Sunday, October 22, 2006

Why I Remain Positive

i thought this comment deserved it's own post and discussion:
Aside from Mc5, who chokes in big games, what do they really have going for them?
what's the definition of "big game"? there are plenty of important games that mc5 has played. i think it's unfair and misleading to play the cataldi game and discount every other game except for the last one of season. sure he's lost some, but he's won some too.

i'd argue that from a personal level, the regular season game a few weeks ago against the cowboys was the most important game of donovan's career -- and he certainly did not choke in that game.

why even play the games? seems like you have it figured out. mcnabb's a "choker". nice when you can distill people's essence into one work just like that, huh? must be nice to understand things at that level. just like the smart people who they figured out that staubach was a "choker" and elway was a "choker".
A weapon at RB who is always hurt, a TE who looks like a world beater one minute and a guy from Rutgers the next, a bunch of WR that cannot catch, an O line that can pass block but is hampered with a shitty zone blocking scheme that demands much more speed than they have, a D line that cannot make plays when push comes to shove, a LB corps full of slow guys, and a defensive backfiled that gives up the most big plays in the league.
first of all, the eagles do *not* use a zone blocking scheme. they use a man blocking scheme, which is why they line up mashers instead of smaller and more mobile linemen. second, i wish they would incorporate more zone blocking in their repertoire as it has proved to be very effective over the years when it comes to running the ball. the denver broncos and atlanta falcons are both zone blocking teams (think alex gibbs).

however, those are not the important points. here is why i remain positive despite your classification of the roster by focusing on their weaknesses: no team is perfect. except for the 1985 bears, who came darn close, every superbowl champion had flaws. this team has some serious strengths that you can choose to ignore but i choose not to.

1) despite his uneven performance today, mc5 , as you call him, is still playing QB just about as well as anyone in the game. somehow, today's game will go down as proof that he can't play, yet when other guys do it, it's a "4th quarter" comeback. mc5 played his heart (and stomach) out today and engineered 3, count 'em, 3 straight *clutch* touchdown drives. QB is the most important part of a team, and the eagles have one of the best.

2) line strength. there are only a handful of teams (steelers, patriots, seahawks, chargers, bears, panthers) that are strong on both sides of the line of scrimmage. line play is the second most important factor and the eagles are solid on both sides of the ball. the d-line may only be average at run stuffing and the o-line may only be average at run blocking (though they blocked very well today), but as an overall package both units are among the best in the league (top 10 at worst for each)

3) skill position players. despite your assessment, this is the best corps of skill position players the eagles have had under andy reid, probably by far. pinkston and thrash were good enough to get them to the NFC championship game with a defense that had 9 players on IR. andy will have them on the same page and playing well as we progress through the season.

4) coaching. despite his flaws, andy is still a damn good coach (a .622 winning percentage including today's debacle doesn't lie). is he perfect? nope. do i want to risk the chance to end up with a marion campbell or rich kotite or ray rhodes or mike mccormack or ed khayat again? nope, not me. think pittsburgh fans wish the steelers had fired bill cowher during the 13 years that the steelers didn't win a superbowl? andy reid took this team from nada to 3 NFC championship games and 1 superbowl -- in a row. that's not luck.
And a stubborn coach who won't adjust.
please cite some examples. is he stubborn because he won't listen to the screaming fans? how is that stubborn? why would he do something that he doesn't think is right? the eagles lead the nfl in 3rd quarter scoring. sounds to me like that's some adjusting right there.
Why does one conclude that these guys really are that good? They can out-scheme people at times, but at the end of the day, you are your record and that says they're .500.
because when they play their b-game they're blowing people out. because when they play their d-game or f-game, they're losing by only a figgie. what i see is a team that is learning how to put it together, not a team that is a struggling to stay competitive. the offense marched up and down the field against every defense they faced this season. sure, they're making critical mistakes and shooting themselves in the foot. maybe it will continue all season. maybe it will, but i'm betting it doesn't, and when it stops this team will very hard to stop. the defense hasn't been playing well, that is true, but there are positive signs here and there. based on past history, i'm betting that by the end of the season, JJ will have these guys playing pretty damn well. the corners are solid and will be better when hood is healthy, mccoy looks like he's going to be a real playmaker at "WILL", the d-line can get after the passer pretty well, and considine looks to be an upgrade over lewis in pass coverage.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

We obviously aren't watching the same team. I am pessimistic by nature-I need to see empirical proof before I believe that green is actually blue. I just don't see it with this team for a multitude of reasons.

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. Their whole run blocking structure is just flawed. Westbrook is also not a great interior running back, so that doesn't help them.

I don't need to count down the big games where Donny was horrible in the clutch do I? Tampa 2002 (playoffs), Tampa 2003 (first Linc game), New England 2003 (Just a regular season game but a big foe and a benchmark game and he was horrid), Carolina 2004 (WR didn't help him, but he threw 3 picks), Pittsburgh 2004 (when you start 7-0, you expect to at least be competitive, plus another benchmark game), New England 2005 (Super Bowl, again 3 picks), Dallas 2005 (they were going down, but his pick to Roy Williams on MNF cemented the lost season) Compare these with clutch games where he's been good. First St. Louis NFC championship game(they lost and he threw a late pick, but he was the only Bird who showed up), Dallas 2006 ( a flat out gem), Green Bay 2003 (Monday nighter vs. a big time conference foe, Donny won that game single handedly), Chicago 2002 (he schooled a supoosedly impenetrable defense). He wasn't special in the NFC championship win over the Falcs and he has been only so-so in many other playoff games. Without breaking down every game he's ever played, the performance in big games has leaned toward the negative vs. the positive. He was brilliant at times today, and he nearly rallied the team back froma huge deficit, but come on! He put them in that deficit for God's sake!

Their line strength is good, not great despite a ton of talent on both sides. In fairness, the Kearse injury absolutely killed them. They were awesome when Howard could go inside and they could rush Cole, Howard, and Kearse. 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. The Birds have the talent to match up, but not the output for some unknown reason. This shocks me most of all because I love their personnel on both lines.

They have skill guys who can run and hit big plays, but they drop way too many balls. Maybe it's the best they've had, but they are leaving a lot of points on the field every week because they cannot catch the frigging ball.

And the argument that he adjusts well because they lead the league in 3rd quarter scoring is true on one hand but also deceiving. How do you explain the 4th quarter collapses? Do they lead the league there too?

He is stubborn. He refuses to surrender play calling to his QB to run no huddle (notice how well that worked today) all game because then he surrenders control, yet his QB has shown this year that he can do that very well for long stretches. He refuses to adjust his play calling cadence to avoid blowing time outs unecessarily. 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. He refuses to establish the run early and then allow the run to turn your talented (despite drops) WR lose with play action. 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".

Look I have said again and again that I like Reid and that he did a great job in getting them competitive. Mc5 is the best QB we'll ever see and I wouldn't trade him for anyone. 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 speak from my own observations, and my observations tell me that this team has under-achieved so far. B game, D game, Z game, it doesn't matter what they play, they aren't winning close ball games vs. teams that they should beat, teams that they used to beat a few years ago. Something has changed. Maybe teams have figured out their blitzes, maybe everyone has the book on their offensive plan, but they are careless and falling behind by too many points or blowing large leads late in games. To deny that exists is impossible. I think we're all rational and sane people here. I am extreme and emotional, but to simply deny what I say categorically simply because it comes from a passionate place overlooks deeper rooted team issues.


11:47 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The only point I truly agree with is your last. They haven't played well and that either means that they are a good team hurting themselves with mistakes or a just a team that makes mistakes and will so all season.
I guess we will see in December / January.

However, please don't ever say that McNabb chokes. It's a stupid argument only made popular by TO and WIP. One reason he plays worse in the playoffs is because the defenses are actually better. How about viewing his throwing up as actually leaving everything on the field and pushing himself as far as humanly possible.

On a related topic, I truly believe Philadelphia sports are hurting because the fans cannot stay positive or supportive through anything. It puts sooooooooo much pressure on the teams not to screw up that they cannot fully concentrate on the games they have to play. Just look at all the stuff that happens when a team gets close to the finals (BTW, love that too), it completely over the top and I think affects a teams concentration.


4:54 AM EDT  
Anonymous Phil said...

This team is cursed. They're 3 FGs from being 7-0 (opponents now 11 of 12 against them). It took a 62 yard FG as time expired to beat them on a day when they turned the ball over 4 times! They shouldn't have even been in that game. As frustrating as the last 2 games have been, at least there is significant cause for optimism. That said, they've got to go on a 3 or 4 game win streak pretty soon or they won't make the playoffs.

8:38 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not convinced this team will make the playoffs, though if they do, they don't go past round 1. That's my prediction, and it's the same thing I've been saying since training camp.

But don't get me wrong. I still think that's an accomplishment. Compare it to last year.

And I think next year they could mae a run at the big game. The talent will still be there, and the youngs guys (WRs especially) will have the experience to give Mc5 the crowning trophy he'll deserve by that time.

- Joe

11:05 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

oh yeah. About Clarke and Hitchcock leaving. Woo Hoo for Clarke, and Boo Hoo for Hitch. Though I understand having to completely clean house after this miserable start. Of course where does that leave us?

- Joe

11:07 AM EDT  

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