Thursday, February 22, 2007

Offseason Preview: Quarterbacks

It’s time for the Eagles’ 2006 review and 2007 offseason preview. I’ll go position by position, player by player, talk about what they did and give them a grade based on how they played and what was expected of them, and talk about what they will be doing this offseason and next year. I’ll review team needs, players that need to go and what players the Eagles could be interested in. Let’s start with the Quarterbacks.

QB Donovan McNabb: 10 games and starts, 180/316, 57% completion, 2647 passing yards, 8.38 yards per attempt, 18 TD passes, 6 INTs, 95.5 QB rating, 32 rushing attempts, 212 rushing yards, 3 rushing TDs, 2 fumbles lost

Best game: vs. DAL- 18/33, 354 passing yards, 2 passing TDs, 0 INTs, 112.4 QB rating, 1 rushing TD

Worst game: vs. TEN- 6/13, 78 passing yards, 0 passing TDs, 1 INT, 33.5 QB rating

In the 10th game of the season against Tennessee, a torn ACL ended McNabb’s great season. Although he and the Eagles appeared to be losing steam at this point with a few losses and some more interceptions being scattered in, Donovan was still on pace to have possibly his best season. The Eagles had brought a little more balance to the offensive playcalling, resulting in better opportunities for the passing game and increasing its effectiveness. McNabb was combining with deep threats Donte Stallworth and Reggie Brown along with receiving threats Brian Westbrook and L.J. Smith to clobber opposing defenses and pace the league in most passing statistics. He wasn’t completing the percentage he was a couple seasons ago, but Five was making teams pay with constant big plays and touchdowns. He showed some consistency problems and he had some costly picks, but this was possibly going to be McNabb’s best season. If McNabb could’ve stayed healthy, the sky would’ve been the limit for this team. Everything on offense was clicking and the Eagles could simply outscore any team in the league. Grade: A

QB Jeff Garcia: 8 games, 6 starts, 116/188, 61.7% completion, 1309 yards, 6.95 yards per attempt, 10 TD passes, 2 INTs, 95. 8 QB rating, 25 rushing attempts, 87 rushing yards, 2 fumbled lost

Best game: vs. CAR- 21/39, 312 passing yards, 3 passing TDs, 0 INTs, 105.9 QB rating, 5 rushing attempts, 12 rushing yards

Worst game: vs. NYG (playoffs)- 17/31, 153 passing yards, 1 passing TD, 0 INTs, 4 rushing attempts, 14 rushing yards

Jeff Garcia surprised everyone when he came off the bench after Donovan McNabb’s injury and helped turn the Eagles into a playoff team. His season started slowly in the Tennessee game and his first start against Indianapolis, and Garcia was playing very conservative. He wasn’t throwing the ball downfield at all, and he was checking down to guys like Westbrook and Smith on almost every play. When the team opened up the passing game in the Monday Night win over Carolina, things started to take off. The Eagles ran the table, won the division and made it to the second round of the playoffs. Garcia sparked these guys, and everyone stepped up to fill the void that Donovan left. Garcia still demonstrated very good mobility for someone his age, and he had a knack for avoiding blitzes. Although most of the time he made decisions quickly, there were a few instances where he held onto the ball too long or made bad plays, especially in the postseason.

Grade: A

QB A.J. Feeley: 2 games, 0 starts, 26/38, 68.4% completion, 342 passing yards, 9 yards per attempt, 3 TD passes, 0 INTs, 122.9 QB rating, 1 rushing attempt, 3 rushing yards

Best game: vs. ATL- 22/33, 321 passing yards, 3 passing TDs, 0 INTs, 128.5 QB rating, 1 rushing attempt, 3 rushing yards

Worst game: @ IND- 4/5, 21 passing yards, 0 passing TDs, 0 INTs, 84.2 QB rating, 1 fumble lost

As the third string QB, A.J. Feeley didn’t get much of a chance to play. After being released by San Diego and signed by the Eagles before the last preseason game, Feeley remained inactive until McNabb’s injury. In the blowout loss to Indianapolis, Feeley saw some late garbage time action, turning the ball over once. In the final regular season game against Atlanta, after the Eagles found out the division had been clinched, Feeley played in all but one series. He connected with his fellow backups for 3 scores and walked all over Atlanta’s starting defense. He showed enough that he could be the Eagles’ primary backup.

Grade: A

Overall Quarterback Grade: A

2007 Outlook

QB Donovan McNabb: He’s going to have to work hard to get back from his knee injury, and hopefully he’s ready for opening day. If not, I have enough confidence in the backups to keep the seat warm while he rehabs. McNabb’s strong arm and playmaking ability really go well with the rest of the players on offense. There’s no controversy, and he’s the guy next year assuming he’s healthy.

QB Jeff Garcia: He’s a free agent, and he wants to test the waters. Despite poor seasons in Cleveland and Detroit before becoming an Eagle, Garcia wants to go out and have a chance at starting again. He doesn’t have much interest in returning to the Eagles on a backup’s salary. Some team is going to go nuts for him, and they can have Garcia if they want him a lot. I wouldn’t mind having him back at the right price, but he’s going to want a raise from last year, and I’d rather have the cap room and A.J. Feeley than less cap room and Jeff Garcia.

QB A.J. Feeley: He signed a two year contract, and evidently he was promised that he would be the #2 QB for the 2007 season, which would mean Jeff Garcia is gone. The Eagles probably weren’t planning on Garcia playing as well as he did, but they’re generally a team that keeps promises like this. I’m fine with Feeley being the #2 QB over Garcia, mostly because it means that much more room to sign Stallworth and maybe a free agent or two. He’s significantly younger than Garcia, and he can be a franchise backup QB, if that makes any sense.

Potential Free Agent Solutions:

None to be excited about

Potential Draft Solutions:

Tyler Palko, Pittsburgh

Isaiah Stanback, Washington

Chris Leak, Florida

All second day selections

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Philadelphia Flyers

I don't believe I mentioned it here when I meant to, but I went to the Flyers game on Monday night against Detroit. Here are my thoughts, which were already posted on GameFAQs.

Holy shit that was great. Nothing says Red Wings/Flyers hockey like Joey McDonald and Michael Leighton. The Red Wings haven't won here in ten years.

I think I did a good job of fitting in despite being a n00b to live hockey. I got into all of the chants pretty quickly and matched the excitement level of everyone else. That was probably one of the best sporting events I've ever been to, second to only maybe the Labor Day Phillies game against Houston last season. All of the fans were really getting into it and I enjoyed all the Detroit fans getting heckled leaving early. Maybe the Wings can try again in three years or whenever they come back again. Damn you Gary Bettman.

Hockey seems to have a quicker pace and be a lot faster live. TV doesn't do the speed of the game justice. Maybe it's just the Flyers playing more aggressive though. Once they scored on the 5 on 3 (when it counted), and took the momentum, they could really open things up and let the good skaters (plus the Fridge) make plays. When things finally started heating up offensively for them, they weren't dumping the puck in and forechecking. They did a good job finishing shots and actually scoring, but that might've been more on McDonald. Now if they could do it in a shootout one of these times...

I don't know how Leighton only allowed one goal on 30-something shots. He moves so slowly and doesn't see the puck very well. I won't complain though, one goal is one goal. Just get pads that aren't Nashville colors and he's all set.

Even though the Flyers won very easily, the Red Wings were clearly a more skilled and better coached team. Their passes were a lot more crisp and their forwards are great skaters with good hands. They execute the basics and that's probably why they're always at the top of the standings. The point men hold the puck in the zone much better, they're better on faceoffs and they'll do great until the playoffs. The Flyers were still hustling and the energy really picked up late in the first period. That's all you can ask for from a team that's playing as poorly as they are this year.

You can't fully appreciate how bad Derian Hatcher is until you see him in person. He actually had a nice play where he carried the puck into the zone and deked past a guy, but he blew it somehow. I don't remember how though. Randy Jones looked like he had a pretty good game, even though it took me half the game to figure out who he was.

It's cliche and all and just trying to find a positive from this awful season, but the young guys are playing better. Guys like Carter and Richards are learning how to be pros and play on both ends of the ice. Their physical game is getting a lot better and they've been contributing a lot more lately. It seems that Joni Pitkanen is being left behind though. He always seems lost and a step behind what's going on. He never takes shots and seems to be hesitant on what to do next. I've never played hockey though, he's probably better than I am.

Kapanen had a good game on both ends. He always seems to work hard down low and do some of the dirty work. If anyone sees a website that sells Kapanen player T-shirts, let me know. I would buy a sweater but they're ridiculously expensive and I really don't wear long sleeves.

It was a great experience. The Primeau thing before the game was great. He got several ovations during the whole presentation and all the fans loved it. I never really appreciated him until the 03-04 playoffs, but he was a really good player here for a few years. The posters were kinda lame, but it was still cool.

I hope I can go to another game again sometime soon, and hopefully see a winning team. We were all winners tonight though. Except for the Red Wings and their fans. They lost horribly.

Since the NFL season is officially in the books, look for a position by position review of the 2006 Eagles and an offseason preview.

Friday, February 9, 2007

2007 MLB Power Rankings: Pre-Spring Training

Here is the first edition of the MLB Power Rankings, done by me and Kevin Gengler. This will hopefully become a regular feature during the season, but there's no real point to updating them frequently during Spring Training.

  1. New York Yankees
  2. Boston Red Sox
  3. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
  4. Detroit Tigers
  5. New York Mets
  6. Toronto Blue Jays
  7. Los Angeles Dodgers
  8. Philadelphia Phillies
  9. Minnesota Twins
  10. Oakland A’s
  11. Cleveland Indians
  12. Chicago White Sox
  13. San Diego Padres
  14. St. Louis Cardinals
  15. Houston Astros
  16. Chicago Cubs
  17. Milwaukee Brewers
  18. Texas Rangers
  19. Atlanta Braves
  20. Arizona Diamondbacks
  21. Florida Marlins
  22. Seattle Mariners
  23. Cincinnati Reds
  24. San Francisco Giants
  25. Colorado Rockies
  26. Tampa Bay Devil Rays
  27. Baltimore Orioles
  28. Kansas City Royals
  29. Pittsburgh Pirates
  30. Washington Nationals

Sunday, February 4, 2007

Super Bowl Preview

With less than two hours to go until the Super Bowl, I still don’t have a preview up. It’s almost as if the game has lost its luster since the Eagles’ defeat two years ago.

The Bears will need to get the running game going to win. I think everyone’s expecting the wheels to finally come off of Grossman’s playoff performance, and Jones and Benson will be key. The problem is the Colts have been playing great defense in the playoffs and have been great against the run. They’ve stopped three very good running attacks in the AFC playoffs and look to have a lot of momentum.

Rex Grossman has to protect the football. The Colts have a lot of great athletes and speed, and they can close on a Quarterback as quickly as any team in the league. When guys like Mathis and Freeney are flying into the backfield, there’s a great chance of losing some fumbles, so Grossman needs to get rid of the ball fast and make good decisions.

Peyton Manning obviously hasn’t played his best football this postseason, and he has another tough matchup very soon. The Bears can get after the QB and create turnovers, which has spelled trouble for Peyton in the past. They’re an aggressive defense and he’ll need to make sure he’s calling for good protection schemes to make the throws he needs to make. The Bears’ front four killed Brees and prevented the Saints’ offense from getting anything done.

Joseph Addai is going to be important. The Bears have been weak against the run at some points in the season, and Addai will have to help wear them down. Sometimes, the Bears’ tackles lose focus and their technique becomes poor. If the interior of the Colts’ line can open up holes, the Colts are going to have a lot of success.

I think the Colts finally have what it takes. No one would’ve believed it a month ago with the way they were playing, but it’s finally Peyton’s time, and I’m going to be happy for him. The Colts will win Super Bowl XLI 24-14.