Posted tagged ‘Donovan McNabb’

Enough with the Wildcat!

October 27, 2009

scottish-wildcatOK, so I know that the Wildcat didn’t really factor all that much into last night’s Eagles vs. Redskins game, but there really isn’t much to say about the game except “boy can DeSean Jackson run,” and that the Eagles offense might as well have taken a nap during the second half, oh, and good job defense—sort of. So, instead I find myself fixated on the Wildcat. I don’t want to see it at all—EVER. Enough is enough. Feel free to argue with me here, in fact we would appreciate some comments as long as they are clean, written in proper English, have nothing to do with selling us stocks or sporting equipment, and have something intelligent to say, but I’m sticking by the fact, or err, rather to the opinion that the Wildcat formation is perhaps the most irritating offensive play in the history of football. It was maybe fun and a little exciting the first few times it was run, and it was certainly useful in the now famous Dolphins/Patriots game, but that was because the defense had never seen it before. It was something “new.”But that shiny new toy sheen has faded, and it’s time to throw it under the bed and forget all about it.

Two things about the Wildcat: The Eagles are not exceptionally good at executing it, it shows a lack of confidence in the quarterback, and it most likely means that Michael Vick has come into the game—thereby negating the element of surprise! I realize that was three things. I also realize that if you are one of our handful of dedicated readers, you read my post about giving Michael Vick a second chance.

My position hasn’t changed. We need to give him a chance, but not on critical second downs when the offense hasn’t scored a point since the middle of the 2nd quarter. This isn’t a high school football game where the back-up QB has warmed the bench all season and it’s only fair for him to go in once in a while. If we were doing that, maybe it would be smart to toss in Kolb since he is the Eagles’ “future.” This, though is not high school. This is the NFL, and it’s time for Andy Reid to put away the distractions—both a player who so far has proven that he is still only a marquee name, and an offensive play that even Donovan himself has said to be a distraction.

Next week when the Giants come to town (yay, two games in a row for me!), it’s doubtful (though it would be nice)  that we will have a 17 point lead going into the half, so no more Wildcat, please, and let’s hope that the offense gets some shut-eye off the field this time.

Editor’s Note: PhilaDude has instituted a new strict posting schedule (apparently I wasn’t pulling my weight as Co-Executive Editor and Artistic Director), so expect to be hearing a lot more from me and the PharAwayPhan in the upcoming weeks. Thank you, thank you. No applause necessary.

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An Eagles Conspiracy Theory

September 25, 2009
Kevin Kolb on his way out?

Kevin Kolb on his way out?

After the Eagles defense dominated Carolina in week 1, one would expect a decent performance against a much better team, the New Orleans Saints.  Wrong.  The defense and special teams came out flat.  Their game plans were awful.  The offense looked decent as can be with a high school quarterback, Kevin Kolb.  Kolb didn’t play badly, but didn’t help the Eagles cause for scoring points.  I have some thoughts, but try out this conspiracy theory:  The Eagles coaches didn’t game plan appropriately for the Saints in an effort to prevent Kolb from having a solid game to validate their future decision to dump Kolb if Michael Vick performs.  Yep, I said it.  The Eagles don’t want to see Kevin Kolb do well – not for McNabb’s sake, but to save face when it comes to making roster decisions.  I think they already lost of the battle when it comes to the 2nd round draft choice.

Here’s some proof:

The Eagles rarely blitzed.  Ok, Drew Brees can read the blitz and get rid of the football.  However, if you blitzed even half as much as you did at Carolina, there would have been at least a few plays Brees threw the ball away or even would be sacked, especially on 3rd and long plays.  Also, the Eagles played a safety up in the box to prevent the run, when we all know the Saints’ passing attack is virally potent.  Why wasn’t the safety playing over top?  Ok, maybe the Eagles were trying to hide their linebacking deficiencies with a safety, but still.  Finally, the special teams decision makings and schemes were not designed for optimal efficiency.  In fact, if I am the special teams coach, I would remind players before the play to remember when to field and not field punts. 

Yes, these are all blunders that the Eagles coaching staff made last weekend against the Saints.  The reason I think they could have been intentional is because these same examples were executed flawlessly in week 1.  I don’t think a team regresses that much from week to week.  I don’t think the Eagles coaches planned to lose the game, just make it bad enough to prevent Kolb from performing well.  It back fired, because Kolb played decent and the rest of the Eagles units were terrible.

We’ll see how the Eagles respond this week, knowing they need a big win heading into the bye.

Eagles Flurry of Roster Moves

September 17, 2009
Jeff Garcia playing for the Eagles in 2006.  He'll wear #9 in 2009.  (Rusty Kennedy/Associated Press)

Jeff Garcia playing for the Eagles in 2006. He'll wear #9 in 2009. (Rusty Kennedy/Associated Press)

Usually, the end of pre-season is the most hectic in terms of roster moves.  Well, after an impressive week 1 win and an injury to Donovan McNabb, the Eagles made some significant roster moves to solidify their team heading into week 2 against the Saints.  First, the Eagles announced the signing of Jeff Garcia.  Second to make room for Garcia, the Eagles placed Shawn Andrews on IR (as discussed in an earlier post).  Third, the Eagles activated Michael Vick so he can practice.  Finally, to make room on the active roster for Vick, the Eagles cut Hank Baskett.

Jeff Garcia will provide the Eagles some insurance at the quarterback position this weekend.  Kevin Kolb in unproven and quite frankly, looks terrible in game situations – pre-season and regular season.  Kolb will be given all the first team repetitions this week in practice and will have every chance to lead the Eagles offense.  However, I think he may have a short leash as the Eagles should be able to put up points against a weak New Orleans Saints defense.  Detroit scored 27 points against the Saints last week.  If Kolb doesn’t perform well, I expect the Eagles to replace him with Garcia in this game and then the following week’s starter will be up in the air.  There is some precedent here.  Koy Detmer played amazing in his one start after McNabb was hurt.  Unfortunately, he shredded his elbow in that game.  A.J. Feeley, now with Carolina, has made many starts to help the Eagles team and won a few games.  Also, Jeff Garcia led the Eagles to a 5-1 record after McNabb tore his ACL.  However, Mike McMahon started a few games and was just awful.  We’ll see how Kolb does, but I have very low expectations.

With Michael Vick practicing, my assumption is that Coach Reid wants to have Vick on the field for the week 3 game against the Chiefs.  Depending on McNabb’s health and the play of Kevin Kolb, will really dictate how much Vick will play.  I am hoping for a healthy McNabb – none of the other QB’s on the roster really excites me.  

Hank Baskett was caught up in the numbers game and contract situations of the wide receivers on the team.  I was hoping the team would trade Baskett, but no trade partner became apparent – most likely due to the money Baskett would be owed.  So, the Eagles released him.  He passed through waivers, as no one wanted to pick up his salary, and was subsequently signed as a free agent with Indianapolis Colts.  Basket is a good blocker and decent special teams player, but hasn’t seen much action as a receiver, nor on special teams with this year’s version of the Eagles.  While we like Baskett as a football player, he wasn’t anything special and his contributions to the team will be picked up by other players.  I guess the question is – what are the Eagles going to do with Reggie Brown?  I think they will keep him.  He is good insurance in case the Eagles suffer an injury to the receiver position.  Besides, his contract is slightly prohibitive, so it makes sense.  I think he can still play.

Even with all of these moves, I expect a few more, especially along the offensive line.  Andrews is on the IR and Todd Herremans is still having foot issues – he might not be back until the end of October.  Nick Cole and Winston Justice are filling in admirably, however, the depth is extremely questionable.

Eagles Big Win at Carolina Comes at a Cost

September 15, 2009
Donovan McNabb writhes in pain after scoring a TD (AP Photo/Rick Havner)

Donovan McNabb writhes in pain after scoring a TD (AP Photo/Rick Havner)

By now, we all know that the Eagles won the season opener on the road against Carolina with a punishing defense and a capitalizing offense. The Eagles defense came to play and really put on a show related to the way they pressure the quarterback. Don’t forget that the Panthers won 12 games last year and were expected to be a top team in their division.

Of course, with every win comes some significant questions. The rib injury to Donovan McNabb is troublesome, disappointing and upsetting. Here at PhilaTude we are huge McNabb fans. We think that the Eagles best chance to win is with McNabb and not another quarterback. More importantly, the injury causes more of a distraction. Already the media – national and local – have been trying to get under McNabb’s skin about Michael Vick being eligible in week 3 and Kevin Kolb getting to practice with the first team, so he should be better. The good news for McNabb is that the rib injury will heal most likely after the bye week (week 4) and Kolb isn’t any good. Michael Vick isn’t ready to play yet and will only be a shadow of his former self when he is. Barring any other injury to McNabb, he will be entrenched as the starter for this season, which is excellent news to PhilaTude.

Back to the Eagles defense – the entire defense played a remarkable game. Sean McDermott did a great job planning and preparing his team for this game. They got sustained pressure, caused turnovers and held Carolina at bay. McDermott needs to ensure he has an even better game plan for next week against the Saints, since Drew Brees is an infinitely better QB than Jack Delinterception.

Since I am a real Philadelphia fan, I have to be somewhat negative and explain that there were areas I’d like to see improved. David Akers should have field goals blocked. Kevin Kolb as a starting quarterback scares me. He is not a good football player, makes bad decisions and for some reason, I don’t think he has the respect of his teammates. Maybe his teammates don’t think he is any good. Whatever, I want to see the Eagles win, so whoever plays quarterback, I’ll have to deal.

Obviously, with McNabb’s injury and Vick still suspended, the Eagles got some roster help with Jeff Garcia. He’ll be Kolb’s back-up unless things go sour against the Saints. You never what can happen with an Eagles quarterback coached by Andy Reid.

The Eagles Finalize Their Roster

September 10, 2009
Donovan McNabb

Donovan McNabb

Every year during the finalization of the Eagles roster, I always have my doubts about Andy Reid’s decisions.  Last year, I was concerned that cutting Jerome McDougle would come back to haunt the Eagles, luckily it didn’t.  A few years back I was upset the Eagles cut Jon Ritchie in favor of Josh Parry.  In fact, 2 years ago I remember ranting about the lack of kick and punt returners on the roster.  While I can criticize Reid for a certain lack of roster flexibility or lack of talent in certain areas, things usually work out well for the Eagles in the end.  This year is no different, but I anxiously wait to see how it all plays out.

The Eagles kept the standard 10 offensive linemen, annoying to me that we can’t just go with 8, but I assume once Todd Herremans recovers from his injury and Shawn Andrews proves he can play, the Eagles might reduce their offensive linemen footprint.  An even further wrinkle is that Jon Runyan worked out for the Eagles today.  Who knows what will come of that.  Reid only kept two tight ends this year, claiming that he only had two active per game last year.  I see the logic in that philosophy if you have the ability to have a linemen work into the goal line package as a third tight end.  The Eagles did that with Todd Herremans last year and we might see that again with Herremans or another lineman.  They have plenty.  The seven wide receivers on the roster weren’t so much a surprise because of the personnel, but a surprise that they were able to skimp in other areas to keep seven.  Obviously, Brandon Gibson was too good to cut and they kept the depth of Baskett and Brown is case Curtis or another receiver would be injured.  Still, I see the Eagles cutting or trading a receiver when Michael Vick has to come off the exempt list.  The Eagles kept McNabb, Kolb and Vick as their QB’s – no surprise.  Running back and full back were also pretty standard.  I am glad to see Lorenzo Booker go and with the surprise special teams play of Eldra Buckley, it doesn’t really matter.  Also, for the first time since I can remember, the addition of Leonard Weaver gives the Eagles a real blocking back for Brian Westbrook and a strong runner on short yardage.  The offense looks good in terms of personnel, let’s hope they can put it together and score some points.  

Ten defensive linemen made the squad this year, heavy on the ends.  I assume the Eagles will play some of their bigger ends at the tackle spot during passing downs.  Trent Cole looked strong in the pre-season and if another end, maybe Juqua Parker or Victor Abiamiri, could take some pressure off of Cole, he should have an excellent year.  Bunkley and Patterson look like solid mainstays at tackle.  They both have been consistent and look great.  Hopefully, they will be solid against the run, because I worry about the linebacking.  The Eagles were hopeless at linebacker when Stewart Bradley went down with an injury.  Omar Gaither will play the middle – he played there before- with Akeem Jordan and Chris Cocong at his sides.  I am not sold on this linebacking tandem.  The back-ups are primarily special teamers and 1st and 2nd year guys.  Joe Mays will be ok as a back-up, but the other two are unproven.  The secondary at cornerback is solid, all the way through the 5th corner.  Safety is a little sketchy, especially since Quintin Demps lost his starting spot.  It was his spot to lose and he lost out to impressive rookie Macho Harris.  The specialists are the same as they have been the last three years.  The only comment I have is that it is disappointing the Eagles don’t have a long snapper that can double in another position.  For years, Mike Bartrum was the long snapper and 3rd tight end.  Jon Dorenbos is a great snapper, but provides little else and takes up a roster spot.

I like this Eagles team; they have plenty of talent and should win plenty of games.  Of course, the lingering questions are the Eagles linebackers, the rookie playing free safety and the cohesion and health of the offensive line.  The Eagles will mask the linebacking inexperience, but the offensive line could make or break the season.  The wildcard, as usual, is does Coach Reid prepare his team for the start of the season?   I doubt it, I sense some fan frustration early on with Reid until he gets the team together.  Let’s hope the team comes together sooner, rather than later.

Vick’s Pre-Season Role = Reid’s an Idiot

August 31, 2009

Now that I have digested Michael Vick’s appearance as a player on the Eagles football team, I can truly say, I still don’t get it.  Andy Reid must think Michael Vick is some magic football player to interrupt a great quarterback’s rhythm.  Yes, I think Donovan McNabb is a great quarterback.  It doesn’t make sense that the coach takes the ball away from McNabb to give it to Vick, who is a far inferior quarterback.  Vick is an athlete, but that doesn’t mean he is better than McNabb.  In fact, I think Andy Reid insulted McNabb by taking his snaps and giving them to Vick.

Let’s remember a few things.  Vick was a great athlete from the quarterback position during his time with the Atlanta Falcons.  He never excelled at throwing the ball or even making the right decisions.  He was always bailed out by his feet and his ability to run.  In a playoff game against Vick’s Falcons, the Eagles completely stymied Vick, he looked ordinary.  Also, Vick hasn’t even come close to winning what McNabb has won.  Vick has always been an overhyped mirage of a quarterback. 

Michael Vick played 6 snaps, five from the QB position and one as a slot receiver.  He was 4 for 4 for 19 yards (a couple shovel passes and a luck laser to Hank Baskett).  He ran the ball once, picking up a yard and it never seemed like he tried to get to full speed.  Jacksonville, the Eagles pre-season opponent, never even changed their defense to accommodate Vick being on the field.  Teams aren’t afraid of Vick now because they weren’t afraid of him before the scandal.  Defenses could easily cover his quarterbacking and his athletics were covered by athletic and fast defenders.  I have no idea what Coach Reid is doing.

For Vick to truly have an impact on this Eagles team, he is going to need to be an athlete – not a quarterback.  Either he becomes a hybrid running back/wide receiver or strictly a wildcat quarterback with the potential to throw.  Otherwise, not only does he diminish McNabb’s role, but he hurts the team with a roster spot.  We know this isn’t Vick’s fault; it is Andy Reid’s fault.  Reid is the only thing holding McNabb and the Eagles back.  Reid can’t manage the clock, call plays or even want to run the ball.  So unless Reid thinks he is smarter than the rest of the NFL (which he isn’t), this Michael Vick this is going to really make this Eagles season frustrating.

And, why are there so many Michael Vick jerseys being sold?  He’s going to be a back-up.  Apparently, Vick has the 4th best selling jersey in the league right now.   I’m not buying one.

Michael Vick an Eagle

August 14, 2009
Michael Vick signs with the Eagles

Michael Vick signs with the Eagles

This came out of no where.  I did not even have an inkling the Eagles had interest in Vick, let alone the gumption to sign him.  Since I live out of the Philadelphia market, the preseason tilt the Eagles were participating in last night was not on my television.  So armed with my blackberry, I was doing a little grocery/supply shopping when I got a random text from a friend of mine who claimed the Eagles signed Michael Vick.  My buddy is a Redskins fan, so I assumed it was a prank.  Nope, the Eagles really did sign Michael Vick, as confirmed by multiple media outlets.

I’m not sure what to make of this.  Vick was a solid athlete and decent football player a few years back.  However, I never thought he was a great quarterback or even an elite football player.  Now after his struggles with dog fighting, gambling and conspiracy, I’m not sure he has any juice in the tank.  Aside from the Eagles having to deal with the off the field backlash of his signing, the Eagles have to figure out where he is going to play – quarterback?  Wide receiver?  Wildcat qb?  Punt returner?  I just don’t know where he fits.  I assume the Eagles will spend some time working him out, seeing what kind of shape he is in and then determining where he can best help the team.  I guess the big open questions are where does he play and in what capacity AND how will the city of Philadelphia, the Eagles fans and the rest of the country handle the signing of a former felon? 

I think second chances are important.  People make mistakes.  However, I have to wonder how many people would have gotten second chances if they didn’t play football.  I think the United States judicial system is designed to allow people to get second chances.  Vick did his time for his crime and now wants to move on.  I assume he will be a massive presence in the charitable and community service area of the Eagles organization.  Also, who better than to work with the troubled youth of the Philadelphia area than Vick?  He can simply say, look what happened to me over the last two years, don’t do it.  (Ok, it may have worked out in the end for him because he has a contract, but you get the point).

While I don’t want to discredit the brutal and disgusting crimes Michael Vick committed, but there are a few worse things that football players have done.  Specifically, Leonard Little and Donte Stallworth both killed humans via DUI.  Little served very little time and continued playing.  Stallworth was able to avoid almost all jail time and will be able to resume football next year.  The difference in these cases than Michael Vick’s is that the families of the people killed wanted to go after the players’ money.  The more money these athletes made, the more money the families could sue for civilly.  The dogs involved with Michael Vick didn’t really have this outlet, so Vick was much more at the mercy of the law.  Vick got what he deserved.

Of course, the question comes into play, what about McNabb?  Apparently, McNabb was consulted on this issue and was very happy to have Vick on the team.  All McNabb has to do is play great, win some games and Michael Vick is a non-issue.  He only helps the Eagles.  Of course, I had to wait to hear what McNabb thought until Philly.com updated their web site since Dave Spadaro of PhiladelphiaEagles.com didn’t ask McNabb what he thought during the post game interview.  Um, Dave, don’t you think it was your job to ask McNabb what he though about Vick?  Sparado is a waste.

This whole Michael Vick thing could turn out to be very interesting.  Since he isn’t eligible to play until week 6, do the Eagles have him on the roster so he can practice or do they put him on the suspended list where he can’t practice?  This should all play out very soon.

While I can’t say I like Michael Vick for things he has done (never was into him as a football player, either), he does bring a certain mystic to the Eagles offense and at least could be an extra weapon.  As an Eagles fan, I guess I sometimes have to put aside my personal feelings and look at it from the betterment of the team.  I always hated Josh Parry and Reno Mahe, but that didn’t stop me from supporting my Eagles.

The signing of Michael Vick completely overshadowed some excellent preseason performances from LeSean McCoy, Leonard Weaver, Eldra Buckley, Brent Celek and Jeremy Maclin.  McNabb looked solid, but had no time because Jason Peters looked terrible.  The defense needs to step it up, as well.  Since this was the first preseason game and the Eagles are notably slow starters, I will give them a pass.  But after this Vick signing and more time to practice, my patience will wear thin.  Andy Reid better have these Eagles ready for a big season.