Archive for the ‘Eagles’ category

A familiar feeling for Birds fans

January 19, 2009

Learning how to deal with disappointment is part of learning how to be an Eagles fan, something my 1-year-old son found out today.

 

(OK, maybe he didn’t know what was going on, but I’ll tell him about it in a few years.)

 

Sunday’s 32-25 loss to Arizona was disappointing, but not surprising.

 

I’m 32 years old and have never seen a title for the Birds. My fondest memories of the Birds growing up are of Buddy Ryan’s Gang Green machine – and they never even won a playoff game despite a defense that always ranked among the NFL’s best.

 

The dominant Eagles teams of the early 2000s under Andy Reid should have won a Super Bowl or two or three, but only played in one and we all know the outcome there.

 

I, like many pundits, figured the Eagles would cakewalk past the Cardinals, not the least of which because they are the, you know, Cardinals.

 

But somehow the men in red managed to disappoint us all again. That’s OK because we know the feeling. It’s part of bleeding green, right?

 

Here are some thoughts on the Eagles’ fourth NFC title loss (frown) in their last five visits:

 

–Donovan McNabb played a decent game at QB, but he continued his frustrating track record of not being able to take the team on a winning (or, in this case, tying) drive. All of the great ones did it (and some not so great, see Eli Manning in 2008 Super Bowl), but McNabb doesn’t come up large in big spots.

 

The Birds trailed by 7 with 2:53 left and needed McNabb to take them 80 yards for the tying score. He got the Cards’ 47, but that was it. Certainly it’s not all on McNabb’s shoulders, but you have to find a way to get it done if you want to be great and he didn’t – and hasn’t in the past.

 

–Did someone forget to tell the Birds’ defense the start time? Brian Dawkins’ bunch didn’t show up until after halftime. By then, it was 24-6 in favor of the hosts. Then, whether it was halftime adjustments or whatever, the Eagles came out flying after the break and shut the Cards down in the second half – until it most mattered.

 

Down 1 with 10:45 left, Cards QB Kurt Warner marched Arizona 72 yards on 14 plays, chewing up 7:52 of the clock to put the hosts back in front. The defense looked like its old, first-half self on that drive.

 

When the Eagles really needed a big play to hold the Cards to a field goal, no one stepped up and Tim Hightower scored on a perfectly executed screen pass from 8 yards out.

 

–The Eagles caught a huge break when the refs ruled that Victor Abiamiri muffed the kickoff and the ball touched out of bounds, giving the Birds the ball on their own 43 with 3:06 left in the first half.

 

The Cards tried to challenge but were denied because the ball was ruled out. Replays showed that the ball never touched the sideline, and also were inconclusive whether Abiamiri even touched the ball.

 

It didn’t end up mattering, but it was a break nonetheless – something you can point out to Birds fans who feel the refs are always against the Eagles.

 

–On that same play, was Troy Aikman saying the Cards intentionally kicked the ball short to attempt to recover it? The noise level in my parents’ house got raised at the time so I didn’t hear him clearly, but I thought that’s what he said.

 

I would guess that the Cards were just trying a pooch kick to prevent any kind of long return.

 

Here are some more random thoughts after watching the game…

 

–DeSean Jackson is good; Greg Lewis is not.

 

–Ridiculous penalty by Quintin Demps. Deserves a fine.

 

–Chris Myers is useless as a sideline reporter. Pam Oliver is OK.

 

–Brian Westbrook looked old and slow. Correll Buckhalter still has some jump.

 

–Hank Baskett can block … but can’t catch.

 

–Kevin Curtis is better than I thought.

 

–Awful hold by Rocca on Akers’ missed extra point.

 

–Larry Fitzgerald is a beast … but Sheldon Brown and Demps need to be better in coverage.

 

–Kurt Warner is tough.

 

–Remember all the talk about the D-line’s resurgence? Maybe it got to their heads.

 

–FOX graphics needs an editor. It’s “McNabb” not “McBabb.”

 

–Brent Celek will soon make us all forget L.J. Smith.

 

Moving on…

 

The Sixers have put together a nice, little streak of seven straight wins – as Elton Brand still sits and watches.

 

I’ll be in the big house Monday to see how they fare against the Mavs.

 

 

That’s all for now.

 

phillysportsbeat@gmail.com

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Strange turn for Birds

January 13, 2009

We all have had moments in life where we try and try and try to achieve something without success. Weirdly, the moment we stop trying so hard and let go of our expectations is when we finally reach our destination.

 

A little Zen-like, I know. But that kind of sums up how I feel about the Eagles.

 

The Birds looked unbeatable at times earlier this decade and many of us, me included, expected them to win Super Bowls. Then they fell flat in three straight NFC title games – the last two of which you really thought they should have won.

 

They finally made the Super Bowl in the 2004 season, but looked lost in the final five minutes and came up short. So disappointing.

 

This season was mediocre for stretches and awful for others. The Birds never looked like a championship caliber team. I wanted the coach gone and, while I thought he could still play, wanted the same thing for the QB.

 

Then, suddenly, they beat improbable odds and snuck into the playoffs – how could TB possibly lose to Oakland?! – by drumming the Cowboys in the regular-season finale.

 

Wins over Minnesota and the Giants later and all that’s standing in the way of the Super Bowl are the Arizona Cardinals.

 

The Arizona Cardinals.

 

I mean, come on. The Eagles already blew out the Cards this season and Arizona has no business being in the NFC title game, let alone the Super Bowl.

 

It might not be a cakewalk, but the Eagles will topple Arizona and reach the Super Bowl. Write it down – in pen.

 

That doesn’t mean I’m overly impressed with the Birds.

 

Andy Reid’s bunch looked great on defense Sunday. None more so than Brian Dawkins.

 

You saw the game, so you know, but it’s worth repeating that the aging safety was a force, the toughest player on the field. He had the Giants intimidated with his early hits. The D-line played superb and the linebackers were flying into the gaps.

 

But the offense, to me, was just ho-hum. I liked the fact that Reid stuck with the running game, and I was impressed with Donovan McNabb’s toughness in the pocket and some of his big plays on third downs.

 

Overall though, the offense lacked luster and the sharpness that you would expect from a team that will be playing in the Super Bowl in a couple of weeks.

 

I thought it was a game the Giants lost more than the Eagles won. Eli Manning looked lost. I’m still trying to figure out how he’s a Super Bowl winning QB.

 

The funny thing is I don’t even think the Eagles will have to play much better Sunday against the Cards because Arizona isn’t nearly the team the Giants are.

 

All I can say is strange, very strange.

 

(update 11:15 a.m. Tuesday)

Re Chris’ comment on Dawkins’ hit: Chris: You’re probably referring to the hit on Ward. It was borderline. I’m all for sportsmanship, but football’s a violent sport and I think what he did was OK. Of course, I darn sure wouldn’t have wanted to be on the receiving end!

Wing Bowl or Super Bowl? I tuned in to WIP early Monday morning hoping to get the fans’ vibe on Sunday’s game and all I got was talk about wingettes and Wing Bowl. Sigh! Couldn’t click over to 950 fast enough — even if it was Mike & Mike.

Where’s the hoops coverage? Anyone else notice the lack of coverage of college hoops in the Inky this year? I miss the once-a-week full page Mike Jensen used to write.

 

That’s all for now.

 

phillysportsbeat@gmail.com

Eagles “RUN” past Cards

November 28, 2008

 

 

Well, it only took 12 weeks, but Andy Reid and the Eagles finally figured out what a running game can do for a football team.

 

The Eagles effectively mixed the run and pass in a 48-20 stomping of the Arizona Cardinals Thursday night.

 

It was really enjoyable to watch good football again. But, at 6-5-1, it’s still a long shot to make the playoffs for the Birds. In some ways, this game was even more frustrating than a loss because it showed what the Eagles could have been doing all season long if they were running the ball.

 

I mean, how/why did Reid watch his pitiful offense week after week and not figure out sooner that running the ball would help? I just don’t get it.

 

Anyway, this victory was set up with the opening drive that was a thing of beauty.

 

12 plays, 70 yards. 7 runs, 5 passes. One of the runs was a Donovan McNabb scramble (nice to see that again, huh?). So, the drive consisted of 6 called runs and 6 called passes. A balanced offense. Imagine that?

 

Again, why, oh why, did it take 12 weeks to figure this out? (Just shaking my head).

 

And how great was it to see to see fullback Kyle Eckel rumble for two yards and a first down on 3rd-and-1 on that opening drive?

 

The Eagles continued to run the ball and McNabb, given time without a defense teeing off on the pass, looked sharp all night.

 

 

McNabb finished 27-for-39 for 260 yards and 4 TDs. There were 33 called running plays. Westbrook got the bulk of the runs, rushing for 110 yards and 2 TDs on 22 carries. He also caught 2 TDs.

 

Mike Quick said on the radio during Sunday’s brutal loss to Baltimore that football isn’t rocket science; it’s about blocking and tackling. You saw that Thursday night.

 

And you saw a running game. It’s no coincidence that you saw a win, as well.

 

Just wish it didn’t take so long for Reid to figure it out.

 

 

Thoughts on broadcast:

 

–It’s too bad we don’t get NFL Network on Comcast in the Philly market, because Cris Collinsworth makes a broadcast enjoyable. He gives point-on analysis and isn’t bashful with his opinions. On Reid not personally telling McNabb he wouldn’t play in the second half Sunday, Collinsworth said, “It was a mistake, there’s no way around it.”

 

–Also enjoyed Bob Papa’s play-by-play. Having not watched an NFL Network broadcast all season, I’m not sure what happened to Bryant Gumbel.

 

–You wouldn’t expect otherwise from an ex-coach, but NFL Network analyst Steve Mariucci embarrassed himself in the pregame by using the injuries excuse when explaining the failures of the Eagles’ offense this season. Then, he really put his foot in his mouth by saying they’re really playing well. Huh? What games has Mariucci been watching. And, more to the point, why bother being an analyst if you’re going to say something so stupid.

 

–By the way, was that Reid’s son on the sideline as a ball boy early in the game?

 

 

Kendrick on a short leash? Not that it comes as a surprise to anyone, but Phillies Nation is reporting that Kyle Kendrick will be on a short leash next season, saying he’ll have until June to prove himself or be traded.

(update 8:45 a.m. Friday)

We’re talkin’ ’bout practice: The more things change, the more they stay the same…A.I. skips practice in Detroit.

 

 

Weekend sked

 

Friday

 

NHL

Carolina at Flyers, 1

 

NBA

Sixers at Boston, 7:30

 

College football

Akron at Temple, 1

 

College hoops

Towson vs. Villanova at Palestra, 9

 

Saturday

NHL

Flyers at Toronto, 7

 

College hoops

Penn at Albany, 7

Temple at Buffalo, 4

Penn State/Rhode Island vs. Villanova at Palestra, TBA

 

Sunday

NBA

Chicago at Sixers, 5

 

 

That’s all for now.

 

 

phillysportsbeat@gmail.com

 

So, now, it’s the wide receivers?

November 27, 2008

 

I had to chuckle while reading Bob Brookover’s article in Wednesday’s Inky in which two Eagles front-office “sources” (I believe Joe Banner gave himself away by using “unalterably” in a quote) backed Andy Reid while placing blame on the offensive line and wide receivers.

 

The wide receivers. You know, the ones who are good enough because the system will make them good enough.

 

Forget about adding a proven weapon (Anquan Boldin) or drafting a receiver that can make a difference, the Eagles’ philosophy – despite the screams of the majority of fans – has been to say you don’t need great receivers to win.

 

Now this…

 

“We’re dropping way too many balls,” the source said.

 

Amazing. Absolutely amazing.

 

 

Could tonight be the end of the Donovan McNabb era?

 

 

Sixers fall: Watched from courtside Wednesday night as the Sixers fell to the Magic, 96-94. The Sixers played well in the second half and got a boost from Marreese Speights (what a difficult name to spell!) and Theo Ratliff (remember him) in the second half.

 

And the Sixers look like a good team in the making, one that has a chance to make the playoffs and win a series, maybe two.

 

But…and this is a big but…despite the closeness of the game, Philly clearly is an inferior team to Orlando. They just don’t have the guns on offense and, maybe more than that, don’t defend well enough (especially from the perimeter) to be considered an upper-echelon Eastern Conference team.

 

I’ll still follow them all season because I love basketball and enjoy the NBA, but this is a team that has no chance of winning an Eastern Conference title unless some major changes are made at the trade deadline.

 

 

For whom are you thankful: Have received some responses to my post about Philly sports figures for whom I’m thankful. I’d love to hear from more of you.

 

 

Thursday sked

 

NFL

Arizona at Eagles, 8

 

 

Happy Thanksgiving to you and all of your families!

 

 

And Happy Birthday to Jimmy Rollins. We’re still not front-runners though!

 

 

phillysportsbeat@gmail.com

McNabb got jobbed; bench Reid (update with Reid Monday PC)

November 24, 2008

Donovan McNabb got jobbed. Simple as that. He shouldn’t have been pulled.

 

That’s my evaluation after, doing my best Andy Reid, going back and looking at the tape.

 

Before giving my explanation, let me say that last week I called for the Kevin Kolb era to begin, mainly because I was tired of seeing the same-old, same-old week in and week out.

 

That said, McNabb didn’t deserve to get benched after the first half of Sunday’s 36-7 stomping by the Ravens.

 

The numbers say McNabb was 8-for-18 for 59 yards, 2 INTs and a fumble, but he wasn’t nearly as bad as the numbers would have you believe.

 

 

Not even close.

 

Go back and look at the tape and you’ll see McNabb made one bad throw under pressure, one bad throw with no pressure and one horrible throw (the Ed Reed INT).

 

So, basically he was benched for that. (BTW, extremely weak by Reid sending his QB coach to give McNabb the message. After 10 years, McNabb deserved to hear it from his head coach.)

 

What I saw on tape were receivers who are subpar, blockers who can’t protect and a coach who can’t call plays.

 

Worse than Andy Reid’s shoddy play-calling (why call a pass on 3rd-and-1 in the first half and, worse, on 2nd-and-goal from the 1-inch line in the fourth quarter?), is his talent evaluation.

 

How much longer do we have to put up with receivers (sans DeSean Jackson) who can’t get open, can’t catch when they’re open and can’t help their QB out on so-so throws?

 

How much longer to we have to watch play-calling that doesn’t believe in a running game?

 

How much longer to we have to watch tight ends who can’t block – or catch?

 

How much longer do we have to watch an aging offensive line give up constant pressure, of course not helped by the fact they are always playing on their heels due to the play-calling?

 

How much longer…you fill in the blank?

 

No, the problem isn’t McNabb – far from it.

 

The problem is the guy wearing the headset.

 

Andy Reid is the one who needs benching.

 

 

Reese, Quick blast Eagles: Merrill Reese and Mike Quick were none too happy with Reid’s play-call in the fourth quarter to pass on 2nd-and-1. Check the previous post to read what they said.

 

 

(Update 6:15 a.m. Monday)

 

ESPN heads blast Philly fans?: 610-WIP’s Rhea Hughes relayed that Chris Berman and Tom Jackson blasted Philly fans prior to Sunday’s game. Didn’t see it. Anyone have anything on this?

 

 

Sixers win: The Sixers got a nice performance by Elton Brand, defeating Golden State Sunday night. I was there but I’ll save my thoughts for another post. Today is all about the Eagles.

 

(Update 12:05 Monday)

 

Andy Reid names McNabb QB: Andy Reid named Donovan McNabb his QB Monday. Another bad decision. Every question was about McNabb, giving Reid a pass on his poor coaching.

 

For what it’s worth, here’s what Reid said:

 

Donovan McNabb will be our starting QB for the Arizona game on Thursday. Sometimes you have to take a step back to step forward in a positive way, and Donovan will do that. It has nothing to do with Donovan’s performance or Kolb’s performance. I think it was the right thing to do and I would not change my decision on that.

 

Donovan is going out to play, that’s what he’s doing. Sometimes it’s good to step back and look at things from a different angle. I expect him to go out and play his heart out.

 

I think I know Donovan McNabb probably better than anyone in this room. Six turnovers is not Donovan McNabb. That’s not his game, that’s no part of his game. You back up an inch and he should be able to step forward a mile.

 

He’ll work through this. I have confidence he’ll work through it. I’m telling you he’s my starting quarterback.

 

I’m not going to get into all that. I need to coach better. Donovan needs to play better and the guys around Donovan need to play better.

 

I can’t answer ifs, I’m not going there. I’m going with Donovan’s going to do it and that’s the approach I take.

 

I will make every decision for what I think is best for this football team. That’s the seat I sit in and that’s the way I’ll approach it.

 

We’ll see. We’ll see. I just think there’s a point where you step back and look at it. I always try to win the game. I’ll always do what’s best for the team. Don’t pick things out. Listen to the whole thing.

 

That’s not what we do. That’s how things are. I really don’t care what anybody else thinks. The coach coaches that player and he tells them and that’s how it goes.

 

I’ve been around Donovan for a long time so I trust he’ll get his part right and the guys around him will.

 

I talked to him afterward, as I did the other quarterback. At that particular time, you’re in a tight time situation….It’s not a matter of disrespecting Donovan.

 

It’s something I felt like I had to do at that particular time.

 

You can’t worry about all that. You get rid of the ifs.

 

I don’t want to leave here until you understand that. Donovan is the QB for this football team.

 

 

 

Monday sked

 

NBA

Sixers at Charlotte, 7

 

NHL

Dallas at Flyers, 7

 

College hoops

Saint Joseph’s vs. Texas in Maui, 3 …

 

…and Phil Martelli blogs about it.

 

 

That’s all for now.

 

phillysportsbeat@gmail.com

 

 

 

Reese, Quick blast Eagles

November 24, 2008

Merrill Reese and Mike Quick probably spoke for every Eagles fan when they voiced their disgust on the radio with Andy Reid’s play-calling in the fourth quarter of today’s 36-7 pasting by the Ravens.

 

You know the situation: The Eagles trailed by 15, 22-7, with 2-and-goal from the 1 with just under 8 minutes left. Reid elected to throw and Baltimore’s Ed Reed returned Kevin Kolb’s pass 108 yards for a TD, putting the game out of reach.

 

Here’s what Reese and Quick said:

 

Reese: “Why would you throw there? I cannot understand that. … I just don’t understand. Just keep it simple. … I am perplexed.”

 

Quick: “(The Eagles) are doing things that don’t make sense. The game is not rocket science. (Reference to Reid’s play-calling) make the game more complicated than it needs to be.”

 

The words on the computer screen don’t come across nearly as well as they did over the air. You’ll probably hear the clip, if you haven’t already, over the next few days.

 

Kudos to Reese and Quick. I’ve always admired Reese’s forthrightness (a word?) and appreciated his and Quick’s candor. It’s not always easy to be that honest when you’re working for the team.

 

I believe they spoke for every Eagles fan watching (or listening, as in my case).

 

More on the McNabb/Kolb/Reid controversy and the entire mess surrounding the team later.

 

That’s all for now.

 

phillysportsbeat@gmail.com

Andy Reid to San Francisco?

November 21, 2008

Former colleague and Trenton Times columnist Mark Eckel said on his 610-WIP radio show Thursday night that it wouldn’t shock him if Eagles coach Andy Reid wound up in San Francisco next year as the 49ers’ head coach.

 

Eckel, as plugged into the Eagles as anyone covering the team, was merely giving an opinion. This wasn’t a factual report. For what it’s worth, according to Eckel, here’s how the dominoes would fall for Reid to wind up as 49ers coach in 2009…

 

After letting go of quasi-GM Tom Heckert, Eagles ownership would approach Reid and let him know they want to bring in a personnel guy who will have power over decisions – unlike now when Reid has the final say.

 

Then, they will ask Reid to fire some of his assistant coaches (see: special teams coordinator Rory Segrest and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg).

 

If this happens, Eckel believes Reid may then decide to bolt rather than give up his personnel power and/or fire his assistant coaches. Of course, Reid also could decide to stay under those circumstances as well.

 

So, that brings us to San Francisco.

 

Reid’s good friend and former boss Mike Holmgren is in his final year as Seahawks coach. Holmgren supposedly is going to take a year off in 2009.

 

But things change.

 

Maybe Holmgren winds up as GM with the 49ers, who just happen to have an interim coach (Mike Singletary) right now. Needing a coach, Holmgren calls his old friend Reid and Big Red is on the first plane to the Golden Gate City.

 

Again, it’s just conjecture. But it has some merit, especially coming from Eckel.

 

 

Un-friggin’-believable: Bad news from Phillies land as second baseman Chase Utley will miss 4-to-6 months due to hip surgery he’ll have next week. (BTW, pretty cool linking to the Phillies’ Web site and seeing “2008 World Champions” at the top of the site.)

 

My take: Surgery is always a tricky proposition, always a risk. I hope Utley comes back the same player, but there are no guarantees. The Phillies seem content to use Eric Bruntlett and, possibly, prospect Jason Donald during Utley’s absence. I’d prefer a better option.

 

In other news, the Phils and Rangers swapped outfield prospects with Philadelphia getting John Mayberry Jr. and Texas getting Greg Golson. Yawn.

 

 

So much for 10 bucks: Not that it’s surprising in today’s ticket-buying world, where everything comes with a fee (or fees), but it turns out those $10 Sixers tickets really aren’t $10.

 

(Update 11 a.m. Friday)

 

Davis upset with Brand: Clippers guard Baron Davis told the L.A. Times that he “has nothing to say” to Elton Brand. Brand recruited Davis to L.A. this summer before leaving for Philly.

 

The teams meet tonight at the Wachovia Center. Should be interesting.

 

 

Weekend sked (a very busy weekend)

 

Friday

NBA

Clippers at Sixers, 7 p.m.

NHL

Flyers at Buffalo, 7:30 p.m.

College hoops

La Salle vs. UConn in Virgin Islands, 6 p.m.

Temple at Lafayette, 8:30 p.m.

 

Saturday

NHL

Phoenix at Flyers, 7 p.m.

College hoops

Drexel at Georgetown, 1 p.m.

La Salle vs. Miami or Southern Miss in Virgin Islands, TBA

Monmouth at Penn, 7 p.m.

College football

Eastern Michigan at Temple, 1 p.m.

Penn at Cornell, 1 p.m.

Villanova at Delaware, 2:30 p.m.

 

Sunday

NFL

Eagles at Baltimore, 1 p.m.

NBA

Golden State at Sixers, 5 p.m.

College hoops

La Salle vs. Wisconsin, San Diego, Valparaiso or Iona in Virgin Islands, TBA

 

 

That is all for now.

 

phillysportsbeat@gmail.com