Weekend Roundup: Can the Cardinals Pull it Off?

Here’s what I was reading this week.

Jenn Sterger Blogs for TampaBay.com [Tampabay.com]
Yes, she’s rather annoying.  But fortunately, she has a couple other redeeming qualities.

State of Free Play [RPGVault]
Cool discussion with a developer of free to play online games.

Somewhat Interesting Signing [IgglesBlog]
Could this signing out of the CFL be the next out of nowhere Eagles cornerback?

Evaluating the Eagles [Inside the Iggles]
I’ve been in the comments over there, managing to discuss the wide receiver position without it devolving into nonsense.

Drakensang [Drakensang.com]
February 18th!

Donovan:  I Want to Retire an Eagle
[Bleeding Green Nation]
This is everywhere now, but it’s worth disseminating through any possible method.

Graves Has Challenging Off-Season [Pro Football Weekly]
The Cardinals GM has several important players who need new deals or the Super Bowl may be their last as a Cardinal

Divisional Status Check — Washington

Jim Zorn Jason Campbell Washington RedskinsStarting today and then again on Monday and Tuesday I’m going to review where each of the Eagles division rivals are as we head into NFL free agency.  We’ll list the players that each team stands to lose, players who might be in line for a new deal, and who they might target in free agency.  We’ll also revisit the 2008 season, gauge strengths and weaknesses of each team, and try to guess how they might address them.

Washington Redskins
2008 Record:  8-8
2007 Record:  9-7

The ‘Skins brought in yet another new coach this year.  After a blazing fast start the team cooled off and finished where they usually do — right around .500.

Free Agents:
Shaun Alexander (UFA), Shaun Suisham (UFA), Pete Kendall (UFA), Demetric Evans (UFA), Kedric Golston (RFA), Anthony Montgomery (RFA), Khary Campbell (UFA), Reed Doughty (RFA)

Strengths:
The Redskins rushing attack continues to be amongst the best in the NFL.  Clinton Portis finished the season with nearly 1500 yards and the offensive line finished 5th in Adjusted Line Yards.  This still is a power rushing team despite the wacky schemes of Coach Zorn.

Weaknesses:
Getting the ball in the end zone.  This team averaged 12.5 points per game in the second half of the season (still managed to beat the Eagles with a meager 10, though).  For a team that runs the ball so darn well, the blame would obviously then fall on the passing game.  The failure of this unit is surprising for several reasons.  One, this was supposed to be the year Jason Campbell brought it all together.  Two, this team seems to have the right “weapons” — starting with Santana Moss and Cris Cooley.  And three, look at last year’s draft!  Devin Thomas, Fred Davis, and Malcolm Kelly were their first three picks.

Not one of them broke out in a big way.  Dissappointing year for sure.

Where They Go From Here:
Pete Kendall is pretty darn old, but they might want to keep him around as the rest of the O-Line is aging as well, tends to get injured, and they need the depth.  Other than that the rest of the free agents are of low concern.  Suisham is likely gone after a terrible year.

Despite the lackluster rookie seasons of last year’s picks, the Redskins won’t give up on them yet.  Look for this team to draft help on the defensive side of the ball.  The Redskins haven’t drafted a defensive lineman higher than the 5th round since 1997.  Again, the Redskins are the bizarro Eagles.  They desperately need a pass rusher.  The Jason Taylor experiment didn’t work out well and this team finished 28th in the NFL in sacks.

They could use help on the offensive line as well.  They are good, but old.  And as I said, prone to injury.

Draft Expectations:  Defensive Line, Offensive Line, Linebacker

For the first time in a long time, you can expect next year’s Redskins to look almost identical to this year’s version.  They have stated they are unlikely to go after any big name free agents, indicating they will try to improve the team from within and through the draft.

Season Review — Best Pleasant Surprise

Quintin MikellSettling into the NFL off-season after the rush of the playoffs is hard, so I’m trying to mix looking back with all the thoughts about the upcoming free agency period and the draft.

Every NFL season is filled with surprises, you just hope your team’s tend to be pleasant.  Here are my picks for the Eagles’ best pleasant surprise of the ’08/’09 season.

What is your favorite pleasant surprise of the season?

View Results

I was pretty dead on about one of these guys.  But way off (but happy to be so) on another.

Tra Thomas, Jon Runyan, the 2009 Off-Season

The choices the front office makes this off season will likely have important, lasting effects on the offensive line (and the entire offense) for years.  The choices, re-sign Thomas and Runyan, re-sign one of them, or let them both go and figure out what you have with Andrews, Herremans, Justice, and Dunlap (and perhaps a couple of the other young guys).

What would you do with the Eagles tackles?

View Results

Events Conspiring Against Eli, Giants?

Giants GM Jerry ReeseThe Giants have an interesting off-season ahead.  They’ve got two UFA running backs (Jacobs, Ward).  They will undoubtedly re-sign one of them (Jacobs), but they will likely lose some valuable depth a pretty darn good runner.

Long time Giant Amani Toomer is a free agent.  Plaxico Burress has a long-term deal, but the Manhattan criminal court may decide his NFL career will best be continued after a stay in the penitentiary.  So re-sign Toomer, right?  Well, there appears to be at least a little problem.  He sounds more than a little bit peeved at the organization.

My agent and them have been talking a little bit, but I just think the way the season ended and how they started going away from me at the end of the year, I think it ultimately hurt the team and I think contributed greatly to our situation right now, being out of it.

I just think the last couple of games I wasn’t a big part of the offense and we lost … a big percentage of the games (four of the last five). I feel like you can’t tell me (that) didn’t play a big role in it. I think it did.

Reduced role for veteran with expiring contract leading to unhappy player.  Sound familiar?

They’ve also have to figure out whether to keep the services of our favorite fat-ass middle linebacker, who has become enough of a liability that many fans are calling for his ouster.

Now, getting back to the free agents.  The Giants do have plenty of cap room.  And with Toomer, his ability has declined enough with age that just dropping him from the team might not hurt that much.  But him and Plaxico?  That would be a disaster.

Enter Anquan Boldin.  The NY media is infatuated with the guy, and even though he’s still under contract they want him in a bad way.  But this may be another situation that turns sour for the team.  Just this week Larry Fitzgerald made public comments that he would be willing to restructure his deal to help the team retain Boldin.  That certainly doesn’t guarantee a deal gets done, but with Boldin under contract through 2010 he would probably accept a shiny new deal from the Cardinals rather than causing too much trouble.

A lot of questions in NY this off-season.  Next year could be the first time in his career that Eli has questionable talent running routes for him.  Looking forward to that.

Liar Liar

Donovan McNabb Philadelphia EaglesWell, maybe none of us really believed him anymore anyway.  But when Donovan routinely says he doesn’t pay attention to criticism of him, you can officially consider that complete bullshit.

I caught 5ive on SportsCenter tonight (he’s making a habit of being on the show for Super Bowl week), where he spent some time talking about the Cardinals and specifically Larry Fitzgerald.  He managed to drop this piece of dynamite:

“With Fitzgerald out there, as a quarterback, all of a sudden you are very accurate.”

Zing!

Nope, he doesn’t pay attention to any of the criticism, especially any of that stuff about him not being consistently accurate.

Nope, not at all.

The Belichick Rule

I caught this clip of Billy Gillespie not-too-kindly informing ESPN sideline reporter Jeannine Edwards that she asked him a “bad question.”


Regardless of what you think of the question (it was harmless), rebuking ESPN’s 5th string sideline reporter is below the type of behavior you expect from the head coach of a major college program.  It’s unprofessional.  Politely answering these innocuous questions is simply what you do.

What’s more, this sort of quibbling and attitude gets noticed by other media members.  When you’re a struggling coach at UK, do you really want to do anything to antagonize the media?

First you get the resume and the results.  Then you can start treating people like you’re better than them.  This can henceforth be referred to as the Belichick rule.

Pardon the Mess

There will be some changes around here over the next couple of days.  As always, thanks for stopping by, and I hope you like the new look!

I’ll be introducing a couple of new features as well, which I think could be really neat.

Sam Donnellon Is Sassy, Stupid

Joe Banner Eagles President
Not An Idiot

Your favorite Daily News writer watched and listened to Joe Banner’s interviews this week, and he’s mad about what he’s heard.  Like, really mad.  Maybe the guy has a favorite stripper in Tampa he had to cancel on, I don’t know.

For lack of a better moniker, call it Banner season, although by definition it has nothing to do with banners, at least championship ones.

It’s not really about answers either, or solutions.

Ouch.  Donnellon spends about a thousand words making the argument that Banner is either incompetent or a coward, and perhaps both.

So . . . Banner sees quality where some see mediocrity. Reid’s drafts have been, to most, more miss than hit. His game management has been an issue that does not seem to improve. He has been stubborn about his pass-first playcalling.

Donnellon is playing into the worst qualities of the fans here.  He’d rather make you angry and pass his opinion on as simple, black and white truth than make the reader pause and think about anything.

“Reid’s drafts have been, to most, more miss than hit”.  Who is “most”?  Most people who don’t bother to worry about the facts?

Because the truth is much different.  But why bother with research when ill-informed conventional wisdom (which you help form) suits your column a lot better?

You mad because Banner didn’t proclaim in public his exact plans for the Eagles off-season?  Why the hell would he do that?  What President or GM actually does that who’s not an incompetent dweeb?

You want him to trash his players and coaches in public?  Again, who does that who runs a successful organization?

Dude, you need to relax.  There are plenty of strippers in Philly.  I recommend Delilah’s.

Yep, Sheldon Brown Had a Great Year

Sheldon BrownThe Football Outsiders’ boys finished up their game charting for cornerbacks in 2008, and one Eagles’ cornerback was a real standout.  Nope, it wasn’t the high-priced free agent, it was the guy on the other side of the field.

The Iggles blogosphere has quietly maintained that Brown has been having perhaps his best year in 2008, and now we have some statistics to back up that notion.  You probably already knew that Sheldon didn’t have a single pass interference or holding penalty until the playoffs, but here are some more numbers.

He was 2nd in the NFL in “Success Rate“.
He was 2nd in the NFL in Yard per Pass.
He was 8th in the NFL in “Stop Rate“.

Mind you, this is all despite being opposite an All-Pro.  You would think teams would be targeting Sheldon.  But when they did more often than not they were unsuccesful.  His consistency was a huge factor in the Eagles’ defensive resurgence.  Well done, Sheldon.