Friday, August 31, 2007

More Analysis Later

Sorry, folks, will provide more on what the final cuts means for the Birds later. We're getting ready to go see Rush Hour 3. Saw The Bourne Ultimatum last night. Not bad, not bad at all. Its amazing how much credit Hollywood gives the U.S. Intelligence if....

Eagles Cuts Leaked Early?

Evidently the person in charge of making sure the wireless news feed to Eagles subscribers got a little too pro-active and may have dished the dirt on some Eagles cut a day early. Besides the obvious black-eye the front office is going to get should a player get word via the net, instead of in-person, it seems someone is due for a pink-slip of their own.
Now and Spuds won't confirm any of these there COULD be some changes. Doubtful. But not altogether beyond the realm of possibility.

In case the .jpg doesn't show up clearly: there are a few notable names on the list:
Ian Scott, the big run-stuffing DT they signed from Chicago - he could get on the field with a knee injury, which was good news for rookie FA Jeremy Clarke who really took advantage of his opportunity with a strong camp. Clarke - you isn't on the list.

Jeremy Bloom, I noted this in my blog earlier. Too much shake, not enough bake. He has a little wiggle to him, but the Eagles prospective KR/PR just never seemed to want to run it straight up the field. Not every play can be bust to the outside - ESPECIALLY with our ST blocking.

Dirk Johnson, our incumbent punter apparently lost out to the booming leg of our new Aussie pick-up, Saverio Rocca. Rocca, who was an instant hit with the fans, can flat-out crush the ball. Hell, he "shanked" a kick and he got a 42-yarder out of it. Toss in the a great pooch-punt ability and the propensity to hang ball up in the sky long enough for the coverage guys to make the fair catch, and you have a true special teams weapon. Dirk may be steady, but our Special Teams have been anything but. Having Rocca back there at least gives the punting unit a chance to shine. Now he just need to get that holding thing down. FG do not need to be an adventure. If he and LS Jon Dorenbos don't practice FG snapping and holding for 60+ this week, something is wrong.

Nate Ilaoa, the big Samoan HB from UH couldn't crack the line-up. Well he's project, as evidenced by his 7th round status. I think he lands on the practice squad.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Zaar is "Dog of the Day" on Dogster

Well, we just got an ass-ton of Dogster friend requests for Zaar and D.J. because Zaar was featured as the "Dog of the Day" on the Dogster Homepage.

Of course. I did a screen capture to record the momentous occasion.

Not going to share that, but here is a different shot of Zaar.

The Rest of the Game

Am so glad to be able to say this: NO INJURIES! That is definitely the best part of tonight come-from-ahead 13-11 loss to the Jets tonight. Oh well, he's hoping we get to return the favor in 5-6 weeks when the games actually count.

They've done next to nothing in the second half.
Critical drop by J.J. Outlaw...(who is that you ask? - well its a name you'll be reading when I do the article on who got cut in a few days).
The best part so far: the sideline interview with RT Jon Runyan. Speaks of the comfort-level he'll soon get with the return of Shawn Andrews and L.J. Smith and the importance of not having to worry about the guy next to you making any mistakes.
- Kolb is lighting it UP! 10, 11 passes in-a-row??? A HUGE 4th qtr drive, completely driven by Kolb passes, and a perfect strike to Zac Collie (another name you'll see on the cut list). 2-pt conversion roll-out and good zipped pass to Nate Ilaoa (a roster possibility) for the 11-10 lead with 2:40 remaining.

-Some nice stands/holds by the 2nd-3rd stringers. DT Jeremy Clark seems to making his case for the 5th DT spot (assuming there is one)....with LaJuan Ramsey (Last year's 6th rounder from USC) on the shelf with a high-ankle sprain
- Clark is making the most of his chance.
- So is Marques Murrell (rookie FA DE from Appalachian St). No chance Murrell cracks the rosters, but there is a maybe for Clark.
- Victor Abiamiri showing up in the final Jets possession. He rung up a HUGE sack on 3rd and long and looked to seal the game....FLAG - Personal Foul on the Eagles after the play. 1st and 10 now...FUUUUUUCCCKKKKK.....and guess what, instead of holding, the Jets take the momentum from the 2nd-life chance afforded them by Rashad Barksdale stupidity to drive for the game-winning FG with :03 seconds left. Dumbass. And it might just cost him a job.

Special Teams:
- Jeremy Bloom needs to learn to run straight forward...too much shake, not enough bake. Every return does not need to be busted to the outside dude.
- Rocca has boomed two nice punts - pinning the Jets deep. Considering the pathetic nature of the coverage teams so far - we might NEED Rocca's sky-high kicks to bail out the coverage teams. He had to air it out on the 3rd punt...and he "shanked" a 44 kidding me right? That's the distance most punters actually KICK the ball.
- Michael Gasperson made some good ST tackles. Not sure its enough to earn a spot.

First Half Thoughts (Eagles v Jets)

- A.J. is slingin' the rock! AND holding onto is WAY TOO LONG! Taking hits AND fumbling...DANG fella...He must think he's got the 1st-string O-line in there...Where's that internal clock that tells a QB to get rid of the ball?
- Tony Hunt looks like a keeper. I know its all second-string, but he looks sharp and powerful.
- WR Avant had a helluva catch down the sideline (31 yard gain on 3rd and 25)
- The red contact lenses (worn by a few Eagles players) may cut down on the glare, but they are creepy.
- Kolb enters the game early...seems like Kolb's early series are a little rough. He seemed to find his groove in the 2nd quarter. His dad is a HOOT.

Didn't get much work in the 1st quarter. Seems like the game-clock just ain't stoppin' (Good).
The Q HITS! OK Quintin Mikell can hit....anyone else like to see him replace Considine???? I can see the threads forming already (ed. note: yup they're there already).
Juqua Thomas is for real. I talked about him being a key guy to re-sign this off-season. It certainly looks like a good move now. I also love the fact that even though he signed a decent extension, he's hasn't slowed down. No "fat wallet" syndrome that seems to affect some guys when they get their first big signing bonus.

Special Teams:
- Hmmm, punting competition aside...Is place-holding going to decide the Eagles punter?the Eagles have flubbed two 46-yd FG attempts so far. The first was a poor snap - and Rocca couldn't save the hold....
The second was a good snap - hold got down - and Akers missed the kick. Hmmm, I wonder what the replay will show? Were the laces forward? YES...dang it.
Eagles finally convert a FG! With the pressure on, Rocca got the snap down and spun.
You know the Eagles got the chance to try that 3rd FG because a TD was called back. I think that's the only time I've ever been happy to see 7 points converted into 3....
- Punt coverage sucked on the first punt....WTF? Are our ST going to suck again this year? They've gone from a strength that helped propel us to the Super Bowl in 2004 (2005 is awash) to a base-line average group with notable deficiencies in 2006. This 2007 group isn't all the impressive either. What the fuck is wrong?
- Kickoff coverage sucked too.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Final Preseason Game is Almost Here

And you can bet I'll be up and watching it. I was about to do a roster prediction article, but honestly, tomorrow's game is going to determine those last few slots. Its a final chance for guys like Nate Ilaoa, Rashad Barksdale, Nick Graham, Marcus Paschal and Jeremy Clark to catch the coaches' eye and stake a claim to a roster spot.

There's also plenty of question remaining about how many the Eagles might keep at certain position. Last year we had 10 linemen for each side of the ball. That seems a bit exorbitant this year because we have a long-snapper, Jon Dorenbos, who will serve as an emergency TE (like Mike Bartrum use to)....But I will tell you this - The Eagles damn sure will be carrying 3 TEs this year. Brent Celek looks like the real deal (and this game against the Jets turn that warm fuzzy into hot passion) - so L.J., Celek and Schobel are going to be on the team. (Sorry Lee Vickers, its the practice squad for you).

Well anyway, while most pundits will bemoan the fact that this game is completely worthless and I'm sure some articles will question why owners "get away" with charging full price to see a bunch of scrubs play...however, those writers aren't battling for jobs. I'd say at least 45 roster positions are solidified - I mean absolute no doubters, but who are the 6 linebackers going to be? Do we carry 8 or 9 DBs, if so who are 8 & 9? 4 backs or 5? 5 means Ilaoa has a great shot, 4 means he a practice squad guy.

How many wide receivers? Curtis, Brown, Avant, Baskett and ??? I'd say Lewis and Bloom but who knows....We're all about to see the final curtain call. Enjoy it, for what its worth - a glimpse at some of the role-players who could be asked to step-up contribute at some point this season. (you never know)

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

What's in a Championship?

I'm going to put the "rings clowns" to bed once and for all. What are Rings clowns, you ask? Well they're trolls mostly - that is fans from team that who's primary response to most any argument about football resorts to: My teams has X (where X = the number of Super Bowl ring their team has won) rings, nyah, nyah, nyah - yours doesn't, your team sucks.

And yeah, its as juvenile as it sounds.

It is used most commonly in my experience, by Dallas and Steelers fans, who's teams have won 5 Super Bowl titles (and occasionally by Redskins fans who have three to their credit). But here the primary flaw in the argument - these douchebags deliberately neglect to account for football championships earned prior to the name change. Its as if the game went through some dimensional portal in 1967 (the first year the NFL Championship was called the Super Bowl).

This makes no sense (kinda of like most Dallas trolls on the message boards)

The formal list of NFL Champions can be found here:
Let me save you the trouble: The Green Bay Packers have bragging right over everyone with 12; Chicago is next with 9, then the New York Giants 6, then Colts, Steelers, Niners, Cowboys and Redskins are next with 5. For the record, my team, the Eagles are tied with the Oakland Raiders, New England Patriots and St. Louis Rams with 3.

This is no about refuting bragging rights with the NFC East. Hell, if anything it irks me that some useless NY fans have it (better than braindead 4skins though, I guess) - its the repudiation of the idea that somehow only Super Bowls count...You see, I-like-it-up-my-bum Cowgurl fans make this point the most: probably because it lets them lord it over Redskin fans and the rest of the NFC East. But its fallacious logic to argue that a name change should be the basis for the creation of a new era in football. A new era which discards all the previous achievements. Its not.

A more logical breaking point for era within football would be the widespread implementation of the forward pass (going WAY back for ya)....Getting closer to modernity: a better division, say defining the "Current" Era we are all enjoying in football, would be the institution of a change that altered the landscape of football. I prefer Free Agency...(there's a little gray area here. Plan B Free Agency began in 1989, the Plan A wide-roaming Free Agency we know today began in 1993). Other era break-points? We'll that's an argument/discussion for another day.

Ok - so if you what to start calculating, who got this, we got that and all that malarkey. Do it from a more logical point, like that than from an arbitrary, hey-they're-calling-it-the-Super-Bowl-now? moment. Regardless, I find the use of the "rings" line tired and the tool of, well, tools who lack the brain power to muster a real argument.

So what does that all mean for NFC East fans? It doesn't change a thing: The Eagles still need to win a couple before they catch up total-wise, and I'm quit sure this post will do nothing to deter the mush-brained ambulatory lunchboxes who'll insist on spouting off about how many "rings" they got. If you break it at the formal beginning of Plan A FA - then the Cowboys are the only team to have won (twice in 1993 and 1995). If you include the gray-area back to 1989 - then the Cowboys have 3 and the Giants/Redskins 1 each.

But to be honest: the only team with current bragging rights is the Indianapolis Colts. Period. Said done. The next team to claim the honor will have to earn it in Arizona....

Go Eagles Baby!

The First Cut

No surprises today folks. (The Eagles already did that, releasing Trotter on Monday).

Today the Eagles placed DE Jerome McDougle (triceps), running back Ryan Moats (fractured ankle) and guard Stefan Rodgers (Lis franc) on injured reserve. We all knew those moves were coming. The Eagles then released: kicker E.J. Cochrane (camp leg), wide receivers Dereck Faulkner and Jermaine Jamison (who did have a good catch), tight end Kyle Hunt (no shot), safety Chris Smith and guard Chris White (who?). They have to make one more decision and make the roster 75, and it appears, by all reports that LB Craig Kobel is the guy, he'll either go on I.R. or get cut.

The big cut, the one that hurts, the one to pare down to the 53-man roster occurs next weekend. The Eagles will play their final preseason game Thursday versus the NY Jets and you can be sure that very few regulars will be in there. I doubt we'll see McNabb, and if AR is willing to take out Westbrook after one-play in his traditional "tune-up" game (the recently flubbed Game 3), then I doubt Brian will even bother to put on pads....Other players likewise will be nursed to prevent injury: Kearse, save his knee, Dawk - maybe a series just to break a sweat, L.J. - perhaps, if only to get some timing down, but I doubt it.

I would like to see FA pick-up DT Ian Scott suit up, and it would cool if LaJuan Ramsey could go, as he's nursing a high-ankle sprain - if he can go Thursday then he's ready for Green Bay.

In other news, the Eagles traded veteran QB Kelly Holcomb to the Minnesota Vikings for a future draft pick in 2009. (Some reports had said a 6th rounder in 2008), but the says differently. Hmmm, well it certainly won't be a high pick, but perhaps its conditional - I could see a pick - based on whether Holcomb earns playing time - ranging from rounds 5-7 (maybe a 5 or but a 6 is more realistic - whoops, some places, like ProFootballTalk are "confirming its a 6th rounder in 2009). I mean at this stage, the only thing you can hope for is a late rounder. Even though teams need back-ups, most teams understood the Eagles weren't going to keep 4 QBs on the roster and if no one had bellied-up-to-the-bar, the Birds would've cut him this why trade at all? Well because once Holcomb becomes a FA, there's the possibility of a bidding war (o.k., more like a bidding skirmish), as several teams (hmm, Falcons perhaps) NEED a viable back-up QB, and Holcomb could probably start for a couple of team in the trade a pick and pre-empt the other teams.

Next-topic: putting the Championship debate to rest.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Staying on an Even Keel

Ok people. Let's try and live up to the idea of Philly having the most passionate AND informed fans. We know our football, but sometimes, whew, emotions take over and (gasp) we tend to over-react to everything (some big, some little).

Case in point: Just because the Steelers won Sunday Night does not somehow negate all possibility of the Eagles fielding a contending team this season. (Oh and for those who got some joy out of watching the Texans diss the Cowboys - that loss doesn't mean jack-shit either - the 'Boys are still going to the Birds biggest challenge in the NFC East this season.) Yet some folks want to scrap the D, hang-up the cleats and declare this season a guaranteed loser.

Um, fellas. The Eagles are going to be fine. Perfect? Unstoppable? Perhaps not. Competitive. Hell Yeah. A legit contender? Hmmm, my heart say FUCK YEAH, but my brain recognizes that they've got blemishes to clear up before they start planning the parade.

But hey, the Steelers were a crap-ass team before their run, and the Colts certainly had plenty of flaws....they got their respective acts together. Why not the Birds?

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Eagles-Steelers - 2nd Half Impressions

Bloom took the second-half K.O. and looked tentative. As Madden said after remarking about Bloom's toe injury: He looked like a guy that shouldn't have been out there.

Kolb led a good opening drive. Until someone jumped offsides on 2nd and 7. That opening up the floodgates for 2nd and 3rd and long and Steelers poured the pressure on. Settled for a 44-yard FG by David Akers after having the ball on about the Steelers 20....again, penalties kill a chance to score more. DAMMIT.
- Kolb's second drive ends at mid-field on a QB sneak....I guess my only thought on that one. Its preseason - sneaks SHOULD WORK, but these are the Eagles 2s going against the Steelers first team D, and Kolb isn't going to be the starter, but Tony Hunt COULD see some game action this year. Why not see what Hunt's got in a key situation like that? I mean 3rd down and the FB runs it, 4th down - QB sneak....seems like it was good opportunity
- Kolb engineers a great scoring drive, hooking up with 4th string TE Lee Vickers about a dozen times and ending with a good TD toss. Score 20-13 Pitt
- Kolb is engineering another great drive. Oh fuck....goddamn rookie WR fumbles the ball and it goes the other way for a TD...what the frig....So long Zac Collie....
The good news - Kolb looked pretty damn good. He made the throws he needed to make. Hell me made BETTER throws than one might expect from a rookie. He didn't get much assistance. He got some....they dialed up a LOT of different rookie/2nd year WRs during his drives. I mean Gasperson, Collie, J.J. Outlaw, Jamison, Vickers, Bloom all got their shot. None were impressive. Certainly no one made the sort of OOO or AAH play that made you consider that the guy might be potential replacement for WR like Greg Lewis (who is probably our 5th string possession guy right now).

Ole defense to start the second half...whew...they didn't do much and while they didn't give up points after Charlie Batch's initial quick TD drive, that's not really all that indicative of success or progress. Following that: Second half D was unspectacular - no one got injured which was good. They did their jobs and got the ball back for Kolb and the Offense. If the young wideouts hadn't fucked up, Kolb might've engineered an entertaining (though ultimately meaningless) 4th quarter comeback.

Summation: Andy Reid did his usual preseason routine - complete vanilla. He got McNabb some work and then let Kolb strut his stuff. No work tonight for A.J. - though I imagine he'll see extensive action on Thursday night. And perhaps that's the key. The Eagles have a very quick turn around to their next game, so perhaps AR figured to keep him fresh because he'll probably play the first half in just a few days.
All-in-all, no complaints because the Eagles appear to escaped unscathed, injury-wise.

First Half Impressions

Defense - bent a little on the first drive, but got a big INT. Then with Rocca backing Pitt up with a great pooch kick, the Defense stuffed the Steelers.....

Nice to see Dawk out there and seeing him and TKO getting fired up.
Eagles D still looking vulnerable to misdirection plays.
Bunkley sighting! - Big #97 got some penetration....the most notable play got whistled on a Steelers' false start and then Pitt came back with a big pass to the TE down the Eagles 1, so it went for naught
Speaking of that pass play to Heath Miller....hmmm, so safety Sean Considine has a chance to make a big hit, but just kind of bounces off. I know Miller is big, but, don't you have the feeling that if it was Dawkins lining up Miller, the result might've been different?
TKO! - Makes a nice goal-line play, forcing a fumble. Mikell recovers and the Line Judge gets BLASTED during the abortive run back (he was called down).
Ok. First quarter the Birds D did fine, getting some turnovers to nullify Steelers scoring attempts AND setting up the O with great field position. The Offense failed miserably, and did not capitalize. The Steelers kept getting the ball back, and got their feet under them in the 2nd quarter - putting together a couple of nice drives (keyed both times by big screen passes that transformed Steelers' field position from deep inside their own territory to mid-field. Huge chunks of yardage that made scoring much easier.

Ok, Westbrook is a no-show. No word before the game on reasons why. The assumption here: coaching staff felt there was no reason to risk #36....
The offense moved the ball O.K. - two things are squeezing the Eagles O - No #36 and WAY TOO MANY's like every drive the Eagles have to overcome their own mistakes AND the Steelers' D. Its too much to ask. The O cannot get in sync. If they could get out of their own way, they might have a chance.

Special Teams:
Rocca is booming it once again - (exception: final punt of the half was line drive, but it wasn't returned. He dropped another inside the 5, but the gunners couldn't down it in time.)
Bloom is not shaggin' kicks...hmm, my take: he dinged up his toe and the Birds' new ST coach, Rory Segrest, said the other week he wanted to work in other guys and see what they got - so we're seeing Greg Lewis and Buckhalter returning some kicks.

Ready for Kickoff

Its a little over an hours before the Eagles-Steelers game on Sunday Night Football. I deliberately avoided doing another "keys to the game" this time. Look. It's the preseason. It's the 3rd game. That means the Eagles starters will see a bit of action tonight (1st half or so) before being all but shutdown next week in game 4.

During the season, "keys to the game" will be a regular feature. But for tonight, I just want an injury-free exhibition that gives me a good feeling the Eagles are ready for the season.

More on them later.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Sunday Pointers

I can't say I have a solid idea about what to post today.

There are some funny things about Mike Vick's plea deal I suppose. Like the fact, pointed out by George Dohrmann, "Vick agrees that 'Bad Newz Kennels' business enterprise involved gambling activities in violation of the laws of the Commonwealth of Virginia ... Most of the 'Bad Newz Kennels' operation and gambling monies were provided by Vick ... Vick did not gamble by placing side bets on any of the fights. Vick did not receive any of the proceeds from the purses that were won by 'Bad Newz Kennels.'" (uh-huh, sure)

One can read this as a clear admission that Vick bet on dogfighting. He put the money up. He lost money if his dogs lost. However, Vick says he didn't win money if his dog won. Can one be a gambler if one never takes any winnings? Defenders of Vick could argue he was simply putting up money for his friends to gamble, that he was (if this is even possible) only half a gambler.

Another key: will the judge even accept the plea deal? I think he will, but it wouldn't be the first time a judge denied one...

But here's the problem for me on this blog - I don't really care about Vick anymore....I hope the judge sends him away for 18 months and that I don't have to be bothered watching his scrambles on PrimeTime for a few years....

But the only other thing I have on my mind at this point (besides work) is the wretched play the Phillies. You see, about a week ago the Phillies were 3 games behind the NY Mets for the lead in the NL East and a game behind the Padres for baseball's "wildcard" (something I still view as a rather weak move to expand MLB's playoff system, and something that's extended the baseball into territory well beyond where it should be - namely NOVEMBER)

Well anyway, the Phillies has a recent road-trip against really bad teams, one of them Pittsburgh Pirates - so what do they do? Lose the series and finish 3-3....ok - its crunch time and the Phillies have the fortune to have 6 games vs lousy teams and they dork it up. No problem....big long 10-game homestand should do the trick. A real test. Do well, REAL WELL, and they could exit the home-stand in two weeks atop the NL East or at least the Wildcard....

Results? 3 games vs the Dodgers - 1-2
3 game vs the Padres - 0-2 so far, losing in brutal fashion each time
Do the games vs the Mets even matter anymore??? While the Phillies suck dick like a gigolo on Castro Street, their main competitors are winning (exception, the Braves are going down like a $2 hooker as well). So as of right now they're 4 games back of the Padres and 7 games back of the Mets.

Team to beat my ass.

Friday, August 24, 2007

The Birds of the Rising Sun

Well my fantasy team is set:

QB - Philip Rivers (SD)
RB - Travis Henry (Den)
RB - Edgerrin James (Ari)
WR - Reggie Brown (Phi)
WR - Calvin Johnson (Det)
TE - Ben Watson (NE)
K - Olindo Mare (NO)
Def - Denver

Unfortunately, the bench is pretty short in this league....and I goofed...taking a few too many players with the same BYE week. So I dumped Anthony Gonzalez (a risky prospect dropping an Indy WR) and picked up Ted Ginn Jr.

Tatum Bell (RB, Det), Steve McNair (QB - Bal), and Brian Leonard (RB/FB - StL) round out the bench....

Nick Cole gets the nod against the Steelers

With All-Pro Right Guard Shawn Andrews still on the shelf with an ankle injury (official reports: High Ankle Sprain) the Eagles have been auditioning just about every back-up lineman they have in his slot. Last year's "6th man" Scott Young played game 1 (granted all of a couple series), last year's 4th round behemoth Max Jean-Gilles played game 2 (and played pretty well), and now, last year's undrafted free agent find Nick Cole has been given the nod to start game 3 with the first unit offense.

Some folks don't know what to make of this. The basic reason: lingering speculation about the status of Shawn Andrews. The team says its a high ankle sprain on his surgically repaired right ankle (an injury he sustained in his rookie year - 2004). Some suspect its worse than that and that Andrews could miss significant time this year (if not all of 2007). I haven't seen the Eagles conduct themselves as if they expect the "Big Kid" to miss the 2007 season, but there are two ways to analyze coach Reid's decision to start Nick Cole at RG this week against the Steelers:

Glass half-empty: It is an indication Big Red realizes the Big Kid is not going to be available to start the season. High ankle sprains (no, not buying into the "he's done!" crapola) are tough injuries, especially for a guy on a repaired ankle who weighs well in excess of 300 lbs...So, with the realization that Andrews could very well miss some meaningful time (September perhaps?) - Andy Reid wants to find the best replacement. Period. End of story. The coaching staff knows what Scott Young can do, they've had a good long look at Max Jean-Gilles, and now they decided its time to give Cole gets his shot.

Glass half-full: Andy Reid expects Andrews will return on time and is not planning on the Big Kid missing half the season or whatever. So, instead of focusing on O-line unit cohesion with a guy who's not going to be in there, AR and Juan Castillo see game 3 as a way to find out what Nick Cole has got. Can he be a starting caliber player? Its a question that needs to be answered. I mean, given injuries, back-up linemen are just like everyone else - one play away from being the starter. This is a chance for the Eagles to find out if a guy they think of as perhaps a deep reserve guy has the chalks to be a starting O-lineman in the NFL, or maybe just a top back-up.

We Eagles fans like to think that we've got one of the deepest, most talented Offensive lines in team history, and certainly one the deepest in the NFL this season. But how did we get that impression? Mostly because we drafted two big linemen in 2006 (and we're lauded for getting them as "steals" when we chose them in the draft) and because two undrafted rookie free agents (Nick Cole and Pat McCoy) made the team. That's it. These guys didn't PLAY last year. Cole got on the field as short-yardage "fullback" (giving new meaning to the term actually) blocker last year, but aside from the "Frig" impersonation, the coaches really didn't see him play along the line.

We've basically anointed the Eagles O-Line as incredibly deep and talented because the coaches selected 5 guys to be the back-ups to a really talented group of STARTERS....Maybe its high time we saw them play before making such a confident declaration.

Draft Day Cometh!

Had to get up early today folks cause the Live draft for my team is coming up in about an hour. Live drafts are the best and this one is going to be TOUGH...

16 teams??? Aye carumba
We're going to picking over the rosters like carrion birds trying to find guys to fill out the bench!

uh, check that, we're only draft 12 players per team. Holy cow!....doesn't look like we'll have too many reserve defenses, TEs or Kickers on the squad.....

Thursday, August 23, 2007

The Replacements

As we've just seen the Eagles decide that the future is now, by replacing experienced veteran MLB Jeremiah Trotter with 2nd-year player Omar Gaither. Well someone asked on the forum: why didn't we draft PSU LB Paul Pozluszny to replace Trotter and the thought occurred to me: just how many players the Eagles drafted THIS year appear to be done with that exact scenario in mind (though perhaps on varying timelines).

Now hear me out, I understand that draft-picks as replacements/eventual starters is nothing new, its actually, duh, the entire purpose. But you see, a lot of teams use picks for immediate help. Roster hole present - spend high pick - roster hole plugged (in theory).

For the Eagles, it seems, picks are primarily about future returns rather than immediate ones. (edit) - Many times this is several seasons into the future (the 2002 picks of Lito, Sheldon and Westbrook and Lewis, or the 2006 picks of Winston Justice/Max Jean-Gilles). But this year seems like the timeline for many of the picks could be a tad accelerated (at least along an Eagles time-scale, not necessarily a normal NFL one).

Consider the draft class of 2007:
2nd rd: Kevin Kolb - duh, basically an insurance policy on McNabb's injury. But given the Eagles calculating business manner regarding player's future, it makes sense. There may come a time (though I think 2008 is a bit early) that the Eagles see a Kolb future as brighter than a McNabb one...hopefully not for a while.
2nd rd: Victor Abiamiri - hmmm, with two pricey, 30-year old DEs in Kearse and Howard on the roster....methinks that this is their year to play together (if possible). You see, it was supposed to be last year (and the two looked good early on) then Kearse was lost for the season and Howard wore down....If they both stay healthy, VA won't see the field much. Either way - at their $$$ - both won't be around next year and Victor will be expected to step-in.
3rd rd: Tony Hunt - Buckhalter is not the long-term answer for a "big back". His history with injury is not that good, but you have to love his heart and determination. He looks like the old "Buck" before consecutive knee injuries robbed us of his contributions for '04 and '05. Still the Birds signed him for another 2 years. The price isn't that high, so I expect him to work out the rest of the contract, then I expect the Birds will be looking another back.
3rd rd: Stewart Bradley - heck the Eagles have already given him some work in the middle - though he's a natural strongside linebacker (SAM). If Gocong can't hack it or OG struggles, look for Bradley to get reps....Bradley could be our future SAM if they want to slide Gocong into the middle, who knows
5th rd: Brent Celek - looks like a steal already. With L.J. hurting and in a contract year, I expect the coaches to carefully gauge Celek. If he keeps progressing...I can see the Eagles taking a pass on L.J.'s contract demands and going with the youngster.
5th rd: C.J. Gaddis - hmmm, haven't heard a whole lot about this kid yet, but with Dawk coming into his final years, he seems like a potential long-term replacement. I truly doubt the Eagles would cut Dawk next year to make way for Gaddis. But you never know.
the others: Rashard Barksdale - a complete project, but the man has skills, I've noticed him a whole lot more that Gaddis. Barksdale is a raw talent. By 2009 he could be our Rod Hood, or perhaps a guy you see the Eagles sign long-term (when they're looking to replace a Sheldon Brown or someone). Or he could be an obscure footnote
Nate Ilaoa - the big Samoan seems destined for the practice squad. None of the Eagles RBs are running much, but I just don't seem them carrying 4 RBs right now.

Well that's the group. And again, its not a big shock that the Eagles would be drafting for the future, but in the wake of Trot's release and the questions about why we didn't go out and target a guy specifically to replace him, it struck me just how many of the guys we DID draft seem like near-term alternatives: I mean I see Abiamiri, Hunt and Celek as almost penciled in (maybe not on the starting 22) for 2008. Bradley has a chance to join them. Kolb - a bit more of an enigma. I don't think Andy Reid is ready to part ways with Donovan. 2007 is a big year, though. I expect DMac to lead this team to great things. If he does, then Kolb will have a few years of seasoning before we really get see him. If McNabb gets injured then Andy's got a guy he likes perhaps ready to step into some big shoes within a season or two.

Quick Thoughts

Got to hit the sack early tonight - volunteered to a be a casualty tomorrow at a little base readiness thing.

Here is what in on my mind:
What the fuck is Stephon Marbury thinking? Oh that's right, you need a fucking brain to think and it obvious that God didn't bless that ambulatory lunchbox with much more than a place to wear some stupid cock-eyed cap. Raising/abusing pit bulls for a dedicated bloodsport is not anywhere close to hunting. We don't tie the deer to rape-stands in the middle of woods so we have more deer. We don't train wild turkeys to viciously attack the nearest living creature to justify shooting them.

Jerome Bettis says he faked an injury to keep from getting cut by the Steelers in 2000. Not sure what the hub-bub is in some quarters. Placed in the same position, I believe most of us would've done the exact same thing. And seeing as how he went onto to have a Hall of Fame career and help the Steelers earn another Lombardi Trophy - I am quite sure that Art Rooney doesn't give a shit.

Couple more things - a few folks trying to stir-up an Eagles "locker-room revolt" because nearly every Eagles interviewed (McNabb, Westbrook, Kearse, Gaither, Spikes, Dawk, Sheldon Brown, Lito, etc) has expressed unmitigated shock that the Eagles would release Jeremiah Trotter. There is certainly an element of "rally 'round a teammate" going on, and no one is going to come out and say, "yeah, we could all see it, none of us wanted to say anything, but we all knew - Trot was done." No, he was a well-liked, respected veteran. Just like a Hugh Douglas, Troy Vincent, Duce Staley, etc....And the coaches decision to break ties with them hit the locker-room hard. Sometime multiple times in the same off-season. The primary difference now, is that guys like McNabb, Westbrook, Dawk, etc, are much closer to their own day of reckoning. (God, please let that be many more seasons away...please)....So it hits a bit closer to home. Lets be honest - I thought letting Duce get away was a huge mistake - but he really didn't do much after he left the Birds. I would've liked to have kept Troy or Bobby Taylor, but both left, and the Eagles never looked back.

These players are human beings, and they just had to watch a close friend walk out the door. Give them some time folks. Jeeze....

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

A Question of Timing

There is a lot going on at the NovaCare Complex today....plenty of emotional press conferences in the wake the Eagles release of stalwart middle linebacker Jeremiah Trotter. I watched them, and I really admire the class with which Trotter and the entire organization handled what was definitely an uncomfortable situation. I mean, last time (when Trotter the Free Agent fled for big pay-day from Danny Boy in Washington) it was an acrimonious departure, spurring all sorts of "Eagles FO is cheap" sort of talk.

Today, Trotter left no doubt at his press conference: it was an amicable break-up, with Trot basically declaring Philly his home and himself an Eagle-for-life. This is not the departure of a bitter man, but rather of one appreciative of the opportunity the Eagles have given him and a successful life (albeit, one with a future of creaky knees).

Will Trotter keep playing? I think the chances are pretty good that some team will come calling (perhaps following an injury), but teams probably won't come knocking down the door of a 30 year old one-dimensional LB with wobbly wheels...

But why now? Why today? I see several benefits to both sides:
- There are still several weeks left before the start of the season. Its enough time to sign and at least begin to assimilate a new defense, in case Trot gets offers elsewhere
- Just as important - the Eagles now have two "games" to get acclimatized to life with Trot in the middle. This was not a shock that you want slapping players in the first game against Green Bay (though I am sure it will to an extent).
- Finally, by doing it separate, giving Trotter his own stage today was a class move. He doesn't say his goodbyes accompanied out the door with the likes of Zac Collie, Bill Sampy, Mauricio Lopez and a few others of the inevitable cuts coming at the end of the month.

How will it all play out? We get our first taste on Sunday Night Football when the Eagles play the Steelers. You hear that Omar? You da man now OG. We need you to step it up.

More on Trotter

I look at this way: if you're JJ or the coaches, can you telegraph your defenses, like the Eagles might have wound up doing with Trot lined up at the MIKE? We ALL KNEW he going to be a run-defender this season and would be pulled on most 3rd downs and nearly every obvious passing situation.

But here is the problem:
What about 1st and 10? 2nd and 6? Are those running or passing situations? If we keep Trot on the field, we'd better hope run...but the good teams, the Saints, 'Boys, Seahawks, Bears, Pats, etc that we will face probably would've found a way to get Trot backed into coverage....Hell, if I were playing the Birds...and I'm the QB and I see Trot there, I audible out of a run and try and get the TE behind him....maybe he just rushes the passer and plays downhill only...but that's an awfully limited role for a starting MLB...Do you honestly think offensive schemers like Sean Payton (fucking Saints) wouldn't have come up with ways to exploit his presence....

This is not to say that other teams won't be able to take advantage of match-ups mis-matches against guys like Gaither, Gocong or Bradley...but at the very least the Eagles defensive scheme/what they are expecting, might not be so obvious with Omar Gaither trolling the middle....

I was honestly hoping that Trot was going to be able to come back, shed some weight and be a bit less of liability in coverage (cause he's never been "good", it was mainly last year where he became a significant liability)....Looks like the coaches didn't see what they needed to see....

A Training Camp Stunner - The Axeman Gets Chopped

Wow...the Eagles just announced they've released Jeremiah Trotter....Wow...folks...that's just weird...I did NOT expect the Eagles to cut #54....He's was locker-room leader, and a real fan favorite....this is going to reverberate thru the Nest for a long time.

So who plays LB for the Eagles now? They have Takeo Spikes at WILL, 2nd-year man Omar Gaither at MLB and Chris Gocong at SAM. Those are your current starters....hmmm. I wonder - will the Birds move Gocong (who's got some serious size) inside and use 3rd-round pick Stewart Bradley at SAM?

Trotter fit the Birds. He did. The fans love the guy. He loves this town. I wonder if the Eagles will offer him a job with the organization or if he'll retire. (Much as I love the guy - he was horrendous in coverage last year, a real liability - he got torched by the Saints last year). WIP says he still wants to play - so I imagine someone is going to offer him a job.

Here is the question: Are the Eagles better as a result of this move? I cannot answer that. Not right now. Trot brought a fire and leadership to the team. I mean, he seemed genuinely psyched about getting to play with Takeo Spikes.

And he was very open about knowing he had to re-dedicate himself, because, again, last year was pretty friggin' bad. I think he'd shown he was committed...The move is not going to popular. Trust me, not popular with the fans at all, and question marks will emerge the first time someone rips off a big run up the middle (not that that hadn't happened, but you know how folks are - it'll be "Trot woulda stopped that"). Simple fact is, the coaches decided that Trotter just was not good enough to make the team. Its cold. Its hard. Its reality.

So what will the Eagles LB Corps look like: TKO, OG, Bradley, Gocong, and now, perhaps the door is wide open for guys like Tank Daniels and Matt McCoy....

This one is going to take a little while to digest folks. I don't think we'll understand the true impact of this move (good or ill) immediately. Its really a question that can only be answered on the field.

Before I sign off, I just want to say:
Thanks Trot.
We love ya man
Good luck in your future endeavors - hope you stick around the city and the team. A heart-and-soul guy like you can have a long and lucrative life-after-football in Philly, just remember that.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Eagles' Subs Stepping Up

With Friday night dispelling most of the angst I had concerning Donovan's knee, I thought it would be appropriate to look at some other players who are filling in for star Eagles players currently "on the shelf"

Quintin Mikell - None bigger here folks. Little "Q" is filling in for my all-time favorite Eagle - Brian Dawkins. Our All-Pro safety is experiencing some Achilles tendinitis and I'll be damned if that doesn't concern me some. Concern NOT worry. I am not declaring his career over. Personally I would like to see him able to suit up and get in a little bit of action, just to get in a some live game prior to the start of the season. But if he can't....Well look, I don't want to start thinking about life after "#20" just yet, alright...With that out of the way - I think the Eagles' F.O. decision to retain the services of Quintin Mikell could pay off this season. Q has done well. True, its not the same, but as Bob Brookover writes - Mikell, entering his fifth season, is a player whose stock has steadily risen with the Eagles. Not only has he emerged as the most valuable player on the special teams; he also has become valuable enough that defensive coordinator Jim Johnson will create packages to get the safety on the field this season. Mikell will likely play the same hybrid linebacker role safety Michael Lewis had in passing situations last season.

Juqua Thomas - Filling in for Jevon Kearse, Juqua Thomas had himself a heckuva game the other night. Kearse's absence may have been merely precautionary (and I believe it was), but the man is still coming off a serious knee injury. Setbacks are a way-of-life with those sorts of things, but I couldn't help but notice - Juqua brought the same motor he had last year - it looks like he going to try and make it hard for J.J. to keep him off the field. He probably won't start, but a more-than-solid year might make a fellow, pricier vet like Darren Howard or Kearse expendable in 2008.

Brent Celek - Who knows how long L.J. will be hampered by this nagging "sports hernia" thing. I hope its not very, but I have to say this - I am very encouraged by the play of rookie TE Brent Celek. I mean this dude has some skills. He's caught almost everything thrown his way (something with which L.J. still shows occasional signs of trouble) and has been able to hit some deeper passes over the middle (talking 16-20 yard range). Will this team be better offensively with L.J. - no doubt. Will we be even more dangerous lining up Celek a few times and zapping unwary defenses - hell yeah.

Max Jean-Gilles - I saved the worst for last. We fans simply do not know what exactly is wrong with All-Pro Guard Shawn Andrews. He gave a very cryptic response the other day, with has led to a slew of worrying about whether or not Andrews availability for the 2007 season (and beyond) is in doubt. Big Red says he expects Andrews back to start the season. I hope so. Max Jean is a big boy in his own right - but the Eagles line has NOT run-blocked well this preseason. And at some point, we are going to need to run the ball. For a variety of well-documented reasons: protect McNabb's knee/health by not passing so much, protect McNabb's knee/health by not passing so much, and protect McNabb's knee/health by not passing so much. Perhaps, more importantly, the Eagles surge last year was led by Brian Westbrook and a renewed emphasis on offensive BALANCE. To keep that going, we need to run....These preseason games have shown we can pass, I'd like to see us show we can run. This is the question mark - if Andrews misses more time than any of us would like - can Jean-Gilles step up. Will it be Scott Young?? We fans have lauded the Eagles O-line for its far the run-game results have not been encouraging. Hmmmm, come back soon Shawn.

Now I think we'd all agree: Philly fans would/are going to be a LOT more positive about the Eagles' prospects for 2007 once we have Andres, Dawk, Kearse and L.J. back on the field, but I have to give the front office credit - we made the right moves to assure the team has the depth not to collapse without them.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Now THAT is what I wanted to see

Just about everything went exactly as I hoped this evening/morning:

- McNabb looked great. Simply great. He showed some mobility, getting out there on some roll-outs, stepping around in the pocket. More importantly - he had excellent chemistry with his wideouts - hooking up with Kevin Curtis right off the bat, and connecting with both Celek and Schobel for look passes with the TEs
- The team played with atty-tood. The first team D absolutely dominated the Panthers. Delhomme looked lost out there as the Birds first-team held them to 3-and-outs to start the games. Hell, the Panthers didn't move the ball at all until the Birds put in the subs at the end of the first half. Then Delhomme engineered a FG 2-minute drill against the likes of Joselio Hanson, Nick Graham and Marcus Paschal....oops
- Hello LITO! Nice set-up, with pressure on the right, and Lito playing the hot-read...INT for a TD! Good to see Sheppard is back and ready to rock.
- Celek continues to impress. This guy could wind up being a real least he looks like it after two weeks - which is very odd (and impressive) for a rookie....
- Barksdale - sort of disappeared for little while (to be fair - there weren't many opportunities) but then came up with a big INT....Rashad is making his case for a roster spot - without a doubt. The announcers are calling #31 a heck of a lot more than they are C.J. Gaddis' name (the man drafted one round higher)
- Rocca rocked it once again. 50 yd AVERAGE????? A great pooch punt....Watch out Dirk (fairness: He punted REAL well too, this is an intense competition)
- Bunkley and the rest of the D-Line - wow, now THAT is more like it...pressure against Delhomme, no points surrendered, very few yards allowed. They played strong, and it allowed the D to get its feet under it and hold the Panthers down.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

What to Look For from the Eagles-Panthers Game - Tonight

After starting the preseason with dull thud in Baltimore, the Eagles look to rebound on a short turn-around. They play the Carolina Panthers tonight (Friday night) and you know what? They need to show some life.

They do NOT need to win (though that would be nice), but I'd like to see they come out with a little bit of fire - especially the first team players and even more so the defensive starters. I mean no letting the Panthers just convert 3rd down after down. Force a 3rd and long and STOP THEM! Nothing is more fucking frustrating that watching the Eagles D play decent on 1st and 2nd down and then fail to hold on 3rd....

What else do I want to see? Let me tell you:
- Fewer mistakes. I know all the stuff about working out the kinks in the preseason, but fuck, the Birds had more kinks in their game than the red-light district in Hamburg for crying out loud. Let's play like we know what the hell we're doing, ok fellas?
- I want to see the O-line come out with a bit of attitude. The Ravens ran over, around and through those mofos on Monday night. A.J. barely had time to look downfield before some dude was in his face. Fuck that shit.
- What makes it even more important the O-line get its shit in order is that Donovan returns tonight.
- I love McNabb's quote about whether or not getting hit will get him reacquainted with football "I don't need anybody to hit me to wake me up and get me going," McNabb said. "I've been playing for eight years. I didn't need anybody to hit me when I came out with a sports hernia and I definitely don't need anybody to hit me now and let me know I'm playing football again." HA!
- I am looking to see some offensive execution/chemistry between McNabb and WRs Reggie Brown and Kevin Curtis. I think it would be a good sign for the O if he can hook up with them early and engineer a good drive.
- I am looking to see how Will James responds. He talked a big game in the offseason about being a starter and challenging Sheldon Brown for the job. Then get out and gets pwned by Steve McNair on the first drive of the game. Oopsie....Whatchagonnado man? The Birds are going to be depending on James to provide some quality play.
- Speaking of CBs - I don't need to see Lito if he's not ready....Let him rest and give him some plays in game 3 if need be.
- TE Brent Celek. Homeslice whupped some serious ass in his first-ever game in a pro uniform. Can he repeat? I think he'll start with the "1s" meaning a likely opportunity to show he's in sync with Donovan.
- Sav Rocca. While I would rather not see the Eagles punt quite so often, I gotta admit - his leg could be a real weapon this season. Put on a consistent display mate and we'll soon be saying goodbye to Dirk and g'day to Sav!
- Jeremy Bloom - again, show us what you got man. I liked game 1. Let us all know its not a fluke.
- Trot and TKO - ok Spikes, time to get hyped and show the Eagles phaithful our collective faith that the LB corps is going to be improved has merit. Gocong played well in game 1, lets see you and Trot pick it up and knock some dudes on their asses.

What else am I going to looking for? Christ, everything folks....
- How about David Akers finding a comfort zone with his new snapper/holder crew. I'd be real frickin' happy if I got that feeling.
The most important part - NO INJURIES!

Bladerunner is coming BACK

A five-disc Bladerunner set - a movie that I consistently rank among my all-time favorites - is coming out this Christmas....
Frickin' AWESOME!
What do you get? A "new" "Final" director's cut from Ridley Scott (as opposed to the "old" director's cut released in 1992)...
The theatrical version, the international version, the first director's cut and perhaps most cool - a working version that includes some radical changes.
Oh, and the other best part - I'm going to get in HD! Amazon's got it cheap and while I may not get to open it right at Christmas, I will be watching it, by 2008, count on it.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007


Whew. Some cooler weather finally rolled into tonight. Looks like rain, with all the dark clouds, but the humidity isn't that bad, and there is a stiff cool breeze blowing through Misawa right now. Its very welcome after the past two days of clear sky, no wind, stifling hot days. Thank goodness we have air conditioning, its made this week palatable (especially having company over) and kept the two rulers of the household (That would be Zaar and DJ for those you not in the know) comfy.

I'm typing around D.J. right he's planted himself on my computer desk (funny how that happens) in his never-ending quest for attention.
What else am I recovering from? Another marathon gaming session. I had pretty much recovered from Sunday's foray in 30 straight hours awake when I had the fellas over again Wednesday night. Its was pretty mostly movies, Wii and XBox....and a good time was had by all.
Mario Party 8 is hellafun with 4 live players. Its really shines. I've tried playing it single-player, its ok, but not nearly as fun. The boys had fun with all the company cause they're not shortage of people to bug for attention....So anyway, I got to sleep around 10 or 11 am....and woke up a few hours ago, groggy as shit (its 7pm now). Am thinking about going to run, but that would suck if it rains.

I have to combobulate my thoughts on the Eagles and do another post. It seems All-Pro RG Shawn Andrews has doubts about his own ankle injury. Is it serious enough to threaten his future? Who knows - there is panic already in some circles. I prefer a more cautious approach. Am I concerned? You bet - Andrews has the skills to be an all-time great at the position. Not just an Eagles' all-timer, an NFL all-timer....I want to see him suit up and start blasting people.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Breaking Down the Game

There is not much positive to report from Eagles-Ravens game. The O-line did not look cohesive, and seemed consistently confused by the Ravens 3-4 rush-scheme. Missed assignments galore made the running game, uh, well blah, at best....

One thing I don't care about: the final score (which is why I am writing this as the 3rd quarter progresses). Winning these games is not that important. Its more important to get a sense over the next few weeks about how these guys are coming together. It IS a little bit of wake-up call to see the team fumble about, but you know seems that way every year...the Eagles are never really that impressive in the preseason.

So what DID I like?
- Brent Celek. The rookie TE made some plays and looked very solid and "un-rookielike". 4 catches for 59 yards in the 4th qtr.
- Sav Rocca. Holy crap. That man can knock the livin' shit out of the ball. Standing at the back of his own endzone, he launched one to the Ravens 30 (credited with 65 yards)....knocking two around at 56 and 65 yards??? 50 yard average??? Look out Dirk - Sav is making his bid to take your job. He also got blasted by a Ravens LB on that big punt....the best part of that: new color man Ike Reese went ballistic! He still feels a part of the team. I really enjoyed his enthusiasm and fervor for the Birds. Good choice to replace "the man" Ron Jaworski, who is working with the MNF crew now.
- Kevin Kolb. The rookie played well. He looked calm and collected, even if the dudes around him didn't play so well. Lots of pressure on him, some drops, but he handled himself well.
- Chris Gocong. Not much happened for the Birds defensively. But I was pleased from what I saw of Gocong.

What didn't I like?
- Ryan Moats getting injured. The young man was battling for a roster spot, and while I thought he'd have a tough time making the final 53, I never want to see that happen. Spuds reports a fractured ankle...dammit. I railed against Moats for being stupid last year, but I'd so much rather the man get a fair chance to redeem himself...doesn't look like that is going to happen until next year.
- Man the 3rd and 4th stringers couldn't hold onto the ball, so much for a potential comeback.
- First string D looked bad. McNair had plenty of time to pass and picked on Will James like a redheaded step-child. Even Jevon Kearse admitted as much in his sideline interview with Spuds. But again - it was the first preseason game. Its a cause for concern, but let's not go ringing alarm bells just yet.
- Akers missing an early 43-yard FG...yes it was a bad snap, but the holder did get it down and spun....He needs to hit those....plain and simple.

Overall, the game was bit of head-scratcher....its rather obvious that the Eagles didn't have any preparation packages for the Ravens scheme, because they looked befuddled by the Ravens defensive scheme. Its still WAY TOO EARLY to be ringing alarm bells. Give the team a chance to recoup, figure out what went wrong, and I'll see you Friday...

Well, it IS pre-season

But I'd still like the Birds to appear a bit sharper. There were select moments of unit cohesion and execution in the first quarter of the Eagles first preseason game against the Ravens, but jeez-louise fellas....lookin' a bit sloppy....

1st qtr wrap: a few decent passes (like the first play of the game to Kevin Curtis) and rookie TE Celek catching a quick slant in from of Chris McAlister and a spiffy Westbrook screen play...and well that's about it. We had some blown assignments, a couple of "uh, you want to block that guy?" moments that stifled a few rush attempts. Akers missed a 43-yd FG....hmmm, bad snap, but the hold got the ball in position just in time....not smooth, but certainly it should have been enough...

2nd qtr: ummm, the second team O-line does not look like a cohesive unit. Did they play together at Lehigh? I mean, the ball gets snapped and guys are all over QB Kelly Holcomb....the Ravens didn't have their front-line guys in there either....wake-up fellas.
- Ike Reese (who is a VERY ENTERTAINING replacement for the departed Jaws (who is working on the MNF crew now) is right Tony Hunt - you gotta block in the pros.

That's it for the first half

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Should we be Concerned about the Eagles Injury-bug?

There's one thing guaranteed to turn the near-endless optimism of training camp into an hand-wringing experience. That thing: injuries

And in recent days, as the first pre-season game versus the Ravens approaches, the list of Birds with clipped wings is getting alarmingly long. Stalwarts like L.J. Smith, Jon Runyan, Brian Dawkins, and Shawn Andrews are all currently out. Heck, these guys have gotten all the recognition but another key defender, CB Lito Sheppard, seems to have missed a lot of time with an oblique problem. He only returned to practice on the final day (He had been sidelined with an oblique strain for most of camp). Ok, so he's a key player and probably doesn't need camp to learn anything, but it'd still be comforting to see him out there.

So should we start worrying? hmmm, Rich Hoffman just ran down a few key injuries. He says, worry about LJ, but don't start about Andrews or Dawk.

A bit of good news to report. Runyan and Guard Scott Young (who had a knee scare yesterday) both returned to practice on Saturday. (whew) Not sure if the bullet is truly dodged with those two, but, I'll say this, with our All-Pro Andrews resting a sprained ankle, I do not want his top replacement RG AND our stalwart RT both out....give them time to rest, I want Andrews and Runyan starting in Green Bay in September.

The injury I am most concerned about at this point is L.J.'s recent groin injury, which when coupled with his return from "sports hernia" surgery in May, tells me we might be minus a major offensive weapon for a significant portion of the '07 season. Without L.J., we simply won't have a deep-threat at TE. We might get a surprise deep pass with Schobel or rookie Brent Celek, but not a consistent threat that defenses must respect like we have with Smith on the line.

Second is Shawn Andrews. We want to run the ball more this year. And big Shawn is a world-class road-grader. I mean, he annihilates linebackers, DTs, DEs, anybody......Last year the Eagles kept their O-line together the entire year, and while I have faith that the coaches have ready back-ups, I would like to see us repeat the feat.

Finally there is Brian Dawkins. Normally I'd be quite worried that my all-time favorite Eagle was injured and having Dawk out with Achilles tendinitis (which harkens back to the sort of devastating injury suffered by new LB Takeo Spikes). But unlike a few (now on "timeout") posters on my favorite board ('s) I am not ready to declare Dawkins' career "over" or declare him as good as "done". The Eagles are going to be cautious with their key players. Stressing them out now serves no one. Better to let them rest. The season is long. Let the new guys take the beating vs the Ravens....I don't need to see any of our rehabbing guys until pre-season game 3.....

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Weighin' in on 756

I don't care much about baseball.
I care even less for Barry Bonds.
I still think its a shame that one of baseball's most hallowed records is going to get sullied by the suspicions surrounding Barry Bonds and performance-enhancing drugs.
I don't care if he's never tested positive. I don't need to see track marks to know it.
I also think I cannot my feeling any more eloquently than John Smallwood already has his, when he wrote a few days ago:

"I've made my opinion clear since it became inevitable that Bonds was going to pass Aaron:

I think it's bogus. I believe that Bonds is guilty of having used "the cream," "the clear," and whatever other illegal substances that the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative provided for him.

I believe that during the 5-year period from 2000 through '04, when Bonds smacked 258 home runs, including a single-season record 73 in 2001, he was on performance-enhancing drugs.

Bonds turned 36 in 2000, an age when every other athlete in professional sports is already out of his or her prime or rapidly sliding out of it. Instead of declining, Bonds' power numbers skyrocketed. After averaging 37 home runs the previous five seasons, Bonds averaged 52 home runs during the period when his arms, feet, body and head swelled to Popeye-sized proportions.

That was an additional 75 home runs at ages when the power numbers of other sluggers decline.

I believe that without the assistance of drugs, Bonds would still be well short of Aaron's mark."

This cover from MAD about sums up my feelings:
I think if Bonds had an ounce of integrity he would've retired shy of 755, and simply gone on to be remembered as one of the greatest players of all time. Instead, he'll now always be a source of controversy, between those who defend his record and those who think its a sham.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Lurie Gives his "State of the Team" Address

Lurie began this year's "State of the Team" press conference by talking about what a great year last year was and how the Eagles did a masterful job without their starting QB and star DE.

Why did we let Garcia go? Simple: Garcia deserved a starting QB salary and the Eagles weren't going to pay it for a back-up. He got the salary offer and left. End of story.

What about McNabb? Lurie believe McNabb is right in his prime. QBs are hard to find and nabbing a great one is most important decision a ballclub can make (this being used to try and explain the reasoning behind the drafting of Kevin Kolb).

About McNabb's blog? Straight from the horse's mouth: I don't care, I'd rather have the public get to know more about Donovan, and it doesn't need to come from the Eagles to let it happen.

Why are the Birds relatively scandal free during a turbulent off-season? Drafting the "right" way, signing character guys, and being a little lucky.

Lurie also scoffed at the notion that the Eagles don't "go that extra step" to try and win it all. Lurie also said he has the same level of urgency to win the SuperBowl as Donovan McNabb, who recently expressed that the "time is now" for the Eagles to win.

He also reasoned out why the Eagles chose their blue and gold color scheme for their 75th anniversary uniforms. Evidently the colors are the "colors" of Philadelphia, and as Lurie stated: the Eagles are a Philadelphia team, they practice there, they live there, they PLAY there. The Eagles are NOT a suburban stadium team, with only a loose affiliation with their namesake city. So honoring the city, and the city's commitment to the Eagles was part of the decision. You know what? Thank for explaining that. The decision makes a LOT more sense now.

My take after tuning on We've got an owner who is not only a real Eagles fan but also one who understands this game. He wasn't too rah-rah (yet he, like most of us fans) is bubbling with enthusiasm about the upcoming season. Like most of us, he realizes that injuries and fair share of luck are going to go a long, long to determining if the Birds are right there at the end January with a chance to compete in the SuperBowl. He looks like I would if I owned the team...(with the possible exception that I'd be out in the stands leading E-A-G-L-E-S chants as an owner)...after those dollar-first years with Braman, I think its high time we realize that we've got owners a pretty damn good owner here in our town...

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Our First Wii-Related Incident

Well they warn you, got to give Nintendo that....before every game, they issue a warning about clearing out the space around you so you don't go knocking shit there we are, Christina and I playing a little Wii-tennis...and its Christina's Mii versus my newly minted Mii-version of Kim Jong-il...end of the first set, backhand volley, Christina stretches for the forehand return and BLAM - there goes the glassful of raspberry red crystal light, all over the Macbook and the floor....

needless to stay the game was postponed while we did a little triage and clean-up. Good news for us, Macs are like Timex's take a lickin' and keep on tickin'. No harm no foul, the game continued (to an eventual hard fought KJI victory) in the clutter-free environment

Bloom and the Eagles Run Game

Lots of stuff on Jeremy Bloom, who has basically been annointed the Eagles return man since Bethel Johnson (who signed a 1-year tender) was cut because he could never get on the field for mini-camps. And if what I've read it any indication, we've made the right choice. Little dribs and drabs from camp saw Bloom has been catching everything that has come his way, and it looks like he's ready to be a football player and not a skier. I tell you, having a guy with a bit of explosiveness back there will be a breath of fresh air after a few years of dependable, but god-awful-slow Reno long as he doesn't fumble....

Now here's a question: Bloom looks good now, but what if he doesn't pan out? I wouldn't go so far as put on him on any sort of "indispensable Eagles" list, but dang, it'll be awful nice if he can stay healthy...

Another thing I've noticed, local writers questioning whether or not the Eagles will remain committed to the run this season. As in, now that Donovan's back, will the coaches forget to run (or in some cases it comes off like, will Donovan be so selfish that he all but demands they go pass-happy again).

Here is how I see it: even with Jeff Garcia in there, the Eagles remained a predominately passing team, they just ran a bit more and found that a better balance really benefited both the run AND the pass by keeping teams honest. Let's not kid ourselves: the Eagles did not suddenly morph into a 3-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust K.C. or Pittsburgh team. (weird deja vu moment: I dreamt I typed this into my blog months ago, this exact paragraph, heck before Garcia had even left the team....eerie). I hope and expect the Birds to maintain that better balance because of two things: 1) It gets the ball in Westbrook's hands more often, and the Eagles have a really powerful O-line to pave the way and 2) A bit more running will keep defenses honest and not just let them throw caution to the wind and just rush McNabb (AND his knee) pell mell.

And another thing: I think the Eagles will remain a team that passes to get the lead and runs to keep it. In the past, they've passed to get the lead and then sorta gave the run a half-hearted attempt and then resorted to passing again. I think a good mixture early on, in which AR and MM use runs to step up certain passes, will go a long long way to keeping the offense unpredictable and McNabb out of harm's way.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Eagle Talk

Man, after reading Les Bowen's article about Juan Castillo, I've got to say, I wonder if we'd be taking rock-solid offensive lines for granted (like we are) if we didn't have him on the coaching staff. Its weird, after decades of putting up with sub-par offensive lines (and that's being generous) Eagles fans have gotten used to both mass and talent during the Andy Reid era...the notion of the Eagles having ProBowl linemen is no longer a joke (heck with Shawn Andrews, the Eagles may enjoy a Will Shields-type "Perennial ProBowler" for the foreseeable future.).

In other news, Spuds reports that DE Jevon Kearse enters camp at 248 lbs. That's smaller than MLB Jeremiah Trotter....I am not sure what to make of it, truth be told. I mean he's never been massive, but he IS a guy that will drop weight as the season goes along, and I think the coaches need to make sure he gets on a little more bulk over the next 5 weeks before the season starts.

Oh, by the way: the real hitting starts, of course, few are naive enough to believe that the mini-camps are truly "no contact" as advertised, but with the vets in camp, suiting up for the first time, now is the time for fans to get their first glimpse at some real football contact.