Posted on: August 17, 2009 11:29 am
Well, it's been a long time hasn't it? But I think the jaw-droppingly humongous news that the Eagles signed Michael Vick fresh out of his stay in Leavenworth Prison is reason enough to blog. Now that I've had a few days to reflect on the past and on the events of the last few days, I've formed a more decisive opinion on the issue.
Michael Vick's actions were flat-out despicable. It literally brings tears to my eyes to think about the things he and his dogfighting cohorts did to those poor animals. While I wouldn't put him up there with the likes of child molesters and rapists, I have a unique sympathy for animals and an accompanying disgust for people who mistreat them. Dogs are completely dependent, to the point of unconditional loyalty, on the people who take care of them; they have no defenses or alternative options if those same caretakers abuse them. I have no respect for someone who beats his wife, but at least she is physically capable of leaving the situation. Thus, any person who mercilessly beats, tortures or murders a defenseless animal is a special kind of disgusting.
Vick served 18 months of a 2 year sentence in Leavenworth for those actions. We can sit here all day and debate the finepoints of the judicial system in this country, but for all intents and purposes Michael Vick has satisfied his punishment for crimes committed in the eyes of the law. It remains to be seen whether he has been rehabilitated, and we may never know whether he is truly sorry beyond mere regret for the death of his career. Nevertheless, given precedent in the NFL to allow other felonious athletes to be reinstated after serving their punishment, my personal repulsion at his crimes does not justify his situation being treated any differently.
Maybe it's just the underlying defense attorney in me, but I believe that once you've paid your debts and served your time, you shouldn't be continually punished by the rest of the universe. Either keep 'em in jail or let let 'em be truly released. "But," you might argue, "my job wouldn't hire me back if I committed a violent felony, so why should his?" I understand this argument, as the state bars to whom I must report would certainly not be so forgiving of its lawyers. However, being a professional football player is not a job that inherently requires honesty and morality as does the practice of law or medicine. Whether or not you believe these well-paid athletes should be better role models, their job description is essentially to show up and play ball. Vick is not the first nor the last in an absurdly long line of wifebeaters, sexual deviants, drug abusers, animal abusers, drunk drivers, and general douchebags that play professional sports in this country. As shocking as his crimes were, even more shocking to me has been the uniquely harsh reaction that his return has received compared to these other criminals.
I never in a million years expected Philadelphia to be the city in which Vick would land. However, football is a business like any other, and Andy and Joe and Jeffrey are businessmen trying to improve their product. From a football perspective, this may prove to be genius or it may blow up in their faces, but irregardless it is their job to try to craft that football product in whatever way they can. I'm highly disturbed that many fans are treating the Eagles front office as if they themselves were in Virginia partaking in these crimes. Vick may be a horrible person, but he was absolutely going to be signed by some team- it's not like the Eagles plucked him off the streets to give him a second chance that he wouldn't have otherwise had. 99% of the Eagles detractors hadn't said a word about his reinstatement until he came here, which seems a tad hypocritical. I'm hardly saying these former-fans should run out and get #7 jerseys, but it seems rather extreme to abandon a team that they've been following for decades over what essentially boils down to a personnel decision.
I suspect that if Vick pans out on the football field, the complaints will die down- we're Eagles fans for god's sake, we're as faithful as they come. My initial reluctance over this signing was that he can't possibly be worth the $1.6 million pricetag (and the PR nightmare that this decision has proven to be). But frankly, my skepticism is slowly fading as I deliriously think of all of the offensive weapons that will adorn the field this season. Anytime Vick is on the field, he'll be a threat in some way, shape or form, and that constant looming threat has to at least have some advantage. I'll put my concerns aside and let his performance speak for itself in the coming weeks. After all, the legal system has concluded its judgment, so why shouldn't we?
Posted on: January 15, 2009 10:04 pm
"Fine like wine, baby." McNabb is apparently feeling increasingly confident as the Birds plow further into the playoffs, jokingly referring to his improved play as he gets older during a press conference. Oh that Donny Mac, always the media darling, lover of all things Philly.
Just 3 days now til the Eagles' glorious return to the NFC Championship, and to be honest, I've seen a few too many "experts" predicting a Cardinals victory. It's not that I'm overly confident that this is an easy-win, but if I had any inkling a few weeks ago that the Eagles would not only be playing for a slot in the Super Bowl, but that it'd be against.... the Arizona Cardinals!... I'd be feeling pretty good. So while I don't want to take this game lightly, as I'm sure the team isn't, I know that it's one these guys are more than capable of winning, and winning soundly. Anything can happen of course, but I just can't quite figure out why so many people seem to be laying their money on the red-birds.
No matter. The Eagles have now played 1 playoff game as the favorite and 1 as the underdog, so they can handle it either way. It looks like Anquan Boldin will be playing on Sunday, though I suspect that he won't be close to 100%. Nevertheless, like Westbrook for the Eagles, if he's out on the field he'll command some attention. Without Boldin, Jim Johnson would certainly put double coverage on Larry Fitzgerald, especially after watching the gashing he put on the Carolina secondary last week. However, even with a banged-up Boldin out there, I think it's still worth putting an extra man on Fitzgerald. A WR with a bad hammy is just not going to be running his routes and dodging defenders as effectively, and the Birds' D-backs are very good from top to bottom, so I trust that Boldin will not be free to rip them for any huge plays. Interesting note: the last WR to score a TD against the Eagles was Fitzgerald back in week 13.
Here are some keys to watch for, that I think will be crucial in determining the outcome of this game:
These keys are no short order, but they're things that this team is clearly capable of doing. For the first time in the playoffs, I'm no longer really that concerned about the run-pass ratio- whatever works on Sunday is fine with me. Injured or not, I think B-West has a big day and I think Andy & Marty find success with the screen pass again. The offense needs to get rolling more quickly than the last 2 games - once they do they're unstoppable, but they'll need to put up more against the best offense they've seen in the postseason - so early and often please, boys.
All week we've been blitzed with stats and records and facts and numbers, reasons why teams in Philly's situation can and can't win: the Cardinals are the lowest seed to ever host a conference championship, the Eagles were 4-5-1 on the road this regular season, teams that knock off the reigning Super Bowl champs are 0-11 the following week... aside from wondering who really has time to figure this crap out, I just don't care about any of that. At the end of the day, the Eagles have just beaten 2 teams on the road and they can do it again, period.
Wish I could be in Glendale on Sunday, but I suspect that the Eagles will make me proud again. I'm trying to block the first 3 McNabb era NFC championships out of my head- McNabb has matured since then, and I believe he's become calmer, wiser, more introspective... no longer feeling the need to carry the fate of the entire team on his shoulders. Fine like wine, baby.
Posted on: January 13, 2009 12:57 pm
Wow. Seriously, wow... can we all just take a moment to appreciate what has unfolded for the Eagles in the last 3 weeks? The sheer unbelievableness of the path they took to make their 5th trip to the NFC championship game in the last 8 years is, well... unbelievable. While you'd think the luster of this game would be lost after having been there so many times, there is something special this time around. Where in previous years, a trip to the NFC championship was nothing short of expected, this season finished with an against-all-odds, Rocky Balboa flight into the playoffs, where I don't take a single game for granted.
Don't get me wrong... this team is good. They were good going into week 17, when they needed a handful of miracles and an act of god to make the playoffs, because you just knew that if they could somehow get into the postseason, they'd make some noise. It's saying a lot when a 6-seed is a favorite on the road in the conference championship game. This team is not the '07 Giants, because they've already earned respect despite their Wild Card status, and because they've already beaten 2 of the last 3 teams remaining in the playoffs, and because they've essentially been playing for their playoff lives since week 13... and of course, they're not the '07 Giants because the vast majority of those guys will be watching the remainder of this year's playoffs from their couches.
It's so interesting now that the Eagles will face the Arizona Cardinals as the last roadblock between them and the Super Bowl, in a rematch of that Thanksgiving night thrashing when the Birds pummeled the other birds 48-20. The very game that righted the sinking ship that was the then-5-5-1, nearly playoff-eliminated cesspool of a team that had just tied the Bengals and got beat up by the Ravens. A fitting rematch, no? Make no mistake about it though, the Eagles are not taking this squad lightly, as the Cards seem to have no found new life since they entered the postseason.
Nevertheless, I think Arizona will find that this team aint no Falcons and they aint no Panthers. Frankly, that brutality that took place in Carolina a few days ago showed me more of how bad the Panthers were rather than totally convinced me of how good the Cardinals are. The Cards' newly-improved D will have its toughest test of the playoffs against McNabb, Westbrook & co., and their hot passing game will have to find a way to get past Asante, Dawk, Sheldon & Mikell, no easy task. I think it'll be a tough, much closer game than last time, but I think that it's one that the Eagles can and should win. I'm not discounting how hot Arizona is right now, but we're even hotter. This defense is playing lights-out, and honestly, I think the Cards' D will be a bit of a breather for the Eagles O after facing the Vikes and G-men the last 2 weeks.
Word on the street is that Eagles fans are flying out to Glendale in droves, so hopefully we can look forward to hearing some E-A-G-L-E-S chants on TV this Sunday. I'm hardly counting this game as a cakewalk, but I'm optimistic that Philly has a very good shot at making it back to the Super Bowl. The playoff experience on this team is aplenty, and I think if they can make it to Tampa (same place the Phils started their World Series thumping... just sayin..) they can make something happen there.
Later in the week, I'll take a look back at what went right in the Giants game, and more importantly, look ahead to some factors to watch for in the upcoming game at Arizona. Fly Eagles fly!!
Posted on: January 5, 2009 3:05 pm
Well, it looks like I'm the only one posting lately, but then again the Eagles have merited a lot of conversation of late (Unlike, say, the Cowboys? Scratch that, they've merited plenty of attention, just not the kind that Taz is eager to post about). Yesterday in Minnesota, Andy Reid won his 7th straight opening playoff game as the Eagles knocked off the Vikings 26-14. To be honest though, the game wasn't nearly as stress-free as the score might suggest, as the Eagles clung to a miniscule 2 point lead until the last 6 minutes of the game. And the Birds failed to capitalize on a few of the bullet-points that I predicted they would need to do in order to win. Nevertheless, McNabb remained cool and in control throughout the game and made some key passes and 3rd down conversions to keep the Vikings defense on the field and control the time of possession. And in the playoffs, a win is a win is a win, so bring on the G-men!
If Philly plays the way they did in the first half yesterday, they lose to the Giants, in my opinion. It wasn't terrible, but the offense got off to a slow start, settling for field goals for their first 9 points. The surprising thing was that the offense, which has had a tendency to snowball early mistakes into later catastrophes, continued to persevere, and eventually began to pick apart a stingy Vikings D in the 2nd half. They now need to build on that strong second half if they want to take down the Giants at the Meadowlands next Sunday.
Here are a few things that will be key to continuing their playoff run, and how they did on each in yesterday's game:
This isn't rocket science, obviously, it's the same stuff we've been looking to see for the past month and a half. The Giants game will be no easy feat, and to be perfectly honest, if the Eagles show up and play a tough, hard-fought game (i.e. not the Skins performance) but ultimately lose by a field goal or so, I would consider this season pretty damn successful. Not that I'm OK with a loss, and I think they are more than capable of advancing to the NFC championship and beyond, but I still can't help but be a little in awe of the fact that they've gotten as far as they have, given the inconsistency and disappointing performances that were sprinkled throughout the season. Still, let's see if they can silence the rowdy Meadowlands crowd this weekend and terminate the postseason for the defending champs, and make a return to the NFC championship that used to be so familiar to us Eagles fans. E-A-G-L-E-S... EAGLES!!
Posted on: December 30, 2008 7:20 pm
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?
Posted on: December 16, 2008 3:05 am
Well, at least the Eagles did what they needed to do this week to keep their playoff hopes alive, even if the teams ahead of them didn't. I was hoping that the Falcons would lose quickly so that Philly could grasp control of its own destiny, but the Bucs seemed intent on shooting themselves in the foot repeatedly late in the game yesterday, and allowing the Falcons to eek one out in OT. No matter... now we just need either the Falcons OR the Bucs to lose one of their last 2, which seems doable, especially given Tampa's unimpressive play yesterday without Garcia. Atlanta has the Vikings and Tampa has the Chargers next week, so fingers crossed that they both suck. Update: Apparently Minnesota's Williams-es (no relation) have finally been suspended and thus will not play against the Falcons next week. Damn you league drug policy, stop f-ing with the Eagles' playoff aspirations!
Tonight's game was a pleasant surprise in that the Eagles took care of business early and kept my blood pressure rather low, despite what was nearly a horrid dose of deja vu from last week when Brandon McDonald returned a McNabb interception 98 yards to the Eagles' 7 as time ran out in the first half. I have to credit Westbrook's hustle in chasing McDonald down to slow him up before he got to the end zone, but seriously guys... stop giving me a damn coronary at the close of every 1st half! It's worth noting that the Eagles saw 3 different passers throw an interception in that game, but fortunately I'm not overly concerned with 2 of them. Overall though I was very impressed with McNabb- I know Cleveland's D is god-awful, but McNabb threw with unusual accuracy and spread the ball around, and he has been looking better each week since the Baltimore fiasco. Kevin Kolb on the other hand.... not so much. Future of the team, my ass.
A few other guys who merit a quick mention... thank you Asante Samuel for following your dumbass ball-flip a yard shy of the endzone with some quick hustle to pick it up and solidify your TD. Glad to see that you're marginally less stupid than DeSean Jackson circa week 2.
Stewart Bradley finally became the first Eagles LB this season to get a pick. Sure, Ken Dorsey essentially threw the ball right at him, but I'll take 'em where we can get 'em. The linebackers have been doing a good job elsewhere so the lack of interceptions isn't really an issue. Bradley is also super foxy, but that's neither here nor there.
And back to DeSean Jackson... please stop running backwards on your punt returns. I know this probably worked against mediocre Pac-10 teams, but it's obviously not doing anything for you in the NFL. You're a great player, but I have to imagine that sometime during your time at Berkeley you gained a brain cell or 2, so feel free to show that off anytime now.
Around the NFC East...
Is anyone buying this sudden T.O./Romo/Witten BFF bullshit? 'Cause I'm sure as heck not. T.O. is still a giant bag of douche, and I have no doubt that he's got one more tantrum left in his arsenal before the season is over. Probably after the Cowboys lose to the Ravens next week. In fairness though, I would like to see both the Eagles and Cowboys win next week so that they go into Dallas for a ginormous week 17 showdown. Then T.O. can throw a tantrum.
I recently heard some mild speculation that Eli Manning could take the 3rd QB spot in the NFC for this year's Pro Bowl. I realize this is still early and hopefully inaccurate, but I still nearly pissed myself at the thought. I know that when a team does well they tend to send a lot of players to Hawaii (e.g. the Eagles in 04-05), but I'm not sure that I'm prepared to live in a world in which Eli is both a Super Bowl MVP and a Pro Bowler. Especially when there are about 5 QB's in the NFC with better numbers.
And then there are the Redskins... remember not all that long ago when I said they were the new team to beat in the NFC? Yikes. This team is falling apart faster than TO after a trip to the pharmacist. OK, nothing short of the speed of light is that fast, but you get the idea... they've lost 5 of their last 6. Nevertheless, they could very well still play spoiler to the Eagles' playoff dreams next week, so that game is hardly in the bag.
Let's hope that the Eagles can make this the 3rd straight year that they finish the last 3 weeks of the regular season undefeated... and then get a smidge of help from the NFC South.
Posted on: December 16, 2008 3:03 am
Originally posted 12/8/08.
...the Eagles are 6-0 in weeks 15 through 17 the past 2 seasons.
Posted on: December 16, 2008 3:01 am
Originally posted 11/22/08
Despite my earlier optimism, the 2008 Eagles season is starting to look an awful lot like 2007. We seem to have the pieces, and yet we can't execute. I mean seriously, a tie against the Bengals??