Phillies win 3rd straight NL East title

For the third straight year, the Phillies have claimed the NL East title. The Phillies defeated the Houston Astros, 10-3, Wednesday night to make official what we all knew for months: The Phils are heading back to the playoffs to attempt a World Series repeat.

Check back for a detailed report on how the Phillies finished off their division foes and what lies ahead.

And remember, PhillySportsBlogs will have you covered for what will hopefully be another a long postseason run.

Congratulations Phillies!

Jeremiah Trotter Signs With Eagles

The Ax Man Rises… Yesterday Jeremiah Trotter signed with the Philadelphia Eagles and not as a backup. Trotter signed a one year contract and will likely see playing time. It conventional thinking that Jeremiah Trotter will bring a sense of leadership to the Eagles Defense. Leadership which what lost in part when Brian Dawkins went to Denver. The deal with Jeremiah forced the Eagles to release Jeff Garcia in order to maintain a 53 players roster.

Trotter, who is 32 year old, still feels he has yet to play is best ball. Jeremiah states he has at least three years left to play. We hope so. The Eagles will likely use him on first and second downs. He stated on 610WIP that he is in excellent physical condition, knows the plays and is more than happy to be back.

Much needed win + Braves loss = magic #1

The Phillies closed out a game at Citizens Bank Park for a much needed 7-4 win over the Astros on a night when the Braves finally faltered in their headlong rush toward postseason.  Braves fans saw a glimmer of hope for the first time in 5 years as the perennial NL East champions made a valiant attempt but simply had too much ground to make up and too little time. 

It is all but done now.  The Phillies have 5 games to play with a 5 game lead.  Happ continued to lay claim to a spot in the postseason rotation with 5+ strong innings .  He allowed three earned runs and ran his record to 12-4, the best rookie record for a Phillie in 50 years.   Moyer and Madsen came in with a one two punch from the bullpen, and in a rare effort from the relief staff did not allow a single run ! 

Jayson Werth hit another home run and Feliz nailed a grand slam in the 4th inning to provide the firepower, Rollins and Howard also contributed with key hits.  Rollins is near the league lead in doubles and Howard is among the leaders in RBI and homeruns.  The Phillies still may become the first team to finish with 6 players scoring 100 runs, with 5 players already over 95 runs scored. 

This team remains even and capable as they approach the post season, but they have made it look a lot harder then it needed to be considering the firepower and starting pitching present on this team.  It only makes the relief pitching all the more glaring as an area that needs improvement.  It should be perfectly clear what will consume most of the upper brasses time and energy during the off season. Many of the key players here are locked into contracts for the next several years and I believe the Phillies are one good closer, or the reemergence of the old Brad Lidge, from running the table for the next two or three years.  I also believe, without addressing this need, this will be a heartbreaker of a team for some time to come. 

Here is hoping there is a saviour hidden among the stable of pitchers who will step up in the eleventh hour and save 5 or 6 key games down the stretch when the Phitens need it the most !

Rally towels seem here to stay

It’s that time of year again, the time for rally towels.

You see fans waving them all over Citizens Bank Park and many other baseball stadiums across the country.
I know I am in the minority on this one, but I am not a fan of rally towels, simply because they seem like a pointless addition to the game. Are fans so bored at a game that they need a towel to keep them busy?
Anyway the reason this comes to mind is the ridiculous amount of times I am seeing them on my television screen. They are everywhere.
The idea of the rally towel’s history actually has an accidental — and rather humorous — beginning.
While playing the Blackhawks on April 29, 1982, in the second game of the conference finals, Vancouver Canucks Coach Roger Neilson had a big problem with the way the game was being called.

More specifically, he believed that referee Bob Myers was biased against his team. After one particular call went against the Canucks, Neilson grabbed a white towel, stuck it on the blade of a spare stick and began waving it in mock surrender behind his team’s bench at Chicago Stadium.
Neilson was joined by several Canucks players, who were inevitably fined.
 A local businessman printed up and sold several thousand towels — with the proceeds going to a charity — and fans bought them up for the next home game. From there, it spread like wildfire.
I am also quite fond of the “hankies” issued by the Minnesota Twins during home playoff games. This started in the late 80s and has continued ever since. So why love for the Hankie?
Simple: it has a purpose.
The Metrodome has a white roof which causes fits for outfielders trying to locate a baseball. Add in thousands of swirling hankies and you can see the home field advantage that is created.
Now it seems that every playoff stadium or arena in every sport feels compelled to hand out towels — or worse — thundersticks.
The originality and purpose is gone. Now it is simply done to make fans happy and so the stadium looks cool, on TV.

Fans wave the towels when their team is in the field and waive them when they are at the plate. Clearly, it doesn’t help or hurt either team.
The towels look like they are here to stay though, so I will deal with them. They don’t take anything away from the game, so I guess it’s OK.
Personally, I stick to clapping my hands, or waving them wildly during a celebration. I’ll use a towel when I have a few dirty dishes.

Stars (And Schedule) Aligning Right For The Eagles

When the 2009 schedule was announced I just looked at it and I think I remember saying “wow, no division games until late October” and just went about my usual business.  The schedule doesn’t really mean much because until you play a few games you don’t really know what teams are going to be really good and what teams will be really bad.  You also don’t expect your two best players, in this case McNabb and Westbrook to go down in week two forcing them to miss their week three game.

Many times that would be disastrous, but when the week three game is against the now 0-3 Chiefs followed by a bye week its not nearly as bad as it could have been.   Both McNabb and Westbrook are able to rest their injuries for two weeks before getting the Tampa Bay Bucs at home.  The Bucs certainly don’t look very good and the Eagles are 14-3 in post bye-week games since its inception.   That right there certainly leans in the Eagles direction not to mention the sudden emergence of Kevin Kolb as a passer.   I certainly couldn’t argue if Reid decided to sit McNabb and Westbrook again to make sure they are both 100%.  The Eagles follow up the Bucs with a trip to Oakland and a real shot at being 4-1 before their first division game, a Monday Night contest at Washington.  Yes, the same Redskins that just gave the Lions their first win since the 2007 season (I know, the Lions were due to win).  The Eagles then have the Giants and Cowboys at home in consecutive weeks before travelling to play the Chargers and Bears.

The latter part of the schedule won’t be easy, but imagine if we had those division games starting now without McNabb and Westbrook.   I’d say being 4-1 after starting an untested quarterback for two consecutive games and playing one of those without your top runningback is a pretty nice place to be.   It definately gives the Eagles some room to play with and the Birds usually play very well in December.  It definately gives them a shot to win the NFC East and secure at least one home game for the NFL playoffs.  Maybe if they had done that last year the Cardinals would’ve had to play here instead of in Arizona.  Speaking of which, did anyone notice the look on Coach Haley’s face everytime the cameras found him? It was like he was thinking “Where’s Hightower, Fitzgerald and Warner?”.   The former Offensive Coordinator of the Arizona Cardinals certainly did not look as happy as the last time he faced the Eagles.

Thanks again to the schedule makers for putting the Chiefs, Bucs and Raiders on the schedule with a bye tucked nicely in there as well.

No McNabb, No Westbrook, No Problem !

The Eagles started off strong against the Kansas City Chiefs today, with LeSean McCoy having a strong first quarter and scoring his first NFL touchdown on the Eagles second possession for a 7-0 lead.  Kolb stood in there and completed several key throws and Vick looked to be largely ineffective in his limited snaps in wildcat.  Kolb hit DeSean Jackson for a 43 yard completion on the third offensive drive.  Kolb then leapt in for HIS first rushing TD as an Eagle to stake the Birds to a 14-0 lead.

The defense made up for their loss of concentration against the Saints by coming early and often against returning QB Matt Cassell.  Sheldon Brown and Assante Samuel did a good job of filling the holes left by Eagles defensive mainstay Brian Dawkins, and the defense in the first half looked as good as I have seen it in several years.  They held the Chiefs to 0 yards in the first quarter with ferocious pursuit of the ball and an unrelenting rush on Matt Cassell.  By the start of the second quarter, you could tell the Eagles D smelled the blood in the water !

The Chiefs used a trick play late in the first half to make their first foray deep into Eagles territory with a wide reciever pass thrown across the field for a 27 yard gain, Reid smartly called a timeout to allow him time to look at the play, which could have been a trapped ball, to see if it was worth throwing in the red flag to have it reviewed.  Bradley made a circus catch of a Cassel pass to cut the Eagles lead to 14-7.

DeSean Jackson quickly responded on the Eagles next play, going 64 yards for the touchdown.  21-7 Birds, just like that !

Brent Celek was equally effective at Tight End, and Kolb had Jeremy Maclin open for a TD right before halftime but he threw behind the rookie receiver and the Eagles had to settle for a FG to go into halftime with the 24-7 lead.

The throw to Macklin was one of the few throws the young QB did not connect on.  He came out in the second half throwing and looked strong in leading the Eagles down the field on their first possession of the second half.  The Birds only got 2 field goals on their next 4 drives  but extended thier lead and kept momentum on their side. The remainder of the second half was noteworthy only in that it was fairly uneventful.  Brent Celek sealed the deal with a 4th quarter 35 yard TD catch that put the game away at 34-7.

The Eagles starters played a solid game, no turnovers, no sacks allowed, no offensive penalties, no need for McNabb or Westbrook, no production from Michael Vick.  Kolb had another 300+ yard passing day, DeSean Jackson and Brent Celek both had solid receiving days, and McCoy had a solid day running.  I know they played the lowly Chiefs but the game was a surprising success.  The newer players all stepped up and improved on their game and the drama that is frequently evident on Sundays when the game should be relatively uneventful was not there.  Instead, these new Eagles did what they were supposed to do, when they were supposed to do it with a minimum of fuss.  The overall effect was one of confident performance and securing a victory that should have been a given, and for once, was.

One small glitch when Reid brought Garcia in for a series to wind up the game and he fumbled the exchange for the only turnover of the day. It resulted in a meaningless KC TD to close the game.  Kolb certainly appears to be ready with back to back 300 yard passing games to start his career in Philadelphia.

I am ready for some football, enough with the soap opera already !

All right.  UNCLE.  NFL Gameday, 13 minutes coverage on Michael Vick, 2 minutes coverage on the upcoming Eagles game.  I have been anti Vick since his signing, in part because of what his personal choices were, and in part because I don’t feel he is that good of a QB.  He is a great runner, a below average passer, and an average team mate.

This team was highly touted BEFORE the Vick signing, why have they been relegated to road kill on the side of the road, hardly worth a mention?  I know they are a disappointing 1-1, but all you “sports know it alls on useless TV shows” How about showing our team some respect?

We have guys besides Westbrook, McNabb, Jackson, and yes Vick, how could I forget Vick?!!!  If you came here from another planet you would think the three injured Eagles and the one ex-felon were the entire team.  What is happening to our world, when a regular, hard working football player can’t rate a mention unless he is on Inside Edition or a team medical report?

I was going to boycott the Eagles because of their poor choice of off season pick ups, but even I realized this would be unfair to all the other hard working anonymous Eagles that give it their all week after week.  I came around.  Now can we finally talk about some football??   I honestly hope Vick comes in, has his first NFL regular season appearance since going to jail, and STINKS!  Then we can forget about Reid’s school girl crush on the wildcat and get back to playing some shove it down your throat and defend the goal-line like the “pack of wild jackals Eagles old school football” that all the fans are accustomed to. 

I pick the Eagles to win today, only because the Chiefs suck so badly.  Then the bye week and I pray McNabb recovers in time to come back and start so we can put Vick where he belongs, on the sideline, to be trotted out occasionally, a curiosity at the freak show he has made of his life.

 If everyone would STOP talking about him to the detriment of the team, maybe I could get over his signing and enjoy watching him play.  Now the talking heads are all commenting on how he won’t be a starter here.  Wow!  News flash.  They are unsure why Reid signed Garcia but is starting Kolb.  Maybe it is because Reid came to his senses when McNabb got hurt (on an illegal hit that got NO coverage by the way) Reid knows Vick is not a starter or a mentor for Kolb, hence Garcia.   I have said this since Vick was signed and had several internet skirmishes in defense of this position.  Now all the pros are jumping on MY bandwagon?  I don’t think so.

 GO EAGLES!  And leave Vick behind like the road-kill he should be, and win this without him and maybe you will get back some of the respect you so richly deserve.

No relief in sight for defending WS champions

The Phillies took another game to the wire tonight. With their magic number down to three, they tried to fight for the victory. Moyer pitched 4 in relief of Kendrick, and seems to be becoming the Phillies specialist in long relief. Now all we need is a closer.

The Phillies continue to be an offensive juggernaut. Howard hit his 43rd homerun, Baku chipped in with his 3rd and the Phillies scored 5 runs in the loss to Milwaukee. Walker came in and proved no pitcher can seem to close effectively for these Phillies by allowing 2 runs and getting nobody out in the ninth inning. If Philadelphia had a closer they could be challenging for the best record in the cities baseball history that goes back over 100 years.

This team had the potential to win 110 games this year but they have blown 18 games now with the closers allowing 8th or 9th inning runs. Lidge is responsible for 11 of these, but Madsen has had 6 blown saves and now Walker was initiated with a blown save of his own this evening. It is a shame that this team with such sound fundamentals, offense and starting pitching gets repeatedly let down by the bullpen. Charlie Manuel needs to address this, and he has about two weeks left to do it or I don’t expect the Phillies to get to the second round of the postseason.

It goes down in the books as a 7-5 loss late in a season where the Phillies have essentially secured a playoff spot, but it all but ensures they will not have best NL record for home field advantage and it strikes a blow on this team’s momentum and confidence with little time left in the season to compensate for another loss that should have been a win.

Iowa is no pushover, Lions work cut out for them

Tomorrows contest will likely prove one of the three true challenges to the Lions this season, at least until their bowl game.  With the exception of Michigan and Ohio State, both ranked conference foes, no other team has a better chance of beating the Lions.  Iowa is well aware of this, bringing a 6-1 record in the past seven contests into Saturdays game.  In fact, some argue that Iowa’s victory over Penn State last season may have kept the Lions out of a national championship game.

The know it alls on the radio commented again on Penn States evident lack of strength of schedule this season.  These so called experts ignore that Alabama requested a change of schedule from 2009 to 2010 and Syracuse was scheduled when they were considered a significant power.  That means the Lions scheduled 2 potential top ten opponents out of their four non conference games this year.  Alabama was scheduled as an away game, taking the rabid 100,000+ Happy Valley fans out of the equation and making it a more challenging matchup as well. It is hard to forecast the quality of your competition when these games are scheduled up to a decade in advance and then subject to change.

It is also hardly the Lions fault the Big Ten has dropped in overall prestige since they entered the conference.   Back when they were independent the knock was they were not affiliated with a nationally known conference. Indiana, Illinois and Northwestern all had fairly high performing programs.  When combined with Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State, that meant more than half the teams in the conference were  potential top ten contenders.   Now that PSU pretty much dominates the Big Ten the experts knock their conference itself.  The bottom line is Penn State is a better team then they were last year.  Last year they had the one loss to Iowa and faced 5th ranked USC in the Rose Bowl and were within a touchdown until the fourth quarter.

If they beat Iowa, and follow that with wins against Michigan and Ohio State, I don’t see how you can say they don’t deserve a national title chance, even if there are multiple undefeated teams, which rarely happens.  The only thing that will satisfy the detractors, would be to implement a playoff system; that way the top 8 or 16 teams would all face each other and leave no doubt as to who the better team is.  In a situation like that, I would put my money on Penn State as they have a history of performing especially well when the pressure is on.  And the pressure is on tomorrow when they welcome Iowa and try to avenge last years only loss.

Eagles ready to let Vick loose

Marty Mornhinweg made it official Thursday, stating that Michael Vick will see action on Sunday when the Eagles take on the Chiefs.
Not that it was ever in doubt.
Sunday will be the first time Vick plays in a meaningful game since 2006, before he was sentenced to a 20-month jail sentence for a dogfighting conviction.
Eagles fans a got a glimpse of Vick in the preseason, though Andy Reid was careful not to tip his hat much in terms of the Wildcat. Mornhinweg said Vick is in top physical condition and that he is not concerned about the time he has missed.
There has yet to be an announcement on whether it will be Donovan McNabb or Kevin Kolb starting this week. If McNabb is healthy, he will start and Jeff Garcia will slide into the No. 3 quarterback slot. If Kolb gets the start, Garcia will be the No.  2. Either way Vick will dress at a position other than quarterback.

The Eagles used the wildcat formation sparingly in Week 1 and then a bit more in Week 2, with mixed results. Of course, the wildcat with Vick is another thing entirely. Though he has never been considered a great passing quarterback, Vick is more than a cut above the Eagles other options out of the formation. With Vick in the wildcat teams will have to respect the pass, meaning the safeties can not just cheat up to stuff the run.
The Eagles drew a break in getting the Chiefs this week, a team that has little going right for it at the moment. The Eagles can work out any wrinkles that will come with Vick’s return without worrying about the opponent as much. If Vick’s first game came against the Giants or Cowboys, the story would be different.
I expect to see Kolb under center Sunday with Vick making an appearance every other series. How much that changes when McNabb comes back is unknown.
The story going in to the game is Vick and regardless of the result he will be the story coming out of the game.
Let’s hope he makes the type of impact the Eagles expected when they acquired him. If so, defensive coordinators better load up on aspirin.

A change at closer needs to Happ-en

When I got in my car this evening following Brad Lidge’s 11th blown save of the season I knew I would hear some pretty upset Phillies fans when I flipped on 610 WIP.

The first thing I heard surprised me. It was suggestion that J.A. Happ should be the Phillies closer going forward.

With just two weeks left in the season this move seemed ridiculous. Happ has never closed and wouldn’t have much time to settle into the role.

It just didn’t seem like a reasonable option.

Forty minutes later when I got out of my car I was convinced: Happ taking over the closers role is the right move to make.

At this point it seems all but certain that the Phillies will go with a rotation of Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee, Joe Blanton and Pedro Martinez in the playoffs. That means Happ will be in the bullpen. If he is going to be in there anyway the Phillies might as well use him where they need help the most.

Brad Lidge simply can’t close moving forward. Charlie Manuel has given him every chance to show he can turn the clock back to 2008, but it hasn’t happened. Lidge threw a few good sliders Wednesday night but when it counted the most his pitches were flat. Even after Lidge blew the save he had a chance to get his team into extra innings. With two outs Lidge had pinch hitter Brett Carroll in a 0-2 hole. He then put the ball on a tee and Carroll hit a line drive u the middle that scored the game-winning run and dropped Lidge to 0-8 this season.

We don’t know if Happ can close, but we don’t know he can’t either.

We do know that this season Lidge can’t. We also know that Ryan Madson, Scott Eyre and Can Ho Park have all blow saves when given the opportunity.

Happ has shown an ability to get left-handers (.208 against) and right-handers (.245 against him) out and has shown the ability to handle pressure (beat the Yankees in the new Yankee Stadium in his 2009 debut).

The Phillies have the luxury of having six quality starters and this is a time to make that pay off. Let Moyer slide in to Happ’s rotation spot for the final two weeks and see if Happ can handle closing. Happ will need to get used to coming out of the pen anyway if he is out in the playoff rotation, so why not give it a try?

Others have suggested the Phils give Pedro a try, but I don’t see that as a realistic option. Pedro has a history of struggling in the first inning and likely wouldn’t be able to pitch in back-to-back games with his age.  

That brings us back to Happ.

At this point, why not?

Phillies get split in Florida Magic # is 5

The Phillies traveled to Florida to play the Florida Marlins a rare double header. Joe Blanton came out and threw another quality start in the first game pitching 7 innings of shutout ball. The Phillies offense secured the win with an assortment of seeing eye hits, good fielding, baserunning and steals.

Ibanez did hit a late home run but that only accounted for 1 of the 9 runs the team scored in the first game, the rest came on singles and groundouts, a wild pitch and a sacrifice fly as the Phillies scattered 11 hits overall to beat Florida 9-3 in the opener.

Blanton has had 15 quality starts in his last 16 games, allowing 4 runs or less and raising his record to 11-7. In his last two starts he has pitched 13 consecutive shut out innings and lowered his ERA to 3.82. The Phillies reduced their magic number to clinch to 5.

Howard and Werth both had RBI singles and Jimmy Rollins continued his recent offensive upsurge with a sacrifice fly that scored a run as well. Despite 16 strikeouts and going 2-11 with runners in scoring position and having a lone 1 run home run, the Phillies made the victory look easy.

As the season winds down, the Phillies have little left to prove. The Braves and Marlins who both could have challenged for a wild card spot have all but vanished in the past few weeks when facing the NL East leading Phillies who improved their season record to 88-62 which represents their best winning percentage since 1993.

Jamie Moyer returned from the bullpen to get a rare late season start, but you can be sure Manuel was aware of his numbers in Florida. Moyer had a career record of 13-3 against the Marlins and a 8-0 record with a sub 1.00 ERA at their ballpark. Moyer had a strong outing, allowing 3 runs in 7 innings with 5 strikeouts and a walk, but the Phillies bats fell uncharacteristically silent as Florida rookie Anibel Sanchez pitched a masterful 2 hit shutout through 8 innings and the Marlins dealt Moyer his first loss in their home stadium.

The Phillies evening loss was also the first team loss in Florida all season. Their magic number remains 5, but we all know it is only a matter of time.

Eagles to face Matt Cassel, for now

Kansas City Chiefs head coach Todd Haley didn’t exactly give quarterback Matt Cassel a ringing endorsement. He did, however, assure that the highly-paid Qb will start against the Eagles this week.
If Cassel will finish, is another question entirely.
The rookie head coach said he would not hesitate to make a switch if he determined that Brodie Croyle gives the Chiefs a better chance to win.
“You’ve got to ultimately do what you think gives your team the best chance to win,” Haley told The Associated Press. “If that means another quarterback being in there other than Matt Cassel, then sign me up.”
Cassel put up modest numbers against the Oakland raiders last week, finishing 24-of-39 for 241 yards and no touchdowns. Last week with Cassel hurt, Croyle went 16-of-24 for 177 and tossed a pair of touchdowns.
Regardless of who plays quarterback on Sunday the Eagles need to have this victory. The Chiefs offense is dismal and their defense is average at best.
The fact that two games into the season they are already concerned about the quarterback position should be all you need to know about the way Kansas City’s season is heading.
With — or likely without — Donovan McNabb the Eagles should put this one away early. I just don’t see enough firepower on the Kansas City offense to come back from an early deficit. The Chiefs present the Birds with a great chance to put Sunday’s ugly loss to the Saints behind them.
With the way the Giants have started the season, it is a chance the Eagles can not afford to miss.

My Advice To Andy – Sit McNabb

Let me clarify that headline before people are blogging all over the place that the Eagles are going to bench McNabb.  When he is recovered fully he is the starting QB for the Philadelphia Eagles.  Notice that I used the word fully.

Yesterday Reid said that McNabb could possibly play on Sunday depending on how the quarterback’s ailing rib feels by the time practice resumes tomorrow.   I’m not sure why the Eagles would bother pushing McNabb into the fire considering that the Chiefs (0-2) certainly aren’t the Saints and the Eagles have a bye the following week.   Kevin Kolb was hardly the reason for the Eagles 48-22 loss to the Saints on Sunday.  I could go on forever about missed tackles and opportunities that cost the Eagles a victory, but I can’t point the finger at Kolb.  He was a mere 31-51 for 391 yards in his first NFL start and he deserves for his coach to remove all doubt and announce right now that Kolb is the starter while giving McNabb two more weeks so he can come back 100% after the bye with the Eagles either at 1-2 or 2-1 after three games.

We’ve seen McNabb less than 100% before when he came back two years ago and it wasn’t a pretty site.  Why take a chance on McNabb further injuring himself in a non-conference game? Kolb proved he can handle the offense and with another week under his belt and the possibility of inserting Vick into the Wildcat formation I would think Kolb would be better this week.  Sitting McNabb now gives him three weeks of rest.

The Eagles have home games against the Chiefs and then after the bye week they host the Bucs before going on the road to play the Oakland Raiders.  After that the Eagles have a tough run with a Monday night road game against the Redskins before home games against both the Giants and Cowboys.   We will need a fully recovered McNabb to have any chance of winning those tough division games.  Seriously, how would the coach spin it if McNabb plays this week, takes a hit and is hurt again and has to miss two to three weeks? That would mean his return would come for the Monday Night game in Washington.  If he sits McNabb now he has the Bucs and Raiders games to shake off any rust before the three week NFC East tour.   Anything can happen in the NFL, but I’d take my chances against the Bucs and Raiders after letting McNabb sit three weeks.   I think the risk of playing him too early puts the season at jeopardy.

We’ll see if Andy heeds my advice.  History says he will do what he wants to do.

Eagles-Saints Report Card

I think that before the game if anyone had said the Eagles would have walked off the field at halftime down 17-13 to the Saints everyone would’ve been pretty happy considering that Kevin Kolb was making his first pro start.   If not for a few breakdowns the Eagles legitimately could’ve gone into the locker room up 13-10 poised for an upset.  As we all know, the Eagles made too many mistakes against a good football team.  This game reminded me alot of the New England Sunday night game from a couple years ago except that the Eagles were in position to win that game in the 4th quarter.  That was not the case on Sunday.

Passing Offense: Kevn Kolb exceeded every expectation anyone could’ve had.  He threw for 391 yards and his 71-yard touchdown strike to DeShaun Jackson to tie the score at 7 was a thing of beauty.  He did throw 3 interceptions, but two of them came late.  Grade: C – plus

Rushing Offense: The Eagles picked up 85 yards on the ground despite having to go to the air for much of the second half.  The Wildcat formation seemed to work as the Birds got 45 yards from that formation.  Westbrook got just 16 touches but did have to leave the game early.    Grade: C-plus

Run Defense: Poor tackling set the tone, especially on Bush’s late 19 yard scamper. When are these guys going to learn that you cannot bring down an NFL back by his ankles? The Saints got 133 yards on the ground – not a good number for a unit that was supposed to be improved against the run.  Grade: D

Pass Defense: Just like in 2006 Brees went thru the Eagles pass defense like a hot knife through butter.  311 yards and 3 touchdowns by the time it was all over.   Third down was the killer – 9 for 11 for 131 yards as the Eagles pass rush was non-existent.   The defense again looked flat on the first drive just as it had against the Panthers, an issue that Defensive Coordinator Shawn McDermott has to address.  Grade: D

Special Teams: Were they even there? Yes they sure were.  Ellis Hobbs was acquired because of his ability to field kicks and his fumble to start the half started the snowball rolling downhill.   Hobbs did have a 63 yard kickoff return and Rocca booted a 61 yard punt but unfortunately neither produced when the Eagles needed it, and Rocca gave the Saints a short field a couple of times in the second half.  Grade: F

Coaching: I think Andy Reid had a nice game plan, and I loved the call to go deep to Jackson on the second play of the game.  Unfortunately all the game planning in the world doesn’t overcome poor tacking and poor decision making.  I’d like to give Reid an F here just for saying that he holds himself accountable.  C’mon – ten years and that’s all he can come up with?  Grade: C

Overall: To be fair, I didn’t think the Eagles would win this game.  I also didn’t think they’d get blown out and they were right there at halftime and going into the fourth quarter they were only down 14 points which this offense certainly is capable of overcoming.  If nothing else, Kevin Kolb lasted longer than I thought he would and earned himself another start.  Grade: D