10 August 2008

2008 Preseason: Game 1 Recap

Eagles at Steelers, Friday, August 8, 2008

First game of the pre-season, and I got at least one of my wishes - no one got injured. WHEW! As usual, this will be an abbreviated recap.

Bad things:
  • B-Dawk got spanked by Santonio Holmes on that first Steelers TD reception. SPANKED. Has Wolverine lost a step? He is over 35 now, which is like 97 in football player years.
  • The first team D was not exactly brilliant on the entire Steelers first offensive series.
  • Penalties, penalties, penalties. OK, sure a few offsides or false starts are to be expected in the pre-season. But some were just foolish - facemasks and unsportsmanlike conduct. C'mon guys - let's show a little discipline.
  • I love Ike, but was it just me, or did he really ask: "When you see an illegal formation call like this, what actually has taken place?" Um, dude, it means that someone on the offense lined up where he wasn't supposed to. How is it that I'm not a professional sportscaster again?
  • Ike and Merrill also commented that Big Red really wants to get better on special teams this year. Remember the season opener against the Packers last season? I'm pretty sure it's not possible to get any worse on special teams there, man. Nowhere to go from the bottom but up!
Good things:
  • The game was broadcast by ETN - the Eagles Television Network, featuring fan faves Ike Reese and Merrill Reese, so we had a lot of good general team commentary to listen to (which was good, because who really pays attention to pre-season games after the half, when the practice squad guys are in trying to earn a roster spot?).
  • Apparently, David Akers changed his training regimen in the off-season. He looks thinner and in better shape. Merrill called him "Mr. Automatic," and I sure hope so because he hasn't been as solid since the torn hamstring he suffered in the 2005 season. And we need him
  • McNabb looked solid on the first series with the first team offense, particularly when he avoided the Steelers' sack and threw cross body and cross field for a big completion to LJ Smith. His ability to improvise and scramble seems to be returning, which was even more obvious because his favorite guy, Mr. West36 was not out there. (Although, I think that probably was a push out on Jason Avant on the first drive TD attempt, but apparently the rule has changed, so I don't know - have to see how the zebras are calling it this year.)
  • Speaking of B-West, NICE ICE, DUDE. I loved the sideline interview where he said that he wants to be an Eagle for the rest of your career. Please, God, yes. And now that the details of his deal have been released, I would say that the post-game cheese steaks are definitely on him. I also loved the clip of O-line showering him with grass before his interview so he wouldn't be in a clean uniform. Not only was it funny, but it shows a lightness that indicates to me that the team chemistry is returning to normal. I know McNabb's been criticized for not being "serious" enough, but honestly, our boys play better when they play loose and have fun. Personally, I get worried when D-Mac's NOT telling jokes. You want serious? Go be a damn Pats fan, you traitor!
  • On the second series, with the second team offense, McNabb looked even better. He hit a total of 6 different receivers on the first two series, and into the endzone and...McNabb is OUT.
  • When Kolb took over, I have to admit he didn't look too bad. Merrill commented that it takes 3 years to learn the Eagles offense (where he got that stat, I do not know, but whatevs). K2 is on year 2. What does that mean for McNabb and the team? I do not know that either, but I'd be willing to bet we're going to have a lot of new names to learn by the 2010 season.
  • DMac then gave a solid sideline interview, in which he admitted that the 2007 season was not his best year ever, but, "I was still better than 75% of the QBs in the league, as the stats show, but all that matters is wins." He's right on both counts. I know there are a lot of haters, but I think we've been really lucky to have this guy under center for the last 9 years.
Additional player notes:
  • I think "Booker" is a great name for a kick returner!
  • I think DeSean Jackson looks like he could be something special. Maybe not Devin Hester special, but he's got a sixth gear, which we need.
  • Ryan Moats. I don't know what to say. Keep him? Cut him? What do you think?
  • For a great review of several additional individual players, check out perennial favorite Fandemonium.
Ike and Merrill favored us with a little breakdown of the NFC, in which they agreed that the NFC East has resumed its rightful place at the top of the NFC and possibly of the entire NFL. (Deadhead Skins fan and I were having dinner about a week ago and we discussed this exact thing. Whichever team ends up last in the NFC East would likely be a contender to win any of the other divisions. Ike and Merrill agree.) In breaking down the NFC East, they noted that while the Cowboys are a good team, Romo's extremely inconsistent under pressure, particularly late in season (think he'll cry during a game again this year? 'cause I LOVE that), and they're down to only one receiver (TO), and I have to note that he's not the most stable guy, either. The ETN team noted that Giants are missing some key players from their Super Bowl team, but I have to point out that Shockey was out for the entire playoff run last year, and keeping him on the sidelines was probably what allowed Eli to gain the confidence to finally lead the team. The ETN guys also noted that it's rare for a team to win the division with a new head coach. Speaking of the Steelers, tell that to Mike Tomlin. But it's definitely going to be a bruising season in the NFC East.

And finally, I leave you with the 2008 Fan You Tube Tribute:

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