All posts by Holden

These Birds Carry Heart of 2004 Eagles

After about the most agonizing and at the same time possibly most satisfying wins to open a season in a long time, the Eagles find themselves in an interesting spot. Not since 2004 (yes that was really 8 years ago) has Andy Reid’s Birds started 2-0.
While the first two games have been at times excruciatingly difficult to watch, they have proven that this team has it where it counts, they have heart and they refuse to just give up. I give immense credit to the Defense for taking a leadership stance in the second half Sunday. They rose up and allowed only two field goals, giving a sputtering Offense the opportunities it needed to score.
Le’ts not mince words here. Michael Vick must get better. He must make better decisions and if this is to be a Super Bowl year he cannot continue to expose himself to all of the hits he took against the Ravens. It only gets tougher with the loss of Jason Kelce, but that is all the more reason to get rid of the ball quicker. These Eagles will only go as far as Vick and LeSean McCoy can take them, and they both must take care of the football better than they have.
If the Offense can manage to play more mistake-free, its scary to me how good these guys have the potential to be. The bottom line is that they and only they can decide how good they want to be. The members of the 2004 team are watching. They see the potential for these Eagles to finish what they could not, and I see it too. I believe that after two ugly wins, they have shown that inside, the heart of 2004 is beating.
Time will tell if there is a heartbeat in February.

Back To Eagles Football

Ah, the smell of burgers on the grill and the sight of leaves changing colors. The familiar chant of E-A-G-L-E-S EAGLESSSS rising out of the Linc is about to deafen opposing teams again. Yes, people. It is September once more, and football season is finally here.

As we get prepared for another season filled with hopes of a Super Bowl for our Birds, it’s easy to look past all of the transformation this team has undergone over the past couple of years. It seems crazy now to think that Brian Westbrook, the mainstay of Eagles teams over the past decade is now RETIRING.

However, one man who has been here since 1999, and hasn’t changed (ok maybe his weight has) is Andy Reid, who will be entering his 14th season. In what will be perhaps his most pressure-filled season as Head Coach, Reid has already dealt with the pain of burying his son and the looming comments from owner Jeffrey Lurie that anything less than “substantially better than 8-8” will most likely result in his firing.

The “Dream Team” fiasco from last year, combined with the turbulent offseason the Eagles have endured hasn’t seemed to affect analysts, many of whom are predicting a Super Bowl run for these Eagles.

I hate to be a downer, but my opinion was last year and still is this year that the Eagles, while surely talented, are not a Super Bowl caliber team.

Blasphemy, you say?

Or have WE, as fans, overlooked the key deficiencies of this team? Lets explore together, shall we?

First of all, lets look at passing and third down conversions. The Eagles were 9th in passing last season, but the only team in the top ten who completed less than 61% of their passes (59.6%).  They converted on third down 41.5% of the time, good enough for 9th in the league in that stat as well. I look for both of these numbers to remain around the same as last year, UNLESS Michael Vick suffers an injury.

The bottom-line with passing numbers? Keep Vick healthy, and the Eagles are unlikely to have as many turnovers as last season, and they won’t have to play a rookie backup quarterback who, while impressive in the preseason, probably won’t be able to win but maybe two of the four or five starts he might have to make if Vick gets sidelined.

The running game is the biggest area I expect the Eagles to decline in this year. Although I love Shady McCoy’s talents as a runner and receiver, the loss of Jason Peters will become very apparent early in the season. They should drop from 6th in the league to somewhere around 10th adding in Vick’s running ability. That may seem like an insignificant drop, but I believe that the ability of the receivers to stretch the field is going to be predicated on play action passing, which Andy Reid is quite fond of. Bottom-line? The inconsistency of the running game (and of calling running plays) will show up this year again and be an Achilles heel of the team.

The running, passing, and receiving game all go hand-in-hand with offensive line play, which is the other area I expect a lot of struggle this season. The lack of Jason Peters on the left side not only closes huge running lanes, but forces the Eagles to use young players at other positions, and although I am quite a fan of Jason Kelce’s beard, he (to me) is too small to be a center. This group will have great games and horrible games this season.

The ONE area that this team is going to improve a lot on is Defense. Not necessarily an improvement in talent (outside of Demeco Ryans) but in cohesiveness and in maturity. After a year of learning Juan Castillo’s system, they will still be undersized and a little slow in the middle, but hopefully won’t make as many bonehead miscues as last season, and should finish around the same spot in total defense, or at least in the top ten.

Overall, expectations are very high for this team. Are they merited? Absolutely. This is clearly the most talented roster in the NFL. However, I don’t believe they will win a Super Bowl.

Call me a typical negative Eagles fan, or call me crazy.

Whatever the case may be, I see them going 13-3, splitting with the Giants and losing to Pittsburgh and New Orleans. I see them getting to the Super Bowl, but sadly I think the season will end with another Super Bowl loss to Tom Brady and the Patriots.

I THINK that is what will happen. But who am I, and what do I REALLY know? Not a whole lot more than any other passionate fan. I’m hoping that this is the year. Only God knows what will happen. But not knowing is all the fun right? It’s a new season, and we are blessed to be fans of the greatest team playing the greatest game in the world.

So sit back, have a beer, and relax. Football is back.

 

What Does It Take To Be A Champion?

A Champion. One who is clearly superior to all others. One who fights to defend or support a cause greater than one individual. Until as recently as 2008, “champion”, was a word hardly uttered when a Philadelphia sports team was mentioned. Yes, two seasons ago, the Phillies broke a long-standing streak of big-game losses which were beginning to seemingly ascend to the heavens. However, a fire still burns in the stomachs of fans in that city. A fire perhaps intensified by the immense success the Eagles franchise has enjoyed over the past decade:

Record? 103-56-1 in the regular season and 10-8 in the postseason. Pro Bowlers? 58. Highlight reel moments? An unbelievable amount . And lastly, Super Bowl victories? ZERO.

Scanning back over the decade we’ve just closed out, there are some truly amazing things that have taken place, but most of us feel that the few memories we still shake our heads over far outweigh the positive ones. True Eagles fans will tell you that they are proud of the Eagles for accomplishing the things they did, and everyone is gracious to Andy Reid for winning the team back the respect of the league. However, in this city, those achievements quite simply are not, and never ever will be, good enough.

The big picture is that despite having immense success, the Eagles have become, in effect, the poor man’s Buffalo Bills of the 1990’s. Almost worse than losing 4 Super Bowls is facing the realization that you were good, pretty damn good in fact, but you just weren’t quite good enough to have anyone remember you. This is, in my opinion, the end of an era for the Philadelphia Eagles.

Yes, we do still have Andy Reid press conferences to look forward to for at least four more years, but the youthful energy and enthusiasm that carried this team in the early 00’s is clearly gone. Replaced, instead, by a stale, burdened look that seems to suffocate the veteran members of the team. It seems as though players such as Donovan McNabb are being squeezed like the last ounce of toothpaste out of the tube. It may be that his time is up here, but that is a different discussion for another day. Overall, the chances the Eagles have let slip through their fingers (literally and figuratively) over the past ten years have increased the never-ending desire of us, the often ridiculed and misunderstood, yet unwavering and passionate, fans, for a championship.

So, naturally, as I was looking back at the New Orleans Saints recent victory over the favored Indianapolis Colts in Super Bowl XLIV, I found myself wondering, what made the Saints different from the Eagles teams that almost won it all? What is the recipe for a Super Bowl Champion?

This, along with many other questions, will begin to be answered next week as the first installment of the series is posted. Look for “Part I: Building A Champion” to be posted soon.

Have a great EAGLES day everyone!

What I Bring To the Table

Birds Fans,

Holden Fulco here, and I’m proud to say that I am a newly minted contributer to EaglesFanCast. This is the first of what I hope will be many more posts to come, so I just wanted to give a few details on what I hope to bring to the blog.

First of all, I am an Eagles fan, through and through. I truly believe that as a “displaced” fan from Louisiana, I have a unique viewpoint on and a great appreciation for the football team we all bleed green for. I aim to bring a southern flair and a little bit different perspective on anything and everything that involves the Philadelphia Eagles, as well as provide some useful historical background for anything that I may ramble about on the website.

My philosophy is that history repeats itself until changes are made, so, with the conclusion of the Super Bowl just over a week ago, my first series of posts will be titled: “The Perfect Recipe: What Does It Take To Be A Champion.” This will be an in-depth look at past successes and failures of the Eagles over the decade, as well as the winning formula for that elusive Lombardi Trophy.

That’s all I have for now. Thanks again to Chuck, Eric and Todd for this amazing opportunity. You can look for the first installment of “The Perfect Recipe” by this weekend.

GO BIRDS!