? It was sorta garbage time, but there was Lito firing into the legs of Chester Taylor and putting him on the ground. Where was effort like that 8 weeks ago?

Omar Gaither suddenly has emerged as a force on STs. He's blocking well, blowing up the wedge, and making tackles. I don't recall seeing that in November or even early December.

The playoffs have a weird effect on guys. Being in the postseason excites players. Everybody wants to contribute. Everyone wants to be part of a winner. There is another angle, though. Lito and Omar know the rest of the league is watching. They want to stand out to impress future employers.

It would have been great for Lito to play with this mentality all year long. Instead he pouted because things didn't go his way. No better way to show teams you deserve a raise than by pouting and underachieving while already taking in $5M a year. Idiot.

I have some sympathy for Omar. He lost his starting job at midseason. He started the year very well, but struggled as we faced more physical teams. He was replaced by Akeem Jordan and the defense went from very good to dominant. Omar didn't do much after getting benched until the Dallas game. He really came alive on STs that day. Why so late?

Omar hates playing on STs. He feels he should be a starter. I've heard this from a couple of different sources. I think the importance of things got to him late in the year and he finally decided to make the best of things. Better late than never I guess.


I had some writer's block as I started the Game Preview so I wrote out a goofy version just to get my brain working. Here it is...


The Giants have lost 3 of 4. They cheated most of the season to get off to a good start, but once the NFL caught on and made them play fairly they got exposed as the Madoff of Division winners.

Giants O vs Eagles D

Nancy Manning has never seen the kind of heat that Trent Cole and his band of heroic warriors bring. I have an inside tip that Jim Johnson has designed a special play where Dawk knocks the ball from Manning and FattPatt scoops it up and starts running. JJ wants Patt to have the ball so that he will take his sweet time on the way to the endzone. Chris Clemons has been instructed to slam Manning down with his wicked lead blocks as much as possible during the return.

Eagles O vs Giants D



I don’t see how Candy Coughlin can expect to beat Big Red and the Eagles. Andy has more hair in his right nostril that Coughlin does on his entire body. Andy's body temp never drops below the Mendoza line. That gives us a significant advantage in a cold weather setting. I won't tell you how McNabb keeps his hands warm, but it isn't pleasant.

Back to the game. Patt’s TD makes it 7-0. Westy continually runs to the 1 and goes down on a knee so that the clock will keep running. He knows 7-0 is a good enough lead to win.

Ed Hochuli comes up big for the Giants. They down a punt at the 1-yd line late in the game. Candy Coughlin challenges the ruling that it is the Eagles ball. He says that the punt was a live ball, citing Chapter 9, subsection 4 of the Magna Carta, which he carries a copy of in his pocket and shows to Hochuli. Ed is confused by a book with no pictures and rules in favor of the Giants. This really pisses off Jim Johnson and the Eagles. He orders Asante Samuel to make a play. Sammie, with impeccable timing and excellent hands, intercepts the snap and runs it back 99 yds for a TD.

The Eagles go on to win the SB. Chocolate pudding rains from the sky. Megan Fox does a 45-minute nude scene in several upcoming movies. 2009 is widely hailed as the greatest year ever.

- The End -

Playoff Preview - at NYG


Sunday seems like it is 2 weeks away and yet it's right around the corner. Feels weird to watch ESPN or the NFL Network and still see Eagles stories. This time last year I was neck deep in offseason talk.

Les Bowen reported that Klecko didn't practice today and said Eckel is likely to get the start at FB.

I'm actually intrigued to see that. Kyle was great on STs last week. We know he's a good short yardage runner. If he shows any aptitude for blocking, he could be in the mix for FB next year.


The Eagles had to put Mike McGlynn on IR with a hamstring injury. They signed CB Dimitri Patterson. He caught my eye the last couple of preseasons when he was in KC. Dimitri goes about 5'10, 190 and seems to be the kind of CB we're going after these days. He plays the ball well and is a solid hitter/tackler. He was 3rd on the Chiefs in preseason tackles in '07 and 2nd in '08.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Let's Talk LJ Smith & TE

Someone on the EMB asked me if LJ would do a better job of blocking than Schobel did vs MIN. Yikes. The anti-LJ stuff has gotten out of hand when people are starting to ask questions like that.

LJ Smith is a good player. He is very talented.

The problem with LJ is that his time in Philadelphia is coming to a close. Things just didn't work out. He wasn't happy with his deal. He let that affect his play. He struggled with injuries at times, probably too much. He doesn't lack talent.

I also don't think LJ lacks heart. I don't see him as a lazy player. He's maddeningly inconsistent, but I think part of that is on the way we've used him. In the last 3 years he's only had consecutive games with 5 catches once. And that was the first 2 weeks of the 2006 season. Since then he's been a yo-yo. 6 catches one game, then 2 catches the next. How does LJ fit into the offense? How does the TE fit into the offense?

LJ is one of those guys who needs the right situation to thrive. The Eagles are best set up for self-motivated guys who are very mature and can handle a tough environment. Fredex didn't work out. Ryan Moats didn't work out. LJ isn't working out.

We have better luck with grinders and overachievers. Brent Celek is developing into a good player. He looks like a capable starter at times. LJ need someone to stay on his case, to keep him focused. We don't deal well with those kinds of players.

LJ shows you great potential in some games, then disappears. He was a big reason we beat the Giants last month. LJ blocked Justin Tuck a few times on pass plays. He blocked well on some runs. He caught a short pass on 3rd down and fought his way to get the 1st down. In all he caught 6 passes and helped us to play ball control football.

I hope LJ is healthy enough to play on Sunday. Celek earned the right to start with the way he played in Minnesota, but I definitely want LJ in as part of the offense. I don't trust him in the sense of being "the TE", but he can help this team.

Matt Schobel is my least favorite Eagle right now. He brings nothing to the table and I look forward to his departure when the season is over. At least Lito Sheppard can point to his past play with pride. Matt is just collecting a paycheck. He looks like he's going through the motions. I can't stand guys like that. I can deal with a player who lacks talent, but lack of effort is unforgivable.


Monday, January 5, 2009

Game Review and Monday Thoughts

The DGR is posted:

I've gotten some interesting comments from non-Eagles fans. One told me he thought we dominated the Vikings. I don't agree with that. Another asked me about being on Cloud Nine. I'm not there. I expected to win that game. Beating the Vikings was nice, but I've got bigger fish to fry. I want this team to go to Tampa. I'll settle for the Meadowlands this week.

I like the vibe from Eagles fans that everyone is happy with the win, but focused on the big picture. I remember beating the Giants in 2006. The mood after that game was more celebratory.


I flipped over to the NFL Network after the game yesterday. I wanted some analysis or interviews or just some more NFL talk. Instead I got the inane ramblings of a lunatic mind.

Deion is great to listen to when he's telling a personal story or if he's explaining pass coverage. His general thoughts and analysis leave a bit to be desired.

He was all over the fact that McNabb got benched by Reid, is unappreciated by Eagles fans, and will force his way out of town. Rich Eisen and Steve Mariucci offered their 2 cents that McNabb may not feel like that. Deion would hear none of it. He is 1.9 million percent sure.

How could a QB want to play for a coach who benched him in such a way as Reid did to McNabb? How could that happen?

Here's the beautiful and ironic part. In 1994 Deion played for SF. In early October the Eagles beat the Niners 40-8. Steve Young looked like crap and got benched. He and George Siefert got into a shouting match on the sidelines. They didn't implode. No one demanded a trade. They went on to win the SB. If only Deion put on his thinking cap he could have talked about that situation.

One area where I think he lacks understanding is the relationship that Reid and McNabb have. Andy drafted Donovan and has been his only NFL coach. Deion had 37 different head coaches (just an approximate total). He never developed the kind of bond that Donnie and Big Red have. Deion is judging things from his mercenary perspective. He openly shopped himself around the league 3 times. McNabb has been an Eagle for a decade. How can Deion expect to understand what's going on in McNabb's head?

Can't we find some ex-player who knows the game, has opinions, and has a personality, but also is reasonable and rational?

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Brave New World

We're back in the playoffs, but there are some interesting aspects this time around. Donovan McNabb hasn't played in a postseason game since the Super Bowl. Pretty weird when you think of that. Donovan was excellent in the 2004 playoffs, with the exception of his INTs in the Super Bowl.

How will Donovan play? He admitted to having a lot of frustration in watching the 2006 team play well without him. I wonder if Donovan will press at all, with the mindset that he's got something to prove. McNabb is a streaky QB as we all know and it will be interesting to see which guy shows up today.

We're the #6 seed for the first time in the Reid era. Normally we host the Wildcard game or have a bye. How will the team handle the underdog role? I hope the guys are able to use that as some sort of bonding and motivational tool. I'm not a big fan of that stuff, but it can work in some situations. We need to embrace the fact we're on the road. We're the spoilers...the villains...the bad guys. We want to hear boos. The more boos we hear, the better our chance to go to Tampa.

We're packing a top flight defense for the first time in a while. In 2003 and 2006 we had mediocre or bad defenses. Injuries and age hurt those units. The 2004 team had a good defense, but I don't think they were as good as the current group. The LBs were Dhani, Trot, and Sim. Would you take them over Gocong, Stew, and Akeem? No way.

This is also the first time we've gone into the playoffs with our top QB, RB, and WR healthy since 2001. Let's hope that shows up in the form of a good playoff run.

I won't even go into the number of new starters in this game as opposed to the past. Suffice it to say that this is a new team in a new situation. What makes that interesting is that we don't know which players will step up. Could we see a breakout performance from Quentin Mikell or Chris Gocong or Brent Celek? Absolutely. I'm hoping Brodrick Bunkley really steps up this postseason.

Finally, there are some guys coming to the end of the road, as Eagles or just as NFL players. Those guys will bring a sense of urgency to the situation that hopefully will help us out if we need it.


Be patient. Last year Tampa ran 20 plays on 2 drives and had a 7-0 lead at the end of the 1st quarter. The Giants had 3 straight 3 & outs. They looked bad. Tampa was dominating the game. The Bucs slowed down. They only put up 7 points in the next 3 quarters and New York scored 24 to win the game and advance.

Yesterday the Falcons got down 14-3. They didn't panic. The offense adjusted and defense took away big plays. Next thing you know they have a 17-14 lead. The Falcons couldn't hold the lead, but the point is still there. Don't panic at the end of a quarter or even a half.

Heck, we all remember the fast start we had against Tampa in 2002. Unfortunately they didn't panic and closed out The Vet in a painful way.

Playoff games are funny. Teams can go on drastic rolls because of the intense pressure. Don't get too up or down. Remember that we're a defensive team this year and we'll give up some things, but will adjust after each series.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Random Stuff

We have a playoff game tomorrow, but there hasn't been much in the way of news to report. Asante Samuel did miss practice with a hip strain, but he's expected to play. It will be interesting to see him in the playoffs. Sammie has a reputation as a big game player from his time in NE. Let's hope that shows up against Minnesota.

No more word on Pat Williams. Some reports have him missing the game, others have him projected to start. Basically...wait and see.



Mike Shanahan is out of a job. When I heard he got fired I called a friend and said "Wouldn't it be cool to hire him as coach, but keep Andy as GM and JJ running the defense?"

Mike was a horrible GM in Denver. He ruined Mike the coach with some of his picks and signings. He also could not build a consistently good defense. They finished 14th or worse his last 4 years.

Mike is a great offensive coordinator. He is a great play-caller. Brilliant offensive mind. The thought of him running the Eagles offense is very intriguing. I'm sure many Eagles fans were going crazy at the thought of going after Mike.

The problem is that you can't hire him to run the whole organization. You have to keep Andy. Mike brought a lot of turds to Denver. He took chances on players that made no sense. Remember, this is the guy who drafted Maurice Clarrett in the 3rd round.

Andy isn't perfect to be sure, but he understands how to build a roster and keep one eye on the present at the same time you have one on the future. Would Andy be willing to give up his coaching spot to just run football operations? Not likely, but fun thought.

Jim Johnson would have autonomy on the defesne, which he basically does now. That side of things doesn't need changing right now.

The biggest player obstacle would be our OL. Mike likes his blockers lean and mean. Herremans and Mike McGlynn would fit. The other guys would likely be out. The good news on that front is that his kind of OL are easier to find.

The thought of Westy and Buck combining for 25-30 carries a game is fantasy material. Not quite Megan Fox fantasy level, but close.

In the end I think this will all be for naught. Reid loves being a coach. I don't think he'll give up his spot.


Anyone who saw the Rose Bowl had to drool at the thought of FS Taylor Mays becoming an Eagle. He's 6'3, 230. He's fast. He also hits like a ton of bricks. He really does a good job of controlling the middle of the field. Unfortunately our late season success put him out of our reach. Mays is a pick 10-15 kind of player.

RB CJ Spiller didn't have a great game for Clemson. The Nebraska defense shut down the Tigers offense. CJ had 7 carries, 4 catches, and a couple of good returns. He took a punt and KO back 33 yards. His value to the Eagles would lie in his versatility. He could be the primary RS. He can catch passes like a WR. He can be effective running the ball with only a few carries.

TE Brandon Pettigrew had 6 catches for Oklahoma State and also did a good job of blocking. He's the best complete TE in the Draft.

TE Davon Drew had a big game for ECU. He caught 5 passes for 120 yards, including a 42-yder. He's a former QB and more of a pure receiver. Like it or not, those are the kind of guys AR has gone after.

Iowa RB Shonn Greene has a lot of people's interest. He's a tough physical runner who gets behind his pads and punishes defenders. We'd all love a guy like that. Shonn missed the 2007 season because of academic problems. That's a red flag for us. He either isn't smart or didn't work hard on his grades. We run a complex offense. Ryan Moats failed here because he couldn't learn the playbook. Let's not repeat that mistake with Greene. I'd love to see us land a guy who runs like he does, but Greene isn't likely to be in Eagles green come late April.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Wildcard Stuff

I posted a game preview:

One thing I didn't talk too much about in there was possible concerns. I think we're the better team, but that doesn't make us a lock to win.

Turnovers are always your biggest fear. Westy put the ball on the floor last week, but it didn't cost us. You never know when someone is gonna fumble. You can't account for a tipped ball being picked off. And so on. That kind of stuff just happens.

Over the years we've been pretty protective of the ball. I don't anticipate any problems, but playoff games are like full moons...they make people do strange things.

Another potential trouble spot would be big plays. The defense has been good about limiting big pass plays the 2nd half of the season. Long runs haven't been a factor all year. No one went 30+ on us on the ground all year. If we can force MIN to drive the ball, our defense is good enough to stop them. If Berrian or Peterson can break a big-gainer that will be huge for them.

Our defense is disciplined and tackles very well. Those are the big keys to limiting big plays. I don't expect the Vikings to be able to come up with anything beyond intermediate gains.

Finally, our offense has been known to go into a funk at times (see WAS game, CIN game, NYG '07, JAX '06, etc). Our offense has its key weapons and we're not facing great Safeties/CBs do I don't see this happening. Still, the worry of it is spending some time in the back of my mind.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Back to Work

It was fun taking a couple of days and forgetting about the Eagles and concentrating on college football. That's over now and it is back to the NFL, more specifically the playoffs.

I'm working on my game preview. Here are some initial thoughts...

I don't fear the Vikings. They have a great RB and very good front seven, but the rest of the team is all over the place. Unless we go nuts with turning the ball over I just don't see them being able to really jump on us.

You have to respect a team that runs the ball and plays the run as well as they do. Those are the foundations of a good football team.

How will Tarvaris Jackson and Adrian Peterson respond to playoff football? Things move a lot faster in the postseason. Every snap is crucial. The games are pressure-packed. I think Peterson should be fine, but Jackson could be in for a surprise. He didn't have to face tough defenses upon coming back late in the year. That could have given him some false confidence. Or maybe he's ready to take the next step in his development.

I'm excited to see what our defense can do. These guys are red hot and I expect them to play at a high level from here on out. We've allowed a total of 60 points in the last 5 games. If we hold the Vikings to 13 or less, I feel like we'll definitely win.

Thank god we're back in the playoffs.