Monday, January 11, 2010

I Should Have Gone to the Flyers Game

I should have just stuck to my original plans. If there's one thing I should have learned by now is that the Eagles will let you down every time. Shame on me for continuing to hold out hope, even when time and time again, this team has shown it simply doesn't quite have what it takes.

Instead of watching an exact repeat of last week's game, I should have gone about my day as if the Eagles didn't even exist. Because for all intents and purposes, they didn't on Saturday night. So instead of letting them ruin my weekend, I should have just gone to the Flyers game after the Nova game as originally planned. But of course I didn't, and instead watched another travesty of a game.

For the second straight week, no one showed up. No one played hard. The game began with Macho Victor Harris diving at people's ankles and missing horribly and ended with another embarrassing loss -- this time 34-14 -- to a far superior Dallas Cowboys team. From start to finish, it was all Cowboys again. There was a brief moment when the Eagles had a pulse, as the only highlight of the game came on Michael Vick's 76-yard touchdown pass to Jeremy Maclin that momentarily tied the game.

And when Harris got hurt, forcing the Eagles to finally take him out, I just knew Sean Jones was about to make a play. And he did, picking off a Tony Romo pass, on one of Romo's patented back up and throw off his back foot with pressure in his face. Only it was the interception that wasn't, as the ball ever-so-gently touched the ground, and then and there the game was over. The Cowboys ran away from it, doing everything they did the week before. And the Eagles looked like shit. Every last one of them. Jason Peters proved once and for all that he doesn't belong anywhere near the Pro Bowl. He was routinely raped by DeMarcus Ware and committed a slew of awful penalties again. But he was hardly the only offensive lineman to play bad. They all did. Dallas owned the Eagles' front.

The running game was nonexistent again. DeSean Jackson was a nonfactor again. Only Jeremy Maclin had a respectable day, catching 7 balls for 146 yards, including the 76-yard touchdown. And Donovan played like a girl again. He was off with his passes, held on to the ball entirely too long and looked more like a rookie than an 11-year veteran. It was embarrassing performance all across the board, as the defense got manhandled again. You can't name a single Eagles defender who played well, because they didn't exist.

It's hard to get too angry at the game because frankly, the Eagles lost to a far better team. The Cowboys had defeated the Eagles in both meetings this season, winning a close one in Philadelphia and then shutting them out in Dallas. It was pretty clear that the Cowboys were plain better. But it was enraging seeing the Eagles pretty much roll over and die two weeks in a row, in two huge games, against a division rival. Andy Reid teams have notoriously been well-prepared teams. This Eagles squad was not even close to prepared the last two weeks. The Cowboys were.

Frankly, it's become a tiresome trend, having the Eagles always come up so small in the big moments. Yes, the Andy Reid-Donovan McNabb duo has won a lot of games and a lot of playoffs games in their time together, but they never seem to be quite good enough. And this was just another chapter to that story. I am one of the biggest Donovan backers there are. I will be upset, and a little angry, if McNabb isn't back next season. This team always seems to have a chance to win the NFC with him under center. But there's no denying the haters. McNabb doesn't win the big one. He never seems to have his best in the final game. Last year, I thought he did play pretty well against Arizona, but that was the only time he did. And even then, it wasn't his best. I want McNabb back. I really do. But at this point, after seeing he and Reid and the Eagles fail to take that final step over and over and over again, I would completely understand that maybe it's time. Enough is enough already. Let's see what Kevin Kolb has and go from there. Personally, I don't think he's the answer. Remember, Bobby Hoying played great his first two games as an Eagle too. But man oh man, is this whole coming up small when it matters most thing getting old.

If it is his last game as an Eagle, it's a shame he had to go out this way. No matter how disappointing the endings ultimately have been, it's been a pleasure watching Donovan McNabb work. He gave this organization a true franchise quarterback and led it to its best run ever. He broke ever team passing record, won a ton of games and helped rejuvenate a completely awful franchise along with Reid.

Hopefully when it's all said and done, whether this was it for you in Philadelphia or you still have time left, people will eventually remember you fondly the way they do Ron Jaworski and Randall Cunningham. Because with all due respect to Jaws and Randall, you were the far superior player. Jaws didn't have nearly as much playoff success, and he too got to one Super Bowl and ultimately lost. And Randall, well, he never even won a single playoff game as starter. Yet people in this city seem to glorify those two while simultaneously bash McNabb, who's better than both. Though to be fair, he hasn't been good enough. Not in the big one. And he wasn't last week. And he wasn't on Saturday. So if this is it, I wish him best and thank him for all he's done for this organization. Because without Donovan McNabb, there sure as hell isn't any Lincoln Financial Field, and there sure as hell aren't as many reasons to have been watching the Eagles the past decade.

Having said that, here are the people I wouldn't be the least bit upset to see go: Victor Harris, all of the linebackers, Reggie Brown, Sean McDermott. Victor Harris sucks. He sucks at coverage. He sucks at tackling. He sucks at returning. He sucks at football. And I'm guessing he sucks at life. He needs to go away. Forever. Will Witherspoon can play a little bit. And with Stewart Bradley back, the linebackers should be much better next season, assuming Bradley's healthy. But the rest of them can go suck a nut. Moises Foku is awful. Chris Gocong is not a linebacker. He's a pass rusher. If the Eagles keep him around, it should be for attacking the quarterback and nothing else. Joe Mays is a special teamer. So is Tracy White. Akeem Jordan is serviceable at outside linebacker at best. That position needs an upgrade. The Eagles have DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin and Jason Avant at receiver. They also have Brent Celek, LeSean McCoy, Leonard Weaver and the artist formerly known as Brian Westbrook. Reggie Brown does not belong anywhere near those men. He can only bring them down. Reggie Brown needs to take the bus out of town.

And Sean McDermott, I know Jim Johnson, and you sure are no Jim Johnson. McDermott did an absolutely awful job this season. His blitzes didn't work. His rotations were wild and sporadic. He never settled on a set of linebackers or a definitive free safety. And his defensive line didn't generate enough pressure on its own. In certain games, teams would find one play that would work, stick with it, and the Eagles never adjusted. Ever. Take the second game with Dallas and the delayed handoff as an example. Or the wide receiver screen on Sunday. The Cowboys kept running those two plays, and the Eagles kept failing to stop them. Sean McDermott couldn't adjust. Not to mention the fact that this Eagles team was the worst tackling defense I've ever seen. Just awful. No one could bring a player down. It was a joke. This was the softest defense the Eagles have had under Andy Reid. Maybe we should cut McDermott some slack given it was his first as a coordinator, but the alarming thing is he didn't get better as the season wore on. If anything, he got worse. That shouldn't happen. To say I was unimpressed would be an understatement.

Luckily, Saturday wasn't a complete loss. Silver fox and I went to the Nova-Marquette game, and Nova came away with a 78-76 victory. It was nice to see someone hold up their end of the bargain. However, it wasn't all rosey in the Pavilion either.

Nova built up an easy 31-19 halftime lead, controlling the game in the first half. Corey Fisher was hot early, and the Nova defense was hounding. Especially the full-court pressure. Nova plays in that lax full-court press simply to take time off the shot clock to teams don't have as much time to run their offense. Except it was doing more in the first half against Marquette. The Golden Eagles were struggling to get the ball over midcourt, getting called once for a 10-second violation and routinely hurrying themselves and turning the ball over or rushing shots. The result was 19 points at half. Nova was in control and built the lead to over 20 early in the second.

But then Nova stopped pressing and stopped playing smart. As a result, Marquette began to get the shots they want, especially from three, draining open three-pointer after open three-pointer. Lazar Hayward, who was in foul trouble, started to just hang out at the three-point line and drain three after three, cutting into Nova's lead. Suddenly, a 20-plus point game became a 2-point nail-biter. Hayward was on fire, as Taylor King kept leaving him open, and the best player on Marquette scored a game-high 20 points, nailing four threes. Taking a cue from Hayward, Darius Johnson-Odom began to put some pressure on the Nova defense by driving the lane and getting to line 10 times, hitting all 10 free throws. He finished with 16.

In the tight contest, it was Scottie Reynolds and Reggie Redding, the seniors, who took over. Reynolds hit some major clutch shots, taking matters into his own hands, and Redding used his brains to make all the right plays, whether it be a gorgeous pass, strong defense, taking it himself or slowing things down. If Nova was gonna lose, it was going to lose with the ball in the seniors' hands.

Luckily, that didn't happen, despite the fact Nova was getting called for a foul nearly every time they were on defense at the end of the game. Old man Tim Higgins was whistling Nova for everything from not touching someone to grabbing a rebound. The Villanova faithful were really having enough of it, screaming at Higgins things like, "TIME TO RETIRE, TIM!" "NICE CALL AGAIN, OLD MAN!" "WAY TO GO, HIGGINS!" They had had enough. And to be perfectly honest with you, Higgins was getting really whistle happy on some questionable calls, and only doing so when Nova was on defense. It was really annoying, especially given how great and clean the game was officiated in the first half. There were barely any whistles in the first 20 minutes.

No matter, in the end, Nova was able to outlast Marquette thanks to some big plays by Reynolds and Redding. The Wildcats continued to showed their balance, with five players in double digits and nine scoring in all. Corey Stokes led the way with 16 points, including four big three-pointers, and the Wildcats moved up to No. 4 with losses by Duke and Purdue.

The Sixers also won by defeating the Pistons, and the Flyers beat the Lightning 4-1 behind two goals by Blair Betts in a game I should have been at. Overall, sounded like a good Saturday. Only it wasn't, because the Eagles lost the biggest game of the weekend. Because they suck. And I hate them. They ruined my weekend again.

BallHype: hype it up!


  1. I went to the Flyers game and you dropped the ball.

  2. We were better, but I'm still shocked. As said earlier, it was unreal to be at Jerry's World, and watch the Eagles destruct like this. You know better than I do, since you're in the loop. Looks like change is more than inevitable.