Category Archives: Opinion

Eagles Dream Team Lost

It’s Friday, and usually we are looking forward to watching the Eagles play in two days. Things have changed.

Now it seems Philadelphia Eagles fans are looking at this game with much trepidation. Andy Reid, when pressed for answers in various press conferences and shows, reacts with impatience and with terse replies, if replying at all.  Sports analysts spell out numerous shortcomings, Eagles bloggers spark discussions on the issues, and the loyal fans scream out their frustration and anger.

Any of the above occurs after any Eagles loss.  But now the Eagles have lost three straight games, at the beginning of a season that essentially promised nothing short of a Super Bowl appearance.  Three losses in a row.  Three games where the Eagles held a lead, and three games where they scored zero points in the 4th Quarter. Among fans, panic has set in, anger, confusion and frustration are flowing, and some are calling this season done already.  The “Dream Team” moniker that started in the shortened pre-season (which I abhorred from the beginning) is now used quite often to mock the Eagles and the fans.

The team still has to play, and as fans we can choose to watch and follow the team that we love.

Are the Eagles done for the year? Is this dream over? Should we go on and write this team off and call publicly for the termination of much of the coaching staff? I, personally, cannot.  I’m a “half glass full” kind of person with everything in my life anyway. I don’t think this Eagles team is over this year.  There is a lot of talent on the team.  The coaches are some of the best in the league. I am confident this team has the heart to turn it around.  I don’t want to think otherwise!  I look forward to football season more than anything else, only to see my Philadelphia Eagles take the field. I love the team, I love the fans, I love the passion that this team inspires everywhere.

I, for one, am not writing this team off yet.  I feel that a turnaround is possible.  I want it to happen. I want the players to dig down and make it happen. The city, the fans everywhere, deserve for it to happen.

I am looking forward to football on Sunday.  I am waiting for the Eagles to line up against the Bills and play their hearts out. I am expecting a WIN for Philadelphia.

No More Dream Team Talk (Please)

Let’s start by throwing out the “Dream Team” tag. I never liked it to begin with.  Dream teams do not have major deficiencies in key positions. Sure the Eagles have three of the best Cornerbacks in the league, but also have Linebackers who cannot cover Tight Ends, or in the case of Casey Mathews on Sunday, the Running Back.

Dream teams do not have safeties who try to tackle the shoulders, a la Kurt Coleman, and let them turn a modest completion into a 70+ yard TD. Dream teams do not get consistently stopped at the goal line.  Dream teams also do not have special teams that go offsides on a field goal attempt on 4th and short.

The Giants didn’t win that game, the Eagles lost it plain and simple. They were in position to score up to five TDs and only scored one.
The defence overall did a good job, kept them to five of twelve on 3rd down. Kept them to only 14 First Downs for the game. However Mathews and Coleman on two plays undermined the good work allowing two TDs totalling 114 yards, more than a third of the Giants’ total yardage.

There were also some horrible plays on offence, such as Steve Smith’s dropped catch turning into an interception, and two horrible interceptions by Kafka late.

That was probably one of the most frustrating games I’ve seen in a long time. Shady McCoy was the standout highlight, finally we saw the Eagles run the ball consistently, at one point ten runs were called out of eleven plays. In total 40 runs and 30 passes, I hope we can keep the run ratio at 50% (or slightly better) for the rest of the season. Now if we can just get Vick to be still in the game in the 4th Quarter we can look forward to some play action passes, hopefully for big plays.

I still think we will win the division, but we need to keep doing all the good things and eliminate the terrible things that are costing us wins.

Birds!

WIN Damnit!

Aussie Steve.

NFC East Prediction 2011

This time last year I was talking about the new era under Kevin Kolb and how the Eagles could well be a team in transition. Now, Kolb’s career in Philly is over. Blink and you’ll have missed it!

Was last year a transitional season? I think it was meant to be. I don’t think that many Eagles fans truly believed we’d get to the playoffs and one of the main reasons we did was that the NFC East was in such a mess. I didn’t expect McNabb to crash and burn so spectacularly in Washington and who could have foreseen Dallas challenging Carolina for last place in the NFL until their form picked up under Kitna?

The other main reason that the Eagles won the NFC East and marched into the playoffs was the star reborn, Mr Michael Dwayne Vick.

When Vick signed for the Eagles, I had a #7 jersey shipped over to the UK right away. I knew he was going to be a back-up for McNabb and I knew about his previous problems, but he was still one of the most exciting players ever to play the game and he was an Eagle! At the end of that first season there were talks of a trade and then Kolb was named starter, but I still wore my #7 jersey. Then week one came, Kolb was KO’d and Vick took over the team. And how!

There were certainly areas, especially on defense, where the Eagles were lacking. The secondary was decimated and it really started to show as the playoffs loomed. Even the offense had problems. Short yardage situations were a nightmare and Vick often took it upon himself to singlehandedly make first downs. This led to injury and meant that when I flew in for the Falcons game I saw Kolb rather than Vick at QB, not that I complained after his performance that day!

A stronger, faster, meaner Mike Vick dragged the team right into the playoffs and it appears that the Eagles’ Front Office were as impressed with #7 as the rest of the world. This off season, they’ve gone out and spent dollars. Lots of them. It’s almost as if they realized that in Vick they have something very special, a Quarterback capable of winning the big one. If this was a game of poker, the Eagles just went “all in”.

It’s difficult to predict the future, but last season I was only 5 games out when looking at the NFC East as a whole. How did I do it? Well, I figure that the most relevant season in history is the last one, so I’ve awarded 10 points for each win during 2010. This gives the Eagles 100 points (10 wins x 10 points). Then in 2009, I’ve awarded 9 points per win which means that the Eagles bank another 99 points for their 11 wins. I’ve followed this all the way back to 2001 where the 11 wins are worth 1 point each, so 11 in all. Adding the points for each season together gives me a total of 540, but in order to convert this to a single season win record I need to divide by 55 (1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 5 + 6 + 7 + 8 + 9 + 10). I then end up with 9.82 (540 / 55) and so from the record of the last 10 NFL seasons, I predict that the Eagles will end up 10-6 in 2011.

Interestingly, the stats have come up with exactly the same prediction for the NFC East as it did last year:-

Eagles 10-6
Giants 9-7
Cowboys 9-7
Redskins 7-9

Of course, what actually happened last year was:-

Eagles 10-6
Giants 10-6
Cowboys 6-10
Redskins 6-10

The prediction for the Eagles was spot on, the Giants and Redskins were just 1 game out and even historical data couldn’t predict the horrible mess in Dallas (haha!).

Eagles 10-6 in 2011? I’d be disappointed with that, to be honest. With the hype surrounding this team and the massive upgrade in personnel, I believe we should be looking realistically at between 12 and 14 wins. The Giants are likely to be the biggest threat in the division, 9-7 or maybe 10-6 for them. The Cowboys… well… can we dare wish for more comedy from Jerry’s circus? I’m sure all their fans are predicting 16-0 like they do every year, but it would be a big turnaround if the managed a winning season at all. And the poor Redskins with Rex Grossman leading them. Can they get 7 wins? They do have some pretty average teams on their schedule, but I still think that 7 wins will be a stretch.

I’m not too confident that the stats system will be as accurate this year, but then I didn’t expect the ‘transitional’ Eagles to achieve 10-6 in 2010. As it happens I was spot on. Only time will tell. Well, time and #7 staying healthy for the season.

Cheers from the UK and GO BIRDS!

Watching the Eaglets Grow

After a long, tortuous off-season filled with owner lockouts and labor issues, football is officially back!  I know that training camps have been in full swing for almost two weeks now, but the first preseason game is what gets the juices flowing for me and what truly signifies the dawn of a new NFL season.  Leading up to the game last Thursday against the Baltimore Ravens I, like many other Eagles fanatics, had a list of questions that I wanted/needed answers to.  What I realized very quickly is that out of all the questions that I had, one main theme emerged that I decided to focus on – the performance of this year’s rookie class.  By now, everyone in the free world knows about the enormous splash that the Eagles made in the free-agent pool this year and the roster is beginning to take shape.  But, wait a second.  Is Andy Reid really going to start the season with rookies starting at right guard, middle linebacker, kicker, punter, and possibly strong safety?  After settling into my favorite chair, armed with various electronics and Diet Cokes, I was ready to ignore the horrific Eagles Television Network broadcast team and focus on the performance of the Eaglets.

Casey Matthews

From the first day of training camp, fourth-round pick Casey Matthews has been “running with the 1’s” as the starting middle linebacker.  Armed with outstanding bloodlines and a prolific college career, he has apparently impressed this coaching staff to the point where he is responsible for the pre-snap call on defense.  With all of the free agent signings that the Eagles have made it is still a bit of a shock that they have not brought in a veteran presence here, and I would not be surprised at all if they did.  That being said, for the few snaps that he was on the field he appeared to have a good understanding of what was going on and was around the ball.  One screen pass to Ray Rice turned into a big gain and made that entire side of the defense look lost, so I cannot pin that solely on Matthews.  On one running play an offensive lineman got to the second level and engaged Matthews, but it looked like Matthews was able to shed the block and flow towards the ball carrier, arriving a second after he was brought to the ground.  Matthews was credited with no tackles but in fairness, he only played about 8-10 snaps.

Alex Henery

With the departure of David Akers, the drafting of Alex Henery in the fourth round signified a major change in the Eagles’ special teams corps.  Everyone seems to agree that the kid has a huge leg, but will he able to handle the pressure of kicking in a November wind, in front of the league’s most rabid fan base, with a game on the line?  I was excited to see his first kickoff, and when it came down 8 yards deep into the end zone I was very, very excited and impressed.  It was then when I was reminded by the ETN crew of the fact that in the off-season, the NFL Competition Committee voted to move the kickoff line up to the 35 yard line from the 30.  OK, so that took a bit of the luster off of the kick, but I was still impressed.  A successful PAT and two FG’s were also good signs that Henery has the potential to be a very good kicker in the NFL.

Chas Henry

First, let me get this out of the way.  Was Sav Rocca really an Eagle for 4 years?  Really?  I cannot believe this.  If you were to have asked me a few days ago how long Rocca was the Eagles punter, I probably would have answered with 2 or 3 years tops.  Amazing.  Another main part of the special teams overhaul, Chas Henry had a very good debut in my opinion.  The same cannot be said for his punt coverage teams.  Henry’s first punt was a terrific pooch punt and should have definitely been downed inside the 5 with no problem.  The fact that Jon Dorenbos, the long-snapper, was the first coverage guy on the scene shows that not everything is rainbows and unicorns coming out of training camp.  Two other punts by Henry were rockets that went into the end zone for touchbacks, but one of them barely went in and spun back into the playing field.  This kid, so far, seems to have a very bright future.  But, as mentioned with Alex Henery, let’s see how he performs when he is punting out of his own end zone in December and the ball feels like he is kicking an anvil.

Danny Watkins

So as I prepared to watch the Eagles/Ravens game in preparation for writing this article, I went “old school”.  I had paper and pen, and I created sections on the paper for these four rookies to be able to quickly write down some notes and observations.  I then focused my view on these guys when they were on the field.  A few minutes in, I heard the announcers say that Danny Watkins was done for the night, so I looked at his section in my notes.  It was completely blank.  I had nothing, nada, zilch, bagel, goose egg, bupkis.  Initially, I thought that this was a bad thing.  But, after thinking about it, I remembered that offensive lineman are supposed to be like the officials.  If you do not notice them specifically, that usually means that they did a good job.  Since he did not get run over or get Michael Vick killed in the short time he was in there, let’s consider this debut a rousing success.

Conclusion

Wrapping it all up, the rookies mentioned above (along with Jaiquawn Jarrett, who had a pick on a bad throw) did not do anything to cause the Eagles faithful to immediately call for the heads of Andy Reid and Howie Roseman for a terrible draft.  All were very solid, with the obvious disclaimer that they really did not play a lot of snaps at all.  Next week, they are in Pittsburgh for their first road game.  Although is is preseason, the crowd will be loud and hostile, so let’s see how they perform in that environment.

Until the next butt-kicking by the Eagles Defense…E-A-G-L-E-S EAGLES!

EFC Eric

Twitter

While watching the game I was also monitoring our Twitter feed to see what the fans were thinking.  Beside the fact that numerous Eagles-related hashes were trending, here are some of the many, many tweets that I found quite amusing: (and as you will soon see, @OfficialReview was en fuego)

@lawlornfl – #Eagles now have Eli Manning’s two favorite receivers:  Steve Smith, Asante Samuel.  Weird, but cool.

@OfficialReview – D-Line looks solid.  So does Duce Staley. #HUUUUGE #Eagles #Ravens

@Everybody_Hits – I’ve missed hearing the word “penetration” on my TV. #nfl

@OfficialReview – Mike Vick is as accurate as CC Sabathia’s pizza delivery guy.  #nevermisses #Eagles #Ravens

@OfficialReview – Man, Jason Peters is the size of a European car.  #Eagles #NFL

@Everybody_Hits – In all seriousness, if there was no NFL on weekends in the winter what the hell would we have done?

@OfficialReview – Dear Macho Harris, how’s it going down at Target?  I need a new TV. #Eagles #NFL (this one was probably my favorite for the evening)

@OfficialReview – Nnamdi Asomugha doesn’t give an eff about your predictions, dream teams, or haircuts. #Eagles #NFL

@FO_MTanier – Good thing pollard made that pick.  One more positive eagles tweet and I would be spadaro. (this was right after Kafka threw that AWFUL int)

@OfficialReview – Andy Reid is SO tan.  He looks like Snooki’s dad.  #Eagles #NFL

 

NFC East Prediction 2010 – Review

Back in September, I attempted to predict the 2010 NFC East regular season standings based on the previous decades’ records for each of the teams. You can read the original article by clicking here.

After much number crunching, I came up with:-

Eagles    10-6
Giants     9-7
Cowboys    9-7
Redskins   7-9

How accurate did this method turn out to be? Well, what we actually ended up with is:-

Eagles    10-6
Giants    10-6
Cowboys   6-10
Redskins  6-10

As you can see, the Eagles were bang on form. I thought that we may have been facing a year of rebuilding with Kevin Kolb as Quarterback (who didn’t?!) but he was knocked out of the game in week 1 and Vick 2.0 stepped in. Kolb still played his part by dismantling the Atlanta Falcons, but the Eagles quickly became Vick’s team and flourished. But for Vick’s injury and the strange last 2 weeks, we could quite easily have been looking at a much higher win ratio and #1 seeding. Very positive going into the playoffs with, hopefully, a fully fit and rested #7.

The Giants ended a game better than the prediction. They didn’t have massive personnel changes in key areas of the team and it was no surprise that they were very close to the predicted 9-7. It did take a ‘miracle’ to keep them down, but we’ll take that!

The Cowboys were the big losers in the division, falling 3 wins behind the predicted 9-7. There’s no doubt that Quarterback injuries hurt the team and they actually recovered from a disastrous start to the season under Jon Kitna of all people! I remember when he won MVP for Barcelona Dragons in the NFL Europe “World Bowl” 1997. He’s certainly been around for a while! Poor coaching, penalties and dropped catches all contributed to a poor season for Dallas in the year that they were going to win the Superbowl in their own stadium. Really, Jerry?! That sort of arrogance often comes back to bite you in the butt.

There were Quarterback problems in the Capital too. All those questions about the McNabb trade appeared to be answered in Andy Reid’s favor this year as the Redskins, who I predicted to achieve 7-9, didn’t even manage that. Whether McNabb didn’t know the 2 minute drill, wasn’t fit enough or simply not good enough, few could argue that the Eagles missed him this year. Yes, the Redskins’ O-Line is a debacle and maybe McNabb will bounce back in a better team next year, but this season his performances were disappointing. He finished with 14 touchdowns, 15 interceptions and a rating of 77.1.

In total, my predictions were 5 games out across the division which isn’t bad at all. Especially taking into the account the Quarterback changes/issues/controversies. I even got the 4 teams in the correct order!

I’m not sure how I could work out a post season formula to predict the playoffs, so I’ll just say this. Let’s bring it home for Jerome!

Cheers from the UK and GO BIRDS!