As Broad & Pattison Turns Week #4: Eagles at Niners

Watching last Sunday’s Eagles-Redskins game was nostalgic if only for the fact that it seemed like the days of Buddy Ryan had returned.

Boisterous Buddy on one sideline with Joe Gibbs on another.  Randall Cunningham at quarterback for the Eagles with Mark Rypien at the helm for the ‘Skins.  A close, down to the wire game with two teams who’s disdain for each other was not hidden.  And a fight near the end just to add to all the drama.

While there was no Andre Waters playing safety for the Eagles, all of the injuries made this game eerily similar to the famous Monday night “bodybag” game in which the Eagles knocked out three Washington quarterbacks, until finally, ‘Skins running back Brian Mitchell came in as the emergency 4th string quarterback and led Washington to a touchdown in garbage time.

And while no one would ever confuse Chip Kelly’s demeanor with Buddy’s, the one commonality they share is that they both have formed a close knit unit on one side of the ball (Buddy’s on defense, Chip’s on offense).  Wonder what would happen if Chip’s offense went against Buddy’s defense?   There’s an idea that Madden 2020 could steal.  Feel free to send me royalties though…

Adding intrigue to a classic game was the cheapshot that Nick Foles received from Redskins defensive end Chris Baker that wouldn’t have been considered a cheapshot back in the day, but is in today’s “save the quarterback” NFL.  The irony is that former Eagles defensive lineman Hugh Douglas did the same exact thing to Bears quarterback Jim Miller in a 2001 divisional playoff game in Chicago, resulting in a road playoff win for the Birds and their first NFC championship appearance in 21 years.

With the victory, the Birds are 3-0 on the young season, and while the other three Broad & Pattison inhabitants have left us short on interest and viewing pleasure, it looks like the 2014 edition of the Eagles will keep us glued to our televisions into January.   Let’s keep our fingers crossed…

Another strange twist after yet another Eagles comeback win was cornerback Cary Williams complaining that the Eagles tiring practices have been resulting in weary Eagles players during the tail end of games, which seems strange when the team seems to look stronger than their opponent in the 4th quarter ever since Chip brought his psedu/new age training techniques to the City of Brotherly Love.

Cary Williams is an intriguing figure in that he can “talk the talk” like Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman.  The bad news for the Eagles is that more often, he plays cornerback like fitness guru Richard Simmons – a lot of bouncing around but very little contact, which worked well for DeSean Jackson on Sunday as he flew past Cary for a 81-yard touchdown to tie the game and then performed his own “gyrations” in the endzone.

Williams once again apologized for his remarks (just as he did for calling the Patriots cheaters in the preseason) but one suspects he may be apologizing for another team come 2015.  But right now, he’s unfortunately the best thing we got folks.

This week, the Eagles jet off to the Bay Area to face the San Francisco 49ers in what should be dubbed the “Amoroso vs. Sourdough bowl”, even though it’s played in a stadium named after jeans (don’t ask).

The last two consecutive weeks, I picked the Birds to lose and they won both times (don’t be hatin’).  And the Niners, three games in, are on the verge of season extinction and a loss would have the locals crying in their Sierra Nevada Pale Ale or their Napa wines (based on your adult beverage preference).

The Eagles also come into this game dangerously thin on the offensive line, which doesn’t bode well for LeSean McCoy’s rushing stats or his ego.

But even though all signs point to a Niners victory, there is something uncanny about this Eagles team….something different. It’s as if Chip has them moving at another level, with no one able to stop them.

The Niners play to stop the run and the Birds take advantage through the air, winning 38-30 in a competitive game till the end.  To celebrate afterwards, Chip treats them to an “In-N-Out” burger at Fisherman’s Wharf before the charter flight home.

Amit’s Marquee Matchups of the Week (all games in EST and on Sunday unless stated otherwise):

Bills at Texans 1:00 PM CBS

Panthers at Ravens 1:00 PM CBS

Eagles at Niners 4:25 PM FOX

Saints at Cowboys 8:30 PM NBC

Patriots at Chiefs 8:30 PM ESPN

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As Broad & Pattison Turns Week #3: Eagles vs. Redskins

If old habits are hard to break, perhaps Eagles fans would be better off skipping the 1st half of their games altogether.

Through the first two weeks of the season, the Birds have scored a whopping six points combined in the 1st half, but have still managed to win both games while compiling, statistically, the #1 offense in the league.  One wonders what would happen if they actually played the whole four quarters for a change.

Things looked bleak for a while last week until Darren Sproles, who is undersized by NFL standards, performed his weekly “Popeye” act, turning into a 2nd half superhuman and propelling the Birds to victory.  One can only assume that he must have downed a can of spinach on the sidelines with the sailor man’s theme song playing in the background.

With the victory, the Birds also became the 1st team in NFL history to start the season 2-0 after being down by 14 points or more in the 2nd half of each game, a feat that speaks to their resiliency, their energy, and their ability to make adjustments on the fly.

On the negative side, the Eagles inability to soar in the 1st half is causing sales of Mylanta to soar in the Delaware Valley, as the number of fans suffering from indigestion, heartburn, and acid reflux has increased considerably since Labor Day weekend.  Winning in this fashion gives a team a certain amount of confidence that they are never out of it, but can also result in a belief that the end result will always be a “W”, a thought process that is bound to come back to haunt the Birds at some point.

The Eagles were also lucky that against a good team and in a hostile atmosphere in Indianapolis, they had some calls go their way, most notably a non-call against them on a Malcolm Jenkins interception and a questionable horse collar call for pulling down LeSean McCoy.  These “lucky breaks” have a tendency to even out under the guise of the football gods sitting high above on an NFL shaped cloud somewhere, and the Birds will undoubtedly lose a game down the road due to some questionable calls going against them.   Let’s just hope that the bad karma doesn’t occur during a playoff game.

The humor of those two back-to-back calls was that while they actually got the Colts fans in arms enough to boo for an extended period of time, they did not need to result in the “covering of the ears” of any young children in attendance at the game.  One would probably not want to fathom what would have been shouted at the referees had those two calls gone against the home team here at the Linc.

This week, the Birds face the Redskins, who trashed the Jaguars last week after starting quarterback Robert Griffin III (RG3) went down with what could possibly be a season ending ankle injury.  Enter Kirk Cousins, who did nothing more than operate the offense as if he had been the starter for the last three years.

Former Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson also managed to injure his shoulder last week and will be a game time decision as to whether he will play against his former team.

The Birds won a game on the road last week that they probably should not have, and are coming off of a short week with perhaps a little bit of overconfidence.  It also doesn’t help the Birds cause that Kirk Cousins will be at the helm instead of Robert Griffin III.  While  RG3 may be DeSean’s “bro”, Kirk may turn out to be the capital’s favorite “cousin”, and give the Redskins a much better chance to win in the long run.

Sorry peeps, but I think the Eagles fall short this week, 31-27.

Amit’s Marquee Matchups of the Week (all games in EST and on Sunday unless stated otherwise):

Chargers at Bills 1:00 PM CBS

49ers at Cardinals 4:05 PM FOX

Broncos at Seahawks 4:25 PM CBS

As Broad & Pattison Turns Week #2: Eagles at Colts

For a while, it looked like Broad & Pattison would turn upside down.

For the first thirty minutes of the Eagles season opener, in a season of high expectations, the Birds looked flat, confused, and disoriented, and the Jaguars capitalized, turning three turnovers into a 17-0 halftime lead.

Things looked so bleak that even the poor dogs who were performing tricks as the halftime entertainment were subject to the fans ire whenever they failed to catch a frisbee in their mouth, being greeted by the signature “BOOOOOOO…” that we are so famous for.

But one play in football can quickly change a team’s fortunes.  Early in the 3rd quarter, with the Eagles failing on a 3rd and short opportunity and facing a 4th & 1, Chip Kelly had already instructed his team to go for it even before the fans started pleading the team to do so.

It was now Jacksonville who looked lost and confused, and without the proper defensive alignment, it seemed as if the seas had parted as newly acquired running back Darren Sproles took the handoff and galloped into the end zone without much resistance, cutting the Jaguars lead to 17-7 and kickstarting the Eagles 34 unanswered points en route to a 34-17 victory.

Another bright spot during the afternoon was that rookie kicker Cody Parkey kicked another 50+ yard field goal, which must have given coach Chip Kelly some comfort that he made the right decision in cutting Alex Henery.  It probably also means that Cody can extend what is most likely a “month-to-month” apartment lease for another month.

What to make of the Birds after one game?  If an Eagles fan had managed to see the final score without viewing the game, he/she would of thought it was along the lines of what was expected.  But it was how the Eagles got to the final result that is a little unnerving.

Nick Foles made too many mistakes in the 1st half, often dancing around the pocket as if he was taking salsa lessons for the first time and realized that he had two left feet (Good ole Nick doesn’t look like the type who will be seen competing on “Dancing with the Stars” anytime soon, but that’s perfectly fine with me).  And while Foles did play much better in the 2nd half, many of his passes seemed to consist of checkdowns to the running back, with the wide receivers being almost nonexistent.

Perhaps that’s what the defense was giving him…or perhaps the loss of DeSean Jackson was more important than we thought.  Either way, when the Birds face the Colts this Monday night, getting off to a start like they had against Jacksonville would certainly doom them for the remainder of the game.

The Colts are not in rebuilding mode like Jacksonville is, and will be playing with a sense of urgency as a loss Monday night would make them 0-2 on the young season. The Eagles would do well to get off to a good start to have any chance of winning the game, but will be playing with two fill-ins on the offensive line.  The Colts will be without their star defensive linebacker Robert Mathis, which should help the Birds passing game.

The Eagles will keep this game close and have a chance in the end, but I think the Birds fall short, 35-31.  It’s all good though…this season is still on track for good things.  Barring any salsa moves by Nick Foles…

The Last Word:

Knocking another stadium off of the bucket list as I head to Indy for the game on “Mondayyyyy Night Football” (as Al Michaels used to say before he started working for “Sundayyyyyy Night Football”).

Amit’s Marquee Matchups of the Week (all times in EST and on Sunday unless stated otherwise):

Falcons at Bengals 1:00 PM CBS

Seahawks at Chargers 4:05 PM FOX

Eagles at Colts 8:30 PM ESPN (Mon)

As Broad & Pattison Turns Week #1: Eagles vs. Jaguars

We have HIGH Hopes, we have HIGH Hopes, we have, eye in the sky, apple pie hopes….

Somewhere, former Phillies broadcaster Harry Kalas must be singing his favorite song, but not for his beloved Fightin’ Phils, who’s hopes for a successful 2014 season were in tatters even before July 4th had arrived…

Unlike the Phillies, who’ve been, and will continue to be, in rebuilding mode for the next few years, the Eagles took a detour on that path and turned a 4-12 season just two years ago into a ten win NFC East championship in 2013.

The start of football season in these parts always brings with it a sense of optimism and excitement, but that has been heightened considerably this year.

Eagles coach Chip Kelly’s first training camp was viewed almost like a circus act.  Most of us were curious to see what tricks he had up his sleeve, if only for the fact that he was considered a novelty, but an unproven novelty.

This year, there is a sense that not only does Chip know what he is doing, but that he has his team on board as well, no easy feat when you consider that he is dealing with athletes who are getting paid to do a job and are no longer college students as was the case at his previous job in Oregon.

On top of that, the NFC East is ripe for the taking just as it was in Andy Reid’s first few seasons at the helm in the early 2000’s.

The Giants seem to be an older team on the path to mediocrity.  The Cowboys needed to resort to signing Michael Sam just to get any publicity, since their season seems to be over before it even starts.  And the Redskins?  Can you say OVERRATED boys and girls?  And that goes for their quarterback (RG3) as well.  Look for Kirk Cousins to eventually take over that team.

Not only did the Eagles quick turnaround last year raise the fans hopes, but the sad truth is that they are the only game in town.

The Phillies treat their older veteran players as if they were professors with “tenure”, refusing to acknowledge even the thought that perhaps starting over with young and fresh blood is the best strategy.  And while some of the bad decisions fall at the feet of Phils GM Ruben Amaro, firing Amaro would be nothing more than a band-aid approach when cutting off the head of the dragon is really what is needed.

Phillies president David Montgomery, while a decent businessman and a model human being, seems to refuse to believe that he has a lousy scouting department, lousy farm system, etc., always implying that he’s happy with the people he has in place.  If Montgomery was the captain of the Titanic, he would probably tell you that the ship’s not sinking when half of it was already submerged under water.

Across the street, Flyers chairman Ed Snider, growing impatient with his team’s lack of a Stanley Cup since the 1970’s, has allowed his front office to sign players who, while not as “over the hill” as the Phillies current core, were a year away from being past their prime (can you say Vinny Lecavalier anyone?).  This misguided strategy has resulted in one too many first and second round playoff exits, and while the arrival of new general manager (and former Flyers goalie) Ron Hextall should change that, the rebuilding process could still take a few years.

While the Flyers Wells Fargo counterparts, the Sixers, aren’t looking to get older, they seem to be looking strictly for young and INJURED players, with the hope that one day all of them will exit the infirmary at the same time and start playing basketball together as if they were the second coming of Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal.

This strategy is sadly, exactly what is required in a screwed-up NBA, and it unfortunately took the Sixers too long to figure this out, so now they, just like the Phillies, are light years away from contention.  Look for these two clubs to start contending just around the time that the first Walmart or McDonalds opens on Mars.

The fans in Philadelphia have been eagerly waiting for any sign of possible sports success, and this town is now the Eagles to lose.  The offense should still be a potent force even with the departure of DeSean Jackson, and the defense looks to be improved.  But the “elephant in the room”  for most of training camp was the field goal kicker…

Alex Henery, during his three years as the placekicker, became the “Bobby Abreu” of the Eagles – he had great stats, but never seemed to deliver in the clutch.  But with so few experienced kickers out there, his job seemed relatively safe until rookie Cody Parkey, who’s name sounds more like he’s the main character in an upcoming FOX show about the wild west, kicked two field goals from 50+ yards in the final preseason game, prompting the Eagles to send Henery out the door with a case of Tastykakes as a parting gift.

The message to Parkey from coach Chip Kelly basically was ‘Congrats kid, the job is yours.  We have Superbowl aspirations…no pressure though.’

Somewhere in the back of my mind, I have this uneasy feeling that at some point in January/February 2015, the Eagles hopes of ending their 54-year-old championship drought will rest on Parkey’s right leg.  That could end up being his “Matt Stairs” moment…or his Scott Norwood/Bill Buckner moment, depending on the outcome.

So what happens this Sunday against Jacksonville?  This could be the first time in years where I’m leaving a game midway through the 4th quarter since the outcome is no longer in doubt.  The first time in years where I get to Broad & Pattison and the express trains haven’t started running since  the game is still not officially over.  The first time in years where I get to my car in center city and the coach’s postgame news conference hasn’t even started yet.

Birds win easily, 38-17, and get their season started on the right foot.  Whether they have the right “foot” for making clutch field goals still remains to be seen…

The Last Word:

Congrats to the Taney Dragons for a successful season.  While they did not win the Little League World Series, the fact that they made it to the tournament and went as far as they did is a testament in itself.  Even more impressive is the fact that they are actually from Philadelphia.  Not Bucks or Montgomery County, not Voorhees, Cherry Hill, or Moorestown, NJ but PHILADELPHIA.

The team as a whole seems quite humble, and their star pitcher, Mone Davis,  displays the maturity of one who is a veteran MLB pitcher and not a thirteen year old.

When the Phillies recently honored the Taney Dragons before one of their games, it was ironic that Mone’s designated “partner” to throw out the first pitch to was Phillies closer Jonathon Papelbon.  If Papelbon displayed even a quarter of the maturity that Mone Davis does, he might actually be considered likeable…

Amit’s Marquee Matchups for Week #1 (all times in EST and on Sunday unless stated otherwise):

Packers at Seahawks 8:30 PM NBC (Thurs)

Patriots at Dolphins 1:00 PM CBS

Colts at Broncos 8:30 PM NBC

Chargers at Cardinals 10:20 PM ESPN (Mon)