Archive for December, 2009

31
Dec
09

LATE-NIGHT THOUGHTS

On the penultimate evening of 2009, here’s what I’m pondering:

  • FLYERS 6, RANGERS 0 – Way to keep the streak alive boys!! 4 straight wins heading into the Winter Classic.  A complete destruction/humiliation of a division rival with a Simon Gagne hat-trick thrown in to boot.  Richards and Carter both added 2 assists and Michael Leighton got the 4th shutout of his career.  Apparently getting on the road was exactly what the team needed.  They came out, jumped all over the Rangers early, and never looked back (they were up 3-0 after 13 minutes of play).  I think the shutout is actually more impressive than the 6 goals because the Flyers haven’t been the best at holding leads so far this season. Fun fact #1: This was the first Flyers shutout of the Rangers since “Silent” Bob Esche did it in 2004.  Fun Fact #2: This was the first Flyers shutout of the Rangers at MSG since John “Beezer” Vanbiesbrouck did it in 1999.  Dare I say it?  LOOK OUT EASTERN CONFERENCE, HERE COME THE FLYERS… 
  • 5 (MAYBE 6) FLYERS ARE OLYMPIANS – Team Canada announced its Olympic Roster earlier today and both Mike Richards and Chris Pronger were selected to the team.  Pronger was also named an assistant captain.  They join teammates Kimmo Timonen (Finland), Ole-Kristian Tollefsen (Norway), and Oskars Bartulis (Latvia) on their countries’ respective Olympic Rosters.  Team USA announces its roster on Friday and should Matt Carle be selected, the Flyers will have 5 of their top 7 defensemen playing in the Olympics.  What that will mean come playoff time is anybody’s guess but it’s a great honor for all those guys.  Congratulations and good luck!! 
  • TEXAS TECH FIRES MIKE LEACH – I believe I called this one last night.  Again, no real idea if we’ll ever get all the facts about what exactly happened and whether the firing was truly justified.  It sounds as though Leach will be suing TT for a variety of things and that this story will get nastier before it gets resolved.  Still, there’s no denying his talent as a football coach and the fun & excitement his teams brought to college football.  I have a sneaking suspicion that Texas Tech could be in for some rocky seasons ahead.
  • SHOWTIME’S INSIDE THE NFL – Caught this week’s episode earlier tonight and I found it rather watchable.  To be honest, I haven’t watched it since it moved to Showtime, but the panel of James Brown, Warren Sapp, Phil Simms, and Cris Collinsworth stuck mostly to analysis.  There was still too much laughing and giggling going on for my taste but it was better than I thought it would be.  2 major problems: 1) their “all-decade” team was comprised ENTIRELY of AFC players and 2)they lead off with Eagles’ highlights and then never talked about them.  It was all about the Saints and Vikings.  Still, i’ll probably watch again next week (if for no other reason than to hopefully see Warren Sapp mock Simms and Collinsworth for picking the Cowboys to beat the Eagles).
  • THE BOOK OF BASKETBALL – Most of you know that I don’t care much for pro basketball.  But many of you also know that i’m a huge Bill Simmons fan.  He’s the only person on the planet who could make me think about purchasing a basketball bookl.  His 700 page opus with the above title was daunting but purchase it I did.  I’m enjoying very much and I highly recommend it.  Even if you’re not crazy about the sport his knowledge is impressive and the personal anecdotes are hilarious.  Not to mention you can pick it up and put it down quite often without ever losing track of what’s going on. 
  • LOOK OUT NFL, HERE COMES NDAMUKONG SUH – Nebraska just finished off destroying Arizona 33-0.  That’s right, in his final game at the collegiate level, Ndamukong Suh played every snap and helped his defense pitch a shutout.  An impressive feat in its own right, the win caps off one hell of a Senior year for the Nebraska defensive tackle.  If i’m a St. Louis Rams fan, i’m PRAYING we lose on Sunday so that we can draft him.  This guys is going to be a MONSTER in the NFL. 
  • MANCHESTER UNITED 5, WIGAN 0 – Another impressive beatdown by my boys on the other side of the pond.  Wayne Rooney was again at his absolute best scoring the first goal, helping set up another, and narrowly missing 2 more goals by hitting both a post and the crossbar.  Valencia had a huge game as well against his former club with 3 assists.  Man. U is now 2 points behind Chelsea and right where they wanna be with Chelsea set to lose several players to the African Nations Cup later this month.  Should be a GREAT second half of the season…
  • HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! – I dunno about you guys, but 2009 kind of sucked so I’m definitely ready to turn the page and start over.  I wish you all a SAFE, WONDERFUL, and VERY VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!
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29
Dec
09

PRO BOWL ROSTERS ANNOUNCED!!

and the EAGLES are represented nicely.  Congratulations to the following:

  • LT JASON PETERS
  • DE TRENT COLE
  • CB ASANTE SAMUEL
  • K DAVID AKERS
  • FB LEONARD “THE WEAVE” WEAVER
  • WR/KR DESEAN JACKSON

Peters was somewhat of a surprise, but the NFC is kind of thin at LT and overall, he’s had a decent season.  Cole, Akers, and Asante were all expected and they’ve had great years so their honors are well deserved.  GOTTA LOVE THE WEAVE!!!  So happy he made it so that he can unleash his general awesomeness on the NFC Pro Bowl roster.

A special note of Congratulations goes out to Mr. Jackson.  He’s done something that nobody else ever has.  HE WAS ELECTED AS A STARTER AT 2 POSITIONS!!!  That’s right.  In the history of the Pro Bowl no player has ever been elected to start at multiple positions.  But little #10 is not only the starting WR opposite none other than Larry Fitzgerald, he is also the starting Kick Returner.  A fantastic season for DeSean has truly been recognized.  Congratulations!!

Snubs:

  • CB SHELDON BROWN –  Much as I knock him for his lack of height and somewhat limited coverage ability, the man has had maybe his best season to date.  He’s fought through various injuries, hasn’t missed a game, and his leadership definitely helped fill the void left by Brian Dawkins, Stewart Bradley, and Jim Johnson.  The NFC screwed him over.  But considering how well he’s played in light of his contract situation, maybe this will just piss him off more. 
  • LB TRACY WHITE – Amazing special teams player who has had to step up and play major minutes in the base defense.  Week in and week out, he’s constantly around the football and seen making tackle after tackle after tackle.  Tough break.

Congratulations to all the guys, and sorry to Sheldon and Tracy.  My sincerest hope is that NONE of you wind up playing in the Pro Bowl because you will be too busy preparing to play in the Super Bowl…

29
Dec
09

Miscellaneous Tuesday

BEARS 36, VIKINGS 30 – Hell of a game to close out Monday Night Football for the year.  The Bears controlled the first half, but Brett Favre rallied the Vikings in the second half.  The Vikings’ special teams repeatedly failed them and allowed the Bears to have great field position throughout the game.  Jay Cutler threw 4 TD’s and only 1 INT and finally looked like the guy the Bears thought they were getting at the beginning of the year.  I was impressed with his performance especially because he didn’t have Devin Hester and lost Johnny Knox early on.  Game MVP has to go to Bears WR Devin Aromashodu who had 7 catches for 150 yards and the game winning TD catch in OT.  It seemed like every time Cutler needed a big play Aromashodu made it.  The Vikings came out pretty flat and though they looked good in the second half, seem to be headed in the wrong direction as the playoffs approach.  Their loss allowed New Orleans to clinch the NFC’s #1 seed and means they no longer control their own destiny for the #2 seed.

EAGLES NOW CONTROL THEIR OWN DESTINY – Thanks to the Bears victory mentioned above, the EAGLES are now in the driver’s seat for the #2 seed in the NFC and the bye that comes with it.  All that stands in their way is a game against the loathed and despised Dallas Cowgirls.  Win that game and the Eagles are the #2 seed, lose it and they could fall to #6.  I’ll be posting more about this later in the week, but man this game just got even bigger. 

TEXAS TECH MAY NEED A NEW HEAD COACH – Tech’s head coach Mike Leach was suspended last night by the university for its upcoming bowl game because of allegations that he mistreated one of his players (who was later revealed to be the son of ESPN’s Craig James).  The James family accuses Leach of severe mistreatment of their son (who had suffered a concussion).  Leach’s lawyer counters that while James’ son was sequestered from the team, he was not at all mistreated.  Today Leach’s lawyer filed a motion that would grant a restraining order that would allow him to coach the bowl game.  I have no idea how this story will shake out but the writing seems to be on the wall for Mike Leach.  Given the somewhat nasty divorce between Kansas and former head coach Mark Mangino due to allegations of player misconduct, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Texas Tech and Mike Leach parting company soon. 

This raises a somewhat broader issue for me though.  Over the last few years we’ve seen coaches all over college sports get fired or resign due to allegations of “mistreatment” of their players.  I put mistreatment in quotes b/c it seems to me that when a program is flourishing, all kinds of behavior is overlooked, allowed, and probably even rewarded.  But when that program goes south or suffers a few years of mediocre results, all of a sudden several players come forth and talk about all the bad things their coach did to them (Bob Knight anyone?).  I AM IN NO WAY EXCUSING PHYSICAL ABUSE OR NEGLECT BY COACHES.  Please don’t think that.  There certainly has to be a level of respect that the coaches must maintain towards their players (who we all forget are actually COLLEGE STUDENTS).  And if that bond of trust is  severely and repeatedly broken then the coaches absolutely MUST pay the penalty, no questions asked.

But there’s a fine line between lots of yelling, challenging a player’s manhood from time to time, and forced extra workouts or conditioning, and physically abusing a player.  I continue to be fascinated by the debate over what constitutes motivation v. what constitutes abuse when it comes to success in college sports these days.  Some of the toughest and most brutal coaches of yesteryear wouldn’t survive very long in this day and age.  Names like Lombardi and Halas and Bryant and Hayes and Schembechler would never have lasted long enough to make their marks on a program if they were coaching nowadays (and yes I know some of those guys coached in the pros).  Having never played sports on a collegiate level I wonder what those types of coaches really think about this issue.  Are players today too coddled and wimpy as a result or are the coaches are taking the stresses of their jobs out on their players and crossing lines?  The debate continues…

METS SIGN JASON BAY – Guess Omar Minaya read the blog last night and saw me making fun of him for the Escobar signing.  So today he made the widely expected “splash” of signing free agent OF Jason Bay for 4 years and about $66 million.  Bay immediately becomes the Mets’ starting leftfielder and David Wright’s new protection in the lineup.  I look forward to seeing Bay’s HR’s turned into doubles by his new home ballpark, Citi Field.  Way to do your homework Omar – I’m sure he’s going to make your lineup lethal. 

GO SEE AVATAR – It’s freakin’ amazing.  But don’t cheap out either.  SEE IT IN IMAX 3D.  There’s really no point in seeing it any other way.  I would bet that seeing it that way will one day be compared to seeing the original Star Wars in the theatre when it first came out.  Nicely done, Mr. Cameron.

28
Dec
09

Monday Musings

Things I’m thinking about on a Monday evening…

  • SHAME ON YOU INDY – You pulled Peyton Manning and your starters in the middle of the 3rd quarter in a game you were winning.  Why not at least let them finish the game?  Your team contends every year, but how often do you get the chance to do something truly historic?  Shame on you, Bill Polian for forcing this decision down Jim Caldwell’s throat.  Peyton was pissed and so was Reggie Wayne.  Mark my words: This will come back to haunt them.  Rolling into the playoffs having lost 2 straight (assuming Buffalo beats their B squad next week) and with a week off does not bode well.  Whether New England comes to Indy and gets its revenge or whether San Diego comes to town and sends you home again, you won’t be making the Super Bowl. 
  • PANTHERS 41, GIANTS 9 – In the FINAL Giants game EVER at Giants Stadium, the Giants scored a whopping 9 points against a Panthers team playing for nothing but pride and with backups at both QB and RB.  Yeah, I enjoyed that one a whole lot. 
  • CONGRATULATIONS BENGALS – You guys won yesterday and clinched the AFC North.  I don’t know how far you’ll get in the playoffs, but I’ve been watching you all season since HARD KNOCKS on HBO this summer and I am rootin’ for ya.
  • URBAN MEYER, HUH? – You’re retiring.  You’re not retiring.  You’re taking a leave.  But you’re gonna coach again next season.  What exactly is going on here?  When you announced you were retiring because of your health and your wish to devote yourself to your family, people hailed you and commended you for putting real life ahead of football. But 24 hours later you said you’re only gonna take a leave of absence and will most likely coach the team next year.  Not only does this seem a little shady to me, but you erased a lot of good will along the way.  URBAN: IT’S ONLY FOOTBALL – IT’S NOT WORTH YOUR LIFE.  If you really do have heart problems, I think this is a mistake.  Of course you’re great for college football, but it’s just a game.  Nothing more.  You claim family and faith are the 2 most important things in your life, but now it appears coaching college football is more important.  I hate to demean someone who may or may not have serious health issues, but dude, taking a few years off to be with your family is a GOOD IDEA.  Lord knows you don’t need the money and your golden boy Tim Tebow is graduating anyway.  If five years from now, you really miss coaching and your doctors are okay with you returning, you’ll be able to pick any job you want.  TAKE SOME TIME OFF, MAN!!!
  • FLYERS WIN 3 STRAIGHT GAMES – I don’t wanna talk about it too much for fear it might go away.  But you read that right.  The Flyers have won 3 straight games and that even includes a shootout!!  Most impressive is that all 3 wins have come with fresh-off-Carolina’s-scrap-heap Michael Leighton in goal.  Maybe the ship is finally righting itself?  Who knows.  But I love that Richards (4 pts) and Carter (3 pts) have been leading the way during the streak.  Next up are the Rangers Wednesday night (another win and the teams are tied in the standings) before the WINTER CLASSIC AGAINST BOSTON FROM FENWAY PARK ON NEW YEAR’S DAY (nothing like High Definition Outdoor Hockey Games with a 50% chance of snow)!!!
  • MANCHESTER UNITED 3, HULL CITY 1 – A good bounce back win by the Red Devils.  Wayne Rooney had a great first goal and then almost became the goat by gifting Hull the equalizer.  But he quickly bounced back, forced the 2nd goal (an own-goal by Hull) and had a BEAUTIFUL assist on Berbatov’s game-ender.  They stay 5 pts. behind Chelsea (with a game in hand) and are finally beginning to get healthy along the back line.  The second half of the season looks promising for my defending champions!!
  • THE METS SIGN A FREE AGENT – Kelvim Escobar agreed to a one year contract to set up closer Francisco Rodriguez.  The Phillies and the rest of the National League are sure to be frightened by this incredible move.  Keep up the good work, Mr. Minaya.

 

28
Dec
09

EAGLES 30 BRONCOS 27

A TALE OF TWO HALVES – It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.  Sorry for the literary references, but yesterday’s win over the Broncos almost turned into a dickensian level tragedy.  The Eagles led 20-7 at halftime and 27-10 midway through the 3rd quarter.  They were cruising.  But  a bad penalty, a fumbled kickoff, and several inept offensive series’ (simply put, the 2nd half offense was OFFENSIVE) turned what should have been a mostly comfortable rout into a 27-27 tie with about 4 minutes to go and the Broncos holding the ball on their own 10 yard line.  Yes, the Eagles pulled out the win thanks to a nice stand by the defense and an amazing sideline catch by rookie Jeremy Maclin.  But while the game started so brightly, the ending was very disconcerting and definitely raises some issues as the Eagles march towards the playoffs.  (Not the least of which is the season ending knee injury to our starting center Jamaal Jackson) On the bright side, 2 years ago or even last year the Eagles probably lose this game.  So if nothing else there was one main ingredient that kept this from becoming a true tragedy: A Happy Ending. 

THE GOOD

  • The Eagles have now won 6 straight games and are 11-0 on the season when leading at halftime.
  • With one game left to play the Eagles have now scored 429 points on the season (averaging 28.6/game) – a new Eagles’ single season record. 
  • DeSean Jackson has now caught a TD pass in 5 straight games.
  • Brent Celek had 4 catches for 121 yards and a TD and no longer looks to be suffering the effects of his thumb ligament injury.  This could prove to be very important heading into the playoffs as opponents will look to shut down DeSean and Maclin on the outside.  Nobody can consistently cover all three of them…
  • McNabb’s 27 yard scramble on 3rd and 25 late in the fourth quarter.  Nice to see Donovan use those legs of his.  He may not be as fast as he used to be, but the run was huge.  Although the drive stalled, his run tilted field position for the first time in the 2nd half and would ultimately allow the Eagles to have only a short drive to get into position for the game winning field goal. 
  • Asante Samuel picked off his 9th pass of the season. 
  • The Eagles had a -2 turnover differential and still managed to win the game.

 

THE BAD – Where do I begin?  There were so many things that sucked yesterday.  Here are the worst of the worst:

  • The officiating, part 1.  18 total penalties for 154 yards.  A long game made even longer by the number of flags thrown.  The game was sloppy on both sides and while the Eagles won’t come out and bash the refs because they don’t wanna get fined, I have no problems trashing them here.  One call that pissed me off happened on the first Denver offensive series.  Dmitri Patterson recovered what was initially ruled a backwards pass, picked it up and carried it into the endzone for what looked like a very early 6 points.  After Denver challenged the call, the officials overturned the ruling on the field and said it was an incomplete forward pass.  The TD came off the board and the Broncos punted.  Now according to the NFL calls are only supposed to be overturned with CONCLUSIVE EVIDENCE that the initial call was wrong (or as one coach said somewhere, “50 drunk guys in a bar would all have to agree that the call was wrong in order for it to be overturned”).  There is no way you can CONCLUSIVELY say that the pass went forward.  All the replays I saw looked like it went parallel to the line of scrimmage. 
  • The officiating, part 2.  The call above was bad but it was DWARFED by the HORRENDOUS unnecessary roughness penalty called on Macho Harris midway through the 3rd quarter.  On Asante’s aforementioned interception, Macho layed one hell of a hit on Broncos Tight End Tony Scheffler allowing Asante to run the ball all the way back to midfield.  The hit was absolutely clean (shoulder to shoulder) and was definitely in the field of play.  But the officials thought otherwise.  Straight up – THIS CALL WAS ABSOLUTE HORSESH*T!!! For starters, Macho was only focused in on Scheffler so he wouldn’t have necessarily seen the Interception.  Second, it was a bang bang play and Macho had no chance to stop himself or avoid the contact.  Third, how many times have we seen a player intercept a ball only to be caught from behind by the original target? At that point, Scheffler had his head up and Macho was simply trying to spring his man for a long run back.  A piece of sh*t call by an inferior officiating crew. 
  • The fallout from that horrendous call.  The Eagles ended up with the ball on the 1 yard line, went 3 and out and Denver got the ball back on the Eagles’ 25.  Denver quickly scored, then Macho fumbled the ensuing kickoff and Denver quickly scored again.  14 points in 49 seconds.  ABSOLUTELY RIDICULOUS!!! The entire team let that garbage penalty throw off their momentum and suck the life out of the Linc.  THIS IS FOOTBALL GENTLEMEN.  BAD CALLS HAPPEN  GET OVER IT AND DO YOUR DAMNED JOBS.
  • Andy Reid’s horrid playcalling makes another appearance.  3rd and 1 from the Denver 18 yard line.  Andy calls a wildcat formation with DESEAN taking the direct snap 3 yards behind the line of scrimmage.  WHAT THE HELL WAS HE THINKING?!?! This call made me so pissed off it’s not even funny.  WHY THE F WASNT THAT THE WEAVE’S PLAY?!?  I thought Andy had figured out over the last few weeks that on 3rd and short you give the ball to The Weave and you get a first down.  But The Weave wasnt even on the field for that play.  Instead, Andy put our most dangerous offensive weapon in harm’s way with really no hope of picking up the first down.  Needless to say the play lost 3 yards and the Eagles kicked a field goal.  Stupid sh*t like that will cost the Eagles come playoff time. 
  • The Eagles unwillingness to run the football.  By my count the Eagles attempted almost 50 pass plays and only about 25 designed runs.  I haven’t crunched the numbers over the past few weeks but I’d be willing to bet there was much more of an emphasis on the run in the previous games than there was yesterday.  I realize the Eagles still scored 30 points but my fears about Westbrook’s return remain valid.  The team simply didn’t emphasize the run much at all yesterday and only finished with 79 rushing yards from Shady, The Weave, and Westbrook.  I sincerely hope that’s not a sign of things to come. 

 

THE VERDICT – Inconclusive.  Yes, the Eagles won the game and in past years they probably would’ve managed to blow it.  Loyal Eagles fans also knew a “burp” game was coming so better that it came now than in the postseason.  But the game was by no means pretty and the 2nd half drives (Int, TD, 5 Straight Punts, FG) should make just about every single Eagles fan wanna vomit.  The inconsistency that plagued the first half of the Eagles season reared its ugly head again yesterday.  They went from looking like clear cut favorites to make it back to the Super Bowl to a team that will be one and done.  And that’s the most frustrating part of yesterday’s game.  I have no idea if it was simply a little bump in the road or a sign of things to come.  The Eagles proved in the first half that they had WAY MORE talent on the field than the Broncos.  But talent doesn’t win playoff games and unlike the Broncos (who can’t finish games) the Saints, Vikings, Cardinals, Packers, and Cowboys CAN finish games.  Nobody associated with the team should be happy about yesterday’s game and they best work their asses off this week so they can take their frustrations out on Dallas next week.

UP NEXT: THE DALLAS COWBOYS.  Next week’s game in Dallas is ABSOLUTELY HUGE.  Though both teams have already clinched playoff berths, the winner of the game wins the NFC East and still has a real shot at the #2 seed in the NFC playoffs (all that’s needed now is one loss by the Vikings).  Dallas is coming off 2 straight wins and is feeling great about themselves, having finally answered the questions about their inability to win in December.  The Eagles (despite yesterday’s showing) have won 6 straight games and are fast becoming the team-that-no-one-wants-to-face-in-the-playoffs.  There really aren’t enough superlatives to describe next week’s game.  It’s December, it’s a nasty NFC East rivalry game and it’s the Cowboys.  So of course the Eagles should wanna beat the living hell out of them anyway.  Plus, with all of the playoff ramifications involved, the Eagles need to come out pissed off and ready to fight.  Whether or not they have to face the Cowboys again a week later in the playoffs (a real and distinct possibility), the Birds should pull out all the stops and look to improve upon the 44-6 beatdown they laid on Dallas in last year’s finale.  Better to destroy them next week and make them come all the way to Philly to get humiliated a second time than have to stay in Dallas for an extra week.  I expect an exciting, antacid filled shootout that allows the Eagles to clinch the #2 seed and a first round playoff bye…

24
Dec
09

Thursday Thoughts

(shame on all of you who didn’t think i’d resurrect that title this week)

SOMETHING IS ROTTEN IN THE STATE OF MINNESOTA – By now we’ve all heard about the “power struggle” going on with the Vikings between Brett Favre and coach Brad Childress (or as Brett so lovingly called him back in August, “Chilly”).  Apparently, Childress has been annoyed with Brett on multiple occasions for calling audibles at the line of scrimmage and has even attempted (though quite feebly) to bench Favre on more than occasion.  Nobody would have known about this except for the fact that Brett felt the need to announce it to the world in his post game press conference Sunday night.  Unless you’re a Vikings fan, this is hilarious, ridiculous, and was inevitable.  On the one hand, Favre was getting SLAUGHTERED by Julius Peppers that night – so much so that they BENCHED HIS STARTING LEFT TACKLE!!  They signed Favre to win playoff games and so Childress was naturally concerned about keeping Favre healthy.  But, Brad…YOU WERE WINNING THE GAME!!!  You should not be trying to remove your starting quarterback when you’re in the lead.  If you’re worried about him getting hurt, here’s a novel idea: HAND THE BALL TO ADRIAN PETERSON!! (I hear he’s pretty good). 

But I wish people would stop calling it a “power struggle.” That term implies that one party will try to wrest control of things from the other party with the loser never being heard from again.  In this case, there’s no struggle.  Favre runs that offense.  Period.  And Childress isn’t going anywhere.  They’re stuck with each other.  What really bothers me is that most of the media is using LeRoy Butler as a character reference for Favre (do these guys even talk anymore? and LeRoy, dude, taking shots at former teammates is just lame).  Still, there is some truth to what he said.  Brad, YOU went out and begged Favre to join the team.  YOU picked him up from the airport.  Do you think Belichick or Parcells would’ve done that?   Um, no.  As the head coach, you have to make it clear that ALL players (star or scrub) must listen to you at all times.  I don’t care what Favre told you then…he was never gonna just come in and be your puppet.  The man knows more about the West Coast Offense than just about anyone in the league.  I sincerely hope you didn’t think he’d give up his “gunslinger” mentality just because he joined the Vikings.

All I know is that we haven’t heard the last of this (but does anyone else wish we didn’t have to keep hearing about Favre and all the drama that surrounds him?). 

CHRISTMAS JUST CAME EARLY FOR THE EAGLES – Why is that? See above.  Thanks to the Vikings suddenly fragile locker room, the Eagles have a serious shot at the #2 seed in the NFC playoffs.  All the Eagles have to do is win their final 2 games and hope that the Vikes drop one.  Looking at the Vikings’ remaining games, that’s a legitimate possibility.  This Sunday night Favre has to go to Chicago and try and win a game outdoors in under 30 degree weather. Know the last time he won a road in those conditions? 2002.  7. Years. Ago.  I like those odds even against Interception King Jay Cutler.  Should they squeak by the Bears, they’ll have to deal with the Giants in Week 17 and the Giants will absolutely have to win that game to qualify for the playoffs.  Again, I like the Eagles’ chances. 

WESTBROOK’S RETURN: GOOD OR BAD? – One more quick Eagles blurb.  Brian Westbrook will make his long awaited return to the field this week against the Broncos.  I have to admit I have extreme reservations.  The offense has really been clicking lately in his absence and I worry that with him coming back it will alter their offensive game plan.  According to head coach Andy Reid, LeSean McCoy and “The Weave” will continue to get the bulk of the work while they try to ease Westbrook back into action.  So long as Andy sticks to this, I’m okay with it.  At this stage of his career (and with his new injury concerns), I really don’t see Westbrook as more than a 3rd down back.  He should have a small package and that’s it.  Even if his plays are very successful, I hope Reid and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg resist the urge to begin overusing him.  The offense is working beautifully right now. PLEASE DON’T MESS WITH IT JUST BECAUSE YOU CAN!!!

FLYERS 5, LIGHTNING 2 – Good win for the Flyers last night.  2 goals from Mike Richards and Blair Betts coupled with some pretty decent goaltending by fresh-from-Carolina’s-scrap-heap Michael Leighton got them a much needed win.  Maybe, hopefully, possibly, they’re beginning to turn the corner?  They played a great 1st period and jumped out to an early lead.  Of course they gave it right back and were abysmal in the 2nd.  But they righted the ship, came out firing in the 3rd and won the game.  With 6 straight road games (including the WINTER CLASSIC at Fenway Park on January 1st!!!!), maybe some time away from home will be what brings the team closer together and finally allow them to start playing the way they should. 

That’ll do it for today.  MERRY CHRISTMAS to everyone.  I hope you all have a safe and happy holiday!!!

22
Dec
09

Tuesday Ramblings…

GOODBYE JIM ZORN – As if the decision by Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder to hire former Tampa Bay and Oakland GM Bruce Allen to run his team wasn’t enough of a sign, last night’s performance against the Giants on Monday Night Football certainly sealed Jim Zorn’s fate.  The worst kept secret in the NFL is that Mike Shanahan is poised to become the next head coach of the Redskins.  But, had Zorn won his remaining games, he could’ve at least made his case to the media and future employers that he wasnt all that bad a coach.  Going into last night there was certainly reason to believe the Redskins weren’t quite as bad as their record would indicate.  Their defense has been pretty good all season and they had multiple opportunities to beat the Saints.  But last night was a complete and utter disaster from moment one.  The team didn’t look ready to play at all and simply looked bored and beaten.  All of that PALES in comparison to the end of the first half when the Redskins lined up for a fake field goal, the Giants called a timeout to get set for it, and then THE REDSKINS RAN THE SAME FREAKING PLAY!!! Are you kidding me?  It was probably the WORST play call i’ve ever seen on a football field.  (Anyone else think it came from a pop warner playbook?)

CONGRATULATIONS MARTIN BRODEUR – (yes, being a Flyers fan, that statement made me throw up in my mouth a little) Last night he recorded his 104th career shutout breaking a 40 year old record held by Terry Sawchuk.  Though I truly hate commending Marty for anything at all the truth is that he’s one hell of a goaltender.  When his career is over he’ll probably own every major goaltending record in history save for # of Stanley Cups won (I dont think anyone will pass Patrick Roy).  He’s been a rock in net for the New Jersey Devils for almost 20 years now and will certainly go down as one of the top 3 goaltenders of all time (Roy and Sawchuk being the other two).  Sure, he’s benefitted from playing in a defensive system his whole career and having defenseman like Scott Stevens and Scott Niedermayer playing in front of him, but there’s no denying the man’s talent.  I’m just glad it came against the likes of Cindy Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins and not my beloved Flyers.

FLYERS HAVE NO HEART? – Speaking of the disaster that has become the Philadelphia Flyers, they dropped another game last night, this time to the Florida Panthers, 4-1.  In all my years of following the Flyers I can’t remember a team with so much talent and so little fight.  They have a good mix of veterans and youth and were considered preseason Stanley Cup contenders.  Now they’re just a giant mess.  They already fired their coach and it didn’t seem to shake things up.  They played a great game in Boston last week and screwed the pooch mightily the next night.  Then they fought hard against the Penguins last Thursday only to come out bored and listless against the Rangers on Saturday.  Team Captain (and my favorite player) Mike Richards already called out the team through the media for having no heart.  A Flyers team with no heart?  WHAT THE HELL IS THAT ABOUT? But it’s absolutely true.  If things don’t start moving in a new direction soon, there is going to be a MAJOR trade.  Flyers GM Paul Holmgren won’t sit around and watch this mess much longer without doing something to try and change it.

VAZQUEZ TO THE YANKEES – Earlier today the Yankees traded Melky Cabrera and a minor league pitcher to the Braves for Javier Vazquez and Boone Logan.  Logan will replace Phil Coke in the bullpen while Vazquez probably slots in as the # 3 starter behind Sabbathia and Burnett.  Before Yankee fans start freaking out about how great he was last year for the Braves, remember one important fact: HE PITCHED IN THE NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST (i.e. tons of games against the Marlins, Nationals, and Mets).  He last pitched in the AL 5 YEARS AGO.  Am I the only one that thinks this will backfire on the Yankees?

102 CONSECUTIVE VICTORIES, 3 STRAIGHT NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS AND COUNTING – Wanna know what the hell i’m talking about? The Penn State Women’s Volleyball team that’s what.  Over the weekend the Lady Nittany Lions won their 3rd straight National Championship and in doing so won their 102nd consecutive match.  Dominance like that in any sport is quite impressive but in a team sport where the players change year in and year out it’s even more impressive.  Not only did they win all those matches and set that streak but get this: until the championship game on Sunday they were NEVER down 2 sets to none during the course of the ENTIRE streak!! Seriously.  I know this blog is mostly devoted to major sports but when I see something like this, I just have to mention it.  Congratulations ladies and Good Luck next year!

REPENTANT “WEAVE” GLORIFICATION – Regular readers of the blog know that in yesterday’s review of the Eagles’ victory over the 49ers I took Birds fullback Leonard Weaver to task for his ridiculous play at the end of the first half that cost the Eagles a shot at scoring a TD.  While I stand by my comments, I feel the need to make amends slightly. See, “The Weave” (as he shall henceforth ALWAYS be referred to in this blog) has proven to be incredibly value to both the Eagles’ passing game (he has great hands) and their short yardage running game (the man weighs 260 lbs. – getting a yard is nothing to him).  When Brian Westbrook went down with his 2nd concussion, “The Weave” went to Andy Reid and asked to shoulder more of the load in the running game.  Reid obliged and ever since then, the Eagles have ripped off 5 straight wins and their offense hasn’t scored less than 24 points.  So maybe I was a little hard on “The Weave.” BUT, to truly appreciate the glory that is “The Weave” I will now reprint a short email my buddy Rich Neuwirth (the biggest fan of “The Weave” in the entire world) sent me this morning regarding yesterday’s post:

“You are definitely entitled to your own opinion, but not your own facts.

  • FACT #1: The Weave did not fail to make it on 4th and Inches. The Weave CHOSE to expose a ridiculous play call by Andy Reid and give the D, which had been soft for two weeks, a chance to man up.
  • FACT #2: The Weave cannot be faulted for jawboning at the end of the half…in The Weave’s universe there is no clock, The Weave TELLS YOU what time it is.  The Weave cannot be blamed for the fact that the rest of us are subject to the laws of physics and the space-time continuum!
  • FACT #3: Before The Weave stood up and said “lean on me boss” [the Eagles] were a sackless passing circus (see 55 passes vs. OAK).  Now [the Eagles] are a mean offense that as [you] eloquently point out can drive while still having the ability to put a 50+ dagger in your heart. 

I say all hail The Weave!!”

Point proven, Rich.  My apologies.