Monday, December 29, 2008


Posted by Alli

Would it be an overstatement to call yesterday the happiest day of my life? OK, perhaps a slight exaggeration, but it was one of the most unbelievable and most amazing days in recent Eagles history. Sure, they've clinched many a playoff berth... but never in such dramatic and such unlikely fashion. The fact is that there is not an Eagles fan out there who was conceivably optimistic about the possibility of a post-season appearance going into yesterday's games.

And yet... miracles can happen.

The Raiders travelled cross-country to pull off an insane upset over tanking Tampa Bay. The RAIDERS... you've got to really take a moment to appreciate the odds of that one. And then, the Eagles caught another break when Houston held on to defeat Chicago. And suddenly, impossible as it seemed a few hours before, the Eagles were back in control of their playoff hopes. AGAIN. Anyone remember that brief period last week when the Bucs lost to San Diego and the Eagles just had to win their last 2? And instead of capitalizing on that, they put up an embarassing 3-point performance against the struggling Redskins... that was nothing short of horrendous. I wasn't even planning to watch much football this week, as the disgusting taste of last week's loss was still festering in my mouth. And then, out of the blue, the stars aligned...

Fortunately, the Birds got the message this time, and quickly started piling it onto Dallas and never looked back. The only thing sweeter than getting massive help to enable a playoff bid was securing it with a monstrous victory over the despised Dallas Cowboys, sending them home to Texas to watch the playoffs from their living rooms. And forcing T.O.'s season to a halt in the City of Brotherly Love, a city that has nothing but brotherly hatred towards Mr. Owens.

The question now is, how will they build on this? How far can they go? The stars and skies seemed to be in Philly's favor yesterday- will this continue? And as someone pointed out: the World Series in Tampa, the Super Bowl in Tampa... the sky's the limit now with a clean, Bengals-tie-less slate in the playoffs. I believe they're as good a team as any in the playoffs this year. But will they play like it?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

EAGLES - Post-Cleveland, hopes still alive

Posted by Alli

Well, at least the Eagles did what they needed to do this week to keep their playoff hopes alive, even if the teams ahead of them didn't. I was hoping that the Falcons would lose quickly so that Philly could grasp control of its own destiny, but the Bucs seemed intent on shooting themselves in the foot repeatedly late in the game yesterday, and allowing the Falcons to eek one out in OT. No matter... now we just need either the Falcons OR the Bucs to lose one of their last 2, which seems doable, especially given Tampa's unimpressive play yesterday without Garcia. Atlanta has the Vikings and Tampa has the Chargers next week, so fingers crossed that they both suck. Update: Apparently one of Minnesota's 2 unrelated DTs named Williams will be out 2-6 weeks with a shoulder injury. If the league drug policy couldn't stop him, apparently his own shoulder will.

Tonight's game was a pleasant surprise in that the Eagles took care of business early and kept my blood pressure rather low, despite what was nearly a horrid dose of deja vu from last week when Brandon McDonald returned a McNabb interception 98 yards to the Eagles' 7 as time ran out in the first half. I have to credit Westbrook's hustle in chasing McDonald down to slow him up before he got to the end zone, but seriously guys... stop giving me a damn coronary at the close of every 1st half! It's worth noting that the Eagles saw 3 different passers throw an interception in that game, but fortunately I'm not overly concerned with 2 of them. Overall though I was very impressed with McNabb- I know Cleveland's D is god-awful, but McNabb threw with unusual accuracy and spread the ball around, and he has been looking better each week since the Baltimore fiasco. Kevin Kolb on the other hand.... not so much. Future of the team, my ass.

A few other guys who merit a quick mention... thank you Asante Samuel for following your dumbass ball-flip a yard shy of the endzone with some quick hustle to pick it up and solidify your TD. Glad to see that you're marginally less stupid than DeSean Jackson circa week 2.

Stewart Bradley finally became the first Eagles LB this season to get a pick. Sure, Ken Dorsey essentially threw the ball right at him, but I'll take 'em where we can get 'em. The linebackers have been doing a good job elsewhere so the lack of interceptions isn't really an issue. Bradley is also super foxy, but that's neither here nor there.

And back to DeSean Jackson... please stop running backwards on your punt returns. I know this probably worked against mediocre Pac-10 teams, but it's obviously not doing anything for you in the NFL. You're a great player, but I have to imagine that sometime during your time at Berkeley you gained a brain cell or 2, so feel free to show that off anytime now.

Around the NFC East...

Is anyone buying this sudden T.O./Romo/Witten BFF bullshit? 'Cause I'm sure as heck not. T.O. is still a giant bag of douche, and I have no doubt that he's got one more tantrum left in his arsenal before the season is over. Probably after the Cowboys lose to the Ravens next week. In fairness though, I would like to see both the Eagles and Cowboys win next week so that they go into Dallas for a ginormous week 17 showdown. Then T.O. can throw a tantrum.

I recently heard some mild speculation that Eli Manning could take the 3rd QB spot in the NFC for this year's Pro Bowl. I realize this is still early and hopefully inaccurate, but I still nearly pissed myself at the thought. I know that when a team does well they tend to send a lot of players to Hawaii (e.g. the Eagles in 04-05), but I'm not sure that I'm prepared to live in a world in which Eli is both a Super Bowl MVP and a Pro Bowler. Especially when there are about 5 QB's in the NFC with better numbers.

And then there are the Redskins... remember not all that long ago when I said they were the new team to beat in the NFC? Yikes. This team is falling apart faster than TO after a trip to the pharmacist. OK, nothing short of the speed of light is that fast, but you get the idea... they've lost 5 of their last 6. Nevertheless, they could very well still play spoiler to the Eagles' playoff dreams next week, so that game is hardly in the bag.

Let's hope that the Eagles can make this the 3rd straight year that they finish the last 3 weeks of the regular season undefeated... and then get a smidge of help from the NFC South.

Monday, December 8, 2008

EAGLES - Just Sayin...

Posted by Alli

...the Eagles are 6-0 in weeks 15 through 17 the past 2 seasons.

Sometimes it's too little too late, sometimes it's the December explosion they need to launch into the playoffs. But if the Eagles can continue that late December trend and win out, they're in the playoffs. They control their own destiny against every team but Atlanta, and no way the Falcons win out with Tampa and Minnesota on the horizon.

2 weeks ago I'd have gasped, Jim Mora-style, at the mention of playoffs. I actually had to drag myself to the Thanksgiving game against the Cardinals, figuring it was nearly pointless (and cold weather usually trumps pointless in my book). Yet suddenly they get over an enormous (Giant?) hurdle today and that spark of hope returns. Is the unspeakable suddenly... able to be spoken?

Now, let me quickly add that I may very well be eating my words next week, as it would hardly surprise me if the Eagles followed up 2 huge wins against worthy division leaders with an embarassing performance against another dismal Ohio team. But breaking it down week-by-week, the playoffs (and a respectable 10-5-1 record) are within reach.

Next week's game against the Browns, on Monday Night Football, is a must-win obviously. Yes, we know that the Birds tend to crap the bed on primetime, but if they can't beat the Browns, they don't deserve to be in the hunt in the first place (sure, the same could be said for the Bengals tie, but why rehash old news now when it goes against my point?) So let's just assume for a moment that they win next Monday, putting them at 8-5-1. The Redskins, frankly, are getting shittier by the minute, but even if they win next week they're still sitting a half-game behind the Eagles. The Cowboys are only occasionally competent and will probably lose to a now-pissed-off Giants team, nestling them a half-game behind them as well. The Falcons have Tampa, a very tough divisional matchup, and if they lose, all of a sudden.... wait for it, wait for it... the Eagles are sitting in the number 2 wild card spot- just like that!

Even if the Falcons win, the Eagles are only a smidge behind them- however this would bring up the crushing memory of our head-to-head win over Atlanta (in the event of a tiebreaker) that will never happen thanks to our ugly third-wheel digit in the tie column. Nevertheless, I just don't see talented-but-still-learning Matt Ryan knocking off vets Jeff Garcia and Gus Frerotte in consecutive weeks. Point being, the Falcons don't win out. And at the risk of sounding overly confident, I don't think our final 2 games against the Skins and Cowboys are as daunting as they seemed a few weeks ago, thanks to their sudden inability to not suck. Not that beating both would be an easy feat by any means, but it's definitely doable. I think the Cowboys might actually end their season in a cloud of choke before they even travel to Philly, with 2 huge games against the G-men and Ravens coming up, but it'd be interesting to have a rematch of that week 2 epic where it really means something to both teams.

Anyone remember 2006? Where 5-6 became 10-6, can 5-5-1 now become 10-5-1? They knocked off all 3 divisional opponents, AWAY, in 3 straight weeks in December '06- their remaining task this season is actually an easier one, with 2 of the last 3 games at the Linc.

Not saying it's going to happen, but logically speaking it's a very real possibility. Just sayin...

Saturday, November 22, 2008

EAGLES - Forever Underachievers?

Posted by Alli

Despite my earlier optimism, the 2008 Eagles season is starting to look an awful lot like 2007. We seem to have the pieces, and yet we can't execute. I mean seriously, a tie against the BENGALS??

Last season, the Birds finished in the top 10 in total offense AND defense, yet with an 8-8 record in the cellar of the NFC East. Currently, this season they're ranked 6th in total offense and points scored, 7th in total defense, and yet here they are with a measly 5-4-1 record. The fact that their record now requires a third space is also just plain annoying, although to be fair they would have been near the bottom of the heap of 6-4 teams in tiebreakers anyway so the tie isn't quite as damaging as one would think. It's really more the cold, hard truth that a team that can't beat the Bengals surely shouldn't deserve to be in playoff contention down the stretch.

The only minor relief was that the Birds' failure to win this one really had little to do with their ineptitude in short-yardage situations. After single-handedly losing the Bears game on goal-line incompetence, and having failed 3rd and 1's heavily contribute to the losses against the Redskins and the Giants, it was at least refreshing to find a new area of patheticness in that last debacle. One has to wonder how bad this season is really going when Donovan McNabb, the man who literally owns the best interception-to-pass-attempt ratio in NFL history, throws 3 picks against the Bengals defense. At least now the Philly fans have no qualms about loudly vocalizing their desire to ship McNabb on the next train out of town- unless of course Kevin Kolb ends up starting his career in a similar fashion to AJ Feeley's 2007 Seahawks performance, reminding us fans that maybe McNabb wasn't so bad after all.

Anyway, regardless of the reasons, the overall fact remains that the Eagles cannot (and continually have not) won the close games. Their 4 losses have all been by less than 1 possession, and a total of 19 points (or less than 5 points a game), while their 5 wins have been by an average margin of 18 points. They are a lousy 1-10-1 in their last 12 games decided by 6 points or less (the sole win coming in that December game against Dallas last year, when the Eagles' season was already over anyway), which perhaps says it all about this team. A team that wins 1 of its last 12 close games can never be a contender for anything other than a high draft pick. So just like last season, where 6 of their 8 losses were lost by a TD or less, this team continues to lose games in the final minutes.

And isn't that the most frustrating way to lose? To know that your team was capable of winning and then failing to do so, time after time after time? How many times do we have to shake off the inclination to say "but we should have won", knowing that "should" doesn't mean jack in this game. If you can't finish games, you're really just in the same boat as the Lions or the Raiders or... yikes... the Bengals.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Giants - Will the Giants finally get respect?

First, I must apologize for not posting in a while, it has been busy with my new job but that is not a good excuse, and in fact is the kind of an excuse a Cowboys fan would give, so again I apologize.

Now to the substance ...
Coming in to this week, if you went on to any of the Espn boards or anywhere else, the Giants were continually being called "overrated", particularly by Cowboys fans, Eagles fans, and Steelers fans, among others. These naysayers predicted that the Steelers would stomp us out. Just look at, where the 5 out of the 8 "experts" picked the Steelers (and I could swear Mortensen originally picked the Steelers), and where three Sunday Countdown personnel picked the Steelers (3 picked the Giants, but one included Mortensen who was double counted). But most importantly 60% of US picked the Steelers in Sportsnation.

And if you look at some of the fans comments in
Espn's Rapid reaction, there are Steelers and Cowboys fans trying to blame this on injuries and bad calls. First, injuries are part of the game and if you cannot overcome them, then that is part of your weakness. More than any other sport, depth is key to winning a championship in football. And depth is exactly the reason why I believe in the Giants so much this season. At Running back, we have three very good backs in Jacobs, Ward, and Bradshaw, at Wide Receiver, we have very solid starting 3, Burress (our star), Toomer (a great route runner and master at the sideline catch), and Smith (master of the slot route), but then our depth provides even more support with Domenik Hixon, Mario Manningham, and Sinorice Moss, all of whom I have liked when I have seen them play. And this is just a few positions. I would say the only positions where we really lack depth are linebacker and cornerback.

Also, many Steelers fans most often cited the injury to their long snapper, which led to James Harrison throwing the ball over the punter's head and leading to a Giants safety. Keep in mind Steelers fans, Cowboys fans, and other Giants haters, we were about to get the ball back anyway, and just as we drove the field after the free kick we probably would have done so anyway even if the Steelers got the punt away.

And to those who would cite bad officiating or miss calls, I have many responses.

First of all, as my wrestling coach once told me, if you leave your fate in the hands of the officials, you will lose. If you want to win you must take control of the match (game) and make sure there is no doubt.

Second, I did not see one missed call against the Giants, but I will admit I am biased.

Third, I did however, see plenty of bad calls or missed calls that went against the Giants. First, in my opinion Jacobs crossed the plane on 4th down at the goaline (though I understand it was questionable and hard to overturn on replay). Second, I saw a play where on a long third down, Steve Smith just missed catching a ball, but during his route the cornerback blatantly grabbed his jersey and a defensive holding should have been called, yet there was no call. Third, on one of our many field goals inside the redzone, Burress's jersey was also held on a second down throw, in a throw that was just past his reach. Again that should have been defensive holding and an automatic first down.

But fourth and most importantly, the Giants dominated the Steelers offensive line. Yes the Steelers ran for a total of 95 yards (though 32 of that came on one play), which is a respectable 4.52 yards a carry, but if you take away the one touchdown play by Moore (which you cannot completely discount but helps show how we did for most of the game), then the Steelers only managed a weak 3.1 yards a carry. We also sacked Roethlisberger 5 times, and most importantly knocked him down about 16-17 times out of 33 dropbacks. That is phenomenal pressure. Oh, and the Giants also had 4 interceptions. Basically with the exception of two bad plays (which again you cannot ignore) we shut them down.

On offense, we did not do that well against their superb defense. We only ran for 84 yards and passed for 199 yards (though that was the most against the Steelers all season). However, even though the Steelers did a remarkable job of stopping us in the redzone, we easily could have scored 4 touchdowns given how many times we marched down the field and got into the redzone in the first place, or had our defense and special teams get us there.

With the exception of the Browns game, the Giants look to be a very good football team. And even though we lost to Cleveland, every team loses a game, with the exception of the 18-1 Patriots who remarkably did not manage to lose a game during the regular season (which was only the second time ever, and then they lost the most important game anyway). So even great teams lose to teams they are better then (I remember the undefeated Broncos lose to a much inferior Giants team a few years ago). So for all you Giants haters, you cannot say the Giants are not a good team because they lost to the Browns and now you have no claim that we have not beaten any good teams.

Now in the eyes of many, the Giants cannot really win next week. If they lose, Giant haters will say, wow Brad Johnson beat you, just imagine what happens when Romo comes back. If the Giants win, haters (mostly Cowboys fans) will just say, oh well, when they have Romo back the Cowboys will beat the Giants. It is just too hard for some to admit the Giants are a damn good team.

On another note, I just have a little Arm-chair quarterbacking to do. Why oh why will we not run Bradshaw? I love Jacobs and the way he runs over linebackers, cornerbacks, and safeties, but sometimes he is not effective. He does not have alot of vision and it seems whenever there is a man in front of him he just lowers his shoulders and for the most part does not try and make a man miss. I also love Ward, who has much more vision and the ability to make man miss but while he is faster then Jacobs he does not have electric speed. Bradshaw, on the other hand has explosive speed, good vision, and the ability to make people miss.

For some teams the big back will work better (particularly teams with faster, but smaller linebackers), but against the Steelers who are big and pretty good speed, it is going to be hard to run over them, and so a back like Bradshaw might be more effective. They should have tried to put Bradshaw in a few plays to see if he could do anything especially after Jacobs wore teams out a little (this is the reason Jacobs should always start because he pounds defenses), but we need to put in Bradshaw more.

But it is hard to question Coughlin, Spagnuolo (especially him), and Gilbride as they have the Giants 6-1.

Now to switch gears.

I have to ask, what are the Cowboys doing????

You add Roy Williams, one of the biggest me-first, whining, prima-donna wide receivers to a team that already has one of the other big me-first, whining, prima-donna wide receivers in Terrell Owens. They do this after already having made a failed gamble on perennial trouble maker, Pacman Jones. Basically they now have two wide receivers who complain they never get the ball enough, how can this possibly work in the long run?

Second, the Cowboys need serious defensive help with Williams, Jones, and others out. Now while they shutdown a moderate offense in Tampa Bay, I just do not see a team who got run over by Stephen Jackson and the Rams as well as the Cardinals the week before, being able to stop strong offensive teams. I cannot see them beating the Giants, Redskins, or even the Bears or Eagles for that matter. They should have traded for some secondary help.

Third, they gave up three draft picks to make this move, including a first round pick. See what happens Detroit when you get rid of Matt Millen? You make the first move on your long way to recovering as a team.

As a Giants fan, I love this move, especially considering what they had to give up (1 1st round pick along with two other picks). I just hope that we run them over last night and take them out of contention in the NFC East.

But hopefully the Giants get some respect and that the naysayers and Giants-haters shutup because they lose all their usual Giants hating talking points. Until next week.

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Travis Henry I Remember

Posted by Geoff

Less than a month ago, Travis Henry was arrested and charged with trafficking cocaine.

I remember watching him play with broken ribs when he was with the Bills. Between possessions, he would come to the sideline and take off his shoulder pads so that the trainer could wrap duct tape around his midsection before he went on the field again. He never complained, never took a day off even when the Bills were out of contention. He would just come to the sideline, add another layer of tape, and head back onto the field. He was incredible between the lines.

It was off the field that Travis Henry struggled. Of course, we never saw it in Buffalo… not the illegitimate children, not the problems with drugs, not the mental anguish. Only the commitment of a man playing through daily pain. Only the talent that kept him in demand in the NFL. Only the athlete we admired from safely outside the lines.

People talk about Travis Henry like he’s a story that has already been told. The fall from greatness: Michael Vick, Marcus Vick, Rae Carruth. The incredible athlete whose talents were overshadowed by off the field problems: O.J. Simpson, Maurice Clarrett, Adam “Pacman” Jones. The troubled star: Jamal Lewis, Ray Lewis… The list goes on, longer than I care to recite. Long enough that it stops being novel. Long enough that it stops being about a person and starts being about a stereotype.

Of course, Travis Henry isn’t a stereotype. He’s a person, just like you or I. A person with friends and a family. And for those four years he was in Buffalo, he was a man among boys between the lines. He was a player’s player. He was a fan’s player. He deserves more than being a punch line to a bad joke, more than being cast aside lightly as another example of a life wasted. His fans deserve more.

But we don’t always get what we deserve. When people look back on Travis Henry, if they look back on Travis Henry, it will probably be more for what ended his career than what composed it. At least for now, I still cling to the Travis Henry I remember, the man between the lines. The player we longed to be like who never knew how much we believed in him. The player I still long to be like. So tonight, as I lie down to sleep, I mentally pull a roll of duct tape around my memories of Travis Henry rushing down the sideline. My spirit aches; I lower my shoulder and hit the pile. I try to remember the Travis Henry I knew, and try to forget the Travis Henry everyone else knows.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Links I find amusing

Posted by Taz:

One of these days, I'll actually write something about the Cowboys. But until then, here are some more links.

Tony Gonzales can be had for as little as a third. The Giants and Eagles are interested.

ESPN won’t tell us why Kellen Winslow is
in the hospital. PFT will. Is this because ESPN is trying to respect Winslow’s privacy, or because ESPN and “investigative journalism” do not go together? And is Winslow’s injury better or worse than Terence Newman's?

For anyone who wants to learn how to run the
Wildcat Offense.

Something not NFL:
another reminder why the BCS is the hands-down dumbest way of determining who plays for the national championship.

lets you create your own team highlight film. What I find more amusing than the ability to play executive producer is mocking the cuts because of 1) the inability to write one sentence at a 3rd grade level and 2) content (I see that Brett Farve fans are keeping busy).

In the “how the heck do these people get jobs writing for major publications” category, Dennis Dillon earns his paycheck by
telling us that LT needs to do better. Wow Dennis, what amazing insight you are providing to us dumb NFL fans. What next? That the team that scores the most points wins?

I wonder if
this was the key concession that enticed Farve to play for the Jets this year.

Brady Quinn
tries to stay in the spotlight. Either that, or he is trying to turn his backup quarterback gig into one of those cushy federal jobs in which he can use our tax dollars to buy this girl lingerie and "light refreshments."

Monday, October 6, 2008

Links I Find Amusing

Posted by Taz

So I'm finally getting settled in from moving and starting work. I'll post in the next few days, but for now I'm going to leave you with some links.

Only the Lions could seriously believe that someone who puts up
these stats are worth 1 DeMarcus Ware or 2 first round picks.

Of course, getting Roy Williams for DeMarcus Ware would be much better than trading for
this former Bills running back.

While the above statement is true, you probably thought I was talking about

Ok fine…
here's the article you expected about a former Bills legend at running back getting in trouble with the law.

In case you approved of Brett Favre trying to single-handedly take over ESPN’s football coverage over the course of the last two months,
here's some more footage, complete with inspirational music and subtitles.

Then again, results like
this remind me that Favre is more than just a male diva.

ESPN has an interesting in-depth look at the sack record prior to 1982.

In the “Captain Obvious writes for the Dallas Morning News” file, Tim Cowlishaw thinks
that Tony Romo needs to cut down on mistakes. It’s on par with other such insightful observations as “St. Louis is a bad NFL team” and “the loss of Tom Brady had a major effect on the Patriots.”

EAGLES- In Deep Shit...

Posted by Alli


There is really nothing for me to say right now other than to spit out some bitterly incoherent grunts of frustration. Not that I won't still yap on for several paragraphs as I'm prone to do (just ask my roommates). To think how things have taken a turn for the worse since my last post! It's hard to decide where to even begin in discussing/lamenting the last 2 games, particularly this most recent ridiculous pig-slop of a performance versus the Redskins. The offense was terrible; the defense was miserable. The lone gem in an otherwise revoltingly nauseating game was DeSean Jackson's punt return TD in the 1st quarter. I recall my enthusiasm after the Rams game in week 1 that we finally had a legitimate punt return threat, and my apparently-naive optimism in comparing the punt return game in week 1 of the 2007 vs. 2008 seasons. DeSean Jackson may be one hell of a punt returner, but when the rest of the team plays as atrociously as they did yesterday, it's totally wasted effort. Hell, the Eagles could rarely even force a punt in the first place for the last 3 quarters of the game.

I had the misfortune of being at the game yesterday, and the circulating fury towards Andy Reid's playcalling (and his generally being outcoached by rookie head coach Jim Zorn) was astoundingly evident in the crowd throughtout the second half. And no, I don't want to be reminded that the Phillies beat the Brewers to advance to the NLCS. Yes, I like the Phillies. No, their win does absolutely nothing to alleviate the pain and misery of the Eagles' loss yesterday. Too many things about this season are beginning to resemble last year, when you couldn't shake that feeling that they were a better team than their 8-8 record suggested, and yet that doesn't really matter at all when you find yourselves at the bottom of your division. AGAIN. Les Bowen of the Philly Daily News wrote an article today to that effect, highlighting all those unsettling things that are forming lumps in the throats of every Eagles fan, after our team once again starts division play 0-2 in a division we once owned.

Perhaps the most mind-boggling aspect of yesterday's loss was the run defense. I couldn't say enough good things about the league's top run D, even after the Birds' loss to Chicago. How does a team that was only allowing 2.6 yards per carry (against the likes of Marion Barber, Willie Parker and promising young rookie Matt Forte) give up a whopping 203 rushing yards to the 'Skins? Can that front 7 recover from such a devestating blow and rebound next week against Frank Gore and the Niners? Was I premature in buying my brand-new Stewart Bradley jersey? So many important questions now exist about the future of this team (and the future of my #55 jersey), both for the duration of this season and in coming years.

Truthfully, I have a better feeling about next week's game at San Francisco than I did going into this one, which probably has a lot to do with the fact that the Redskins of late appear to possibly be the best team in the NFC. Sure, the Eagles almost never win their last game before a bye week, but if the last 2 weeks weren't the kick-in-the-ass that these guys need, then nothing is. Maybe it's a little early to be talking about must-win games, but if yesterday's game wasn't one then this next one surely is. The 49ers aren't a terrible team, but they're a team that the Eagles must be able to beat handily if they want to remain a contender in the division.

The offense NEEDS to make a statement this week, because the only apparent statement they've made since the Dallas game is along the lines of "we can't score for shit in the red zone". McNabb started the season strong but has been faltering since. Reggie Brown and L.J. Smith were both back yesterday, so the excuses for not throwing the ball more effectively are growing thin. Brian Westbrook, the team's far-and-away most important weapon, played yesterday after sitting out last week with an ankle strain but then broke 2 ribs during the game. Frankly, if he doesn't play next week against the Niners, it could be anyone's game given the recent play (or lack thereof) on offense. And when, dear god, is Shawn Andrews coming back?

And while I'm ranting about how the Eagles are sucking at nearly every area, what in the hell is wrong with David Akers? Scratch that- I don't actually care what is wrong with him. I don't care if it's his leg, his psyche or anything else. I just know that he is absolutely worthless beyond 40-45 yards these days. Was I the only one cringing when they brought him in to attempt a 50-yarder yesterday? Was I the only one who would have bet their life that he was going to miss? Was anyone else praying Andy would just punt the ball and try to pin the Redskins inside their own 10? I'd actually rather see the Eagles go for it on 4th and, say, 20, than have Akers try a FG from beyond the 30 (or heck, maybe even the 25). The minute he stepped on the field, I knew the 'Skins would momentarily be given the ball at the 40; sure enough, he missed, and Jason Campbell proceeded to drive the team down to the Eagles' 23 where Shaun Suisham kicked a 41-yard FG. And then just in case us Eagles fans didn't get the point, he eventually kicked 2 more, of 48 and 50 yards, reminding us how nice it used to be to have a reliable placekicker. Oh, those were the days...

Since I've done nothing but whine the entire post so far, I will end with some optimism: I do see things going up from here, although whether it's too little too late is yet to be determined. I should also note that my optimism springs more from the Eagles' upcoming schedule far more than from my optimism that this team will suck less down the road. True, we still have 4 division games in the second half, but 2 of those are against the Giants- although I have no doubt that both will be hard-fought, tough games, I feel better about playing the Giants than I do the Cowboys and Redskins. The Cowboys-Steelers-Bears-Redskins stretch was by far the hardest chunk of the season. And who do they have left to play outside the division? 49ers, Falcons & Seahawks are the next 3... I'm already salivating over that stretch of games. Then later they've got Cincy, Baltimore, Arizona and Cleveland. Not to say that they'll go 7-0 in those games, but the Ravens and Cardinals are the only 2 teams that really pose much of a threat, and the Eagles are more than capable of beating both of them. Therefore, if they can at least somewhat boost their level of play, hope still remains. And let's not forget that Kevin Curtis, who had over 1100 receiving yards last season, will be back either this coming week or after the bye.

Let's just hope the Birds play well on at least one side of the ball next week.

REDSKINS- An Inside-the-Beltway Perspective

Posted by Geoff

I saw a street walker in downtown D.C. on Friday wearing a Redskins cap with feathers sticking out of it every which way. Who knew that the hat would be so prophetic of the Redskins’ out-and-out assault on the psyches of Eagles fans in a game that should have easily gone to the home team?

The way the NFC East has shaken out thus far just doesn’t make sense.

The Eagles are a better team than the Redskins. The Eagles offense should be able to rely on Donovan McNabb, Brian Westbrook, and DeSean Jackson to put up 35 points every week.

The Cowboys should be able to blow out the hapless Cincinnati Bengals. That bears repeating…the Cowboys should be able to destroy a winless team that barely scraped by the Cleveland Browns.

The Redskins shouldn’t be able beat any of the teams in their division. The Redskins certainly shouldn’t be able to beat the Eagles if Santana Moss is held without a catch all game.

Eli Manning isn’t ready to lead his team to victory on a consistent basis. The Giants shouldn’t be able to overcome the loss of the their two best defensive lineman to retirement and injury.

Here’s how to make sense of the year so far. Go back and reread the last four paragraphs and add these two words at the end of each sentence: “on paper.” That’s the thing about the Cowboys and Eagles…they’re better on paper than they will ever be on the field. And the reverse is true for the Redskins and Giants. We could attribute this to coaches. We could attribute this to luck. But what it really boils down to is killer instinct. The Redskins and the Giants have it; the Cowboys and Eagles don’t.

Of course, the news isn’t all bad for the Cowboys and Eagles. They still have two of the best teams in the NFL. They just need to find a way to play the rest of the season on paper.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

This & That, Week 3

Posted by Alli

When I wasn't agonizing over Eagles injuries and admiring the defensive handiwork, I noticed a few other things around the league and the NFC East in particular.

Let's start with the recent obsession with the NFC East. Holy God, every football site I go to is giddily pissing themselves over how strong the NFC East is. To be fair, the division certainly makes an argument for being the juggernaut of the NFL thus far. Dallas is clearly the best team in the NFL, the Eagles' only loss was a close one to the 'Boys and they then dismissed the AFC's then-best, the Steelers. The Giants are the defending champs and are undefeated so far, and the 'Skins are looking stronger each week with an impressive Jason Campbell at the helm. And the 4 teams are 8-0 in games outside the division.

I'm just not totally sold on the Giants yet. This certainly stems out of my dislike for the G-men, and the painful offseason I had to live through with Chris gloating about his semi-crappy Giants team that played their 4 best games all season at just the right time. Even if they had their entire team back, I would see them going 10-6 at best, but the Strahan retirement and the loss of Osi Umenyiora take away - or at least significantly reduce - their biggest weapon, that mighty pass rush. The Giants beat the Redskins in week 1, who admittedly are a decent team, but played terribly in week 1. Next they beat the Rams, who, let's not forget, were only down by 7 points (albeit briefly) early in the 4th quarter. The Giants didn't dominate that game until the very end, and this was against arguably the worst team in the league. Finally, last week, they needed OT to finish off the Bengals. Yes, a win is a win, but in predicting future succees, I just don't see it for the Giants this season. But then again, I said that about them last season, so what do I know...

I understand all the hype for this division though, especially considering how other former powerhouse teams around the league are tanking by the second. What irritates me to no end is all of the fans of NFC East teams on message boards and blogs that LOVE to talk about how great this division is, like they take personal pride in it. Why?! I could care less how strong the rest of the division is, and I'd actually prefer that they all sucked. I don't want these teams beating up on each other 6 games a year; I'd rather have the easiest road possible to the playoffs. The shittier the division competition, the better. I mean, it's an NFL division, they don't need to earn respect. It's not like a college team playing in, say, the WAC or MAC or other semi-obscure conference, who might want to support one another to gain legitimacy. I had no problem with the good ol' days when the rest of the NFC East was miserably awful and provided us with 6 easy wins a year. And also... I hate the Giants and especially the Cowboys, and I don't care for the 'Skins. I'd like to see them all go 5-11 if I had my way. I don't want to see them glorified. What's with all this intra-divisional love all of a sudden? Pardon my French, but... suck it, NFC East.

I'd like to issue a special thank you to
Ronnie Brown for making my fantasy team so awesome this week, as I was able to steamroll over Taz despite losing my top pick, Westbrook. And to think, Ronnie, I almost benched you for DeAngelo Williams! It was also nice watching you manhandle the Patriots D. Now what am I gonna do this week for your bye?

It was good to see the
Chargers finally get a much-deserverd win this week after the Ed "I can't control my over-muscled jaw from inadvertently blowing my whistle" Hochuli situation. I don't see that game (or the ugly last-second loss to Carolina in week 1) keeping them out of the playoffs or the top of the division, but it was a very frustrating way to start their season. They may not yet be in the discussion for who the cream of the AFC is, but given the way the AFC teams have been stumbling each week, it's only a matter of time. They're a good team that got off to a slow start, but they'll be a big threat throughout the season.

EAGLES - 3 Weeks In...

OK, so I never got around to finishing/posting my analysis of the Cowboys game. But after reviewing what I had written so far, particularly some of my concerns about the game and what I was looking to see in week 3 against the Steelers, these 2 games are really worth discussing together, especially given the totally opposite defensive play in each game.

Unsurprisingly, the bulk of my criticism of week 2 was on the defense. I mean, what the hell was that? I know Romo and the Cowboys have a strong offense, but damn, they dismantled our D. I do believe, however, that the Cowboys will be hands-down the best offense that the Eagles will face this season; it's also unlikely that the 2nd meeting in Philly in Week 17 will actually be a meaningful game for one or both teams. Accordingly, I figured things HAD to look up for the D coming out of that MNF performance. Truthfully though, I was absolutely surprised at just how well they rebounded in week 3 against the Steelers. I actually feel like I should go back and delete the entire blog post that I began to write last week because nearly all of my criticisms have become moot. As Phil Simms aptly noted, how in the hell did the Cowboys put up 41 points on THAT defense?!

The Steelers O-line obviously did an inadequate job of protecting Roethlisberger, and I have heard the name Winston Justice come up in more than a few comparisons. Nevertheless, the Eagles front 7 were absolutely masterful. They literally could not have done things any better as far as I'm concerned. They were not only responsible for 8 of the 9 sacks against Pittsburgh, they were a brick wall in the face of Willie Parker, who was held to 20 yards on 13 carries. Through 3 games, the Eagles lead the league in run defense, allowing a mere 45.7 yards per game. And it's not like they've been up against crap RBs either; Steven Jackson, Marion Barber and Willie Parker are some of the best in the NFL. And more amazingly, despite giving up 8 trillion points to Dallas, the Eagles overall D is 4th in the NFL.

Last week, though obviously annoyed about losing to the freaking Cowboys, I was impressed that they had put themselves in a position to win against what will probably be their toughest opponent all season. I was energized by the offensive performance (at least through 3 quarters) and felt they deserved respect after putting up 75 points in 2 weeks. Now following the win against the Steelers (which really felt like a much bigger domination than the score suggests), they've gotten that respect. ESPN and both have the Birds ranked #3 in their power ranking... not that that matters for anything considering the NFL still employs standings rather than opinion polls like college football. But I am very curious to see how the Eagles live up to the recently heightened expectations that have now been laid out for them. We've seen what they can do, and I'm no longer satisfied that they can "hang around with" the best. I want to see them BE the best.

Along that vein, I think the Eagles are living up to that well after week 3. The Cowboys game reminded me of the Pats game last year, both a "moral victory" of sorts if such a concept exists. However, the Birds followed up that Pats 3-point loss with a flat performance against a medicore Seahawks team, and I was afraid something similar would happen this week against the Steelers, especially with having the short practice week. (To be fair of course, the disastrous Seahawks loss may have had a litttttle something to do with AJ Feeley's 4-interception shitfest.) If anything, the 2008 Eagles in contrast took the MNF loss and built on it, plugging the holes that clearly existed in that game and making vast improvements in the proceeding game. This is the first time in a long time that I haven't felt like the Eagles were taking themselves out of games mentally. Where last season they seemed to dwell on poor past performances and continue to underperform (Green Bay, anyone?), this season they seem to have only used it as motivation.

Now that I've finished gushing about how awesomely wonderful our squad is... I've gotta at least address the offense, at least their last 5 quarters compared to their first 7 of the season. First, I don't blame McNabb for the Cowboys loss, and neither should you. McNabb had a stupid fumble at a bad time, but for the love of God people, the defense and special teams gave up 41 points, there's only so much you can ask of your QB, he's not a freaking miracle-worker. And to say that he can't finish games is absurd. I love my fellow Eagles fans, but some of them are so quick to forget the MANY times that McNabb has led them down the field to 4th quarter victories and only dwell on the times he's come up short. My absolute favorite thing about the Cowboys game was how mobile McNabb looked. It helped that the O-line gave him good protection, but he looked like vintage McNabb, didn't he?! He was using spin moves, side-to-side moves, I mean he looked seriously confident on foot and I am really looking to see how that benefits him this season.

Yes, the last drive on offense was ugly. Yes, McNabb should never have taken that DeMarcus Ware sack. But it would be unfair to only focus on the 4th quarter, when the QB and O-line played a very, very good game the rest of the night- prior to the last drive, McNabb was only sacked twice against a vicious pass rush, and I was impressed how much time the O-line gave him in the pocket. So despite the lackluster last few drives, I still give the Eagles offense and particular Donovan McNabb an A for the Cowboys game.

The O in the Steelers game is a little more confusing to dissect. First, the Steelers were far and away the best D we've faced so far. And second, Westbrook left the game one play into the 2nd quarter. There are really almost no words to describe how utterly crucial and indispensable B-West is to the Eagles, even more so than McNabb in my opinion. Buckhalter did a noble job of replacing him after he left the game, but there is no one else who commands the coverage that Westbrook does, which is what makes him so valuable. Fortunately, as far as injuries go, this one sounds like it could be worse, and Westbrook has been walking without crutches. I'll be curious to see whether he plays this Sunday night against Chicago, but I'm far more concerned with his health down the stretch. And... it's just the Bears, right?? Anyway, my overall conclusion on the Eagles O against the Steelers is that we shouldn't be worried. Reid admitted that he and Marty Mornhinweg were conservative with the play-calling in the second half, given the spectacular defensive play and the fact that the Eagles were opening a make-shift ER on the sidelines to handle the offensive players going down by the dozen. The Birds face another tough D in the Bears this week, but I'm confident that they'll be OK offensively.

And finally, how could I possibly discuss the O without a word about DeSean Jackson? That word is... IDIOT. Yes, I believe he is and will continue to be a very good receiver and I'm glad we have him, especially with the injuries to Kevin Curtis and Reggie Brown (Brown was in for a few plays but had no catches on Sunday). Nevertheless, for an otherwise smart guy who went to Berkeley, he's an idiot. And I worry that he's got some TO/Ocho Cinco crazy-in-a-destructive-way in him. In fact, I was all set to buy myself a shiny new DeSean Jackson jersey, but after this past week wisely changed my mind and went with Stewart Bradley (which I will hopefully be debuting at the Redskins game at the Linc in 12 days, but who's counting?) But anyway, the immeasurable arrogance displayed by Jackson when he casually flipped the ball behind him a YARD before reaching the end zone against the Cowboys speaks for itself. And for those of you who missed SportsCenter and Jackson's similarly moronic swan dive a yard shy of the end zone in high school, I encourage you to check that out here. Jackson's idiocy was sealed in my mind this past Sunday when he caught a pass late in the 4th quarter when the Eagles were trying to drain the clock and he ran straight for the sidelines, stopping the clock. IDIOT. But whatever, he's a great receiver, blah blah blah. Just use a minimal amount of common sense from here on out, buddy.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

COWBOYS - My two cents on the Eagles win

Posted by Taz:


Monday, September 8, 2008

EAGLES - And the season is off and running...

So it’s obviously been a while since I’ve updated, but now is as good a time as any as the Eagles have their first game under their belts. And wow, what a way to start off the season, even if it was against a struggling Rams team. It’s impossible not to be excited anytime the offense puts up 38 points, no matter who the opponent, but I was even more impressed with the defense. The Greatest Show on Turf the 2008 Rams are not, but Marc Bulger and Steven Jackson are still a legitimate threat when the O-line is healthy, and I expected the Rams O to put at least a pair of touchdowns on the board. The Eagles’ defensive line put pressure on Bulger early, and the young linebacker corp did a great job of stuffing the run. I’m really anxious to see how they do against Marion Barber next week, but I’m feeling extremely optimistic at this point.

Frankly, as much as I wanted to dropkick the TV every time Asante Samuel and co. dropped an interception, I was happy that they were making big coverage plays. I’d rather see the drops in games like that when we didn’t need the turnovers, so that hopefully they can come up with a few against the Cowboys or Steelers in the next two weeks. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one feeling major déjà vu watching one blown-interception after another yesterday, but if the shaky hands of the defensive backs is the biggest concern coming out of week 1, the Birds are in great shape. Now let’s just hope that they can turn those near-misses into huge plays in coming weeks.
And speaking of week 1… obviously the season-opener has not been a forte of the Andy Reid era, seeing as how they were 3-6 under Reid before yesterday. But looking back to this same Monday afternoon last season- holy shit what a difference a year makes. To be fair, I’m not ready to proclaim the Eagles legitimate Super Bowl contenders just yet, but how can you not notice the extraordinary difference in special teams between yesterday and a year ago? The crappy punt returning (or more accurately, the crappy decision-making by the coaches to not put more thought into the punt return prior to week 1) in the 2007 season opener against the Packers was easily one of the most depressing incidents I’ve ever witnessed. I know that I personally threw at least 3 breakable objects across the room over the course of that game before my roommates attempted to sedate me. I still believe that if the punt return disasters sprinkled throughout that Packers game hadn’t occurred, not only would they have certainly won that game but also they might have sucked less in later games, including that depressing Monday Night loss to the Redskins in week 2 where it just felt like the Birds were playing flat the entire game. Once they went 0-2, they spent the entire season unsuccessfully struggling to get above .500, losing one heartbreakingly close game after another.
This year, DeSean Jackson made a big statement for the positive in week 1 punt returns. He may not have broken away for his first regular-season return touchdown just yet, but watching him maneuver down the field yesterday left me with no doubts that he’s going to be a huge force this year, whether it be on special teams, offense or both. He literally got better and more impressive with each punt return, starting out slow in the first quarter and eventually dazzling the crowd with returns of 18 and 60 yards in the third quarter, the former of which he was one tackle-from-behind from finding open grass all the way to the end zone. So yeah, the punt return is only one element of the game, but if last year taught us anything, it’s that this one little element can make or break a season. On the other side of special teams, the return coverage units did their job spectacularly; the Rams’ best starting field position all day was their own 25, and they were twice pinned at their own 2. The potential of specials this year, led by Jackson, combined with the fact that McNabb looked like vintage, healthy, pre-Mama-McNabb-blogging-escapades Donovan McNabb, set a much different tempo for this season.

And for those of you who think this game is nothing different from the misplaced optimism we took from the Detroit blow-out in week 3 last season – which, lest we forget, was followed up by the excruciating shit-show of a loss to the Giants the following week, including the 12-sack Winston Justice fiasco – I hear ya, cause it crossed my mind too, but I truly believe this time will be different. For one thing, despite putting up 56 points against the Lions in that game, I bet you remember that queasy feeling you had somewhere in your stomach about the 21 points we gave up in the first half. Yesterday, on the other hand, the D shut out the Rams for 3 quarters before eventually conceding a lone field goal. The defense also allowed a mere 166 yards all game and did not give up a single third-down conversion, which is about as stingy as a defense can get. Sure, it would have been nice to see a freaking turnover, but in a game where the D didn’t let the Rams into the red zone all afternoon, it’s really just unnecessary whining on my part at this point. Nevertheless, if the defense fails to hang onto an interception or force a fumble in the next couple weeks, I’ll be back to bitch about this.

Next week’s Monday night showdown against the Cowboys in Texas Stadium will obviously be a lot more telling about how much the Birds really have improved since last season. Of course, we did beat the Cowboys in our last meeting there, and there are no major holes that I can feasibly identify in the Eagles’ play thus far, so I’m thinking positively. I’ll even go so far as to say that I could potentially handle a loss to the ‘Girls, so long as McNabb and the O remain potent and the defense gets pressure on Romo. But I think we’ve got a fantastic shot next week so I’ll be eagerly counting down to MNF for the next 7 days.

This and that…

Back to the Cowboys- truthfully, although I was really hoping for a total Cowboys suck-fest yesterday against the Browns, they looked excellent to kick-off their season, and I think they will definitely (though unsurprisingly) be the team to beat in the NFC. The o-line was strong, the defense was solid, and Romo has 3 excellent receiving options in TO, Witten and Crayton. On the other hand, the Browns looked pretty terrible so as with the Eagles-Rams game, it’s difficult to tell how much of the win was on the Cowboys’ own merits versus how much of it was the Browns sucking. Next week will be a very important game for both Philly and Dallas.

I used to be a fan of Brett Favre, but after his predictably short-lived retirement, I’m getting a little bored of him. The veteran’s leadership of a squad of young but talented players was a feel-good story last year, but this year, the media’s ongoing felatio of Favre is just played out. While Favre and the gang masterminded a 6-point victory over the colossally craptacular Miami Dolphins, I was unimpressed with the geriatric QB in what I saw of the game. The commentators gigglishly fawned over him in the 2nd quarter on 4th and 13 when he chucked a “pass” into the air in a seizure-like motion in the general direction of the end zone that, by some miracle of God, WR Chansi Stuckey came down with in the end zone. It also didn’t hurt that any Dolphins defensive back within a 10-yard radius of Stuckey appeared to be filing his nails or generally running in the opposite direction of the ball. “Favre doing what Favre does best,” they feverishly gushed on TV. I can’t argue there; there’s nothing Favre does better, or at least with more frequency, than blindly heave passes in the air. I’m calling it now… 20+ interceptions for Favre this season.

I can’t skip over the opportunity to comment on the Ocho Cinco situation. Last spring, I was eager about the possibility of acquiring the receiver formerly known as Chad Johnson in a trade. I’ve always believed that he’s a less destructive version of TO; I enjoyed his river-dance and I figured he was goofy but harmless. Now I wonder. It’s not that the act of changing one’s name is such a big deal (albeit to something as stupid as Ocho Cinco, which isn’t even Spanish for eighty-five but rather for eight five, though I’ll concede that it’s catchier than Chad Ochenta y Cinco). It’s more the idea of, what idiot actually takes the time out his life to run to court to get it legally changed? Even king of the dumbasses himself, Terrell Owens spends less time than that thinking up lame touchdown celebration dances. Chad just took it too far. Jokingly pasting “Ocho Cinco” onto his jersey was funny. Legally changing his name to Chad Ocho Cinco is disconcerting. I’m now one of the growing mass of people who no longer cares who he gets traded to, so long as it’s a team that already has a #85, preferably one who refuses to switch jersey numbers. Oh, and I hope he doesn’t have any touchdown dances planned out just yet considering Carson Palmer couldn’t find the end zone if he river-danced into it. It looks to be a bad year for the Bengals.

Monday, August 25, 2008

GIANTS - Finally A Post from The Giants Fan - Umenyiora, Strahan, Lost Players and Draft Picks

For those who are under a rock, the recent breaking news for the New York Giants is that Osi Umenyiora is out for the season due to a torn lateral meniscus in his left knee. Umenyiora's Injury. My first thought, is that we are done this season. How can we overcome losses of Michael Strahan and Osi Umenyiora? Strahan and Umenyiora are probably the two best players on the Giant's Defense (actually, check that, they are the best two) and two of the best leaders on the defense, other then maybe Antonio Pierce. Matt Mosley, in his NFC East Blog discussing Umenyiora's injury and Strahan's possible return, stated: "of all the players the Giants couldn't have afforded to lose, I think Umenyiora ranks right behind quarterback Eli Manning," and I think Mosley hit the nail head on. Giants 101 seems to believe that although losing Umenyiora is a big loss, the Giants will still be a good team. The article focused on how Reese got praise because of the depth he built and that the Giants success was not completely dependent on Umenyiora or Strahan. He has a good point, but I am not sure if we could lose so much depth from the defensive line (which was an area that was so good they covered for the Giant's shortcomings in other areas, like the secondary).

My second thought was that Strahan might come back. But I was not the only one thinking this. ESPN, smelling a story, included in its article about Umenyiora's injury a discussion between Coughlin and Strahan, though Coughlin said his conversation with Strahan was only about his new network job. But while watching Sportscenter this morning, there was a new story about Michael Strahan claiming that
Strahan would consider coming back to the Giants. The article basically says that Strahan would be willing to come back for $8 million and Co-owner Steve Tisch said he would absolutely consider bringing back Strahan and Tom Coughlin said they were considering all options. Matt Mosley discussed whether Strahan would consider coming back. In his article Mosley states that Strahan, in his previous statements, has not sounded like a man having second thoughts about retirement. Mosley also stated that the Giants asking Strahan to play would force him to change his legacy of going out after winning a Super Bowl. Mosley also added that asking him to come back would put Strahan in an uncomfortable position as some fans would see him as disloyal if he didn't come back after being offered $8 million and if he does come back he could affect his legacy. However, Mosley finished by saying the Giants should do it because the situation "is not any worse then the one the Giants are in now."

Should the Giants bring Strahan back? How do they replace Umenyiora especially with all the other losses?

The biggest problem appears to be Strahan's stated high price tag and the fact that it is not clear Strahan has been working out or staying in shape, like he had in 2007 when he held out through the entire pre-season. Looking at fan comments made on ESPN's article about Strahan possibly coming back, it looks like Giants fans are divided, some think it is too much money to bring him back especially since he is out of shape, while others think it is the only way to save the season. Fan Comments on Strahan's Possible Return

My opinion is that we absolutely need to bring him back. I think the Giants cannot win any playoff games (and maybe not even make the playoffs) if we do not have either Umenyiora or Strahan. $8 million seems like a cheap price to pay to save the Giants' season. He may be out of shape, but he will probably be back to form after about 4 weeks; I'll take Strahan any day, any way. First, Strahan was third on our team in sacks with 9 (it will be hard to match that production, especially since we are moving Tuck from a role where he prospered by taking advantage of slower offensive guards and moving him to DE where he will face more athletic tackles); second, Strahan's sack total doesn't even state his full contribution on pass rushing, as he would constantly draw double teams; third, he still had a great ability to stop the run (he was seventh on the team in tackles and he has so much football awareness. Just yesterday I watched the Bucs-Giants playoff game, and noticed Strahan perfectly read a delayed running back screen to stop a possible first down. Fourth, and most importantly, his leadership on the field cannot be replaced.

But there is another reason to bring Strahan back, and that is what we must do if we do not bring him back. We lost several players from last year, mostly from our defense. From last year, our key losses would be Jeremy Shockey (TE), Reggie Torbor (LB), Kawika Mitchell (LB), Michael Strahan (DE) and Gibril Wilson (SS).

When the Giants lost these players, there were articles talking about these "huge" losses to the Giants, though most held that Strahan and Wilson were really the only big losses. (Giant's Defense Raided but not enough to slow it down and Giants Still have the best front four)

I thought all of these guys were replaceable other than Strahan. In the first round of the draft we picked Kenny Phillips, which I thought was a great pick. As I stated in an earlier post, there were debates whether the Giants should take Kenny Phillips or Tyrell Johnson with both Scout Inc's Pick by Pick Draft Analysis and Mel Kiper's Draft Grades and Analysis stating that they thought the Giants should have selected Tyrell Johnson (giving the Giants only a C+ largely because he thought we picked the Second Best Safety in the draft). But I think Phillips will be more then enough to replace Wilson. I liked Gibril Wilson, but he could not hold onto an interception for his life and his coverage skills were not that good. He is a hard hitter and is good against the run, but his inability to make interceptions and lacking in pass coverage makes him very replaceable.

While there have been a lot of comments about the Giant's weaknesses at Linebacker, especially with the Giants losing both Torbor and Mitchell, I didn't see it as a big deal and neither did many Giants fans. Torbor was a backup at best and only played due to injuries to Mathias Kiwanuka. Also as for Mitchell, the Giants really like Gerris Wilkinson and he was expected to take over for Mitchell. We also picked up Danny Clark from the Texans as a free agent. I thought Kiwanuka's return and Wilkinson and Clark were more then enough to replace Torbor and Mitchell.

And as for Strahan, even though I thought he could not be replaced, Justin Tuck proved last year he was ready to step into a role as starter at Defensive End (though there have been some questions about whether he would have as many sacks against more athletic Offensive Tackles then the Offensive Guards he lined up against), and with Spaugnolo calling the plays, he would get Kiwanuka involved at Linebacker as a pass rusher and the Giants just have incredible depth on the Defensive Line even without Strahan.

However, things have changed as a result of injuries, with the key injury being Umenyiora. First, starting with the injuries to minor players: First, Jonathan Goff (LB), our 5th round pick fractured his back and it is not clear how long he will be out or if he will be placed on the injured reserve. Goff's Injury. Second, Gerris Wilkinson started the year on the Physically Unable to Perform List and has not played many snaps, and he lost his job to Danny Clark. Wilkinson's Situation. Danny Clark was solid for the Texans last year with 51 tackles in 13 games, but was nothing special.

The injury to Umenyiora has forced the Giants to act, and barring the Giants signing Strahan, the Giants have already decided to move Kiwanuka back to the line. The NY Daily News printed an article discussing how Kiwanuka is ready to move back to the line if the Giants need him and stated as Breaking News that Kiwanuka has officially been moved back to Defensive End. As the Daily News Article states, Kiwanuka would help ease the lost at Defensive End, as that is his most natural position and where he is most comfortable. Although as some commentators stated on Sportscenter, even though it is the most logical move top move Kiwanuka back to Defensive End, it would require taking a player who had finally adjusted to his new position at linebacker and puts him back to his old position and undoes all the progress her made. Next year, when Umenyiora returns there will be serious questions about what to do with Kiwanuka.

As one commentator stated, while Kiwanuka and Tuck are not as deadly a combo as Strahan and Umenyiora (combined Tuck on Third Down playing as Defenseive Tackle), but the Giants could do much worse. But the key loss will be at Linebacker. Right now if Kiwanuka does move to the line, that leaves Zak DeOssie (who has only played regular season games as a long snapper and special teams player) as first in the depth chart at Strongside Linebacker with 4th Round Pick Bryan Kehl as the backup, although Kehl has started a few snaps at Linebacker during the preseason when Kiwanuka was hurt. And on the weak side, the Giants only have a mediocre Danny Clark, and Gerris Wilkinson who has been hurt all year and so far has not been able to beat Clark for the starting job. This is not a great situation for the Giants linebacker corp.

Strahan coming back would either give us more depth at Defensive End, if Kiwanuka moved there, and this might be smart considering Strahan will not be at 100% for the first few weeks; or it would allow Kiwanuka to stay at Linebacker where we could use some help. So there are 5 really good reasons to Sign Strahan. I say sign him.

I will finish analyzing the draft, which I should have done ages ago, as well as their performance in training camp and pre-season games in the next post. I will also catch up on all the Summer Giants and other NFC East news.

Friday, July 25, 2008

The blog is back!

Posted by Taz

So the living hell caused by studying for the bar has not ended yet (the exam is next Tuesday to Thursday), but my head hurts from studying, so I'm going to give a few updates on things going on.

Cowboys: Why I'm fine with cutting Terry Glenn

In case if you have not heard, this happened today. Terry Glenn is finally cut. Jerry is claiming that he wants the young receivers to develop. This would probably explain why there has been little movement on the front. Unlike the rest of us, 1 million doesn't mean too much to Jerry if it gives him a better shot at the Super Bowl, so it's probably the explanation why there has been so much foot dragging on this issue.

Personally, I'm fine with it. While a healthy Terry Glenn is better than everyone's favorite split personality wide receiver (no one ever seems to think that TO could just be a complicated man...instead we are shocked when athletes do not have dumbed down personalities that any moron can relate to), it seems like his knee is going to go out. The fact that the team was pushing for microfracture surgery AND he refused has to say something. Do you know how serious microfracture surgery is? If you follow the NBA, you know how many times this surgery has ruined a career (Penny Hardaway...and lil' Penny, Chris Webber, Antonio McDyess, and Darius Miles...assuming a NBA career consists of having one skill [athleticism], while having no other pertinent skills [work ethic, desire, shooting ability] and averaging 10 points a game while using racial slurs on your ethnically identical coach).

Terry Glenn is an injury waiting to happen, meaning we are going to have to depend on the young guys anyways. You might as well let these guys get extra reps, and then call Glenn up if you need the help. I somehow doubt someone is going to claim him off waivers, thereby getting the right to pay him $1.7 million this year for his salary for a receiver who might suffer a career-ending injury at any moment in time. Regardless if you agreed or disagreed with the fact that the Cowboys didn't draft a receiver in the draft, the reality is that these young guys are going to have to step up and we might as well fund out sooner than later

Eagles: Is the Eagles' method of spending ever going to catch up with them?

Check out's report and this from that discuss Shawn Andrews' being MIA for the day. Is this a contract holdout, or something unrelated to money? No one knows for sure, but I'm more interested in a trend that I have seen for years: the tightwadness of the Eagles. In previous years, the Eagles have signed their core players to long-term, high signing bonus, low yearly salary contracts, and play hardball with players who try to hold out. Smart financial sense, but I wonder if it makes players more nervous or less willing to play for Philly. In fact, I predicted years ago that it would lead to an overall decline in their team. While their team has not been doing as well, you can blame that on better division rivals and the chronically injured McNabb.

But why am I so against the Eagles' method? First of all, the perception may be off. They seem to pay well for players who generally are top tier, such as the massive extension for Donovan McNabb, and good salaries for Asante Samuel, Jevon Kearse, and Darren Howard. These moves always seem to make sense at the time (though Kearse and Howard eventually became busts, at the time they were pretty good players). Moreover, the players they do choose not to pay, such as Jerimiah Trotter , Bobby Taylor, Troy Vincent, and Corey Simon, seem to go off somewhere and suck. So obviously, they are doing something right.

I think I base this opinion off the T.O. incident, which I still believe could have been averted if the Eagles just threw a couple million more at him. But maybe they are smart and won't overpay/extend older and second tier players like other teams will. I guess I'm more sympathetic to teams that are aggressive spenders like the Redskins and Cowboys. Then again, I've never seen a team throw money at second tier free agents like the Redskins (no one would know Randal-El if he wasn't throwing 2 point conversions with the Steelers), and the Cowboys have not won a playoff game in over a decade. So while I am a bit skeptical about being fiscally conservative with spending, it's worked for the Eagles, who before last year owned the NFC East for the past decade. Several years ago, I predicted that it would eventually catch up with them. So far, it hasn't.

Giants: Justin Tuck is not happy that the Giants are getting zero respect

Tuck made some comments the other day about the Cowboys "trying to buy" a super bowl. While his comments may not be totally accurate (considering the Cowboys spent a ton of money extending players they already had the rights to, traded for Adam Jones, and signed Zach Thomas), his point is loud and clear. The Giants hate the fact that no one is talking about them. Look at any preseason rankings. ESPN has the Giants as 6th, behind the Cowboys and Jaguars, and if you look around at other preseason predictions, many have the Cowboys winning the division. So I don't blame the defending Super Bowl Champions for being annoyed.

But they really shouldn't be suprised, since they have been disrespected since their Super Bowl run. This lack of respect originates from last year, when everyone thought the Cowboys and Packers were by far the two best teams in the NFC. The Giants were considered to be a step below, yet in the playoffs beat both of them, and the juggernaut of a Patriot team. Objectively, they beat 3 of the top 4 teams in the NFL to the Super Bowl. But perceptions remain for various reasons. They lost to all three of those teams in the regular season. Eli Manning didn't start playing well until the end of the year, and the team began to click then. Plus I think people don't like the Giants for various random reasons (Jermey Shockey, they are from New York, Eli seems to be the most boring person ever). So instead of people thinking that the Giants were legit, people thought that they were the 3rd best team in the conference.

(And for the record, I'm still not sure which class of 2004 QB I dislike the most. Ben Rothlisburger I feel is overrated because he has a pretty good team around him and by all accounts is an arrogant prick. I still find Eli as a weinie because of the stunt the Mannings pulled with San Diego during the draft. And every time I hear about Philip Rivers, he seems to be talking smack to just about anyone, despite the fact that his team is no higher than third best in their conference. Then again, 2 of them already have won Super Bowls, and San Diego is a threat to win it all each year, so they are doing pretty good for themselves).

Anyways, in the offseason, they lose Michael Strahan to Fox TV, along with a couple other contributors who seemed to be the beneficiaries of being on the team who won the Super Bowl (Gibril Wilson is this year's "Dexter Jackson/Larry Brown Award" winner for cashing in on a performance that the Giants fans I regularly talk to seem to call nothing more than average). Plus, the Cowboys seem to get more stacked, along with New England, Indy, Jacksonville, San Diego, and Green Bay not going away. It should be no suprise that the Giants are getting disrespected.

So Justin Tuck has to live with it for a few more months. If the Giants can come out and show that last year was not a fluke, then he can taunt everyone who was wrong. Until then, he should probably stay away from football websites and sportcenter.

Redskins: I'm not a big fan of the Jason Taylor trade

Yeah...if my team lost two defensive ends in one practice, I would be on the phone making a panic trade as well. But leave it to Danny Snyder to turn a panic trade into one of the biggest splashes of the offseason.

What I don't like about the move is that the Redskins seem to be in transition this year. Between hiring Jim Zorn (who I swear could be the name of a Bond movie villian), overhauling the reciever unit, and still having to deal with the ramifications of the utterly tragic Sean Taylor death, I don't see the Redskins contending for the title this year.

As you know, the problem is that Taylor is near the end of his career, and giving up a 2nd and 5th round pick is a lot for a one year rental. If I'm the Giants and lose Justin Tuck, or San Diego and lose Shawn Merriman, I would call up Miami and make this trade in a heartbeat. But for a team that is probably a year from contending in the ultra-competitive NFC East (wow...three years ago I would have called this division "Eagles and Friends"), I see this as wasting a couple of picks that could help down the road for a stop-gap solution.