26 August 2010

Eagles at Bengals Preseason Game Notes

I haven't seen the game yet, because I was on a business trip to LA from Friday - Wednesday and I haven't had a chance to watch the recording Chef Spouse made for me yet, but our red zone woes continue, and

FIVE TURNOVERS?!?!  FIVE!?!?  5!  V!!!!

I'm pretty sure there were some entire seasons DMac didn't throw that many picks.

Hopefully, things will improve, otherwise I think I'm going to have to buy the Yucky Clock up there.  Or have it tattooed on my forehead.

In other news, the Redskins haven't gotten within a thousand miles of the Cowboys yet and DMac's already hurt.  Could be a long fall in DC where, just to refresh your memory, Rex Grossman is the current backup.

16 August 2010

Eagles v. Jags Preseason Game Notes

Is that really the best way to hold the ball?
Sorry this is a little delayed - the game wasn't broadcast in my area and I had to hit it on NFL replay.

OK, we all know that that purpose of the preseason is to help the coaches figure out who gets cut v. relegated to the practice squad v. assigned to work their way up through special teams.  So let's not read too much into this.*  But starting with a win is nice.

Assuming K2 isn't a complete bust, we're plenty skilled on offense.  The guys are young and will need time to develop as a unit, but the amount of raw talent is astonishing, particularly after so many years of McNabb, Westbrook, and...well, there wasn't anybody else.  It was just those two.  Admittedly, our Red Zone woes continue, but both Kolb and Mike Vick were able to sustain drives.

(The Eagles Television Network flashed an interesting graphic mid-way through the 3rd quarter:  Eagles starting offense in 2008 v.  2010. The only repeats? Peanut and Nick Cole.  Wow.)

I've been more worried about the defense.  But the first team defensive showing gave me the warm fuzzies.   Two efficient 3-and-outs in a row.  Yeah, it was just the Jaguars, but still.  And Asante Samuel actually tackled a guy!  And, you know, STOPPED him. 

I definitely saw K2 make rookie mistakes, the biggest one being that he keeps keying on a particular receiver and then trying to force the pass, most egregiously missing a wide open Peanut in the end zone while trying to force it to Celek that led to our first offensive drive resulting in a field goal.  Celek's great - I particularly loved him bulling for more yards to pick up the 3rd and 9 on the second offensive possession of the night - but don't lock in before seeing what the defense is giving you, dude!  Fortunately for us, David Akers remains money, scoring over half Friday night's points.  But he still needs to grow back the 'stache.

K2 seems to have nice touch on the ball.  You didn't see many passes hitting guys square in the numbers and them just not able to hang onto it like happens with McNabb. But I did notice a few placement problems, where receivers had to turn back over an inside shoulder to get the ball when an outside placement would've hit them in stride (most notably to Peanut on the second offensive drive).

And did you notice?  They actually included running plays.  I imagine the following went down out at Lehigh sometime in the last week:
Andy Reid: "Wait! You meant we're allowed to RUN the BALL? Why didn't someone tell me sooner?"
As a result Shady had a good game.

Vick looks better too.  He had a sweet completion to rookie Riley Cooper for about 40 yards that was textbook pretty.  Then again, he also turned the ball over in the Red Zone (more Red Zone woes) on a fumble, and thank you Eldra Buckley for saving the 80 yard TD.  He seems to be getting his speed back - on the run that led to the first Eagles TD, it was obvious once he turned the corner that no one was going to catch him. Maybe that's why he was carrying the ball so oddly?  Yeah, just ask Peanut how showboating and, as a result, dropping the ball before you cross the goal line feels Mike.  On the other hand, on our last offensive series of the first half, he threw a dumb ass pick.  I guess Charles Scott was the intended receiver, but he wasn't even looking.  Vick had room to run and didn't, and he had TERRIBLE mechanics on the throw. So a very up and down night for our #2.

Speaking of #2, our second/third string defensive secondary got their asses handed to them.  Repeatedly.  By Luke McCown.  Back to worries about the defense - if we have a good first time but no depth, we'll be in trouble by mid-season, once guys start wearing down a bit.  I really wanted to smack Joselio Hansen - he got beat by the receiver, then he drew a penalty, and he didn't even stop the TD in the process.  REALLY?  Aren't you supposed to know better than that, buddy?

Still speaking of #2, Sav better watch his back - Ken Parrish was kicking off and punting and doing a damn fine job of both. 

Our kickoff coverage, however, could use some work.  Opening the second half, Parrish took a page out of David Akers's book and served as an excellent last line of defense, stopping the run back for a TD. So I'm yelling at the TV, and it was at that point that Chef Spouse came running into the living room to give me a big hug because The Snark yelling at the TV = football season!

Then we were pretty much down to the JV.  I do love me some Chad Hall.  When we were at training camp, he was the first player on the field and the last one to leave at all 3 of the practices we attended.  He's got a great backstory, and he wants it so bad, I can taste it.  I'll be keeping my fingers crossed for him until the final roster cuts on September 4.

One final note:  one of the places this blog is syndicated is Chicks in the Huddle.  We're currently conducting a short survey to help us make the site better, and if you complete it, you could win a $50 gift card to the NFL Shop.  So take 5 minutes and help a sister out.

*Unless, of course, you're a Redskins fan.  They killed the Bills in the their preseason opener, which means it's time to cue the Super Bowl talk here in DC. 

10 August 2010

Training Camp Report

Chef Spouse and I made the pilgrimage to the Goodman Stadium at Lehigh University Friday, August 6, thus fulfilling both this year's New Year's resolution and a life-long dream.  And it truly felt like a pilgrimage - due to major storms in the DC area, it took me more than an hour and a half to cover the 9 miles between my office and my house, and things didn't get any better Friday, as we hit an hour of just sitting there (literally - we turned the car off) on the Northeast Extension due to an accident and then, when we approached Bethlehem, it became apparent that Chef Spouse had gotten directions *to Lehigh* rather than to the stadium.  I should've known we were in trouble when I asked him about directions that morning and he'd gotten directions to Lehigh, PA rather than to Bethlehem.  Important tip: ask more precise questions about whether or not Chef Spouse has directions to the ACTUAL destination next time.

If you want deep coverage of training camp, you've definitely come to the wrong place.  I love the Eagles, I love to write about the Eagles, but they don't know me from Adam (more on that below).  You want opinions from people with stuff like "credentials" and "access" and "this is their full time job"?  Check out Bleeding Green Nation and Iggles Blog (the new home of Tommy Lawlor).  I don't have that kind of time.  Or level of professionalism.

So here's what I saw (in between talking to Life-Long Eagles Fan Mom and You-Two-Calm-Down-or-I'm-Turning-Off-the-TV Dad, who came with us on Saturday.  I convinced Life-Long Eagles Fan Mom to ditch a bridal shower.  Why would you want to go to a bridal shower when there's football to be watched?):

Kolb is not...is not...I can't bear to say his name.  I am NOT talking about Donovan.  I'm still at "denial" in the stages of grief. The current Redskins ad campaign featuring McNabb? Clearly an elaborate practical joke.

Moving on, I did see some good connections between  Kolb and Celek on Friday.  On Saturday, he had some good completions with Peanut for like 60+ yards, some good hookups with Maclin for more like 30 yards, and some very nice short passes to Avant over the middle.

Speaking of Avant, I think he is going to have a break out year (and I'm not the only one), which is a good thing, since I only have a jersey for 1 active player (Trent Cole), so I need to pick another one up ASAP.  Avant's currently in the lead. Kolb likes the short pass (unlike his predecessor), and Avant is Mr. Hands at that distance.

I thought Vick looked bad.  I expected him to have improved his ability to complete passes in the off-season, and I was sorely mistaken.  Worse, rather than going through his reads, he kept taking off running.  Now, he did look faster than last year, but all I could think was:  "You're wearing the red jersey, donkey! Stop running!  No one is going to hit you!  Throw some passes for chrissakes!"

Number 3 QB Mike Kafka looked REALLY bad.  I'd be surprised if I saw him complete even a half dozen passes.  Yikes. 

The defense is kind of an unknown, although it was really good to see Stewart Bradley out there and his knee seems fine.  We picked up Marlin Jackson, and he didn't even manage to make it TO training camp.  Ernie Simms was the big off-season signing, and he looked good, at least in practice.  Asante Samuel still can't seem to tackle (then again, it was training camp).  And if you look at the current roster, there are a LOT of rookies.

It was interesting to see the kinds of drills they run:  blocking kicks using soccer balls, linebackers trying to cover skittering balls, the kickers throwing to simulate punt returns, etc.

So back to that whole "they don't know me from Adam" thing.  I mentioned that there are a LOT of rookies at training camp, and a lot of missing familiar faces. I was having the whole "I don't know who these guys ARE" experience.  And it hit me: I have a one-way relationship with the team. I know, late realization, but it really struck home when I was looking at all the new names on the backs of jerseys (54!...is Brandon Graham?!? Who the hell is that?!?).  Time to start stalking a whole new crowd.

I thought Andy looked a little thinner.  I have a theory:  he stress eats.  Which means he loses weight in the off-season, only to fall prey to the siren song of the Tastykakes once guys start screwing up or getting injured or both.

One thing that was really cool is that you can get pretty up close and person with the players, many of whom turn out to be really nice guys.  There are official autograph signings after the morning practices, and it's a lottery system and it's all regimented and it's only a few players and whatnot.  But a lot of the guys go to the edge of the field after both morning and afternoon practices and will sign anything you shove at them - or take pictures with you.  And they're kind of like normal people - I mean, they aren't like Godzilla to your screaming Japanese person - only amazingly ripped normal people.

I also got to meet up with long-time blog fan rocketman for a beer after Friday's practice, which was nice.  Even though he's really a 49ers fan.  But I forgive him.  (He lives nearby.)

My tips to have a Snarktacular Training Camp (aka, "What I'd do differently next time"):
  • Go to Philly for flight night
  • Spend the night with the 'rents (You might not have that option. On the other hand, Life-Long Eagles Fan Mom is REALLY nice.  She might let you stay.)
  • Drive up from WEST CHESTER (rather than DC) Friday morning
  • Stay over in Bethlehem Friday night and hit Musikfest
  • Buy a team football
  • Bring a Sharpie
  • Don't worry about the "autograph rules"
Check out all the snaps on Flickr.

Next up?  First preseason game against the Jaguars...on Chef Spouse's 40th birthday.

And a final note - Brees is on the cover of Madden 11.  He's a dead man.  Want to start an over/under pool on whether he survives the preseason?