Author: Dave

Fan of all Philly sports since 1981.

Film Session Extra: Dave’s Additional Thoughts

To add to AndDave’s great analysis of the Week 1 win over the Rams, here are some additional points from my viewing of the game:

1) I despise the “bunch” formation that the Eagles seem to really enjoy using.

Take a look at the picture from the opening play of the 2nd quarter.  This is one of many examples of the Eagles going to their “bunch” formation.  The idea is to create chaos with the defense not knowing who to cover.  The only thing it accomplishes on a regular basis is confusion for the Eagles.  I’ve hated this formation ever since it was devised as it usually results in a no-gain or negative play.

The reason spread offenses work is that they spread out the defense. The Eagles enjoy using reverse psychology.

Which brings me to my next point:

2) LeSean McCoy is my new favorite Eagle.

On this play, the “bunch” formation looks headed for another failure.  Except LeSean McCoy has proven that his Twitter handle of Cutondime25 accurately describes his ability to turn failures into positive plays.

From the bunch formation, the Eagles decide to give it to McCoy. He has absolutely nowhere to run...

... then McCoy uses his amazing vision to cut back and make a positive play out of nothing.

McCoy closed on the line of scrimmage quickly, then carried a couple tacklers for a gain of 3 yards.  By all rights, he should have lost 3 yards.  Shady is electrifying to watch.

3) An interesting idea on defense:  putting Asante Samuel on the opposing TE.

New defensive coordinator Juan Castillo is trying to put his own stamp on this talent-laden defense.  One matchup idea the Eagles tried on several occasions in St. Louis was putting CB Asante Samuel on the Rams’ TEs.  Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t.  I would be in favor of using this matchup in the upcoming divisional games, especially teams like Washington and Dallas that have outstanding receiving TEs.  The only downside to this idea is that Samuel still has tackling issues, so any catch could turn into a big play.  I just prefer having an experienced cover corner on a big-time receiver rather than one of the Eagles’ young LBs.

Some random notes:  Brian Billick got confused often in the broadcast booth in this one, but no mistake was more glaring than when he pined for the Eagles’ most recent running back star: Michael Westbrook…. Too many penalties and missed assignments -the Eagles got away with it against a mediocre Rams team, but they won’t be so lucky against upper echelon teams…. Brent Celek was pretty much a non-factor – that will have to change as the season progresses.

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Eagles Free Agent Debate: Offense

We took a look at the defensive side of the ball yesterday, which is most likely going to be the Eagles primary focus.  However, there are a few intriguing names that could add fuel to one of the most dynamic offenses in the NFL:

REGGIE BUSH (RB, New Orleans)

Why should they sign him:
Bush is the only the second most disgraced running back in USC history.  However, he fits the Eagles’ West Coast offensive scheme quite well.  Bush is an excellent pass catching RB, and a quick, agile runner.  He could also be used as a primary punt returner, giving DeSean Jackson a little bit of a breather (except against the Giants for psychological reasons).

Why shouldn’t they sign him:
There is simply not enough room on the roster as it currently stands.  Shady McCoy is entrenched as the starter, and is a much better running back.  With Leonard Weaver and Dion Lewis slated to back up McCoy, where exactly would Bush fit in?  Also, recently signed undrafted free agent Noel Devine is a very similar style of player, and that decreases the chances the Eagles make a run at Reggie.

Will they sign him:
Unless the Eagles can justify having a gaggle of RBs on their roster – which seems unlikely – Bush won’t be an Eagle.

PLAXICO BURRESS (WR, New York Giants/Oneida Correctional Facility)

Why should they sign him:
While the Eagles current corps of WRs are productive and explosive, they are small in stature.   Burress would give them an instant upgrade in terms of size.   He would provide a tall target in the red zone, a place that Eagles offenses have struggled in for years now.  His situation almost mirrors Vick and his decision to sign in Philly:  recently released from prison, trying to latch on to an organization where there will not be a lot of pressure to be a major contributor right away.  Put Burress on your depth chart as the 4th or 5th WR, use him almost exclusively in goal line situations to start the season, and go from there as he works his way into playing shape.

Why shouldn’t they sign him:
He’s 33 years old, and has been away from the game for two years.  Vick also missed two years, but he was younger and could afford to lose some athleticism.  Also, Burress has been talking to the Giants about a possible return.

Will they sign him:
For the Eagles, wide receiver is not anywhere near the top of their needs list.  It seems more likely that Burress will land somewhere else.

VINCE YOUNG (QB, Tennessee)

Why should they sign him:
Young would instantly be a top NFL backup – a mobile lefty to back up another mobile lefty.  Despite his personal issues, he can still be a good player, and had a pretty good season last year until the wheels fell off.   Andy Reid has shown a willingness to rehab a guy’s demons, and he’s resurrected both Vick and Jeff Garcia’s careers.

Why shouldn’t they sign him:
His aforementioned personal problems?  Lack of work ethic and immaturity.  If Haynesworth is in play, having the both of them would be quite a handful.  Young is likely not looking to be riding the bench, and will more than likely be seeking a starting gig.

Will they sign him:
He makes sense on a lot of levels if Kevin Kolb is in fact headed elsewhere.  If Young is unable to find a starting job on another team, the Eagles might take a chance on him.  However, count on Young landing somewhere else where he can compete for a starting job in the preseason.

Eagles Free Agent Debate: Defense

With football back on the front page, we are going to take a look at the Free Agent Class of 2011 from the Eagles’ perspective.  Who should they sign?  Who should they avoid?  And in the end, what is going to happen?  We do our best psychic work over the next few days.

Today, we focus on the defensive side of the ball, which is where the Eagles likely will be focusing as well.  Let’s start with the big fish in the pond:

NNAMDI ASOMUGHA (DB, Oakland)

Why should they sign him:
The Eagles desperately need a corner after having allowed 31 passing TDs last season.  Landing the prize free agent in this year’s crop would provide incentive for teams to throw more in the direction of Asante Samuel, who is a premier ball hawk.   The yin and yang of Asomugha and Samuel’s styles are perfect: one is a man-to-man lock down corner, the other is a terrific zone ball hawk.  If the Eagles get Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie in a Kevin Kolb trade with Arizona, they can cover spread offenses with three of the best in the game.  Of course, if they get DRC, they probably don’t go after a corner… but why not go for broke, similar to what the baseball team across the parking lot has done with their Starting Rotation of Dreams?

Why shouldn’t they sign him:
Asomugha comes with a prohibitive cost against the salary cap.  He will probably cost big money, likely 14-17 million dollars a year.  Investing a lot in Asomugha might lead to sacrifice elsewhere at other need positions, and that is not the way the Eagles usually do business.  That money would be better spent getting a corner like Johnathan Joseph or even Ike Taylor along with players at other need positions.  Asomugha is coming off a contract that just paid him $30 million over 2 years.  If this is truly about the money, he will sign elsewhere.

Will they sign him:
Unlikely.  Asomugha will likely be offered more money by other teams than the Eagles are willing to offer, especially if they can land Rodgers-Cromartie in a trade with Arizona.

RAY EDWARDS (DE, Minnesota)

Why should they sign him:
The Eagles haven’t really found the answer on the defensive line on the other side of Trent Cole.  Ray Edwards could be that guy.  He played on one of the best defensive lines last year in Minnesota and tallied 8.5 sacks.   The Eagles can’t be sure with the progress of second-year player Brandon Graham.  He played well in his rookie year until going down late in the year with a torn ACL, leading to microfracture surgery in the offseason.   Edwards would immediately solidify the other side of the line, and would not come with as steep a price tag as Asomugha.  The Eagles could likely afford both Edwards and another corner from the free agent pool for the same cost.

Why shouldn’t they sign him:
Edwards could be considered the defensive version of Alvin Harper:  a player who clearly benefits from the talent around him.  He was clearly the least important person on the Vikings’ defensive line and might not benefit by being more of a focused target for offensive lines.   Meanwhile, Trent Cole is locked in under contract, and Brandon Graham is still acclimating to the system.   Darryl Tapp is still in play as a free agent-to-be, but according to a recent tweet, Tapp had a meeting with new DL coach Jim Washburn and was excited to work with him.  If the Eagles had no intention of keeping him, that meeting probably doesn’t happen.  So with a rotation of three established DEs, is there really room for a player like Edwards?

Will they sign him:
According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Edwards is likely going to be an Eagle when all is said and done.  Of course, Atlanta resident AndDave claims, “I don’t even use the AJC as toilet paper.”    The Eagles have never been a “go for broke” team, and have only added marquee names at positions where they have been remarkably thin over the years.  By those standards, we expect Edwards will not be wearing midnight green in the 2011 season.

CHARLES JOHNSON (DE, Carolina)

Why should they sign him:
Most of the same statements that apply to Edwards could apply to Charles Johnson.  Of course, Johnson is coming off his breakout year with 11.5 sacks anchoring a Panthers defensive line trying to overcome the loss of Julius Peppers.   Johnson was the featured pass rusher for Carolina, and made the Panthers defense quite respectable despite their poor record.

Why shouldn’t they sign him:
See the section above on Edwards.  Johnson falls into the same mold of the type of player the Eagles usually don’t go after if they already have established men at the position.

Will they sign him:
There will undoubtedly be a bidding war for players like Johnson, as teams throughout the league try to stock up on pass rushers.  Johnson is one of the bigger names with some of the bigger numbers out there, and the Eagles will likely be outbid for his services.

PAUL POSLUSZNY (LB, Buffalo)

Why should they sign him:
A post on Twitter from beat writer Jeff McLane claims that Posluszny would love to join the Eagles linebacking corps.   He is coming off a season where he led the Bills in tackles with 103, and also managed 2 sacks.  He can play both inside or outside, and the Eagles love versatile defensive players. Adding Posluszny to a rotation that could also include Stewart Bradley and promising youngster Jamar Chaney would be a nice upgrade.  With the abundance of spread offenses in the league, usually only 2 LBs are on the field at any given time, meaning that all three would get reps.

Why shouldn’t they sign him:
Posluszny has stated publicly that his preference is to return to Buffalo, but will test the open market in the days to come.  He has missed time due to injury the past two seasons, which doesn’t bode well for a 27-year old linebacker.   This could be his only chance to cash in on a lucrative free agent deal.  Plus, the Bills will have to reach the new salary cap floor, which amounts to 99% of the cap.  That could force Buffalo’s hand into offering him a large sum of money.

Will they sign him:
Posluszny would be more of a complementary player in Philly rather than the “big fish” he is on the Buffalo defense, and the former Penn State standout would be a great fit.   However, Buffalo needs his presence more than other teams do, including the Eagles.  Buffalo will do what they can to re-sign him to anchor their defense.

JOHNATHAN JOSEPH (CB, Cincinnati)

Why should they sign him:
The best cornerback on the market with a pronouncable name.  Although, the extra “h” in his first name still makes it difficult to spell.  He was a shutdown corner on a team that needed a strong defensive presence.   Joseph is younger than Asomugha at age 27, meaning he is under the Eagles unofficial age limit of 30.  With 14 INTs over his five year career, he can be counted on to give Asante Samuel some competition in the turnover department.  He also brings the big play ability, having scored a touchdown himself for each of the past four seasons.  Plus, pretty much everyone on the Bengals is chomping at the bit to get the hell out of there.

Why shouldn’t they sign him:
Joseph comes with a lot of injury baggage, having missed 12 games over the last 3 seasons with various ailments.  With the new rules in the CBA, the Bengals (like the Bills with Posluszny) will have to reach the salary cap floor of 99%.  Cincinnati will likely make re-signing Joseph a priority, and will probably offer him a good amount of money to stick around.   Most importantly, Joseph will not move until Asomugha moves, and the teams that lose out on Nnamdi will add fuel to the bidding war.

Will they sign him:
If the Eagles do not get Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie from the Cardinals, they will probably make a very respectable offer to Joseph.

IKE TAYLOR (CB, Pittsburgh)

Why should they sign him:
Taylor has been a constant presence on one of the top defenses in the league year after year.   He has not missed a game over the last 6 seasons.  Despite numerous changes in the Steelers secondary over the years, he has remained in the starting lineup, which says something about how much he is valued.  At 6’1″, he would be better suited to covering some of the league’s taller receivers opposite the 5’8″ Asante Samuel.

Why shouldn’t they sign him:
Taylor is 31, a little bit older than the Eagles would like.  He is not as much of a threat for INTs, with only 11 in his 8-year career.  He can choose to remain in Pittsburgh in Troy Polamalu’s shadow, and still be productive in that defensive scheme.

Will they sign him:
Again, if the Eagles don’t get Rodgers-Cromartie, they will still need a CB.  Obviously, their preference would be for Asomugha or Joseph, and would only move to Taylor if they fail on all 3 of those fronts.  Taylor wants to stay in Pittsburgh, and they want him back.  It seems unlikely he even reaches the Eagles radar screen.

ALBERT HAYNESWORTH (DT, Washington)

Why should they sign him:
Haynesworth would provide a great test for new defensive line coach Jim Washburn.  He honestly believes he can coach him to a return to his Pro Bowl form of 2007-2008 when he was with Tennessee.  Haynesworth would excel in the Eagles 4-man front as a run stopper.  Plus, he’ll get to face the Redskins twice a year for some extra motivation.

Why shouldn’t they sign him:
We all know that Haynesworth was not motivated last year.  Observe:  Exhibit A.  He even made Mike McGlynn look like a Pro Bowl offensive lineman.   The lingering question remains:  was his poor attitude a product of the toxic environment in Washington, or does it reflect a deeper character flaw?

Will they sign him:
If the Eagles offer him a contract, they will undoubtedly take his character questions into consideration.  The contract will likely be incentive based with provisions that will allow the Eagles to back out if the attitude adjustment fails.  If he agrees to sign with the Eagles, he will definitely be happier for doing so.

Tomorrow, we take a look on the offensive side of the ball.

And don’t worry… we promise this will be a Favre-free zone.

O, Captain, My Captain…

Well, this was certainly an eventful day in Flyer nation.  While they signed a quality goalie in Bryzgalov (albeit for nine years, about 5 too many for my taste) and cleared some cap space, they also traded two cornerstones of the recent success of the franchise in Jeff Carter and Mike Richards.

Personally, I am upset more about the loss of Richards for two reasons:

1) It’s very hard to trade your captain, especially a young one with a lot of potential.

2) My #18 Richards jersey is now a collector’s item.

So, this brings up the question, who will be offered the “C” next year?  According to Tim Panaccio of CSNPhilly.com, it’s a no-brainer that it will be offered to Chris Pronger.  AndDave definitely agrees with this statement, citing PuckGate of the 2010 Stanley Cup Finals as a brilliant move by Pronger.

Pronger, Danny Briere, and Kimmo Timonen have all been captains in the recent past with other teams.  And if you’re looking for a veteran captain presence for this team, then that’s probably where they are headed.

But this team is not being built around veterans.  The unquestioned star during the all-too-short playoff run was James van Riemsdyk.  Even during the Boston series, he was the best player on the ice.  If you’re really trying to build for the future, you might want to think about offering him at least an “A” instead of just handing them to Briere and Timonen again.

The real point of all this?  We shouldn’t be having this discussion.  Mike Richards should never have been the one to go.


Funny Behind-The-Scenes Phillies Story

A friend of mine works on the Phillies’ postgame shows for Channel 17 in Philly.

During Tuesday night’s game, nobody was in a hurry to get ready for a postgame show since the game was tied at 1 going into the 9th.

As soon as Danys Baez was announced as the pitcher for the Phillies, the on-air talent immediately made their way to their seats and prepared for the end of the game. They knew it was almost over.

Winter Classic 2012

So, according to league sources, the Flyers and Rangers will square off in the 2012 Winter Classic at Citizens Bank Park. Great news!

Now, the only better news would be if Carlos Ruiz was available to play goalie. He won’t let anything by him.