Tuesday, October 30, 2007
CROSS-BLOGGING and ANDY REID'S SONS
Sorry to cross-blog but ...
It's hard to agree that both the Eagles (2-4) and the Cowboys (6-1) "desperately need" their game Sunday night as Donovan McNabb contends on his yardbarker.com blog.
Including the tiebreaker, the Cowboys are a game up on the traditionally fading Giants in the NFC East. The Giants lost six of their last eight in 2006 after a 6-2 start.
The Eagles are in a must-win situation especially considering the game is at home where they are 1-2 for the first time since '03.
But the energy McNabb spoke of in the locker room after the 23-17 win over the Vikings at the Metrodome was totally real and could carry through what figures to be a VERY, VERY difficult week for the head coach.
Thursday is the scheduled sentencing day for Andy Reid's sons Garrett and Britt. That's not going to be very pleasant for anyone involved, including the media trying to solicit reaction from the coach.
All of that said, it's a pretty good week for veteran Brian Dawkins to get back on the playing field and for McNabb to step up as he never has before.
"I will make sure my guys are ready, prepared, and fired up to get this WIN," he wrote on his blog.
"See you Sunday."
Can we hold you to that?
Sunday, October 28, 2007
HECKERT STAYING PUT
Those internet postings citing league sources hearing rumors on the NFL grapevine that Eagles general manager Tom Heckert “could be headed back” to Miami for a job with the Dolphins are just that – rumors.
The only thing on his mind these days: "Trying to win games."
Privately the link is Heckert’s long-time relationship with Dolphins owner Wayne Huizenga and team president Bryan Wiedmeier.
Then again in the very fluid NFL that could change in a nanosecond. If Andy Reid takes a leave at the end of the season and Eagles president Joe Banner wants to go in another direction, what then?
Heckert, from this view, has done a solid job of locating and drafting the players Reid and the coaching staff have sought. Certainly there have been mistakes such as Jerome McDougle, the career underachievement masked by chronic injury problems.
But the hits have been pretty good, among them Pro Bowl talents Shawn Andrews, Brian Westbrook and Lito Sheppard, plus Sheldon Brown, who’s having a Pro Bowl year.
Mike Patterson and Brodrick Bunkley look like the defensive tackles for the next 10 years.
What’s missing from the Eagles is continuity at position coach. The Birds have lost some very good position coaches including Ron Rivera, Leslie Frazier, Steve Spagnuolo and Dave Toub, and that’s inhibited the development of picks.
Friday, October 26, 2007
RUNNING ON EMPTY
The Eagles need a win this weekend just to make it through the month. They're not having a lot of fun at practice these days. The coaching staff has been all over the offensive mistakes. There are a lot of starters standing around do to injury. You can't help but wonder if some of the older veterans sense this could be it, that the window of opportunity has closed. It hasn't been like this around South Philly since Ray Rhodes "fired" himself late in the 1998 season. Rhodes, out of fatigue, a late night with the guys or whatever told reporters he would not be back when his contract expired at the end of the season. His players promptly took notice and played like they also had one foot out the door,
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
SHORTEN THE DRAFT, ROGE
At the NFL owners meetings in Philadelphia, the league cut from 15 minutes to 10 the time between picks in the first round of its draft.
The draft will start at 3 p.m. instead of noon and be limited to two rounds the first day instead of three.
Great idea, especially since the first round of the 2007 lottery lasted a record 6-hours, 8-minutes.
But why not shorten the second day to two rounds as well? Unless teams that sink millions into scouting don't know a thing about the art of drafting, it would seem the later you draft the lower the percentage of players who make teams.
Who needs seven rounds? Just begin the rush to find undrafted free agents a bit earlier.
Teams could cut back the dollars they pour into scouting or sink more money into it, whatever they want. We would get "sleeper" signings.
And above all, it would be a lot easier on the draftees. Instead of spending the weekend worrying about if and when they would be selected, they could say bleep it, I'll show them I can play.
Sunday, October 21, 2007
MORE RED ZONE BLUES
That's eight straight touchdown-less trips inside the opposition's 20-yard line for the Eagles, who went 0-for-3 in the first half Sunday against the Bears. Again, it was the lack of a legitimate running game that left them kicking field goals. Ironically the Eagles ran the ball up and down the field for much of the half. For the Andy Reid era the numbers were crazy. The Eagles ran the ball 18 times and threw 20 passes. But they refused to stick with it in the red zone. And it got them only a 9-3 lead at the half instead of a much more comfortable 13-3 bulge as they reached the 6-yard line on one thrust.
Saturday, October 20, 2007
WHY ARE EAGLES 33.9 percent WHITE?
The next time the Eagles make a roster move, keep an eye on skin-tone.
You have to wonder after reading the provocative piece by Jason Whitlock (http://msn.foxsports.com/nfl/story/7343980), a seasoned pro writer I've bumped into from time to time in Kansas City.
Whitlock's point is, “African-American football players caught up in the rebellion and buffoonery of hip hop culture have given NFL owners and coaches a justifiable reason to whiten their rosters.”
Examples he cites include Adam "Pac-Man" Jones, Mike Vick and Tank Johnson, who constantly seem to be involved in off-the-field drama.
Unless the culture changes, Whitlock thinks franchises will copy the models of what he calls "two of the whitest teams" in the NFL.
In a league where roughly 70 percent of the players are African-American, Whitlock points out the Colts' 53-man opening day roster was 45.2 percent white – and 47 percent non-African-American if you throw in another player. The Patriots are 43.3 percent non-African-American according to the piece.
For a reference point, the Eagles’ roster essentially is 33.9 percent white. Including special teams, nine of their 27 starters (.333) are white.
Thursday, October 18, 2007
DAWKINS P-R-A-C-T-I-C-E-S ... FOR REAL
At first, I thought my sunglasses were dirty.
Just like that, Eagles Pro Bowl safety Brian Dawkins was playing football, the game many believed he'd walk away from after his neck stinger.
Dawkins practiced Thursday for the first time in 32 days, albeit with the scout team.
Dawkins had been sidelined since losing feeling in his arms and shoulders after delivering a blow in the Eagles’ second game of the season against the Washington Redskins.
Only a week ago Eagles cornerback Lito Sheppard got back on the field with the scout team after a lengthy rehab for a sprained medial collateral ligament in his knee. Sheppard said he probably could have played last week against the New York Jets but that the extra week helped.
While Sheppard, barring a setback, will start Sunday when the Eagles entertain the Chicago Bears, Dawkins might also be able to get back on the field. Andy Reid said Dawkins, who recently turned 34, had been diligent in his conditioning work during his absence.
Adding Dawkins to the mix at safety might enable the Eagles to use Quintin Mikell more on special teams to defend against Bears elite kick returner Devin Hester.
Left offensive tackle Tra Thomas (knee) and tight end L.J. Smith (groin) didn’t practice Thursday.
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
THOMAS, L.J. and DAWK SIT OUT
The list of Eagles unable to practice Wednesday grew when LOT Tra Thomas (knee) was unable to work.
Initially Andy Reid said only FS Brian Dawkins (neck stinger) and TE L.J. Smith (groin) would be held out of work.
While Dawkins is making progress, according to Reid, the coach indicated Smith suffered a setback.
"Right now he's sore," Reid said. "We've got to let that thing calm down and see how he does here in the next couple of days."
Smith has played in just three games for the Eagles (2-3), who entertain the Chicago Bears (2-4) this Sunday. The reigning division champs both are last in their divisions.
"We look forward to the challenge of playing the Chicago Bears," Reid said. "They are reigning NFC champs. They bring into town an offense that is much improved over the last couple of weeks and a defense that has unbelievable quickness. Obviously their special teams is right now probably the most explosive in the NFL."
The Bears were shredded fopr 311 rushing yards last week in a 34-31 loss to the Minnesota Vikings at Soldier Field.
The Eagles are 5-point favorites.
Monday, October 15, 2007
GET RID OF IT
The way to defend Donovan McNabb these days is painfully obvious.
Get to him early, get to him often and above all – get to him late.
McNabb takes so long to warm up and then tires so noticeably in the second halves even mortal players bring him down without much trouble.
The reconstructed knee is only part of the problem.
McNabb still doesn’t get rid of the ball fast enough. This is most noticeable when the opposition is packing the field in the red zone and there’s nowhere near as much field to defend.
The Jets obviously studied tape of the Eagles’ loss to the Giants for they dropped McNabb three times Sunday. Three sacks is not nearly as bad as giving up a dozen sacks as the Birds surrendered to the Giants. But 3 sacks doubled – yes, doubled - the season-total of their anemic pass rush entering the game.
Unless the Chicago Bears are brain dead McNabb will see components of that pressure again, although the visitors also like to play the Tampa Bay cover-2 zone.
If he doesn’t start making faster decisions he’s going to find himself and his still not 100 percent right knee tiring in the second quarter.
Saturday, October 13, 2007
'NEW SEASON' TALK IS GETTING OLD
Whoever decided the Eagles would start their 'new' season after the bye should look up the word. If only that was true. Face it; a 1-3 start basically is fatal. The only team that's overcome it recently is the New England Patriots. Trust me, the Eagles aren't sophisticated or connected enough to get away with cheating. Unless I've totally missed something that might have had something to do with NE's big turnaround. Ironically, the Eagles this weekend oppose the Jets, a team coached by a former Patriots assistant. At 1-4, the Jets are much more the hard-luck team than the Eagles, who earned all of their losses. And, while the Eagles will have the fresher legs this week thanks to the bye, there has to be doubt in their minds. They have to wonder if they really are a good football team or just the NFC East's version of the New Orleans Saints. There's nothing new about this Eagles season, bye or whatnot. One more loss this month - just one - and it will get dangerously old for the head coach and the franchise quarterback.
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
PRACTICE LIST: Wednesday
Cornerback Lito Sheppard put the pads on and returned to practice Wednesday for the first time since spraining his knee crashing into teammate Sean Considine during the season opener at Green Bay.
Tight end L.J. Smith and RB Brian Westbrook also practiced, Westbrook with considerable padding protecting the strained abdominal area.
The not so good news was LOT Tra Thomas (knee), FS Brian Dawkins (neck) and LG Todd Herremans (knee) all sat out practice. Andy Reid hoped to get Thomas back on the field.
Also WR Greg Lewis exited from practice with a sprained right ankle.
Quarterback Donovan McNabb, his left wrist bandaged, showed no signs of the sprain he suffered two Sundays ago at the Meadowlands.
Give THE MAN a blog
By now you know the blogs that said Andy Reid was close to bailing out on the Eagles during the bye week are grossly inaccurate.
False, is the way Reid put it. He says he wants to work for the Eagles as long as they will "have me here."
Reid even got some laughs saying, "I'm not blog efficient but it sounds like people can be very creative there."
Hmmmm, blog efficient ...
What The Man needs as much as a win is a blog.
How about: "I can do a better job of blogging."
Address a few issues every few days and watch the hits - and the profits - pile up. Donate the proceeds to charity.
Can you imagine the posts?
"I can do a better job of blogging."
1. "Don't worry about anything. I'll take care of all those freaking morons who don't know anything about football. ('No John, no! John, you are wrong! You're wrong, John. John, I know Andy. I get information he doesn't give anyone else. And you are wrong!)."
- ps: R we still on for lunch Friday?
2. "That last poster is full of it."
3. "It? All of us need to have it at all times to be successful - that goes for offense, defense and special teams. It, is a good thing, not a bad thing."
4. "You think you know hard times? I can't even get toothpaste in here. BTW, do U need the SUV next August?"
5. "Just read that you want to stay around as long as you're wanted here. Can we talk about that after I get back from my trip to China exploring the new NFL frontier?"
- cc: J.B.
Thursday, October 4, 2007
WEEK OF ABSENCE
Andy Reid may leave "the sidelines sooner than expected" according to a blog that also also asserts quarterback Donovan McNabb is "most likely spending his last year in Philadelphia."
Seriously now, what's sooner than expected? And who expects it? The Eagles don't, that's for sure. Rest assured there is no impending news conference.
As for McNabb most likely spending his last year in Philadelphia, everyone who knows anything about the Eagles knows that's a possibility. That juicy tidbit "broke" when Kevin Kolb was drafted in April.
The aforementioned blog cites "sources" that it's tough not to be skeptical about because if they were credible the piece would be front page worthy, not blog worthy.
Will Reid step down after the season? I think it's a possibility based on several things I've heard.
Might McNabb be playing somewhere else next season? Ditto.
And it should be fairly obvious there is friction in an organization where the franchise quarterback calls the performance of the offense "embarrassing. Truly embarrassing," as McNabb did after the 16-3, 12-sack loss to the Giants.
All of that said, the dots are nowhere near connected right now.
Especially in the case of Reid, who both internally and in a private setting has indicated he wants to coach through this season. This season, is the key.
At the same time don't be surprised if Reid steps back from coaching and works in the front office at some point. He likes the talent evaluation part of the job and gets along famously with Joe Banner.
The front office would be appealing for several reasons including but not limited to less responsibility in dealing with the media - and bloggers.
Tuesday, October 2, 2007
MAX JEAN-GILLES ON DECK
When LG Todd Herremans slid over to help overwhelmed first-time starting LOT Winston Justice Sunday night at the Meadowlands, he did it with one knee.
Herremans was scoped Tuesday and is out indefinitely according to the Eagles. Max Jean-Gilles would be the likely replacement unless the Eagles want to try Scott Young, who except for one penalty did a solid job at RG nwhen Shawn Andrews got hurt in the NFC divisional playoff against the New Orleans Saints.
The Eagles have their fingers crossed that Tra Thomas (sprained knee) will be ready to go after the bye week.
Assuming Herremans doesn't play in the Eagles next game - and it appears highly unlikely the team would put him on the field against the Jets - it will the third different starting offensive line in just five games.
Last year the starting offensive line was intact foir every game.