Thank you, Michael Bush. Thank you, Al Davis. Thank you, Jeff Garcia.
Whew! Close one. I was admittedly nervous until the spread-busting return from Juqua Parker nee Thomas. Note well that a play prior to that I had remarked to my buddy that it struck me as odd that a defensive end was dropped so deep in coverage at the snap; it wasn't like they were showing a four-man front and then he dropped into coverage. Nope, he was playing linebacker (in the post-game coverage I'm sure there will be much discussion of the "Joker" linebacker position).
We've actually got a full house coming for the Phightins here at BountyBowl HQ, so expect post-game reactions to trickle through slowly. Still, my quick hitters after the game:
David Akers makes it through the bye week. Did he actually make the challenged one? We'll never know. Leads one to wonder why there isn't a more definitive camera angle for that sort of thing, but hey, we're more than happy that Nolan wasted a challenge on it. If he had missed it...and the block...and well...you can kind of guess what the big storyline would have been in a loss.
Game balls to the deserving vets. Correll Buckhalter and Juqua Parker nee Thomas, take a bow. You guys both played great games -- heart-and-soul-of-the-team-type games. And it's nice to see it from the guys who aren't on the cover of the media guide or on the tickets. I thought Buck's stamina was especially impressive; he really seemed to keep running with energy deep in the game. And Parker, well, we wrote the following two weeks ago, and it feels even more true today, "Also, at what point can we admit that Juqua Parker is playing really well and isn’t some sort of undersized liability?" Juqua Parker, you've earned yourself a place in my official taxonomy: enjoy your tag. Quintin Mikell is an honorable mention here.
Heroics in the secondary. Speaking of, the Birds were a couple diving deflections away from some scary things late in that game. Kudos to Sheldon Brown and Mikell for making some huge plays. Also Dawk stepped up and got stronger later in the game (who needed to make up for some sloppy tackling earlier in the game).
Lito's hurt? Dude. I mean. They're going to give you grief for that. It's not fair, but they will.
Andy Reid isn't actually crazy. That is, he seems to have agreed with the assembled masses and majority of the blathertariat (yours truly included) that DeSean Jackson is the best guy they have on offense with Westbrook out. Jackson seemed to have gotten a lot of different looks and touches, and the kid played well. I get more excited about him every week.
Takeo Spikes, you're a cruel, cruel man. Dude, you catch JUST ONE ball that hits you in the chest last year and the Birds might have made the playoffs (the Seattle game was the most offensive). And now you gotta be picking off Dunavin in the red zone? Seriously?
That's it for now. More later, let's go Phightins.
I'll keep my fingers crossed for 7-9, since I assume that they'll completely mail it in against a still-alive Saints team this weekend. Look out, Buffalo!
Here's to the 36 Chambers of Brian Westbrook making the Pro Bowl tomorrow. He'll deserve it.
That is, after a few days of reflection in re: the deep spiritual ennui brought on by the (a) poor performance of the 2007 Eagles and (b) my limited enthusiasm for improvement and/ or change for the 2008 season, I've decided it isn't actually that bad. The Eagles aren't very good, but they're not terrible. There are some positives out there. Seriously. It's not as bad as it could be.
Item #1: at least the Eagles aren't the Falcons.
Remember that the Falcons were the team that the Birds defeated in the 2004 NFC Championship Game, and looked like they might be a rival for the Eagles for years to come. They had the up-and-coming franchise QB, the sharp young coach, some exciting playmakers on defense, and an owner who was committed to building a legit franchise.
Yikes. Can't say that really worked out for them, huh?
So whilst we may lament the disappointment of 2007, the obvious struggles and decline of the Reid/ McNabb administration, the scattershot personnel decisions and the vain sacrifice of the best year of Brian Westbrook's career, remember that it could be a LOT worse. Say what we will about Dunavin, but he's not yet been indicted and/ or incarcerated. Say what we will about Big Red, but even with all of his nonsense at home, he didn't bolt in the dead of night for the BYU job. Say what we will about our failing secondary, but our star DB's don't ask opposing coaches for jobs during games.
See, it isn't really so bad after all.
(Sort of. I still think it's pretty bad right now.)
I suppose you can't expect you're going to play well just days after the coach's Dad (and franchise icon) passes away, but the Niners just didn't look like they had enough to compete. I suppose Nate Clements played okay, and Frank Gore had a couple nice runs, but past that, there just wasn't much there. I kept an eye on Michael Lewis, but he was decent at best -- certainly nothing extraordinary.
The biggest takeaway for me was just how hopeless Alex Smith looked at quarterback. You know things aren't too rosy when your coach pulls you in favor of a wide receiver on third-and-four inside your own ten. They might call it an innovative strategy in a tight situation, but it sure looked like a desperation/ no-confidence-in-the-starter move to me.
I bring this up as a caution to those in the local community who might bray for Kevin Kolb to take over the starting job. Even number-one-overall picks can be duds. Right now, Alex Smith looks like a dud. Are we really ready to move past Donovan McNabb, who is at worst a top-12 NFL quarterback? He was 12th in DPAR coming into the Redskins game, and posted the second-highest DPAR for QBs in the Washington game (only Brett Favre was better this week). Bob Ford, you ape, are you listening?
I may have been the only one in my section (and maybe the whole stadium) that knew to heap disdain on this fellow for sporting his Ricky Watters shirt. For who, Ricky? For what, misguided fan?
Still, it'd be disingenuous to pretend that we weren't all super-excited when the Birds signed Watters way back when. We all thought we needed the Marquee Feature Back (this bled into the Ricky Williams obsession at the '99 draft). Wow. Did we not get it even a little bit. The lesson here (as always) is that you cannot trust the braying masses of Negadelphia. Just don't listen to us. At all.
Also, I'd like partial credit for being a week ahead of the curve on the Nerdbirds (Seahawks) sucking. These guys are a mess; they make the Eagles look talented and composed by comparison. At least the fans on Sunday night had the good taste to actually boo the home team, though most of the vitriol seemed unfairly focused on Shaun Alexander.
People, don't get down on Shaun Alexander! Can't you see that he's completely done and shouldn't be on the field in the first place? Hasselbeck and Holmgren -- those are the guys you should be hating. I mean, sure, Alexander looks kind of gutless out there, but if you were slow and past your prime, you'd look gutless too!
In additional Qwest Field news, the falling camera affair was pretty amusing, though it took them a good long while to explain to us what the hell was going on. Also, the coolest part of the Qwest Field experience is the nifty Seahawk Eye thingie they do with the scoreboard; I can't get enough of that.
After watching first Jake Delhomme and now Rex Grossman in preseason games, I feel at least 13 percent about the Birds in the NFC. Their ineptitude has a chance to cripple two decently strong teams/ potential rivals for the Birds in the NFC.
And that is totally sweet.
Delhomme looked worse than the night last December when his overwhelming desire to commit silly turnovers jumpstarted the Eagles' run to the playoffs, and Grossman couldn't really handle the exchange from center.
At least the Panthers did something about the problem in the offseason by bringing in David Carr; the Bears continue to stand by the Sex Cannon. What can the other players think at this point? Grossman is edging into Chuck Knoblauch territory -- he just looks crushed out there. Yikes. And, from the sound of it, this isn't lost on the Chicago fans, who realize that this dude is going to clown the chances of their otherwise strong team. Oh well!
(This is all great for the Birds. Even if 5 isn't in there, I still think the Eagles will get more consistency from the QB position than these two teams. Good for us.)
3 large drops of sweat [Chicago Tribune]