Category Archives: NFL

Eagles fall to Bears 34-28

South Philly Review Intern Joseph Fontanazza gives his analysis of the Eagles first preseason game versus the Chicago Bears

The first live action since the Philadelphia Eagles post season loss to the New Orleans Saints showed an array of mental mistakes but also flashes of potential.

As the first team offense toke the field against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field, quarterback Nick Foles shook off a thick layer of rust. The third year player threw two interceptions during his three drive stint. His decision making lacked the precision he is known for while seeming apprehensive against the Bears’ pass rush. The mental debauchery began when Chicago safety Ryan Mundy ensnared a Foles floater after the defensive line hurried the Eagles’ field general.

Subsequent to a first drive three and out, the Chicago Bears’ offense looked sharp with every quarterback posting respectable numbers and flashing excellent passes. Jay Cutler led a 13 play, 69 yard stampede to the end zone as he made use of his assortment of skill position players. The drive ended with Cutler squeezing a seam route to Zach Miller beating the Eagles’ inside linebacker Demaco Ryans’ almost perfect man-coverage. Miller was a constant target for Bears’ quarterbacks as he also hauled in a touchdown from Jordan Palmer and ended the game with six catches for 68 yards. Jordan Palmer additionally performed well posting 104 passing yards, one touchdown and one interception.

During Nick Foles’ third and last drive, another errant pass found the eager hands of a Bears defensive backfield member. Philadelphia’s starting quarterback attempted to avoid a sack while being pressured by Trevor Scott but cost his team the possession as Bears’ cornerback Sherrick McManis stepped in front of the hurl. While being alarming, Nick Foles’ poor performance may steam more from the “vanilla” play calling that takes place in the preseason which hides the Eagles’ suspiring packages for the regular season.

An offensive turnaround for Philadelphia was manufactured through the help of newcomer quarterback Mark Sanchez and former Texas Christian running back Matt Tucker at the beginning of the second quarter. The offense appeared crisper on the backfield duo’s second drive as Sanchez found tight end Zach Ertz for two straight long gains and allowed Tucker to score one of his two touchdowns. Zach Ertz was the Eagles’ most formidable pass catcher throughout the game gaining 60 yards on four receptions.

Mark Sanchez showed a grasping of the Eagles offense early and accumulated 79 passing yards on 7-10 completions. Turner also added 40 yards rushing and an impressive 5.0 yards per carry to his touchdown. G.J. Kinne led all Eagles passers in yards through his late game ball movement ,but Matt Barkley was the only Philadelphia quarterback to reach the end zone. Barkley set up running back David Fluellen on a screen pass for a touchdown.

The Eagles’ offense could not keep up with former Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen nor could the defense contain him. Clausen threw for 150 passing yards and two touchdowns taking advantage of Eagles rookie cornerback Jaylen Watkins for a long score. The Bears’ backup identified the separation after receiver Chris Williams made a swim move against Watkins’ press attempt resulting in a 73 yard touchdown for Chicago.

Philadelphia’s rookies also had up and down showings. Highly-hyped wide receiver Jordan Matthews dropped several passes during his playing time. Jaylen Watkins was beaten badly on the aforementioned deep ball but also intercepted a pass with an extraordinary vertical leap. Although Josh Huff only had one catch for four yards, a 102 yard kick return put him in the forefront of the highlights which at the time give the Eagles a 21-14 lead that they would surrender eventually. Marcus Smith did not record a sack but did boast two tackles and displayed his athleticism by swatting down a screen pass.

While performing poorly as a unit on defense, some individuals all showed a flash of potential. Eagles’ safety Nate Allen recorded an interception while waiting over the top for a Jordan Palmer errand pass and helped gain an edge over Earl Wolff for the safety spot. Vinny Curry displayed explosiveness penetrating Chicago’s offensive line for a the Eagles only sack and Beau Allen made one of the most striking plays of the game as he pushed the Bears’ interior line into Jay Cutler to force an incompletion.

Although the Philadelphia Eagles could not generate a staple pass rush or cover Chicago’s receivers, the Eagles did contain the running game. They allowed only 92 yards on 32 attempts permitting an anemic 2.9 yards per carry. No cutback lanes or holes appeared for Bears’ backs as the front seven filled gaps adequately. Casey Matthews led the effort with four solo tackles and five overall before leaving the game with an injury.

Philadelphia will look to iron out several of the missteps from the Soldier Field contest and with the first preseason loss behind them, the Eagles will battle the New England Patriots for their second game of the preseason.

 

 

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The Vick debate

While at a quite dinner with my family Thursday night, my cell phone began to vibrate frantically. Over and over again. Normally admonishing those who are far too important to sit through one dinner without obsessively checking those awful BlackBerrys, I was curious enough I had to see what couldn’t wait till after dinner.

Alas, it was the signing of Michael Vick that sent my phone a flutter — and my jaw to the floor as I read texts and e-mails with attached articles about the huge faux pas.

I decided to keep to myself about the whole affair and let it settle. Maybe in a few days all would be clear and I would be given a glimpse into the Eagles forethought on this blatant misstep.

Here we are, three more confused days later. I’ve been asked several times my read and then given others opinion — with or without solicitation. It seems everyone in Philly has come to the same conclusion:

What on earth are they thinking!?

In a city that couldn’t handle the media circus around T.O. so much the incredible player was shipped out, why, I ask you, Andy, WHY, are we bringing in this media field day?

I have nothing against Vick and I’m more than happy to see him play in the NFL. Time served, move foward. Great. But since when were the Eagles a rehabilitation center?

Reid has gone before cameras and said such things as, “Michael is a quarterback” and “I’ll find something for him to do,” referring to when he’s ready to play, but, since we don’t need a quarterback, there will be no immediate position for him to fill.

This isn’t daycare. He doesn’t need to be cutting into our salary cap to draw pictures in the corner to keep him occupied. And why two years? Was that number pulled out of a hat and everyone was just like, “ya, that sounds legit.”

I have yet to hear anything bordering on a possible explanation of this complete enigma, besides P.C. television personalities playing up the “stable” nature of the Eagles as a “good fit” for his return.

This is the NFL, we play football here. Releasing beloved players like Dawkins was a hard pill for this city to swallow, but, in the end, people respected the Eagles as a professional team with winning as their number one priority.

Time to rethink that.

Too little too late

All it took was a win over the Browns to skyrocket the Eagles back to the top of playoff Wild Card talk. The Browns!?! The Eagles have won two games. Two! They are currently in a fight with at least four other teams for the wild card, three of which they trail by a half game (thanks to that pesky tie). Too little too late.

It’s sportswriters and casters fate to play up the inspired end-of-the-season push, but personally I find the talk nauseating. Those calling for Reid and McNabb to be run out of town mere weeks ago are all of a sudden asking questions like “Donovan, how does it feel to have the fans be so fickle?” The fans? Err, try the media. I’d say my dislike of McNabb (which dates back much farther than this beleaguered season) is the exception. The fans were not calling to run him out of town — it was all the same people who are now patting him on the back and joking with him after MNF.

Same rule as always: The QB gets too much flack when they fall and too much credit when they bounce. I won’t rehash what’s been said about McNabb, but perhaps two games isn’t quite enough for an Eagle’s resurrection. Why on earth is everyone so happy to be third in the Wild Card race all of a sudden? Do you realize, Philadelphia, how pathetic that is? Wait, Philly, I know you do. Now, ESPN, do you?

Vote a Bird to the Pro Bowl

If you´re so inclined, you can vote for your favorite Eagle and put him in the Pro Bowl.

http://www.nfl.com/probowl/ballot

Black friday

In the wake of the McNabb show, I don’t want to be a downer. McNabb threw for 260 yards against the Cardinals, leading the Birds to 437 total offensive yards and 32 first downs in their 48-20 victory. But, so what?

McNabb was just being McNabb — and that means showing everyone the quarterback he could be, but rarely is. No one ever questioned whether McNabb has skill. His accomplishments in the NFL speak for themselves. But none of this changes the back side of that rap sheet.

The NFL is and has always been about consistency. The ability to show up every day, every game, every play. McNabb cannot do that and — I’m going to go out and say it — doesn’t have the strength of character to be a franchise quarterback.

I’ll take the victory, but it’s with clenched teeth. I wish he had just made a complete mockery of himself, Reid and the team so the Eagles could wash their hands of this and move forward. I hope at the end of the season or perhaps down the road I’m eating my words. Sports writers are a fickle lot. Unfortunately, I don’t think I will.

McNabb will do his best to eke by. Perhaps the city at this point would even be elated if the Eagles finagled their way into the playoffs. Have we lowered the bar so far since 2004?

Matt Mosley, writing for ESPN, said Reid turned from “goat to prophet” after McNabb’s stellar night. Please! One game and all of a sudden the Eagles are Super Bowl bound? I told you sports writers are fickle.

I always feel bad trashing someone I think is talented and even, at times, good at their job (we’re talking McNabb here, not Reid) but I have to remind myself it comes with the territory. I tip my hat to McNabb’s ability to shake off the storm and go out and throw the ball with confidence — to keep it about the game, not the circus. Enough, however, with the countless references in the media to how hard it is to play in Philadelphia, to Allen Iverson and to McNabb getting booed when he was drafted (he’s had a decade to get over that one).

And let’s leave Santa Claus out of this.

Round up

I’m not going the I’m-thankful-for route for this post. In fact, since I abhor turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce, Thanksgiving has never been about anything except football and family for me. I’m not with my family this year and the football isn’t looking great either — at least for Eagles fans. We’ll leave that one up to the fates and just see what side of the bed (or bench) McNabb gets up tomorrow.

Around the city: Sixers dropped a game to the magic, 96-94, after a brilliant surge in the second half closed the once 10-point deficit. They now have a losing record (7-8).

Moyer’s contract extension has yet to be signed, prompting the organization to contact the Dodgers’ Derek Lowe and the Bluejays’ A.J. Burnett, incase the veteran pitcher and his loyal team can’t come to terms. At least their covering their bases, but let’s not get crazy Amaro.

Utley is fine, but that one will be on the backburner till spring. Feliz (who had lower back surgery) also is seemingly A-OK.

There doesn’t seem to be much to be thankful for in the way of pro sports in the City of Brotherly love at this very moment. When does the World Series flag go up in Citizens Bank?

T-day

Last minute preparations are all abuzz and eating has already been a little light in preparation for tomorrow’s big feast. For me, however, the only feasting will likely be the NFC West-leading Arizona Cardinals having their pick of the complete mess that is the current Eagles franchise.

After Sunday’s pathetic display, this season has really just been adding insult to injury week after week. Kolb blew it wide open in the second, after entering down just 3 points. I would have also, and, likely, so would have, let’s say, Brett Favre. He was completely unprepared to play with that team. At this juncture, throwing Kolb to the wolves versus the Ravens was probably an even worse decision made by Reid than sticking with the downward-spiraling McNabb.

So now what? Reid’s gone back to McNabb to start against the Cardinals tomorrow night. Understandable, Kolb was no good and he’d only have four days to prepare for this game. However, it’s only understandable cause Reid so violently botched things last weekend.

Reid should have kept McNabb in to finish what he started and then just put the lid on it. If he was going to give Kolb a chance, why couldn’t it be a fresh one — fresh quarters and perhaps a few hours (not seconds) of preparation.

Philadelphia now has no faith in McNabb and less hope in Kolb (though, as above, that’s unfair). Even if McNabb romped the Cardinals, that ship has sailed. It’s just too bad Reid was so short-sighted and dim-witted to recognize how to handle it.

I understand for trade reasons and the PR nightmare it would create the problems with benching McNabb for the remainder of 2009. Perhaps those should have been mentioned to Reid or evaluated prior to Sunday. With what the Eagles have on their hands for the time being, factoring in these past two horrific weeks, I’ve read a few internet posts claiming if Reid started Kolb tomorrow people would view it as an exhibition and tune out. I adamantly, whole-heartedly and loudly disagree.

Philadelphia fans are smarter than judging this kid on the two quarters he put in on Sunday (mind you, he finished with a better QB rating than McNabb all the same). If Reid were to finally bury this McNabb nonsense and take a chance — a full chance — on Kolb, there may be a twinkle of hope and Philadelphia would like to see how it goes.

Perhaps Reid is smart enough to keep him out of primetime and give him the extra days to prepare to go in the following week versus the Giants. Talk about trial by fire.

I just hope nothing gets thrown at Donovan tomorrow. Or at least nothing that would really hurt.