(Originally Posted: Wednesday April 21, 2010)
There are two events that I always look forward to during the off-season. The draft and schedule release day. This year, the league office figured out how to screw them both up, so thanks for that. The off-season is usually such a baron desert of inactivity that these two events are both mini-holidays for the Couch. Somehow the league decided to cram them both in the same week. The schedule deserves its own week to be broken down, studied, and re-studied until my ears bleed. Unfortunately, no time for that with the draft on Thursday. Thanks Goodell. (I’ll let you know my feeling about the new prime time draft schedule later in the week.)
Anyhoo, the Eagles schedule came out last night, and it generally makes for one of the easiest columns to bang out of the year. There’s no accountability wins and losses in April. This is so easy to do, that it’s the one column I actually wrote the first time I tried to blog. But as I stared at this year’s schedule, one thing really stood out to me. I have a better handle on the other 12 teams that the Eagles are playing this year than I do the franchise that I obsess over for 364 days a year. (I take Mrs. Couch’s birthday off. Luckily for everyone, it’s in the off-season.)
The Eagles team that’s going to take the field against the Packers on September 12th is going to be so dramatically different than the one that crawled off the field in Dallas last January it’s almost unfathomable. A new starting quarterback for the first time in a decade. No Westbrook. A complete turnover in the linebacking corps. Hopefully some new defensive backs and an offensive lineman in the draft. Too many new starters to count.
We’ve all watched the turnover in the team that’s taken place this off-season, but until you actually sit down and take a couple of minutes to put it all together into the opening day roster, you don’t realize how mammoth the change actually is. The seasoned veterans on this team are now Quentin Mikell, DeSean Jackson and Brent Celek. And they’ve only been around for a few years!
So how does a Couch preview this season’s schedule? He hopes that Andy and the rest of the front office is right about Kolb, shakes off his amazement at how complete this roster turn over really is, and bases it a lot on the other teams and then closes his eyes and guesses. Without much further ado….
The first thing that jumped out at me when the schedule came out was the number of prime time games. Five? Really? Someone in the scheduling office has a lot of faith in Kolb. As I said before, I’m not sure what to expect out of the Eagles next year. They could be very average. That’s a lot of prime time games for a team that might not be that entertaining. On top of the five prime time games, there’s another four 4 o’clock games. Less than half the team’s games are at 1:00. I’ve always been a fan of the later start times, so I love that aspect of the schedule.
As if we aren’t going to get the Kevin Kolb/Aaron Rodgers comparison all summer long, the schedule makers were nice enough to make that the first game of the season. That’s not a good way to start the season. The Packers are a team on the rise, and a potential Super Bowl team. It looks like Reid’s propensity for losing season openers is about to return. The rest of September looks pretty simple with two floundering franchises, on the road to Detroit and Jacksonville. We should be able to win both of those games. But I will be sad McNabb is gone because I’ll miss out on a week of puke jokes leading up to the Jags game. (Who am I kidding, no I won’t!)
Then, finally, the game we’ve all been waiting for over 24 days now. The return of that bastard Donovan McNabb and the Redskins to Philadelphia. I can see the headlines already. How will Eagles fans react? Will he be booed? Will he be cheered? Will he be tarred and feathered? Will he be doused in a light cream sauce and sautéed with some scallions? Whatever. The Skins will probably win that game, because Donovan can really show up for the big games that mean a lot to him personally. (in the regular season.)
We finish up October at San Francisco, home for Atlanta and at Tennessee. We’ll probably split the first two and lose the last one. Reid loves to lose road games against the AFC and the last one before the bye. As for the split against the Niners and Falcons, the Niners seem like a team that could be on the rise and the Falcons like to be good every other year. This is should be a Falcons good year. Quite frankly, it doesn’t matter which one we win and which one we lose. They’ll effect any playoff scenario the same.
At this point we have our bye. The good news is Week 8 is a good spot for the bye. The bad news is we’ll be around 3-4 at this point and all hell will break lose in Philly. The Phillies playoff run will have just about wrapped up and the city’s full attention will be turning back to football. And they’ll realize that the Redskins are ahead of the Eagles in the East. It’s could start getting ugly. Luckily, Andy always pulls out a W after the bye, and a team that he’s always had great luck against is up next after the bye. (Wait, we’re playing the Colts? Uh-oh)
Reid could have a month to prepare for Peyton Manning and the Colts, he’s not going to beat them. The only, and I mean only, saving grace I see in this match up is that the Colts play the preceding Monday Night and then they are on the road in Philly. That usually equals a loss in the NFL. But not this time. The Eagles finish off the first half of their season with another loss. And probably an ugly one.
So we’re now halfway through the season and something seems to be missing. I can’t put my finger on it. I’ve gotten riled up, but nothing has gotten my blood boiling. Why is that? Oh yeah, we haven’t played the Stupid Giants or the Stupid Cowboys yet this season. As a matter of fact, we don’t play our first game against the Stupid Giants until Nov. 21st and we don’t play our first game against the Stupid Cowboys until December 12th. This is without a doubt the biggest travesty of the schedule. My favorite part of my Eagles season is working up a good hate for the Stupid Giants and Stupid Cowboys games. And now they’ve decided to squish all four games into the final seven? Is this part of Goodell’s master plan to keep teams from resting players at the end of the year? It’s in embarrassment. It’s like taking the best of part of a five-course meal and just squeezing it all into one course at the end. It’s stinks and I don’t like it.
Back to the schedule. Like I said, we’re at the halfway point, and get a rematch with the Redskins on Monday Night. Does Vegas have odds on whether or not Donovan will still be healthy at this game? My dislike for ESPN makes me hope that he isn’t. Let’s say in classic Eagles-Redskins fashion we split the season series and we finally get a much needed win bringing the Birds to 4-5.
Now we get to the part of the schedule that is much harder to break down. I’ve been staring at it for a half hour, and can’t figure it out. It looks like a really rough road for the Birds, but my personal biases are also starting to creep in. I hate the Cowboys, the Giants and Favre, so I tend to undervalue them as opponents. This is why I stopped gambling on football a long time ago, and why I can’t win a GOD DAMN FANTASY FOOTBALL TITLE. (I still hate Brandon Jacobs and DeAngello Williams for my 2008 robbery. I was up by 51 points in our championship game going into Sunday Night! DAMN YOU JACKRABBITS!! AGHHH! Sorry, blacked out there for a second.)
This is also the part of the season where all these young/new players that the Eagles are banking on either gel into a cohesive unit or start to crumble. For all the complaining we do about Coach Reid, one of his biggest strengths has been the way he’s pulled teams together in November/December and ridden that momentum into the playoffs. I guess I should give him the benefit of the doubt he as well. But this just seems to much like a mini-rebuilding year.
So let’s split the next two games between the Giants and at the Bears. More likely we’ll beat Chicago than the Giants, but who knows what kind of shape the Giants will be in next year. I know I’ve been giving you win/losses in groups of twos and it’s kind of a cop out, but as my buddy LadyKillers used to say, Tough Titty Toenails. I’m trying to figure out wins and losses in April before the draft. Get over it.
Next, we play Houston on Thursday night in Philly. If it wasn’t for fantasy football, I wouldn’t be able to name a Texan, so I’ll call that a win for us. Besides, we’re awesome on Thursday nights. That puts us at 6-6 as we go into the murders row to end the schedule. It’s like some sort of sadistic spanking machine.
At Dallas, At Giants, followed by Vikings and Cowboys at home. All three of these teams will most likely be jockeying for some sort of playoff positioning. I think we will either be out of it or one of those sad bubble teams that they show “In the Hunt” that really has no chance. We’re going to lose the first one in Dallas. I hate to say it, but Dallas is just better than us. They beat us three times last year. Badly. We haven’t done enough to improve (this year.) We’re going to somehow steal one from the Giants or the Vikings, and I’m leaning more towards the Giants at this time. The Giants always seems to let one get away from them in December, and we’re due for a break by this point.
So we’re 7-8 going into the final match-up against Dallas in our house. The Cowgirls will most likely have some sort of playoff spot locked up. Dallas will need this game for seeding. The Eagles will need this game for pride. It’s going to be a long cold off-season for the Birds. How do the Eagles finish the season? With a message. Next year is ours, and put a beating on the Cowboys and end the year with a nice W.
So there you have it. The Couch has the Eagles 2010 season ending at 8-8. I can see the hate mail already. But let’s keep a couple things in perspective, folks. It’s only April. We haven’t had the draft yet. We still have no idea what the final version of this team that’s going to take the field in September is going to look like. Plus, don’t forget, we’re taking the field with a brand new quarterback with 2.5 games under his belt. Let’s tamp down expectations a bit. This team isn’t built for 2010. It’s built for 2011-2015. This year’s going to be a bit rough. Be prepared, and you’ll enjoy it a lot more.