Tag Archives: Asante Samuel

Boldin to be shopped; the Pundit uncovers the mentor of Joe Banner; have the Eagles built themselves a doghouse?

First things first – PFT has the news that surely sounds sweet to all of you Birds’ fans out there.

A league source tells us that the Arizona Cardinals are shopping receiver Anquan Boldin to potential trade partners.

Shoot, I’m getting excited again. Of course, somehow – despite the fact that we probably have the resources (two first-round picks, 12 in all), the money to sign him to an extension, and the need for a solid possession receiver who can make big plays after the catch and contribute in the red zone – this won’t happen.

Hey, maybe they never move him. Or maybe he gets traded to the Giants, who knows? But damnit, I’m getting my hopes up once more – will I ever learn?

UPDATE: The Cardinals deny the rumors – wow, what a shocker. TO wasn’t going anywhere either, right?

And now, to reveal the mentor of Joe Banner… Continue reading

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“Twas the loss before Christmas” – The Pundit puts some holiday cheer into the Birds’ cruel defeat

(Editors’ note: Ah, our poetic Pundit. In lieu of both the holiday season and the most recent Eagles loss, The Pundit has adapted an old Christmas classic. With an Eagles theme, of course. It’s not perfect – apparently, the original is pretty damn long. But it comes close. Without further ado, The Pattison Pundit presents: “The Loss Before Christmas.”

‘Twas the loss before Christmas, and all through the town

Everyone waited for the Birds/Skins  showdown.

They controlled their own destiny as they walked to the field

For Tampa had faltered, and Dallas had reeled

Continue reading

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10-3 Redskins. Unbelievable. The Pundit is BOILING as he attempts to do Game Notes

ARE YOU EFFING KIDDING ME?

(Sigh) Well, the Eagles had everything fall into place for them before the start of the game. Tampa Bay lost to San Diego, and there it was in front of our Birds: win two, and head off to the playoffs.

And they couldn’t do it.

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Game Notes: Eagles vs. Cleveland Steamers

What do Scott Weiland and the Cleveland Steamers, eh, Browns have in common? Glad you asked. Scott Weiland spent his glory years with the Stone Temple Pilots in the 90’s. The Browns spent their glory years in Cleveland until 1995, when they were shipped to Baltimore by Cleveland’s Antichrist, Art Modell. Weiland often battled a heroin addiction; Cleveland fans battled not having a team to support. Weiland never achieved the same level of musical quality or cultural relevance after splitting with the band (Editor’s note: Sorry, Velvet Revolver doesn’t quite cut it). The Browns have had only two winning seasons in the past nine years, and only made the playoffs in one of those years. Oh, and Weiland has a new song out right now – what’s the name of that song?

Oh, right: “Missing Cleveland.”

"This is for you, Modell!"

"This is for you, Modell!"

Which any pure NFL fan with an appreciation for traditional football organizations does. Which the old Dawg Pound most certainly did for the three years Cleveland was team-less. Cleveland fans are some of the best football fans in America, and they deserved better than losing their team, and they deserve better than this one. So, that being said, hopefully the Eagles will decimate the Browns tonight and keep their playoff hopes alive.

But just know, Cleveland: I feel for you. I really do. Now to my game notes.

8: 29 PM: Oh man, the ESPN pregame crew is so super funny. They are all giggling, pretending like they might not pick the Eagles in this game. What whimsical irony they deftly wield in front of our eyes like the most graceful of swordsmen. (Editor’s note: What mildly phallic prose The Pundit stumbles over in his attempts at high-minded wit).

8:34 PM: Does any sport lend itself to better sexual innuendo than football? Brian Westbrook really hits the hole hard. The tight end was wide open. Good catch. The Browns are unveiling their flash package. I mean, it’s friggin’ priceless. (Editor’s note: This post has not yet been rated).

8:43 PM: Very nice sideline catch by Jason “Idiot” Avant.

8:45 PM: The Eagles are doing what they need to do early – mixing the running game with the passing attack and marching down the field, all topped off by a beautiful catch by Kevin Curtis in the end zone. Nice ball, nice jumping catch, and the Eagles take the 7-0 lead.

8:53 PM: Josh Cribbs gets a first down on a counter run in the flash package. They should probably just let Cribbs play quarterback.

8:54 PM: Spoke to soon. Ken Dorsey beats the blitz and throws a perfect fade to Braylon Edwards. Good God, the Browns are threatening to score their first touchdown after three games without one!

8:57 PM: Ah, it’s just the Browns. Their no-touchdown streak lives on; 7-3 Eagles.

8:59 PM: Another nice return by Demps – I love this kid’s motor.

9:04 PM: Apparently, Jason Avant is our first-down guy tonight. Nice snag over the middle to keep the drive going. So far, the offense is balanced. But what happens when the scripted plays run out…

9:10 PM: Another nice drive by the Eagles offense, though they couldn’t punch it in. 10-3 Birds.

9:11 PM: Is anybody else completely done with the UPS whiteboard guy? (Editor’s note: Yup).

9:17 PM: Stewart Bradley blasts Jamal Lewis at the line of scrimmage. Great pursuit angle by Bradley on the play. One play later, the Eagles blow up Cribbs in the Flash. The Eagles D, after the Browns worked down the field on the first drive, have suddenly awoken.

9:23 PM: Jaworski has been highlighting it, and it’s a very good point: Westbrook, other than being an amazing runner and receiver out of the backfield, is also very adroit at picking up the blitz in the passing game. It certainly has helped McNabb, who has been on point with his passes: 11-15 to open the game.

9:29 PM: Sometimes, we all get a little too fancy. Like the Eagles running the Wildcat on third-and-goal and having DeSean Jackson throw the ball. Which resulted in an interception. Bollocks! (Editor’s note: Though a better throw by Jackson may have resulted in a TD. That’s it – put in Kevin Kolb. For DeSean Jackson. Trust me, it’ll get the point across…) Three drives into the red zone on three possessions, and only 10 points. The one thing you do not want to do with a team like the Browns is let them hang around – put them away while you have the chance, and don’t give them any unnecessary confidence.

9:35 PM: Asante Samuel intercepts a Dorsey pass, and takes it to the house. That’s why he makes the big bucks, people. Though he almost pulled a DeSean by dropping the ball before the goal line. Thankfully, he woke up and picked the ball up in the end zone. Guys, just act like you’ve been there before. Nice job by Chris Clemons getting pressure on Dorsey and forcing the poor throw. You’re off the hook, DeSean. (Editor’s note: Alright Kolb, sit back down, buddy).

9:43 PM: Trent Cole wills his way to another sack. Another man that needs a nickname. What about Trent Coletrain? (Editor’s note: Not bad, though there’s really no musical connection).

9:45 PM: You know a team is in trouble when one of the graphics ESPN has prepared for you is the potential coaches that will take over for the incumbent after the year. Ah, the poor, poor Cleveland fans.

9:54 PM: WHY CAN’T THE EAGLES FINISH A HALF WITHOUT SOMETHING NEGATIVE HAPPENING? McNabb under throws a fade, and if it weren’t for the hustle of Brian Westbrook and friends, the Browns would have returned the pick for a TD. Aaaaaaaaaaaggggggggghhhhhhh! (Editor’s note: Though it was a pretty one-handed pick by Brandon McDonald). The Eagles have been in the red zone four times, and have 10 points for their efforts. That’s just not good enough, but they still lead at the half, 17-7. Thank God we’re playing the Steamers.

10:11 PM: Braylon Edwards is really playing well tonight – another very nice grab by Mr. Monday Night.

10:22 PM: The Eagles are moving once more – another third-down conversion to Action Jackson. (Editor’s note: Oh, we’re doing that now?) Amazing what manageable third-downs can do for an offense. (Editor’s note: Alright, now you’re just being damn smug about this whole offensive balance thing).

10:30 PM: Five red zone trips, and only 13 offensive points. I know the score is 20-3 in the favor of the Birds, but their chances in the red zone against the Redskins and Cowboys will be more limited than this. You have to be able to convert these opportunities – it’s about consistent efficiency, people.

10:41 PM: Another beautiful throw from McNabb to First-Down Avant. Not sure what the Eagles third-down conversions are at right now, but it has to be at a high percentage.

10:46 PM: 10-14 on third downs after the Eagles again fail to convert in the red zone, or as Jaws so eloquently put it, the Vomit Zone. (Editor’s Note: While enjoying your stay at the Vomit Zone, be sure to check out feature films at our state-of-the-art multiplex. Now playing:  “2 Girls 1 Cup.” Do enjoy!) Eagles up 23-3, early fourth.

Dude...

Dude...

10:52 PM: Wow. Ken Dorsey just threw an inexplicable duck right into the hands of a surprised Stewart Bradley. I don’t think there was a Brown within ten yards of Bradley. I can already imagine the conversation between Romeo Crennel and Ken Dorsey on the sideline.

Crennel: Man, what was that?

Dorsey: Sorry coach, I, uh, thought I could squeeze it in there.

Crennel: Into where? There wasn’t one of our guys in the vicinity of that pass!

Dorsey: Would this be a strange time to tell you that I’m color blind?

Crennel: For one, yes, now would be a completely inexcusable time to mention that you’re color blind. And on top of that, even if you’re color blind, you could still distinguish between their dark tops and our white tops.

Dorsey: Would now be a strange time to tell you that I suffer from frequent bursts of random amnesia?

Crennel: Good God, just fire me already…

10:56 PM: Holy cow, the Eagles scored a red zone TD! Alright, Eagles. Greg Lewis, who is still, inexplicably, on this team, was sitting in a hole in the defense at the back of the end zone. 30-3 Eagles.

11:06 PM: Oh no! Andy Reid benched Donovan and put Kevin Kolb in the game! All is lost. For the Browns. Let’s see what the Kolbler can do. Wow, I didn’t so much as finish typing before Kolb threw a pick to McDonald, who took his second pick to the house. And the Browns finally score a touchdown. Congrats, fellas. Oh, and let’s definitely get rid of McNabb after the season is over – Kevin Kolb is without doubt ready to take over the reins of this offense. (Editor’s note: In the immortal words of Borat Sagdiyev: “Not!”)

11:14 PM: And there it is! The inevitable reference to Philadelphia fans throwing snowballs at Santa Claus! Our streak lives on – that’s now 1,238,543 consecutive national broadcasts with the Santa Claus story being mentioned! For the love of God, let it go! (Editor’s note: Anybody know if Santa retaliated by throwing coal into the stands?)

Apparentely, Santa took out his frustrations from that fateful day on some unsuspecting elf...

Apparentely, Santa took out his frustrations from that fateful day on some unsuspecting elf...

11:22 PM: Well, it’s the two-minute warning. I think I’ll be signing off now. Eagles stay alive in the playoff race, and start to prepare for the Redskins. This one was never really in question. Keep your heads up, Cleveland fans: karma will swing your way soon. Hopefully, the Browns will field a successful team once more.

You deserve nothing less.

E-A-G-L-E-S  EAGLES!

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The Pundit’s game notes from one of the worst Eagles games ever

From the Editor: The Pundit is so enraged right now by the effort displayed by the Eagles offense in their 13-13 tie, he only submitted his unedited notes from the game and said, “Here – you deal with this.” Thanks, Pundit. Here are his slightly edited notes, just in case you felt like reliving the train wreck that was this game.

Another three and out to start the game – McNabb throws high to Westbrook on a short swing route than overthrows an open Curtis in the middle of the field which would have given the Eagles a first down.

I just saw Joselio Hanson in the game – but not Lito Sheppard. Why?

Two straight three and outs. Spectacular start.

Engagement ring commercials are so sad – they always make it seem like the woman is super excited about getting the ring, not about getting married -“sure, he’s a questionable guy to settle down with, but look at this rock – I had to say yes!”

Good job by the Eagles defense of knocking the Bengals out of field goal range after they had the ball around the thirty – a sack by Trent Cole and then Joselio Hanson on a delayed blitz

McNabb gets sacked trying to scramble, fumbles the ball, and Frostee Rucker picks it up, takes it to the 1 yard line. If I was a drug dealer, my alias would be Frostee – ‘cuz I’m the snow man, bitches! I makes it rain ‘cuz I makes it snow, ya dig? (Editor’s note: Oh dear God…)

Good job by the Eagles defense of bailing out McNabb and holding the Bengals to a field goal after they started with the ball on the 1 yard line.

The Eagles had three yards of offense in the first quarter – I repeat, three fucking yards of offense in the first quarter.

Nice screen play to Buckhalter, 44 yarder. I heart Correll Buckhalter. (Editor’s note: Feeling a little fruity there, Pundit?)

Wow. L.J. Smith is actually involved in the offense early on in the game.

David Akers hits a field goal longer than 40 yards! A 42 yarder! Whooo!

Thank God for Trent Cole – already two sacks in this game.

Antonio Chatman gets JACKED UP on a wideout screen and fumbles, which is recovered by Darren Howard. Way to earn that paycheck, buddy.

Eagles complete a pass with 2:25 left on the clock in the first half, and allow it to run into the 2 minute warning. Granted, they have the ball on the 50 yard line, but is this good clock management? Should they have tried to get another play off before the 2 minute warning?

McNabb throws a pick right to Bengals linebacker Brandon Johnson. He was trying to loft one on a seam route to L.J. Smith – an absolutely awful, awful pass that cost the Eagles at least a field goal, and may set the Bengals up for one of their own

Bengals get a touchdown out of McNabb’s interception – specccccctacular. Fitzpatrick does a nice job adjusting to and beating the blitz, hits T.J. Whateverhislastnameis on a post route, who was being covered by Joselio Hanson. Was Lito on the field?

After Shayne Graham puts the kickoff out of bounds, Donovan throws a nice pass to DeSean Jackson to get the Eagles in field goal range – then a McNabb pass bounces off of Kevin Curtis’ shoulder and into the hands of the Bengals. Looked as though Donovan’s throw caught Curtis off guard, which seems to be a timing thing.

Thus concludes perhaps the worst, most pathetic half of football I have ever watched the Eagles play – I am disgusted right now. (Editor’s note: You don’t say).

We begin where we left off – Demps bobbles the kickoff, Eagles to start their first drive on the 11.

And the Eagles go three and out to start the half – I would be having a better time getting a root canal then I am having watching this game.

Talking about Fitzpatrick and his Harvard education, Goose says “Hey, Harvard – they teach a lot of stuff there.” Thanks for that Ivy League insight, Goose.

Shayne Graham field goal, 13-3 lead for the Bengals. I repeat: 13-3 lead for the 1-8 Bengals. Unbelievable.

Good job by McNabb scrambling, nice pass to Hank Baskett, who does a great job running with the ball after the catch. Another big play for Hank, who seems to be good for 1 or 2 of them a game. Big 57 yards, maybe that will wake up this offense.

Touchdown pass to L.J. smith, Eagles do a nice job answering the field goal with a touchdown of their own, and maybe, just maybe we’re back in this game.

Eagles defense has played well, granted against the Bengals. They three and out the Bengals offense once again.

Another terrible interception by McNabb, trying for the seam to L.J. again, who was being blanketed. A really awful throw by McNabb.

Bengals go for it on 4 and 16 at the Eagles 33 – they obviously didn’t want to go for the field goal there, but why not punt it?

McNabb almost throws another interception! What the fuck is wrong with him today? (Editor’s note: Must not have had his Chunky Soup).

Chris Clemons gets a sack – I forgot he was on the Eagles.

Curtis is wide open, drops a perfect pass. Goose says it best: “That was just really bad placement – right in the hands”

Ohmigod, ohmigod, ohmigod – the Eagles converted a fourth and short on a McNabb quarterback sneak! I am so happy right now!

Akers ties it at 13. Oh man, we are set up for a super exciting finish – actually, I just think I’ll be super excited when this game ends. (Editor’s note: Amen to that, brotha).

The Bengals get a delay of game call on a fake punt. Ahahahahahahahahahaha, to be a Bengals fan must be so painful on a daily basis.

Eagles punt the ball with 2 minutes left, then three and out the Bengals, breaking up two passes, only 16 seconds came off of the clock. If it weren’t for a stellar defensive effort today, and the fact that we’re playing the Bengals, the Eagles would have gotten crushed today based upon their offensive effort. (Editor’s note: I don’t know if it was intended, but there is definitely a double entendre on the word “offensive” today).

Eagles proceed to waste only 22 seconds, go three and out, hooray. Though, on the third and ten, Westbrook got basically tackled before the ball got to him by, of all fucking people, Dhani Jones – aggggghhhhhhhh!

Chris Clemons makes another play, decking the running back during a screen pass – when did we pick him up? Oh, we signed him to a huge deal in the offseason? Riiiiiiigggghhhhht. (Editor’s note: In all seriousness, though, Clemons did play a nice game for the Eagles today).

Eagles get their 7th sack of the game, and the Bengals go 3 and out once again – thank you for your efforts, defense. If the Eagles win, you get all the credit.

Oh man, I am so excited right now – this unbelievably exciting game is going to overtime! I could watch football of this caliber for days and days and days at a time. Now if you’ll excuse me, I am going to go find some rope and a high ceiling.

Why did “Nugget Alert” just pop up on the bottom-left of my television screen? Is Goose getting baked on the sidelines? Mmmmmmm…baked goose.

The Bengals, inexplicably, try to run the ball on a third and six play. Bad audible by Fitzpatrick. Thank God we are playing the Bengals today.

Suddenly, the Eagles can’t stop getting penalties. Unreal. We’ve cost ourselves, during the second offensive drive of the overtime, 20 yards, without counting the 15 yard play that was negated by Kevin Curtis’ offensive pass interference. Ugly, ugly football being played today by this offense.

Sav Rocca’s punts have been absolutely atrocious today. I am just so angry and ornery right now – this game has not been good for my blood pressure. (Editor’s note: If you don’t have anything nice to say…)

Asante Samuel makes another solid play, breaking up a pass to The Human Being Formerly Known as Chad Johnson, setting up a huge 3rd and 11 for the Bengals.

Huuuuuge sack by Darren Howard, the Birds’ 8th of the game, and they will get the ball back with a chance to FINALLY win this damn game.

And the Eagles fucking blow it and go fucking three and out – again! I am so infuriated right now – I’m hate typing right now. It’s the only positive way I can release all of my rage. If I were to see a bald eagle flying around right now, I’d shoot it out of the sky. That’s how pissed I am at this Eagles team, specifically their offense right now.

I am so sick and tired of the unnecessary roughing the passer penalties that are littering every NFL game. They called one on Sheldon Brown on a perfectly legitimate hit, which put the Bengals in field goal range – unacceptable. This roughing the passer business needs to be seriously discussed in the offseason.

And Shayne Graham misses what would have been a game winning, 47 yard field goal attempt. Does anybody want to win this game?

And thus ends a 13-13 tie. Honestly, this was one of, if not the worst football game I have ever watched. Anything positive I had previously posted about the eagles making the postseason pretty much just went out the window. Playoff teams don’t play 13-13 games against 1-8 football teams. BOOOOOOOO!!!

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Are the Birds cooked? This Pundit isn’t convinced…

The radio hosts and their faithful lackeys will tell you that Andy Reid is washed up as a coach, that his scheme is outdated and his player personnel decisions are shaky, at best. He shouldn’t have been given the duel responsibility, and the harmful effects of that decision are rearing their ugly head this season.

Maybe they’re right.

They think that McNabb is washed up, that he can’t win the big game, his early inconsistency hurts us, and its time to see what Aaron Rodgers…cough, I’m sorry…Kevin Kolb can do.

Maybe they’re on to something.

They think that the defense is overmatched against good offenses, that our defensive line is too small, that we just can’t stop a good running attack.

They could be right about that.

They’re saying that our receivers are pretty terrible, with the exception of DeSean Jackson, and that we should have gotten Tony Gonzalez because our tight ends stink (Editor’s note: Hey, everybody’s shit stinks, you know?), and we just can’t run the ball when we really need to in short yardage situations.

Yeah, there’s probably truth in there, though I would never, ever give up anything higher than a 3rd round pick for Tony Gonzalez, and I’m not even sure if I would have given that up for an aging tight end. Trivia question: what round was Brian Westbrook drafted in? Oh, the third round – ahhh, I see what you did there, Pundit. (Editor’s note: Ohhhhhhh, snap. The Pundit always be playin’, yo).

Fact is, a lot of people are getting pretty fed up with this Eagles team. They’re inconsistent, they can’t seem to make the key plays to lock up a win, and in general, their games this year have often been maddening and frustrating and fickle – they’re like a teenage girl, for Chrissakes. They seem to be struggling with the identity they’ve been given by their parents (Andy Reid), but they don’t really know how to break out of it just yet, so their play becomes tempermental and inconsistent and difficult to watch.

But the Eagles have an advantage that we’re all ignoring – they are still a “pretty” team. They have guys like McNabb, who has shown glimpses of brilliance, and Brian Westbrook, who might be the best player in football, and DeSean Jackson, who is developing into a pretty good player. They have Trent Cole, who when not double-teamed is a force, and Asante Samuel, who has been extremely solid.

When everybody was talking, early in the season, about how the Cowboys were the NFC’s team to beat, the Eagles took them to the limit. They beat the Steelers, a team that, at this stage in the year, would be third in my Power Rankings of Pure Punditry, if I thought that ranking every team every week of the season came even close to being relevant or worth anyone’s time. (Editor’s note: However, a Power Rankings of Pure Punditry over the entire spectrum of the sporting world might be worth doing – stay tuned…)

Let’s take a quick look at the Eagles four losses this year. When they lost to the Cowboys, they were a team that was 100 percent and playing well. I think everyone deemed that an acceptable loss at the time. The Giants are 8-1; they are clicking on all cylinders; they just outplayed us, though we kept ourselves in a game we probably should have lost by a lot more. I judge this an acceptable loss, though certainly one that was frustrating as hell.

We didn’t play well against the Redskins, but they are a pretty good team, and you’ll lose games like that from time to time. Though, at some point, this team needs to beat a conference foe. The Bears loss was painful, they had ample opportunity to beat them, and they are just a better team than the Bears. That, to me, is the only completely unacceptable loss of the season. All four losses came by a combined 19 points, all under a touchdown, all games they had the chance to win.

You see, all is not lost, people.

The rest of the schedule is favorable. For the duration of November, we have the Bengals, the Ravens, and the Cardinals. The Bengals should be a no-brainer, and though I think the Ravens and Cardinals are good teams, the Eagles should beat them. I expect this team to win the next three games, and head into December at 8-4.

December will be when we find out what this team is really made of. They get the Giants again, followed by the Browns, the Redskins and the season finale with the Cowboys, a game that will proabably have playoff implications for both teams. We’ll assume the win against the Browns, which leaves the 3 games against the NFC East. Take 2 of 3, and you are sitting at 11-5 – hello, wildcard. Take 1 of 3, and you might be in, though you’d be 1-5 against the East, and would not have the tiebreaker against the Bears, which could hurt. 10-6 may be good enough on its own to get them in, though I don’t think I’d want to risk it. Lose 3 of 3, and enjoy all of the time you now have to go golfing.

With 7 games to go, this Eagles team could get hot. See, last year, when the Giants began their run to the Superbowl, a couple of things fell into place for them. They bought into Tom Coughlin’s system whole-heartedly, and started playing like a team. Eli Manning developed into a top-tier quarterback. Their defensive scheme and strengths happened to make them they only team in the NFL that actually had a shot to beat Tom Brady’s Patriots (able to generate a rush with only their front four, disguised a multitude of blitzes and coverages to keep Brady, Moss and Welker guessing, had a solid ground game that could chew up clock, had weapons of their own on offense like Plaxico Burress and a suddenly poised Manning that could score some points. Really, they were the perfect storm needed to beat last year’s Patriots).

For the Eagles, the same could happen, though a bit differently. Andy Reid and the offensive line could find a way to better utilize and execute a running game. Donovan could start showing up in the first quarter; I mean, honestly, if he played a consistent 4 quarters, was able to make a few more plays down the stretch, and got this team into the playoffs, he’d have had himself a pretty nice season. He’s already having a pretty good one – 2372 yards, 13 TD’s, 5 INT’s, a 90.7 QB rating. They need to find a way to convert short-yardage plays – it killed them against the Bears, and again against the Giants. Three-and-outs that chew up little or no clock tax the defense, and in turn, the defense needs to be able to consistently stop the other team’s running attack. The Giants absolutely gashed us. It was ugly.

So that’s it – the schedule is challenging, but one that can be conquered. Our issues exist, but they are not  beyond repair. This team still has a very good chance at making the playoffs, and if they get hot in a lukewarm NFC, they have a dreamer’s chance at making the Superbowl. I wouldn’t start making reservations, but I wouldn’t write this team off just yet, either.

Maybe them radio folks aren’t right at all.

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The Week in Review (9/15/08 – 9/21/08)

No-Show/s of the Week

So, he’s been the ace for the second-half of the season. That makes this harder. But Brett Myers, you can’t give up 10 runs in 4 innings of work against the Marlins. I know, the Marlins have been hot, and you were due to get hit hard one of these games, but this is a bit much. Everyone has off days, I am privy to that; but you can’t be this off, especially when every game is so valuable. The offense scored 8 runs, which should almost always be enough to win. Hopefully, Brett will take it for what it was – one bad start – and focus on the next one. I truly believe that, if Brett maintains his dominance, Cole Hamels keeps finding ways to win, and Jamie Moyer continues to be the ageless blessing he’s been all season, this team could legitimately make a run to the Series.

Stud/s of the Week

The entire Eagles defense and Jim Johnson. 9 sacks, a safety and 3 turnovers against the Steelers will get you Stud recognition every week. We’ll just ignore the fact that technically Monday night’s game against the Cowboys falls within the dates I listed in the title; they more than made up for it this week. The front four generated a rush on its own; Big Ben never knew where the blitz was coming from; Dawkins was soaring through the air and causing mayhem; Asante Samuel made a beautiful interception; Willie Parker had 20 rushing yards. 20! And they didn’t allow a touchdown. As dominating a performance, against a good team, as I have seen from this unit in a while. They were solid across the board, and will need to be again next week, as a game against the Bears, potentially without Brian Westbrook, will probably be another defensive struggle.

My All-Encompassing Thought of the Week

This isn’t about Philly, but bears mentioning – last night was the last game ever played at Yankee Stadium. Now, you may not like the Yankees; God knows I don’t. But it is still sad for me to think that a place that fielded the likes of Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, Reggie Jackson, and yes, we’ll someday say Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez, will no longer be hosting MLB games. Yankee Stadium is our Colosseum, though it wasn’t a place where warriors were beloved for defying death and committing acts of violence. (Editor’s note: That sounds more like a description of the Vet and its fans). No, Yankee Stadium was a place where perhaps otherwise ordinary men captured the imaginations of people everywhere while playing a child’s game. Where Babe Ruth, a man who looked more akin to the chubby guy on the corner playing cards than a great athlete, represented an American love of excess and just having a good time. For every home run, there was a beer, a woman, and a hot dog to go along with it. Yet the measure of his power, especially when compared to his peers, will likely never be duplicated. Babe Ruth often hit more homers in a season than some teams did, and did so without ever missing a good time. A deity amongst mere mortals. Contrast him to Lou Gehrig, who’s work ethic and consistency perfectly mirrored the blue-collar lifestyle of so many Americans. Fittingly, Gehrig was vastly underrated, and remains so, though I believe him to be one of the five greatest hitters ever. Than there was the tragic figure of Mickey Mantle, whose Herculean abilities were only stymied by his constant injuries and habits. Yet, if you ask anybody who ever saw him play to describe the experience, they will remember it with a certain degree of awe and reverence that is rarely reserved for athletes. Certainly, we all admire the athletic prowess of our favorite sports figures, but to hear someone talk of Mantle is to hear them describe something more than simply a ball player; he was Superman, a man lacking weakness on the diamond. And yet, he was also the protagonist in his own tale of Greek mythology, befallen by tragic flaws but an important reminder that even the most spectacular of us is simply human. Joltin’ Joe dated Marilyn Monroe and hit in 56 straight game; Yogi Berra was always a quip away from profundity.

The Yankees, and how they’re received outside of New York, are strangely representative of America itself. Many people don’t like them, but they win more than they lose, and many of the most important accomplishments in baseball history have come from their players. They’re the big spenders, the guys with money, the team that’s got it made. And yet, much as they are despised, they have traditionally set the bar for success in baseball. The best players in baseball want to play for them. Any true fan of a team from another city will tell you that they despise the Yankees; what they won’t mention is how much they respect them, at least their legacy. Farewell to Yankee Stadium; you may now take your place next to all of the greats you hosted, firmly entrenched in both baseball and American history, and perhaps more fittingly, forever etched in our imaginations.

My Painfully Specific Thought of the Week

It doesn’t bother me one bit that the Yankees will miss the playoffs this year.

Moment of the Week

Yesterday was awesome, and frightening, but mostly awesome. The Eagles D looked great, but seeing both Westbrook and McNabb leave the field with potential injuries was horrifying. The Phillies won, but Lidge sure made it more exciting than it needed to be. So, after three games, the Eagles look like, if they stay healthy, one of the NFC’s top teams, and the Phillies, with 6 games left and leads of 1 1/2 in the division and 3 over the Brewers for the wildcard, look as though they’re headed to the postseason (Editor’s note: Somebody knock on some frickin’ wood, for God’s sake!). I mean, the following things happened yesterday: Big Ben was hit so many times by Eagles defenders, he had to leave the game; we beat the pesky Marlins and don’t have to play them again until next year; the Mets’ bullpen blew another game. A beautiful Sunday, and though it most certainly is not always sunny in Philadelphia, it sure as hell is today.

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D-FENCE! Quick hits from the Eagles game

– McNabb started like a man on fire, completing his first 15 passes. Granted, a lot of them were dinks and dunks to the backs in the flat, but that was what the Steelers’ D was giving them, and they were moving the ball. He didn’t look the same after the injury, however, which could be a cause for concern; he seemed to me to be visibly wincing and his throws were more erratic in the second half.

– Okay, so seeing Brian Westbrook leave the field nursing his ankle was just frightening. I almost swore off beer in a barter with God to keep him healthy; I realized my mistake almost immediately, and begged to retract the deal. He met me halfway – if Westbrook returns next week, I’m allowed to have Bud. It’s barely beer, but it’ll have to do. (Editor’s note: A just and compassionate God he is).

– Good job Correll Buckhalter. There is no replacing Westbrook, but Buckhalter avoided trouble in the backfield and consistently fell forward. Love the persistence of Buckhalter, both in getting himself on the field after knee problems, and in the way he runs. The leap into the endzone was pure heart on his part. Well done, sir.

– Hey Big Ben? How ya feelin’, buddy? Little sore, I bet. Unbelievable pressure from the D all game long. Jim Johnson the ‘ol blitz mojo running at an all time high, and the front four did a spectacular job of generating a rush when the blitz wasn’t on. 9 sacks, a forced safety and 3 turnovers? That, ladies and gentlemen, is championship defense.

– Was there anything more awesome in the whole game than seeing Brian Dawkins soaring through the air towards Big Ben, forcing the fumble and recovering it at the end of the game? The slow motion was incredible; he literally looks like he’s flying when he does his leap, he’s like a friggin’ bird (Editor’s note: Yeah, yeah, an Eagle, I know). Dawkins may not be quite the same in coverage, but the man has a nose for the ball and still makes clutch plays off of the blitz. I don’t care if, in 30 years, Dawkins is blitzing off of the corner using a walker – I don’t want to see the guy hang it up. (Editor’s note: You know he would walk in all slow and decrepit, realize he couldn’t jump, and just bash the QB in the helmet with his walker. And everyone would go nuts).

– Asante Samuel, you’re earning that check so far. Beautiful interception on the deep ball. Man just knows how to get at the football, and that’s why we’re paying him.

– Don’t think you can blame Kevin Kolb for the interception he threw. It looked as though L.J. got hit before the ball got to him – should have been pass interference.

– Wasn’t Willie Parker having a really good season so far? Yup, he sure was. Guess we’ll just call today a detour. The Eagles D held him to 20 yards on 13 carries. The Eagles D was like the Schukyll during rush hour – they kept everything to a crawl. (Editor’s note: This whole traffic theme is totally clever, isn’t it?) Game ball goes to the front 7 – they dominated the entire game, and were the reason the Steelers couldn’t get into the endzone all afternoon.

– Sav Rocca, you punted like a champ. I may have to get a Rocca jersey if he keeps this up. Alright, so there isn’t a chance in hell of that happening, but still good work by Rugby Rocca.

– To me, after 3 games, the Eagles have shown me two things: they can hang with just about anyone in a shoot-out, and they can survive a knock-down, drag-out affair. (Editor’s note: I remember my last drag-out affair…um, nevermind). The Eagles were in a fistfight today, and they punched harder and more often. Smashmouth, baby!

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Eagles Preview and more

This Eagles season, more than many in recent history, is chock full of questions. So many, in fact, that I decided to do my entire Eagles preview in question format. I could make a slew of blanket claims, hoping I got some of them right, guys don’t get injured, etc. Instead, I’m going to focus on the aspects of this team that are huge question marks. I’ll put the answer that would benefit the Eagles, but not necessarily my opinion, after the question. At the end, I’ll give my prediction based upon how many questions I think the Eagles will answer to their benefit. Everybody have their number two pencils ready? And…go!

1. Will Donovan McNabb stay healthy? (Huge Yes)

2. Will Brian Westbrook continue to be one of the best best weapons in football – for 16 games? (The Biggest Yes)

3. Can Tony Hunt become a reliable fullback? (Yes)

4. Will Lorenzo Booker and Correll Buckhalter be able to spell Westbrook? (Yes)

5. Will the receiving corps hold water until Kevin Curtis comes back? (Yes)

6. Will they drop too many passes again this year? (No)

7. Will DeSean Jackson be a big-play threat? (Yes)

8. Will L.J. Smith reestablish himself as a quality TE? (Yes)

9. Will the offensive line stay healthy? (Yes)

10. Will the offensive line protect McNabb? (Yes)

11. Will our offense be more productive in the red zone? (Yes)

12. Will Andy Reid commit more to the running game? (Yes)

13. Will the DT’s get a surge up the middle, stuffing the opposing team’s running game? (Yes)

14. Will one of the DE’s other then Trent Cole become a consistent pass rusher? (Yes)

15. Will we get a bit more production from Darren Howard? (Yes)

16. Will the young linebacking corps swarm to the ball, wreaking havoc on the opposing team’s running game? (Yes)

17. Will the young linebacking corps make too many mental mistakes? (No)

18. Will the three corner circus be effective? (Yes)

19. Will Asante Samuel live up to his huge contract? (Yes)

20. Will The Agent Fatale turn Lito Sheppard into a media whore, convincing him to go by an alternate moniker such as LS or Lito Dos Seis? (Nooooooooooooooooooooooo)

21. Is Brian Dawkins past his prime? (No)

22. Will Quentin Mikell be a liability? (No)

23. Will Jim Johnson draw up a wild array of blitz schemes that work? (Yes)

24. Will David Akers return to form? (Yes)

25. Can DeSean Jackson and Quintin Demps consistently be dangerous return men? (Yes)

Quick note: A couple of these are huge, much more drastic than the others – namely, number 1 and 2. If McNabb or Westbrook get hurt, they won’t make the playoffs. So, the following scores are assuming that McNabb and Westbrook will stay healthy.

If the answers to 23-25 of these questions benefit the Eagles, they represent the NFC in the Superbowl.

If the answers to 20-22 of these questions benefit the Eagles, they win the NFC East

If the answers to 15-19 of these questions benefit the Eagles, they make the wildcard.

Any less and they miss the playoffs.

The Pundit’s Take: I have the Eagles positively answering 18 of these questions, putting them solidly in the wildcard. Questions I think they fail on: 3, 5, 6, 8, 12, 14, 17. Again, if either McNabb or Westbrook gets hurt, all bets are off. And now, your full NFL season prediction.

NFC Playoff Teams

1. Dallas (Wins NFC East, and yes, I hate, hate, hate, hate, hate, hate, hate writing this)

2. Green Bay (Wins NFC North)

3. New Orleans (Wins NFC South)

4. Seattle (Wins NFC West)

5. Philadelphia

6. Minnesota

(Eagles beat Seahawks in first wildcard, and Minnesota beats New Orleans in a wild weekend. Dallas beats Minnesota, and the Eagles shock the Packers, at Lambeau, behind a classic performance from Mr. McNabb. And then, in the most tragic moment in Eagles history, the Cowboys beat the Eagles in the NFC Championship game, causing the city of Philadelphia to be the first area ever in American History to be put into a “State of Depression.” Nobody shows up to work for a week, mass looting ensues, and broken beer bottles littered on the street make it impossible to drive anywhere. God, I really, really hope that I’m wrong.)

AFC Playoff Teams

1. New England (AFC East champions, losing three in the regular season)

2. San Diego (AFC West champions)

3. Jacksonville (AFC South Champions)

4. Pittsburgh (AFC North Champions)

5. Indianapolis

6. Cleveland

(Jacksonville crushes the Browns, and the Colts beat the Steelers in a competitive game. Jacksonville’s defense and running game are just enough to propel them past the now Merriman-less Chargers, and the Colts squeak by the Patriots in another classic between the two, this one ending in overtime. Jacksonville relishes its opportunity to play at home, exorcising their Colts demons and winning to go to the Superbowl)

Superbowl prediction: Every year, I want to put the Eagles here. I really, really do. And every year, I pray the Cowboys don’t make it here. But this year, they will. And I think that they will beat the Jaguars. (Editor’s note: Feel free to find The Pundit and to kick the shit out of him). I’m sorry, I feel like a traitor, but I think Adam Jones is going to be a clutch addition, I think Tony Romo will be a more focused force, I think Marion Barber will have a big year. I just don’t see a ton of weaknesses on this team. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go sit in a cold shower with my clothes on (Editor’s note: YES HE DESERVES TO DIE, AND I HOPE HE BURNS IN HELL!)

Oh, and please read this in case you’re not sure what just happened above. Focus on paragraph four. And ignore Sports Illustrated from now on, please.

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The Lito Sheppard Conundrum Post

So wait, let me get this straight – Lito Sheppard isn’t happy with his contract? Hold on just one second – he isn’t starting? And he started taking jabs at the organization about all of this again? Well, slap me silly and call me Cletus, I had no idea (Editor’s note: The Pundit is into some weird shit).

As usual, Lito is stoking the media fire, apparently in an attempt to either get the team to trade him or to renegotiate his contract. His tactics, as John Gonzalez enlightens us, are the stuff of schoolyard lure.

Remember back in the day when you wanted to fight someone at school? You almost never called the guy out face-to-face. You used intermediaries. You talked trash about your adversary through the grapevine until he didn’t have a choice. Jimmy picks his nose. Jimmy was adopted. Jimmy plays with Barbies and listens to show tunes.

Now, I see what Mr. Gonzalez is doing here. Clever, really. See, he’s saying that Lito is being childish (Editor’s note: If you had just gotten hit in the face with a brick, the Pundit would smugly “inform” you that you had just gotten hit in the face with a brick. You know, just in case you were unaware). I remember such days, days of childish games, days where not much mattered so the smallest happenings became newsworthy.

Ohmigosh, did you hear what Johnny is saying about Jimmy? He’s saying he likes show tunes. No, I don’t know which show tunes. I mean, if you really need to know, some from Grease I guess. Ohmigosh, I know, John Travolta is sooooo cute. Oh, I don’t know what its really all about, something about how Johnny doesn’t think Jimmy is playing fair out on the playground. Well, obviously Jimmy doesn’t agree, and so they started arguing about it, and now Johnny is even saying he was adopted. No, I’ve seen Jimmy’s parents, they aren’t wolves. Oh, who cares who’s right. I haven’t even really thought about it – I’ve been too busy giggling about what Johnny is saying about Jimmy.

Well, The Pundit isn’t giggling. Fact is, I wasn’t surprised that the Eagles were reluctant to renegotiate a deal with Lito. After all, they’re reluctant to renegotiate with anyone, aren’t they? Only Brian Westbrook seems able to win a showdown with them, and there are two primary reasons for it: Westbrook is not only the key to the offense, but one of the best offensive weapons in football. That’s number one. Number two is simple: everyone knows it. Westbrook easily defeats the Eagles in the court of public opinion, no doubt about it.

Lito, however, is not so lucky.

After all, he is injury prone. In the last three seasons, Sheppard has missed 14 games. But in the 34 games he has played, he has put up fairly solid numbers – 11 interceptions, 1 returned for a touchdown, with 33 passes deflected. In 2006, he picked off 6 passes and deflected 19 in 13 games, leading to his second Pro Bowl selection (2004 was the other).

So, Lito is solid when he is healthy but tends to get injured, meaning the Eagles aren’t quite willing to sign him to a long-term deal. That seems fair to me. However, if they aren’t going to trade him, a simple question lingers: should Lito be starting over Sheldon Brown? (Editor’s note: Obviously, after luring Asante Samuel from the Patriots with a cool 57 mil, the Eagles plan on starting him).

Sheldon Brown, in the same three years we used to analyze Lito, put up the following numbers: 48 games played, 8 interceptions, 49 passes deflected, 2 defensive touchdowns. Fact is, Sheldon Brown has never missed a game, though in his six year career, he has 13 total interceptions, a whopping two more than the total Lito Sheppard put in his past 34 games. Granted, Brown is more durable and had a high number of pass deflections.

Those are the numbers. But I know why you’re really here: what is The Pundit’s gut telling him? (Editor’s note: No more kielbasa from that sandwich joint in North Philly). Throw out any potential argument that Sheldon Brown is more used to playing his side of the field; I played corner, and though it was only high school ball, you adjust fairly quickly to either side you are playing on. Besides, these guys aren’t going to always be locked into one side. In my opinion, when Lito is on the field, I think he’s the better corner of the two. It’s a tough comparison: Lito is more flashy and will get you picks. Sheldon is steady, a big hitter, and normally ends up around the ball. I think Lito is a slightly better man corner; I think Sheldon is more physical.

Verdict: The Eagles are right in waiting to resign Lito, though if they can get a really sweet deal for him (which seems unlikely), I think they should take it. So, if Lito’s hanging around, I think he should be the starter. I understand that all of these guys are going to see a lot of time, but I truly believe Lito is better. Arguments are certainly encouraged.

Oh, great, the Eagles are going to appeal. Here’s their side: Hey, Lito Sheppard already isn’t happy with us. He may not be an Eagle after this year. But, no matter what happens with Lito, Sheldon Brown is still going to be here. Why piss off two guys, when you can just piss off the one who may be gone soon anyway?

Because you do what gives you the best chance to win. Sheldon is a big boy; he can deal with it. He’ll would be getting almost as many snaps anyway.

Oh, and from what I hear, Jimmy is a huge fan of Rent. (Editor’s note: I totally knew he was a little bitch).

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