Abandon All Hope, Ye Who Enter Here

When it comes to the Eagles, I’ve always considered myself an even keeled arbitrator of the team. I’ll admit I have overreacted one way or another for comedic effect, but I usually give you guys the straight poop. Just 24 hours ago, I felt like the Eagles were going to be fine and their rough early start was just another typical Reid led Eagles team in September. I figured they were just getting their crap together and will be okay. Even if they had won yesterday’s game in ugly fashion, I wouldn’t be too worried.

But after seeing that abortion they laid out on the field and reading the comments from Cullen Jenkins after the game, I’m very close to giving up on the season, and ready to have some honest, uncomfortable discussions about the future of Andy Reid with the Eagles.

Jenkins, who won a Super Bowl just this year, said that in the 2nd half the 49ers, “wanted it more than we did.” That’s just about the worst thing you can hear about your team. No scratch that; That IS the worst thing you can hear about your team. You can have all the talent in the world and spend all the money in the Lurie’s pockets, but if the desire’s not there on the field, you’re never going to win. It almost seems like this team lost its heart in 2009. I wonder what’s different.

What Can Brown Do For You? (Yes, a poop joke.)

Quick question: Has Ronnie Brown been cut yet?… No, why not? That backwards throw was one of the dumbest things I’ve seen in my life. Hey Andy, here’s an idea: If you’re going to try to use Brown on a goal to go inside the 3, why don’t you just put him behind center? You used to love the Wildcat; instead of giving him a second to pause behind the line of scrimmage and have our offense lineman to get blown off the line, let Brown (try to) just push threw. It’s better than letting Vick’s body get punished some more with a predictable sneak. While we’re on Vick…

Remember when Vick would take off running and it was exciting for us Eagles fans? Now it scares the bejesus out of me. Last year, Vick’s running meant good things we’re going to happen for the Eagles. Now? I hold my breath and hope he holds on to the ball and doesn’t shatter. How did that happen so fast? He went from the ultimate weapon to something I want to wrap in bubble wrap and put in the closet next to my faberge eggs. Luckily, we haven’t given him a long term contract yet. (groan.)

While Reid and Banner went out on their August shopping spree, somebody must have spilled gravy on the list where it said: Linebacks, Offensive Lineman and Safeties. They spent all this money on free agents to the point it became showing off (see: Washington Redskins 2000; Boston Red Sox 2011; New York Yankees 1973-Current), but we didn’t spend much, if any money, on the biggest need positions. That’s a problem.

Reid’s never been a big believer in linebackers, so I’ll give him a little slack their, but what made this team a perennial deep playoff contender in the earlier ’00s was the solid and consistent offensive line. We’re trying to fill holes with rookies and toss-offs from other teams. It’s as if Andy has become too enamored with his new exciting skill position toys and forgotten his own fundamentals.

Why does every third pass seem to be an (incomplete) bomb down the field? We start off seemingly every drive with those. McCoy has turned into the most effective running backs in the league, yet he is still being under utilized. (McCoy, Westbrook, potato, potatoe.) <-That joke really doesn’t work in written form.

The Eagles have dug already themselves into a dark hole, but it’s not one they haven’t dug out of before. It’s just harder to imagine this year, especially with the newest injuries suffered. And it’s not time to call for an end of the Reid era. Yet. Many premature obituaries have been written for Big Red in the past when his team has gotten off to a slow start. One of my favorite attributes about Reid teams has always been their ability to bounce back from slow starts. But this does not feel like a Reid team. They’ve blown 4th quarter leads in three straight games. Plus they just haven’t been fun to watch. Is it possible he’s finally been here too long and players have tuned him out? Cullen Jenkins says “The biggest thing that we’re missing here is attitude.” That usually comes from the top down.

The only thing that scares me more than staying in the Reid era too long is the dopey blond color analyst from Bristol who loves everyone a little too much that’s probably going to end up replacing him.

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Couch Cover: Eagles v Ravens – Book Your Hotel in Indy NOW!!!

What's wrong with this picture? (Source: NBCsports.com)

Yes, I’m being a bit fictitious with that title, but there was very little during last night’s game not to get excited about. The Eagles starters looked strong like bull. Vick was firing lasers out there. (Hat tip to Boy Couch.)  The receivers looked phenomenal, and that was without DeSean or Maclin. The Birds probably have six or seven wideouts right now that are better than any during the McNabb era sans TO. (No wonder Donovan’s so cranky.)

The defense line was aggressive as hell and the offensive line looks promising. When you have assistant coaches as impressive as Mudd and Washburn, chemistry with new free agents and lack of training camp time is not as much of an issue as it might be with other “Dream Teams.”

Dream Team Rant: Let me get this out system once and for all, for all the national media and Eagles haters. (Because I know there’s a ton who read my stupid blog.) ONLY TWO EAGLES PLAYERS CALLED THEM A “DREAM TEAM” AND ONE STARTED A FIGHT IN THE BACK OF A STRIP CLUB. (Click here for the hilarious video. I think he tries to throw up a “Hook ’em Horns” in the middle of it.) So no one of any substantial standing on the Eagles has called them a “Dream Team.” All of you stupid ass players on other teams who want to use it as bulletin board material or wish that you played the Eagles this season so you can shut them up, why don’t you worry about your own house first? To all the media who keep regenerating it, stop being lazy and credit it to Vince Young and Jason Babin, not the Eagles. 

Anyhoo, back to the game. Here are some other thought in bullet point form:

  • Loved, loved, loved the dedication to the run game in the 2nd quarter. Even if Andy stays pass crazy during the season, it’s great to see them work on it.
  • I think Vick has more TD passes to Celek lest night than he did in all of 2010. Hopefully he uses Celek more this season.
  • Don’t want to see Vick scramble at all this preseason. If he does, Andy should take away his dessert for the week. (Who are we kidding, he already does!)
  • Great pressure by the defensive line. They were in backfield for the whole game.
  • The rookie defensive backs look like they don’t want to be forgotten about. Some really nice interceptions by them.
  • I miss David Akers, but Alex Henery looks like he’ll be a fine replacement.
  • I’m never going to be able to remember which Henry/Henery kicker is which.
  • Last night was the first time I saw Nnamdi Asomugha interviewed. Sounded like a smart guy with a fantastic attitude. Just more to love about him.
  • I don’t care what Reid and the Eagles are saying, Young will be the number two quarterback by week one. Kafka really lost out by losing the off-season to the lockout.
  • The position group I’m still most concerned about is linebacker. They are young and could use a veteran infusion.
  • The most underrated free agency signing by the Eagles has been RT Ryan Harris. A solid starter that can help Danny Watkins sure up the right side of the line. Keep Vick on the field is the (obvious) key to the Eagles season.
  • Major props to my boy @EaglesScout73 for hooking me up with a link to the game last night. Follow him on twitter. (FYI to Johnny Law, I’m just kidding.) (Not really.) (Or am I?)
  • How bad was the broadcasting booth last night? Brian Baldinger was far and away the star, and he stinks on ice. Don Tolfson makes Jon Gruden look like a manic depressive.
  • I hated seeing 36 on Ronnie Brown, but I’m not sure if it deserves to be retired. Reports are that Brown will take 23 from DRC when he gets 45 right before the season starts.
  • Five and 20 should be retired for sure by the Eagles, and maybe 12 and 36. What number(s) do you believe should be retired by the Eagles? Let me know in the comment section!
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EaglesCouch Change – July 28, 2011

Here are some thoughts I’ve had thus far into the new NFL Year, post lockout:

Welcome Home, Babin

  • I’m glad the lockout is over and I have dove head first into all the player movement news like it never happened. Am I still pissed about the 138 day Lockout? You bet. Am I going to boycott and ignore what’s going on now? Hells no. That will only punish me. If the fans really want to teach the NFL not to us take for granted, we should all boycott the pre-season games. That will hit them in the pocketbook, and wouldn’t punish us. I would write a longer column on this but none of my other call for actions during the lockout ever gained much traction. So I’m moving on from the Labor garbage.
  • For the love of Jebus, can we just get the Kolb trade over with alre? Just one way or the other. I feel like an expectant father in the waiting roomwho’s been waiting for 36 hours for my wife to pop out this baby. (Yes, I’m from the 50s in this scenario.) Just get it over with so we can all move on. We know it’s going to happen, and it seems like the Eagles can’t/won’t make any other moves until it happens.
  • I would be more than happy to keep Kolb as the backup this year because Vick isn’t going to play 16 games. (Unless we sign a whole new offensive line.) The rumored compensation of Rodgers-Cromartie plus a pick looks fantastic.
  • Can’t believe I’m writing this, but I think the Eagles are going to sign Vince Young to be as the backup QB, and it’s a good idea. Give him a one year contract, let him start the three or four games that Vick misses and rebuild his image. Reid is the magic man with QBs, so he should be able to do something with Young. (See: Kolb, Kevin; Feely, AJ; Detmer, ALL; McNabb, Donovan.) Young will also give Kafka another year to mature and step into the number two role next year.
  • Big ups for the Babin signing. He was great under Washburn last year. Very happy we didn’t get in to bed with that cancer Haynesworth. Even though it’s a “five-year” deal, the Birds have only committed money for two.
  • The DeSean Jackson holdout is nothing to be too concerned about. The Birds need to get the Kolb deal done before moving on to getting him a new deal. They also will be releasing some more veterans today (Thursday) at 4:00, which will give them more room to give DJax his money.
  • I’m so glad to be writing about football again instead of stupid lawyers. 45 days to Kickoff! Let’s go Birds!
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NFL’s Desperation to Save Hall Of Fame Game Shows Pre-Season’s True Worth

I abhor the NFL pre-season. As I wrote last year, it’s the biggest tease in all of sports. But for the first time in my life, I’m rooting hard for a pre-season this year. It will indicate that this idiotic NFL Lockout is finally over.

All of the news from the labor negotiations recently is about how close they are to a deal, and the new target date for an agreement (which of course, is always next week.) The owners and players are now desperately meeting and trying to get a deal done in order to save the Hall of Fame game. (After wasting March, April, and May calling each other names.)

Are the owners and players trying to save the Hall of Fame game so the seven new Hall of Fame inductees will be properly honored with an exhibition of football? Of course not; it’s all about the money. The concern from both sides in trying to save this game makes it plain as day that money is the main incentive for playing pre-season football.

Continue reading

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No Common Sense Left in The NFL


Unfortunately, what I feared in my last column came to pass. I have begun down the dark path of apathy with the NFL. I haven’t written in a while about my anger with the NFL and NFLPA, because it has honestly become shouting at the wind. Pointless and aggravating. I feel like I’ve made the same assertions over and over again: While the players and owners keep giving lip service to how much they care about the fans, it’s painfully obvious all they care about in the labor dispute is themselves.

While I’ve beaten that point into the ground, and didn’t think those knuckleheads could get any worse, I have again been proven wrong. Now another group has decided to throw their hats in as a completely oblivious and uncaring about their fans/customers.

Several NFL teams have been cutting the pay and even temporally furloughing non-football personnel over the last few weeks. To be clear, the Lockout HAS NOT AFFECTED ANY OF THE NFL OWNERS FOOTBALL RELATED INCOME YET. So these owners, who have stadiums financed by taxpayers, have the gull to cut the pay of employees who have nothing to do with the Lockout?

Without a doubt, this is the most disgusting act perpetrated by anyone related to the labor mess. As much as we fans are incredulous that we might not have our favorite pastime this fall, these billionaires have actually stopped paying people who have nothing to do with the Lockout. Why isn’t this getting more attention? Why isn’t the media railing against this injustice daily?

The worst offenders by far are the Kansas City Chiefs, who’ve actually seen an INCREASE in season ticket sales this year, but still enacted pay cuts on their non-football personnel. Let me say that again: To date in 2011, the Kansas City Chiefs have brought in MORE MONEY than last year, but have cut the salaries of their non-football personnel, who have nothing to do with the Lockout. Lamar Hunt would be ashamed if he was still alive.

The newest offenders that’s dropped the ball recently (Hey look, a football reference!), is not the players, but actually my old adversary DirecTV. They graciously announced last week that they will not be charging subscribers to the NFL Sunday Ticket for the product until the Lockout is officially over, and the NFL announces games will be played. (Duh.)

If you do a Google news search, you will find tons of stories about it. Buried in those stories, and impossible to find in another Google search, is DirecTV’s increasing the price of the Sunday Ticket this year. This year. Right after the Lockout, when the NFL just gave the whole world the finger, DirecTV is going to charge you MORE for a product that you might not get this year. Inconceivable!

I’m exhausted. Literally exhausted by all the buffoonery going on around the Lockout. I’m tired of the owners, the players, their reps and the lawyers. I don’t want to try to decipher any more of this garbage coming out of the 8th circuit, and I don’t want to see any more of these idiots making bonehead decisions that a first year public relations student wouldn’t make. Can we please just end this so we can get back to the owners just making stupid decisions about player signings? Please?

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We NFL Fans Aren’t Mad Enough For The Media

Should we try and burn down the Linc? (courtesy of Katchop.com)

The NFL labor war and Lockout is now entering year 23 with little to no progress. Okay, my math is a little off, but that’s how it feels to some of us diehards who follow the NFL 363 days a year. (Yes, I take off Christmas and Mrs. Couch’s birthday.) As the morass of insulting PR, lawyers, injunctions and stays slowly churns along, the media covering the NFL is desperately trying to fill television time and web space with any story they can. It’s sad to watch on many levels, but one disturbing theme is beginning to pop up: “Where is the fan outrage?”

As a self-appointed voice of the fans, I have two responses. First, have you guys been on Twitter or some smaller fan driven blogs in the last few months? The rage out there is palpable. It hasn’t risen to the Egyptian “we’re going to riot in the street level,” but as much as we love football, it is only a game and not a dictatorship. The fans are mad as hell and with each nonsensical selfish move either sides make; you can see the explosion of anger online. Just pay attention.

Secondly, and more importantly, what is the media looking for the fans to do? Both PTI and Profootballtalk have questioned where is the fan outrage. PTI especially acted like the fans don’t care enough. I’m probably behind the curve on this, but the more I watch PTI, the more out of touch with fans I realize Kornheiser and Wilbon are.

So what kind of demonstration is the media looking for? Protests outside the stadiums? Burning effigies of Goodell and DeMaurice Smith in the town square? PSA’s during Sportscenter from fan coalitions like SaveNextSeason? A letter writing campaign to the Commissioner, threatening boycotts of Official NFL Sponsors if the NFL cancels games? (I tried to start a letter writing campaign, but even with sending a link of my letter to dozens of media members, only one outlet was interested enough to report it.)

The fans are pissed about the Lockout. We haven’t physically manifested it, but the rage is there. For now.

With the recent news of the stay from the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, it now appears that any chance of relief from the courts is about to be lost. Speaking for myself, even though both sides are not close to a deal, they are about to have a victory. Over me. I don’t know if I have the internal fortitude to keep up this venom much longer. I am on the edge of apathy. And that’s the worst thing that could hope for everyone. If they start losing devout fans like me, the NFL is in real trouble. The question both sides need to be aware of, is if the fan base slips into apathy, will they be able to pull us out?

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Predicting the 2011 Philadelphia Eagles Schedule

1. Sunday, September 11 at St. Louis 1 PM 0-0 TIE

2. Sunday, September 18 at Atlanta 8:20 PM 0-0 TIE

3. Sunday, September 25 vs. N.Y. Giants 1 PM 0-0 TIE

4. Sunday, October 2 vs. San Francisco 1 PM 0-0 TIE

5. Sunday, October 9 at Buffalo 1 PM 0-0 TIE

6. Sunday, October 16 at Washington 1 PM 0-0 TIE

7. Sunday, October 23 BYE

8. Sunday, October 30 vs. Dallas 8:20 PM 0-0 TIE

9. Monday, November 7 vs. Chicago 8:30 PM 0-0 TIE

10. Sunday, November 13 vs. Arizona 1 PM 0-0 TIE

11. Sunday, November 20 at N.Y. Giants 8:20 PM 0-0 TIE

12. Sunday, November 27 vs. New England 4:15 PM 0-0 TIE

13. Thursday, December 1 at Seattle 8:20 PM 0-0 TIE

14. Sunday, December 11 at Miami 1 PM 0-0 TIE

15. Sunday, December 18 vs. N.Y. Jets 4:15 PM 0-0 TIE

16. Saturday, December 24 at Dallas 4:15 PM 0-0 TIE

17. Sunday, January 1 vs. Washington 1 PM 0-0 TIE

Final Record: 0-0-16; Tied For 1st in NFC East

Note: I might update this if/when the NFL and NFLPA get their heads out their asses and finally make a deal.

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Draft Players, Not Measurables

Would Not Mind A First Couple Picks Like This Again.

The NFL Draft is less than ten days away, and the only oasis we have in the morass of the current labor disaster. I love the Draft. I watch it every year. One thing I’m always puzzled by is how many teams fall in love with stats from college and measurables from the combine, while seeming to ignore the two most important aspects of a football player that can never be measured: heart and smarts.

Last week, ESPN aired a fantastic special called the Brady 6 (Fantastic because it was made by NFL Films.) The show took a look at the six quarterbacks taken before Tom Brady was drafted 199th in the 2000 draft. Four of the six guys flared out without making any impact in the league. The other two, Pennington and Bulger, have had moderate success in the league.

The thread that ran through the show was the six quarterbacks taken before Brady all had better stats in college, looked more like pro quarterbacks and performed well at the combine. Brady himself admitted that he looked like a scrawny kid coming out of college and choked at the combine. Because of his look and combine appearance, he slid down every draft board. No one took into account the number of comebacks he led at Michigan or the respect he garnered from the players on his team. Continue reading

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Let’s Go Injunction! Clap-Clap-Clap

Yup, The Players and Owners are really wasting the courts time with this garbage.I know, I know, I know. You’re tired about reading all the NFL labor garbage. Believe me, I am too. I’m sorry, but I racked my brains all weekend to find something else to write about, but this was it. I can’t write about the draft prospects, because I don’t follow college football. But don’t worry, I will have a column about the Eagles draft needs on the week of the draft. So here I am stuck writing about the damn lockout again. But fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. The NFL labor battle has gone to court, and surprisingly, that could be very good news for us fans.

For those of you not following the daily ins and outs of the labor battle, let me tell you where it’s currently at. (You guys are the lucky ones.) The group formerly known as the NFLPA has filed an injunction against the league owners to end the lockout in federal court. Most sports legal observers believe based on how the hearing went, that Judge Susan Nelson is probably going to come down on the players’ side and order an injunction which will end the lockout in the next two weeks. But no matter which side wins, it’s going to be quickly appealed to the appellate court, and if the players win there again, the injunction will be upheld and the lockout will be over. (Hooray!) No one is sure how the appellate court will rule or how long it will take, but the current consensus is early June. (Still awake? It gets better, so stick with me.)

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Do Eagles Fans Take Andy Reid For Granted? Yep.

ESPN.com put out a power rating of current NFL head coaches this week, and our own Eagles coach Andy Reid finished third, behind Patriots coach Bill Belichick and Steelers coach Mike Tomlin. The last two Super Bowl winning head coaches, Mike McCarthy and Sean Payton, finished 4th and 5th behind Reid respectively. Lists like this are always highly subjective, and Reid’s third place finish is already causing debate among Eagles bloggers and the Twitterverse. (It also doesn’t help that we have nothing else to talk about besides the Lockout.) Considering that Rex Ryan is seventh on the list and Lovie Smith is eighth, the third place finish may be more of a commentary about the level of current head coaches in the NFL than anything else.  

Love him or hate him, Coach Reid has mad hops.

What has become clear to me since the poll came out, is that Eagle fans sure do take Big Red for granted. Almost everything I’ve read or heard about Reid’s place on the poll from Eagles fans and writers has been along the vein of “Reid was third? Really?” I’ll admit, that was my initial reaction as well. But then I began to reflect on it and did some research, and it made more sense. (I know, I promised there would be no math.)

When Titans coach Jeff Fischer resigned (was fired, forced out, whatever) a few months ago, Reid became the longest active tenured coach in the NFL. He’s coached the Birds for 12 seasons, has had only one sub .500 season since his first year and has a regular season winning percentage of .617. He’s won six NFC East titles, 10 playoff games, taken the team to five NFC Title games and one Super Bowl. I know you all know that already, but when you see it broken down like that in black and white, you realize how phenomenal he’s actually been.

I can already hear you some of you saying, “Yeah, but he never won the big one!” Okay, well allow me to retort: Since the Eagles appearance in Super Bowl XV in 1980 to the hiring of Andy Reid in 1999, the Eagles won a total of two playoff games. TWO! Nowadays, the city gets all huffy puffs if the Birds don’t win two playoff games in one post season. I wish Andy would have brought home a Lombardi trophy for us by now too, and I still think he will. But having a team that’s been competitive virtually every year he’s coached has been an awesome ride.

So am I saying that Coach Reid is beyond reproach? Of course not. I am an Eagles fan after all, and a birthright of every Eagles fans is to complain about everything. Andy’s is nowhere near perfect, but he has earned the right to keep coaching the team for a long time. Unless he throws together three plus sub .500 seasons in a row, he should stay our coach. Even with his bad clock management, poor run-to-pass ratio and inability to draft linebackers, Coach Reid has found a formula for success that Bird fans have grown accustomed to over the last decade and taken for granted. We are lucky to have him. I hope he stays our coach for at least another dozen years.

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