Monday, October 23, 2006

Bumble, Come Down Off the Ledge

bumble, i'm not saying that the eagles aren't making mistakes, they are, but your pessimistic nature (as you call it) may be causing you to ignore all of the positive traits the team is showing and overemphasizing the negative.

they are making mistakes, but mistakes can be corrected. it's not like they are getting killed in games and showing that they simply don't have enough talent.

this team is legitimately a few bad bounces away from 7-0. there were certainly some bad plays involved as well (mcdougle penalty, cole penalty, gaither 12 men of field), but even those are correctable as well.

i understand that there are no "moral victories", but this team has the potential to score from anywhere on the field, even with the receivers dropping balls. how scary are they going to be once the receivers get more in rhythm?

the season is far from over. aside from the fact that last year's superbowl champ gives you ample evidence that you don't need to dominate from start to finish to be the SB champ, you can hang your hat on the fact that over time the HOF caliber field goal kicking and unnaturally high fumble recovery rates will likely balance out.
They DO run a zone blocking scheme, albeit a different one from the Broncos and Falcons. They really put a lot of stress on their OT in their running game, an unfair and unrealistic move for huge mashers like they have in William and Runyan vs. the smaller speed OT like Denver and Atlanta have. They also expect their interior guys to make 2 gap blocks too frequently and they seldom employ double teams at the point of attack.
i do understand that no one runs a true man blocking scheme now because defenses are getting so sophisticated, but they really don't run all that much zone blocking. in fact, your statement that their interior guys have to make 2 gap blocks actually supports my statement that they are predominantly a man blocking team. they do run some zone blocking when they run counters or misdirections, but you never, for instance, see them run the staple of the zone blocking offenses -- the stretch play. that play is really taxing on the o-tackles because they have to slide out without losing alignment. i know that baldinger mentioned something about the birds expecting the tackles to get to the second level and block and LB, but that looks to be a man assignment, not a zone block.
I don't need to count down the big games where Donny was horrible in the clutch do I?
several of the games you mentioned were just games and of no special importance. let's review your list:

- Tampa 2002 (playoffs) - a huge loss, and if that game had actually happened, would still be incredibly painful
- Tampa 2003 (first Linc game), New England 2003 - i'm going to lump these together because if you recall correctly, something wasn't right with donovan at the start of 2003. could have been the thumb problem he was rumored to have or some other issue, but seems like he's over that now. regardless, these are just two regular season games.
- Carolina 2004 (WR didn't help him, but he threw 3 picks) - mcnabb didn't play that well, but only one of those picks was his fault (the last one), and you neglect to mention that he was also missing westbrook that day. egad, now that i think about it, how did that team even get to the nfc championship? no defensive players, pinky and thrash as your wideouts, no westbrook.
- Pittsburgh 2004 - a regular season game
- New England 2005 (Super Bowl, again 3 picks) - he didn't play that well, but he didn't get much protection either
- Dallas 2005 - you're going to hold this game against him? the guy could barely walk?

How about some clutch performances:
- Tampa 2000 - first playoff game. don makes all of the offensive plays in that game, the birds win 21-3
- Giants 2001 - first time don beats giants, remember the sliding thrash catch in the endzone? the giants dominated that game, yet don beat them at the end. luckily i was at this game.
- playoffs 2001 - bucs, bears, rams - don played great in those playoffs. yes, he threw that pick at the end of the rams game, but that was freddie mitchell not coming back to the ball.
- Cardinals 2002 - he plays the game and throws 4 TDs with a broken ankle. please keep in mind that michael vick had the same injury in 2003 and got carried off on a stretcher.
- Falcons 2002 - mcnabb comes back from injury and leads the team to a playoff win
- Packers 2003 - 4th & 26. leads the team to a comeback win in the playoffs against a HOF QB with a team that has it's whole defense out with injury and no offensive weapons
- playoffs 2004 - finally leads the team to the superbowl with an incredible amount of pressure on him to win the nfc championship. loses the SB to a guy who is not only the best defensive mind of his era but also is on a dynasty run

who has been a better clutch QB than don during his playing career? imo, only tom brady.
It is blatantly obvious that teams with good lines on both sides-Giants, Dallas, Steelers, Pats, Colts, Bears, Panthers, San Diego, Denver-are the league's elite.
did you see the dallas o-line in the game against the eagles? how about the colts d-line when they were giving up 200+ rushing yards to the titans? how about denver unable to protect jake plummer? or the giants with their average d-tackles? come on. the grass is not greener everywhere.
He refuses to adjust his play calling cadence to avoid blowing time outs unecessarily.
how can you conclude that it's stubbornness that is causing this? do you actually think that andy wants to blow timeouts? my conclusion is that it's hard to get plays in on time. he's constrained somewhat by that infernal worst coast offense with it's over-verbiage, but again, it's not unique to the eagles. especially in loud stadiums, teams blow timeouts all the time. regardless, this is not a critical issue. the analogy i'll use is how people are so freaked out by anthrax when driving is much more deadly. according to the analysis at footballcommentary.com, linked on the right of my blog as Model Based Analysis of Football Strategy (see here and here for some specific articles), timeouts really aren't that valuable in the grand scheme of things.
He refuses to get a bigger talented RB to salt games away late or he just refuses to run Buck late to do the same.
you're right about this one. i just don't understand it.
He refuses to establish the run early and then allow the run to turn your talented (despite drops) WR lose with play action.
how many coaches actually do this? very few. unless they feel that they are at a talent disadvantage, even most running coaches (parcells and fox) both pass to get a lead and run later in games. the best coach i've ever seen (belichick) won a SB with kevin faulk as his best running back and a 5 WR set. besides, why would reid do that? he's been pretty successful doing it his way. why isn't it you being stubborn?
He refuses to ever answer a good question, a question trying to pin him down as to why a specific breakdown happened with more than "I've got to do a better job there".
why should he change? his players appreciate the fact that he's never going to throw one of them under the bus. i like this about him. how does him providing more information/selling out his players make him a better coach?
I just feel this hostile backlash is from someone who dislikes everything that is 610 WIP and who refuses to acknowledge any of the points made on that show, some of which are very valid and in line with what actually happens on the field each week.
i can guarantee that this has nothing to do with WIP. they do provide some nuggets of information from time to time, but by and large they get hung up on minutia and look for things to criticize. often they lose sight of the big picture entirely.
I speak from my own observations, and my observations tell me that this team has under-achieved so far.
that is my point exactly. the fact is, they are 4-3 and are a few unlucky bounces/bad penalties away from a significantly better record. do you seriously expect them to underachieve for the entire season? how does that not give you some hope for improvement?

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24 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pete, you are getting soft in your old age. Where is the rage ?? Where is the anger ?? Yes, Mc5 is great. What about the (un)special teams giving up a 37 yard kick-off return at the end ? Why do we NEVER get any pressure on FG kickers (except SD last year). HOW DO YOU SCORE A GO AHEAD TOUCHDOWN WITH 34 SECONDS LEFT AND LOSE TO A 1-4 TEAM WITH A ROOKIE QB !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Captain

11:42 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

so much hatred!

Seriously, I was inordinately angry yesterday. It ruined my day, I cannot let that happen-"I've got to do a better job there".

McNabb is as good as we'll ever see in our town, best draft decision ever. He can carry the team-he's been forced to do it every week this year. He gets very nervous and makes mistakes in big games (for the record, I thought he played a great SB except for that first crushing INT to Harrison) but he also can make plays in big games. I wouldn't trade him. I would actually turn him loose way more than they are doing. He can kill you with the no huddle. Every time they've done it this year, they score points-lots of them. You have a stud, use him to the maximum. He was awful for 2.5 quarters yesterday, yet Andy let him take the reins and he was amazing for the last 1.5 quarters. He should have won them that game based on his last 10 minutes.

Reid is solid, but has been hit or miss in big games. To say that is not unfair, we have enough empirical data to fairly question his ability to hang with the better coaches and guide his teams to wins in big games. Raising that point should not be so blasphemous.

I love the Birds. My kid gets her mini McNabb jersey on and we do nothing else on Sunday but watch Birds and eat pretzels (her favorite). When they lose like they ahve this year, it just tears the heart out of me. 42-0 routs would be better than the last 2 weeks. They are close, yet teams see some of thiose same things we all see on this site. I know no team is perfect, and I knwo they are very young and will get better, but McNabb is entering the latter stages of his career and they need to get it done now.

At the end of the day, they are pretty good, but they could be great. I just don't understand why some very knowledgeable sports folks on this blog pull a Spaddaro and uphold their every move and decision as correct when they have certainly done questionable things that contribute to those losses. I guess I just want to see a team like the Pats-they go to Buffalo yesterday and just treat a bad team terribly, as the Birds should have done to Tampa. At the end of the day, it pains me to admit the Birds aren't in that elite tier of teams yet despite similar talent.

Maybe I just need to do more drinking on Sundays.

Bumble

11:43 AM EDT  
Blogger The Mean Guy said...

Where is the rage ?? Where is the anger ??

don't get me wrong, that game was incredibly painful to watch and certainly to lose when they came all he way back was excrutiating, but getting beaten by a 62 yard game winning figgie is almost surreal. sure the kick coverage should have been better and the defense should not have allowed them to gain as much yardage as they did, but come on, they forced them to kick a 62 yard field goal. the likelihood of him hitting that has to be under 5%.

Reid is solid, but has been hit or miss in big games. To say that is not unfair, we have enough empirical data to fairly question his ability to hang with the better coaches and guide his teams to wins in big games. Raising that point should not be so blasphemous.

i don't think it's blasphemous, i just don't think it's as bad as you make it out to seem. reid is 7-5 in the playoffs. that's a winning record against other teams that likely have good coaches. at the end of the day, i'd rather have him than virtually anyone who is actually available to take over for him. would you take charlie weis? i might, but if you think reid is frustrating, weis actively hates fans.

At the end of the day, they are pretty good, but they could be great. I just don't understand why some very knowledgeable sports folks on this blog pull a Spaddaro and uphold their every move and decision as correct when they have certainly done questionable things that contribute to those losses. I guess I just want to see a team like the Pats-they go to Buffalo yesterday and just treat a bad team terribly, as the Birds should have done to Tampa. At the end of the day, it pains me to admit the Birds aren't in that elite tier of teams yet despite similar talent.

how am i being spadro-like? am i pissed that they lost yesterday? yes. did donovan play like crap in the first half? yes.

does being not spadro-like mean i have to jump up and scream that the season is over and that the team isn't going anywhere? then fine, i'm with dave spadaro. i think this eagles team, come playoff time, will be a contender.

just because i don't think the season is over doesn't mean i think the birds have played perfect ball.

BTW - lost in all of this is the fact that andy ran the freaking ball yesterday.

12:04 PM EDT  
Blogger The Mean Guy said...

I guess I just want to see a team like the Pats-they go to Buffalo yesterday and just treat a bad team terribly, as the Birds should have done to Tampa.

realistically, if mcnabb hadn't played one of the worst first halves of his career, the birds were well on their way to creaming the bucs.

the bucs only scored 9 points on offense. if they hadn't shot themselves in the foot, the eagles would have topped 35 easily.

12:07 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Spadarro is a complete jack-ass.

Captain

12:14 PM EDT  
Blogger The Mean Guy said...

I just don't understand why some very knowledgeable sports folks on this blog pull a Spaddaro and uphold their every move and decision as correct when they have certainly done questionable things that contribute to those losses.

i'd just like to add that i don't think andy is infallible, but i don't hold him accountable for winning the way i want him to win -- e.g. more run pass balance and also get a guy who can get you tough yards. i've posted my opinions on that ad nauseum. hammering him on those things especially after a game where neither of those things came into play seems unreasonable.

even the timeout thing. i don't recall them burning any timeouts yesterday due to late play calls.

2:02 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My wife can attest to how upset I was yesterday as I had to go outside and burn stuff after the game was over. Interesting thing is that I got over the loss much quicker than the NO one despite the inferior talent level cause it was MUCH flukier of a loss. I lobbed Schatz at FO a question wondering how unlucky these birds are so far. Maybe I'm deluding myself, but I really think it was all bad luck. My ranking of bad plays yesterday looks like this:

1) not getting FG at end of 1H
2) 2 INTs (first one didn't seem to have much velocity)
3) McDougle penalties
4) There were a couple more drops, but not sure they were that egregious.

I agree with Pete that they could be a force towards the end of the year, but they better start winning soon or they'll have to win 3 games on the road to make the SB. That's very tough to do.

2:30 PM EDT  
Anonymous Phil said...

That last post was me.

2:31 PM EDT  
Blogger The Mean Guy said...

1) not getting FG at end of 1H

yesterday, i wasn't sure whether that play was designed to get LJ the ball or not. apparently it was not. LJ said he was surprised the ball was thrown to him. andy said the play was designed to go into the endzone.

"I wanted the ball in the end zone and it didn't go in the end zone and that is what happens," Reid said.

that's clearly on our franchise QB. you cannot make mistakes like that after 8 years in the league. ugh.

2:41 PM EDT  
Anonymous Phil said...

Not even Rich Kotite would draw up a play in that circumstance that doesn't go into the end zone. Kinda surprise Reid admitted that. He usually responds with a bland "I gotta put the players in a better position" comment. Bumble must be ecstatic.

Bumble - I kid, I kid.

3:53 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pete, as always I am with you on most of this. I don't like the plays Reid calls, I hate it when they pass on 3&2 and I cannot stand it that they seem unable to sustain drives late in games with a lead. However, this team SUCKED without Reid, and it has been way too much fun watching them for the last 6 years.

That said, I agree with Bumble that Reid needs to turn the offense a little more over to McNabb. This allows him to see things at the line and make the adjustments, plus I love the way opposing defenses look when they cannot exchange personnel.

-Simon

PS: Bumble, I broke my kitchen door after the Super Bowl loss, so I have lots of anger, though I must admit its easier to watch from Europe.

7:31 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"they are making mistakes, but mistakes can be corrected. it's not like they are getting killed in games and showing that they simply don't have enough talent."

This is kind of the heart of the problem, Mean Guy. If this were a sad sack, talentless bunch, it would be easy to dismiss the terrible losses, toss down a couple of cold ones, and move onto the next game.

But because the talent is evident, we expect the team to fire on all cylinders at least most of the time. We expect the team to learn from bad mistakes. We expect the coach to fix problems rather than simply identify the same ones over and over again.

The season is 7 games old and three times we've listened to post mortems about playing a complete game, about fixing problems, about getting better in those situations, etc.

A football season is only 16 games. You simply can't piss away three games. It doesn't matter in the end who should have won, what might have happened, etc.

Great teams (forget talking about talent - everybody has world class talent in the NFL) WIN close games rather than explain to fans why they game up short. EVERY team could be 7-0 if they got a couple of breaks, didn't lose a fumble, didn't get a field goal kicked against it, etc. Welcome to the NFL.

Ironically, I agree with your assessment that this Eagles team has the potential to be good. It will bother me even more for that reason should they sit the playoffs out this season. The Eagles deserve the criticism Bumble, Angelo and other zealots throw their way precisely because they are good enough not to be 4-3 against a favorable schedule (which is mediocre).

If they can't make the playoffs this year with this squad, it may be time to ask if Andy Reid is the right guy to control all the shots. Not if the goal is to have a good team (we already know he can give us that), but if the goal is to win a Superbowl.

9:04 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One last shot I wanted to lob in defense of Reid and most managers is this-given the complexities of running a pro football team with all of the appearances and planning and non football related work, is it too much for him to be coach and GM? Didn't Holmgren benefit from giving up his GM duties? If I carry this through, where would you rather see Andy? I might say Gm because he is a good man whom players seem to trust and he excels in identifying talent. The team would be in good shape with him calling the personnel shots. If he remained as coach, he'd need to get a guy as GM who was lockstep with his line of thinking.

This blog is better than therapy, cheaper too. I feel a lot better today. Phil I even chuckled aloud at your post.

Bumble

10:30 PM EDT  
Blogger The Mean Guy said...

i'm with you, bumble. andy has too much on his plate. i'm not sure it will require anything as drastic as giving up head coaching or GM duties.

last season, i proposed that andy give up his play calling duties to help resolve their in-game strategy snafus (http://scrapplelog.blogspot.com/2005/10/andy-needs-to-give-up-playcalling.html) and i still think that would solve most of the problems.

10:35 PM EDT  
Blogger The Mean Guy said...

The season is 7 games old and three times we've listened to post mortems about playing a complete game, about fixing problems, about getting better in those situations, etc.

A football season is only 16 games. You simply can't piss away three games. It doesn't matter in the end who should have won, what might have happened, etc.

Great teams (forget talking about talent - everybody has world class talent in the NFL) WIN close games rather than explain to fans why they game up short. EVERY team could be 7-0 if they got a couple of breaks, didn't lose a fumble, didn't get a field goal kicked against it, etc. Welcome to the NFL.


all of that is true, but most of that is secondary, imo. there are two important considerations -- winning enough games to make the playoffs and peaking during the playoffs -- and everything else falls by the wayside if you can achieve those two things. last year's steeler team is a good example. were they the best team over the course of 16 games? nope. did they piss away several wins over the course of going 7-5 in their first 12? yep. none of that mattered as they peaked at the right time. that's what i'm hoping for. might be a pipe dream, but i see the potential for that in this team as long as mcnabb, the o-line, westbrook, and the defensive backfield stay healthy.

If they can't make the playoffs this year with this squad, it may be time to ask if Andy Reid is the right guy to control all the shots. Not if the goal is to have a good team (we already know he can give us that), but if the goal is to win a Superbowl.

i agree with you. if this team stays generally healthy and does not make the playoffs, then andy reid the GM needs to take a hard look at whether andy reid the HC is the right man for the job. however, i wouldn't want andy reid the GM to give up that role.

10:45 PM EDT  
Anonymous Phil said...

You guys are forgetting Reid gave up GM duties to Banner earlier this year. He's just the HC now. Waaaay too early to start talking about firing Reid even if they finish 7-9. You gonna fire him if they lose 5 more games on 62 yard FGs and 15% fumble recovery rates? Bad luck is killing this team, although I admit they're not doing everything they could to help the cause.

10:51 AM EDT  
Anonymous Phil said...

Not Banner, Heckert. My bad.

10:53 AM EDT  
Blogger The Mean Guy said...

You guys are forgetting Reid gave up GM duties to Banner earlier this year. He's just the HC now. Waaaay too early to start talking about firing Reid even if they finish 7-9. You gonna fire him if they lose 5 more games on 62 yard FGs and 15% fumble recovery rates? Bad luck is killing this team, although I admit they're not doing everything they could to help the cause.

the eagles gave the title of GM to heckert in the offseason to keep other teams from talking to him. big red still runs the show though, he is "head of football operations" and head coach.

i'm not advocating that they get rid of him entirely, i'll still think he's the best head coach the eagles have ever had regardless of what they do this season. i just question whether it's possible for someone not named belichick to run the entire show and still make it to the top.

maybe if andy isn't being pulled in so many directions he, personally, could pay closer attention to details.

1:15 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I haven't given up on the season, Mean Guy, not by a long shot, but I'm getting damn fed up with excuses. No team this talented can be happy about their effort so far this season. They've essentially frittered an MVP performance by McNabb, they've wasted Jevon Kearse (what were we doing playing overtime against the Giants?), and they've spoiled two consecutive road come backs for no apparent good reason.

The sheer beauty of the NFL is the truism that on any given Sunday any team can win. At the end of the season, the teams that jump on opportunities presented to them get to play in the post season. Take a careful look at how simple statistics like turnovers, scoring touchdowns while in the red zone, wins in close games, etc. correlate with playoff appearances.

The thing that concerns me most about the Eagles 2006 voyage is that they are so far failing miserably at the things that separate playoff participants from spectators. Every year, there is a handful of talented teams that should have, could have been contenders. For me, the frustrating thing is that this year is shaping up as that kind of campaign for the Birds.

I agree that the Eagles have time to turn things around. I hope you'll agree with me that after waiting for 5 years for things to break right, it's time to make things happen instead of making excuses. The next time I hear Andy Reid talk about getting things fixed I think I'll puke. I'd rather he just fixes things instead.

Here's a suggestion for Sunday: Play hard for 60 minutes. Be ready from the first snap and don't stop playing until the final whistle. For a team as talented as the Eagles, that's really all it should take. I'd rather not listen to another week of "We would have won if we hadn't fumbled, we would have won if the opponent missed .67% of their field goals, we came out a little flat, we need to play four quarters, we need to get that fixed, we need to put players in a better position to win, etc." We know all those things. This isn't rocket science. You don't need to know as much about the particulars of football as Andy Reid to see what's missing - start to finish concentration and effort.

When the Phillies pull this crap every April, people (including you, Mean Guy) jump all over them.

3:05 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"all of that is true, but most of that is secondary, imo. there are two important considerations -- winning enough games to make the playoffs and peaking during the playoffs -- and everything else falls by the wayside if you can achieve those two things."

I'll stipulate most of this, but how important would you consider a first round bye? How about home field advantage in the playoffs? Again, I'm not talking about possibilities to win the Superbowl; rather, I'm talking about probabilities. The Eagles recent failures have clearly hurt their chances for winning the Superbowl regardless of what happened with the Steelers last year.

3:10 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wouldn't one win, and a full game performance win, not a lucky they screwed up or you kicked a last second field goal win, feel nice this weekend? Sure would heal a lot of ills. If the Birds move the ball consistently on this defense and go to bye-land, I'll be a very happy man.

Bumble

4:22 PM EDT  
Blogger The Mean Guy said...

When the Phillies pull this crap every April, people (including you, Mean Guy) jump all over them.

everything you wrote is true, and i agree with most of it.

the difference with how i treat the eagles and the phillies is purely based on performance. imo, the eagles have earned some benefit of the doubt based on 3 NFC championship game appearances and 1 superbowl appearance.

yes, they haven't won it yet, but they've come tantalizingly close.

the phils, on the other hand have done precious little to hang your hat on.

4:53 PM EDT  
Blogger The Mean Guy said...

Wouldn't one win, and a full game performance win, not a lucky they screwed up or you kicked a last second field goal win, feel nice this weekend? Sure would heal a lot of ills. If the Birds move the ball consistently on this defense and go to bye-land, I'll be a very happy man.

from your mouth to God's ears, brother. one win and we'll all be one happy family again.

of course, as you and i discussed earlier this week, God hates eagles fans... but i guess that's another story.

4:57 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"the difference with how i treat the eagles and the phillies is purely based on performance. imo, the eagles have earned some benefit of the doubt based on 3 NFC championship game appearances and 1 superbowl appearance."

This really isn't about how you treat the Phillies, although I certainly provided you with an opportunity to think so by taking a cheap shot (sorry). This really is about the Eagles playing like the winners they have the talent to be.

Let's hope for good things from here on out.

Ben

5:24 PM EDT  

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