Tag Archives: L.J. Smith

The Anticlimactic end? The Pundit dishes on Birds vs. Cowboys

(Editors’s note: The Pundit wrote much of this while listening to “Standing Outside a Broken Phone Booth with Money in my Hand” by the Primitive Radio Gods. Over and over again, really. If you’re interested in the full interactive experience, he recommends you listen while you read this post. It adds a melancholy curiosity – and its an awesome friggin’ song).

What, oh what, will Sunday mean? Will it somehow, majestically, become a game with playoff implications for the Eagles?

Or will it simply be the end of the season?

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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/SkinsĀ  showdown.

They controlled their own destiny as they walked to the field

For Tampa had faltered, and Dallas had reeled

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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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Sometimes, a team just has to hit rock-bottom: The Pundit evaluates the win over the Giants, and why it happened

At some point in your life, you’ve probably known a rock-bottom person. Maybe a friend, or family member, coworker, acquaintance, etc. (Editor’s note: For me, it’s The Pundit. He’s a carousal of emotion). Essentially, a rock-bottom person is someone who absolutely won’t change their life, however bad it may be getting, until it gets to the indisputable breaking point. Someone who doesn’t learn their lessons in life until those lessons add up and push them to a place of darkness and despair.

The 2008 Philadelphia Eagles are starting to resemble a rock-bottom team.

It seemed that the tie against the Bengals would be the absolute low for this team. And in terms of a team performance, it may have been. But then came the blowout loss to the Ravens, and the benching of Donovan McNabb at halftime during a 10-7 game. To me, that was the rock-bottom for both the face of this franchise, Donovan McNabb, and its head coach, Andy Reid. The season seemed lost.

But that’s the funny thing about the rock-bottom person – if they are able to pull themselves back from the depths of their fall, they often become people who do well for themselves in life. See, many rock-bottom people possess a lot of potential and energy, but never learn how to harness their abilities. Thus, once they start focusing this energy in a positive direction, the results are often staggering and inspiring.

For the 2008 Philadelphia Eagles, a revitalized focus on the running game has seemed to pull them from their own place of darkness.

It was evident last week against the Cardinals, and it was apparent once more this week against the Giants. It should be noted, of course, that the defense played a wonderful game, stuffing the Giants’ potent ground attack and seemingly keeping Eli Manning off-balance all game. McNabb avoided making big mistakes, taking the plays that the Giants defense gave him. L.J. Smith rose from the ashes and gave a brilliant performance, eating up yards after the catch and remaining Donovan’s favorite target throughout the day.

But this was a day that belonged to the Eagles offensive line, and the man among boys, Brian Westbrook. B-West finished the day with 131 yards and one touchdown on 33 carries, and 72 yards and another TD on 6 receptions. Think the extra days of rest helped Westbrook a bit? He was the best player on the field, and patiently, in his ever-shifty way, broke the Giants defense in the second half.

But he couldn’t have done it alone – the Eagles offensive line played their best game of the year. They won the time of possession battle, 34:54 to 25:06, which was absolutely huge. A gigantic reason for that success was that they ran the ball effectively, and often. But they also kept themselves on the field, converting 12 of their 18 third-down attempts. And while much of the credit has to go to Donovan McNabb’s execution in the passing game, the Eagle’s offensive line gave him the time he needed to run the offense; he was sacked only once the entire game.

Surely, it wasn’t a perfect performance. The Birds were penalized nine times to the tune of 73 yards. They had two field goals blocked. The road to recovery is a long one – it isn’t whether you have setbacks that matter. That is to be expected.

It’s whether you overcome them. (Editor’s note: And now I feel like I’m reading a script for an episode of Intervention or something).

So the question remains – who are these Eagles? Is this the team we can expect for the rest of the year? Or was this game the combination of a stellar, well-balanced performance by the Eagles, and a flat one by the Giants, each unlikely to be repeated by their respective teams?

Quite frankly, I don’t give a damn right now – I’m just really glad that next week’s game actually matters. And being a Monday night game, Westbrook will have an extra day to rest his surely weary bones. The extra rest this week certainly helped the Birds. That being said, its hard to argue against the notion that the philosophy-shift in Andy Reid’s offensive gameplan the past two weeks has been the major reason for their success. And really, after the debacles against the Bengals and Ravens, what choice did Andy have?

See, sometimes, for a team to maximize their potential, they need to hit rock bottom. They need the motivation that comes from desperation, from having the season hanging in the balance every time they step on the field. Here’s hoping the Eagles keep fighting back toward the light.

And more importantly, the playoffs.

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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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Quick hits from the Eagles and Phillies

Eagles

– Juqua Parker, you are the man! Defensive player of the week, if you ask this Pundit. Obviously, the late interception and return for a touchdown sealed the game, but Parker also had a big sack and made an excellent play on a reverse that set the Niners back and forced a third and 18. That long down led to an interception by Mr. Mikell. Good job Mr. Parker – this team needed a spark today, and you provided it.

– Gotta hand the 49ers this – they had a great game plan for attacking the Eagles defense, one that worked for 3 quarters. They ran the ball well, used their hot reads, and did enough shifting to keep the Eagles off-balance. Excellent utilization of the TE’s, which appears to be the one position which the Birds continually have difficulty defending against.

– The defense did a solid job of keeping the Niners out of the endzone. Early in the game, after a long Allen Rossum punt return, the D kept San Fran out of the endzone. Another TD came on the field goal block at the end of the half. So really, the Eagles defense, when the Niners had to use the whole field, gave up 16 points, and they played huge in the 4th quarter. A good, though certainly not great, effort by the defense.

– A couple of really nice catches by Hank Baskett in the first half, including his spectacular touchdown reception. He has the natural ability to make some plays, but he is either inconsistent or the Eagles don’t construct enough of the game plan with him in mind, because his contributions this year have been sparse at best.

– Why, oh why, is any field goal attempt longer than 40 yards such an ordeal anymore? I was truly concerned that the block and touchdown return at the end of the first half was going to be the play that tilted the game in the Niners direction, and it almost was. I mean, Akers and this unit used to be automatic. I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again: bring back the beard, David. We need it!

– I don’t know if it was just me, but in the 2nd and 3rd quarters, the Eagles just looked flat. Emotionless. No heart. In the 1st and 4th quarters, they were sharp, precise, and passionate. This inconsistency in both emotion and execution really frightens me. You can get away with playing two good quarters against the 49ers, but not in the NFC East games.

– Correll Buckhalter, you are quickly becoming my favorite Eagle. You leave it on the field, and you never give an inch.

– Donovan McNabb had a solid game, save for the interception down by the endzone, which really wasn’t his fault. L.J. Smith loafed that route, and should have ran in front of Patrick Willis. As my old football coach used to say when he was enraged at a player, “THAT WAS A PISS POOR EFFORT. PISS POOR!”

– It was nice to see the Eagles utilizing more screen passes. I’ve felt as though they’ve gotten away from the screens a bit in the past weeks, and it has traditionally been a very effective play for Andy Reid. Keeps the defense on their toes, and allows the backs or TE’s to make plays in space. Actually, the Niners used the screen extremely well against the Eagles D. Mike Martz can draw himself up some offense.

– Frank Gore is a really impressive back. He is so hard to get to the ground, and when he gets that momentum going, look out – he’s gonna knock you in the teeth. That being said, he’s pretty nimble too. When healthy, he’s a top 5 back in this league.

– Alright! The Cowboys just lost to the Cardinals on a blocked punt for a touchdown in overtime. And the Skins lost on a last second field goal against the Rams. Niiiiiiiiiice.

– Dude, DeSean Jackson got lit up on a punt return. I mean, the guy clotheslined him. It looked like one of the overly dramatic and completely infeasible hits you’ll see in the movies. DeSean Jackson – you got JACKED UP!

Phillies

– I suppose I have to address the beanball aspect of this game to start. Can’t blame Shane for being pissed about having a ball thrown at his head, though I can’t blame the Dodgers for throwing at him, especially after Manny Being Manny had one thrown behind him in game two, and Russell Martin had one whizzed above his head tonight. That’s baseball, and it certainly took this series to a new height in terms of intensity. Plus, Shane’s gyrations were friggin’ priceless.

– Not sure what’s going on with Jamie Moyer in the postseason, but his first two innings pretty much put this game out of reach. Hard to be down on a guy who was so vital to our success during the season, but he really killed us tonight.

– Good to see Ryan Howard getting his swing back on track. Look for him to absolutely crush one in the next game or so. Got to get Jimmy rolling, though – he sets the table.

– Bullpen did a pretty good job of not letting this game get too far out of hand. Hopefully, this won’t tax our arms for the next game or so. That could be the truly dangerous aspect of this loss.

– Boy, Russell Martin really took his lumps today, huh? Gets hit twice in the game, and has a fastball go above his head. Get out the ice packs.

– Highlight of the broadcast: the cameraman focusing on Ryan Seacrest as he was playing with his Blackberry, followed by Joe Buck deadpanning, “Somebody tell him the score.”

– The Dodgers absolutely had to win this game. They took care of business, simple as that. It will be interesting to see if the Phillies can up their intensity to match the Dodgers tomorrow

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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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