Saturday, January 13, 2007

The Bitter Recriminations of the Disappointed Eagles Fan

Saints 27, Eagles 24. Boooooo!

Sean Payton was selected as Coach of the Year in the NFL this season, and for all I know he deserved it. But it seems to my untrained eye that he took a more talented, supremely motivated, and better-rested team, playing at home in the dome with the support of an intimidating crowd, watched them dominate both sides of the ball for most of the game, and heroically squeaked out a 3 point nail-biter of a win.

I know that he did a better job of stopping Deuce McAllister than the Eagles did. The guy was Superman all night, and instead of feeding him the ball, Payton seemed determined to show how clever his play calling could be. It almost bit him when he called for a pitch to Reggie Bush, who had already fumbled one and a half times, and the Eagles recovered it.

But the crowd and Andy Reid bailed him out. Maybe that's not fair. The crowd was a factor in causing a crucial false start penalty that erased an apparent conversion on fourth and 10. Reid decided to punt on the next play, and the Eagles didn't get the ball back. It's a tough call to try to go for it on fourth and 15, and there's probably no right answer.

But the bigger problems for the Eagles were the same as ever: Absolutely no offense in the first quarter, and a lack of confidence in the running game at the goal line. Again this week, they came out and did N-O-T-H-I-N-G in their first 15 plays. Again, the defense did well to hold the opponents to a pair of field goals. But you can't just give away the entire first quarter like that.

Then, in the fourth quarter, down 27-21, they drove inside the five yard line, got a third and 1 at about the 3 yard line, and threw a dinky little pass to Thomas Freaking Tapeh in the flat. Of course, they lost 2 yards on the play. Brilliant. They do this crap every week. I know things bunch up down near the goal line, but sooner or later you have to try to bash it into the end zone. At least put the ball in the hands of your best players. Instead, they settled for a field goal, and that was all the points they would get.

Still, it was a good effort, and a tremendously entertaining game. (Sheldon Brown's shot on Reggie Bush was the hardest hit in New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina. Oh, that's just wrong!) A lot of it came down to the advantages of home field and an extra week of rest that the Saints enjoyed, and that's OK. The Eagles defense looked tired. They weren't getting low on their hits. They kept trying to tackle high, and McAllister wasn't having it. They didn't blitz effectively. Brian Dawkins was invisible. And still, they had a shot.

Oh well, time to change the green and white color scheme on this blog.

Stop The War.

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