Tuesday, November 29

Takin it around Philadelphia...

So let's review this weekend. Eagles: Victorious. Flyers: 1-1. Sixers: 0-1. So things are mediocre. The Eagles pulled out a big win over the Packers, but really...it's fairly meaningless considering they have to win all their games and have the rest of the NFC East self destruct in order to make the playoffs. Some people prefer them to lose the rest of their games in order to get a higher draft pick, but is that really worth it? You all know the Eagles, they will get value out of their draft picks as long as they don't take an offensive position player, and most likely will be able to move up or trade with their excess picks gained from past trades. The only thing blowing the rest of the games does is insure that our remaining veterans and new players go into next season with a chip on their shoulder...and we all know what that's worth. Honestly, fight it out, try to win some games, and try not to finish last in the division. That's my say.

The Flyers continue to blow in the 3rd period. I don't know how many times I've said this, but I'm even starting to annoy myself with it. So I'll move on. I came to another realization tonight while watching them squeak out a win over the Islanders. Remember a couple years ago in hockey when a guy like Brodeur or Roy, sometimes even Hasek or Curtis Joseph, could take a mediocre team and guide them to the playoffs? Sometimes even deep into the playoffs? We all know the Devils have never had a decent team, they just had the best goalie in the game for so many years. I can't help but notice that with the increase in offense, speed, and scoring in the NHL this year that the era of the dominating goalie is over. It's kind of weird. I'm not gonna say I miss watching Brodeur make amazing save after amazing save, but it's certainly different. They do wear smaller pads, the rules have changed, and the game has become more offensive. Get ready for some unexpected teams in the playoffs this year as a result.

On to the Sixers. For some reason, they continue to struggle slightly. They had a big streak mid-November, and beat some good teams, but other weaker teams like the Bucks and the Knicks have pulled out some key wins. Clearly, the team is still in the development stage, and should continue to strengthen as the season progresses. In all honesty though, I'll take anything from the team that's different from what Jim O'Brian gave us last year. They play a much more dynamic game in my eyes, get more minutes from the bench (and production), and seem better equipped to adapt to the opposition. That said, even at 8-7, they're in first in the division, so maybe it won't be that tough. The whole league is fairly close though, so I'd like to see them put a little more hop in their step, and seriously throw more oooooops to Iguodala.

Thursday, November 24

Turkeybowl


This is a notice to you GFS kids and your "friends." The game will be played tomorow, Friday the 25th, at 12 noon at the field across from the cricket club like last year. We plan on destroying you guys again. If you have enough for a team that is. If there are any problems or questions, please call me, James Iddendenndndendnndenn, at 610 724 8040 and we will make sure this game happens.

Wednesday, November 23

Hypothetical: 15 on 1

Thanks to everyone for last week's conversation on Tracy McGrady. It was a complete success and my top goal was accomplished- you made me reconsider my position, and eventually change my mind. Once the idea of Tracy standing under the basket and only allowing 12 foot jumpers came up, I realized that we really didn't stand much of a chance. I had only imagined holding him to something along the order of 75% shooting tops, and I certainly don't know four other people who shoot 75% free throws, especially not with a 6-9 dude coming at them. Thanks again.

This week we'll move on to football, namely Mike Vick. Initial discussions began with an 11 on 1 scenario, which quickly moved to 20 on 1. For the sake of argument, we'll split the difference and call it you and 14 of your buddies versus the leagues most under-utilized wideout. This is a standard, 60 minute game of football, all NFL rules applying, aside from the fact that there's one pro quarterback versus 15 post-grads.

As I did last week, I'm taking me and my buddies. While we'd have some trouble scoring consistently in a basketball game, I can't see anyway Vick could ever stop us from getting a first down. He goes left, we throw right. He plays deep, we throw short. Tackling him is going to be a little tougher, but with a little teamwork, there's no reason we shouldn't be able to stop him once or twice, and that's the ballgame. I have to believe that he's at a major disadvantage returning kicks; we'll recover at least 8/10 onside and start driving all over again. I'd put the line on this game at US (-21.5) vs. vick.

Enjoy.

Tuesday, November 22

Not a Worthy Adversary


I think it's pretty obvious what's going on here. And I like it. 3rd string QB starting. How many all-pros going under the knife? The season is over, let's get the young guys some real time reps. It's not tanking, it's just ummmm.....well, they aren't losing on purpose right? It's like a secret tank. Trying to win with scrubs on the field (the Phils have been doing this for decades) isn't tanking is it? I think it's pretty obvious what's going on here.

And I like it. The season is over. Fine. The sooner we start looking forward, the sooner we'll be moving forward. I recall Hal calling for TO at least a full year before we got him. We never believed the Eagles would actually do it....and the rest is history. My point is, the Eagles will once again have the opportunity to pull a HUGE trigger this offseason. TO won't be getting his five million dollar roster bonus next year. There's some ammo. And I have total confidence Terrible Mike Mcmahon can steer the Eagles to a top ten pick, before they trade up. There's some more ammo. So where do they fire the BFG in 2006?

Let's narrow it down. Running Back? No dice. We just signed Westbrook for the rest of the decade and have a rookie in his image. O-line? I did say "HUGE" trigger and I know Runyan is on the way out and I think the Eagles will address the O-line, but it won't be the big move. D-line? Getting warmer. But if we draft another first round bust D-end, and have another sub-par season, it's going to get even warmer in that front office. We know they are willing to gamble, but I can't see Banner, Ried, and associates putting thier job's in the hands of a rookie right end. No one cares about linebackers, although it would be nice to have someone to replace Trotter when he inevitably retires. The secondary is still solid (let's just say Lito hurt his ankle a while ago.)

That leaves two positions in my mind. Wide reciever (remember we lost our top three recievers from last year.) TO is gone and we need someone to replace him. Here's the problem, He's irreplaceable. We can't get Marvin, Chad, Randy, or Hines. Anyone else even close to those guys? I don't see anyone in college either, leaving....................QB. I'm not saying it has to be Lienart. But if the 49ers or Texans get the top pick, everyone knows that "interesting trades considered" will go along with it. As far as I'm concerned, it's wide open. Phillip Rivers may also be available, David Carr, and does anyone know if Brady Quinn is leaving early?

It's a crossroads for management. Attempt to retool the offense around Mcnabb and bounce back, or start thinking future. I think start thinking future. If retooling fails, the fans and media will not take it well. However, if we have a stud QB to take Mcnabb's place as soon as the teams starts sucking again, I think the fans and media praise management and will be content to watch the next generation of Eagles develop. Remember, the worst case scenario is to be mired in mediocrity. There is nothing worse than just missing the playoffs, and again, the Phils have been doing it for years. I have now managed to compare the Eagles to the Phillies twice in a column that started out talking about a secret tank. Time for a small change? Or a HUGE change?

Any Ideas?

I got lucky yesterday and ended up at the Sixers game, which was the first game this season that I’ve gotten a good look at. And although we blew out the Nookch, a few issues stood out.

First, the good side. Our bench isn’t nearly as horrendous as I predicted, and it will get a nice boost when Steven Hunter takes his proper place there. He put down a few nice dunks and brings some energy to the court, but he’s not a starter. Let’s just say I wouldn’t be surprised if Ben Wallace pulls down 35 rebounds the next time they meet up. As far as the current bench is concerned, James Thomas is a poor-man’s Kenny Thomas (thankfully he gets paid like one), Kevin Ollie is Kevin Ollie, Lee Nailon is an absolute revelation, and I’ll get to Johnny Salmons in a minute. And that’s it. Our starters get major burn, and it’s really the only way we’re gonna win games year.

Michael Bradley has his own sign above section 207A. It says “Bradley’s Bunch.” This astounded me to no end last night, and every time I looked at it, I thought of how many times I’ve heard what a difference he’ll make to the team this year (20+) and how many times I took that claim seriously (zero). Check it out next time you get down to the stadium. It’s remarkable. Imagine if, unprovoked, the Phillies put up a sign with David Bell’s picture on it that read “The Bell Ringers.” It would be just that ridiculous, until you remember that David Bell starts, and then cried into your sandwich.

Hip Hop (our mascot) unloaded two cans of silly string on some dude in the 5th row. He probably sprayed him for a minute and half, all told. The guy was a good sport about it too. Great stuff when you're up 18 before the break.

As for our starters, they look good enough. Iverson will never let you down, and Webber is playing at 65% of his prime, which is to say, 200% better than last year. Korver has expanded his game slightly, mixing in a shot fake-step forward move, and is more willing to get to the hoop. Iguodala is shooting the lights out and playing as close to shut-down defense as you are allowed to play in the Nba.

This all leads into the big problem with the Sixers. They have absolutely no discernable offensive game plan. They could be a pick and roll team, with Webber and Iverson/Korver, but they’re not. They could go back to being a drive and dish team with Iverson at the helm, but this isn’t happening either. They simply don’t make any sense. I saw them call out and run a designed play to get John Salmons the ball in the corner. Where to go from there, who knows? Half of the offense revolves around Iverson beating his man off the dribble, but we don’t run iso for him. The other half involve getting the posting Webber up at the elbow and hoping for the best. My best account of our offense would be: Have Iverson take the ball up the court, look for a shot, dish to Webber, fiddle around for 8 seconds, end up with Iguodala shooting a three from the corner, and it falls or someone pulls down a board. That’s it.

While lamenting this dilemma in the third quarter, a guy in front of me turned around and said simply “oh no, you don’t want to ask that.” They are beyond any logical explanation. I really feel that if you asked Mo Cheeks “What is this offense designed to do?” he would stutter for 10 seconds and then tell a story about Dr. J dunking on Moses. The problem is, the offense is working. And until it stops working, nothing is going to change. Well, at least no one else in the league has a plan either, so just stick around while we wrap up the #3 seed.

Saturday, November 19

Flyers Report

So I come back from vacation, and the first two games I see played by my beloved Flyers are heart-wrenching overtime losses. Both on breakaways, sadly. Granted, an overtime loss is better than a regular time loss, as you still get a measly one point, but really that's just a little insulting. The two plays were quite similar...a mistake by a defenseman led to a one on zero chance with the goalie, for Sidney Crosby on Wednesday and Greg de Vries last night. Now, I wouldn't worry about giving de Vries too many breakaways, but Crosby on the other hand, it just can't happen. You can't afford to hang your goalie out to dry in overtime, especially not to the most touted rookie in the league. So what's the problem? The Flyers missed plenty of scoring chances early in both games, but all teams miss chances. It's the ones you give up that matter most. In my mind, the Flyers are lacking one key component that may have saved them in both games. We've got a fairly solid defensive core--Hatcher, Rathje, Johnsson, Pitkanin. All big guys, and very physical. What we lack is the type of player that the injured Desjardins represents. Smaller, quicker, and smarter. It was Dany Markov the year before the strike that provided us with quickness and a fiery presence on the blueline. I'm not sure if the Flyers have that anymore. So while we desperately await the return of the veteran Desjardins, I'll be holding my breath in the name of our shell-shocked goalies.

Thursday, November 17

HALI BOMA YE

State has a big game this Saturday at Michigan State, 4:00 pm. Wherever you watch the game, keep an eye on one PSU's biggest players, left end, Tamba Boimah Hali. The tale of the tape lists Hali at 6'3'', 267 lbs. His 40 time is yet to be determined but anyone who has seen him play knows it's more than fast enough. My buddy Smitty, current student at Penn State University met briefly with Hali on campus, although unfortunately there wasn't enough time for a photo opportunity. Smitty recounted his meeting to me exclaiming, "He's a F#cking manchild. He would have trouble fitting through our front door."

#91 has 54 tackles through 10 games including 16 for losses totaling 84 yards. He also tallied a team leading 11 sacks for a total loss of 79 yards, and one game sealing forced fumble in the final minutes of Ohio State. Tamba's hobbies include beating the double team, sacking quarterbacks, beating the double team again, and getting drafted in the first round.

Saturday, look for Hali to spend most of his time in the backfield against a struggling Spartan team. Not that the announcers won't be letting you know "before, during, and after the game," what a monster the senior is and the disruption he causes. My advice is to sit back and enjoy the show........and hope we draft him.

Gotta Have It: Mash em Down

It's perfect timing for a Donnie Mac Attack. Break out the Louisville Slugger and let Andy know how you feel about his dominion of passing. If Donnie tried to hit this thing in the fourth quarter of a tight game, it might take him 25 tries. Unless you hung a #31 Cowboys or #20 Bucs jersey on it, in which case he could hit it left handed with his eyes closed. Especially if Andy Reid should have just told him to hand the ball off.

Wednesday, November 16

Japan Report

Well, the Far East has been conquered, and it was sweet. As I expected, all baseball merchandise was way too expensive to buy, so I ended up with some Hanshin Tigers pins. They have awesome sports retail stores though, and I could've bought a jersey from every major Euro soccer club, every American baseball team, and of course every Japanese baseball team. While I didn't end up with any nice jerseys or hats, I did get a chance to watch some baseball. I watched two games between the Softbank Hawks and the Yomiuri Giants. The Yomiuri Giants are like the Yankees of Japanese baseball, and they are really pretty good. A pitcher named Kudoh threw for the Giants in the first game, and apparently he was the biggest free agent acquisition in the off-season, and happened to have played for the Hawks the season before. He appeared to be roughly 60 years old, and proceeded to throw a complete game of about 150 pitches. While the Hawks had a small rally in the bottom of the 9th, he threw 5 hitless innings, and the rest were almost flawless. It was an impressive performance, especially from an apparent veteran. Regardless, the level of play is pretty good...lots of small ball, sacrifice hits and bunts, and pretty good pitching. I saw a couple other games too, and there were about two to three foreign players on each team, be it American or from some Hispanic country.
Other notable moments:
1. Monday Night Football--I got to watch Peyton school the Patriots for the first time ever on Monday Night Football. Keep in mind, this game happens on Tuesday in Japan, so they show the game taped later in the day. John Madden and Al Michaels still provide the commentary, with Japanese subtitles. I was pretty surprised to see it, considering they didn't show any other football on network TV.

2. Soccer fans--I happened to be wearing my Newcastle United jersey one night when I ran into a Japanese kid wearing a Liverpool jersey. We immediately tackled each other, and spent the rest of the night hurling unintelligible insults at one another. Good dude though.

3. Nowitzki--I saw multiple people wearing Dirk jerseys. What's up with that? I have no explanation.

4. Rebound--I had the privilege of watching this Martin Lawrence film on the flight home. It was everything I expected it to be, and I look forward to seeing it again in the future.

Hypothetical: 5 on 1

With the Eagles taking a dive off the high board into an empty pool, it looks to be high time to break into one of my favorite pastimes- sports hypotheticals. I can't get enough of these, but they only work with willing, eager participants. That's where you come in. Nothing would make me happier than to have someone thoroughly and convincingly explain to me why I am wrong and they are right. So swing for the fences, or in this case, dig in on D and rotate the ball. You are fully encouraged to take sides and present gambling lines when available.

Here's the situation, you, and five of your friends, in a regulation basketball game versus Tracy McGrady. Pick the strongest, fastest kids you know, and lace em up. Who wins?

I'm absolutely going with me and my buddies on this one. I think five guys on the floor can spread the court and move the ball all day until we get an open layup. I'm not expecting to lock him down on D, but I think we only have to stop him a couple times to come out with a W. I think he bricks a few threes, and I'm willing to go so far as to say we have an advantage on the boards. I am in no way predicting a blowout, but I definitely expect to come out with a win in either a single game, or seven game series. In a best of seven playoff situation, I would have to figure that he'll come up with one game somewhere along the line.

If you've been commenting all along, I greatly appreciate it, and please keep it up. If you're new to the comment box, here's your chance, please let everyone know how you feel. No low blows, keep it clean, touch gloves and come out fighting at the bell.

Is There a Doctor in the House?

I don't want to talk about it. I really don't. But I think it was Anthony Gargano who said before the game on Monday....."Think of post-season game winning drives of our generation. Elway, Favre, Brady. Think of season ending interceptions. Mcnabb, Mcnabb, Mcnabb." It's time to wake up and smell the choking quarterback. The whole country knew our season was on the line last night, and the whole country saw it end the same way it has the past 4 years. Pick.

I didn't listen to much 610 today, the press conference, or check espn.com. I didn't need to know if it was a fade stop gone awry, a miscommunication, whatever. Donny choked. And yeah, Andy called the play. Maybe the worst play call I've ever seen. IF you throw the ball in that situation, you throw it DEEP. You go for the jugular, and if it gets picked, it's like a punt. But even if you do that, you're still a moron for not running the ball. A mid range pass to the outside? To a rookie? The only logic I can see is that it's the last thing they would have expected. We catch them thinking run, and get the game sealing first down. Ballsy call by the big guy. Unfortunately Mcnabb choked. Again.

I have always loved 5. Always thought he was underrated. I thought that what he's done the past 7 years with the "talent" surrounding him at the wideout position was astounding. Props to Andy as well. Well Monday night was a wake up call. Not for the team, but for me. Mcnabb is a choke artist. I now firmly believe that.

But let's go back to the game Mcnabb gets his "sports hernia." I said at the time that he should play the next two games, and unless he was unfazed, give Mcnabb the knife heading in to the bye. Mikey gets two weeks to prepare. And could he have played worse than Mcnabb did? You think maybe with the 3rd stringer under center we start running the ball a few weeks earlier? You think TO and Donny are trading blows in the media? Maybe the team (especially the defense) rallies around a recovering Donovan and a backup QB. (I seem to remember this happening a couple years ago.) Mcnabb gets the surgery before the bye week and at this moment, he's healthy and TO is still on the team. I know that's a lot of maybes, and hindsight is 20/20. But I was right.

I know Hal will post a column with a positive spin (oops, too late.) And he's got a point. It's not the end of the world, it's just the end of the season. I now find myself rooting for the Giants to win the division just so I don't lose a pre-season 20 dollar bet against the Skins with my buddy John. Good times. Swept by Dallas in the most heart breaking way possible and now I'm rooting for the Giants. All good things though, all good things.

Tuesday, November 15

All Good Things

Guess what? I'm not all that upset about the game. Sure, I don't want to talk about it, or see a picture of Andy or Donovan, but overall, I took enough good things from the game to fill up one hand- including the thumb!

1. Mike McMahon
He looked good. And if teams play prevent for 60 minutes a game, he could be the next "Joey" Montana. And if they play him honest, Andy will finally have to run the ball. Then it's a whole new game.

2. Everyone on the defense except Lito
Two things I'm sure of about Lito- 1. He's hurt. 2. He's still better than Matt Ware. And other than Lito, and the fact that our blitzes don't get to the quarterback, we looked pretty good on D.

3. The new-look offensive line
If nothing else, it's great to see our o-line take a step forward after the snap. On the other hand, Jon Runyan took a step before the snap three times last night.

4. Taking the snap from center, and then giving it to a player that is more athletic and won't throw a horrific interception
It's great! Let's try it again next week.

5. Westbrook returning punts
Playmakers on special teams! No way.

What I've realized this season is that I hate our dink and dunk offense. I didn't like it when we were winning, and I really don't like it when we're losing. I like running the ball. I like to take control of the game and pound it out. I've been able to stem this feeling because I really like the way we play defense, and under Andy's guidance, we play about 37 minutes of defense a game. And I didn't mind. I like field position battles and 10-7 wins. If you like high scoring Colts-Chiefs game, just go into a cave, sleep it off until March, and when you get back you can watch all arena league football until your eyes bleed. And if losing on national television because you should have called three straight runs is what it takes to make Andy change his offense, I can handle it.

I wrote last week that I'm willing to concede this season for the good of the team. And these are my terms. Andy must realize that his offense does not function, and must be overhauled from the bottom up. The clock must be controlled and managed well. You absolutely have to be able to ice games when you are up 13 points with 3 minutes to play. If you cannot do these things, you will not win in the National Football League. It just won't happen. Oh, and once you finally make these changes, it's time to make them again. The NFL is an evolve or perish society. If you do not keep up with the Belichicks and the Dungys, you will be left behind in their wake. You will be trampled and left for dead.

So if losing in the most horrific way imaginable is what it takes to move the immovable, then it will be worth it. But until then...(shudder)

Friday, November 11

Green on Green Violence

Ralph Nader recently threw another log on the fire with his recent statements: "If the Eagles management declines to remedy its mistake, commissioner Tagliabue, you should intervene to overturn the team's decision, which dishonors this country's traditional respect for free speech and cheats fans of an opportunity to see arguably the best receiver in football...Let him play." He continues, "[f]ans have purchased tickets for Eagles' games, in Philadelphia and elsewhere, on the assumption that they will see one of the game's most exciting receivers, so long as he is healthy enough to play. The Eagles' action denies them this opportunity.”


Ralph is right in that 81 does have a right to free speech, but he does not address the Eagles right to run their business as they see fit. His antics were well documented and he has been made fully aware that his behavior will not be tolerated by the organization. As for his rant on the fans behalf…if you bought season tickets for the express purpose of watching one single individual in the City of Philadelphia, and it wasn’t Allen Iverson, I don’t know what to say.

Suppose Andy Reid was running a steel mill, and he has a foreman named Donothan McNabb. Donothan comes to work every day, does an exemplary job, and is respected throughout the community. After a few years, Andy decides he wants to up production, so he goes and finds the T.J., a man renowned as the best steel worker in the country. So this new worker comes in, and he raises the level of intensity in all sectors of the plant. He boosts output to unheralded levels, and is recognized by all for his efforts. Jump to one year later, and Andy sees T.J. on the news, blasting their foreman, saying that he isn’t delegating responsibility or managing assets at a high level, and questioning the pedigree of the plant in general, from top to bottom. He is brought in and given a chance to apologize, which he refuses. He then proceeds to get into a fistfight on the plant floor with an ex-employee, visiting for the afternoon. After he is suspended without pay, he holds a press conference at his house, where he expresses his sincere apologies, four days after the fact. Well, what do you think the mill owner would do? Is there any company on the face of the earth that would keep an employee like this around? No, he would have been dropped like a bad habit.

Remember the day we got T.O.? A fifth round pick and Brandon Whiting, for the best receiver of the past decade. The city was ecstatic. I drove around with my buddy Theis, listening to WIP and screaming down Henry Ave. It was the best feeling our franchises have given us since game one of the 2001 Nba finals (AKA the greatest basketball game ever played). But even then there was that voice in the back of our heads: you know, this may not end happily. Well, it didn’t. It ended terribly. And from the looks of things, it’s a long way from being over. Was he worth it? No. Would we do it again? Every single time.

Thursday, November 10

Gotta Have It: Time Flies


Time flies when you're sweeping divisions and rolling through the playoffs, but it really starts to drag when you're 4-4 and just booted your top receiver. What makes the situation so frustrating, and is also the reason I'm still writing about him is that we LOVED this guy. I have never seen an athlete absolutely take over the city in such a short period. He had the every fan in the city eating bowing at his feet, and it threw it all away. I can't imagine ever seeing someone fall so far from so high in such a short period of time. Allen Iverson could threaten his wife with a handgun, kick her out of the house naked, then run into his cousin’s apartment at 3am screaming and waving a gun around, and he wouldn’t lose public favor like this.

Watching 81 fall apart after four losses, I’m started to wonder how many games might he have lasted if Donnie had gotten hurt in the preseason last year? Could he have made it through four quarters with Koy? Anyway, this 2004 calendar will be a perfect gift for anyone who either has a time machine or has no interest in what day it is and only wants to see pictures of men with no shirts on standing next to white tigers with fans blowing.

Breaking News: We're Flandereses

Philadelphia (PA) - A seven-year-old boy was at the center of a Philadelphia Pa courtroom drama yesterday when he challenged a court ruling over who should have custody of him. The boy has a history of being beaten by his parents and the judge initially awarded custody to his aunt, in keeping with child custody law and regulations requiring that family unity be maintained to the degree possible. The boy surprised the court when he proclaimed that his aunt beat him more than his parents and he adamantly refused to live with her. When the judge then suggested that he live with his grandparents, the boy cried out that they also beat him. After considering the remainder of the immediate family and learning that domestic violence was apparently a way of life among them, the judge took the unprecedented step of allowing the boy to propose who should have custody of him.


After two recesses to check legal references and confer with child welfare officials, the judge granted temporary custody to the Philadelphia Eagles, whom the boy firmly believes are not capable of beating anyone.

Commentary:
This is what people think of us right now. John Clayton, my ESPN hero, has the Redskins winning the division, with the Giants picking up the wildcard. If we don't get behind this team fast and hard, it's gonna be a looong winter. So once you figure out what to do with your #81 jersey (I suggest mailing it back to T.O. with a gentle request for a refund, claiming that your jersey underperformed its contract), get your act together and paint your house green, stage a "playoff strike" and chain yourself to the stadium until we make the playoffs, or go on WIP and eat 15 gallons of Eagles Touchdown Sundae. Do something.

Wednesday, November 9

Up Down Drill


The Birds took another hit today, placing Hank Fraley on the IR, along with human battering ram Jason Short. Fraley's absence will put additional strain on an O-Line which is already handcuffed by Donovan's refusal to get rid of the ball in under five seconds. He'll be replaced from within, under the standard guidelines of Andy's "next man" theory. Short will be replaced by Dedrick Roper, hopefully the extra D in his name will help pick up the slack of a completely lackluster special teams group. In the skill position department, ex-employee #81 has been replaced by Chad Lewis, if he can make time.

Tuesday, November 8

Crawling Back

Eldorado took center stage today at 3, in what will certainly not be his last effort to salvage his contract and play a couple more downs. Highlights included his and Rosenhaus' hopes to play next Monday night vs. the Cowboys, as well as this gem:
Reporter: Drew, what do you feel like you've done for TO other than get him kicked off the team?
Drew: Next question.

I respect his talent, but only in the same way that I respect Mamba. That is, I think they are both an absolute joke, don't want them to have anything to do with my team, and expect them to dominate us at any and every opportunity. Other than that it's all gravy. Let me know if I'm out of line here and you think that A. We should take him back, B. You disagree because you have no respect whatsoever for him (even at the talent level), and/or C. You like Kobe's new nickname.

Update: Thus far, Dave Spadaro has put up the best column summarizing today's trainwreck.
Update: Andy Reid "No thanks"

Lost in the Shuffle


It's Tuesday afternoon, I'm catching up on some reading (sports guy), watching Law and Order and I get an instant message from good freind and religious Ellen viewer, Mer Syles to turn on the news. I was greeted by TO and was fortunate enough to watch his apology live. No summary necessay I'm sure, and the ball is now in the Eagles' court. To be honest, I felt actual remorse from TO while he read his statement. Unfortunately his satanic counterpart proceeded to take the mic and mar any progress TO had made towards wearing an Eagles jersey ever again. "Experts" on ESPN news immediately jumped on the too little too late side as the Eagles are undoubtedly preparing a response as I write this. Bottom line, I think TO had the right idea but slightly mishandled his apology. He should have read the exact same statement, turned the mic over to Drew, waited 15 seconds and then stepped in and said "You're fired!" and then worked the crowd for applause as Rosenhaus walked away in disbelief. Then maybe the Eagles take him back. Huge missed opportunity by TO.

Once the agent started talking, I swtiched to ESPN news so as to recieve better coverage of the show. At one point I noticed the ticker on the bottom mention Phillies' set up man Ugueth Urbina, who has been arrested and expected to be charged with the attempted murder of 5 people at his family's ranch in Venezuela. Obviously this isn't as serious or important as an apology that won't be accepted by a player who won't play football for another year. But with Wagner on his way out, the "best bullpen in the NL" could be in serious trouble if their 8th inning man gets the firing squad. Let's cross our fingers for one of the most likeable and personable athletes ever to play in the city of Philadelphia.

Bobby McFerrin Time


So I turned on the TV today, and you'd never guess who they were talking about. Terrell Owens! Imagine how surprised I was to see his face on the screen. He might have had more air time than all of Sunday's 1378 active players combined. And I didn't want to talk about him, and I'm not going to waste your time giving him more ink, but his departure brings up one of the big topics I've been mulling over lately, that being a fan's long-term commitment to their team.

I love the Eagles. The earliest Eagles memory I have is losing to Washington in the 1990 wildcard game. As a child, I watched them for the next few years, and then moved away from the team for a while. Then, at the turn of the century, various forces in my life collided with the drafting of Donovan Jamal McNabb. Say what you will about the six seasons that have followed, but this team has brought a constant flow of joy to the Philadelphia fans. Given, they have come up short, but the Eagles under Donovan McNabb and Andy Reid have put together an unmatched streak of dominance. And for this I am grateful.

Every year you think you can win the Super Bowl. Some years you really mean it, and others years you are the Detroit Lions trying to play a home Super Bowl with a quarterback named Joey. We are fortunate to have meant it every year this century, and to not have our friends laugh in our faces.

As many of us having branched out of Philadelphia for school, we have brought the Eagles with us. We have gone to Arizona, to Boston, to California, to DC, and to New York. We have dusted off our jerseys and trodded down to the bar in our jerseys, proudly wearing the numbers of McNabb, Duce, Dawkins, Ritchie, and even Pinkston. We have ridden in a car with a Cowboys fan against the grain on one-way streets 50 miles per hour in two feet of snow to collect on a $50 bet. We have smashed twelve beers on our foreheads in front of 30,000 people in a losing effort. We have downloaded every shitty Eagles rap song that comes out mid-January.

And of course there have been some tough times. Taking a four point lead into the half against “the greatest show on turf.” Ronde Barber running 92 yards with our season in his hand. Brentson Buckner tearing Donovan’s rib cartilage as we put up 3 points at home. Andy Reid’s watch breaking against the Pats.

We’ve seen a lot of Eagles games, and we’re going to see a lot more. Every game feels important, and that is great. The fact that we have a team that we want to watch every week is a very special thing. Imagine waking up every Sunday, getting together with your friends, and trying to think of three reasons to be excited about watching your Cleveland Browns. Or try this: you’ve got work at 9 on Tuesday, which means you have to get up at 7 to take the Path Train to the uptown subway to make it in on time. What on earth are you going do to get excited about staying up until 1 AM to watch your 2005 New York Jets get beat up and down the field for sixty minutes? I gotta believe that it’s better to be let down than to never be in it in the first place.

We will remember all of these moments. We take the good with the bad. And this recap brings me to my point. Remember, this is coming from someone who definitively thinks the season is not lost. I’m willing to sacrifice this season for the future of this franchise. I can make it this year without a trophy. I can lean on the past, and look forward to the future. The window is not closing, it just needs some repairs. Take a look at the roster. It is young, deep, and talented. We’ve got speed and we’ve got power. We’ve got offense and we’ve got defense. In the long run, we’ll be able to look at this as just one more year where we didn’t quite make it. Andy and Joe took a flyer on a loose canon and the kickback blew up the fort. So they ditched him and we move on. Five is hurt and if he doesn’t get it together we will not make the playoffs. Unless he can get his head on straight and the O-Line can keep it there, making the playoffs will barely be a blessing. But they are doing the right thing. We’ve all put a lot into this season and those before it. And it might be a tough summer, but next year we’ll get up and do it again. This had to happen, and if it costs us one year, it’ll be worth it when we finally bring home the hardware.

Monday, November 7

I WANNA FIESTA


Welcome back sports fans, I know it's been a while. I agree with most of what Hal just said although I might be slightly more pessimistic. I've been in Eagles denial for the past few weeks, not listening to 610, and spending as much time as possible in Happy Valley. So before I sit down and try to figure out what to do with my TO jersey, lets talk some State. Beaver stadium continues be filled at almost record capacity and the Lions continue to win. Unfortunately i wasn't there to witness the spanking of Wisonsin firsthand, but on the bright side was getting 6.50 an hour to watch (before taxes). Barring a disaster in two weeks against the Spartans, the Nittany Lions are BCS bowl bound. To be honest i have no clue how they figure out who play's who in bowl games. All I know is that we are going to win the Big Ten and not play in Rose Bowl, and that even if we had beaten Michigan we still wouldn't have a chance at a National Title. The Eagles might be in mire and muck right now, but if they win out they get that Lombardi trophy. Penn State could have won every single game this year, including it's bowl game and we'd never know if they could beat Texas or USC. From what i can tell, we will end up playing Miami or Notre Dame. I don't think either team has anything for our defense and I'm already looking for tickets to Tempe to watch the beatdown personally.

P.S. Ryan Howard won Rookie of the year for the NL, Akers is signed through 2010, and if you have a creative solution to my TO jersey problem I'd love to hear about it.

Time to Make Some Lemonade


Four and Four. The first half is over. There’s nothing to do but forget about what happened, and look forward to the next eight games. And although we looked awful tonight, and although it seems like there’s no light at the end of the tunnel, all is not lost.

Moving forward, we have a couple things going for us. First off, try and forget the botched fake snap, the inability to beat the blitz, and the game-ending interception. He did move well tonight, didn’t he? Isn’t that worth cracking a smile over? He was more or less accurate, and it if he could cut down the lawnmower passes and the passes into double coverage maybe he can do a little damage. Maybe? Just a little?

And perhaps the defense could step it up a little. A couple tackles from Lito; a sack from Trotter, who knows? Anything could happen. Hey, maybe the coverage teams will make a play before the 30, and maybe the refs won’t blow five calls every night.

While there are a lot of maybes floating around, here are six mortal locks for the next eight games.

1. Five of them are at home. There’s no place like home. Even if the fans are calling for Koy, and it’s 35 degrees out with a windchill of 14, at least you slept in your bed and drove your car to work.

2. The Green Bay Packers are terrible. I’ve watched them. You’ve watched them. This point is beyond debate.

3. The Arizona Cardinals are really terrible. Anytime you’re playing a platoon at QB with Josh McCown and Kurt Warner, you have problems that aren’t getting solved.

4. The Rams are the Rams. Mike Martz or no Mike Martz, you just can’t lose to these guys. It can’t happen

5. We play the Seahawks on Monday night, at home. I haven’t figured out how we’re gonna beat them, but it’s a fact that this game will happen. That much I am certain of.

6. We are not getting swept by the NFC East one year after sweeping the NFC East. It can’t happen and it won’t happen. At this point it looks bad, but we’ll figure one of the three teams out at least once. I hope it’s the Cowboys. I really do.

So if we don’t beat ourselves against Green Bay, Arizona, St. Louis, and Seattle, and we win two of the four remaining division games, well that’s 10-6. I remember a time when 10-6 was a parade record. There are 25+ teams in this league that would kill for ten wins. So put down your silk robe and crumpets and quit acting like a bunch of spoiled brat fans. We’re still gonna make the playoffs, we’re gonna beat some lousy teams, and as I said a long time ago, we only have to beat one team from the AFC to take home the trophy.

Sunday, November 6

T.O. Flash

News is circulating that T.O. has not been suspended, Andy has chosen to "keep his options open" and has him listed as inactive. This seems important, but at this point I don't see how anyone can take either of them seriously.

One In, One Out


The wheels keep turning down at the NovaCare complex, as a multi-altercation week led to the departure of Terell Eldorado Owens. Owens definitely said we'd be better off with Brett Favre and called the organization "classless," and reportedly exchanged blows with Hugh Douglas before challenging anyone else in the building who wanted a piece. His grandma then quickly got his bottle to him and was able to diffuse the situation.

It's not hard to tell that we're a better team with him, and that we'll suffer in his absence, but it was to the point where it was to costly to have him around. Especially in a season where the gameplan is coming under weekly scrutiny, King Andy could not afford to have a malcontent on his side of the fence. It would be a strech at this point to expect Owens to step on the field as an Eagle again.

In another suprise move, management finally wrapped up Westrbrook with a 5 year $25 million contract. It's about time will be the rallying cry on this occassion. Happy as I am with keeping Brian, by most accounts the key to our offense, I am just as happy to see the shift in NFL thinking. Pro halfbacks can no longer be measured by carries and rushing yards, and Westbrook is a player who can usher in the era of touches and yards from scrimmage. Even if you think he got overpaid, have fun coloring in the picture.

And the best news of the day is that tonight's Eagles game will be broadcast on ABC, which means we should be able to avoid 3+ hours of Theismann, Maguire, and Patrick. Now all we have to worry about is winning the game.

Friday, November 4

Can't Get Enough Gotta Have it: Once You Pop...


We all know that every touchdown begins with T.O., but who knew that every tailgate can begin the same way. These peanuts are guaranteed to outperform their contract and verbally embarrass any other snacks you bring along. Also, if they reach any peanut milestones (most consecutive seasons with superior flavor, highest honey per nut, etc.) they will lash out at the team and then recind their comments later in the day. These nuts were upgraded to questionable earlier in the week when the bratwurst missed practice with a rib contusion. Click here for the peanut brittle, Josh.

Gotta Have It: 4 Long Years


Or six if you want to go for the masters. You'll have to sign up for the PhD program if you want to learn anything about running the ball, a topic not covered in Andy's seminar series. Short passes and diffusing emotional timebombs are discussed in minute detail. The scary part is that this diploma is better looking than the one NYU gave me, although it does lack a little substance.

Thursday, November 3

It Was a Graveyard Smash


I don't like to post links too often, but just in case you haven't seen Mike Tyson and Bobby Brown singing "Monster Mash," well, here you go. I think the dancing really puts it over the top. It's not too often that you see the lead singer overshadowed by the backup, but it's also not that often that you see Mike Tyson dressed up like Eddie Munster, either.

Golden Showers Bring Dead Flowers

Here's an award you never saw coming for Bobby "Analog" Abreu: a gold glove. Go ahead, admire the marvelous luster. Word is that after Andruw Jones and Jim Edmonds were given their annual trophy, the voters put their heads together for long enough to come up with this sterling choice, which comes as a complete joke to anyone who watches Bobby misjudge balls off the wall and lose them in the sun on a daily basis. Today's Inquirer reports that "some managers and coaches who vote on the awards do so based on offensive performance," which is a terrible excuse, but brings a modicum of understanding to the situation. On the heels of Bobby's startling accolade, David Bell and Mike Lieberthal are neck and neck in the NL "Clutch Contributor" award voting.

Tuesday, November 1

Half Full: Sailing With Magellan


We're through week 8 in the NFL, so who’s ready for the 2005-2006 National Whistleball Association season! Before getting into the Sixers’ shot at the Larry O’Brien Trophy, let me take some a couple minutes to explain the history and rules of the fine sport which we are all set to enjoy.

Over the past decade, it has become evident to the NBA bigwigs that the average player has become far more athletic and degrees of magnitude stronger than the men for whom Dr. James Naismith created the game. Coupled with the growing disinterest in defense that is prevalent in all major American sports save NASCAR (where contact is fully encouraged and embraced by my account), the game of basketball at the professional level has become an offensive spectacle which David Stern and Co. have deemed “too entertaining” for the average fan.

In order that Joe Everyman should be able to enjoy the game and not feel bad about the fact that he himself has no interest in defense, the NBA brass has decided that they should put three teams on the court at a time. Said third team should consist of obnoxious older men of poor eyesight and medium to fair athletic ability who will wear uniforms consisting of black and white vertical stripes. Since these men would have trouble gaining control of ten other, much larger men, they are given noisemaking devices which they can use to stop the game at any juncture they deem necessary.

Which brings us to the present-day game, controlled not by the athletes themselves, but by men who can do a much more satisfactory job in controlling the outcome of the game to assure results which will please the NBA marketing department.

A couple brief thoughts on the Sixers, I think they’re the fourth best team in the conference, behind the Heat, Pistons, and Pacers, which makes them the #3 seed in the East. This will rely on the performance of two players, Chris Webber and Andre Iguodala. As long as Andre stayed in the gym and Chris stayed out of it, we should be in pretty good shape to take control of the game’s weakest division. Please disregard every nice thing I have ever said about our team if Andrew Bogut puts 20 and 10 on us tonight.

Note: As i was finishing this post, Iverson drew the first whistle of the season, 44 seconds into the game.

Half Empty: Oh Sixers...what will happen this year?


So tonight begins another baskeball season. We all know the NBA is only a shell of what it once was; there's no more Jordan, there's no more Bird, and hell....there's no more Vlade. It's a league of one on one players, and it seems like outside of Phantom of the Palace Rip Hamilton, no one can make a jumper. The Sixers made the playoffs last year behind more heroics from AI, but were vanquished in the first round by the defending champs. No one was too surprised, and when the Pistons went deep into the playoffs for the second straight year, Sixers fans chalked up our poor performance to a tough draw. So the offseason began. Jimmy O gets thrown out with the bathwater, even though the Sixers are now currently still paying off the contracts from our previous 38 coaches. In comes Mo Cheeks. Legend. Jersey up in the rafters. Fan Favorite. So what's in store for AI and the gang this year?

First thing to consider...has the Atlantic division gotten any stronger? Hardly. New Jersey might benefit from having Vincanity all season long, but then again they might be hurt by having him all season long. Have the Sixers gotten any stronger? Well they have a new and assumedly better coach. AI and Webber should have had some time to mesh a little more, in addition to Webber meshing with the rest of the team as well. They added Michael Bradley, Steven Hunter, and a couple rookies. So really the biggest change is in the coach. The rest of the Eastern Conference hasn't changed too drastically either, so it should play out fairly similarly. AI is a year older...maybe not so durable anymore, and obviously the same with Webber. I think he's going to be forced to miss more games than ever before, and the Sixers will clearly suffer for it. Look for a bigger contribution from the bench (including Korver), but not enough scoring outside of AI to present a real threat to any good team. They'll make the playoffs, but unless this team gels in a way that they haven't for the past two seasons, get ready for another early exit.

Off to the land of the Rising Sun


So tomorrow morning I leave for, that's right, Japan. While I'm going for musical reasons, I plan to come back with a full report on what I can glean from Japanese sports culture. It's a shame baseball isn't being played right now (although maybe things are backwards there and the season is just starting), because I'd love to see fans going crazy for baseball like it was Liverpool versus Madrid in the Champion's League. I do plan on buying some sweet Japanese baseball gear though, maybe a new glove, maybe some jerseys, you know....whatever I can afford. So nothing of course. Other than the obvious culture shock, what do you think I should expect from Japan? A land famous for weird fetishes, extreme politeness, and total respect for men with sweet beards like myself. Really when it comes down to it, I have not a damn clue.

The Energizer Donnie


He keeps throwing, and throwing and throwing...

Let's get ahead of ourselves a little bit and jump right to the start of the fourth quarter. Eagles are driving, down 28-21. They have just dealt Denver their third straight three and out, running the ball on only three of their nine plays. It's starting to rain. At this point you would be crazy to think Denver could come out of this one alive. They had blown two straight fourth quarter leads, and we've got the ball at their 44. I proudly pronounce that the game is in Five's hands. And we keep throwing, and throwing, and throwing. The breaks start going our way, as Shanahan loses his first challenge of the game. And here's where it all falls apart.

Donovan drops back, sees man coverage over the middle, where Reggie Brown has gained position on rookie CB Domonique Foxworth. He puts it up, and it's complete, only to the wrong player. Three minutes later, touchdown. Another three minutes, touchdown. Six more minutes, touchdown. Game over.

The loss was tough, but this was a game we could afford to lose. Overall we went 3-1 against the AFC West, although it felt a lot closer to 1-3, and we were behind in fourth quarter against all four teams except KC, where we were down 11 at the half and square after 3. And I've always said that if you're gonna lose a game, this is the way to lose it. Get blown out. Get humiliated. Have something to prove. It's nice to squeak out a few wins where we get lucky, but I'll take a loss like this over a last second field goal any Sunday. Would you rather have a girl lead you on all night, ordering $8 cocktails, staying close by your side, and then skirting out when the bar closes in some dude’s Benz SL, or have her just throw a drink in your face at eleven, giving you three solid hours to rebound?

But the loss wasn’t the scary part. What got me was that Donnie looked good for a while. He danced a bit, hit a few guys in stride (don’t forget about Greg Lewis’ drop), and scampered for a first down to keep a drive alive. We all assumed that Donnie’s not himself right now, and he’s fighting through and trying to make the best of a ghastly situation. Well, what if he is himself? What if he’s gotten used to the pain, understands his slight limitations, and still just can’t get the job done? The last thing this team can afford is for 5 to lose the respect of his teammates. What was once unthinkable, is now looming on the horizon. These guys are not happy, and they are not battling the situation in a constructive manner. I know I don’t have much to go on, but shots of the bench show players sitting alone, or visibly complaining. How much longer can it go on?

Here’s the next scary part. One team from the NFC North and one from the West have to make the playoffs. It’s a rule. It’s terrible. If the Bears don’t come out of the North I won’t even know which way is up. And the thought of Seattle dropping passes all through the playoffs again is mortifying. What this means is that the top two teams in the East and South are in almost regardless of their record. And if we don’t get our act together, we’re in prime position to miss the boat to Detroit.

And here's the scariest part. Andy is moving closer and closer towards Martyland. Fanstatic Monday-Saturday coach, but watching him on Sunday is about as fun as trying to get an ocelot to mate with Cher. You couldn't ask for a better break than to have the best WR in the league matched up with a CB playing with a dislocated shoulder and a bum hammy. They finally made it happen, turning a quick hitch into a 91-yard trip to the endzone, but it was more of a "where was that play all game" than a "he's got it figured out now" situation. I guess the lesson is, if it looks like a stubborn guy with a mustache and a playbook, and it acts like a stubborn guy with a playbook....