Friday, October 20, 2006

Game 7 Preview

philadelphia eagles at tampa bay buccaneers

the birds let another one get away last week. they're still leading the division at 4-2 but the giants and cowboys are sitting just a half game back. they're still working through some inconsistencies and they still haven't been able to put a complete game together yet, but maybe there is a silver lining there. given the choice, i'd rather have them peaking in time for the playoffs than peaking now. i'll lay out my thoughts at the end, but first what some others think about the game:

footballoutsiders.com
- eagles drop to 3rd overall in DVOA, stay at 1st on offense, drop to 9th on defense and drop to 18th on special teams
- buccaneers come in ranked 23rd overall, 24th on offense, 20th on defense, and 27th on special teams
Arrrr! A pirate-themed team has won a game, and the high seas no longer be safe for scurvy land-lubbers! And the most treacherous pirate of them all is a scoundrel named ... Bruce. "Have you ever seen anything like this Toledo Rocket's blast off?" gushed Tampa Tribune columnist Martin Fennelly about rookie quarterback Bruce Gradkowski. "It's been part Johnny U. and part U2." Not that expectations are a little high after one win. Gradkowski faces an Eagles defense that beat itself with mental errors last week (let's all count to 11 together, children). They'll bounce back to salvage a win from their NFC South road trip. Fennelly will downgrade Gradkowski to Don Meredith and the Dandy Warhols next week.
les bowen
IF THE EAGLES don't bounce back hard this week, it might be a long season. Yeah, the Bucs woke up from their 0-4 start a week ago against Cincinnati, and looked more like the contenders they were supposed to be. But rookie quarterbacks don't beat Jim Johnson, even mobile ones like Bruce Gradkowski. This Bucs offense, 23rd in the NFL in passing, shouldn't light up Johnson's secondary. The Eagles should be able to control the ball, even (gasp) run it a bunch if they're so inclined. This is the league's No. 1 offense against No. 27. It shouldn't be much more complicated than that, though the Eagles have found some amazing ways to complicate things this year.

Prediction: Eagles 26, Bucs 17
vegas vic
Which group of Birds is gonna fly out of the chute? Sunday's first-half contingent that fell into a 17-3 hole against New Orleans, or the second-half powerhouse that outscored the Saints, 21-10? We're banking on the latter.

Prediction: Eagles (-5) over BUCS
tampa tribune/st. petersberg times

couldn't find a pick in either paper

espn scouts inc

Philadelphia is coming off a tough road loss in New Orleans and needs to get its season back on track against a Buccaneers team that starting to get its confidence back on offense. The Buccaneers will continue to attack on the ground with Williams to set-up the short, controlled passing attack.

The Eagles have an explosive offense that will move the chains, while the Buccaneers' defense will rely on a bend-but-don't-break philosophy, especially in the red zone. This is a big game for both teams and the Eagles are simply the better the team and will continue to maintain their slight lead in the NFC East.

Prediction: Eagles 27, Buccaneers 17
madden 07

Last week the Eagles lost on a field goal, and this week they won with a successful kick, getting a 33-yarder from David Akers with 3:17 left that provided the winning margin. The Philly defense still had some work to do after that, and they batted down a fourth-down attempt by Tampa QB Bruce Gradkowski, who ended the day with over 300 yards passing as he continued to prove himself to be a solid NFL QB.

Tampa took the lead in the first quarter on the first of Gradkowski's two touchdown tosses, but the Eagles answered as Donovan McNabb -- who ended with three TD passes of his own -- connected with Donte' Stallworth early in the second to tie it at 7-7. McNabb hooked up with Hank Baskett just before halftime to send the Eagles to the locker room up 14-7, but Cadillac Williams took the ball in on a short yardage play to bring the game even again in the third quarter -- and touchdown passes by each QB left it knotted yet again at 21-21 midway through the fourth, before Philly embarked on its game-winning drive.

Prediction: eagles 24 - buccaneers 21
what i think
the eagles cannot afford to lose this game, no way, no how. meanwhile, tampa is shedding players and looking toward next season. of course, this means that tampa is positioned to take it to the eagles in the early going because they have nothing to lose. john gruden is a little down on his luck lately, but he is still a formidable coach and game planner and is someone who has historically given JJ problems. still, the eagles are the better team overall, so i expect to see a relatively high scoring game but the birds should control most of the game.

buccaneers o vs. eagles d
the bucs have a lot of youth on offense, with a rookie QB (gradkowski), a second year tailback (williams), and a bunch of young o-linemen. they do have experience at receiver with joey galloway, ike hilliard, and michael clayton, but overall that is a pretty green group. the biggest matchup to watch is gruden against JJ. gru-dog has eaten up JJ in the past with both the raiders and buccaneers, but he's never had to do it with such a young crew. i expect gruden to play this game much the same way that the saints did -- get the ball out quickly, lots of 3 step drops, work the middle of the field. trotter will have to play a much better game in coverage than he did against the saints. downfield coverage should be at least a little improved with sean considine taking over deep responsibility from michael lewis.

eagles o vs. buccaneers d
this isn't the same bucs defense as in years past. while the bucs offense is pretty young, their defense is pretty old. ronde barber, simeon rice, and derrick brooks are all getting up in years and may have lost a step, that's not to say they're not still good players -- they are -- but they no longer dominate at the level they used to. one notable loss for them is booger mcfarland was recently traded and one possible weakness is that the bucs roll out the vulnerable will allen at free safety. the matchup i'm most concerned about is rice against tra thomas as tra has never been able to block simeon, and if tra cannot go then i'm not optimistic about rookie winston justice's chances against a polished pass rusher like rice. another concern is that the bucs still play primarily cover-2 so there may be limited opportunity to do a lot of deep passing on them. still, if the eagles are not shooting themselves in the foot, they'll score plenty of points.

bottom line
despite their young QB, the buccaneers have enough talent and coaching to make this game competitive. until the defense really starts to gel, teams will be able to put up points against the birds. the eagles are the better team, though, and there should be some desperation after that stupid loss last week.

prediction
eagles 27 - buccaneers 17

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10 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

CLARKIE IS GONE!!!!
Pete, this must make your day!

Simon

8:38 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let me clearly say that this loss is not Reid's fault. At the end of the day, they are a sh*tty, undisciplined football team that cannot catch and cannot clock manage. I had said 8-8...sounds 2 wins too high.

I hate having consecutive sh&t seasons. Like 1997-1999 all over again.

Bring on the Phils.

Bumble

3:11 PM EDT  
Blogger The Mean Guy said...

how can you give up on this game already? deal with the adversity, bumble!

i think that they'll still come back to win this game. call me an optimist, but if they just stop shooting themselves in the foot, they'll score points.

3:20 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

M-E-D-I-O-C-R-E

4:15 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Season over boys. This team is an embarassment. Tampa sucks, make no mistake about that. You outgain them 4:1, but your continued mental mistakes ((McNabb not taking the 3 at the end of the first half, something he's done a lot over his career by the way) and lack of discipline (McDougle should immediately be cut)cost you yet another game. 61 yard field goal will be called a fluke, but you let them return to the 35, then you rush only 3 and let them pick up another 30 yards. Jim effing Johnson should be ashamed-rush the goddamned rookie QB, it's not hard!

And here we go again with a disturbing pattern-Gruden is a good coach. When Andy faces good coaches, more often than not, he loses. Coincidence?

Bumble

4:20 PM EDT  
Anonymous we-was said...

Bumble,

I feel your pain. Even though it’s way premature to turn off the lights on the Eagles’ season, I offer this as something more constructive.

The reality is that we need to live with the Bat next year. There is little to no chance that we will receive any value for him, and we're not in position to eat salary simply to satisfy 700-level frustration.

The Bat is really only a problem to the extent we allow him to "protect" Ryan Howard. Provided we sign a right-hand power bat third baseman who is capable of production from the 5-hole, we'll be fine.

I'd like to go young, which is why I think A-Ram is the perfect answer. He won't be easy to sign, but we need to suck it up and pay the money. Doing so will make giving away Bobby Abreu (and not receiving Phil Hughes in return) a little easier to understand.

Once we have legitimate protection for Howard, we can hide Pat deeper in the order and hope that his invisible production pays dividends. I imagine that taking pressure off him will do wonders for his stroke. His numbers aren't chopped liver, but it is impossible to watch him day in and day out and stand by the conclusion that he is a reliable 5-hole hitter.

I’m of the opinion that trading Rowand is a good idea. For whatever reason, he has value. Folks seem to dig white guys who hustle. Personally, I prefer ballplayers who can play well and don't have significant plate weaknesses. The reality is that Rowand can hit one pitch - the fastball down the middle. Against quality pitchers who work inside, he is an automatic out. I'm not sure the Phillies can get more than a 4th starting pitcher for him, but I'm hoping.

Victorino is the starting center fielder next year. He's a better hitter than Rowand, he is faster (hopefully Lopes can teach him to steal bases), and he has a MUCH better arm. Assuming Delluchii bolts, we may need to keep Rowand and play Shane in right, but I hope not.

With respect to pitching, we need to improve. Watch the Tigers. During the post season (which we will be a part of next season) it's all about pitching. After Myers and Hammels, I see opportunity for improvement in the rotation. I can live with Moyer, Wolf and to a smaller extent fat Leiber, but if Gillick can pull a rabbit out of his hat, I'll be overjoyed.

We also need help in the pen and on the bench. We can find players to fill roles on the cheap, and we are bound to have better luck this year than last.

Contrary to popular belief, we will be fine at catcher.

I’ve seen Geary called "Gas Can" elsewhere in the blog-o-sphere, but I'll take this guy as my setup man any day. He competes, he throws strikes, and he has an absurd haircut. I’m not sure what we can expect from Gordon, but I suspect he isn’t clutch enough to win when it counts (assuming his arm stays on long enough to find out).

February will be here soon enough. Even if the Eagles are playing golf, we have that to look forward to.

Hope this helps sooth the pain.

Ben

4:36 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Its this crap all over again...Stop jumping of the bandwagon whenever they lose a game. Maybe you all should stay off it when they are playing in January (which I still believe). They are killing themselves right now, which is much better than getting killed. They'll win next week, get a week off and make the playoffs as a wild card. Maybe this year we are the team that comes up late and actually wins this thing.
So stop whining and believe in the fat guy.

Simon

4:43 PM EDT  
Blogger The Mean Guy said...

Season over boys. This team is an embarassment.

the season is far from over. the team sits at 4-3 and they haven't played that well the last couple of weeks, yet they rallied to take the lead late in both games.

McNabb not taking the 3 at the end of the first half, something he's done a lot over his career by the way

it's inexplicable. the design of the play appeared like it was intended to get the ball into LJ's hands (with baskett running a slant to take barber into the middle of the field. another great play by barber as he slid off hank to make the tackle on LJ. don't know if LJ ran the route too short or mcnabb made a bad read or andy called a bad play here, but that lost 3 points cost them the game.

And here we go again with a disturbing pattern-Gruden is a good coach. When Andy faces good coaches, more often than not, he loses. Coincidence?

didn't you just get done saying this game wasn't andy's fault?

4:47 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not Andy's fault aside from not being safe and kicking the 3. Just making an observation that he loses whenever he plays against a good coach, but McNabb and that over-rated defense lost this game today, not Andy. Don almost won, but his poor play and decision making killed them.

I never do band wagon hopping Simon. I think there are fundamental flaws that are dooming them and I point them out. I love everything about the fat guy, but you lose 3 games in the last 5 seconds and something is dramaticlaly wrong. Whose fault is that? To me, that is a crack in the foundation. At some point, they need to knock the house down and start over with a different persepctive and all of this young talent.

I love the fat guy. have always been a fan, but reality says 2 presidential terms of coaching and no big prize may warrant a different guy driving the train. He isn't dropping balls or taking stupid misconduct penalties, but he isn't benching or cutting guys either. If he cuts McDougle, I am back in. I'll give them 1 more week as 5-3 is doable, but 4-4 and it's over.

Bumble

6:45 PM EDT  
Blogger The Mean Guy said...

He isn't dropping balls or taking stupid misconduct penalties, but he isn't benching or cutting guys either. If he cuts McDougle, I am back in.

why would cutting mcdougle make reid a better coach?

it took tom landry 12 years to win a superbowl, bill cowher 14, belichick 7 or 8. not saying it's guaranteed that reid will join that crew, but i think it's significantly more likely that reid will than anyone who is available to coach the eagles right now.

9:48 PM EDT  

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