Thursday, January 7, 2010

More Playoff Talk


I was thinking about the game on the way in to work this morning. A few things have had me worried. We're facing a good QB in the Wildcard round. In the past we dealt with Shaun King or Brad Johnson or a young Eli. Last year we beat Tarvaris Jackson. Dealing with Romo is a whole different ball of wax. I'm worried about the LBs and the state of flux in that unit. There isn't a clear answer of who to play and where to play them. Finally, I'm worried about McNabb. The last 6 quarters have not been pretty. We need him to start making clutch plays and eliminate the mistakes.

I'm always thinking about both sides of an issue. While my brain had started to sense gloom and doom was on the way I started to see the situation a bit differently. Tony Romo was 24 of 34 last week. That is 71 percent completions. He did that against our players, but not really against our defense. Sean McDermott didn't run the Eagles defense. He called plays for Eagles players, but that wasn't us out there. The 1st half was some weird aberration. We played vanilla and Romo was 15 of 20. Dallas piled up 291 yards and 17 points.

This is now the playoffs. You go all out to win every game. You save nothing. You use every trick possible to beat the team in front of you. McDermott will empty the playbook this week. Also, our players will have some edge. They laid an egg on Sunday and that will motivate them. Our guys didn't lack effort last week, but they also didn't play with emotion. I don't know if we were too tight or what. Dallas got us on our heels and it stayed that way til halftime.

The other thing about playoff football is that everything speeds up just a notch. Guys understand the situation and play accordingly.

Romo won't have the clean pocket that he did on Sunday. His receivers won't be as open. Things will get sped up. Last week's scrimmage could give him a false sense of confidence. If that happens and we can get off some blocks up front and hit Romo solidly a few times that will change the game completely. No QB likes to get hit. We've shown in the past that we can get to Tony, physically and mentally. We can do that on Saturday, if the guys make plays up front and in coverage.

Romo isn't normally at his best under pressure. Donovan McNabb is. I go back to the drives that started in the end zone vs MIN last year. Donovan dropped back, read the defense, and made big throws to Avant to move the ball. That was clutch football. Last week he was highly erratic. And his worst throws came on plays when he had a good pocket to pass from.

Finally, Andy Reid does a terrific job of getting his team ready to play, mentally and physically. I have to think that Big Red will know what buttons to push in order to get this team ready for Freddie. Andy is 10-7 in the playoffs. He has 1 loss in the SB. He's got 4 losses in NFC Title games. He's got 2 losses in the Divisional Round. He has never lost in the Wildcard round. This Dallas team looks better than any WC opponent we've ever had and that could change things, but Andy does seem to know what he's doing in the playoffs.

If you look at last week only you would think Dallas should be a heavy favorite. If you look at the big picture you can see where the Eagles have a very good chance to go to Big D and win this game. I'll have a full preview on Friday.


* Chris Gocong is splitting reps at SAM in practice. McDermott could put him back in the starting spot this week. Chris is a good run defender and can be an effective blitzer. Coverage is his weakness. McDermott made mention that Chris is vying for playing time "at a couple of different positions". They tried him at MLB earlier and it failed. Sounds like they may be seeing if he's a possible fit in there once again. Interesting idea.

* Expect the running game this week to be a 2-headed monster, Shady and Leonard Part 6. I think the coaches could see Westy's lack of speed on a couple of his runs last week. Brian will play, but should be more of a backup. The offense had a real good rhythm with McCoy and Weaver as the runners. They ran well, the OL blocked well, and play-action passes were more effective. Just a guess on my part.


RE: quick plays to offset the Dallas rush

We have used creative screens against them in the last few years. We've gotten good gains from TE screens. We lined up Westy at WR last year and ran a quick screen to him out there. I think we did try a screen to DeSean vs Dallas in 2008. That play just wasn't good for us. I'd be surprised to see them use it.

McNabb had time to throw last week in the 1st half. That's what made his poor throws so annoying. He wasn't under heavy pressure on them. The last 1.5 Qtrs was different. Dallas pinned their ears back and really attacked.

We will use screen passes to try and offset the Dallas rush.

RE: Jenkins vs DJax

Dallas does keep a Safety over the top. CBs don't consider that a true double team. WRs do. There are times when a team will use bracket coverage on a receiver and have multiple defenders stay tightly on the guy. Dallas doesn't do that for the most part. They do keep someone deep. Jenkins is a good young CB, but DeSean is faster that 99.5% of the CBs in the league. Teams would be dumb to just single cover him all game long.

RE: Howie Roseman qualified for GM?

Legit question. Howie isn't a football guy, per se. He is a smart guy that started on the accounting side of things. He was interested in personnel and the team developed him in that area. Howie, from what I'm told, seemed like a natural. He's spent time in Pro Personnel. He has scouted college players. He knows the contract side very well.

There is a belief among some fans and media that GMs and scouts must be ex-players or coaches with extensive backgrounds. Ron Wolf was a history major that ended up with a football career. Gil Brandt was a baby photographer when he started dabbling in football. Marty Hurney was a Washington sportswriter when Bobby Bethard invited him to work for the Redskins. Matt Millen was a great college player and then a long time NFL star. He became a very good NFL broadcaster before taking over as the Lions GM. He was an utter disaster.

Some guys have a feel for personnel. Some don't. The real key is the scouts who go out and collect the majority of the information. They bring it back to Philly where Roseman and his people analyze the reports and work on rankings. Then the coaches get invovled late in the process.

Roseman needs the ability to handle information, analyze data, deal with people, and make decisions. He can have a solid football mind even if he didn't play at the college or pro level. I played very little football growing up. I happened to spend most of my time in Boy Scouts. That's where my best friends were. I now listen to some NFL guys talk about the game and they don't poop from shinola. They played the game, but don't know it as well as me. This isn't true for all players obviously. There are some guys that I love to listen to because you know they understand the game of football from a big picture standpoint.

Howie could prove to be a complete disaster if given the job, but he has passed each test to this point. He is smart and I'm a believer that smart people can accomplish an awful lot if given the chance. I have no issues with him getting the job, should Heckert leave.

RE: Rory Segrest / DL struggles?

Rory is learning on the job. Pete Jenkins was a veteran coach who knew every trick in the book and a few that never made it in. I'm sure Pete could have helped this group out in some way. That said, the DL has generally played pretty well, aside from LDE. Bunk and Patt have been good. Antonio Dixon has developed nicely. Trent Cole had a great year. While LDE hasn't been ideal, Juqua did have 8 sacks, a career high.

Our run defense is weak mostly in the Nickel. That has as much to do with MLB problems as anything.

RE: Juan Castillo

O-Line coaches aren't considered to be schemers and gameplanners. They are thought of as teachers more than anything. You find very few OL coaches who go on to deal with QBs or become OCs. Juan is good at what he does, but I don't think he needs to be more involved with running the offense.


geoff said...

Do you think the couple of different positions Gocong is being looked at is LDE? I've been wondering why they haven't used him there before on occasion.

Tommy Lawlor said...

I'm pretty sure it is SAM and MLB.

We've got athletic pass rushers. Chris isn't necessarily better than Babin or Clemons, let along Parker.

Boyboy said...


Who are some of your favorite former players who are now analysts to listen to? Who are some you don't care for?

Also, in regards to Juan Castillo, what can you tell us about the way he coaches pass protection? A friend of mine said he heard Randy Cross on Sirius Radio talking about how Castillo has an old school (and somewhat outdated) way to teach protection. He said he teaches the approach where the lineman sit back and wait for the rush to come whereas a lot of teams coach a more aggressive style of attacking the DL. I believe the context of the conversation was regarding Jason Peters having to learn a different style AND the back problems that the Eagles lineman have had (Tra and Shawn).


-- A couple of interesting links:

Jason said...

Do you really think we will see Bwest get less carries? I like McCoy and Weaver a lot and I think they are quality options, but I also think AR will want to lean on BWest due to his experience and frankly, because AR has certain players he believes in no matter what. Also, it seems McCoy has become less and less of a go to player in the past several games and we have only really featured Weaver out of the backfield. Don't get me wrong, I think McCoy is a great rookie RB and we will see a lot from him in years to come, but I have felt that the coaches have sort of shied away from him a bit. He hasn't had more than 10 carries or more than 14 touches since week 12. Do you think that they will increase his role? I just feel that if they stick with the run game, we will see a lot of BWest over McCoy.

Pitmanite said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pitmanite said...

I want to believe that the defense didn't hold dallas because of our gameplan, and I look at the points we left on the board and hope we execute better.

I'm wavering on using the above excuses for two reason. The first is that I'm pretty sure we had a more aggressive gameplan against Romo the first time we played & lost in our house. This time we stayed back and tried to pressure w/ our front four and we got smoked. I know we'll blitz more, but we played 2 times w/ two different gameplans and came out w/ an L both times. Ultimately it's going to come down to our guys being good enough to make plays. Beat the man in front of you, get off blocks, wrap up the ball carrier, play as a unit and don't make dumb mistakes.

Also, you can say we left plays/points on the board but don't you think Dallas can say the same thing? I know they didn't miss as many plays, as evidenced by their 24 points, but maybe they are saying, "well on that 3rd down play this guy was open and Romo didn't see him." or "that big screen to felix that was called back was a hold that didn't impact the play." ultimately, they could pick the game apart saying if they made this play here or there that it could just as easily have been 38-0.

luckily all of this speculation will be moot in about 2 days. the beauty of saturday is that past performance won't mean squat. we only need these guys to step up for this game, past peformance (good or bad) means nothing once 8 pm hits. maybe jordan or witherspoon will have a big game. maybe asante jumps 2 passes this game and he actually makes the play for a TD (he does seem to have a pretty darn good read on romo).

it's crazy because despite everything i've analyzed that's telling me we won't win, i'm going to be positive for a change and say we win this game.

Cliff said...

I don't want to talk about the game anymore. We've said and thought of everything there is. Thank God it's on Saturday, I can't htake any more anticipation.

I'm surprised, for lack of a better word, that McDermott is getting HC interviews. I think he's done an okay job as DC this season, but nothing worth a promotion.

Jason said...

Given that there has been several young head coaches who have had success, including a few from the Eagles and the fact that SM also did a pretty good job considering the number of injuries we have had on our defense, I can't say i'm really that surprised. I hope he doesn't go anywhere because I think he has done a good job and will continue to improve as a DC, so I hope it is only an interview and not a job offer, but we will have to wait and see.

tobylove said...

The thing that encourages me about McNabb, is that often after hitting bottom, he comes back the next week and plays exceptionally well.

I don't know if that will happen when he's playing such a tough defense like the cowboys, but it gives me some hope.

Cliff said...

@ Jason

I guess interviewing McDermott would satisfy the Bills' need to interview some young blood, but I could name a half-dozen guys who are probably far better suited for the job right now.

That doesn't matter, though, because I should just be happy we have a young, well-respected coordinator running our defense... for now, anyway.

Hypothetically, who would we replace McDermott with? In-house candidates Mike Caldwell and Bill Shuey are even younger than McDermott. It would be fun to see how the organization approaches an outside search. I'd pray Raheem Morris loses his job to Cowher, so we could snatch him up.

I guess it's more likely we lose Tom Heckert to the Browns. I think they've been after him for a few seasons now, right?

Can you guys tell I'm trying to keep my mind of Saturday's game?

Cliff said...

Tommy, I just saw the news that Virginia Tech's defensive end Jason Worilds will forgo his final season of eligibility and enter the NFL Draft. Have you seen enough to have any feel for him?

Of course, I watched every Tech game this season, but I think this is a big mistake on his part. He was explosive at times. He's 6'2", but under 260lbs. I guess he's got that high-motor thing going for him. Teams could see how successful Darryl Tapp has been in Seattle and think fellow Hokie Worilds is similar.

Maybe I'm just bummed we lost a solid member of Bud Foster's defense. Maybe Worilds would be a solid late-round pick-up for the Eagles?

On another note, I'm pretty sure Jason Worilds (pronouced worlds) should take the World B. Free route and change his name for socio-political reasons. I'm not sure how he could play it with world as his last name, though.

Ben said...

I would love it if Columbo could play this weekend. Why? Because it's a new body on the Oline. It's an inconsistency, even if in the long term he is a better tackle than Doug Free. Free has been playing well so I think if Columbo starts it would help us out a little.

Barber is banged up. If he were to miss time, Choice seems back so we aren't really helped. But if Barber plays and is just a step slower and weaker, that could be nice.

I never hope for injuries, but it would be nice if the back thing flares up around... say... 7pm on Damarcus Ware. Hope he's ok by sunday though.

Ben said...

This national championship game hurts to watch. Texas' D started out great. It's unfortunate that such a promising matchup has turned into an exhibition. You gotta feel bad for 'Bama too. Now a lot of people will question their title because Texas is playing without their best player (put Vince Young back in!)

This would have been a great game to evaluate Colt in.

Cliff said...

I feel bad for the kid who came in for McCoy. His receivers had HUGE drops in the 1st half, one in the end zone. Now he lost his starting center. Geezus.

And I can just picture Pete Carroll (who's working for ABC/ESPN tonight) on the sideline thinking if only his Trojans hadn't finished 5th in the Pac-10, he'd be doing so much better than Mac Brown. Haha. Blame that on the BCS, jerk.


Tommy Lawlor said...

Former player analysts I like:

* Trent Dilfer is good when discussing a game that he just watched or when breaking down some highlights. He gets careless with his comments when talking about the league in general.

* Troy Aikman is a guy I used to like a lot. He's not been as good the last year or so.

* Sterling Sharpe is still outstanding when discussing the WCO.

* Steve Tasker doesn't get many good games to do, but he is a quality analyst. I hear him on the radio from time to time.

* Matt Millen is a good analyst on college and pro games.

* Moose Johnston does a pretty good job. He'll miss a key point at least once a game, but does more good than harm.

* Brian Baldinger drives me nuts. For every really smart, insightful comment about a team he will say something so dumb that I'm left shaking my head. I think he's prone to hyperbole in a desire to be seen as the guy who will say dramatic, outlandish things.

Cliff said...

Brian Baldinger is Michael Scott?

Of your list, Moose is my favorite. He doesn't break a play down like Jaws or Dilfer would, but he'd level-headed and doesn't get caught beating a "talking point" to death like Aikman will.

Tommy Lawlor said...

RE: Castillo and pass pro

Juan seems to like his guys to retreat more than other teams. He and Andy bring in bigger guys because of that. The OL must be able to anchor when a defender runs into them with some burst.

You can watch Jason Peters move backward and tell that it still doesn't feel natural to him. Some coaches let their guys fire out. Others have their blockers turn at an angle (pretty rare I think). We ask our blockers to move straight back as much as possible.

Our style works pretty well with the guys we have.

Tommy Lawlor said...

RE: Westy vs McCoy

I love Westy to death, but he just hasn't shown much spring in his step. I'm betting the coaches have seen this as well and will give more work to Weaver and Shady. I could be wrong of course. Just a hunch.

RE: Dallas leaving points on the board?

I understand your point, but the problem is that Dallas didn't really have any sure looking plays that were missed. Romo was 24 of 34. That's not many misses.

RE: McDermott as HC candidate

He has a good reputation in the league. Sean also has good brand name, so to speak. He was trained by Jim Johnson and learned under Andy Reid. I don't think he's ready for a job, but it would do him good to get an interview.

Tommy Lawlor said...

RE: Jason "War of the" Worilds

Good player, but should have stayed. Not so special that he needed to leave early. Probably not an Eagles target, but could be a good pass rusher for some team. He acknowledged that he might have to move to LB. I'm curious to see what his real size is and to see how athletic he tests.

RE: Title game

Disappointing. I really wanted to see Colt vs Bama. I hated him getting hurt that early.

izzylangfan said...

McDermott has done a great job this year. But when he decides that the best thing to do is rush four and go plain vanilla it seems to result in disaster as in Dallas and New Orleans. Yes, Arizona got the best of Jim Johnson's blitz last year in the playoffs so you can't win them all. But if you can't mess up a good quarterback you are going to lose. Its in the Eagles character to play aggressive blitzing defense. So play that way -win or lose. But in my view there is a blitz that will be the correct way to play every team as long as the whole team executes.

Joe said...

imo, the vanilla less aggressive defense may work better against the Tony Romo who is prone to make mistakes. Since this guy hasn't been around the past month, I'm guessing the D is going to fire at will...big plays be darned.

izzylangfan said...

You saw how well it worked last week. Although 24 points wouldn't have been a disaster if the offense played well. Nonetheless, if you want a quarterback to make mistakes put some pressure on him. This is particularly the case with Romo who can be quite accurate if he is not stressed.

Pitmanite said...

here's a link from ray diddy talking about the missed plays. it's pretty good stuff.

he's got quotes from tommy's boy baldinger.

Myron said...

Tommy can you post your thoughts on the players we saw in the BCS Championship Bowl last night?

Particularly interesting to me: Texas DE Sergio Kindle, Texas WR Jordan Shippley, 'Bama MLB Rolando McLain, and 'Bama CB Xavier Arenas.

They all looked pretty good to some extent last night. Are they all pretty solid pro prospects? First rounders?

Also, did Colt McCoy's early injury+exit did anything to hurt his draft day potential?

Myron said...

Oh yeah,and of course Heismann winner Mark Ingram. Is he worthy of a top 16 pick?

Cliff said...

Seahawks fired Mora after just 1 season. Wow. ESPN/Mort is reporting that the Seahawks are going hard after Pete Carroll. I'd think Carroll would be an idiot to leave sunny SoCal for Seattle.

A lot of people are going to point to Carroll's most recent NFL failures, but he has spent a considerable amount of time at the assistant/coordinator level in the NFL, too.

Glad my team has a solid coaching staff in place. Ha.