11 September 2006

2006 Week 1 Recap

Week 1: Eagles at Texans, Sunday, September 10, 2006

In attendance: Shoegal, Ex-Navy Cheesehead, Californian Football Novice, and his Cute Vegan GF, plus of course Chef Spouse.

Menu: Chef Spouse prepared a delicious repast of homemade guacamole, salsa and chips (Scoops! My favorite! 'cause I'm all about the condiments), chicken fajitas and vegan black bean corn burritos, accompanied by Yuengling (a Sunday tradition) and pomegranate margaritas.

All right, all right, all right (to quote Wooderson from Dazed & Confused) - we started the season with a win. It was over the Texans, but a win's a win. Does anyone else get the feeling that we drew the Texans first because the NFL schedulers felt bad for us after the debacle that was last season? It's like trying to convince a 3 year old to eat her peas: "C'mon Eagles! You like football! Yes, you do! Yes, you do!"

I will admit to expressing a bit of concern during the Texans' first drive. I believe I may have shouted, "Get it together, you bums!" or perhaps something a bit more colorful, although my memory is somewhat hazy at this point. I do remember a phone conversation with Life Long Eagles Fan Mom that featured a lot of "What the heck was that?" (LLEF Mom, a lady - unlike her errant daughter - does not swear.)

The Texans seem to have improved in the off season, and they clearly hit the field prepared to make their opening drive count. Fortunately for us, their offensive coordinator doesn't seem to have made any plans beyond the opening drive. Of course, the Texans may have been so flummoxed by scoring that they didn't know what to do next. And I guess this does put the lie to my contention that they were actually a really elaborate practical joke Paul Tagliabue was playing on all of us, seeing as he's retired now and all.

I will also admit to being a little worried after D-Mac's INT. We hadn't yet scored when the Texans' D-Back Jason Simmons, who seemed like he was just trying to tip the pass, actually managed to hang on to the ball (and thank you for that timely tackle Todd Herremans!). He looked as surprised as anyone by the INT, and then the camera flashed to D-Mac on the sideline. Trying to hide behind the down marker. Yikes.

We have, of late, been a stronger second half team. Which is fine, as long as we're not so far behind at the half there's no way to catch up without divine intervention. Which was rarely the case last year. Fortunately, my boys obviously worked on bringing the A game sooner in training camp. Now it just takes until the end of the first quarter, rather than the end of the first half. Maybe by the playoffs, we'll actually come onto the field at the beginning of the game ready to play. Don't laugh - it could happen.

Speaking of the second quarter, on our first possession, Big D led the guys down the field as easily as he had in all those pre-season opening possessions, capping off a great drive with a beauty of a bomb to a wide open Donte Stallworth. "Watch this!" indeed, Mr. Reid. And it looks like that clock discipline AR used in training camp worked - final possession of the half took us the whole way from our own 20 to a second TD (this one to Reggie Brown, who otherwise had a pretty low-key game) in just over 40 seconds. Dramatic change from last year, when we were well known for burning 40 seconds putzing around trying to figure out what to do on the next play. Watching AR run down the sidelines to call in that time out was pretty amusing, but I'm not sure a man of his size should be exerting himself like that. At least Tammy seems to have put the kibosh on any more horizontal stripes.

The rest of the game was more of the same - Westy got a TD, AR actually called running plays, Buckhalter definitely didn't play like a man with two bum knees, Stallworth had some more good catches (memo to the Texans: it ain't flag football, baby - grabbing the guy's towel is not gonna cut it), and we seem to have picked up something about the other side of clock management, too, namely: This is how to burn time at the end of the game when you're ahead. Running out the clock at the end when we could have easily added another FG was just classy. No need to rub it in.

Our D on the other hand was, well, not as good as I'd hoped. The line is strong - 5 sacks on a highly mobile QB is pretty damn good - but our secondary still looks kind of squishy. Could be trouble later on against better teams.

Around the rest of the NFL:

The Cowboys lost. HA-ha (to quote Nelson from The Simpsons). The Jags took long enough to get it together, but once it stopped raining, they came on strong, erasing the Cowboys' early lead. It was fun watching TO's hair catch fire in the post-game from the effort of not throwing Bledsoe under a bus. My estimate of 10 weeks until he popped may have been too generous. A few more games like this, and I predict he'll be questioning Bledsoe's sexual orientation and bad-mouthing The Tuna on ESPN by Columbus Day.

The Panthers, minus Steve Smith, got spanked by the Falcons. Why am I thinking that in about a month I'll be writing, "I can't believe I fell for the hype"? The Bucs got REALLY spanked by the Ravens. Told you AFC North was looking tough this year. Poor Browns. They're gonna need a fireman without a collarbone to come get them out of that hole by mid-season. But at least the Saints won a game. And Reggie Bush did look amazing. Not sure if the team as a whole is really going to be much better this year (although I am keeping the faith for them), but Bush will be fun to watch for sure.

The Packers got REALLY, REALLY spanked by the Bears. The Bears have no offense, huh? That 49 yard Grossman bomb to Berrian sure looked like some offense to me. Some commentators are hinting that if Favre refuses to retire, Mike McCarthy should cut him for the good of the franchise. Well, DUH, but I think it's unlikely that anyone would dare to oppose the whims of St. Brett. It's gonna be another long year at Lambeau.

In other news, what was with the FGs? They were the only points scored by the Rams in their win over the Broncos (looks like Jake the Mistake has been resurrected), and the only points scored at all by either team in the Seahawks ugly win over the Lions. Hey guys? Pre-season's over. You might want to step it up a notch. On the other hand, now that the Pats have lost Vinatieri and will no longer win every game by 3, they appear to be going with a new strategy: win by 2 on a safety. Hey, man - whatever works.

About the totally over-hyped Manning bowl? I know I sound like a broken record, but read King Kaufman. Also, the officiating? Sucked. Not only was that offensive pass interference call against Tim Carter completely bogus, it totally killed the Giants' momentum. Not that I ever want a team in my division to win, but I hate to see any team lose because of bad officiating (well, OK, any team but the Cowboys). Now if the Redskins can just manage to lose to the Vikings tonight (which if the pre-season was any indication shouldn't be a stretch for them), my week 1 will be complete.

PS to the Dolphins: Don't think I forgot about Thursday's mess in my joy over our win and the Cowboys' loss yesterday. I went out on a limb and picked you people to win the AFC East over the Pats only last week. This is no way to reward my confidence in you! To be fair, that was a missed call on the Heath Miller "TD" (and a missed opportunity by Nick Saban - get that flag out of your pocket a little faster, son), but Charlie Batch played a surprisingly good game, and the Steelers won by more than 7 anyway. Yeah, yeah, the missed call TD occurred early enough in the 4th quarter that, had it remained a one-score game rather than a two-score, you had enough time left to play differently and maybe win it, but guys, come on! A little effort here! Mr. Culpepper, I'm looking at you. Two INTs and no TDs? That's definitely not getting off on the right foot with your new team there, Sparky.

PPS to the Redskins: Thanks, kids! You made my week...

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