Saturday, October 31, 2009

Strategy and Matchups - NYG


I decided to go back to last season to figure out what we should do vs the Giants. We lost 36-31 at midesason and then beat them late and in the playoffs. I remembered some part of those games, but actually went back and re-read my Game Reviews to get a better feel for things.

The wins were interesting. In the regular season the Eagles really fed the ball to Westy and the TEs. The game was played on a cold, windy afternoon so that made perfect sense. Wide receivers only caught a handful of passes. DeSean Jackson didn’t have a catch. The rematch in the playoffs was different. The Giants limited Westbrook’s effectiveness and Donovan completed 12 passes to his WRs.

Both games featured a short, safe passing attack. McNabb executed the attack very well. He was calm in the pocket and accurate with his throws. He came up big on third downs, helping us to convert 19 of 32 attempts. The skill players also had a huge hand in this. One of the keys to moving the ball effectively when you play “small ball” is getting yards after the catch. Running backs, tight ends, and wide receivers all came through in this department.

The pass protection was also outstanding. McNabb threw 70 passes in those games, but wasn’t sacked once. I remembered the line doing a good job, but was surprised to read that stat. I double-checked to make sure it was accurate. Not only did the line block well, but the coaches had a smart gameplan. They mixed in extra blockers. They focused on shorter pass routes. McNabb helped himself by getting the ball out quickly.

I’m interested to see what each coaching staff does this time around. The Eagles would be wise to have a similar plan, but the Giants will know that. The Giants need to get pressure on McNabb. If the defensive line can’t do that, they’ll have to blitz aggressively. The Giants also must tackle well to limit yards after the catch.

There are two main keys for the Eagles. The offensive line must control the line of scrimmage and McNabb must play well. That may seem like I’m oversimplifying things, but really those are the factors that decide games like this.

The line must create some running lanes so that the ground game is at least effective. That eases the pressure on McNabb and opens up some passing lanes. Misdirection plays and outside runs weren’t very successful last year because of the Giants attacking style of defense. Look for more straight-ahead power running. Hit a seam and you might come up with a good gain.

Pass protection will be crucial. Left tackle Jason Peters will have his hands full with Osi Umenyiora. Peters is a high quality blocker, but pure speed rushers are not his strength. I’m sure the coaches will have tight ends and backs chip on Umenyiora to slow him down. Right tackle Winston Justice has the very tough assignment of handling Justin Tuck. Umenyiora has the bigger reputation, but Tuck is the better player. He can beat you with quickness, power, and skill. He can line up on either side or at defensive tackle. Justice will face him most of the time. Justice has greatly exceeded my expectations this year. Sunday will be his biggest test. Control Tuck and we’ve got a chance to win.

McNabb must be on time and on target with his throws. He’s got to be calm and confident in the pocket. He has the weapons to move the ball and win this game, even if Westbrook isn’t able to go. Jackson is emerging as a great receiver. Jeremy Maclin seems to get better each week. I didn’t see him replacing Kevin Curtis this smoothly or quickly. Brent Celek leads the team in catches and should be a key weapon in this game. Slot receiver Jason Avant is due for a big game. He matches up well with Giants defensive backs. McNabb doesn’t have to win the game by himself. He needs to get the ball to his playmakers.

LeSean McCoy could very well start at running back. We need him to be ready. The biggest test will be how he handles pass protection. McCoy gave up a sack on Monday night with a sloppy block. The Giants are good blitzers. McCoy must know who to block and he must make the block. I’m not too worried about his running. I know some fans have concerns. McCoy only averages 3.7 yards per rush. He only has 1 TD and his long run is just 15 yards. These numbers will improve. Right now he’s thinking too much and not being instinctive. McCoy is very gifted. The more experience he gets, the more natural he will start to play. That’s when you’ll see his natural ability really start to shine. Better line play will also help matters.

The Eagles defense gave up 36 points to the Giants in the first meeting last year. In the two subsequent games the Giants scored a total of 25 points, with seven coming on the return of a blocked field goal. Another seven came against a prevent defense late in the game. That sounds great, but we have to look inside the numbers.

I mentioned earlier that the weather in those games was cold and windy. That really affected Eli Manning. He only completed 28 passes in those two games combined. Manning has a solid arm, but isn’t strong enough to drive the ball through heavy wind on a regular basis. He also was hurt by drops in each of the games. Sunday isn’t projected to be a bitter, windy day. That means that Manning will likely be more effective as a passer. The Eagles can’t count on the Giants offense struggling the way it did last year in the two losses.

The Eagle defense certainly did have something to do with those problems. The defensive line played well against the run. The pass rush was okay, but inconsistent. Middle linebacker Stewart Bradley was the leading tackler in each game and really keyed the defense. We will miss him. Will Witherspoon was great on Monday night. He’ll need to come up big. Witherspoon must fight to get off blocks and to the ball. Akeem Jordan’s primary task will be to take on fullback Madison Hedgecock and limit his effectiveness as the lead blocker. Running back Brandon Jacobs isn’t nearly as effective when the guy in front of him gets stuffed by a linebacker. Chris Gocong has to help by setting the edge and forcing plays to stay inside or bounce way outside. Tackling is also critical. Stopping Jacobs takes multiple defenders. We must swarm to the ball.

Joining Jacobs in the backfield this year is Ahmad Bradshaw. He was the number three runner last year. He’s now got the backup job and is having a good season. He is quick and elusive, but also runs hard. Bradshaw isn’t strong in pass protection. You can bet the Eagles will test him with a variety of looks and blitzers.

The key member of the secondary is Quintin Mikell. He has to help in coverage, but must fly up in run support when he sees run action. This gets tricky when the Giants use play-action passes. Mikell must read his keys and make sure he’s coming up on run plays. The Giants have really improved their downfield passing attack. Manning is throwing the ball well right now and receivers Steve Smith and Hakeem Nicks are both having good years.

It sounds like Sean Jones will start at FS. This might be a game where he'll fit in well. Jones loves to hit. That will be needed against Jacobs and the Giants rushing attack. Jones does need to be sound in coverage. You don't want him trying to do too much and getting burned. Just do your job. Sean has a ton of talent. The coaches have brought him along slowly, partially due to the fact he didn't stand out in the spring or summer. We do need some plays from the FS spot. Maybe Jones will be the answer.

Both teams have solid kicking games and good returners. Domenik Hixon has given a major boost to the Giants return game since he took the job back from Sinorice Moss. The Eagles must contain Hixon.

Initially I was very nervous about this game. They have lost two games in a row and that makes them a desperate team. One rule in the NFL is that you never want to play desperate teams. The more I think about this game, the more excited I am to see what happens.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Know Your Enemy - NYG


The Giants are 5-2. They opened the season with 5 straight wins, beating the little sisters of the poor. Then they went to New Orleans and got whipped. That was just the players having Saturday night fun, of course. The game...well, that was a whipping as well. The Giants got a major beatdown as the Saints offense was unstoppable. The final was 48-27. The Giants then shocked me by losing at home Sunday night to Arizona, 24-17.

Have the G-men been exposed or is this just a case of the schedule getting tougher and catching them off guard? The disparity between good and bad teams in the league right now is pretty amazing. You can easily get thrown off by playing the Chiefs, Raiders, Bucs, etc. I think Sunday will be a pretty good indicator of where the Giants really are.

Since they did play on Sunday night and we normally play them I'm not going to write about them at length. Quick stuff:

* The Red Zone has been somewhat of a problem. NY has had to settle for more FGs than they'd like. Lawrence Tynes is 7 of 9 on FGs of 20-29 yards. The averaged distance of his FGs is 32.8 yards. That tells you he's mostly kicking from the Red Zone.

* The fierce pass rush hasn't been so fierce. The Giants have 16 sacks in 7 games. That puts them on pace for 37 this year. Consider that they've played bad teams and almost always had the lead. Tuck, Osi, and Kiwi have combined for 9.5. That's not great, but the rest of the team isn't helping much.

* The passing attack is more big play than ever. They have a higher average yards per reception and higher average yards per pass attempt than us. 4 different guys have receptions of 40+. One is Bradshaw and his was a screen that he broke for a long gain.

* Surprisingly, 3rd/short situations have been a problem. You'd think that their O-line and a power runner like Jacobs would be virtually automatic. That hasn't been the case at all. I haven't seen enough of the plays to have a good feel for what the problem is. We stopped them twice in the playoff game last year on 4th/short.

PLAYERS (I'm leaving out the guys we know really well)

* WR Mario Manningham --- Young WR has gone from an afterthought to a productive player. He's put up good numbers, 28-439-4. Mario should be more polished than he is since this is his 2nd year. He runs sloppy routes at times. He has 7 dropped passes, including a TD from last week. 10 of his catches came in Week 2 vs Dallas.

* WR Hakeem Nicks --- I wanted the Eagles to take this guy in the 1st round. He's exactly what we need opposite of DJax...a tough, physical receiver. I'll watch the careers of him and Maclin closely to see who becomes the better player. Nicks is pretty hot right now. In the last 3 games he has 13 catches and 3 TDs.

* WR Steve Smith ---- He has emerged into a top flight WR. 45-594-4. He is sound, running crisp routes and making tough catches. He's also proven to be more athletic than I thought he would. Smith is deadly in the slot. He's very effective in the middle of the field. His production has slowed since defenses started paying him more attention. That just frees up Nicks and MM to make plays.

* RB Ahmad Bradshaw --- He was the #3 runner last year, but has become the #2 guy this year. He's got 40 less carries than Jacobs, but almost the same yardage. And he does have more TDs. Bradshaw is averaging 5.7 ypc. He is quick and elusive. Runs hard. Has pretty good vision. Makes good cuts. There is one area where he is struggling...pass protection. Bradshaw missed some assignment vs the Saints that really hurt the Giants. Bradshawn then struggled vs the Cards last week. He didn't run well. He caught one pass and lost 5 yards. He also lost a fumble. The Giants need him to get back to previous form to help their offense.

* WR Domenik Hixon --- He's gotten lost in the shuffle as a receiver, but got his job back as the KOR and PR a couple weeks back and has been terrific. He averages 29 yards per KOR and 14 yards per PR. Pretty good speed and he runs hard.

* Injured Guys --- The Giants have lost some pretty good players so far. S Kenny Phillips is done. CB Aaron Ross hasn't played. DT Chris Canty hasn't played, but he's getting close. LB Michael Boley has missed the last few games. Notice that all these guys are key defensive players.

* DL Justin Tuck --- He isn't putting up huge numbers, but this is the guy I fear. Osi has the big rep, but Tuck is the better player. He can play either side or inside. He can use quickness or power.

* Safety CC Brown --- He took over for Phillips. Productive defender who can hit and tackle. Not as gifted at coverage. He's 2nd on the team in tackles and has 3 FFs.

* CB Terrell Thomas --- He took over for Ross. Thomas is having a solid year. He leads the team with 2 picks and 8 pass break-ups. Big CB. Lacks ideal speed. Good blitzer.

* P Jeff Feagles --- I thought the fountain of youth was in the jungles of Florida, not the meadowlands of Jersey. Feagles is 237 years old, but continues to be a good punter. Almost half of his punts have been downed inside the 20. He doesn't have a great leg, but is accuracy and ball control are outstanding.


The Eagles put Omar Gaither on IR and signed RB P.J. Hill from the Saints Practice Squad. I like this move quite a bit. I wasn't a huge fan of Hill's last year when people talked about him as a draft prospect. I didn't think PJ had the ability to be a starting RB in the NFL. Guys like that slide down the board unless they are gifted receivers or returners. He isn't. Here are some pre-draft notes I had on Hill:

" Only a Junior. Hill caught me off guard when he declared. I think RBs with a lot of carries are smart to leave early, but Hill didn't have a great year. He's an interesting runner. He lacks speed, but surprised me with his lateral quickness. He actually looked more nimble than I expected. I don't know that he can ever be a starter in the NFL, but he could be a good role player. He is powerful when he lowers his shoulder and runs behind his pads. Ran for more than 3,900 yards in his career and scored 42 TDs on the ground. "

I like him as part of the Eagles backfield. Hill is the one thing we lacked...a power runner with some size. He is 5'10, 222. This is a guy that could be useful in short yardage or late in games. I don't know how much he'll get on field early on. This probably isn't a guy that Andy will force into action. Big Red will wait for the right situations.

One other thing I like about Hill is that we got him from the Saints. They've done a good job the last few years with RBs who aren't highly rated. Pierre Thomas was a UDFA that has developed. They've gotten Mike Bell back on track. They've also got some production from Lynell Hamilton.

PJ will need to contribute on STs if he expects to play. Hopefully he comes here with the right attitude and will do whatever it takes to get on the field. Kyle Eckel was a valuable addition for us last year in late November. Maybe Hill can be a good role player in a similar way, but for more of the year.

We do need another RB in the mix. They didn't give Buckley any carries last week. That caught me off guard. If they don't think he can handle the job then bringing in someone else was very smart.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Game Review is Posted - WAS


Here it is:

-- Link --


RE: Tackling?

Someone asked about why guys will hit, but not tackle. Huge difference. Hitting is when a guy takes his shoulder and goes and strikes a target. The human shoulder can take a lot of contact and doesn't generate much pain.

Form tackling is when you put your face through a target. To normal people, this isn't pleasant. Defensive guys who like to tackle enjoy inflicting pain, but don't mind some of their own.

To think of the difference walk up to a bare wall. Squat down into a good defensive position. Now imagine hitting it with your shoulder. You can angle your body so that is the only real point of contact. That's not so bad. A form tackle involves you opening your arms wide and striking it with your face and then the rest of your body, as you complete the tackle. That doesn't sound like quite as much fun. Guys like Asante, Deion, and Bobby Taylor would gladly hit someone, but they want no part of form tackles.

RE: Kolb / McNabb

Donovan played a bad game vs OAK. This week was better, but still not the talented veteran QB we're used to seeing. That's 2-straight subpar games. It better stop at that. We need him to play well if we're going to beat NYG and DAL.

I don't know that Donovan is playing his way out of his job this year. I think he'd have to really struggle or the team lose games for there to be a change. I do think Donovan is playing his way out of next year. There is no conspiracy or agenda. We simply need good QB play.

Donovan will get hot at some point. Sunday would work for me. If he plays at a high level for a while he keeps his job next year. If not, we shop him around and start the Kevin Kolb era.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

More on the Win


I'm only halfway through re-watching the game. The full review won't be posted until late tonight.

I am very happy that we won. We're now 4-2 and that was critical. We won a division game. And it came on the road. These are all good things. We also beat WAS, who had won 3 of the last 4.

I'm not trying to be negative Nancy or Debbie downer about the win. I just have high standards for this team. There is a lot of talent and it bothers me to see them play sloppy football. I don't want to overly focus on the W and act as if the problems will go away. Hopefully that makes sense.

We've got critical games coming up. We'll see the Giants on Sunday, fresh off 2 losses and madder than a bunch of hornets. We face the Cowboys after that. Sloppy play isn't likely to get us wins in those games. We need at least a split to stay on schedule in terms of where we want to be toward the end of the season. A sweep would be great.

Here are some quick thoughts:


* Will Witherspoon is a playmaker. He brought speed and skill to MLB. He could turn out to be a great pickup for us.

* Trent Cole. Nothing new. He came up with 2 sacks and helped to get regular pressure on Campbell.

* Bunk finally made some plays. He had a sack and 2 TFLs. He showed good athletic ability, but also played big.

* Chris Clemons had his best game of the year. He had a sack and just missed another.

* Jason Babin played in place of VA. Babin made the most of his reps. He had a sack and 2 TFLs. He played LDT and LDE. Nice showing.

* Akeem Jordan played well. He was physical. He had big hits on a few plays. That's what we need from him.

* Asante Samuel tackled well. True story. I haven't had a drop of beer today.

* Quintin Mikell came up big when he was playing around the LOS. Q batted the pass that Spoon picked off and ran back for a score. He then recovered the fumbled that Spoon forced when he sacked Campbell. Good Safeties are playmakers. Being at the heart of 2 turnovers and 10 points...that's good stuff.

* We controlled Portis (14-43). The last time we played that well against him was 2004 when he had 37 yards on 17 carries.

* Todd Herremans played his first game of the year and looked pretty good. Big Al beat Todd a few times, but that's a tough 1-on-1 matchup. Todd moved around very well and looked pretty healthy.

* DeSean Jackson showed his explosive ability as a runner, receiver, and returner. He had long TDs on the ground and in the air. He didn't break a long return, but he came close.

* Jeremy Maclin continues to get better. He caught 5 passes last night. A couple of them were quick screens. The other throws were short and intermediate passes. Jeremy pointed out to McNabb that he was wide open on a pass play where the ball went elsewhere. He wasn't jumping up and down and going crazy on the play. All that does is draw attention to you and tell the D they blew a coverage. Jeremy was smart. He let the right guys know about that in a calm manner on the sideline and it led to a TD on a later drive.

* LeSean had 19 touches against a tough, physical defense and didn't fumble. He didn't always have good running room, but did the best he could. I watched Beanie Wells run backward on Sunday night. Rookies will do stuff like that. McCoy stayed N-S as much as possible.

* Donovan was safe. He made the one critical TD throw that put the game out of reach. He didn't force the ball downfield. He threw underneath to McCoy a couple of times. He handled the pass rush pretty well.

* Offensive balance. We had a lead the entire game and we played like it. The clock is your friend. Runs and short passes are smart. Work the clock.

* David Akers hit 2 FGs both from 40+.


* DeSean has got to get a serious lecture from someone about his celebrations. Score the friggin' TD and then celebrate. He started to have his fun at the 5-yard line on the long pass and a DB caught up to him. The guy tackled DeSean in the end zone and it looked like that was the play that got him hurt. Do not mess with the Football Gods. They will punish you. Just ask Leon Lett. I don't care how much dancing DJax does when he scores. Just make sure you get into the end zone and we have our 6 points first. Imagine if the DB had gotten there half a second quicker and really hurt Jackson. That would be a crushing blow to our team and season.

* LeSean has got to quit looking for Interstate 95. There were a few plays out in space where LeSean had room to run, but he hesitated as he tried to look for a huge area to run through. Get your feet under you, plant, and burst upfield. Don't look for areas the size of Montana. This is the NFL. Be happy when you get any crease.

* Maclin made a real good play on the first quick screen because he had good blocking and room to run. The next play he caught the ball and turned into a deer in headlights. This is the NFL, son. You see the end zone up the field? Go that way. Fast. You won't be able to out-juke 11 pro defenders. You're lucky when you can do it to one. He who hesitates is lost. Better to gain only a couple than to lose a couple. Do not hesitate. Get going.

* Donovan struggled on 3rd downs. There was regular pressure, but a guy with his experience knows the importance of staying cool and getting good throws off. He made 2 very sloppy throws when we had open receivers (Celek, DeSean). They weren't easy plays, but a good NFL QB like Donovan should have completed those passes.

* The playcalling was great early in the game. The offense was creative. There was flow. The blocking was good. And then something happened. We did lose Westy. WAS picked up their play. But something was off on our side as well. I can't point to one thing. I had such hopes after the first 8-10 plays. This offense can be a lot of fun to watch.

* We didn't score one point in the 2nd half.

* We didn't get inside the WAS Red all. We had the long TDs and defensive TD. We've now gone at least 8 quarters without running a play from inside the opponent's 15-yard line. That's not healthy.

* No catches for Avant and only one throw his way? Not good. We're struggling on 3rd downs and he is our best 3rd down weapon. Get him the ball.

* Juqua Parker had a very quiet game. I thought he'd get the best of Mike Williams. Juqua didn't get much pressure at all and only had 1 tackle. Our base pass rush wasn't great. WAS dropped back over 50 times. We did get 6 sacks, but needed to blitz for most of them.

* Trent jumped offside on 3rd/3. That kept alive a TD drive. WAS might have converted anyway, but their offense had little confidence at that point. I was slightly upset with Mr. Cole. Sort of like the Pacific Ocean is slightly big. Those kind of mistakes kill me.

* Macho got burned on a couple of play-action passes. Don't bite so hard, dude. Focus on your receiver and work to the ball.

* Red Zone defense. WAS was 2 of 3 last night. They scored on plays where defenders got sloppy in coverage. Can't have that kind of stuff vs Eli and Romo.

Odd note. We jumped out to a 14-0 lead last year in the first game with WAS. We had a 68-yd TD by DeSean and a 9-yd TD by Westy. This year we had a 67-yd TD by DeSean and a 9-yd TD by Spoon. If this happens next year...that's Freaky Friday.

Like I said earlier, I'm very happy that we won. We were only 2-4 in NFC East games last year. That was a major concern. We're now 1-0 in the division. The good news about the loss to Oakland is that it's just an AFC game.

I'm happy with the talent we've got in place and think we have the potential to be really good. The offense must be more consistent. The defense is pretty darn good as it is. Those guys need a few tweaks, but we're stuffing the run, getting to the QB, and coming up with takeaways. That's what you want from a D.

The next couple of weeks provide us with a big test. We'll start to see how good this team really is.

Here's the gamebook: -- Link --

Ugly Win


Well, we won. Getting to 4-2 was important. We had better offensive balance. That was very encouraging. The Skins played great defense most of the game. Their D-line is really good right now. Those guys controlled the game.

I was frustrated with quite a few things. We have a lot of talent, but sometimes the guys play a very dysfunctional style. That is really frustrating to watch. I understand the offense is still coming together and tonight we had to go most of the way without Westy. That makes things tough. There just isn't a good flow. We're shuffling players in and out. We're running between the tackles, then going to a spread set. We're throwing really short or really deep. Just an odd night.

I loved the early creativity with the running game. Then it stopped. Why can't we run more to the outside, with DeSean, Westy, or McCoy? We insist on pounding the rock inside. We need some of that, but our linemen seem to be very comfortable pulling and blocking on the move. I'd also love to see us go to the Ace formation (2 TE, 2 WR set) and use Leonard Weaver as the RB.

The defense played pretty well. We came up with a couple of legit turnovers. We got a couple of gifts as well. We had 6 sacks and played well on 3rd downs. This is the first time I can remember where we controlled Clinton Portis. I'll have to check on that. Penalties (on D and STs) hurt us by giving them field position and keeping drives alive. I was not real happy with Trent when he was offside on 3rd/3.

WAS lost this game more than we won it. I'll take the W, but we've got to play better. We can't count on DeSean saving our bacon each week with an explosive play (or two). We have gotten better from last year. This is the kind of game we'd have likely lost in 2008. This season we took advantage of the Redskins mistakes. There is something to be said for making plays on an off night.

Let's hope Westy is okay and able to play on Sunday.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Game Night - WAS


Kickoff is just a couple of minutes away. I'm one nervous Nellie. We really need this game. The Giants did us a favor last night by laying down vs the Cards. We have a shot to be right there with DAL and NYG as 2-loss teams. Gotta win this game.

Hopefully Spoon plays well.

Macho still owes us a big play.

Westy and Shady must come up big.

#5 needs to play like the star he is.

Watch the OL closely. We must win the line of scrimmage tonight.

Let's go win this thing.


Sunday, October 25, 2009

Strategy and Matchups - WAS


I always want us to win division games, but this week has extra significance. We need a good performance to show that last week was one bad game and nothing more. Winning isn't enough. The offense must come out and play well. Last week's showing was very discouraging. Another game like that from Donovan will lead to talk about whether it's time to bench him for Kolb.

I'm confident that the team will be ready to play, but the Redskins are tough on us. We scored 12 and 33 points against them in 2007. Last year we had 17 and 3. The 33-point game featured 2 long TDs. The other games have lacked big scoring plays. The WAS defense is tough to move the ball on when you have to sustain long drives.

One of the differences from '07 to '08 was our ability to run. Westy had 196 yards in 2007. Last year he had 24 carries for 78 yards. We must be able to run the ball to make the rest of the offense effective. WAS prefers to play their Safeties back if possible. We need to run the ball so that they have to send a guy down in the box. That will open up some passing lanes.

I don't expect us to come out and pound the rock. I do think it is important for us to run more than we did last week. The players will have a lot to do with how much we run. Last week we totaled 15 yards on 7 1st down runs. Marty and Andy won't stick with the run when it isn't working. If only they felt the same way about the passing game. Westy and Shady must get a lot of touches. Our best games vs WAS have come when the RBs were heavily involved.

The player with the most pressure on him will be Donovan McNabb, of course. He was sloppy last week and it cost us a game. Can't have that again. The problem is that WAS isn't a team he generally fares well against. Last year Donnie had 3 straight bad games (NYG, CIN, BAL). Then he turned things around on Thanksgiving. We can't afford a slump like that. We've got 3 straight division games. We must win 2 of 3 to stay close to the top. McNabb has to be decisive and accurate. He needs to run when he sees the chance. Donovan has enough weapons that he no longer has to carry the team. However, he must get the ball to the guys so they can make plays.

Obviously better blocking than last week would help the skill guys quite a bit. The return of Todd Herremans should help. Nick Cole and Max Jean-Gilles struggled. Max will probably head to the bench. Jason Peters missed most of the last week and King Dunlap struggled in his place. Peters will return to LT. The O-line got no push and did a lousy job in pass pro. That must change.

Todd's reward for coming back from an injury? A possible matchup with Albert Haynesworth. Big Al is battling injuries and not a lock to play. I think he'll be out there. After watching us block last week I think dead guys will be coming back to life to get a chance to play against our line. Todd will certainly help us inside. We must control Big Al. No one really shuts him down completely. Andre Carter's speed will be tough on Peters, but hopefully chip blocks will slow him down. Winston Justice will be in for an interesting day. He'll face Phillip Daniels in the base defense and then Brian Orakpo on passing downs. That is size on some plays, speed on others.

I hope we come out and throw some crossing routes to try and get into a rhythm. Let's mix in deep balls. I would love to see Celek, Weaver, Westy, McCoy, and Avant all get their share of throws. Let's move the chains. I know we need some big plays. WAS is too good on D for us to just dink 'n dunk them.

We were dreadful last week on 3rd downs (2 of 16). That will be a key area to watch in this game. 3rd down is the money down in football. We must execute better. This goes on every player in the offense. Everyone had a hand in the problems against Oakland. Guys need to step up and make clutch plays.

We had success early in the first meeting last year with misdirection plays and some creative things. I wonder if this is the week we'll see the Wildcat really play a key role. I've believed all year that the Wildcat was mainly for games where we thought we needed an offensive boost. Since WAS had our number last year this game would make sense.

Our defense probably isn't quite sure what to expect. Sherm Lewis will be calling the plays. The 6 game tapes we have could be pretty meaningless. WAS has used a lot of packages on offense so far. They are expected to cut down on that and use more base personnel. We did the same thing last year and it helped us quite a bit. Lewis is also likely to use more of a vertical passing attack. The Skins have struggled to move the ball consistently. They do have big play ability. Campbell has a big arm and Santana Moss has the speed to get downfield in a hurry.

The base of the Skins offense has been the running game. I assume that will still be true. I think we need to focus on stopping Portis and putting WAS into known passing situations. That puts extra pressure on the OL and Campbell.

LT Stephon Heyer will have his hands full with Trent Cole. We need Trent to win this battle and make plays, vs the run and pass. WAS has run at Trent in the past with some success. VA will miss the game, but Juqua and Clemons are good enough to bring pressure off the left side. Setting the edge will be key vs the run. Having VA would help in this regard.

Chris Gocong will need to be stout on run plays that come his way. Akeem Jordan will be asked to handle the FB quite a bit. He must play well on run plays, whether they come at him or go away. Omar started at WLB last year in the first meeting and was invisible. WAS ran at will in that game.

We get to see the debut of Will Witherspoon at MLB. He will get a big test with the power running of the Redskins. There are a couple of things that help Witherspoon fit in right away. He played in a similar defensive system in St. Louis. Their scheme is run by former Eagles assistant Steve Spagnuolo. There will be some differences, but a veteran like Witherspoon should be able to adjust on the fly. Also, he faced Washington earlier this season. I’m sure he’s given an extensive scouting report to the coaches and his new teammates. The Redskins did run for 125 yards in that game, but scored only nine points.

Spoon could help out with Cooley. Sean McDermott can set the defense so we cover the TE with any number of players. We struggled the last couple of weeks with Winslow and Miller. I'm sure Spoon, Jordan, Gocong, and Macho will take turns trying to cover him.

Moss will be a challenge for the whole secondary. The CBs need to stick to him as closely as possible. The Safeties must stay behind him. We can live with Moss getting a big play if that happens. Just keep him out of the end zone. The difference in last week's game was Miller going for a long TD while our big plays were limited to just big chunks of yards.

We should have an advantage on Special Teams. DeSean ran back a punt for a TD last year against the Skins. We'll take points any way we can get them.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Know Your Enemy - WAS


We all have a pretty good knowledge of Washington. We have faced them twice a year since the world began about 3,500 years ago. The team is off to a slow start at only 2-4. They struggled to beat arguably the two worst teams in the entire league (Rams, Bucs). Those victories came by a combined five points. That makes the Redskins sound pretty awful, but things aren't always as they seem. This is a typical Skins team. They play good D and bad O.

Washington is 5th in the league in total defense and scoring defense. They’ve been good on that side of the ball for years. The offense has never matched the defense, but things have gotten out of whack this year. The Redskins can move the ball okay (23rd in yards), but scoring points is a huge problem. They average just 13.2 points per game. Running back Clinton Portis has the same number of rushing touchdowns as the punter – one.

WAS doesn't lack talent. These guys any good ... Portis, Betts, Moss, Randle-El, Cooley? Their problems are a mixture of things. QB Jason Campbell is inconsistent. The O-line is having problems. I don't think Coach Jim Zorn is helping matters. He's catching most of the heat right now, but his players simply aren't executing well. One very troubling note...WAS has played 4 of the worst defenses in the league (TB 27, DET 28, KC 29, STL 30).

Onto the players...

JASON CAMPBELL --- His numbers look good (rating of 84.3, 66% Comp.), but the Skins don't convert on 3rd downs and don't score TDs. Those are the situations when a QB makes clutch throws and shows what he's really made of. Physically Campbell is what you want in a QB. I think the Skins screwed up this year in going after Mark Sanchez and Jay Cutler and missing out on both. They basically told Campbell he was unwanted. That's going to affect a player, especially a QB.

SANTANA MOSS --- 22-379-2. Numbers look good. Take away his 10 catches in the Lions game and that changes to 12-201-1. Isn't getting the ball enough. Moss has 3 catches of 42 or more yards this year. He still is a major weapon.

YOUNG RCVRS --- Devin Thomas, Malcolm Kelly, and TE Fred Davis are 2nd year guys that were brought in to add size and youth to the offense. They have combined for 18 catches and 0 TDs.

STEPHON HEYER --- Meet the new LT. Heyer took over at RT this year when Jon Jansen was let go. He's more aptly suited for that side. Chris Samuels hurt his neck recently and Heyer was shifted to the left side. already has him down for 5.5 sacks this year. He was beaten by Tamba Hali for a safety at the end of last week's game. Heyer can be an adequate starting OT, but I think LT is going to be tough for him.

MIKE WILLIAMS --- He played his way out of the league for a while, but got an invitation to TC this summer. Mike shocked me by making the roster. He started out playing G, but will start at RT this week. His weight is under control. I haven't had a chance to really watch him closely this year. I'm curious to see if he can be an effective player or if this is a crazy move by WAS. Williams was a top 5 pick by the Bills back in 2002, but never played up to his potential.

AL HAYNESWORTH --- Weird year so far. Big Al has played pretty well, but he hasn't necessarily had the great impact that some fans may have hoped for. He's also battled injuries. I thought for sure he was really hurt vs the Lions, but he came back to the game. Big Al will be tough for the interior guys to block.

ANDRE CARTER --- Leads the team with 5.5 sacks. Speed rusher. Has benefited from Big Al pushing the pocket. Carter only had 4 sacks all of last year. Much easier to get to the QB when he can't step up in the pocket. Carter also has a pair of FFs.

BRIAN ORAKPO --- Athletic rookie is making the move from DE in college to SAM. Plays the run pretty well. Does well as a blitzer and when they use him to rush the passer from the DE spot. Has 3.5 sacks, 1 TFL. Learning how to cover. Got burned by CAR for TD when he lost the TE in coverage on a simple route.

LARON LANDRY --- 2nd on the team in tackles. Also sits in the middle of the defense and plays centerfield. Has the speed and range to cover a lot of ground. Big time hitter. Hasn't made a lot of coverage plays, but he helps to prevent big plays by the offense.

DEANGELO HALL --- Talented cover corner. Has 3 picks. Struggles as a tackler. For some reason that sounds painfully familiar. Hmmm...

SPECIAL TEAMS --- P Hunter Smith has been injured, but is expected to play. He's the best guy they've had back there this year. PK Shaun Suisham hasn't missed a FG yet, but has mostly hit short ones. No one is doing well as the PR. The Skins average 4.8 yds per PR. Rock Cartwright has been a good KOR in the past, but is only averaging 22.5 per return this year. Their long KOR is just 29 yards.


* WAS leads the NFL in fewest drops with only 4. That certainly helps Jason's completion percentage.

* With all the high picks and FA dollars spent on front seven players, SS Reed Doughty leads the team with 3.5 TFLs. Sorta weird.

* WAS is tied for the NFL lead with 11 FFs. We have 7.

* The Skins have only 3 picks all year. Several teams are tied with them. Only Dallas has fewer (2).

* WAS does have a 2-1 record at home.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Offense - Big Picture


sorry for the late post. got longer and longer...

Let's talk about the key people around the Eagles offense. Andy Reid created the playbook. Marty Mornhinweg is the playcaller. Donovan McNabb is the QB. Brian Westbrook is the workhorse offensive player. This is a dangerous combo and here's why.

Reid trained in the NFL under Mike Holmgren and knows the WCO inside-out. Andy spent time at BYU as a player and assistant. He was there under Lavelle Edwards and Norm Chow, a couple of great offensive minds. Unfortunately, they ran a pass happy offense. The Cougars had to do that back then. They were the biggest mid-major football power. Their best hope for success was to sling the ball around and create mismatches. That was wise thinking.

Andy brought that mentality to the NFL. It doesn't work as well. The talent here is a lot closer than most people realize. You don't need to out-scheme opponents as much as you need to out-execute them. Obviously you want an edge in gameplanning if possible, but the real key is for the players to block, run, pass, and catch correctly. The best coaches don't have great playbooks. They simply understand how to maximize talent. Dana Bible ran the offense for the first part of 1998 and did an unbelievably bad job. He was replaced by QB coach Bill Musgrave and things got immediately better. Same scheme. Musgrave called a better game and a little bit of success helped to give the guys some confidence. They played better and the offense got less awful. It still never got anywhere near mediocre, let alone good.

Mornhinweg was a QB in HS, college (Montana), and even for an AFL team. He likes to throw the ball. He also has strong ties to Mike Holmgren. Mike was an asst coach on Marty's HS team. Mike eventually brought him to the Packers as an asst in 1995. Marty was there for a couple of years before going to SF to run that offense. He then went to the Lions as head coach and failed miserably. His best year was 1998, when SF was #1 in Total Offense, as well as #1 in rushing and passing. That is a very rare feat.

We all know McNabb pretty well. He is a gifted player who is deadly on good days and highly erratic on bad ones. Consistency and efficiency are not his strengths. McNabb fell in love with big plays in 2004 and has been a changed man ever since. I swear the worst thing that ever happened to him was the fluke against Dallas where he scrambled for 14 seconds and then hit FredEx for a long gain down the field. McNabb to this day holds the ball longer than he should. I don't remember that being a problem prior to that game. Whether that is true or just a convenient spin on things is probably up for debate.

Westbrook is a gifted receiver. He's so good that for a few years he actually seemed like our best RB and WR. He isn't a physical runner, so he doesn't wear down defenses. He also has a tendency to get banged up which affects how Andy/Marty use him. They want Brian to get a lot of touches, but at times are hesitant to feed him running plays.

Let's sum this part up. You have a head coach who loves the passing game. The offensive coordinator is a former QB that loves to throw the ball. You have a QB who is a streaky passer and loves throwing the deep ball. You have a RB that is a gifted receiver. This leads to a pass heavy offense. There is no impetus to run the ball. No coach is a huge proponent of the running game. Because the QB isn't overly efficient the passing attack is hit and miss. When things start slowly the thinking is that the only way to get him and the offense going you must keep throwing the ball. This is like a gambler losing $50 and then betting $50 to make that back up. Or in business you might call that throwing good money after bad.

Things look great when the QB has a good day and the offense clicks. There is enough talent, good coaching, and good execution that the offense works most of the time. The Eagles haven't finished a season out of the Top 10 in yards since 2005. That group finished 19th, but only after TO was sent to Siberia and the best offensive players finished the year on IR (Pinky, Donovan, Westy, Tra). Had those guys stayed healthy I'm sure they would have been Top 10. The 2004 group obviously was highly ranked. The scoring offense is even better. I'm not adjusting for returns and defensive TDs. That makes things too complicated. The Eagles finishes since 2000:

2009 - 6
2008 - 6
2007 - 17
2006 - 6
2005 - 18
2004 - 8
2003 - 11
2002 - 4
2001 - 9
2000 - 12

The average finish of that decade is 9.7. That's pretty impressive when you factor in the lack of top skill players at times, McNabb missing games in multiple years, changeover on the team (players and coaches), and injuries to other key players (Pinky, Buck, LJ, Westy, Shawn, etc.).

The problem I have with the current configuration is that the offense, while explosive and productive, isn't reliable. You cannot count on big plays. You must be able to count on executing basic plays (slant, dig, out, post, etc.). We are far too up and down. It doesn't have to be that way.

The offense has excelled in a couple of seasons at a relatively balanced, ball control attack. McNabb struggled early in 2003 and then got hurt. Over the last 10 games of that year he was outstanding: 184 - 288 - 63.9% - 2,362 yds - 14 TDs - 5 INTs - 98.5 rating - 27.9 ppg. The team went 9-1. We won some tough games. We beat GB at Lambeau on a rainy MNF game. Donovan led us to victory late in the game. We won at Miami late in the year without Tra at LT. We beat the Panthers in Charlotte. They went to the SB that season. We put up 36 points in a December game with Dallas, who had the #1 defense in the league that year. Unfortunately Westy got hurt in the season finale and the team struggled to score points in the playoffs.

I mentioned us running a balanced attack. The key to the offense was the RBs. We had the 3-headed monster of Westy, Buck, and Duce Staley. They each had more than 96 carries, 463 yards, and 5 TDs. The trio ran for 1,618 yards and 20 TDs. They also were key to the passing attack. They totaled 83 catches, 847 yards, and 7 TDs. That is 4.8 yards per carry and 10.2 yards per reception.

2006 was another year that I very much enjoyed. The offense was explosive early in the year. It struggled around midseason. Against Tampa we lost because of turnovers. The next week vs JAX we played horrible and lost 13-6. That was the worst game of the year. Things picked back up, but then Donovan got hurt. Jeff Garcia took over the last 6 games and that offense was great to watch. The coaches passed less and focused more on Westy. Brian had 97 carries in the first 8 games. He then had 142 in the next 7 games. He sat out the final game vs ATL (meaningless thanks to a Dallas choke job at DET). We were 4-4 the first part of the year and then 5-2 down the stretch when Brian ran more (we also won the finale vs ATL). Offensive production was pretty consistent throughout the year, but the team got on a run as we ran more. That also happened in 2003. Hmmm.

Why would having a more balanced attack be so important? Yards and points were similar all year long. Running more means more of a ball control attack. That leads to sustained drives. That leads to consistency. And that proves important in tight situations. Garcia led us on 4th Quarter comebacks vs CAR and NYG that year. He then led us to a winning FG on the final play of the Wildcard game vs the Giants. Jeff had us on the move in New Orleans late in the game, but a Scott Young penalty undid a huge 4th down conversion and we lost the game. That is more late game success in 3 months than we've had in the 2 1/2 years since then.

Think back over the last few seasons. We've had chance after chance to win a game late. Drives invariably stall at midfield. A few have gone deep only to stall out inside the 10. Notice that in most of these games we needed a TD.

* 2009
OAK 13-9

* 2008
DAL 41-37
CHI 24-20
WAS 23-17
NYG 36-31
CIN 13-13
WAS 10-3

* 2007
GB 16-13
WAS 20-12
NYG 16-13 (McNabb drove us into FG range, but Akers missed a 57-yder)

* 2006
NYG 30-24, OT

The failure on these drives isn't just on McNabb. He's made some big plays in crunch time. The failure is on the offense in general, for not being prepared for these situations. You can't have a downfield, explosive passing style for 56 minutes a game and then expect to become a solid dink and dunk attack when it gets to crunch time.

Donovan is the QB and the leader. He gets the glory and the blame, fair or not. He also has the ball in his hands. With his talent and experience he needs to overcome problems and get us winning points in some game. I can excuse not doing it all the time, but the constant failures are a concern.

There have been some semi-successful late game items to discuss. We drove 74 yards for a TD late in the 2007 Bears game. That put us ahead. They went 3 and out. We got the ball back with about 3 minutes, but couldn't put together a drive to eat up the remaining clock. We pinned them deep with a punt. Then the Bears went 97 yards in less than 2 minutes to win the game. We scored a TD late vs Tampa in 2006 to go ahead. Westy caught a screen pass near midfield and went the distance for a TD. They followed that with a 62-yard FG to win the game. We trailed WAS 25-20 in 2007. McNabb hit Westy with a screen and 57 yards later we had a 26-25 lead. We added another TD to win the game.

We can execute in the 4th quarter, but not in the last couple of minutes. We can move the ball, but we can't sustain drives. On the few occasions when we have moved the ball we tend to stall out near the goal line. This is why I don't blame McNabb totally. He put us in position to score vs CHI last year. Poor blocking stopped Buck at the 1. Twice.

It didn't used to be this way. We used to be a very dangerous team late in games. McNabb had good success with comebacks:

2000 - we got late drives vs PIT, DAL to win
2001 - STL (down 17-3 in 4th, tied, lost in OT), NYG (pass to JT on MNF), NYG (scored last 10 pts in 4th Qtr to win)
2003 - NYJ (outscored them 10-0 in 4th to win 24-17), GB (GW drive on MNF 17-14), SF (pass to Pinky tied game, lost in OT), GB playoffs (came from down 17-7 in 4th, won in OT)
2004 - CLE (won in OT), DAL (TD with 1:57 left helped us win 12-7)
2005 - OAK (late FG)

As McNabb became more of a pocket passer and got away from running, he became less effective late in games. I can't stress enough now much the presence of TO and the downfield attack of 2004 changed things. Reid, Marty, and Donovan all fell in love with the big play. From 1999-2003 McNabb had 27 passes of 40 or more yards. He had 20 in 2004. That should illustrate just what a different season that was. Things haven't been the same since, both good and bad. I also have to mention that the NFL made a rule adjustment that year that opened up the passing game by getting officials to focus on DB/WR contact. Receivers were suddenly able to get a cleaner release than in the past. Big difference.

I guess the simple way to sum this up is that Andy and Marty bring out the worst in McNabb and that he brings out the worst in them. We have seen McNabb be an efficient QB. He had that great stretch in 2003. Just think back to the end of last year. We won 4 of 5 games late in the season. McNabb was efficient. He completed 64.3% of his passes. He threw 9 TDs and only 1 pick. Westy had 96 carries in that stretch. He only had 137 carries the rest of the entire season. Those results also show you that the coaches can adjust the offense.

Does the Reid/McNabb/Marty trio learn from that? Apparently not. The coaches go right back to a pass heavy attack, built on throwing deep. McNabb forgets about moving the chains and thinks about big plays. The offense is great when it works, but stalls out when a good secondary comes along and shuts down the big plays.

Last year it took the disasters vs Cincinnati and Baltimore to wake up/shake up our beloved trio and get them to adjust. Last week we had the humiliating loss at Oakland. Will that get their attention and lead to a change early in the season? We can only hope so.

We have as much offensive firepower as New Orleans. The difference is that their coach and QB understand that the running attack and short passes will help lead to the big plays. They build inside-out. Our trio wants the big stuff. Go score a bunch of points, then run the ball and throw the checkdowns. We're an outside-in offense.

I have concerns about whether the current offensive configuration can win a SB. We're good enough to win a lot of games, to even have postseason success. However, teams that win the Super Bowl must be able to win tight games. They must be able to play in a back and forth affair. We can hold a lead in a tight game, but comebacks are a major hurdle. The last two Super Bowls were won by late game TDs. We couldn't even come from behind to get to the SB.

Would things be different with Kevin Kolb at QB? Who knows. We have way too small a sample to make an accurate judgment. There is hope still for the current group. This is the most overall offensive talent we've ever had. If the offense can get into a good rhythm it could be absolutely deadly. We really need to see a close game where the offense is clicking to find out if the 2009 Eagles are going to be any different or just more of the same.

As my friend Shrub likes to say, all we can do now is "hide 'n watch".

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Quick Question


I'm writing up something about the offense (coaching/playcalling/players/execution). People may or may not realize it, but the offense changes a bit each year. I'm curious which offense/season people liked the best. I have a couple of years when I loved what we did.

Before I put up the post with my thoughts I'd like to see which seasons you guys preferred and why.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Eagles Make a Trade


I was told the Eagles were shopping for a MLB. They just made a deal with the Rams to acquire Will Witherspoon. The Eagles give up WR Brandon Gibson and a 5th Rder in 2010.

Omar Gaither hurt his foot late in the Oakland game. That's why he wasn't on the field on the final series. I haven't heard anything definitive about him being out for extended time, but they must be worried if they made a deal.

Witherspoon played WLB for the Panthers early in his career. He's fast and athletic. He is a playmaking LB. The Rams signed him to a big FA deal and put him at MLB. He has played pretty well for them. Will isn't the kind of physical presence you ideally want at MLB, but he does bring speed and range to the defense.

I assume the Eagles will play him inside. That isn't a given. They could move Jordan to the middle and put 'Spoon at WLB. They could throw us a curveball and move Gocong inside and put Spoon at SAM. No matter where he plays, Will gives us a bona fide quality starting LB. Check out some of his career numbers:

19 sacks
8 INTs
8 FFs
53 Pass Break-ups
561 solo tackles (116 games)

Not too shabby, huh? You can see that he's a playmaker. He can drop back and cover. I've also seen him line up at DE and rush the passer. He's got good speed and flies to the ball.

We can thank the Andy Reid coaching tree for this deal. Who knows if the Eagles are able to pull off this deal without Steve Spagnuolo as the HC down in St Louis.

This moves works for the present and future. Will has played inside and outside. He can take over the middle right now, but move outside in the future. If Stewart Bradley is fully recovered next year, the MLB job is his. Will did get hurt last weekend and had to be carried off the field, but it turned out to be a hip/back injury and not a leg problem. He will need to pass a physical in order for the deal to go through.

He signed a 6-year deal back in 2006. He's now in year 4. I'm not sure if it can be voided or if he is our guy for the next 2 seasons (2010 & 2011).


My column is about Sunday's game, but also what the loss means. Right now it doesn't mean a thing. If we go and get back to winning, the loss is just an L in the standings. If the team goes mental on us and heads into a funk, then the loss definitely has meaning.

I'm still maintaining a positive outlook with this team. There is a lot of talent. This is a high character bunch. One game is just game. Stop the bleeding and move on. I sure didn't see anything on Sunday that made me think we can't be a good team. There was no lack of talent. Sloppy play can be corrected.

Here's the article:

-- Link --

By the way...the title wasn't my doing. I titled it "Just One Game". They changed it to "Relax, It's Just One Game". That adds a note of softness that wasn't really intended on my part.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Game Review is Posted - OAK


Don't read while drinking heavily or pregnant.

-- Link --


VA has a knee sprain and is day to day. That's good. He was grabbing that thing yesterday as if it was serious.

Jason Peters should be fine for the WAS game. Very good news.

Big concern is Omar Gaither. He's got a foot injury. If he's going to be out a while we need to come up with a solution. I'll do some digging and see what I can find out.

Sunday, October 18, 2009



Football is a game of execution. Talent is great, but the players must execute or all that talent simply won't function properly. 10 players can do their job, but one critical mistake can ruin a play. Boy did we see that today. It seemed like everyone had a hand in this disaster. For example:

* Asante Samuel had a couple of terrible tackle attempts that proved costly. No one expects him to be Ronnie Lott, but the failure to even slow guys down killed us. His biggest miss was on Zach Miller's TD. Terrible attempt. Samuel also got called for a penalty that helped the Raiders.

* Donovan McNabb had his annual "what the hell?" game. The pressure got to him early and he never got into the flow of the game. He made poor throws all day long. There were some good plays on his part, but not enough. The lowlight was his attempted timeout late in the 1st half. Donovan has got to know how many timeouts we have.

* Westy put up good numbers, but when did he get so slow? There were 2 or 3 plays when he was out in the open and should have been off to the races. Brian played his tail off and was our best guy on the field, but his lack of speed did hurt us today.

* The entire OL was bad. King Dunlap I can understand struggling. He's a backup player being thrown into the fire. He battled, but had a terrible matchup. King is best vs speed rushers. This just happened to be the week when we faced a team with a 300-lb RDE. Seymour pushed King around for much of the game. Nick Cole had his worst game of the year. Max Jean-Gilles missed a block early and continues to frustrate me. He's better than Mike McGlynn?

* LeSean McCoy had his worst game. He struggled with assignments in pass pro. He fumbled. We really could have used his speed on some plays.

* Brent Celek had a costly drop over the middle. He also whiffed on a block in pass pro early in the game that led to a sack and set the tone for the whole day.

* We had a bunch of dropped passes. Celek's is the one that sticks out most clearly.

* David Akers picked a bad day to struggle. He missed 2 FGs that proved to be the difference in the game.

* The defense played a solid game. They held Oakland to 13 points and came up with a pair of takeaways. That's usually good enough to win. Unfortunately the defense was sloppy and should have even posted better numbers. The biggest problem continues to be our ability to cover TEs. Zach Miller had a great day.

* Jeremiah Trotter came up small on a couple of huge plays. He got burned on Miller's TD. I also have to wonder what he was doing on the field on the final 3rd down play of the game. Oakland had 3rd/long. We needed to stuff the run so having Trot made some sense. My beef is that they needed 10 yards. We should have been able to keep even a good run from going that far. Trot on the field gives you a slow LB in case they do pass or try a trick. They did and he had no chance to catch the FB. Game over.

* Our coaching was terrible for much of the game. I said we should attack them with a vertical passing attack. Peters went down early in the game. At that moment the gameplan should have gone out the window and we should have concentrated on intermediate stuff. Instead, we continued to go deep. Donovan got sacked 6 times and rarely had the clean pocket he needed to complete downfield throws.

Marty and Andy continually dialed up deep balls and tons of pass plays, 53 in all. RBs finished the game with 11 carries. Absolutely pitiful. We never trailed by more than 7 points, but Andy and Marty acted like we were down 30.

The moment that made me most angry came late in the half. We were driving and had already gotten into scoring territory. Out comes Michael Vick. We had no timeouts left. Shuffling personnel is a waste of time. I understand if you want a FB out there or a 4th WR or something like that. Vick? With the clock ticking and points at a premium? There was some confusion and this led to Donovan calling the 4th timeout.

There are times when I seriously wonder about Reid and Mornhinweg. I don't get the obsession with passing, but there is at least some logic behind their thinking. The love of gimmicks and trying to outsmart opponents is what absolutely kills me. How about we just line up and physically beat the team across from us? You establish some kind of base offense and then mix in your tricks. The Raiders did that today. They ran well and then the short passes to the TE, RB, and FB worked great.

* There were some positives in the game, but they were few and far between. Even if we had pulled this game out late I'd be pretty ticked off. We played like crap. I can live with a loss if someone outplays us. Getting beat by Dallas in Week 2 last year was tough, but that was a heck of a game.

I've got a lot more on my mind, but I need to re-watch the game to be specific about certain things. Time to get started on that.

Gameday - OAK



WR Kevin Curtis
LB Joe Mays
OL Mike McGlynn
QB Kevin Kolb
WR Brandon Gibson
DL Jason Babin
OL Todd Herremans
CB Dimitri Patterson

This means that Trevor Laws will be playing today.

I asked around after Laws was inactive last week. Normally you can pick up on some rumors of the team's dissatisfaction with a player. All I heard was that Antonio Dixon played because he fit the matchups better. Tampa was expected to run inside a lot. Dixon is a natural run defender. Laws is still adjusting to our 2-gap system. No one said anything bad about Trevor. Still, actions speak louder than words. You don't like seeing a high pick like him incactive. Trevor needs to play well enough that the coaches feel obligated to play him.


The G-men are getting demolished by the Saints. So much for NY's top ranked defense. The Chiefs are on the verge of beating WAS. That would be great. Todd Collins is playing QB for the Skins.


The Bears dealt a 2nd round pick for Adams the other day. A few people have asked about why the Eagles didn't pursue him. I don't have any inside info on this. I guess the simple answer is that the Eagles didn't view Adams as such a clear upgrade on Abiamiri that they felt he was worth a high draft pick. Adams had 12.5 sacks in his first couple of years. That's a solid total, but not special. Adams wasn't a bad player in Tampa, but he didn't develop into the kind of consistent force off the edge that they hoped for.

Chicago's DL coach is Rod Marinelli. He might have struggled as a HC, but he knows how to develop DL. I think this is a solid gamble on their part.

I can't say that I would have been estatic had the Eagles had made the move. Adams, like many recent Clemson players, is an underachiever. Those guys make me nervous. I'm all for an upgrade, but this wasn't a slam dunk improvement on what we have. Good Adams would be awesome to have, but that guy doesn't show up each week. Too often I see okay Adams. VA and Juqua aren't flashy, but they do a solid job. Obviously we'll look to upgrade the spot in the offseason.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Saturday Stuff


Sorry for the late post. Busy, busy day of college football.

My column is up. I talked about where the team is after 4 games and covered the Raiders game as well.

-- Link --


* Todd Herremans practiced last week with the scout team. He's hoping to practice with the starters this week and possibly start vs WAS. That would be great. Todd was our best run blocker last year and would instantly upgrade the interior of the line, assuming he is truly healthy and ready to go. You would slide Nick Cole over to RG and we'd have a pretty good set of blockers.

* The Eagles recently added CB Stoney Woodson to the Practice Squad. They let LB J Leman go. Woodson (5'11, 197) isn't a great athlete, but he was a solid SEC cover corner. He spent time this summer with the Giants. I don't know if the Eagles liked him more for his college tape or something he showed in the preseason. Had 4 INTs as a Senior. I wondered if they brought him in as a S or CB. He played both spots at South Carolina, but seemed to find a home at CB.

* I talked to a buddy on the phone this afternoon. We were talking about the state of the roster and he brought up Cornelius Ingram. As loaded as our offense is we could be even better with a guy like him as the #2 TE. Ingram is athletic and skilled enough to be considered a weapon. Let's hope that knee is right by next summer.

Another guy we talked about is DT Antonio Dixon. He is arguably the biggest surprise of them all. I liked the Eagles move to claim him when WAS let him go. We've needed a big body to add to the mix. You can't coach size. I think the cry for a huge DT was overblown in recent years, but I did want one added as a role player for those times when a big DT can make a difference. Bunk and Patt are terrific run defenders. Still, we play in the NFC East and there are times when you'd love a huge guy to plug in there form some snaps.

Once we signed Dixon, I expected him to spend most of the season inactive. We have the starters plus Laws and the other guys who see time at DT. Dixon just didn't fit in. Oh, but he did. Antonio obviously took to Rory Segrest's coaching and he's played better each week. He is "only" a role player right now, but Dixon is developing into a good role player. He's starting to figure out how to play up to his size/strength. You don't want gentle giants. We want big bullies.

I don't know what the rest of the year holds for Dixon. Will he continue to get better? It's certainly possible. He has good natural talent. I saw that last year when he was a Senior at Miami. He was just an inconsistent player. Dixon has embraced his role as a backup. He'll continue to get snaps as he plays well. It wouldn't surprise me to see him have success against the Raiders. They don't have the most gifted C in the world. Dixon gets lined up right over the C in some sets and is powerful enough to just drive the guy straight back. The real test for him, along with our whole defense, will be NFC-E games. Andre Gurode and Sean O'Hara are good Centers. Dixon won't be able to simply overpower them. It will be interesting to see how he fairs against quality blockers.


* The QB class for this year's draft looked great 2 months ago. Sam Bradford was a Top 5 pick. Colt McCoy was in the mix to be a high pick. Jevan Snead had some fans and was thought to be a guy who could go really high. Bradford re-injured his shoulder today and could miss the rest of the year. He could come back to school or head for the NFL. McCoy isn't having a great year like he did in 2008. Snead is really struggling.

Notre Dame QB Jimmy Clausen is having a huge year and could jump to the head of the QB class. He's only a Junior and isn't a lock to come out.

We'll see what happens the 2nd half of the season. There is still a lot of football to be played. McCoy could help himself with a strong finish. Bradford might be able to return to the field. Crazy year for QBs.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Strategy and Matchups - OAK


Clearly the Eagles are the better team. This game shouldn't be one where we need to do a lot of special gameplanning in order to win. That said, this game can be valuable. The Raiders like to play physical, press coverage. We don't always handle that well (see WAS games last year). I could see this being an area of focus for Big Red and the passing game.

I think the way to attack their defense is with a vertical passing game. The Giants got behind them a few times last Sunday. Our receivers are faster than the Giants so we should be able to pull that off as well. We need D-Jax and J-Mac to beat press coverage and get open. We need the line to block well for 2-3 seconds. We then need Donovan to put the ball on target. We're capable of doing that stuff, but having all 3 things happen on the same play is harder than it sounds. That's why more deep balls aren't thrown or completed. Most NFL teams have too much talent to just let a team complete a lot of long throws. Look at the Raiders. CB Namdi Asomugha, DE Greg Ellis, and DE Richard Seymour aren't chopped liver.

Stretching the field with the WRs should open up the middle for Celek and Avant. You have to mix in those guys to move the chains and sustain drives. Speaking of that...the Bucs did a good job of sustaining drives by converting on 3rd downs, with a quick pass, QB run, or penalty from us. I don't see Oakland doing that. They run the fewest plays per game in the league. That should lead to more plays and possessions for our offense.

Will we finally mix in more runs or will Big Red continue to dial up pass plays? If we are up 31-3 in the 4th quarter will McNabb be throwing to Celek or Vick be handing off to McCoy? Against KC I think Reid was nervous about over-working LeSean with Westy out. Last week we just didn't have the ball enough to run a bunch of plays. This week should be different. I'll be interested to see how we close out the game if we do have a big lead.

Since we are the better team we need to avoid the kind of mistakes that keep underdogs in the game. We must avoid turnovers and limit penalties. We also don't want any fluke plays helping them out. KC burned us with a trick play. Tampa had an OL catch a batted ball and run 15 yards with it. You want to avoid that stuff if at all possible. Make them beat you straight up.

Our screen game has been quiet this year. I'd like to see that open up a bit this week. The Giants had success with that last week. The Wildcat could work better this game. Tampa has a bad D, but those guys can run. That hurt our plays that tended to go wide instead of N-S. Oakland has some speed, but I don't think as much as Tampa. The Wildcat plays should probably be more effective this time out.

I'm a bit confused about what the defense should do. We need to blitz some, obviously. Here's the thing...Russell is playing poorly right now. Conventional wisdom is to then rush the front four and have a bunch of guys in coverage to play the ball. The problem is that his passes are so erratic that no one catches them. JaMarcus is completing 42% of his passes. Think about that number. Eagles fans got all over McNabb when he could "only" complete 59% of his throws as a young QB. Mike McMahon thinks Russell is a bad QB.

My guess is that McDermott will blitz a fair amount. The Raiders prefer to throw deeper routes. That won't work with the blitz. That should lead to checkdowns, which isn't something that Russell does well. I am interested to see how we defend TE Zach Miller. We used a variety of players on Kellen Winslow last week and all of them got burned. Miller gives us another talented TE to defend. McDermott will keep adjusting until he finds something that works. And that is important with the slate of good TEs we have to face over the course of the season.


* Can Omar Gaither have a third straight good game? He's done well the last two weeks. Amazing that coincides with giving Trotter his first workout.

* Can VA get his first sack from the LDE spot? He does a lot of good things, but we need better pass rush from him on the edge.

* Will Macho finally make a play? C'mon dude. You owe me for saying nice things about you all last year.

* I'd love to see Westy and McCoy combine for 120 yards rushing in the game. I don't care how that splits up. I'd also like to see someone break for a run of more than 20 yards.

* This is probably a complete jinx, but I'd kill for a shutout. We haven't had one since 1996. Remember when Patrick Henry famously shouted "Give me a shutout or give me death" to his team? I feel the same way.

* Could Oakland realistically win this game? Yes. They have some talented players. If those guys happened to all play well on the same day, they can win. Remember watching them in the season finale last year? We needed Tampa to lose to the Raiders to keep us alive for the playoffs. Oakland played well. Russeell made some big throws. RB Michael Bush had a great game. The defense was tough enough. There is a lot of in-fighting going on right now. Sometimes that can bring a team together. Other times it only worsens the problem. We have no idea what to expect from this bunch. They are a truly dysfunctional team.

I also think we'd need to play really poorly and make a lot of mistakes. That is possible. We're good for a slopfest or two each year. I don't anticipate that this week. I will be extremely disappointed if this is anything less than a blowout.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Know Your Enemy - OAK


The Eagles have a tough task at hand this week. Kenny Stabler is having a very good year. Cliff Branch is still an elite deep threat. Wait...what year is it? 2009? Oops. Yeah, the Raiders are terrible. Owner Al Davis lives in the past so I thought I'd join him for a moment.

The Raiders started the year off looking okay. They could have easily won the opener vs San Diego. Oakland showed a lot of heart in that game. They won the following week, beating KC 13-10. That's 1-1 without a truly bad showing. Could they maintain that torrid pace?

Not exactly. They lost by 20 to Denver, by 23 to Houston, and then bottomed out vs the Gmen. That game was 44-7...and it wasn't even that close.

The immediate thought is that this Raiders team is awful and headed in a really bad direction. They are bad, but I have to admit to being nervous about facing them coming off such a beating. We are a substantially better team, but I hate to face someone coming off a curb-stomping like that. The Raiders are bound to have some guys whose dignity will kick in. I'm hoping that number is about 4, as opposed to 53.

The Raider offense is 32nd in yards and 31st in scoring. The defense is 31st in yards allowed, but an impressive 26th in points allowed. Well done, gents. Clearly this is not a good team. They lack talent, heart, leadership, and just about every other key area you can imagine.


The Giants had a 28-0 lead with 12:37 left in the 2nd quarter. Think about that. The Raiders did outscore them 7-3 in the rest of the quarter. That showed...nothing. The TD came after a muffed punt gave OAK great field position. The Giants had more sacks and takeaways (9 combined) than the Raiders did points. Horrid showing.

Early on I thought the Raider defense played hard and looked okay. The Giants still moved the ball, though. The Raider offense was dreadful and I think that wore on the defense. The Giants used a vertical passing offense to get big chunks of yardage. They had 3 completions of more than 30 yards and just missed a 4th.

JaMarcus Russell was 8 out of 13, but he got sacked 6 times and fumbled 3 times as well. He had 2 completions of more than 20 yards. The rest of his throws were pretty short. WRs were a non-factor in the game, catching 1 pass for 2 yards. Pinky and Thrash think that is pitiful.


* QB JaMarcus Russell --- I won't say much. We've all seen and heard his critics. Russell is not dedicated to the game. Last one to arrive at work, first to leave. Has all the talent in the world, but has awful habits. Makes dumb decisions. Isn't accurate. Very talented, but a complete waste right now. Kevin Kolb has more passing yards in 2 starts than Russell all year long.

* RB Michael Bush --- Big, bruising runner. Should be the kind of guy we handle well. Bush got healthy last year and showed flashes of tremendous ability. Downhill runner that packs a punch. Darren McFadden is hurt, but Bush can easily handle the workload.

* TE Zach Miller --- Leads the team with 15 catches. Excellent receiver over the middle of the field. Knows how to get open and has very good hands. Doesn't have a TD yet in '09, but he does average 14.3 ypc. Very good in the deep middle.

* WR Corps --- Rookie Louis Murphy has 15 catches. The rest of the WRs have 5 combined. Ouch. The Raiders will test you deep, but they don't complete many of them. The biggest challenge for CBs may be not falling asleep due to the lack of throws coming out wide.

* OL --- I haven't really had the chance to study the Raiders OL much. Circumstances have put these guys in a bad situation. They have to play from behind a lot, meaning other teams know the Raiders will likely be passing. Russell holds the ball too long and doesn't have good pocket presence. The sack total has as much to do with him as the OL.

* DE Richard Seymour --- Came up big in the opener. Had a hand in 6 tackles and racked up 2 sacks. He hasn't gotten to the QB since. He is strong, tough, and knows how to get off blocks. Lacks the quickness and agility that made him so tough in his prime.

* DE Greg Ellis ---- Greg is doing okay in the AFC. He leads the team with 4 sacks and still has the burst/motor to pressure QBs on a consistent basis. I'm happy he's no longer in Dallas, but I can't say I'm looking forward to seeing him.

* MLB Kirk Morrison --- The leader of the defense. Solid player who gets to the ball throughout the game. Not the biggest or fastest. Just a good player. Not much in the way of a playmaker this year. Has 7 INTs in the last 3 years, but he's only been a tackler in 2009.

* LB Thomas Howard --- Speedy OLB who can make plays all over the place. Tied for 2nd in solo tackles. Also has a sack and 5 TFLs.

* CB Namdi Asomugha --- Okay player, who would probably be our slot guy. I'm certain he'd beat out Ellis Hobbs for the #4 spot. Okay, that may be a little biased. Elite cover corner. Great size/speed combo. Very skilled guy. Doesn't get many throws his way. Usually, a good tackler, but he will have his Deion moments here and there.

* CB Chris Johnson --- Talented CB, but lacks the consistency of his partner. Some plays CJ looks really good. Other times he looks pedestrian. Gave up an easy TD to the Giants on a simple route. Seemed like Johnson just lost the receiver. He does have an INT this year.

* Special Teams --- Up and down. The KOR unit only averages 18 yds per return. The long punt return is only 19 yards. To be fair, you have to stop someone on defense to force a punt and that is a problem.

P Shane Lechler is still great. He's averaging 52.4 per punt. Wow.

SeaBass is still the PK. He has yet to miss in '09 and has a long of 54. Pretty good.


* Oakland has the lowest average of plays per game in the league (53). We run 62 per game. That is an extra 50-60 yards for us.

* Raider tailbacks average 3.2 ypr this year. Long run is 17 yards. Bad blocking has a lot to do with that. They have a speed runner in McFadden, a power guy in Bush, and a combo guy in Fargas. When none of them have success...the OL needs help. They have had success with End Arounds. Higgins is 1-19 and DHB is 1-20.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Around the League


How 'bout them Cowboys??? I was shocked to see Dallas struggle so much with the Chiefs on Sunday. Dallas did everything in their power to give the game to KC. Unfortunately for us, the Chiefs are so bad they couldn't even take advantage of that. Dallas was incredibly sloppy. They muffed a punt. They mishandled another punt. They missed a FG. Miles Austin had a monster game, but failed to make a pair of short TD catches that would have eliminated the need for OT.

Dallas was not alone. Sunday was the sloppiest day of NFL football that I can ever recall:

* The Steelers could never really put away Detroit. PIT won 28-20, but gave up 335 yards. No biggie you say. I bet Calvin Johnson has a big game. Nope. He wasn't 100% and only had 1 catch for 2 yards. Dennis Northcutt was the big offensive weapon.

* The CLE-BUF game was pretty much a complete disaster. Derek Anderson played very well vs CIN last week, but really struggled this time out. He was only 2 of 17. And he won. The Bills have hit rock bottom recently. Roscoe Parrish muffed a punt late in the game and that set up the winning FG. Parrish earlier in the game lost 15 yards on another PR. He fumbled a KO in the loss to the Saints a few weeks back. BUF was also hurt by an amazing 9 false start penalties. Ugly, ugly game.

* The Vikings blew out the Rams, 38-10. St. Louis actually showed some positive signs, gaining 400 yards of offense. They had some good play on STs. The defense did okay vs the run. The Rams negated those positives with 4 turnovers. The Vikings have to wonder about their defense. They gave up 400 yards to a bad offense. 122 of those yards came on the ground.

* The Raiders had a dreadful performance. They allowed 44 points to the Giants. Oakland had 44 offensive plays in the game. Bad. Very bad. Oakland wasn't even competitive. Embarrassing loss.

* The tackling in the WAS-CAR game was bad. I saw several plays for both teams where players caught a short pass and were able to get to the sticks despite defenders being in good position to make the play. WAS called a highly questionable running play when trapped at their own 1-yard line which led to a safety. The long run in the game for either team was 12 yards. That's just sorta weird.

* I saw the most despicable play of the whole year on Sunday in the SF-ATL game. Dre Bly picked off a pass with his team trailing 35-10 in the 3rd quarter. He got the ball around his own 15 yard line. He ran upfield about 15 or so yards and then extended the ball away from his body while putting his free hand behind his head. He struck the Deion pose. He did this more than 60 yards from the end zone. Guess what? He was tackled a second later, fumbled, and the Falcons got the ball back. Football gods 1, Dre Bly 0. I wanted Mike Singletary to cut him on the spot. How do you celebrate when losing by 25? How do you celebrate when you aren't even at midfield and Roddy White is chasing you? In-freaking-sane. Keith Olbermann has a segment where he chooses the worst person in the world. I'm not sure if this is a daily or weekly award, but Bly gets it for the whole year. Not to be too much of a purist/football snob, but that bugged the hell out of me.

SF had more problems in the game. WR Josh Morgan looked like he slowed down on a huge pass play. He was tackled at the 2-yard line. They did get a TD on the drive, but Morgan sure looked like he should have scored. It did take the offense 3 plays to get the final 2 yards. Scoring in the Red Zone is hard.

Also, the play caused an odd problem. Rookie runner Glen Coffee thought Morgan scored on the play and wasn't on the field for 1st/goal. SF had to call a timeout. Spending a timeout in the 1st half of a game usually isn't critical, but this week it did hurt. Later in the half the Niners had to use a timeout prior to a 3rd down play in scoring territory. On the ensuing KO the returner had a non-fumble called a fumble. Horrible call. Replay would have reversed that in a second, but...SF couldn't challenge because they had just burned their final TO. The score was 21-10 at that point. That is a manageable deficit. The Falcons took the gift non-fumble and scored to go up 28-10. The game essentially was over at that point. SF just doesn't have the offensive weapons to make up that kind of deficit against a solid team.

* JAX went out west and lost to Seattle 41-0. I think that's all I need to say about that.

* I saw at least 3 offenses turn the ball over in the Red Zone: TB, CIN, STL.

* 3 teams had costly mistakes while trying to field punts: BUF, DAL, WAS.

Like I said, strange, strange day filled with sloppy football. These are the major lowlights. There are plenty of other miscues and situations that I'm not covering.


* So what is up with the 0-5 Titans? Albert Haynesworth.

You have to understand how that team played last year. They went 13-3, but the Titans were not an unbelievable juggernaut. Their offense was 21st in the league. Their defense was 7th in the NFL. They did finish 2nd in the NFL in scoring defense.

What teams did TEN hold to 14 points or less?

JAX - 10
CIN - 7
HOU - 12
BAL - 10
KC - 10
CHI - 14
JAX - 14
DET - 10
CLE - 9
HOU - 13
PIT - 14

The only Top 15 offense in there is HOU. Most weren't in the Top 20.

The Titans had a good defense, but they were helped by facing weak competition. They had one elite defensive player, Big Al. And he truly is an elite player. His presence affected the entire team.

Albert could not be consistently single-blocked. Teams had to double him or risk having Al disrupt the play. That meant single blocking for the other 3 DL. The other guys are solid players. DE Kyle Vanden Bosch is actually very good, but isn't a difference maker on his own. Al's presence in the middle helped a lot. Jevon Kearse can't do it on his own anymore. DT Tony Brown is good at doing the dirty work. Even with double-teaming, Big Al still racked up 8.5 of the team's 44 sacks. That tells you he's pretty special. Good players get doubled. Great players beat double teams and make plays.

The pressure had a huge impact on the secondary. Those guys didn't have to cover as long. They also knew that QBs would be rushed into making some poor throws. The Titans came up with 20 picks, one of the better totals in the league.

The front seven was able to shut down running games pretty consistently (6th in the NFL). A lot of this was due to Big Al's presence in the middle. The running game is based on inside plays. If you can't run in the middle because of a stout DT the defense is able to scheme to control the edges. Since TEN could shut down the run that let the Safeties stay back and play the pass a lot of the time. Those guys responded with great production (11 INTs, 19 PDs).

With the opposing team unable to score, the Titans could stick with the run game as much as they wanted. The best offensive players were RBs Chris Johnson and Lendale White. TEN could throw the ball when they wanted. The success of the running game made the play-action pass effective. The top 2 TEs caught more passes than the starting WRs. That is a simplistic passing offense that is based on situational comfort. Get in a shootout and you're in trouble. Get behind by a couple of scores and you're in big trouble.

Haynesworth is gone this year and it shows. TEN has had to play from behind more than last year. They only have 9 sacks and 4 picks, putting them on pace to have 29 sacks and 13 INTs for the year. That means less pressure on the opposing offense and fewer short fields for the Titans offense. The rushing offense is only off a little from last year's pace, but check out TDs. The Titans ran for 24 scores last year. This year they are headed for 13. Same yards, but less TDs tells you field position is a big part of the situation.

Big Al was a great fit for TEN. He enabled them to play a certain brand of football. Without him things are much tougher. There is less fudge room for mistakes. Injuries to CB Courtland Finnegan would have been a problem last year, but this year that is a major hurdle and has had a huge impact on Tennessee.

The Titans are not an awful team like KC, STL, TB, or OAK. They aren't as bad as BUF, CLE, or DET. Still, 0-5 is 0-5. That record is real. Playing well enough to lose close is still losing. I think Jeff Fisher is too good a coach for them to finish with only 3 or 4 wins. This nightmare start is going to be an interesting test for Fisher, the players, and the organization.

Why hasn't Al had a huge impact on WAS? Complicated question, but I think a lot of it is the fact that they don't have as sound an infrastructure. Also, playing in the NFC East is a huge challenge. One guy is rarely going to make or break a team. Plus, the WAS defense was pretty good last year. The offense is the problem.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Game Review is Posted


Here ya go:

-- Link --

I felt better about the game after re-watching it. Josh Johnson has to get a lot of credit for some of those plays. He did throw the picks, but also escaped several sacks. And who told Kellen Winslow to play up to his ability?

We're playing bad teams right now. There's no escaping that. We are blowing them out. WAS barely beat STL. Dallas needed OT to beat the Chiefs. Good teams can't help who they play. They can only focus on playing well and winning big.

We're Top 10 in yards and points on offense. We're #3 in yards allowed on defense. Scoring defense is the only pedestrian category. That Saints loss (48 points ) just kills us.

One other note...this was the sloppiest week of NFL play that I can ever recall. Teams made bonehead mistakes left and right. I'll write about this later in the week, but on a weird day it was good that we were one team to take care of business.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Ugly Win - Tampa


We won by 19, but I have to say that was a very unsatisfying game for me. The offense came up with big plays. That was fun. The only problem with that is that big plays can give you a false sense of confidence. Not every defense will be as porous as the Bucs. We had one sustained drive all game long. Late in the 3rd Qtr we went 12 plays for 64 yards and a FG.

The defense was aggressive all game long. They did a lot of good things (3 sacks, 3 INTs), but we still let Tampa score 14 points and gave up 300+ yards to them. Tampa was 9 of 18 on 3rd downs. Unacceptable.

Penalties were a problem all game long. Some were aggressive, but too many were errors due to sloppy play and dumb mistakes. Thank god we didn't play like this against a good team or we'd have lost.

The coaches can use this game as a teaching tool. The Raiders are up next. They're playing really awful right now. Big Red can point to the mistakes and really get on the players this week. The problems weren't due to lack of talent. Attention to detail will go a long way to cleaning up the problems.

Enough moaning and groaning. We did win by 19 and there are some good things to discuss. Jeremy Maclin played like a star receiver. That was unexpected. He caught 6 balls for 142 yards and 2 TDs. His scores came on long plays (51,40). Even better, he had to work for each catch. Donovan trusted J-Mac enough to throw into coverage and give him a chance to make a play. Neither catch was simple and smooth. Maclin had to locate the ball and then get hold of it. He did a terrific job on each play. Kevin may want to ask Reggie Brown for some advice on being a backup.

Brent Celek continued his good year. He was 4-58. One of them was a 38-yard catch and run. He jumped over Ronde Barber on the play. Brent is trying to show that he's more than just a productive starter. He might be developing into a very good player. We'll see if he can keep this up.

Donovan showed no ill effects from his rib injury. He was efficient and explosive (16 of 21 for 264 yards). He also ran twice for 30 yards. I never saw him looking like a guy with any injuries or problems.

Asante Samuel had 2 INTs and Sheldon cmae up with one as well. Sheldon had some struggles in coverage, but also had some good plays.

Sav Rocca had his best day, 48.8 per punt. David Akers nailed a 44-yd'er and consistently put KOs deep into the end zone.

Oh yeah...that old dude named Trotter did okay. He had a couple of solo tackles. He attacked the LOS quite a bit. We held Cadillac to 8 yards on 10 carries. Trot had a big hand in that. I'm looking forward to checking out the tape and seeing how he looked.