Inside the Ravens with Aaron Wilson

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


How sweet it is to get a little redemption after last season’s embarrassing 0-3 showing against the cowgirls? The Eagles defense was a little concerning for me and I’ll get to that but let’s start with Dallas’ complete inability to cover DeSean Jackson and stop LeSean McCoy.

DeSean Jackson’s 210 yard receiving performance had those rednecks on their heels all night. During one of my every other Saturday guest appearances on ESPN Radio South Jersey 97.3’s The Tyrone Johnson Show, Tyrone asked me how the Eagles could get DeSean Jackson back involved with this offense.

I had told him Dallas’ secondary is weak and the Eagles would go deep to DeSean on the first play of the game. Well for those of you who listened in and heard that, WALA! Two hundred ten yards later, 91 of which was delivered on one explosive play in the 4th quarter capped off what in my opinion was a beautiful display of show boating to rub salt in an already open wound.

For all intents and purposes the game was over after DeSean took the Nestea plunge into the Cowboys end zone.

The 91 yard scamper wasn’t without its challenges since Jackson is nursing an ankle injury. After the game DeSean was asked about the ankle and said that it was at 60% during the big touchdown run.

Yet another middle finger pointed straight at Dallas and I love every second of it.

Take LeSean McCoys 149 yards rushing, half of which were on the Birds’ final four minute clock killing drive and the cowgirls had lost all control over that game.

LeSean McCoy has really impressed me this season with the way he has turned himself into an every down back with the ability to hit the hole hard and fast. He really seems to be the engine that makes this team go.

Just when the offense seemed to be starting to flat line in the second half Shady broke a 56 yard run that reignited this offense into the machine they have been all season. Much like the 50 yard touchdown run he had against the Giants three weeks ago.

This type of production out of the second year back shows how much he has matured over his short time in the NFL and has no problem filling the large shoes Brian Westbrook has left behind. Michael Vick has to be thrilled to know that he has a nail driver like Shady McCoy that can carve up a Dallas defense and eat up the clock.

With all the stuff Michael Vick has to smile about right now I’m sure it’s nice to have a distraction from the lack attention he’s getting from not only the referee’s but also the league.

Last night DeMarcus Ware hit him helmet-to-helmet from his blind which sandwiched him into another helmet-to-helmet hit from his other side. What happened after the play? Nothing! Any fines handed out today? Nope! Of course Mr. Goodell was working today levying a fine to the Jets’ Sal Alosi. Let’s hope he was just too busy with how stupid Sal Alosi is for tripping Miami Dolphins player Nolan Carroll from the sideline.

We haven’t gotten there yet but Sal you definitely earned an honorable mention, C’mon SON!

If Roger Goodell doesn’t fine DeMarcus Ware for that hit and Anthony Spencer for the late hit also on Michael Vick tossing him into his own bench after he had already stepped out of bounds which also went without a penalty being called, Eagles24x7 is going to organize a trip to Goodell’s office so we can all collectively scream C’mon SON! and fart into his coffee!

Both of those plays were a disgrace! The NFL has turned this defenseless player call into a pathetic and highly inconsistent witch hunt. It is pretty clear that the league employs a collection of lame ass empty suit Goodell suck-ups who cannot be objective about Vick and his checkered past.

So there you have it Eagles fans, my “Ed Lover C’mon SON!” of The Week goes to the NFL’s front office and referee’s.

Get your heads out of your asses and start paying attention to what’s happening on the field. You’re being paid a handsome salary to call these games in an honest and fair matter and you morons are about as objective as that Philadelphia hating retard Chris Chase.

C’mon SON! Do your job!

Finally let me touch on the defense quickly because it is an area of concern…

Now they did enough to win but I’m sick of teams making John Kitna look good. He’s a hair away from having an AARP card accompanying his NFL players card and that hair is about the only one he has left. Someone get in there and embarrass him the last week of the season please. He’s a backup who only had a starting job in Detroit because it was Detroit and they couldn’t buy a winning season.

The Eagles losing Stewart Bradley for potentially the season and Brandon Graham definitely for the season certainly won’t help to the addition of the numerous injuries this team has suffered. Sean McDermont must find a way to not only tighten up this red zone defense which is the NFL’s worst but also do a better job of getting off the field on third down.

I’m not saying the defense did a bad job but this is Dallas.

I want to see a blood bath massacre!

Good enough against the Cowboys, well just isn’t good enough for me.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Redskins taken to woodshed!

Monday Night Football, the rematch of McNabb vs. Vick had a severely different outcome than their first meeting this season which was richly fulfilling on a few different fronts.

First, it’s always nice to smash a division rival in the mouth especially in the McNabb Bowl. Second, our boys in midnight green are now tied for first place in the division with the Ginas one week before the Eagles play them Sunday night. And lastly, our good Eagle hating friend Chris Chase is also a Washington fan and attended that massacre on Monday night – BEAUTIFUL!

Of course he had to make an excuse for his Redskin faithful saying “I’d rather be blown out like that then lose a close game because at least I won’t care tomorrow”.
C’mon Chris, C’mon SON!

You didn’t care one day after the Eagles broke record after record in an embarrassing melt down performance by your group of losers? You know damn well your skin was crawling from the second DeSean Jackson went all 88 yards on the very first play of them game and still is you poser!

Can we talk about these numbers?

Jerome Harrison, 11 carries for 109 yards and a touchdown. DeSean Jackson, 2 receptions for 98 yards and a touchdown. Honorable receiving mentions: Jeremy Maclin, Jason Avant and LeSean McCoy all had over 50 yards and a touchdown. Finally, our MVP candidate Michael Vick. Michael Vick’s mind blowing night was hands down the best and most electrifying solo performance I have ever seen in my life to date: 20/28 for 333 yards, 4 touchdowns, 80 yards rushing on 8 carries and 2 touchdowns on the ground and still ZERO INTERCEPTIONS.

Absolutely unheard of! Michael Vick is playing out of his mind right now and is going to be a problem for every single defense in this league. Which brings me to this Sunday…Time to strap in and buckle your seat belts because we are in for a big time game against the Giants.

Last season this would have been a landslide victory but this is a new year. I’ll be honest, preseason the Giants were without question my favorite to come in last in the division. But with the resurgence of New York’s defense and Hakeem Nicks emerging into a literal monster I am certainly foot-in-mouth singing a different tune.

The Eagles and the Giants are very similar in several areas except one. Anyone want to guess what that one exception is?

This would be an evenly matched game considering the two young, explosive receiving corps; a talented running back capable of breaking a big run; and a fast defense that is developing chemistry with ball hawk tendencies.

Obviously the line here is the theme of this story. Michael Vick will outplay Fredo Manning 100 times out of 100. That being said my prediction for Sunday night is no surprise. Michael Vick leads the Birds offense to outscore the Giants 38-27. Take it to the bank Eagles fans, Eagles and the over!

Finally, I have my “Ed Lover C’mon SON! Of The Week”:

This is definitely my most obscure “C’mon SON!” yet and the truth be told, I just don’t have anyone else to give it to after Monday night’s OUTSTANDING performance.
So with that said, this week’s “C’mon SON!” goes to me, myself and I.

Last week in fantasy for some stupid reason I started the Chiefs defense against Denver who ended up scoring me minus ten points and I ended up losing by nine points overall. Had they just scored zero points I would have won by a point so Pete Visalli, “C’mon SON!”

Why do you even have the Chiefs defense on your team dummy?!?!

Monday, November 8, 2010




Michael Vick’s performance on Sunday vs. the Colts is significant of a Quarterback undergoing a positive transformation. From my perspective, it was never about Vick being a run-first or pass-first Quarterback, but rather the path to Vick’s NFL success was/is a perfect marriage of Vick’s abilities and an Offensive system, strategy, and play-calling rhythm that help him to find efficiency and greatness – all while keeping him injury-free. Withholding judgment re: the injury piece of the puzzle, the Eagles and Vick in 2010 are moving toward the best Vick can be.

At a minimum, credit Vick for this: whatever he was able to accomplish vs. the Colts in the passing game, he did so despite limited receiving options. The Eagles regularly used 6-man protection, with the fourth receiver often briefly checking for protection help before releasing. The Colts made this scenario more difficult for Vick by rushing only four defenders on nearly all pass plays and playing a mix of zone/man/combination coverages in the secondary.

Vick is clearly at his best in the pass game when sprinting to his left or taking very deep drops. Marty Mornhinweg/Andy Reid appear to believe this and vs. the Colts called plays that put Vick in a position to place defenders in a bind and/or were designed to give Vick ample time to make choices.

What Vick lacks in polished throwing mechanics and footwork is, at least partially, made up for through his superior arm strength. There are clearly some things Vick could do to become a more technically sound passer, but the need for that is somewhat masked by the velocity and tightness of so many of the balls he threw vs. the Colts.

The deep pass to DeSean Jackson on 3rd& 7 from the Eagles’ 4 yard line during the 1st Quarter was thrown to a two-deep shell, with underneath man coverage – and was thrown perfectly. Michael Vick is not yet elite by NFL standards, but is becoming a different Quarterback. He is developing an appreciation for angles in the passing game, acknowledging the value of protecting himself physically, and gaining a clearer understanding of the pro game and his place in it.


Vick has shown a much-improved ability to see the whole field, and did on one occasion complete an intermediate-level pass after recognizing 7 defenders near the LOS, pre-snap. Work remains in this area for Vick, however, as he also demonstrated a willingness to “give up” on crossing routes early when he had decent protection - see 3rd& Goal midway through the 2nd quarter - choosing instead to run the ball.

An area for continued improvement for Vick will be his tendency to lock in on an intended target too long after deciding to throw the ball. The good news is that this is a different issue from those Quarterbacks that insist on waiting too long for their favorite WR to get open. Vick simply needs to trust his decisions and throw the ball sooner. Vick and the Eagles almost paid for his failure to do so on 2 & 10 with 10 minutes left in the 4th Quarter, when the quarterback locked on to Jeremy Maclin and misfired badly on a ball almost intercepted by Colts’ LB Philip Wheeler.


Physically, Vick looked the best he has since his return to the NFL, in terms of running ability – his legs were live. His ability to escape pressure allowed him to avoid sacks.Vick demonstrated the maturation that he has experienced when, on the Eagles’ first possession of the 2nd Quarter (3rd& 9 from the Eagles’ 33), he recognized (pre-snap, I believe) 7 Colts defenders at the LOS with two deep Safeties. After allowing a pass rush pocket to develop, Vick stepped up and ran left-to-right through the vacated LB-depth area and out of bounds for a 24 yard gain. Mission accomplished: 1st down gained, Quarterback untouched and healthy, and the seed planted in the minds of the Indianapolis secondary that they must help in run support, as Vick is still a threat to take off at any moment.

Also worth mentioning vs. the Colts was Vick’s reaction to the only full blitz action he saw all day. On 3rd& 4 at the 50 yard line late in the 3rd Quarter, the Colts showed a 7-man pass rush vs. a 7-man protection scheme. Vick dropped and quickly saw a huge running lane to his left, which he attacked for a 32 yard gain.


This is Vick’s most pressing area in which he can improve. He showed some flashes of great precision (see his TD pass), but was also inconsistent. The quarterback floated several balls, and was simply off-target on a couple of others, including a stay/stop route to DeSean Jackson on 2nd& G from the Colts’ 7 midway through the 2nd Quarter. The Eagles had the play blocked on the edge, but because of the throw’s location (low) Jackson had to reverse field, resulting in a loss of 7 yards.


Overall, a pretty solid area for Vick vs. the Colts. Vick was wise in not forcing balls against a defense that routinely dropped 7 defenders in coverage. The quarterback had a couple of throwaway balls and escaped pressure via the run on several plays.

Vick’s only error in decision-making with game-changing implications was the near-interception thrown to Gary Brackett on a screen pass on the last play of the 3rd Quarter.


-Despite the added pass protection on Sunday, Vick too often was flushed from the pocket and forced to make plays on the run or throw the ball away.
-Vick is such a threat to run the ball, he would be wise to carry out backside fakes after handing the ball off in the run game. His presence alone away from a play can slow down pursuit by backside LB’s and Safeties.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

"THE" Philadelphia Eagles Phone App is here!!!

We are so pleased to introduce to you our free Philadelphia Eagles Fan Zone phone app for Droid users. Our goal in creating this app with the very capable guidance from our web developer D3 Corp was to provide Eagles fans with a portable tool that will allow them to stay in touch with the Eagles at all times. We also designed it to help our customers promote their businesses in a state-of-the-art way.

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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

One that got away, way away...

This game was there for the taking. It was in their mitts. Cruising along at 16-7 midway through the third quarter, the Eagles were on the Titans 3 yard line and ready to pop in another touchdown when suddenly the game changed for the worse.

Instead of holding a 23-7 advantage over the Titans and keeping momentum squarely with the boys in green, it happened. A bad exchange between Kevin Kolb and LeSean McCoy caused by penetration from the Titans Jason Jones and the Titans not only recovered the football but gained a shot in the arm they surely needed.

From there on out, it was an unmitigated disaster.

The Titans went on to outscore the Eagles 30-3 as the Birds had zero answers for the Titans offense the rest of the way. The Titans went on to a 37-19 victory. This was one that got away.

Goodbye 5-2 record before the bye.

Goodbye any chance Andy Reid had of finally beating Jeff Fisher, who now is 4-0 lifetime versus Reid.

For what it's worth, the Eagles under Reid just can't seem to beat tough AFC opponents, especially on the road. The Titans on the other had have now won 12 straight against the NFC, after pounding the Eagles in the fourth quarter for 27 points.

Reid of course offered up what we all were thinking in his post game press conference.

"You can't give good teams an opportunity to survive when you have their back against the wall, and we did that."

And while the fumbled exchange was certainly the turning point in this devastating loss, it wasn't the main reason the Birds are headed into the bye at 4-3. In fact, if you look inside the game, you'll find three examples that seem to rear their heads in each and every loss under Reid; penalties, turnovers, and red zone efficiency.

Once again penalties stopped the Eagles in their tracks. In all ten penalties for 100yards either contributed to stalled drives or momentum changes, including three more holding calls.

Kicker David Akers had a solid bounce back day, banging four field goals but what the Eagles needed were touchdowns, especially inside the 20. The Birds were 1 for 4 in the red zone and again failed to convert their opportunities while knocking on their opponent’s door.

And lastly, the Eagles committed four turnovers which Tennessee converted into 24 points. The Eagles meanwhile turned two Titans miscues into zero points.

Not exactly a recipe for winning, but one for disaster.

And oh by the way, the Eagles secondary had one of their worst performances of the season, allowing Titans wide receiver Kenny Britt to morph into Jerry Rice , torching them for 225 yards and three scores.

"You have to eliminate mistakes and overcome mistakes, and these are things we will learn from." Reid said.

They'd better.

It doesn't get any easier for the Birds. After the bye, the Eagles welcome Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts, another AFC foe Reid is winless against in his 12year tenure in Philadelphia.

Enjoy the bye.

Eagles Notes: The Aftermath, Birds @ Titans

· S Quintin Mikell registered his first interception of the season and also contributed a sack and forced fumble which was recovered by DE Juqua Parker. It was Mikell’s first-ever game with a sack and interception … The last Eagles defensive back with a sack, interception and forced fumble in the same game was Brian Dawkins on 9/12/05 at Atlanta … Mikell became the 10th different Eagles player to record a sack this season and the seventh with an interception.

· DT Antonio Dixon had his second sack in the last three games, extending Philadelphia’s streak to 26 consecutive games with at least one sack, which is the second-longest in the NFL (Pittsburgh – 30) and the longest by an Eagles team since a 30-game streak from 9/14/03 to 12/27/04 … DE Trent Cole also registered his sixth sack of the season and the 53rd of his career. He trails Reggie White (124.0), Clyde Simmons (76.5), and Hugh Douglas (54.5) on the team’s all-time list.

· The Eagles have held their opponents to 75 or fewer rushing yards in each of the last three games, their first time doing so in three consecutive games since the first three of the 2008 season. They held Chris Johnson, Michael Turner, and Frank Gore to a combined 163 yards in those games (54.3 average), and have not allowed a 100-yard rusher all season.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Birds have tough task in Music City


Who: Eagles vs. Tennessee Titans

What: Week 7 between an Eagles team, at 4-2, tied for first place in the NFC East and a 4-2 Titans team tied for first in the AFC South.

When: Sunday, 1 p.m.

Where: LP Field, Nashville, Tenn.

Line: Tennessee by 3

Last Week: Eagles beat Atlanta, 31-17, for their second straight win with Kevin Kolb in place of an injured Mike Vick at quarterback. Kolb played his best game yet as an Eagle with a 133.6 quarterback rating. Wide receiver Jeremy Maclin also had a big game with seven catches for 159 yards and two touchdowns.

Tennessee beat division rival Jacksonville, 30-3 on the road and on Monday Night Football for its second straight win as well. Veteran quarterback Kerry Collins came off the bench for an injured Vince Young. The Titans are already 2-0 against the NFC East this year with wins over Dallas and New York.

Next Week: Eagles will enjoy their bye week. Tennessee will travel to San Diego.

Series Record: The Eagles lead 6-3, but have lost three straight in the series after winning the first six games ever played in the rivalry. Andy Reid is 0-3 against Jeff Fisher.


CONTAIN CHRIS JOHNSON: Nearly every Eagle to a man called Johnson the best back in the NFL. The Eagles have done a nice job the past two weeks against good backs in San Francisco’s Frank Gore and Atlanta’s Michael Turner. Neither was a factor in the game. Johnson will be in some way. The Titans, no matter the score, or the situation, will get him the ball. The Eagles have to find a way to not let him dominate.

RUN THE BALL: The best way to stop Johnson is to keep him on the sideline. The Eagles offense needs to have long, ball-controlled drives that eat up the clock, and at the same time keep an aggressive, pass-rushing Titans defense honest. Tennessee is better against the run (8th) than it is against the pass (23rd), which is going to tempt Andy Reid all day, but he can’t get pass happy or it could be a long day on both sides of the ball.

WIN THE TURNOVER BATTLE: Both defenses thrive on sacks and turnovers. The Eagles have a combined 31 of both (18 sacks, 13 turnovers), fourth best in the league and Tennessee has 38, the most in the league. Suffice it to say, the team that can hold on to the ball, or force the other team into mistakes is going to have huge advantage.

FIELD POSITION: Tennessee’s rookie returnman Marc Mariani has had a good six games. He’s averaging 28.0 on kickoff returns and 10.3 on punt returns, both rank in the top 10 in the league. The Eagles do not want to allow any long returns and give the Titans offense a short field. On the other side, the Titans have been excellent in punt coverage (5.3 yards allowed), but can be beat in kickoff coverage (27.1). Rookie Jordan Calvin gets the call on returns.

NEXT WEEK IS THE BYE: The Eagles went through a horrible stretch from 2001-07 where they went 1-6 the week before the bye, perhaps thinking the bye was a week early. The past two years they turned it around and won the week before the bye. Against a good Titans team they need to stay focused.

PREDICTION: Over the past 10 years, Tennessee is 30-10 against the NFC and 9-3 against the NFC East. This is a tough spot for the Eagles.

Tennessee 23, Eagles 16

Seven for Sunday: Eagles @ Titans Preview

Kevin Kolb was named the NFC player of the month. Of course with that honor, the question Eagles fans have been debating all week is should he remain the starter even when Mike Vick is healthy enough to return.


· Kolb completed 23-of-29 passes (79.3 percent) for 326 yards with three touchdowns and one interception for a 133.6 passer rating in the Eagles' 31-17 victory over Atlanta.

· He set single-game career-highs in completion percentage (79.3), passer rating (133.6), yards per attempt (11.24), touchdowns (three) and longest pass (83 yards).

· In his first five career starts, Kolb has three 300-yard passing games and became the first quarterback to accomplish the feat since Kurt Warner (1999).

· He threw touchdown passes of 83, 34 and eight yards, connecting with wide receiver Jeremy Maclin twice and DeSean Jackson once.

· In his fourth season, this is Kolb's second player of the week award (Week 3, 2009)

· He is the third quarterback in team history to be names Offensive player of the week multiple times, joining Donovan McNabb (five times) and Randall Cunningham (four).

Take all that into consideration and realize that we had the same debate about Vick, he posted two really impressive games and had the support of many Eagles fans around the Delaware Valley.

So how did Head Coach Andy Reid sum up the controversy?"There's no conflict between the two or worry between the two right now," Reid stated. "He's just trying to get himself healthy."“Right now”, interesting choice of words…

Remember back when Reid had said Donovan McNabb was the quarterback during the offseason; remember when he said Kevin Kolb is the starting quarterback and then switched to Vick - right now, if I'm Vick, I'm not sure I fell to comfortable - time will tell.

So is there a chance Kolb can win the position, by playing well right now?

"I haven't even thought about that" Reid said. "We're worried about Tennessee right now and we're not worried about starting jobs. You guys can worry about all that. We're worried right now about trying to put together a game plan, learn the game plan and execute the game plan. That's what I think Kevin is focused in on, that's what we're focused in on as coaches. I haven't thought about all that other stuff."

I think this time around, Vick stays on as the starter, but the plot will thicken that's for sure with every Kolb outing. Here are seven for Sunday, the seven key issues for this week's game:

1. What offensive line shows up? - The Eagles line played its best game of the season in the win over the Falcons. Atlanta has a pretty good pass rush, but the Titans present more challenges then the Falcons do up front.

King Dunlap exceeded all expectations filling in for Jason Peters at left-tackle and the rest of the line showed that there is some reason for hope that they can become a serviceable line. The Titans have 24 sacks already in just six games, the Eagles have been known to give up a few, including 20 so far this season, second highest in the league.

2. Old faces, new places - The Titans defense features a couple of former Eagles who have excelled in their brief stint with the Titans. Linebacker Will Witherspoon and defensive end Jason Babin have helped energize the Titan pass rush. Witherspoon already has three sacks in just six games and Babin has registered six sacks.

3. On the Road...Again - The Eagles are a young team, the average age is just 24 years old. However, that hasn't prevented them from playing well away from their nest. The young Eagles are 3-0 on the road, with Kevin Kolb at quarterback they are 1-0 (at San Francisco). Tennessee is similar to the Eagles; they have struggled in the Music City, but are 3-0 on the road this year. Both teams have the co-lead in their division with 4-2 records, but if they want to be taken serious, they need to start winning on their home field.

4. NFC...Least? - The Eagles reside in the NFC and the Titans have dominated the conference with such ease over their last 11 games. The Titans have won 11 in a row over NFC foes, including wins already this year over Dallas and the Giants. The last time the Titans lost to an NFC team, was 2007 when they lost to Tampa Bay. The Eagles have struggled against AFC teams during the Andy Reid era, is it time for something to give here?

5. Musical City QB's - The Eagles have gone from Kolb to Vick then back to Kolb and at some point, they will probably go back to Vick. On the Titans sideline, their quarterback spot is still up in the air for week seven. Starter Vince Young has knee and ankle problems and hasn't practiced at time of print. Kerry Collins entered the game last week and lead the Titans to a 30-3 win over Jacksonville, while Collins is an experienced veteran leader, he will make some bad throws, with 187 career interceptions.

6. Injuries catching up? - The Eagles have won games without the services of starting fullback Leonard Weaver, starting center Jamal Jackson, starting left tackle Jason Peters, starting defensive tackle Broderick Bunkley and their starting quarterbacks, both Kolb and Vick on different occasions. Now they must play without their biggest play-maker in DeSean Jackson, who will miss this game with a concussion. The guys who will need to step up...Kolb, Jeremy Maclin, Jason Avant, Trevor Laws and once again this week; King Dunlap.

7. Johnson & McCoy - While it sounds like a good law firm, this should be a very exciting game to watch. With both teams having QB injuries and the Eagles having so many injuries up front, you could see a huge does to, two of the most dynamic running backs in the league. Chris Johnson is third in the league in rushing and has hit the 100-yard mark in three of his last four games. McCoy has done it via the ground and the air, he has totaled seven touchdowns already this season and 668 yards this season.

The back that has more of an impact could determine the outcome of this game. The Titans rank eighth in the league in stopping the run, while the Eagles rank 23rd in that category. Result - The Eagles have some injury problems and have many key players missing for this game. They are 3-0 on the road while the Titans are just 1-2 at home. Kevin Kolb and Kerry Collins, both back-up quarterbacks, are both very capable in the starting role. Chris Johnson is a tough assignment for any defense and Bo Scaife is a very serviceable tight end.

However, the Eagles might have two small insights on the Titans that could help them out – their names are Witherspoon and Babin. Both are key to the Titans pass rush and both are players the Eagles staff knows well. Could they be exploited just enough to give the Eagles another road win - I think so.

Eagles 25, Titans 21

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Rearview Mirror: Eagles v. Falcons

Observations From Sunday

It's no secret that the Eagles have been besieged by injuries this season. In the opener alone versus Green Bay the team suffered season ending losses to Center Jamal Jackson and Fullback Leonard Weaver. Quarterbacks Michael Vick and Kevin Kolb have both suffered injuries that have cost them to miss playing time. Stewart Bradley, Asante Samuel, Brodrick Bunkley, Jason Peters, the list goes on and on, but through it all, the Eagles have persevered, showing good depth and currently find themselves tied atop the NFC East with a 4-2 record.

However, this past Sunday, the team suffered a loss that will provide a new challenge in the depth department. The vicious and illegal hit on DeSean Jackson by the Falcons' Dunta Robinson, and subsequent concussion has now left a gaping hole in the heart and soul of this football team, and the Eagles are left missing a major cog in their offensive wheel.

With all due respect to wide-out Jeremy Maclin, who had a spectacular 159 yard, two touchdown performance on Sunday in Jackson's absence, the Eagles obviously become less dynamic at the wide receiver position, not to mention in the return game as well. Jackson not only produces statistically, but he also garners a consistent double team, freeing up another weapon somewhere along the Eagles' offensive attack. It goes without saying that this is a significant loss.

But as they have done at a variety of positions, the team must press on without a key member – a difficult task at hand with the schedule getting increasingly harder in the weeks to come.

It's amazing what a 21-0 lead will do for the confidence of a defense. A week after shutting down San Francisco's Frank Gore, the Birds limited the Falcons to just 65 yards on the ground. This unit has come a long away from the one that got gashed early on by Detroit's Jahvid Best. The Eagles were also able to get significant pressure on Falcons Quarterback Matt Ryan, providing the secondary with the opportunity to produce outstanding coverage.

Kevin Kolb was impressive yet again. He threw for 326 yards and set a career high with three touchdowns, including a career-long 83-yarder, on 23 of 29 passing (79.3%). It was Kolb’s second-straight victory and his third-career 300-yard game … In the four games Kolb has started and finished, he owns a 3-1 record and has thrown for 1,297 yards (324.3 per game) and eight touchdowns on 99 of 145 passing (68.3%) for a quarterback rating of 103.1. Kolb set career highs in completion percentage, quarterback rating (133.6), touchdowns, and longest pass. Not bad for a guy who many people wanted to give up on after a bad half of football in the season opener.

Eagles Notes

· DeSean Jackson scored on a 31-yard rush, the third of his career, and a 34-yard touchdown catch, the 14th of his career. Both scores came on the first two possessions, making him the first Eagle to ever score on a 30-plus yard rush and reception in the same quarter, according to the Elias Sports Bureau

· The Eagles have won four straight games against the Falcons and eight of their last nine dating back to 2000 … In their last two games against Atlanta, Philadelphia has won by a combined score of 65-24.

· The Eagles scored a touchdown on their opening drive for the third time this year, and the second game in a row. Since 2000, the Eagles are 35-9 when doing so.

· The Eagles have won 22 straight games when leading at half, which is the longest current streak in the NFL. Since 1999, the Eagles own an 90-14 record when ahead at the break.

· Stewart Bradley picked up his first sack of the season, becoming the ninth different player on the defense to bring down the opposing quarterback and extending Philadelphia’s streak to 25 consecutive games with at least one sack, which is the second-longest in the NFL (Pittsburgh – 29) and the longest by an Eagles team since a 30-game streak from 9/14/03 to 12/27/04.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Thanks Andy!

Now that it's week 3 it really wouldn't be a typical Eagles season after the way things went this off season without a little controversy.

Well here it is…

Andy Reid who has firmly stated several times that this is "Kevin Kolb's team" got a few good looks at Michael Vick on Sunday and on Tuesday at about 5:30 Michael Vick was named the starter of this team until further notice.

And I can't say I disagree.

Vick's last 6 quarters of football have been nothing less than the best football he may have ever played. Just when I was sure Andy Reid was heading straight for a "C'mon SON!" either he changed his mind or someone did it for him, but whoever it was THANK YOU!

Nothing against Kevin Kolb, but Michael Vick is clearly the Birds’ best chance to win.

This Sunday the Eagles hit the road and head south to Jacksonville and take on the 1-1 Jaguars. On paper this seems to be a lay up especially being a 3 point favorite on the road. However, last year’s recurring problem of having trouble covering tight ends has reared its ugly head again this year. Should we be worried about Mercedes Lewis? Let's hope not.

Stewart Bradley has been cleared to play and even though this defense has struggled they are still getting used to each other so it will be good to get Stew back out there. Let’s keep in mind that the Eagles have a rookie DE, a rookie FS, Ellis Hobbs starting for the first time, Stewart Bradley back after a year off and Ernie Sims learning a new system. These guys have barely gotten to know each other and everyone expects them to have chemistry right off the bat?

Luckily the Birds’ schedule the first half of the season isn't too rough so they have plenty of time to make their adjustments and tighten up the screws against teams like Detroit and Jacksonville before we see Tennessee and Indianapolis.

Which brings me to prediction time…

This Sunday look for Michael Vick to expose Jacksonville's weak secondary on his way to a 400 all purpose yards day and a 31-17 win.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Eagles Cutdown

By 6 p.m. Saturday, the Eagles, along with the other 31 teams in the NFL, must get their roster down to 53 players.

There are going to be some difficult decisions to be made, especially in the secondary and at linebacker.

Here’s one man’s guess as to who will be in and who will be out when the clock strikes 6, Saturday.

Quarterbacks (3) – This one is easy: Kevin Kolb, Mike Vick, Mike Kafka

Running Backs (4) – Could be a little tricky, but the guess is they go a little light here: LeSean McCoy, Mike Bell, Eldra Buckley, Leonard Weaver.

By cutting J.J. Arrington, the Eagles will get a sixth-round pick from Denver next year. Martell Mallett could be practice squad material.

Wide Receivers (5) –DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, Jason Avant, Riley Cooper, Hank Baskett

Baskett beats out Kelley Washington for the final spot. Chad Hall goes to the practice squad.

Tight Ends (3) – Brent Celek, Clay Harbor, Cornelius Ingram

Offensive Line (9) – Jason Peters, Todd Herremans, Jamaal Jackson, Stacy Andrews, Winston Justice, Nick Cole, Mike McGlynn, Austin Howard, King Dunlap

Dunlap, based on his upside gets the nod over veteran Max Jean-Gilles.

Defensive Ends (5) – Trent Cole, Brandon Graham, Juqua Parker, Daniel Te’o-Nesheim, Darryl Tapp

Newly-signed Pannell Egboh will be on the practice squad.

Defensive Tackles (4) – Mike Patterson, Brodrick Bunkley, Trevor Laws, Antonio Dixon

Seventh-round pick, Jeff Owens will be headed to the practice squad.

Linebackers (7) – Ernie Sims, Stewart Bradley, Akeem Jordan, Tracy White, Keenan Clayton, Jamar Chaney, Omar Gaither

The final two spots came down to the rookie Chaney, Gaither and Moise Fokou. It wouldn’t be a shock if Fokou beat out Gaither, but the guess here is still Gaither.

Secondary (9) – Asante Samuel, Ellis Hobbs, Quintin Mikell, Nate Allen, Joselio Hanson, Dimitri Patterson, Trevard Lindley, Kurt Coleman, Quintin Demps

Demps edges out Victor “Macho’’ Harris for the final spot. Cornerback Jorrick Calvin, acquired in a trade from Arizona, got a long look, Thursday night. He could take a spot away, but it’s more likely he goes on the practice squad to start the season.

Specialists (3) – David Akers, Sav Rocca, Jon Dorenbos

If you add it up, you’ll see there are only 52. Another guess here is the Eagles will trade for or claim either an offensive lineman, or a safety from another team for that 53rd spot.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


Can the youthful Birds dance in January?

Number 29, LeSean McCoy right?

Number 54, The Axe Man right?


Move aside veterans, wait what veterans? That's right everyone, it is the dawn of a new day. Bye bye McNabb, Westbrook, Brown and Trotter. Hello Kolb, McCoy, Allen and Sims.

Yes, it's only preseason but I don't have too many complaints. Nate Allen seems to be very smart and adapting to the NFL faster than any other rookie the birds have had.

And speaking of fast, Ernie Sims is hands down the fastest LB Andy Reid has ever coached in Philadelphia. Kevin Kolb is as accurate as promised and Shady McCoy has a year under his belt now and was by no means a disappointment last season.

Everything appears to be looking up, but the division winning Cowboys have improved. We are all very well aware of the moves the Skins have made. The Giants...... C'mon Son! You're bringing up the rear!

So, with the Cowboys and Redskins in a position to win the division where does that leave the Eagles?

In third?

Don't be so sure.

Obviously anything can happen however it is interesting to think about the significant upgrades the birds have made. Let's look at all the problems from last season. LB, Stewart Bradley appears to be healthy and looking good and Ernie Sims is here and has really made an impact in camp. S, Nate Allen, Anthony Scirrotto and Kurt Coleman aren't really proven in the NFL yet but have to be a better option than Macho Harris and Quintin Demps. OL, The biggest problem there last year were injuries and with Todd Herremans and Jamal Jackson fresh off the PUP list things are looking good on the OL.

Outside of that the Eagles had a pretty solid squad last season. If all these kids can band together with some chemistry we are looking at some very solid years of football here in Philly.

So let's break it down, Prediction time: You heard it here first.

The Philadelphia Eagles will go 9-7 and that will be enough to take the wildcard spot into the playoffs.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Eagles' rookies could push out some vets

Baker's dozen likely to re-configure Birds' roster

Stage two of the Eagles rebuilding project will commence this weekend with the first, and only, mandatory minicamp at the NovaCare Complex.

After this past weekend's draft added a baker's dozen of ps to what might turn out to be the youngest, if no longer "the best'' roster in the NFL, there will be several interesting battles to watch from now until the team opens the season against Green Bay.

Let's take an early position by position look at some of them.


I, like many, would love to see a fair fight between named starter Kevin Kolb and Michael Vick, but it's not going to happen. Kolb is one, Vick is two and rookie draft pick Michael Kafka is three. A street free agent or an undrafted rookie will be added as a fourth just to take some reps.

A note on Kafka from a scout before the draft: "He throws a lot of picks, but at least he's willing to pull the trigger. You don't see that from a lot of young kids.''


Leonard Weaver signed a new long-term deal and is the fullback; that's been decided. Last year's second-round pick LeSean McCoy will be the starting running back. The competition for the backup spots should be good.

Restricted free agent signing Mike Bell should have one spot and sixth-round pick Charles Scott, at 239 pounds, provides a big option as well. Eldra Buckley played well enough on special teams last year to be given a long look. There is the chance the team keeps five here.


The top three are set with DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin and Jason Avant. The back two might be as well with newly-resigned Hank Baskett and fifth-round pick Riley Cooper. That might be as solid a quintet as the Eagles have had at this position in a long time, providing Cooper contributes even a little bit.

Note on Cooper from another scout: "He's a physical, possession receiver. Thing is he'll make a great catch one play and then drop a routine one the next play.''


Small-school workout machine, Clay Harbor was apparently too good to pass on with the 125th pick, so there will be an interesting battle here as well.

Brent Celek is the starter; that's for sure.

Harbor, out of Missouri State, will battle last year's fifth-round pick Cornelius Ingram, coming off his second ACL tear (but will be ready for minicamp) and Martin Rucker, who looked good at practice late last season.

Note on Harbor: "He wowed some guys at his workout, but I'm not sure. If you play at a I-AA you should dominate. He didn't dominate.''


In what has to be the shock of the draft, Andy Reid ignored his offensive line and said afterward he was happy with who he has there.

Well, bully for him.

There still isn't a healthy center on the team. Right guard is in flux, and if you're fine with Jason Peters and Winston Justice at tackle, then you don't remember Tra Thomas and Jon Runyan.


The Eagles added three -- first-round pick Brandon Graham of Michigan, third-round pick Daniel Te'o-Nesheim of Washington and fifth-round pick Ricky Sapp of Clemson, a converted linebacker -- to the four who were already there.

The most they are likely to keep is five, maybe six -- if they go light somewhere else.

Victor Abiamiri (knee) is hurt again, and it might be time for him to get on with a career outside of football. That was a bad second-round pick in 2007.

Trent Cole, of course, is set on the right side, and newly-acquired Darryl Tapp should be safe. Graham and "Te'o'' aren't going anywhere, so it could be Sapp or Juqua Parker, the only non-kicker on the roster over 30 years old.


The only addition was seventh-round pick Jeff Owens of Georgia, who slipped because of a knee injury that sidelined him for a year-and-a-half.

If Owens is healthy and any good, he could beat out 2008 second-round pick Trevor Laws, another one of the Eagles' Terrible Twos.


This should be a party, too.

The Eagles added two -- Ernie Sims and Alex Hall -- through trade and then drafted two more -- Oklahoma's Keenan Clayton in the fourth round and Mississippi State's Jamar Chaney in the sixth round.

Sims, if he can stay healthy, will likely start on the weak side, with Stewart Bradley, coming back from an ACL injury, in the middle and Akeem Jordan switching over to the strong side.

Clayton will get the chance to be Sims' backup, but the scouts I trust, don't think much of him.

Chaney, who the team got good value with in the sixth round, but has also battled injuries, could be Bradley's backup.

Hall and Moise Fokou could battle for the backup spot on the strongside.

That leaves Omar Gaither and Joe Mays in trouble.


Only one came via the draft surprisingly, and that was Kentucky's Trevard Lindley, in the fourth round, who was graded as a seventh-round pick by some.

Right now, Asante Samuel and Ellis Hobbs are the starters, with Lindley, Joselio Hanson and Dimitri Patterson in reserve.


Look for Victor "Macho'' Harris to move to cornerback from safety.


It will be a surprise -- and not a good one -- if second-round pick Nate Allen of South Florida doesn't start opposite Quintin Mikell. Free agent addition Marlin Jackson will be in the mix as well, unless he also moves back to corner.

Quintin Demps should work on being the return man, if he can hold off undersized seventh-round pick Kurt Coleman of Ohio State.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Browns reach for Haden

Cleveland, under Mike Holmgren and Tom Heckert, took the first reach when they selected cornerback Joe Haden of Florida with the seventh pick.

From the scouts I talked to, Haden is good, not great and may never be a No. 1 corner. That's not what you want with the No. 7 pick.

Then again, as much as I like Holmgren, he's never been a good draft man (check his picks in Seattle), and Heckert, well, enough said.

Sam I Am

There were a lot of options for the Rams with the first pick, including trading down with Cleveland for a bevy of picks.

St. Louis did the right thing by taking Sam Bradford, the quarterback from Oklahoma.

Of course you never know about No. 1 picks, especially quarterbacks. Know this, however, you don't win without a franchise quarterback, and the Rams haven't had one since Kurt Warner left.

Now the hard part for head coach Steve Spagnuolo and offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur, two former Eagles assistants, is whether to start Bradford from Day One, or to let him sit, watch and learn.

If they learned from Andy Reid, they will take their time the way he did with Donovan McNabb and let A.J. Feeley play the role of Doug Pederson.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Will Jerry Jones still be smiling when Bryant holds out?

It will be interesting to see if Dez Bryant reports to training camp on time…

Let’s put the reported behavioral issues aside and consider the facts.

To start, let’s turn the clock back one year to the 2009 NFL Draft. Then a raw burner named Darius Heyward-Bey was the first wide receiver to come off the board, selected by the Oakland Raiders with the 7th pick. Three slots later the 49ers chose Michael Crabtree.Other than Al Davis, no one in this galaxy thought DHB was a better player than Crabtree, particularly Crabtree and his agent Eugene Parker. Crabtree threatened to sit out the entire season and re-enter the draft in 2010.

After a hideous holdout (ending in early October) during which Parker argued that his client should be paid more than DHB’s $23.5 million in guarantees, Crabtree caved and accepted the paltry sum of $17 million in guaranteed money.Yesterday with the 22nd pick the Broncos made Demaryius Thomas the first wide receiver selected in the 2010 NFL Draft. Thomas has off the chart athleticism but like DHB, he is a bit unrefined. Also like DHB, a receiver most consider superior was chosen after him.

Enter Dez Bryant.

Similar circumstances right?

Given the NFL’s slotting system, you would think that Thomas would receive a slightly better deal than Bryant.

Tell that to Bryant’s agent.

His name is Eugene Parker.

Think Parker learned anything from last year?

I guess time will tell but the bet here is Bryant will opt for a big H in big D.

Monday, April 5, 2010

McNabb to Redskins, a double edged sword

Roughly 11 years ago the Philadelphia Eagles drafted Donovan McNabb with the second overall pick and since then he's been the face of the franchise. Eleven years long and I'll be honest I enjoyed every one of them. Both fun and frustrating he was the most exciting and best QB the Birds have ever had in franchise history. At this point the Birds are getting the 37th overall pick and either a 3rd or 4th round pick in the 2011 draft in a trade with the Washington Redskins.

Here's my take: The Eagles now have 11 draft picks so hopefully they can walk away from this draft with two blue chip college ballers like Sean Weatherspoon from Missouri and Eric Berry from Tennessee. Outside of a big LB and S that can step in and make an immediate impact I'm not so sure I like this move.

You have Mike Shanahan in Washington now and he is hoarding RB's. Donovan's always been successful in a run happy offense. Donovan has decent receivers down there too. Chris Cooley and Santana Moss are solid outlets for him. I mean let's be honest he has been very successful with less! Remember James Thrash and Todd Pinkston?

Adding Donovan to the Skins turns that team around and leaves the Birds with a big question mark at QB. Say what you will about Kevin Kolb but he was good against a poor defense and a prevent defense. I would think he can step in and be the answer for the Eagles, but he's not proven yet in my mind.

Did the Eagles in one fell swoop weaken themselves and strengthen a divisional rival?

Saturday, January 23, 2010

What went right & wrong for Eagles in '09?

5 Things That Went Right

* Rookies Jeremy Maclin and LeSean McCoy made immediate impacts.
* Tight end Brent Celek had a breakout season.
* The signing of FB Leonard Weaver was the team’s best offseason move.
* DeSean Jackson showed he can be a star.
* Special teams coach Ted Daisher restored order to his unit.

5 Things That Went Wrong

* Stewart Bradley’s torn ACL in preseason
* No answer at left defensive end
* Nobody replaced Brian Dawkins
* The Andrews Brothers
* The defense never gelled

5 Questions to Ponder

* Will Donovan McNabb be back?
* What about Michael Vick?
* Is Brian Westbrook finished?
* Will the team make Sheldon Brown happy?
* Will the new GM make a difference?

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

It's tough to beat a team three times...

Around town you keep hearing that the odds are in the Eagles’ favor because it is difficult to beat the same team three times in the same season. Are you buying that?

It’s bunk!

Look, if you are better than another team, what difference does it make if you beat them twice before within the past three months? The outcomes are mutually exclusive and for those of you who want to point towards history as an indicator, keep this in mind – playing the same team three times in the same NFL season doesn’t happen all that often and THAT’s why a three game sweep is relatively rare.

According to 24x7's research, teams that have had a chance to beat a team in the playoffs that they swept during the regular season are 10-6 since 1970, the last being the Pittsburgh Steelers who beat Baltimore three times during the 2008 season en route to a Super Bowl XVIII victory.

Reaching back into the league’s origins and bringing it into the present there have been 24 instances where a team had a chance to sweep another team in 3 games during the same season. Fifteen times those teams were successful, a winning percentage of .625.

So, if the Eagles want to beat the Cowboys and advance to the Divisional Playoffs, they’ll need more than some wigged out statistical theory to make it happen.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Beating Dallas, a simple game

It really all comes down to the simplest form of football ideology. If the Eagles are going to reverse their fortunes against the Dallas Cowboys and turn two regular-season losses into a playoff win Saturday night in the Big D they must do two things better than they did last week and in the midseason loss to the Cowboys.

They must get pressure on Dallas quarterback Tony Romo and keep the Dallas pressure off quarterback Donovan McNabb.

There, that’s easy enough, right?

Well, it goes beyond that.

Dallas’ offensive line has been able to handle the Eagles front four, and front seven, for that matter in both of the regular-season wins. Last Sunday, Romo had all kinds of time to pick apart an Eagles secondary that didn’t have its best game either.

But get some pressure up front and the secondary will be the least of the Eagles problems.

Get some pressure up front and Romo’s touchdown passes could become interceptions.
Get some pressure up front and sacks and fumbles and all kinds of things can happen that haven’t happened during the past two losses.

“It is an issue,’’ safety Quintin Mikell said yesterday as the Eagles returned to practice in preparation for Saturday night’s game.

“We didn’t particularly blitz a whole lot last game and obviously we know that they work on those things. I think what we have to do is when we do blitz we have to execute better. And we have to cover better in the back half.

“We knew going in that (they weren’t going to blitz often). We wanted to let our guys cover and let that happen. Romo had a great game. He was putting the ball in tight spots. He was accurate and he was on point. When you look at it, we covered pretty well; he was just on fire.’’

In order to put out that fire, the Eagles have to get after Romo. If the front four can’t generate a pass rush by itself and it’s obvious it cannot, at least not against the Cowboys, then defensive coordinator Sean McDermott needs to go to the blitz and don’t stop.

On one of the few blitzes early, Sunday, the Eagles got caught and it led to a long Dallas run. That can happen. It doesn’t mean you stop.

The Eagles best defensive efforts through the Andy Reid Era have come through blitzes. The late Jim Johnson used to trust his corners, first Troy Vincent and Bobby Taylor, then Sheldon Brown and Lito Sheppard, enough that he would blitz anyone from anywhere.

There were times when he didn’t blitz, but the quarterback thought it was coming. Consequently he rushed his throw or didn’t see things because he thought he saw other things.

A well-orchestrated blitz package can make up for a lot of other deficiencies, and in this case could keep Romo from lighting up the Eagles defense the way he has in the first two games. Some run blitzes could also slow down the Cowboys running game, which also had its way with the Eagles defense last week.

“They killed us in the running game,’’ Mikell said. “That pretty much opened things up for them. Because, in this game, when you can run especially late in the season, when you can run it opens up everything else. It helps the passing game, the gadget game, the reverse and all that stuff. It helps the screen. By them running the ball so well it basically killed us.’’

So to get pressure it puts pressure on McDermott to come up with a way to stop both the Cowboys running game and Romo.

Last week in the battle of wits between the William and Mary grad and his Dallas counterpart, Princeton’s Jason Garrett, the battle went to the Ivy Leaguer.

“I think they have a very good scheme and they used our scheme against us and the things we do,’’ Mikell said. “I think at the end of the day we need to get a lot more guys around the ball. We have to tackle better and we have to get off blocks better. It just comes down to playing better football.’’

Again, it all sounds so simple.

Deja Blues!

Just about the only thing I can think to say right now is “unacceptable!”

How is it not clear? RUN THE BALL!

Thirty-six passes and 10 carries.


I wish I could say I was speechless but I was too busy screaming at the total lack of everything on both sides of the ball. Let's take a look at our losses shall we?

New Orleans: 52 passing attempts and 22 rushing attempts.

Oakland: wait a minute we lost to Oakland?

Yes we did because our fearless leader was too concerned with his South Beach Diet (that by the way is not working). That carefully orchestrated masterpiece was blown with 46 passing attempts and 14 rushing attempts.

Dallas number one: Yes that’s right people we've officially been swept by Dallas. 30 passes and 22 rushes and that’s not counting the times Donovan took off because the pocket collapsed and he was forced to run for his life.

San Diego: 56 passes and 13 rushes.

Last and most certainly least Dallas again as I said 36 passes and 10 carries.

Can anyone guess who gets the Ed Lover "C'mon SON!" of the week?


Andy Reid, waddle your fat self on down!

You’re the next contestant on “You Blew It AGAIN!”

Andy you blow more games for Philly fans than Charlie Manuel! Well maybe not but Charlie has a 162 game season. What's your excuse?

C'mon SON!

All I know is if you think for a second that you’re going to have an unbalanced attack and win this Saturday you should just not even show up. Honestly that would be less embarrassing.

Get it together Andy and RUN THE BALL!

The sooner you realize that the better. The whole city of Philadelphia does. Why can't you?

Oh and when that quarterback of yours does throw the ball and it’s not in the vicinity of an Eagle who is an eligible receiver, sit him on the bench!

Three plays went to waste that would have been touchdowns because he can't hit a wide open man! Your only 4 losses have a combined 164/68 pass to run ratio.

Think about that you half wit jackass!

The Blame Game, Eagles v. Cowboys Part III

When the Eagles go back down to Dallas, Saturday night, it might be even more than a playoff game. It might be about the future of both franchises.

This one is about Tony Romo and Donovan McNabb and Wade Phillips, and it might have been about Andy Reid, too if the Eagles hadn’t handed him an extension a few weeks ago after he clinched a playoff spot for the eighth time in 11 years.

For Romo, the Cowboys quarterback, and Phillips, the Cowboys head coach, the playoffs have been their Waterloo, their Little Big Horn, an albatross that won’t stop choking them, as they continue to wheeze.

All this week both the Cowboys leader on the field, and their leader on the sideline, is going to read and hear over and over again how they have never won a playoff game and how the Cowboys, as a franchise, are 0-for-the-postseason this past decade.

Phillips is 0-4 with three different teams in the playoffs. As the head coach of the Denver Broncos in 1993, he lost to the Oakland Raiders. As the head coach of the Buffalo Bills, he lost to Miami in 1998 and Tennessee in 1999 in what became known as “The Music City Miracle.’’

In Dallas, he’s been to the playoffs just once and lost at home to the Giants in the conference semifinals in 2007.

Romo is just 0-2 in the playoffs since becoming the Cowboys starting quarterback in 2006. He lost to Seattle that first year when he failed to get a snap down on what could have been a game-winning field goal. And in his only playoff game, with Phillips, he was a part of the loss to the Giants in 2007.

This year they say is different.

Romo exorcized his first demon when his “December Demise’’ turned into a 3-1 month with wins over New Orleans and the Eagles along the way.

Now, he needs to do it again in the playoffs.

A win over the Eagles, a team he has beaten twice already this season, Saturday night and even if the team were to lose the following week in Minnesota (doubtful), Romo will have some peace and there’s a good chance he and probably Phillips, too, are back in the Big D next season.

A loss to the Eagles, especially if it comes gift-wrapped with interceptions and fumbles the way that season finale at Lincoln Financial Field was a year ago and who knows what Jerry Jones will do.

Phillips almost certainly will not be the head coach, and Romo’s future with the team just might be in doubt, as well.

Remember Jones is going to be reading and hearing the same things all week, and also remember he’s the same owner who fired Jimmy Johnson in the middle of the team’s dynasty run in the ‘90s.

With the Eagles the bloodletting could be coming in the same manner.

It’s no secret the Eagles have been reluctant to give McNabb a contract extension. They did give him a raise, which was nice, but while his pay increased the length of his contract remained the same. And it expires at the end of next season. As does his backup Kevin Kolb’s.

McNabb might not make it that far.

If the Eagles are bounced in the first round of the playoffs, something that an Andy Reid team has never experienced, and if it comes in any fashion like the 24-0 drubbing the Cowboys put on them Sunday, the team with the best roster in the league according to its President is going to need a scapegoat.

And it’s not going to be Reid.

Like Bruce Springsteen sang in his vastly underrated “Meeting Across the River’’, “…And if we blow this one they ain’t gonna be looking for just me this time.’’

McNabb will be the one.

His critics have already started after Sunday’s loss. Despite the fact he’s had his best season since the Super Bowl run of 2004, and has led a bunch of young, unpolished receivers and running backs to an 11-5 season and a playoff berth they are ready to go after him.

A playoff-ending loss to Dallas, Saturday night, and it’s not going to be pretty.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

BATTLE PLANS: Eagles @ Cowboys


1) Max Protect: The key to having offensive success against the Cowboys starts with protecting the quarterback. Dallas is one of the top pass rushing teams in the league. Led by edge rusher DeMarcus Ware, there are few teams that boast such a fearsome five-man rush.

Protection against the Cowboys starts from the outside. In order to slow down Ware and Anthony Spencer, the Eagles will have to chip and double team. Although Philadelphia would lose some firepower by keeping the backs and tight ends in to block, they’ll have a better chance to keep Donovan McNabb upright.

2) Quick-hitting runs: To slow down the Dallas front, the Eagles will have to run the ball in obvious passing situations. Specifically, when Ware and Spencer rush up field to get after McNabb, the Eagles have to find a way to force them to defend the run.

The Dallas front will be looking to play the run on the way to the quarterback, so the Eagles have to make them pay when they are overaggressive.

3) Stick to the run: The Cowboys want to get teams in third-and-long conversion situations. Once they do, they are able to unleash their pass rush to potentially create turnovers or negative plays.

Although the Eagles are a pass first team, if they get too pass happy on early downs, they may fall into the Cowboys’ third down trap. Therefore, Philadelphia has to stay balanced and run the ball to gain positive yardage on first and second down. If they miss on too many passes on early downs, they’ll have a tough time moving the chains on third down.


1) Zone scheme: Although Dallas quarterback Tony Romo has improved as a pure pocket passer, he is still at his best against the blitz. Romo is athletic enough to side-step the rush, and he is comfortable throwing the ball against single coverage.

The Eagles will play a lot of man coverage and use their safeties to blitz. However, they’ll also need to show some zone coverage looks to force Romo to read the field. In turn, Romo may have a tough time staying patient to cut up the zone defense.

2) Prevent the big play: With Pro Bowlers Miles Austin and Jason Witten, the Dallas offense has two big play cogs in their arsenal. For Philadelphia, controlling this duo will be a must if they are to succeed on defense.

Both players have to be turned into underneath options.

In the case of Austin, he is at his best when he can get behind the cornerback. Therefore, the corners need to mix some bump and cushion coverages, in addition to playing outside technique to push Austin to the inside.

As for Witten, the linebackers have to take deep coverage drops, and the safeties should be in position to battle the tight end once he gets downfield.

3) Stay discipline in the red zone: Dallas has turned into an efficient scoring offense. In particular, they do a good job of using a balanced attack to keep defenses guessing.

The staple play for Dallas is the fake draw. Romo sets up in a shotgun set with tailback Marion Barber to his side. Either Barber will receive the handoff from a spread set, or Romo fakes the handoff to create voids in the secondary.

The key for the Philadelphia back end will be to anticipate the play-fake when Dallas shows this formation. The linebackers have to wait until Barber gets the ball to stuff him inside.

One-on-One Matchup to Watch: Nick Cole versus Jay Ratliff: With the loss of Jamaal Jackson to a season-ending injury, Cole is making the transition from guard to center. He’ll have a difficult first assignment against Ratliff. The unique nose guard has great quickness, and he uses his hands well to disengage blocks to get into the backfield. Cole will have to find a way to keep Ratliff in front of him.

Controlled Chaos

At this point last year everyone was probably thinking "can you write a better story than this?"

Well how about this: both Dallas and Philadelphia are in the playoffs and battling for the division championship in week 17.

The biggest factor in this one though is that if the Eagles win they not only win the NFC East but also a first round bye which in my opinion is much needed for them.
Does that sound like a better story?

Looking at this playoff picture the Eagles would have to play either Dallas or Minnesota both away with a loss Sunday. A win however gives them a much better chance at getting at least to the NFC Championship for a 6th time this decade. Not to mention a week to rest up all the injuries that the majority of the team is playing with.

Factors for Sunday’s game or I should say factor is get to Romo!

Get in his face and put him on his back all day. He's having his best December yet with a richly pathetic 2-2 record and Trent Cole better be leading the hit parade that runs right over his face and squash this new found momentum and confidence.

Aside from Romo the only two things the defense MUST do is take the ball out of the hands of Miles Austin and Jason Witten. I do not want to see either of these clowns near the ball all day. Miles Austin has DeSean Jackson-itis where defenses just love leaving him open. Cover both of them and keep them out of the end zone and this game should not be a problem.

I say it all the time it's a simple game! It's a simple game! It's a simple game!

Kill Romo, cover Witten and Austin and do not give up any turnovers. In their first meeting McNabb was 16/30 with 226 yards, a touchdown and the big one, 2 interceptions. That can't happen especially if we're running the ball. Pound them all day long. The three headed monster is back, for heaven’s sake use it. Eventually you'll catch the secondary slipping and you can drop the big one to DeSean.

In between win the possession battle and hit your outlets. On third down, strike out to Celek, Maclin and Avant and keep Dallas' defense on the field. No turnovers, run the ball, get to Romo and cover Austin and Witten and we'll pick these boys apart again just like last year.

Game time prediction: Eagles: 34 Dallas: 10