Posted on: December 30, 2008 7:20 pm

It's a Miracle: Playoffs!!

Would it be an overstatement to call yesterday the happiest day of my life? OK, perhaps a slight exaggeration, but it was one of the most unbelievable and most amazing days in recent Eagles history. Sure, they've clinched many a playoff berth... but never in such dramatic and such unlikely fashion. The fact is that there is not an Eagles fan out there who was conceivably optimistic about the possibility of a post-season appearance going into yesterday's games.

And yet... miracles can happen.

The Raiders travelled cross-country to pull off an insane upset over tanking Tampa Bay. The RAIDERS... you've got to really take a moment to appreciate the odds of that one. And then, the Eagles caught another break when Houston held on to defeat Chicago. And suddenly, impossible as it seemed a few hours before, the Eagles were back in control of their playoff hopes. AGAIN. Anyone remember that brief period last week when the Bucs lost to San Diego and the Eagles just had to win their last 2? And instead of capitalizing on that, they put up an embarassing 3-point performance against the struggling Redskins... that was nothing short of horrendous. I wasn't even planning to watch much football this week, as the disgusting taste of last week's loss was still festering in my mouth. And then, out of the blue, the stars aligned...

Fortunately, the Birds got the message this time, and quickly started piling it onto Dallas and never looked back. The only thing sweeter than getting massive help to enable a playoff bid was securing it with a monstrous victory over the despised Dallas Cowboys, sending them home to Texas to watch the playoffs from their living rooms. And forcing T.O.'s season to a halt in the City of Brotherly Love, a city that has nothing but brotherly hatred towards Mr. Owens.

The question now is, how will they build on this? How far can they go? The stars and skies seemed to be in Philly's favor yesterday- will this continue? And as someone pointed out: the World Series in Tampa, the Super Bowl in Tampa... the sky's the limit now with a clean, Bengals-tie-less slate in the playoffs. I believe they're as good a team as any in the playoffs this year. But will they play like it?
Category: NFL
Posted on: December 16, 2008 2:48 am

Post-Draft Thoughts, NFC East Grades

Originally posted 4/27/08. Well, the 2008 draft is now over, and Mel Kiper has already run off to start compiling his 2009 predictions. Only time will tell what kind of impact these new guys will have on the team. However, despite some of my earlier gripes, and the trade-downs that made sure I didn't get to witness an Eagles pick for almost 5 hours, I'm generally pretty optimistic about these draft picks. Here are a few quick thoughts: . 1) O-Line - My biggest concern - aside from the whole #1 WR thing - was the o-line; despite failing to address this in the first 3 rounds, the Birds picked up 3 OLs in rounds 4-7. What remains to be seen is whether any of them will be the next Runyan or Tra Thomas- we need quality over quantity here. 7th round OT King Dunlap apparently had some problems throughout his senior year that lowered his draft value. The other 2 OL picks are listed as guards, but 4th rounder Michael McGlynn has decent tackle experience, so it should be interesting to see whether these guys are worthy of eventually joining Shawn Andrews in maintaining what has consistently been one of the NFL's best offensive lines. . 2) DeSean Jackson - Unlike my friend Bob, I'm not yet running out to grab a DeSean Jackson jersey (which, to be fair, I could use considering the miserable shape of my well-worn Westbrook and McNabb jerseys); nevertheless, I can't help but get excited about this pint-sized little guy. I also can't help but constantly think of fun new words to describe his height impairment (I apologize to any midgets I have or will continue to offend, including Chris who ironically is a "Giants" fan...just kidding, Chris isn't THAT short...). ESPN Scouts Inc. takes note of Jackson's size and his need to improve his route-running, but they also acknowledge his ability to stretch the field which is certainly something the Eagles could use. Plus, I hardly need to stress the importance of the Eagles finding a return man. Jackson has ridiculous speed and explosiveness... is it too soon to use his name in the same sentence as Devin Hester's? . 3) Lito Sheppard - He still hasn't been traded. On a related note, neither has Chad Johnson. To reiterate, I'm not opposed to keeping Sheppard- I believe he's one of the top CBs in the league when healthy. HOWEVER... he has not been healthy in the past 3 seasons, and he is not happy with his current contract, so if the Eagles were to keep him (assuming they do not agree to rework his contract, which they won't) he wouldn't be a happy camper. Of course, the fact that he hasn't been traded yet suggests that the Eagles haven't gotten any decent offers, meaning Sheppard's value is not as high as he (and the Eagles) think, so maybe he can be humbled into complacency. One other thing to consider, before I shut up about the Chad Johnson thing for the time being- the Eagles obtained an additional 2009 1st round pick from the Panthers via their 1st round trade-down; is it possible that the Eagles are thinking about packaging that pick with Sheppard (or other '09 picks) for a trade? Just a thought. . 4) Lorenzo Booker - The Eagles traded a 4th round pick to Miami for RB Booker. Is this the end of Tony Hunt? Or Buckhalter? Even though Booker is not a big, short-yardage RB like Hunt, the Eagles didn't seem too inclined to use Hunt last year which makes me wonder if they're not crazy about him. I think he's got some nice potential, but as a Penn State alum I may be biased. He was drafted to give us that much-needed bulldozer of a 3rd and short/goal-line back, yet was rarely utilized. Don't get me wrong, Westbrook has done an impressive job of somersaulting over the pile in those short yardage situations, but considering he's getting somewhere in the neighborhood of 8,000 touches a game you'd think Andy and Marty would have thrown Hunt out there more often. I actually thought Buckhalter did a solid job last year after missing 2 entire seasons before that, but he didn't get a lot of playing time either. It might have something to do with his total inability to block, as was shown during the first Giants disaster/game. . NFC East Grades: . Skins: Yeah, they drafted 3 receivers as their first 3 picks (2 WRs and a TE) but I like this decision. TE Chris Cooley and RBs Clinton Portis and Ladell Betts were seemingly the only ones who could catch the ball this season (particularly in the endzone) so they definitely needed some fresh WRs. Yes Randle El, we're so impressed that you played QB in college and can throw the ball once in awhile, but why don't you catch something for a change? Anyway, 2nd round WRs Devin Thomas (Mich St) and Malcolm Kelly (Oklahoma) should be great additions, and 2nd round TE pick Fred Davis (USC) should be a good back-up to Cooley. Grade: A- . Eagles: They didn't get the big-name 1st round pick I was hoping for after trading out, but I can't be too upset considering that 1st round pick they got for next year. I also like the DeSean Jackson pick despite my earlier concerns about drafting a WR too high. The Eagles seem very excited about the Trevor Laws pick up, and he should be a good addition to the DT rotation. And they addressed DE and OL, but did they wait too long? Grade: B+ . Giants: Mel Kiper thought Arkansas State's Tyrell Johnson was the best safety in the draft, but I like their Kenny Phillips (Miami) pick-up in the 1st round and it was definitely the position they most needed to address. And despite Mario Manningham's character concerns, he was still a good deal in the 3rd round. Will he be a problem off-the-field? I'm not sure whether USC's Terrell Thomas was the best CB available at the end of the 2nd round, but he's got good size. Grade: B . Cowboys: RB Felix Jones should be a good back-up to Marion Barber, although I agree with Taz that Mendenhall would have been a better pick. Jones appears to be yet another Cowboys RB who can't carry the workload himself, but he'll be a good number 2 for now. I like their decision to trade up a few spots to pick up CB Mike Jenkins, and his ability to play safety is a bonus considering how crappy Roy Williams is, no matter how many Pro Bowls he goes to. ESPN says that TE Martellus Bennett was a great value pick in the late 2nd round, but I'm not sure whether I agree with their decision to use this pick on a TE even though they did trade Anthony Fasano. Grade: B
Category: NFL
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