30 August 2006

Comings and Going

Once again, AR & co. hit me out of left field.

Pinkston gone? Sure - that was obvious the minute we signed Stallworth.

Detmer gone? Again, not hugely surprising after he got bumped to #3 last year behind Fumbles McMahon and did so poorly when he played this preseason.

But AJ Feeley? Raise your hand if you saw THAT one coming.

I'm really pretty flabbergasted. Guess AR still has a soft spot for our old #3 QB who managed to pull us into the playoffs in 2002 when both D-Mac and Detmer went down. And he didn't have a terrible year when we traded him to the Dolphins in 2004 (well, OK, other than throwing more INTs than TDs). Not that that was a bad move, of course, since it netted us Reggie Brown. And at least Feeley's familiar with the offense. Guess AR's not real happy with what Jeff Garcia and Timmy Chang have been showing him this pre-season.

As far as Pinky and Detmer are concerned, I've always had a soft spot for both of them (although Pinkston probably should have been a track star rather than a football player considering his speed and size), so all I can do is say bon voyage, and I hope you both land somewhere good.

28 August 2006

Stallworth a-go-go

This one came out of left field for me, which just goes to show why I'm not a pro football head coach.

I don't think I posted about this, but the Deion Branch rumor just never worked for me. We just got rid of a prima dona with attitude problems. I think the pain is still too recent for AR to want to go back that particular poisoned well. But without Pinkston - who I think is probably going to be cut - we just didn't have a Speedy McReceiver who could get down the field fast enough to catch the really long bombs we all know D-Mac is capable of.

So a little about Stallworth: he's 25 years old with 5 years' experience. As a Saint last year, he managed to haul in 70 receptions for 945 yards and 7 touchdowns. While playing for a team in complete physical and emotional disarray. In 2002 and 2003, he spent some time on IR with left leg muscle injuries - quad and ham. But he's been healthy since. Check out his total career stats here.

I haven't watched a huge amount of Saints games, so I don't have much of an impression of him as a player yet. I am concerned that he doesn't have a huge amoung of time to learn our offense. The Saints are running a West Coast offense now, but Stallworth's experience with it has been training camp this year.

We're losing Mark Simoneau, who had a great year with us his first year in the 2003 season and has been up and down since then. And we've had plenty of linebackers running around training camp, including Trott and Shawn Barber.

All in all, call it cautiously hopeful.

In other NFL news, it's been fun to watch the Packers get creamed by the Bengals and to see Carson Palmer back on the gridiron after what sure as hell looked like a career ender last year. I didn't think I'd get the opportunity to start beating the "You Need to Retire Now Vicodin Boy" drum again already, before the season even officially starts - this is AWESOME! Was it wrong of me to laugh when Favre threw two picks within the first five minutes of the game?

Chef Spouse tells me the game's been halted and may possibly not be finished on account of a huge lightning storm. And God said: "To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven. Brett Favre, it is time for you to get your burned-out a** OFF the FIELD, that it may be pleasing in My sight. DON'T MAKE ME COME DOWN THERE."

And the rumors about Ben Roethlisberger? Well, he didn't seem on Friday night for sure. Could be the once-again busted up thumb, but the concussion-vagueness theory works for me, too. Forgetfulness in a QB seems like a problem: "Hey guys - what down is this again?"

26 August 2006

Cavalcade of Injury Prone Players, Part 1 Million

Stephen Davis had a try-out with the Eagles today. The same Stephen Davis who missed (or was MIA) for most of the past two seasons. Remind you of anyone? Like maybe Correll Buckhalter? Is AR calling up all the other coaches? "Say, who do you have who's broken down, suffering consistent problems with injury, and is probably on his last legs? We want him! We're trying to collect the whole set!" Hey! Maybe we can convince Joe Theismann to suit up as our #2 QB!

Yeah, we need the solution to the running back equation in a big hurry (the receiver equation, too, while we're at it), but I don't think it's another injury-prone guy in his mid-30s who's going to want big bucks.

25 August 2006

Post game wrap

What did I love?

JR Reed - dude gets totaled and still comes back and burns it up with an INT and some mega-hits.

Buckhalter - my fingers are crossed that there's some goodness to be had there.

Reggie Brown - some nice catches, there, my friend.

D-Mac - smiling, laughing, being his typical and much-missed last season goofball self. WHEW.

Darren Howard - got some good penetration and an early sack

Dawk - a beast of course. And a nice INT.

Garcia - aired it out some and succesfully. He wants that #2 so bad, *I* can taste it.

Akers - it's a "cannon" when it's D-Mac's arm. What is it when it's a leg? A howitzer?

And what was up with that stupid "taunting" call on Greg Lewis? Dude, he tossed the football over his shoulder. What? He's supposed to call UPS?

So among our remaining cipher players, I suspect Mahe's in, Detmer's out, Pinkston's...well, I'm not sure. It's not like he was a factor at all. JR Reed's in, and I'll bet Ryan Moats and Bruce Perry are, too, just given the way AR likes to put the team together over time. But I wouldn't put money on any of this.

Bloggin' at Halftime

I was disappointed to see us unable to nab a TD, but it's always a pleasure to see Akers kick the long ones in high winds. Guy's a beast.

And speaking of beasts, Dawk always delivers.

Buckhalter's gotten some good runs and managed not to sustain a season-ending injury, so that makes me happy. Pinkston got a reception, but is it just me, or has he *lost* weight? That's not good. Dude already has to wear skis in the shower to keep from sliding down the drain.

Can we really justify a roster spot for Koy Detmer just because Akers loves him as a holder? Maybe - Akers is the freakin' golden goose.

I would've liked to see the starters play a little longer, but as Chef Spouse points out, once the Steelers start throwing in their #2 players, we have to pull our first team out so they don't get killed by the guys who are looking to move up the roster.

Some dumb penalties, which we're going to have to watch as they had a tendency to bite us in the a** last year. And poor JR Reed got freakin' leveled. I hope he's OK.

And was that Tony Kornheiser pointing out that "you don't have to be smart to win a Super Bowl"? Actually, there may be an inverse relationship. Tom Brady's hardly a brain surgeon (as The Editor has observed: "Get ball. Throw ball. Get ball. Throw ball."), and Roethlisberger rides a screamer of a crotch-rocket without a helmet.

And for those of you who haven't come around to my view on King Kaufman yet: Pluto's been demoted, but stargazers can still enjoy the fireworks between the planet-sized egos of Terrell Owens and Bill Parcells

Eagles/Steelers Preview

It's our next to the last pre-season game. Neither team has won a pre-season game yet, and neither coach cares. Nor do I, really, since the pre-season is just about trying to sort out the roster.

I don't know about you all, but tonight I'm going to be watching for the answers to some lingering questions.

1. Is Corell Buckhalter healthy enough to make an impact this year, or are we going to lose him again in the first game?

2. Will Todd Pinkston be able to return as an impact player on the long completions, or is he too banged up and too afraid of getting hit to be useful?

3. Can Ryan Moats learn to hang on to the ball?

4. Can Reggie Brown be an effective #1 wideout?

5. Who's going to be our #2 QB?

Will they all be answered tonight? Hell, no, but we should at least get some clues.

24 August 2006

How do you build your team?

So we passed on Duckett (and Lelie) and now everyone's singing the blues.

The thing is, the 'Skins and the Eagles represent two totally different strategies for team building: AR drafts 'em young, signs 'em cheap and sees what he can get. And out of 8 years with the Eagles, that's only not worked well his first year (when he hadn't had a huge opportunity to shape the team yet) and last year (when there were MAJOR complicating factors).

The 'Skins on the other hand, give up their draft positions to sign expensive, experienced (sometimes injury-prone and attitude-problem) players. And we've all seen how well they've done under Danny Boy - last year was their first playoff appearance - at wildcard - in how long?

Short version: I'll stick with AR's approach any day.

22 August 2006

"Rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated"

The Bus had his debut as a commentator during Sunday night's Seahawks/Colts pre-season game and did a decent job - not surprising, he's personable and well-spoken, has significant TV interview experience, and certainly knows the game - but he still managed to step in it, suggesting that Steelers coach Bill Cowher, entering the season with only two years left on his contract (and no extension for the first time in his going-on-15-years tenure in Blitzburgh) might be retiring. Cowher quickly publicly denied that any such thing had crossed his mind.

So what happened? It could be The Bus's new kid at school tall-tale attempt to be popular. You know, the "My dad's an astronaut" type thing. But Cowher did recently purchase a big, expensive manse in NC and his wife and daughters will be living there this season, vacating Steel City. And Cowher's widely known as a devoted spouse and father. Is this all an elaborate ploy to wring mo' money out of the Steelers organization? Maybe - it's not like there's a salary cap for coaches.

On the other hand, he's 49 years old, has put in over 25 years as a player (interestingly enough, ending his playing career as an Eagle) and coach, and is one of the most successful coaches in football history. And his daughters are growing up.

Thing is, I would think that if he were really planning to retire, he would've announced at the end of last season - go out on top and all that. Like The Bus did. I guess we'll have to wait for the annual post-playoff, pre-Super Bowl coaching shuffle. Personally, I'd hate to see Scowly McOld-School out of coaching, though.

18 August 2006

Eagles/Ravens Revivew

Once again, goeagles99 is doing a great job of breaking down performance by player for the game. I remain, like every other sentient Eagles fan (and some dogs), concerned about our offensive depth. Our first team kills, and then our second team GETS killed. I hate to use the R word this soon (rebuilding, that is), but I'm thinking that may be the kind of year we're in for - we have a lot of young guys with potential, and our franchise QB is still a relatively young man (he won't even be 30 until November), but we lack the offensive stars to take advantage of his skills. D-Mac and Westy can't be the entire offense, and Brown, Moats, Perry, McCants, et. al. still make a hell of a lot of rookie mistakes. Consistency people, it's all about consistency! I'm just hoping AR is pulling his usual close-to-the-vest act. He's so secretive he should look into being a spy if he ever gets tired of coaching.

Back to posting last year...and looking forward to the Steelers next week.

17 August 2006

Next up: Eagles/Ravens

Just back from 5 blissful (and Internet-free) days down the shore in Stone Harbor, NJ. Wealthy Entrepeneur invited us to enjoy the large beach house he rented and the 37 foot yacht he recently purchased, and enjoy we did. If anyone was living better than us, more power to 'em. It you can't *be* rich, it's nice to have rich friends.

Two down, three to go in the pre-season. My feeling at this point is that our D is in pretty good shape, but I'm worried about the O. There are too many questions and too few answers, the biggest one being who will comprise our WR core? Westy, much love to him, has a tendency to get banged up - he's still suffering from that sprained foot and not playing or practicing (which may leave him rusty on September 10). Pinkston's still a cipher. Reggie Brown is just out of his rookie year, and Hank Baskett is a rookie. Things are equally dicey among the 'backs. Buckhalter has never been healthy for a full season. Ryan Moats and Bruce Perry are just out of their rookie seasons. Reno Mahe is all we have left. YIKES.

Much as I was missing football and eager for some games to start, 5 pre-season games is a lot, probably too much. That's almost 1/3 of a season. Think about how many guys get injured each year, and ponder if it's really wise to extend our season by 30%. Yeah, the second, third, and fourth teams see a lot of that playing time and it gives them a chance to compete to move up and for the coaches to see what we have "just in case," but football is a physically punishing sport, and I can't think that setting our guys up for that much MORE punishment is really a good idea.

Finally, yeah, the training camp vibe is much better this year, and we can all be thankful for it. But good vibes are not enough to get us into the playoffs.

Go Eagles!

11 August 2006

Eagles/Browns Injury Report

OK, so now Reno Mahe has a concussion too. What is this: The 2006 Eagles Season, brought to you by the Institute for Blunt Trauma Head Injuries?

At least Garcia was looking a little less shaky. But I'm still hoping we haven't traded down in dumping McMahon. Anyone know how he's fairing with the Vikings to date and if he's missing Philly cheesesteaks?

Just kidding!

goeagles99 has a stellar review of how each player performed, so go read the post. I'll wait...


See? Good stuff. I don't have much to add, other than my continuing concerns about our lack of depth on offense. Our first team is really strong, but we don't have the second team to back us up if we start suffering injuries. And two concussions in two games is not an encouraging start on that count.

Next up: Eagles/Ravens Thursday, August 17

10 August 2006

Preview: Eagles/Browns

From the Land of Duh, philly.com: "Westbrook out; Brown in for Cleveland game." No, no, let's play our top running back with the bad ankle in the meaningless pre-season game! That'd be great!

Also, since I live in frapping DC and have to wait for the midnight replay of the game on the NFL Network (thank the football gods for them), the recap will, I predict, be late. Maybe I can squeeze the game in over breakfast tomorrow if I get up early and am quick Ms. Quick-Draw with the TiVo remote.

09 August 2006

Injuries (and Goodell)

Did you notice in my review of the Hall of Fame game, I pointed out that one of the four factors that killed us last year was injuries? We've played ONE game and let's take a look at the damage done:

Westy - bum ankle
Pinkston - bum Achilles
Brown - strained calf (I've done that before, and OW!)
Perry - boot to the head
Moats - sprained knee
Bloom - hamstring

...I could go on, but you get the picture.

Yeah, sure, this is the time of year that a lot of guys pull up lame because their bodies are readjusting after months of non-contact training. And there's plenty of time - just over a month - until the regular season starts. But this is not giving me a warm fuzzy feeling, to say the least. The last thing I want is a redux of last year, when it looked like AR was going to have to start scouting guys from Bishop Shanahan to fill our offensive holes.

I don't have an opinion on Roger Goodell yet, other than to point out that having been CFO for the NFL under Tagliabue, he's certainly got experience in the aspect of running the league that seems the most important to the Powers That Be these days.

I was still kind of hoping for Condi Rice to come in as a last-minute dark horse candidate. She knows and loves football, there's never been a woman commissioner, and at least then her unsuccessful tenure as Secretary of State would have ended. And let's face it: NFL commissioner is probably mostly a figurehead job anyway, right? The real power is probably, as is most places, among the "C" level executives.

07 August 2006

It's the Pre-Season, Baby!

First of all, welcome to the 2006-2007 season!

Well, OK, the season hasn't officially started yet, but I ate a burger and drank a Yuengling and watched a game last night, so that's close enough for me. Is it just me, or is the off season too damn long? Chef Spouse was so cute - the Sunday after the Super Bowl, he looked at me in the early afternoon with sad puppy eyes and said, "What are we going to do now?" Indeed, my friend, indeed.

We didn't beat the Raiders, but as far as I can tell, Andy Reid has never given a damn about winning pre-season games. It's all about letting EVERYONE play. I think I saw Vince Papale out there sacking Aaron Brooks at one point. Speaking of, mark your calendars for August 25 and the premiere of Invincible. From what I've heard, Marky Mark's Philly accent sucks (duh! He's a Southie!), but his athletic chops are pretty believable. And Greg Kinnear looks surprisingly like Vermeil.

Anyway, on to the real purpose of the pre-season: eliminating the lingering stink of last season.

The way I see it, we had 4 major problems last year:

1. Distractions
2. Injuries
3. Lousy offensive second string
4. Our D checked out by mid-season

So is there any reason to think these problems have been addressed?

In reverse order: we've extended Dawk for two more years. He wants to close out his career in Philly, and it's looking like that's going to happen. So that's locked up. Trotter doesn't figure to be going anywhere. He seems to have learned his lesson with that whole 'Skins mess a few years back. Lito Sheppard is healthy again, and hopefully Sheldon Brown will be able to play more consistently. On the D line last year, Jevon Kearse was MIA after a terrific 2004-2005 season. Maybe his intensity level wasn't quite there, but I think it's more likely that the right side of the line held no threat so opposing teams could jam him with the double team every play. Picking up Darren Howard from the Saints should help with that. Some of the young guys are getting more experienced, and we've got a little more depth on D this year. For a long time we had a top ranked D. I'm cautiously hopeful that we will again.

I'm not so hopeful about our offensive second string. Jeff Garcia was terrible and Koy Detmer was worse. I hear Vinny Testaverde's available, though. We still don't have a number one receiver. We're still short on backs. And Jackson's a new center, and Hank Fraley's day is probably passed. Which brings us to...

Injuries. That first offensive drive was a thing of beauty. The O line actually created some holes for Westy to run through, and run he did (the guy's a munchkin - y'all don't need BIG holes, just a little somethin-somethin for him to slip through). Come to think of it, we actually had a running game. Balanced offense. What a concept. D-Mac looks 100%, relaxed and fit. Everything went perfectly (against the sad sack Raiders, but still). As long as we can stay healthy, we still have - I firmly believe - the class offense of the NFC East at the least, if not the whole conference. But if key players start going down, we're in trouble, at least based on what I saw last night. Sure, there aren't many teams in the NFL that can keep on winning after losing their starting QB. Our remarkable run to the NFC Championship game in the 2003-2004 season on the back of third-stringer AJ Feeley is just the exception that proves the rule. And I think by the end of last season, every single one of our offensive starters had been out for at least a game. As the first team goes, so goes the franchise. Hey, the fact that they were on the field for about 45 minutes of every game may have had something to do with the defensive breakdown. But we're lacking offensive depth in a big way, which is probably really going to bite us at some point. D-Mac seems good to go, as does Akers (that 55 yard FG was a record for the Hall of Fame game) and Westy. Pinkston's Achilles is still twitchy, and we have a lot of young guys who might be great some day, but it's still pretty early to tell.

All that said, I'm still feeling pretty positive about the upcoming season because the biggest distraction of all is The Tuna's problem now. And that's enough to put a smile on my face any day. None of the national commentators are even picking us for the playoffs, and that's fine by me. We have a softer schedule than we've had in years, and with TO and his antics elsewhere, hopefully we'll be able to fly below the radar and concentrate on playing some football. That is, if TO doesn't get murdered at the Linc on October 8th.

I wrote recaps all last year for a private group. I'll be posting them up here so y'all can get a sense of how I roll.

And in closing, in case you missed it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uk_KBtgBCcM.

Up next: Browns in Cleveland this Thursday, August 10 at 7:30 pm.