Monday, December 29, 2008

A divisonal game with the Giants? I don't think so ...

Prove me wrong, that's all I ask.

It's annoying listening to self-promoters gush over an Eagles-Giants divisional playoff pairing when the

(Brad Childress, left, telling an official that Andy Reid is 0-for-his-last-8 replay challenges.)

reality is Andy Reid and Donovan McNabb are just 3-4-1 with one quarterback benching on the road this year and they open the postseason Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings, who are 6-2 at the Metrodome.

Straight up, the Vikings aren't going to quit like the Cowboys did in their 44-6 loss Sunday to the Eagles. Head coach Brad Childress, the former Eagles assistant, isn't the quittin' type. The man has been on the hot seat all four of his seasons with the Vikings.

Yeah, Reid beat Childress, 23-16, last year at the Metrodome. But no, this isn't the same Vikings team. The Vikings (10-6) will make this a very physical game. And the last time I looked, the Eagles were banged up.

I'll be surprised if the Eagles win by more than one point this weekend - if they win at all.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Eagles 'W' = playoff game at Minnesota

Incredibly, all the Eagles need is a win over the Dallas Cowboys today to reach the playoffs.

That's because the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Chicago Bears both sustained 31-24 losses to the Oakland Raiders and Houston Texans, respectively.

Those results rocked Lincoln Financial Field and appeared to pump the Eagles.

Interestingly the Eagles didn't take the field for the start of the game Sunday until 4:10 p.m. for a 4:15 kickoff. That was the exact moment the results of the preceding games were in and it was clear the Eagles still were in playoff contention. The Cowboys had been on the field for 15 minutes.

The Eagles would open the postseason at Minnesota against the NFC North champion Vikings.

Scratch L.J. Smith ...

The Eagles scratched L.J. Smith, who injured his shoulder last week.

Brent Celek started at tight end for Smith, who, unless he takes a drastic paycut from the $4.522 million salary he earned this will be loading his belongings into his BMW.

The Eagles also deactivate running back Lorenzo Booker, linebacker Joe Mays, guards Chris Patrick and Shawn Andrews and defensive ends Bryan Smith and Victor Abiamiri (foot).

The Cowboys scratched cornerback Alan Ball, running back Alonzo Coleman, tight end Rodney Hanna, linebacker Bobby Carpenter and guard Montrae Holland.

Corey Procter started at guard for Holland.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

McNabb vs. Romo for playoffs? Sweet

There's a pretty good chance Donovan McNabb and the Eagles will play Tony Romo and the Cowboys for a chance to reach the playoffs next week.

(Tony Romo's trip here next week might bring Jessica Simpson along with him.)

That would be a big game one of the two hard-luck quarterbacks would have to win, the Bengals syndrome notwithstanding.

Former Eagles assistant John Harbaugh did Andy Reid a favor when his Ravens beat Romo and the Cowboys, 33-24 Saturday. The Cowboys are 9-6.

If the Eagles (8-5-1) defeat the Redskins (7-7) today at FedEx Field they'll be playing for a playoff berth next week, although the Falcons (9-5) and Buccaneers (9-5) must lose one of their two games.

The Cowboys still can get in the playoffs if they beat the Eagles and the Falcons lose a game or the Bucs lose their last two games,

Thursday, December 18, 2008

How the tie helps

Should the Eagles (8-5-1) wind up tied in victories with the Bears (8-6), and both teams are in the running for a playoff berth

(USA Olympics star Nastia Liukin, left, was victimized by a tie)

- and the stock market skyrockets 2000 points, the governor of Illinois pleads guilty to trying to sell a senate seat and you hit the Powerball - the Birds would have the tiebreaker edge despite being beaten by the Bears this season because of their 13-13 draw with the Bengals.

That's a relief, eh?

That's as good as the tie gets, though.

Moreover, if the Eagles and Bears are tied in victories the Bears get the choicer pick in the upcoming draft - for now, at least one spot better.

The next time Andy Reid has a fourth-and-two in overtime he can rewind to Cincinnati and his decision to punt.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Dawkins, Samuel make Pro Bowl

Eagles safety Brian Dawkins and cornerback Asante Samuel were named to the NFC Pro Bowl squad as reserves Tuesday.

Snubbed in the balloting among NFL players, coaches and fans were teammates Brian Westbrook and safety Quintin Mikell.

It's the seventh selection for Dawkins, 35, tying him for the club record for most appearances with the late Reggie White, and one short of the mark of Chuck “Concrete Charlie” Bednarik. White and Bednarik are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Longevity may have played a role in the selection of Dawkins, tied for the all-time club lead with 34 interceptions. Dawkins has four forced fumbles this season but just one interception and only two picks in his last 26 regular season games.

Having played in a club-record 181 games, it’s safe to say almost everyone who’s played in the conference the past 13 years knows of Dawkins.

“It was a surprise to me,” Dawkins said on a conference call. “I thought I had a chance, I didn’t know how great a chance it was. This was a huge accomplishment, this is the seventh time around. Of all the things I’ve gone through these last couple of years this is a great, great blessing.”

Samuel leads the Eagles with four interceptions, the last of which he returned 50 yards for a score in the 30-10 win over the Cleveland Browns Monday night. He could have four or five more but hasn’t been able to find the handle on the ball.

"It definitely feels good,” Samuel said. “It definitely shows I got the respect I finally deserve as a player. I think I’m playing pretty decent football even though I don't have 10 interceptions like I did before. I think I'm playing at a high level – as good as any of the corners in the NFL."

Monday, December 15, 2008

Scratch Reggie; Koy Detmer in the house

The Eagles scratched wide receiver Reggie Brown, running back Lorenzo Booker, tight end Matt Schobel, linebacker Joe Mays, defensive end Bryan Smith, and guards Shawn Andrews (back) and Chris Patrick.

Booker was down so the Eagles could keep running backs Correll Buckhalter and Kyle Eckel active.

It was the second straight deactivation for Brown, a starter since his 2005 rookie season.

Former Eagles backup quarterback Koy Detmer visited with teammates before their Monday night game against the Cleveland Browns. Even in a leather coat, Detmer couldn't help but play catch with some of the Birds. The throws were traditional dink-and-dunk WCO stuff.

Detmer dislocated his left elbow after throwing for 227 yards and two touchdowns in a 38-17 Monday night blowout of the San Francisco 49ers in 2002, the year Donovan McNabb broke a fibula.

The Browns deactivated guard Scott Young, a former fifth-round pick of the Eagles, along with tight end Kellen Winslow (ankle), running back Jerome Harrison, safety Hamza Abdullah, cornerback Travis Daniels, linebackers Kris Griffin and Beau Bell, and defensive end Santonio Thomas.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Andrews can lift teammates

The Eagles won't put Pro Bowl guard Shawn Andrews on injured reserve, ending his season, until they take a look at him in a practice setting.

That should come this week, barring any setbacks for Andrews, who had lower back surgery in early October.

(Andrews, left, would earn immense respect from his teammates by getting back on the field this season)

Andy Reid hinted Saturday that Andrews was feeling better and poised to give the back a test.

If Andrews is anywhere close to 100 percent he would provide a spark just getting back on the field. There's nothing like a fallen teammate rushing back into battle to get the juices boiling.

Donovan McNabb, you may recall, removed any doubt about his toughness returning from a sprained MCL to play the last game of his rookie season.

Andrews can do the same thing.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Andy Reid: Running with the wind

(Below: Eagles running weather)
The way Andy Reid spun it Monday, his game plans are influenced as much by weather reports as what the Eagles strengths are.
Had Giants Stadium not been cold and windy, the head coach intimated the Eagles wouldn’t have dialed up 41 runs against 31 passes.
We feel you, Andy. But please feel free to run if there’s no wind and it’s not quite so cold because
even if you don’t want to acknowledge it that’s obviously what gives you the best chance of winning these days.
For whatever reason, Andy Reid is afraid to admit his pass oriented game plans pretty much got the Eagles nowhere this season.
After winning back to back games almost purely with the ground game, his thing now is to divert attention from all of the silliness that made the Eagles 5-5-1. It’s like he doesn’t know that coach.
Someone has had a serious talk with Reid, just like he had a heart-to-heart with Donovan McNabb after benching the franchise quarterback.
Someone made Andy Reid realize moving the ball through the air looks sexy statistically but that if he really wants to win, he better run the ball effectively.
It doesn’t matter if it was offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg or defensive coordinator Jim Johnson. Or, for that matter, club president Joe Banner or his right hand man, Howie Roseman, who a source said were outside the locker room Sunday slapping hands and trading celebratory gestures as if they were the coaches and players who won the game.
The reality is that as Andy Reid stands here today, the only reason his team is 7-5-1 and looking very much like a wild card contended in a disintegrating NFC East is the running game.
For four weeks Reid wasted the considerable talents of Brian Westbrook, who went without a touchdown in that stretch while his team went a miserable 1-2-1 that still could keep it out of the playoffs.
While Westbrook conceded he wasn’t 100 percent in that stretch, he’s no worse for the wear now. It’s obvious in the six touchdowns he’s scored in the last two games that he can be effective with aches and pains if the Eagles use him properly – whether rain, sleet, wind or gloom of light is in the forecast.
By the way, the overnight low for the next Eagles start against the Cleveland Browns Monday night is 36 degrees with a 40 percent chance of precipitation.
Let me save you the time, coach; that’s Brian Westbrook weather.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Scratch Reggie Brown ...

The Eagles didn't have enough room in the offense for wide receiver Reggie Brown, who was scratched Sunday along with running back Correll Buckhalter (sprained MCL), and the usual suspects.

Brown's future is all but on firm foundation as well. Clearly rookie DeSean Jackson and veteran Kevin Curtis are the starters. That leaves Brown, a starter since his rookie season, battling for third and fourth team snaps with Jason Avant, Hank Baskett and Greg Lewis, who appear much more comfortable with the bit roles.

Avant easily is the Birds' best slot receiver. The 6-4 Baskett has carved out a niche as the red zone fade pattern receiver.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

With twins McNabbs are family of '5'

It was only a couple of weeks ago that Donovan McNabb had to excuse himself from work to take care of what the Eagles called "personal business."

(Twins Matthew and Andrew Canan. Andrew has the disposition of a lineman, Matthew a quarterback.)

It was very personal.

Roxi McNabb gave birth to healthy twins, a boy and a girl. With a four-year-old daughter, it makes McNabbs a family of five, which also happens to be Dad's number.

While his wife really did the work and McNabb said he tried not to let the precious matter affect his preparation the past few weeks, it probably did. When the newborns arrived McNabb felt like a weight had been lifted from his shoulders.

Teammate Brian Dawkins, who also has twins, shook his head and suggested it would be all but impossible for McNabb to avoid the stress.

But let's not go too overboard and conclude McNabb will be a much better quarterback now that the kids are here and healthy.

Let's not blame the slump on the kids.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Good morning SHAWN!

While the Eagles worked out the stiffness of a three-day weekend during their Monday practice, Pro Bowl guard Shawn Andrews was rehabbing his lower back at the NovaCare Complex.
Andrews spent six weeks in Marina del Rey, Calif., recovering from a surgery he said lasted 2 1-2 hours – about an hour longer than scheduled.
“Why did I have to stay? That’s what Dr. (Robert) Watkins recommended,” Andrews said referencing the surgeon. “There were just some things he saw in the X-rays and the MRI’s and kind of the way I told him I felt and he decided to keep me. Each time I had made arrangements to come back and he was like, well I need you to stay.”
Andrews’ weight dropped to 312 pounds during the stay but is back up around 320. He danced around questions about his return this year, although quietly there’s a possibility assuming his rehab progresses and the Eagles have something to play for; i.e. the playoffs.
“Well you can hope all you want and I do hope,” Andrews said. “I don’t know what the possibilities are. So I’m back here and working with (trainer Rick Burkholder) and the guys now. So now it’s a matter of getting to that point now where I can push and pull and take some people out.”
Andrews’ replacement, Max Jean-Gilles, is out for the season after surgery for a fractured ankle.
For now, Nick Cole is the right guard and veteran right offensive tackle Jon Runyan doesn’t see Andrews returning any time soon.
“Getting him back? We’ll see,” Runyan said. “He just got off of doing rehab and out of town and hasn’t played football for what, 2 1-2 months?”