Nice Weekend

I really had an interesting, mixed bag of a weekend in Detroit.  On the one hand, Ford Field is really nice.  The Lions had an outstanding little block party going on outside before the game and it was awesome seeing the Birds live for the first time since 2008.

On the other hand, Detroit is such an epic mess of a city that it’s really difficult to keep yourself upbeat as you move around.  Giant, empty buildings define downtown.  On the way back to our hotel after the game I walked right by a guy as he lit his crackpipe.  Yeah.

But the Eagles won on the road.  Life is worth living and full of joy!

Gambling.  Because of travel I didn’t have a chance to update here.  Mixed results, but ended up for the weekend.

College.  Penn State (-21), win.  Wisconsin (-13), loss.
NFL.  Washington (+3.5), win.  Minnesota (-6), loss.  Cle/KC (under 38.5), win.  Cinci (+3), win.

Weekend:  4-2
Overall:  7-8

Update:  Taking OVER 44 tonight.

The Impending Mike Vick Injury

Kevin KolbSo it really looks like Kevin Kolb is out this weekend.  Which means there’s a whole bunch of “Team Vick”* folks who are pretty happy.

But there’s little discussion about what seems to be a pretty obvious lack of judgment on the part of Big Red and his team… what happens if, during one of his many violent collisions with people much larger than him, Michael Vick gets injured?

Right now what happens is “Mike Kafka”.  And maybe that’s a risk Andy Reid is willing to take with the understanding that the ringing in Kevin Kolb’s ears is going to clear up real soon.

But what if it doesn’t?  Are we sure, given that Kolb is three days removed and still failing concussion tests, that he’s going to be back even in Week 3?

Things could get very, very ugly very, very quickly.

*Never too early to break this meme out

[Delaware Online] Kolb and Bradley Fail Concussion Tests

Eagles Vacation

Back when this blog was most active it was, probably at a minimum, eighty percent Eagles content.  That was simply a reflection of what I’ve been most passionate about, which was always the Eagles.  This was my space for barfing up my Eagles stream of consciousness.

But something happened to me as last season came to an end.  Maybe this was unique to me but I don’t think it was.  I got burned out.

It had nothing to do with a change in how much I cared about the Eagles.  Far from it, that fire still burns.  But I simply couldn’t spend another off-season reading every day about another failed playoff run and the predictable, tired “who will McNabb play for next season” drama while the same arguments play out in every paper, radio, and blog that covered the subject.  I just wasn’t up for it, so I reduced my winter and spring investment in the Eagles to basic news.

The trade made me feel as twisted up as anyone else.  And all the relief that came with Donovan’s baggage (well, most of it) being taken by truck down to DC somehow reinforced my decision to keep the Birds at arms length for a while.  It was cathartic.

It’s nice to be getting back in the swing of things, though.  I’m guessing I’m not alone.  Just seeing NFL teams square off this August really got the blood flowing again and I feel like I’ve hit stage 8 or 9 of my Donovan recovery.  Just in time.

Giants Have Question Marks, Too

While there are some very good reasons to be optimistic about the 2009 Eagles campaign — it doesn’t take much thought to put together some reasons for doubt, either.  Will the offensive line gel?  Will and how much will the defense suffer after losing Jim Johnson?  And perhaps the biggest of all, will Brian Westbrook be healthy and effective?

But the other likely NFC East powerhouse — the Giants — have their share of question marks as well.

  • Don’t forget, this team also will have a new, unproven defensive coordinator (Bill Sheridan).
  • Eli Manning is playing without Plaxico Burress, and the Giants did not go out and get any of the big name receivers that were rumored available.  Whether any of their young crop of receivers is really any good is yet to be determined.
  • Gone is one big part of their rushing attack — Derrick Ward.  Keeping Jacobs healthy is more vital than ever, as “Ahmad Bradshaw, feature back” has never been tested.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  This team will be good.  They have an excellent offensive and defensive line — and when you’re team is strong in the trenches you will always be competitive.

The question I see for them is — when they face a tough defense, will they be able to put up points?  The passing game is the key to almost every modern and powerful NFL offense.  And whether Eli and that group of pass-catchers will be up to the task is an open question.

Here’s Hoping the Streak Continues

And the Cowboys have the TO hangover the Niners and Eagles went through.  Actually, the Niners are still going through.

And with that being said, he’s still good enough that I don’t want the Giants or Redskins signing him.

C’mon Oakland, make him an offer he can’t refuse.

The Patriots are Brilliant. Except When They Aren’t

Let’s make a quick comparison.

Yesterday, the Eagles traded one of their backup defensive backs, a guy who has virtually no value to them, to the Jets for a 5th round draft pick and (potentially) a 2nd round pick in 2010.

Today, the Patriots traded Matt Cassell, a promising young quarterback who they slapped a franchise tag on worth $15 million, for a single 2nd round pick (if the rumor is true).

Now, maybe this is some sort of personal favor from Belichick to his old buddy Scott Pioli.

But if it’s not, I can’t believe the market for Cassel was this shallow.  I mean, there’s good reason to be skeptical of some of the ridiculous praise thrown at him this year, but still — the Eagles got a 2nd round pick for AJ Feeley at one point!


Update:  After thinking about this for a few more minutes, there’s no way the Patriots do a deal this seemingly imbalanced with any other team.  It pays to have good friends, and Scott Pioli is cashing in.

Eagles News: Stacy Andrews, Your New Right Tackle

I gotta say, with an effort to be an easy-going casual Eagles fan, it’s going to be pretty cool to have brothers mashing people next to each other on the offensive line.  I can only imagine how excited young Shawn and big brother are.

But it is also, almost certainly, the end of the road for two Eagles greats.  And I mean that, greats.  Tra Thomas and Jon Runyan have been absolutely irreplacable during this almost full decade of winning seasons for Philadelphia.  I hope they both are able to enjoy life outside of an Eagles uniform.

This signing, obviously, has a major impact on what the Eagles can and will do in the NFL draft now.  You’ve got to be excited about those two first-round picks, knowing they can be used on skill position guys.  Very cool.

Eagles Recent History: A Distraction from the Soap Opera

I always encourage the taking of joy from your rivals’ misery.  So with that in mind:

Eagles-Giants Game Review:  Better Late Than Never [Big Blue Interactive]

Highly Recommended.

Eagles Stats: WRs in Playoffs

DeSean JacksonThis morning I felt the need to take a look at the Eagles wide receivers’ performances in the playoffs.  With so much speculation about the receivers available for trade and whether or not the Eagles need them, it helps to evaluate and compare what we have against the rest of the league through every available means.

Specifically, I’ll be looking at the number of times they were targeted and how often that resulted in a completion, interception, or touchdown.  Then I want to compare it to a few other receivers in the playoffs.

The reason for this is that in January almost all of the defenses are pretty good and, although you can never truly separate the performance of a wide receiver from that of his quarterback, I think there is close to consensus that Donovan had a pretty good run in the playoffs.  He wasn’t the best quarterback (Warner) certainly, but he was still good.  So here are the numbers for Jackson, Curtis, and Avant.

MIN: (1/3, 34)  NYG:  (4/7, 81, INT)  ARI:  (6/11, 92, TD)
11/21, 207, TD, INT

MIN:  (4/7, 49, INT) NYG: (4/8, 40, INT)  ARI:  (4/8, 122)
12/23, 211, INT

MIN:  (5/6, 47)  NYG:  (4/5, 43)  ARI:  (2/4, 23)
11/15, 113

The cumulative numbers aren’t surprising.  Avant had the best catch rate in the regular season (for a lot of reasons), and he was an extremely reliable target for McNabb in January.  I’m not sure how wise it would be to wish to see less Avant on the field (by replacing him with free agent/traded wide receiver X).

Now let’s take a look at the numbers for a few other guys.  I only included guys who are #1 or #2 receivers, and who played at least two games.

ATL: (6/11, 101, TD)  CAR:  (8/13, 166, TD, INT)  PHI:  (9/11, 152, 3 TD)  PIT:  (7/8, 127, 2 TD)
30/43, 546, 7 TD, INT

ATL: (2/5, 72, TD)  PHI:  (4/7, 34)  PIT:  (9/13, 84, INT)
15/25, 190, TD, INT

SD:  (2/8, 70, TD)  BAL:  (2/5, 25)  ARI: (10/14, 131, TD, INT)
14/27, 226, 2TD, INT

SD:  (3/3, 55)  BAL: (4/5, 70)  ARI:  (2/4, 43)
9/12, 168

IND:  (4/7, 57, INT)  PIT:  (4/4, 72)
8/11, 129, INT

MIA:  (4/8, 71)  TEN: (5/9, 78, TD)  PIT: (3/9, 41, INT)
12/26, 190, TD, INT

Getting the obvious out of the way, no one is Larry Fitzgerald.  But I felt inclined to include him because, despite the fact that he’s not of this planet, he is still a receiver in the NFL.

Next, for the most part, you can immediately notice that our #1 and #2 guys do not have the catch rate of most of these other guys.

Catch Rate, In Order:
Ward (75%)
Fitzgerald (70%)
Chambers, Avant (73%)
Boldin (60%)
Holmes, Jackson, Curtis (52%)
Mason (46%)

And Their QB’s Completion Percentage in the playoffs:
Warner:  68%
Roethlisberger:  61%
McNabb:  60%
Rivers:  58%
Flacco:  44%

The only wide receiver on the Eagles who out-performed his quarterback’s completion percentage is Avant, the 3rd receiver.  Elsewhere, you have guys like Hines Ward, Fitzgerald, and Chris Chambers who all put up fantastic catch rates.  Even Desmond Mason’s terrible catch rate is better than Flacco’s completion percentage overall.

I don’t think the small sample size of the playoffs and this set of data is some kind of verdict in favor of doing whatever possible to improve the position.  Their numbers aren’t terrible.  And you could argue that both players should get better (Jackson especially).

But I would say is that these numbers reflect something most of us already agreed on:  in the playoffs, the Eagles put out a starting wide receiver duo that isn’t as good as several other teams’ versions.  How much that hurt the Birds is up for interpretation.

Finally a few random observations from the data gathering:

As bad as you might think the Carolina gameplan was against Fitzgerald, the Eagles was no better.  Fitzgerald caught the first six balls thrown his way and his catch rate was better against the Eagles than the Panthers.

Baskett, Brown, and Lewis had no catches against the Giants.

Hines Ward doesn’t catch many balls any more, but when it comes his way it’s usually in a big spot and he almost always makes the catch.

Happy Holidays!