Tuesday, November 15, 2005
eagles make me sad
I was all set to write about my weekend in Boston today, but I think I need to take some time to talk about the Eagles' devastating loss to the Cowboys last night. I know many of you don't like when I write about sports, but since I'm no longer going to therapy, I need to talk this out someway, and here we are. Besides, this post is for the few dozen or so people in Philly who read this, so if you're not interested, come back tomorrow. I will be in much better mood then (I hope).
First, I'd like to thank my dad for calling me with about four minutes left in the fourth quarter when the Eagles were up 20-7 to say, "Not bad, right?" I don't know what kind of mental lapse would allow a man to call another man to congratulate him on a victory that HADN'T BEEN SEALED, but I can only surmise that since my dad turned 50 this year he is beginning to lose his [expletive deleted] mind. And I hinted as much when he called, asking, "Are you on drugs right now?" But still, even I admit that it seemed over. The Eagles would go to 5-4, one game behind the division leading Giants, who they would play in a huge game next week. Onward and upward.
But boy, it sure wasn't over. After my dad called, the Cowboys scored 14 points in 72 seconds to win the game 21-20, effectively ending the Eagles' season, as they now sit at 4-5 in the (statistically) the second toughest division in football. And now I have pretty much nothing to look forward to (save for Christmas, which stinks ever since my sister started dating that Muslim guy - what a holiday party pooper).
I don't think the Eagles suddenly collapsed entirely because of my dad's preemptory congratulatory call, but it certainly had something to do with it. When I brought this up to a female coworker this morning, she snorted in disgust and said, "Yeah, like your dad calling you affected the outcome of the game." My response? Absolutely (bitch). I, like a lot of guys, am extremely superstitious when it comes to sporting events. Last year during the Eagles' playoff run, I wore the same boxers for every game. Last year during the regular season, the Eagles started 7-0 and I never shaved on a gameday to keep that streak alive. And when on Sunday, November 7 of last year, the Eagles lost to the Steelers to fall to 7-1, I shaved off all my body hair, collected it into a pile, masturbated to a picture of Terrell Owens onto the hair, then lit the hair/semen pile on fire - all in order to cleanse the team of bad energy. They then won six in a row.
But last year seems like a very, very long time ago. Before we focus on the negatives, let's talk about the positives from last night's game. One, the ground game looked pretty good. The 181 yards gained on the ground (5.0 yards per carry) was the best performance of the season - by far. Something positive for this post-T.O. team. Two, the Eagles were able to stifle the Cowboys running game, giving up only 58 yards on 24 carries (2.4 yards per rush). Nice. Three, Donovan McNabb's beard looked pretty well-groomed. So that's always good.
Now, some of the negatives about the game. In no particular order:
The season is over
No one can tackle anymore
The three all-pros in our secondary have been replaced by much slower and less talented players
The team (offensively) displayed no killer instinct, getting lazy with a lead
Terrell Owens is vindicated, as he certainly would have made the catch that Reggie Brown dropped
Opposing offenses are on to the whole "we're going to blitz a lot" thing
The playcalling was atrocious
The clock management was atrocious
The season is over
I hate myself
Something smells like shit in my office, and I'm pretty sure it's me
Boston College Offensive Coordinator Dana Bible says that there are six GAP's per game. "GAP" stands for "Game Altering Play". These six plays essentially determine who wins the game. I think this is an interesting lens through which to view and analyze football games, which leads me to one conclusion: Dana Bible did not think this up himself. He either stole it from someone else or envisioned this in a moment of psychosis. Because he ain't that smart.
So since Dana stole the "Six GAP's" analysis from someone, I've stolen it back (note: I'm saying this in an Irish accent with funny sunglasses on). I suppose I could list the six GAP's from the Eagles-Cowboys game if I really tried, but I don't want to rely too much on memory (because I know if I messed up I'd get some, um, angry emails from Iggles fans) and don't have a copy of the game handy. So instead I'll focus on three.
1) 9:57 4th Quarter: David Akers kicks a 20 yard field goal to give the Eagles a 20-7 lead.
This is not GAP per se because it's not a single play that changed the game. It's the fact that the Eagles could not get a touchdown on three plays from the Dallas 9. If they score there, it's now 24-7, but more importantly, it's a three possession game. Instead, Akers comes in for the chip shot to make it 20-7.
This is something that I have long bemoaned about the Eagles this season and the Eagles from 2000-2003: no killer instinct. Last year, the Eagles beat every NFC opponent by at least ten points (in meaningful games). They displayed a "ram it right down their fucking throats" mentality that had been lacking in years past. And it was awesome. This year, there are too lazy offensively. They're not taking shots downfield, they're not building leads (because they haven't had many), and they're not being inventive offensively. Last night, they were: they ran a lot, and it worked. But when they built that lead, they didn't push harder.
And who's fault is that? The coach. Who else is to blame? The team leader (McNabb). You'd think a team, playing at home on a Monday night against a division rival in a must-win game after the drama that was TO would have shown a little more anger and aggression. Guess not.
2) 3:17 4th Quarter: Eagles bring 8 men to the line to blitz; Drew Bledsoe connects with Terry Glenn for a 20 yard touchdown pass, making the score 20-14.
Simply put Mr. Johnson: WHY THE FUCK ARE YOU BLITZING HERE??? You know that Dallas is in a hurry to score points, so they're going to take that shot for the end zone on first down. You know this. If I knew this, you had to know this. And if you think I'm just using hindsight, you can ask my dad, who heard me scream "Why are they fucking blitzing???" as soon as that ball was snapped. The result? Your secondary is left in man coverage and gets beat for a quick TD.
A lot of sports analysts have missed this, but I think this is the play that changed the game. You might be saying "duh" to this, but I mean that in that this play was a direct result of a poor playcall. You don't blitz a team on first down on the outskirts of the red zone when they're two scores down with 3 and change left. Did you think they were going to run (remember, 2.4 yards per carry, not to mention clock management issues)? Did you not see the three receiver set? I don't get it. Please help me. Because I'm dying.
3) 2:53 4th Quarter: Roy Williams returns a Donovan McNabb interception for a touchdown, making the score 21-20.
I think when TO said he'd rather have Brett Favre under center than Donovan McNabb, he put a jinx on old #5.
You see, Brett Favre, for as good as he is, has an uncanny ability to make at least one mind-boggling bad play/mistake per game (sometimes more). This is an oft-touted theory among NFL fans and analysts, simply because it's universally true. You'll be watching a Packers game, Favre will be moving the ball, and then he'll drop back, look off the safety on the right, and then throw the ball directly to that safety. You will put down the wing you're eating and say, "Are you fucking kidding me? I'm not even a Packers fan, but that totally sucks."
Well, McNabb is starting to show signs of Favre-ism. Look no farther than the interception by Roy Williams, a pass that Bill Parcell's partially rigor mortis-ed brother could have picked off. I have been watching football for many years and I know what a broken route looks like. I know that a lot of receiver/quarterback missed communications lead to interceptions. And in this case, that certainly was a miscommunication. But that interception - good lord. That was like a broken route and missed communication between two twelve year-old retards in the consolation game at the Special Olympics. The nearest receiver was a good seven yards away (please note I say "nearest receiver" because I'm not sure one can use the term "intended receiver" with a pass so errant). The good news is that McNabb did hit someone in the numbers, but the dude just happened to not be an Eagle. Crap. Oh well - I guess he'll just keep cashing those checks from the Campbell's Soup Company!
[As an aside, if I ever become an NFL player (don't laugh, it's possible), I will insist on writing my own lines in commercials. Can we take a moment to reflect on Brian Westbrook's comedy gem in the Chunky Chicken Fajita Soup commercial? In case you missed it, Westbrook's line: "Fajita can't be beat-a!" Now, of course, I am a professional comedy writer, but "Fajita can't be beat-a"? My only hope is that when he showed up on set for that shoot and got his lines he protested at least a little bit. Otherwise, I might have to stop returning his calls. "Fajita can't be beat-a!" Sheesh. Who are the ad wizards that came up with that one?]
I think I have to stop writing soon because I can feel my blood pressure rising and my heart getting weaker. But suffice to say, this year's team is not very good. The season, barring a miracle, is over. In the NFC, Seattle and Carolina are both 7-2 with seven games to go. Dallas, New York, Chicago, Atlanta, and Tampa Bay are all 6-3. The Eagles are 4-5. I'm not a math person, but those numbers don't look good. Not only that, but the Eagles have essentially already lost all tiebreakers, with a record of 0-3 in the division and 1-4 in the conference (last year, the Eagles were 6-0 in the division and 11-1 in the conference - what a difference a year makes). The Eagles need to go 6-1 the rest of the way - at least - to make the playoffs. And I wouldn't bet on that.
News is that McNabb will most likely not play this weekend at the Giants, so that's all for me. I'm throwing in the towel. I will of course continue to root for the team, scream at the television, and have the first part of my week ruined with each loss, but I will do so realizing that once again, my heart is being broken. I'm searching for some Sports Guy-esque analogy about how the Eagles are a woman or an ex-girlfriend or something, but there is none. The worst part is is that I know that the window has closed. For four years, we had a legitimate shot at a Super Bowl championship. Now, at 4-5, staring down a future with steadily-growing-shakier McNabb, a running back who can't run (but is locked up for five years), a group of receivers whose talent is on par with that of a decent DI team, and a defense that has entirely lost its mojo, well, I just don't know what to do with myself. I don't know how you can be a Philly sports fan and believe in god. But we still have faith. And each loss only means that when we do finally get that championship, it will be even sweeter (I want to tell you about how when I listen to "We Are The Champions" I automatically well up, but I don't want that kind of information on the internet about me).
Until then, keep the hope alive, Philly fans. One day we will reach the promised land. I promise.
(Just not this season.)