Friday, September 11, 2009

Right Tackle Talk


Originally I titled this "More on the Game". That's a post I'm working on for Saturday.

We got some bad news yesterday. Shawn Andrews back flared up and he didn't practice. That obviously isn't a good sign this close to the game. I don't really know what to make of the situation.

Shawn had some issues last year that didn't fully relate to his back. Add in the back injury and he was done for the year. That had me questioning whether we should or could count on him. Then came the offseason.

We traded for Jason Peters, his teammate from Arkansas. We signed Shawn's brother Stacy. All of a sudden there was a really good support system for Shawn and more of a comfort zone. His back was healing well from everything I heard. I became optimistic.

Shawn said and did all the right things until he got to Lehigh. His back flared up on the conditioning run before TC got underway. Since then he's gone back and forth from healthy to question mark.

Big Kid was moved to RT in the offseason. He wanted to play on the edge. He certainly has the talent. I objected to the move. I know he can play out there, but I don't like the thought of instability at OT. I think it is easier to mix in guys at G than T. The Eagles felt like the risk was worth it and put Shawn at RT.

Now we head to the opener and face a lot of uncertainty. There is a real good chance that Winston Justice will be starting there. That certainly makes the game look a bit different.

Shawn is starting to get a lot of flak from Eagles fans. He's fat. He's lazy. He's soft. Etc. Weight has not been a problem for Andrews. He's done a very good job of staying in shape. The death of his childhood friend a few years back really scared the heck out of Shawn. His buddy died young because he was in horrible shape. Shawn isn't lazy. He'll work hard to stay in shape. He also plays hard.

Is he soft? This is a much tougher question. Back injuries are tricky. You can't use an MRI or X-ray to show a sore back. Anyone who has ever had a bad back will tell you that they are no joke. Could this be psychosematic, meaning that Shawn thinks he's in pain and that is the main problem? The mind can play powerful tricks on you if you're anticipating pain or discomfort.

At his best, Shawn is a blue-chip OL. He's one of the best in the league. The problem is keeping him on the field. I think the Eagles were wise to try and get him back on the field this year. I know some fans think the team went out of their way to accommodate him. The Eagles coveted Jason Peters and it had nothing to do with Shawn. I was told by a source that Jason was a priority target back in February. Stacy Andrews was a top FA. Signing him made sense no matter what his name was or who he was related to.

Where do we go from here? Let's see how Shawn's back is for a few weeks. If he misses a game, but then gets on the field...we're fine. If he misses a month, then we have face the reality that he might not be worth keeping around. There is no point in having a Ferrari if you can't drive it. You're better off with a Ford Focus or Toyota Corolla.


The Eagles worked out free agent Jon Runyan yesterday. They didn't sign him or make an offer. Jon is coming off surgery and it seems doubtful that anyone will add him for this week. If teams sign a veteran after the first game the salary isn't guaranteed for the whole year.

If the Eagles think Shawn's back will be a major problem this year they could bring Jon back. It would all depend on what kind of condition Jon's in. His level of play dropped last year. He is still serviceable, but who knows what he looks like after the knee surgery.


Someone recently asked about penalties in relation to winning. Complicated subject. There are different kinds of penalties. Let's use the old Raiders and Dolphins as examples. Don Shula was a great coach who believed in playing smart, fundamental football. His teams were always among league leaders in fewest penalties. They simply didn't beat themselves.

Oakland was aggressive. They attacked on offense and defense. This led to many self-inflicted penalties. The Raiders were just as successful (if not more). Each team had its way of doing things. Both ways worked.

Eagles fans hate the fact that we struggle so much in short yardage. The Steelers were just as bad as us last year and won the SB. We talk about wanting a solid OL. The Steelers had major problems up front last year, but still won.

It really is hard to pin down which stats are absolutes in regard to being a championship team. It sure seems like the most important trait in recent years has been the ability to win close games and make clutch plays. That is the main area I'll be watching the Eagles in this year.


rick said...

Really disappointing with Big Kid's constant back problems. I've never had back problems but I know they can be fugitive - they come and go. I had to shake my head a couple of weeks ago when Shawn posted a few videos to youtube where he's singing about 'getting my Michael Phelps on'. And here, I'm pretty sure he's not talking about swimming... I guess what I'm saying is personality-wise, this guy needs a lot of attention which is unusual for an O-lineman, no? There was the depression last year and his comments about being afraid of injury which is certainly reasonable but as a professional football player, do you really want to make yourself that vulnerable by admitting that? I think Andy has bent over backwards for the guy but Shawn has just become a liability. Other than the possibility that you mention of him being "soft", do you care to comment on your take on his personality?

Dollar Brand said...

Uggghh. This has a very "Groundhog Day" feel to it. Shawn's back, he's out, "I'm a beast", no wait . . .
How severely do you think his absence (combined with Herreman's) will limit the playbook against the Panther's?

tobylove said...

Now you got my attention.

I've been taking his wierdness in stride but now it's starting to bring out the tinfoil hat in me. Is Shawn messing with us? By us I mean the Eagles. Does he just want to get paid, without sacrificing his body and health the way that say John Runyan did? Is this some sort of passive-aggressive political statement? Crazy talk, I know, but my brain is a buzzin.

A part of me likes the idea of Justice starting at RT for this game. The reason: because it gives us a chance to know what we have. Was the Giants game a fluke, that was excacerbated by leaving Justice on an island against Osi? Will Justice rise to the challenge and show that he is not hopeless as a future starter, or atleast a good backup? Or will he show us that we need to cut our losses? I think the timing of this game minimizes the damage if he turns out to simply stink it up.

Finally, just to beat my favorite drum, I wish we'd just move Herremans to RT and Stacy to left guard.

Thank you for listening.

T_S_O_P said...

As someone with a back problem (nerve related), a sore back does not explain it. Soreness, pain can be controlled, as Runyan showed by playing '07 with a broken tailbone. I can relate to that too, I broke the transverse process on L2 & L3 as well as chipping L1 and depressing L4. But nerve damage that cause my back spasms and twinges are reflex and no amount of sucking it in will enable me to stand straight without buckling even when I know it is coming. MRI and X-Ray can show where the problem is occuring between L5 and the OS Sacrum in my case but it doesn't specifically say what exactly is happening. Medica.l procedures are open to me that will offer some relief, the length and degree ofrelief are absolutely uncertain.

I would say with some certainty that Shawn cannot control his back problem rather take steps to manage it. From where I'm standing, he has taken most steps to do that bar one; give up a physical and rigourous sport. That he seems a little irratic and emotional in the Philly spotlight faced with his his status as a professional football career being up in the air is not that surprising to me.

Stephen said...

It will be disappointing to not have Shawn again, he is hands down our best offensive lineman when healthy.

Back problems are absolutely tricky, I've read enough personal accounts about them to know that they're not to be messed with.

At this point I don't think we can count on Shawn for an extended amount of time. Its a shame his career appears to have been so brief but at least he gave us a few pro bowl caliber seasons. If Shawn doesn't come back this year it really puts a crimp in our OL plans, we go from having perhaps the best OL in the NFL on paper to just a pretty good OL. I anticipate us sliding out Herremans when he gets healthy and plugging one of the backup OL in at LG.

spencerfamily5 said...

discussions of his Back and Mental health issues are somewhat moot. It is all conjecture at best.

The fact is, he cannot be counted on consistently and the Eagles must have plans B, C and D ready to roll in his absence.

Only he can decide what is best for himself and his future. But regardless of what he does, the Eagles must decide what is best for them and their future.

he simply cannot be counted on in any way. If he shows up and plays, great! If not - - is it worth the constant disconinuity and shuffling of the O-line?

Thats why Andy and Tom get the big bucks.

Cliff said...

Prediction - we're drafting an OL with our 1st pick in the 2010 NFL Draft. Hopefully pick 32.

izzylangfan said...

For the past several seasons I have gone into game 1 with the idea that the eagles were rock solid in every position and should be SB contenders. I also thought that they should easily win at least 10 games. Of course, while they played well toward the end of the season, many poor games lead them to an overall record that was little different than mediocre.

This year Bradley and Ingram are down. Dawkins' replacement didn't work out as planned. The offensive line has not been able to work together in a game and we are starting game 1 with two starters missing and who knows what is going on with the Big Kid for the rest of the season.

I can no longer read the Eagles news, which is a change for this total sports junkie.

I have long felt that being a true sports fan is an act of love. So I am trusting that Reid and the Eagles will find a way. I am very much looking forward to tomorrow's game and am expecting a strong victory. I will be watching and yelling my head off. What else is there to do? Go Eagles!!!

Cliff said...

Fans who think the team has gone out of their way to accommodate Andrews are using revisionist history. When have the Eagles ever bent over backwards to accomodate a player?

The most recent evidence of this is Eagles legend Brian Dawkins. The team didn't shy away from their personnel philosophy in any way. even for a player as significant as Dawkins.

The idea that the team spent nearly $100 million over the next few years on players "just" to keep one OFFENSIVE LINEMAN happy is ludicrous.

rick said...

No one ever said the Eagles went out and got Jason Peters and Stacy Andrews "just" to make Shawn happy. That's nuts, as you suggest. They're both very good players in their own right. But it's also true Andy and the FO have to be concerned with chemistry when putting a team together and bringing in 2 guys who fit very comfortably within Shawn's comfort zone had to be a consideration given his recent depression. I think Andy's really given the Big Kid the Big 'Kid Glove' treatment also in terms of how much space he's given him in training camps, practices, etc. I'm not questioning his injury at all, backs can be treacherous as TSOP has commented. I wonder about his mindset and his commitment.