Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve Football Talk

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There is some talk about whether the return of Brian Westbrook is a good thing. This question sounds ridiculous, but it actually has merit. One of the keys to a winning streak is chemistry. Players get into a groove. Add in the fact we're 7-1 in games without Westy and I think you can say the subject is worthy of discussion.

At this point we've established that our running game is highly situational. LeSean is the I-formation back and base offense runner. He gets the bulk of the screens. He plays in most of the shotgun sets. Weaver plays in most of the 1-back sets. He is generally the short yardage runner. He's good in pass pro. Also factor in Mike Vick. He is the QB in many short yardage and GL sets.

Here comes Westy. Good thing? I think it's okay. This isn't Brian Westbrook, key to the Eagles offense. This is Brian Westbrook, role player. He will get mixed into the equation. He's still a gifted player. He can block and catch. That's a good skill set for 10-12 plays. Westy can also play in the slot or out wide in some pass sets.

It will be interesting to see who sits. Eldra Buckley is a good STer. We don't need him on offense per se, but can we take him off the coverage units? We'll see what happens on Sunday.

There have been some reports that Brian may retire after this year. Someone asked me why he'd come back this year if he was going to retire in a few months. I have no inside info on Westy's future. I could see him coming back or hanging up the cleats. If he does decide to call it quits then I can easily understand coming back this year. He's only got a couple of regular season games left. We're in the postseason. Brian wants a SB, not some stats or personal glory. Playing in 2 to 6 games is a risk, but not an unreasonable one. Coming back next year means camps, Training Camp, preseason games, and 16 regular season games just to get back to this point. That is a lot more of a risk.

Brian is a proud veteran. He wants to play in these huge games if possible. He's now lucky that the offense doesn't run through him. He can just be a cog in the machine. That takes physical and mental pressure off him and lets him just play. Let's say we go to the SB the long way. That would be 6 games. Maybe Brian is important and plays 20 snaps per game. That is 120 plays. Normally that would be about 9 quarters for him, not 24.

I think Westy can make a couple of key plays for us. He's still the master of the screen play. There is some other importance to him playing. We could get a preview of next year, if he does return. The days of Westy being "the guy" are done, no matter what. Let's see if he can thrive in a rotation or if that just isn't a good fit for him any more. It was great in 2003, but a lot has changed since then.


DENVER

I'll post thoughts on the Broncos tomorrow. This is another quality test for us. We're playing a good, but not great team. We don't know them at all. We've had good luck with them in Philly in past years. We shut out Elway in '92. We whipped them in '95 on Sunday night. Rodney Peete looked like Joe Montana in that game. We lost at Denver badly in 1998 and 2005. That might have been TO's final game as an Eagle. What a jackass.


DAWK

It will feel very weird going up against him. Still, we beat Reggie when he was a Packer in '93. Victor Bailey caught a big pass to set up the win. We beat Seth and Clyde in the first meeting of '94. We swept TO in 2006. We beat Hank Fraley last year. I think we can handle Dawk.

I've never cheered against Brian Dawkins. This is going to be weird. I love the guy, but I hope we run by him time after time. He's a hero til Saturday and then again on Monday, but Sunday he's the enemy. I want to make his life miserable for 3 hours. I'd prefer that misery come from losing to us, but he could always rent Pearl Harbor and get the same effect.

Dawk isn't fast anymore. We need to make him run. DeSean better have his head on a swivel. Dawk will try to lay him out. Most of Dawk's big hits in space come on bigger, slower receivers (Amani Toomer) or they come vs TEs (Alge Crumpler). His big hits in the box are on RBs and QBs. He will drill our RBs as they go to the ground.


MISSING OUT ON MORENO

I was furious with DEN for stealing Knowshon from us. Jeremy Maclin looks like a pretty good player so I guess I can forgive them. And we did do well with Shady. Moreno is going to be a real good player. Their offense is a work in progress.

I freely admit that in 2008 the WR/RS I coveted was Eddie Royal. I was very upset when Denver took him. Settling for DeSean Jackson was okay, but Royal was my guy. Oops. Please, o great football gods, let Shady vs Moreno turn out the same way next year. Please.


NYG or DAL?

I'd rather not face either team in the playoffs. I don't fear either one, but I hate playing teams that you know like that. I'd rather deal with someone that we're less familiar with.

Obviously the goal is to steal the #2 seed from MIN. If we do that, I'm not going to worry about who we play. Teams with the bye generally do very well. That wasn't the case last year, but I'll gladly take my chances.

I really don't worry too much about who we'll have to play. This is the playoffs. If you're going to win the SB you're going to have to beat good teams along the way. It would be great to see a tough team get upset to make our path a bit easier, but there aren't really any gimmes in the postseason.


WAS, DAL OWNERS

Jerry J. and Dan Snyder are a big part of the problems for each of their teams. I wrote about Jerry last October when he made the Roy Williams deal. Here are some clips from that post:

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

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

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

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

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

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


Jerry has been better this year, but the Cowboys are still too much of a circus for my taste. That team needs a football guy to run things and bring a sense of order to the organization. Jerry is his own worst enemy.

As for Dan...he's a worse version of Jerry. Dan just buys players and coaches. He can't understand that this isn't like putting together a chess set. Football players aren't interchangeable. Personalities are critical. You need some chemistry, either between the players or between the players and the coach. The Niners were pretty harmonious under Bill Walsh. They won. The Giants were highly dysfunctional under Bill Parcells. They won. People think the Gatorade bath was a fun thing. It started when a Giant player was mad at Tuna and did it to say "Screw you coach, we won the game after all". It quickly evolved into a good thing. The Cowboys players feared Jimmy Johnson. They won.

Dan might be great in baseball or the NBA where a couple of stars can carry a franchise. The NFL is all about teams. The way you build a good team is to hire the right guy and let him do his job. WAS hasn't had that since Bobby Beathard left 20 or so years ago. Shanahan would help, but he had problems building a team in DEN after the greatness of 1997-98. Sure, he gets credit for that, but having John Elway already there was the real key. John is the greatest QB I've ever seen. Inheriting one of the greatest players in NFL history isn't something that will happen if Shanny goes to WAS.


Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone.
_

16 comments:

Ben said...

I'll still be wearing my Dawkins jersey on Sunday (in part because it's the only one I have after losing my Shawn Andrews one. and in part because it's still the jersey of a potential HOF Eagle.)

I hope everyone cheers for him during pre-game or after he makes his first tackle, etc. Welcome him back to his real home, then give him the gift of watching #10 dance into the endzone.

izzylangfan said...

Why not use Westbrook in the Wildcat. He could make use of the extra blocker and he can even throw a little bit. But the Wildcat isn't really a throwing formation and Vick actually passed very little. Basically defenses played Vick to run and he was mostly successful in the face of that.

roconnor said...

With McCoy as a back out the I/two back set and Weaver the short yardage guy, Westbrook fills a much needed hole -the "third down back" he's been smeared with in the past.

His skills will help most in those 3rd & 5, 2nd & 10 situations.

Also, what are the chances we'll see #36 as the upback with McCoy at tail in a two backfield formation? We never saw enough 2 back plays with Westbrook and Buckhaulter, and I've always felt it opened up a slew of misdirection opportunities.

rick said...

I'll be watching to see if Westbrook has his old speed back. Earlier in the year he seemed a step slow. Then later in the season and before his injury, he began to seem like his old self.

Ben said...

Off topic but -

Watching the Sean McDermott interview this week ("LB Rotation" on PE main site), I love this guy. Great asset for the organization. He may be a year or two away from forming a dominant defense and he may be a few more years away from a major coaching offer.

Myron said...

If they somehow win the Super Bowl this year, or even GET to it, there's a strong chance McDermott will be getting offers for HC positions from other teams.

Look at what success did to Spags.

Cliff said...

Like I mentioned in the last thread, I badly wanted Royal. I'm unabashedly biased - I spent 3 years watching him at Virginia Tech. That was a really good WR group.

Eddie Royal
Josh Morgan
David Clowney
Justin Harper

All 4 got to the NFL. Eddie and Josh are starters. Clowney was involved in the Braylon Edwards trade, I think. Harper is the odd man out - he only lasted with the Ravens for a year and I don't think he made it to another team.

Too bad Tech lost Michael's brother Marcus and we didn't have anyone to throw to those guys. Marcus Vick turned in to a joke in the NFL, but as a NCAA player, he was pretty freaking good. Too bad he didn't make it to a junior year.

Cliff said...

I was thinking about Dan Snyder. I live in Redskins territory so I hear the public hatred for him, but is he not the type of owner Average Fan wants for his team?

Troll the EMB and you'd come away thinking Lurie is Mayor Burgermeister Meisterburger of Sombertown. Let's see, if EMB's Average Fan sat on Lurie's shoulder, our starting wide receivers would be Roy Williams and Braylon Edwards and we'd have no draft picks for 3 years. Jeff Garcia would be our starting QB and Dawkins would be our FS if he were in a wheelchair. Some combination of Rex Ryan and Jon Gruden would be running the team. Brandon Lloyd would be the highest paid 3rd WR in the history of football (yes, even he was a EMB favorite for a summer).

Dan Snyder facilitates that type of strategy. He's also destroyed the heritage and reputation of one of the NFL's most important franchises.

We Eagles fans are very lucky.

Stephen said...

A lot more goes into winning than simply having the biggest stars, having good solid depth all around and a highly motivated team are both key things I think.

Cliff said...

Christmas is over, which means I'm back at work and bored - time to overdose on football.

Interesting stat from Adam Schefter's column on ESPN.com: The Jets are #1 in rushing offense, #1 in total defense, and #1 in scoring defense; yet, they probably won't be going to the Playoffs. That sort of flies in the face of coventional football wisdom, doesn't it? Don't the old guys on pre-game shows usually tell us it takes a good running game and stingy defense to win games?

Ben said...

cliff:

it also takes an efficient QB (doesn't have to be flashy, but has to take care of the ball). Those great ground games and great defenses always have a QB who just protects the ball. Kind of like in '05 (i think?) when we fed the ball to BWest and Garcia just kept us moving.

Mark Sanchez has been a turnover machine (although I still think he's got a very promising career).

If Sanchez could post consistantly numbers like 220 passing ypg, 1-2td's, 1 int, they would be a playoff team. He's so young and inexperienced though. They're on the right track. They've been competitive in most games.

Prem Prakash said...

Hope everything is ok, Tommy. Waiting for the Know Your Enemy and Preview.

Merry Christmas, all.

Prem Prakash said...

Forgot about the Know Your Enemy from earlier. There was stuff going on all around me. A holiday of some sorts. It had nothing to do with the Eagles so I ignored it.

Cliff said...

Maybe Shanahan isn't the guy in D.C.? Urban Meyer just stepped down at Florida. Shanahan was the Offensive Coordinator at UF in the 80's.

Of course, nobody's said anything about talks between Shanahan and the Skins, but this adds another choice to Shanahan's decision-making. I'm hoping he chooses the sunny, recreational life in Gainesville and we get another season of Zorn at the helm of our division-rival.

Cliff said...

Eddie Royal is OUT for tomorrow's game!

Good news for the Eagles, bad news for my fantasy team (my opponent has Brandon Marshall, who will now see even more passes).

But I have the Eagles D.

Cliff said...

Tommy, I respect your opinion on this topic, so I'll ask: What's your "best TV show of the decade?"

Tell me yours before I tell you mine, because as soon as I say mine, I'm sure it will cloud your judgement.