NOT-SO BREAKING NEWS: Um, What Happened?!

October 2, 2011

Ummmmm, what happened?!

Well the Eagles “Dream Team” Defense had a Mets-style(*) meltdown in the fourth quarter – for the third week in a row! – to a team with an Offense ranked 28th overall in the NFL in passing and 30th overall in the NFL in running. You did not misread that!

(*)Or Red Sox or Braves-style collapse for the fans of recent analogy history.

That’s what happened.

Remember the scene in The Big Lebowski, where Walter Sobchak (John Goodman’s most transcendent performance) famously freaks out on the kid Larry Sellers, who stole the Dude’s car, “You see what happens?! You see what happens Larry?! You see what happens when you fuck a stranger in the ass?!”(**) That’s what we’d like to do to Andy Reid right now… “You see what happens?! You see what happens Andy?! You see what happens when make your Offensive Line Coach your Defensive Coordinator?!”

(**)Please note: the link is the edited-for-TV version, which hilariously changes Walter’s: “You see what happens when you fuck a stranger in the ass?!” to “You see what happens when you fool a stranger in the Alps?!” Always loved that edit!

This is unreal! Who would have thought that, with the additions of Asomugha, Babin, Jenkins, DRC, Page, Matthews (HA!), etc., the Birds’ D would somehow be worse than last year’s pathetic group? We’ve covered Fredo extensively, but what about Jarrad Page? That dude may as well be named Blaine Bishop! Nate Allen is not what he was pre-injury. Babin and Jenkins have actually been fantastic… rushing the QB. The line can’t stop the run, the Linebackers can’t stop the run and the Secondary can’t stop the run. Oh, and NO ONE CAN TACKLE! Because, you know, tackling is not something that’s important in football…

And forget the D, does Ronnie Brown have a head injury?! Did his preseason concussion baseline test not show the massive tumor blocking whatever part of the brain makes decisions?! What the fuck was that?! Has any skill position player in the history of football ever decided to look back and throw the ball to no one in particular, even though he was less than two inches from being down and had four opposing players in his line of vision? Is Ronnie Brown color blind? Can he not tell the difference between green and red? So many questions! I hope Jon Dorenbos takes the initiative and asks him, in his long-going attempt to take Dave Spadaro’s job!

But back to the issue at hand… The philosophy that Andy Reid used to build this team – get the lead with a “high-powered” Offense early, protect the lead by pressuring the QB and taking away his Receivers – is extremely flawed, this we know. But it’s never back-fired this spectacularly. Three straight weeks, three straight leads going into the fourth quarter, three straight losses:

Week Two versus Atlanta
31 – 21 with 1:59 remaining in the third; lost the lead with 4:48 remaining in the fourth

Week Three versus NYG
16 – 14 with :59 remaining in the third; lost the lead with 8:07 remaining in the fourth

Week Four versus San Fran
23 – 3 with 9:30 remaining in the third; lost the lead with 3:00 remaining in the fourth

Can the Eagles survive 1-3? Probably not. They started 0-2 in 2003 and made it to the NFC Championship Game. They started 2-2 last year and ended up making the playoffs. But 1-3? They are in trouble. Serious trouble. But thankfully, maybe, hopefully, Walrus firing trouble.

We need to try to wrap our heads around this one. Much, much more coming tomorrow and the rest of the week. And for those who look for us on Twitter and here during home games: FYI, The Billionaire decided to block phone service in the stadium so that fans are forced to (but don’t) rent their bullshit “Fan Experience” thing that gives scores and highlights for around the league. Because God forbid fans should be allowed to communicate with the outside world watching on TV. Or, you know, bash the team share their feelings on social media.

Fuck it dude… let’s go Phillies!

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NOT-SO BREAKING NEWS: The Devil Speaks, Puts Hoof In Mouth

February 17, 2011

Wow! Just… WOW!

Joe Banner The Devil continued his annual visit from the depths of Hell and boy, did he not disappoint… even taking calls from fans (though I’m sure screened) on 610 WIP with that weasel Burger King host of theirs(*). His rhetoric was the same as usual and, in typical Banner-fashion, he unleashed a sound bite that does nothing but insult the intelligence of Eagles fans.

(*)Full Disclosure: I LOATHE that rat-fink, phony, closet-Cowgirls fan Eskin. Even his beard couldn’t sway me…

Via Les Bowen’s recap of the interview on Philly.com (I’ll spare you having to listen to that infuriating piece of radio):

In perhaps his toughest rhetorical challenge, Banner tried to assert that the six-time Super Bowl champion Steelers, who have appeared in three of the last six Super Bowls and won two of them, really aren’t any more successful than the Eagles on balance, because they haven’t made the playoffs nine of the last 11 years, or been to five conference championship games in the last decade, the way the Eagles have.

What the fuck?!!?!

I still haven’t been able to peel my jaw off of the floor after reading that…. Read it again. Doesn’t it infuriate you? Doesn’t a statement like that give you the impression that Joe Banner The Devil thinks Eagles fans are morons? Guess what Joey, we weren’t born yesterday.

If anything, that statement proves a point I’ve been trying to make since Banner ascended from his role as “Cap Specialist” to a position of real power in the organization: This guy doesn’t know one thing about football. Not one.

The Billionaire was a casual football fan who happened to have enough money(**) to buy a football team and – rather than hire a real “football guy” – put his best friend, Banner, into a position to be making actual personnel decisions. It was one thing to negotiate contracts and manage the cap, but to actually be making football decisions? And even worse, The Devil spawned off his little Beelzebub-sidekick, Howie, who has even less experience, yet somehow more power than Banner did when he first started. This isn’t a Front Office… it’s an Alpha Epsilon Pi clubhouse.

(**)Though I’m saying that in the loosest of terms.

How can any reasonably intelligent person with at least some knowledge of football say that? It’s literally insane. Right?

Well, as I mentioned yesterday in Whisker Wednesday, you must read between the lines with The Devil, and between those lines (as usual with Banner) is money.

Via Forbes’ annual NFL Team Evaluations (as of August 2010): The Eagles are worth $1.119 Billion (7th overall). The Steelers are worth $996 Million (17th overall). The Eagles total revenue for the 2009 season was $260 Million (5th overall). The Steelers total revenue for the 2009 season was $243 Million (14th overall). The Eagles Operating Income (the money The Billionaire pocketed) for the 2009 season was $34.7 Million (13th). The Steelers Operating Income for the 2009 season was $17.9 Million (24th overall).

So, yes, by The Devil’s logic the Eagles are more successful than the Steelers. But, in the real world, where you and I – the people who live and die with every snap, who bleed Eagles green, who PAY MONEY (and sometimes more than they should) to support the team they love as much as family – live and have to take crap from other teams fans for the comments our inconsiderate team president made on a shitty sports talk radio show, Super Bowl wins matter. Not money. Just rings. And we still have none.

We just have The Gold Standard… 2.0!


NOT-SO BREAKING NEWS: Tag, You’re It

February 15, 2011

So, the long-awaited prophecy of Michael Vick receiving the Franchise Tag will finally be fulfilled today… But it won’t be the only designation the team hands out. David Akers, the longest-tenured Eagles player, will be hit with the Franchise Tag’s lesser known cousin, the Transition Tag.

Now this may be a very unpopular stance – and may seem slightly outrageous to some Eagles fans, especially coming off a Pro Bowl season – but, why tag Akers?

Well, the Transition Tag protects the team by allowing them to match any offer Akers receives in Free Agency – you know, if that even happens. As it stands now, Free Agency may not occur until the summer (at the earliest) or not at all (the worst case scenario), so it would appear that the Eagles are currently hedging their bets. It’s been highly-publicized that Akers turned down a multi-year contract offer in December because he felt the team was low-balling him(*), and that contract negotiations – particularly after his two big misses in the playoffs and the fallout from the drama with Reid – are headed nowhere fast.

(*)Really?! The Eagles would never do that…

The Transition Tag will pay Akers the average of the top-ten paid Kickers and Punters for one season – a totally fair contract for a guy that has averaged the 12th best Field Goal percentage over the last four years. Sure, 2010 was one of Akers’ best seasons, but he’s never really been the same since his groin injury during the 2005 season. In fact, Akers completely dropped off as a reliable Kicker from 2005 to 2007 – when he averaged a 75% conversion rate, putting him in the bottom third of NFL Kickers – and hasn’t been reliable from 40-yards and beyond since.

In both the 2009 and 2010 seasons, 20 Kickers attempted at least 28 Field Goals. Akers ranked 6th and 7th in total FG percentage among them (86.5% and 84.2%, respectively) and was perfect on attempts from inside the 29-yard line and on extra points. Not bad.

But what about Field Goals from 40-yards or more? Over the past two seasons, Akers has made only 22 out of 30 Field Goals from 40-yards out, a 73% success rate. From 50-yards or more? Two out of six… a 33% rate.

Sure, he’s the most consistent Kicker the Eagles have had in my lifetime (and probably your’s)… But at what point does the team start exploring other options?

Just throwing it out there. I’m not saying it’s time to Fire The Kicker. Yet.


NOT-SO BREAKING NEWS: Eagles Hire Juan Castillo As Defensive Coordinator?!

February 2, 2011

I’m flabberfuckinggasted(*).

(*)Copyright!

I love Juan Castillo as an Offensive Line Coach – OFFENSIVE LINE COACH! How the hell can The Walrus defend this?! Well, you can listen to his half-assed, cliché-loaded press conference here. And here. FYI, Reid mentions that Castillo has always been a Defensive coach – which makes sense since he’s been the team’s Offensive Line for 13 years.

The move isn’t necessarily unprecedented. Reuben Frank (@roobeagles) pointed out on Twitter: “Notre Dame hired a defensive coordinator who had never coached defense. He was a college & NFL QB and TE. His name was Jim Johnson.” But that was in 1977. And not in the NFL.

Look, Juan Castillo is a really, really good coach and I am positive that he CAN coach the Defense… But that’s not what the Eagles need. This team desperately needs a defensive-minded mastermind, not just a guy that can coach up players (no matter how much Castillo claims to be a “defensive guy”). Can Juan Castillo seriously call the plays on Defense? Can he help find the right personnel for his fledgling Linebacker corps or a stud Defensive Tackle? Can he come up with a Defensive gameplan to dominate a playoff game, ala Rex Ryan versus the Patriots?

Then there’s the deeper issue here… Who exactly is making the decisions with the Eagles coaching staff? We all assume that Andy Reid has final say over all hires and fires, but ESPN’s Sal Paolantonio has been claiming that moves, particularly the McDermutt firing, came from over Reid’s head.  Is there an internal power struggle going on behind the scenes? Possibly, and we can certainly look at the Castillo promotion in three ways:

  • Eagles Management decided, with the looming work stoppage, to force an in-house promotion to save money – especially if they end up firing the entire staff following the 2011 season (let’s cross our fingers!). With their long history of fiscal responsibility (see: Cheapness), this seems more than likely.
  • Andy Reid, in his own stubborn way, decided to balk at The Billionaire and The Devil’s “supposed” demands to upgrade the Defense and instead promoted one of “his guys” to stick it to them. Not necessarily likely – doesn’t seem like The Walrus’ style – but if Sal Pal is right, who knows?
  • Juan Castillo forced Reid’s hand, as he was pining to move up to Offensive Coordinator when/if Marty Mornhinweg left for another job. Maybe Cincinnati contacted Castillo before they went after Jay Gruden and he threatened to leave unless he was promoted in some way? This seems pretty likely (and thanks @briangoldberg for bringing this up on Twitter).

The thing that really doesn’t make sense – and lends credence to the last point – is that the Eagles could have waited four days, interviewed Darren Perry or Winston Moss, and then still have made this move. The timing screams of desperation and is a clear sign that the team was horribly unprepared moving forward with this Defensive Coordinator search. Why even interview Jon Hoke and Joe Woods? Why flirt with Jim Mora, Jr. and Dennis Allen? Something is completely off about this whole situation.

Maybe Juan Castillo turns out to be the next Jim Johnson. Maybe he’s the next Sean McDermutt. Either way, the Eagles just made fools of themselves with a highly-public and unsuccessful Defensive Coordinator search, that ended in the inexplicable promotion of an Offensive Line Coach to Defensive Coordinator. No matter how it turns out down the line, the Eagles have egg on their face.

Can we please just get it over with and Fire The Walrus?


NOT-SO BREAKING NEWS: Eagles to Franchise Tag Vick

January 31, 2011

Duh. In other news, the sky is blue, snow’s annoying and Andy Reid looks like a walrus.

More to come.


NOT-SO BREAKING NEWS: Seth Joyner Wants To Be a Coach

January 29, 2011

Seth Joyner, one of the all-time greats in the long lineage of Eagles Linebackers, wants to get into coaching.

If Andy and Howie truly plan on building the new defensive coaching staff from the bottom-up, then hiring Joyner to coach a woeful linebacking corps would be the logical next move. But it more than likely won’t happen.

Since the day he bought the team from Norman Braman, Jeffrey Lurie has done everything in his power to move the franchise away from the identity it’s loyal fans loved. The Kelly Green uniforms (unfortuneately). The losing (thankfully). The smashmouth, bruising, violent defense (indefensibly). His tenacity for removing every visage of a time before he owned the team was unreal. I’m surprised he retired Reggie White’s number 92 without having to be begrudgingly talked into it.

So hiring Seth Joyner – someone who embodies those mean-streaked, bodacious, angry (particularly post-Jerome Brown) and vicious Buddy Ryan Defenses from the late-80’s/early-90’s – would be a complete 180 for the Lurie-regime. But it would be a brilliant coup for a team that sorely lacks that “us-against-the-world” mentality desperately needed on Defense, especially at Linebacker.

Joyner represents the type of Linebacker that the Eagles haven’t possessed since Ray Rhodes had Willie Thomas. The Ray Lewis and James Harrison-type of terrifying, violent monster that could change a football game by himself. Sure, Jeremiah Trotter was a Running Back-seeking missile, that would explode through the line of scrimmage and blast an opposing back for a three-yard loss, but he wasn’t quite the feared headhunter that teams had to gameplan for. That was Seth Joyner.

Last week I recommended that you read Mark Bowden’s Bringing The Heat.  Chapter 10, entitled Being Seth, explores Joyner as a person, his anger and his tumultuous personal relationships. As one  of the players most affected by Jerome Brown’s death, Bowden delves deep into Joyner’s psyche, which is battered and torn, and how that misery forced Seth to take on the leadership role that Brown left behind.

“The contrast with Jerome formed a study in leadership. Jerome didn’t try to lead and never saw himself as a leader. Joy just radiated from that dancing, cast-iron-furnace frame and neon grin. Jerome made you feel as if he were on a ride that was just so damned terrific that nobody would want to get left behind. Seth, on the other hand, made you feel like he was slogging through some sort of awful crusade; you could join him if you had the stuff for it, and if you didn’t? Well, fuck you.” – Mark Bowden, Bringing The Heat (page 286)

Yes, Joyner has a grating, polarizing personality. But isn’t that what this team has been missing? Doesn’t this Defense – that has been built on speed and finesse, instead of tenacity and brutality – need someone who could put “the dog” back into them? The Eagles Linebackers especially, need a mean streak. Stewart Bradley is a nice player, but Wide Receivers don’t fear him over the middle. Moise Fokou can “put a hat” on a guy, but Running Backs don’t go to the weakside just to avoid him.

Seth Joyner might not be a typical coaching candidate and his motivational methods may be crude, but he may just be what the Eagles need. He’ll get into the faces of the Offensive Lineman when they’re underperforming. He’ll smack DeSean Jackson upside his head for acting like a jackass. He’ll (hopefully) turn Jamar Chaney into a seething, headhunting lunatic, that makes Quarterbacks shake and Running Backs brace for a beating.

The Eagles need something to toughen up that soft spot in the middle of the Defense. There’s nothing tougher than Seth Joyner.


NOT-SO BREAKING NEWS: Walrus Finally Fires ‘Mutt

January 15, 2011

It’s official! Andy Reid finally used his giant hairy flippers to find his Walrus balls and fire one of the worst Defensive Coordinators to ever come through the great City of Brotherly Love-Taking-The-Head-Off-The-Other-Teams-Quarterback.

Sean McDermutt, LET the door hit your ass on the way out of town! It’s the least you can do for us.

Sure, his D wasn’t the WORST ranked defense the last two years – ranked 12th overall in 2009 and 2010 – but the way they let offenses walk all over them on 3rd-down and in the redzone was an ugly, abysmal site.

The stats are glaring. In 2010, the Eagles ranked 30th in opposing touchdowns in the redzone, averaging 2 per game, and dead last in redzone scoring percentage, allowing opponents to score on almost 80% of their trips inside the 20-yard line. They also ranked 20th in 3rd-down conversion percentage (5.2 per game) and 21st in scoring defense, giving up 23.4 points per game.

Awful.

A football team is only as good as it’s defense (watch the remainder of the playoffs), and the Eagles were a 7-9/8-8 team at best. The Eagles didn’t deserve to be in the playoffs… Michael Vick did. The stats prove it, the offense was good (and with a real line, could have been great), but the defense was simply mediocre. Vick was worth two wins.

Now the question is what happens next? Will The Walrus stay in house (likely) and snatch up Dick Jauron before the Browns pry him away? I’d say doubtful, considering Andy could have made that change at any point in the season. Rory Segrest, Defensive Line Coach, and Bill Shuey, Linebackers Coach, were both considered candidates to replace the late-Jim Johnson, before the job surprising went to McDermutt, and will probably get another look.

As you know, I’ve been screaming for Rob Ryan – Buddy Ryan’s son and Rex’s twin brother – because he has the attitude, swagger and balls that this defense has sorely been missing. He demands a hardnosed, tough, head-hunting unit… in other words, Eagles football. Plus, the Eagles can steal him from the Cowboys, who are reportedly close to signing him.

What are the other options? Besides starting from scratch and firing The Walrus… I don’t know. As I pointed out yesterday, one of things Andy has a knack for is putting the right assistants around him. He swung and missed (miserably) with McDermutt. Let’s hope he connects this try. At least for now, we can be happy that Ginger is gone and hopefully forgotten. Now all The Eagles need are three new linebackers, a real defensive tackle, another defensive end, at least one cornerback and a strong safety (the slightly-underwhelming Quintin Mikell is a free agent). Awesome.

Let’s just Fire The Walrus instead.