Stud of the Week: Well, this is pretty obvious: Quitin Demps, whose 100-yard kickoff return was the longest ever by an Eagles rookie, provided our ONLY points, and was the first kickoff run back for a TD since the days of Brian Mitchell.
It was a weird day all around. It started off with a drive to Bal'mer for a tailgate that wasn't with some Ravens fans who couldn't get straight what lot they were in. We walked around M&T Bank Stadium for an hour trying to find them, carting two six packs and some really good brownies. By the time we found them, they were packing up. One of my co-workers had sold us his tickets, and when he gave them to me, he warned me that, while most of his neighbors were pretty decent, the guy to the left was "a real tool" and that the best we could hope for would be that he'd get drunk and pass out by halftime. Actually, turned out he has a lot of friends in Philly, likes the Eagles, and, while he was drunk & noisy, he was also really funny and nice to talk to. Fellow Eagles Maniac had a slightly different experience - she almost had to thrown down with an asshole Ravens fan who assumed that, since she's a girl, she wouldn't know what a safety was. And then finally, when we were on our way out of the stadium (about 1/2 way through the fourth quarter, because we were clearly not going to pull it out and Chef Spouse and Steelers Transplant had to get up to the Burgh last night), I GOT HIT IN THE FACE BY A RAVENS FAN. Lady, you're WINNING. Maybe popping the opposing team's fans one when they're minding their own business and leaving your stadium is a LITTLE EXCESSIVE?
Yes, I'm fine. She didn't hit me hard, and, I regret to say, I didn't hit her back, mostly because I was so shocked. I've been a sports fan for decades and attended all kinds of games in all kinds of stadiums and NEVER had anything like that happen. It was a strange end to a strange day.
I can't delay any more, can I? Do I I have to talk about the game?
Our team is just a hot mess right now. And I think our head coach may have lost his mind. If you look up "flailing" in the dictionary, there's a big picture of Andy Reid next to it. Look, having NO clue what you're doing is fine when you're 14 and it's career day. When you're the head coach of the franchise that USED TO BE the class of the NFC, it's a problem.
First half: not good, not awful. Strong offensive series killed by a fumble. D-Mac has the best record in the NFL on picks to TDs. How many turnovers in the past two weeks (aka 6 quarters of football)? I think 5 picks and 2 fumbles, but feel free to correct me in the comments if I got that wrong. But the defense was playing well, and we were only down 10-7, thanks to Mr. Stud of the Week up there.
And then, I look at the huddle on the first offensive possession of the second half, did a double take, and texted "OH MYGOD. KOLB IS IN." to pretty much everyone I know. We were only down by THREE GODDAMN POINTS. Had Kolb even taken any snaps in an actual real game prior to Sunday? Had he had ANY reps with the first team offense since the pre-season? That reads like the act of a desperate man, and I can't for the life of me figure out why Andy would be that desperate. THREE GODDAMN POINTS.
Even I was calling for change, but I didn't expect that. Did Jeff Lurie threaten his job or something? Because Big Red is usually anything but rash.
So what' s my evidence that he's lost his mind? Today's press conference. I could understand if Andy took a look around the NFC (well, excepting the West, where only 1 team has anything close to a winning record), realized that, even with 5 games left to play, there is NO WAY we see the postseason this year, and decided to give the kid a shot. Which would've meant that today's PC went something like, "Who's the QB on Thursday? Kolb. Let's be realistic. It would take a miracle to get us into the playoffs this year. And by 'miracle' I mean the Redskins go to the Cowboys/Giants game on December 14 and an earthquake swallows Texas Stadium. So we're going with the kid for the rest of the season so we can see what we have here, if anything."
But, no! Don's back for Thursday and there's all this random talk about taking a step back to take a step forward and yackity smackity I don't know what all. Has Andy gone off his meds? Does he need meds?
I don't know.
But I do know that the team is in disarray, and I blame the coaching. You know how most teams achieve success? Sticking with what works. The Bengals kept throwing to TJ Houshmandzadeh last week. We weren't gonna cover him, it was working, why not? The Redskins have two offensive plays: hand it off to Clinton Portis to run and "Crap! Clinton needs a breather! What are we gonna do?" The Colts ALWAYS go to Tony Gonzalez on 3rd and long. The Eagles? "Hey, Buck had two good runs! That's it - you're done for the game, buddy. Miller time!" (Yes, I know about the MCL injury this week. That does not explain the previous 10 games.) Another example? It's 1st and goal, we need about 2 yards, Marty dials up a QB sneak that gets us about 1 1/2 yards - why not run it again? Oh no, not us! We have to get all tricky with the pass play and look how that turned out (Ed Reed running back the longest pick for TD in NFL history, for those who've blocked out the memory or killed those brain cells with booze in the past 24 hours). And then Kolb comes back with, "I should've tackled Ed Reed." Ya think?
One area where we are consistent? We have a strong defensive start, but then the offense can't sustain drives, so the guys get tired and eventually start giving up big plays. You know what you need to sustain drives? A running game. BWest is still struggling with a panoply of injuries, and so we go into Baltimore with ONE other running back and Lorenzo Booker inactive for the game.
But I have to come back to: who goes with someone totally untested at QB against the #3 ranked defense when you're only down 10-7? That is just crazy talk. Sure, the team needed a spark. Yes, McNabb has been struggling recently. Yes, he has a history of confidence problems (who wouldn't, with the Philly sports media and fans breathing down your neck all the damn time?). You know what's NOT going to help his or the team's confidence? Benching your starting, 5-time-pro bowl, acknowledged leader of the locker room franchise QB in favor of some kid who's barely taken a snap in a real game.
In the meantime, we have lots of vets with no contracts for 2009. Which may not be such a bad thing, but to me, signals some upcoming wilderness years.
Will McNabb be an Eagle next year? Sadly, I think probably not. And as much as I'd hate to lose him, I almost wish, for his sake, that he can go somewhere like Chicago where they have all the elements but a top QB and he can get his ring already.
Has his erratic behavior lost Andy Reid the locker room? Maybe. What do I think are the odds of AR losing his job in the off-season? A lot is going to depend on the next month, but I don't think it looks very good for him. There really is no way into the playoffs for us this year, even if we win out and end up 10-5-1, unless we manage to get shifted to NFC West in the next 5 weeks.
So now I'm looking forward to Cards on Thanksgiving...with dread.
Around the rest of the NFL...
Steelers over Bengals. Dear Eagles: THAT's how you're supposed to handle a bad team.
Pats over the Dolphins. Damn it! Why will Bill Belichick never suffer the way he deserves to? How does everything always work out for him? I hate that guy!
Texans over Browns. Remember when the Browns beat the Giants back in September? Neither do they.
Cowboys over the 49ers. Is it just me, or do the Cowboys not seem to have much in the way of defense? How on earth did the 49ers manage to score 22 points against a team NOT in their division?
Jets over Titans. It was bound to happen eventually. If we have a Subway Bowl in February, though, I may have to boycott in protest. Ok, not really. But I would be tempted.
Bills over Chiefs. 54-31? What is this? College? Did all the defensive guys on both teams have a big bowl of Xanax for breakfast on Sunday? Washed down with a quart of bourbon?
Bears over Rams. Well, yeah.
Vikings over Jags. When you lose to Gus Frerotte, you know you're having a bad season.
Bucs over Lions. Hey! The Lions scored 20 points! In the end, it didn't matter, but apparently even a 17-0 lead is not enough to help the Lions this year. I think they need an act of God - or at least an act of Congress.
Raiders over Broncos. WHAT? Maybe everyone will finally stop kissing Jay Cutler's ass. Ego of TO, talent of Dan Marino. Now. I was right about the averting your eyes part, though.
Falcons over Panthers. Remember when we beat the Falcons in October? Neither does the team.
Redskins over Seahawks. I got home from Baltimore in time to catch the very end of that game. Two turnovers inside the last two minutes kept it exciting, but in the end, the outcome was never *really* in question. Time of possession doesn't lie.
Giants over Cardinals. The Cards played tough, particularly at the end, but they just couldn't pull it out. Don't worry, Cards - you'll probably pull it back together next week against us, pretty much locking up the NFC West I think.
Colts over Chargers. That was a pretty good game. Peyton's looking better. It's probably too late for the division, but it's definitely not too late for wildcard, with 3 AFC teams at 7-4.
And, as predicted, the Packers/Saints game is a shoot-out (at least through the first half). And I'm pulling for the Saints to stay up. Geaux Saints!