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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Don't be fooled - Eagles defense may be in trouble

The New York Giants were many people's selection as the Super Bowl favorite entering the 2009 - 10 NFL season, and if not that then nearly the consensus pick to win the NFC.

Considering that the Eagles hung 40+ points on the 2007 - 2008 champions in a season sweep this year is encouraging. It's not a surprise then that many outlets are elevating the Eagles as the chic pick to run through the NFC as the outsider with the best chance to knock off the Vikings and/or Saints.

Not so fast, I say, after watching a clearly flawed defensive performance in Sunday night's victory over New York - the fourth in a row in the series in favor of Philly.

Some of the defensive lapses were surely due to the fact that it was a primetime game against a rivalry with heavy playoff implications, but that does not excuse the Eagles from every misstep they made Sunday.

The missed tackles - on both sides - were the most obvious culprit of the onslaught of big plays for both teams. After back-to-back drops by Hakeem Nicks (he was bailed out on both plays by questionable illegal contact calls by Quintin Mikell), the rookie receiver out of North Carolina broke through the secondary like a bulldozer into cardboard boxes on his way to the end zone for a 68-yard touchdown.

Nicks's drops, as well as some other blown opportunities by the Giants - such as Mario Manningham's failure to get both feet in the end zone on a play originally called a touchdown before being reversed, thus delaying a score and wasting precious seconds in the fourth quarter - may point critics to the Eagles' secondary as the reason for the Giants wideouts to be able to get open so frequently throughout the night. The real reason, however, has more to do with the battle in the trenches - one that the Eagles clearly lost.

Eli Manning felt little pressure all night and was seemingly given three or more seconds to throw at least once on every set of downs. With all that time, it's no wonder that Manningham, Nicks and Steve Smith were able to get open so frequently. Even an average NFL receiver can only be covered for so long. Look no further than Brandon Jacobs' assault on the defensive line as evidence that the Eagles front four may have trouble getting pressure on quarterbacks in the playoffs.

If that means that Philly will have to use elegant blitz packages sending six or seven men at a time to get any pressure on the opposition's passing game, Drew Brees and Brett Favre would likely have a field day against the Eagles, especially at home in their respective domes. That would mean the Eagles would have to win another shooutout, this time most likely without punt (DeSean Jackson) and fumble (Sheldon Brown) returns for scores to hold off an equally-potent opposing offense.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Immature Contador

Alberto Contador needs to get a clue. I've never been a Lance Armstrong fan but since he was drug tested at least 11 times this tour, according to his Twitter, I believe he was clean and made a remarkable comeback. But regardless of what Contador thinks of Armstrong, there's no reason for him to rip the man with five more Tour victories. Not to mention that Armstrong was gracious throughout the Tour and eventually conceded to Contador as the lead person on team Astana.

Funny sidenote. I'm watching "You, Me, and Dupree" and in one scene Owen Wilson is reading a book by Armstrong. Strange.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Hasta luego bandwagon soccer fans

The problem with the U.S.'s loss to Brazil today wasn't so much that the team lost the match. It was that it lost a number of fans who were tuning in just to see what this whole soccer thing is about.

Call them bandwagon fans if you wish - hell, you can even call me one, although I'd be offended - but those "bandwagon fans" are exactly what soccer needs to thrive in mainstream America.

Unfortunately, that group of fans saw a U.S. collapse. Most of them probably missed the first half in an ultimate bandwagon effort to watch the final 45 minutes and say they witnessed the U.S.'s first FIFA-based tournament victory. So what they really saw was Brazil outscoring a defenseless (in more ways than one) U.S. team 3-0.

The adage of "there's always next year" holds true in this case, because the World Cup will be right back in South Africa in 2010. To even make the quarterfinals in the World Cup would proabably be a surprise. And a championship opportunity like today's? Almost out of the question - much like the re-acquisition of all the fans lost today.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Some bread for your Mayo?

This should make it clear the Tim Floyd helped O.J. Mayo get paid while playing at USC.

Does Tim Floyd have a shot at getting back in the NBA?

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Tom Glavine?

Should the Orioles consider signing Tom Glavine?

With all their young pitchers - the best of which are still in the minors - why not bring in this 300+-win veteran/Cy Young winner for the rest of the season to mentor the young players? He's had elbow and shoulder problems, but at the least he could be a middle reliever. Maybe Baltimore can ditch Danys Baez or Scott Williamson to make room.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

I spoke too soon... regards to comparing Kobe Bryant and LeBron James to Michael Jordan. (At the end of the linked blog.)

While I will still criticize Kobe for his failure as team leader in last year's finals, he's still the best player alive and one of the best of all-time.

As for LeBron, he's still very young and in much the same situation that Jordan was in early in his career (when I was too young to even remember.)

(Even if Jordan never lost a final and these two players have been on one of the losing finals teams in each of the last two seasons.)

Chris Broussard of ESPN the Magazine was my wake-up call.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Thoughts for the Night

Don't know how often I'll update but here goes:

11:14 p.m.

Three technicals in two minutes - here we go again.

11:12 p.m.

Did I curse Birdman? He just got dunked on for the second time tonight - neither by Kobe Bryant or Pau Gasol.

10:33 p.m.

Nice ESPN2 shot of A.J. Burnett packing a huge wad of dip in the Yankees clubhouse. Is that the key to his shutout tonight?

9:35 p.m.

Cool story about Nuggets forward Chris Anderson. While traveling with the Mount men's basketball team this winter we happened to be staying in the same hotel (The Embassy Suites in Secaucus, N.J.) as Denver before they played the Nets.

I got in the elevator to go down to the bus before our game and who else was standing there but the Birdman? I had watched part of the Nuggets game the night before and he had gotten off to a hot start. When I asked him how he finished for the night (in a Denver victory) his numbers weren't much more than what I had seen in the beginning of the first half.

"I had to shut it down," Anderson told me. "We got another game tonight." It was interesting to hear a professional athlete talking about the need to save energy. If you think about all the traveling they do, though, it makes sense - especially after playing road games on consecutive nights. And the way he's playing this postseason it seems as if that was energy well-conserved.

Sidenote: Courtney Nyce of the Mount women's team got two autographs from Carmelo Anthony - one of them for me. That was a pretty good road trip.

8:10 p.m.

I'm torn as to who to root for in the Blackhawks vs. Red Wings Game 5. Detroit is a near lock to join Pittsburgh in its second consecutive Stanley Cup Finals, but there are pros and cons to the game ending tonight.

If Chicago wins, that will mean Detroit will have had to play at least one additional game before facing the Pens.

If they lose, however, Pittsburgh will have nearly a two-week wait between Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals and Game 1 of the Stanley Cup. Not only is that too long for a hot team to have off (see Colorado Rockies 2007), but it would also be a complete buzzkill to the excitement of the NHL Playoffs. (Didn't think I'd say that anytime soon.)

I guess more rest while the opponent gets beat up would be better than seeing Game 1 a few days sooner. Go 'Hawks.

Howard has tech rescinded? Shocker

No surprise here as Dwight Howard's technical from last night has been rescinded. Not because he deserved to have it taken away, after all he was taunting Anderson Varajeo after a dunk, but because David Stern doesn't want to have one of his most recognizable stars in the league miss a game due to suspension.

With the Cavaliers, AKA LeBron James' team, in jeopardy of not reaching the finals, the last thing the league wants is to risk Orlando's only superstar not playing a game in the finals that the Lakers or Nuggets would dominate.

Royals should consider dealing Greinke

Would the Kansas City Royals consider trading Zack Greinke? The semi-journeyman has pitched a complete game in half of his 10 starts en route to an 8-1 record, accounting for more than one-third of Kansas City's 23 victories.

But this is Kansas City. The cheap team that, off the top of my head, let Johnny Damon, Carlos Beltran, David Cone and Jermaine Dye all go before their prime. So why not deal Greinke for some prospects like they did with Beltran?

They've finished better than fourth only twice since 1996 - both times third place finishes - and have only one winning season since 1995, including four seasons with 100+ losses.

The Royals are .500 thus far behind one of the best starts by a pitcher in recent history. They're not going anywhere in the fall.

Greinke leads the majors in ERA (0.84) complete games and shutouts (two). He also has 81 strikeouts to 12 walks. At just 25-years-old, he would command a number of quality players in a trade, and would save the Royals up to $34.25 million, the remainder of Greinke's contract, from 2010-2012.

As for where he might go, you can eliminate the pitcher-needy White Sox. Although they sought Jake Peavy in a trade (that Peavy rejected) there is no way Greinke will be dealt within the division. If he's willing to go to the National League, both the Braves and Cubs could use him.

Atlanta is 23-22 just 2.5 games behind the Phillies in the NL East, and already has the 11th-best staff in the majors by ERA. The Cubs, meanwhile, are four games out in fourth place in the NL Central and could use plenty of help in their rotation. And speaking of the Phillies, the defending champs may be in first place, but are one of just five teams with a staff ERA higher than 5.00. Just get Jamie Moyer his 250th win already and drop him out of the rotation.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

More overrated: 2008-09 Cleveland Cavaliers or Dwight Howard?

If I've learned anything from the Eastern Conference Finals it's that the Cavaliers and Dwight Howard are in a fight to be the most overrated story of the season - series loser taking the title.

For all the hype of LeBron James' shot to win Game 2, it should be negated - not in history but at least in terms of this postseason - by the Cavaliers play in the series' first, third and fourth games.

Largely untested in rolling to an 8-0 start to the postseason including an all-time record of eight consecutive double-digit wins, you would expect them to be rusty in Game 1 of this series, but not to lose just their third home game of the season (and only the second in which they played their starters.)

If it wasn't for LeBron's huge shot, there would have been talk about a sweep going into tonight's Game 4 and the notion that the 2008-09 Cavaliers may be one of the most overrated teams in recent history. (That discussion should come to fruition after tonight's result.)

It was the same LeBron who looked skittish at the end of Game 3, taking bad shots and yielding a turnover that essentially sealed the loss. I don't blame him, the ever-deserving league MVP, but his team as a whole, and especially head coach Mike Brown. The coach of the Harlem Globetrotters could have done a better job getting the Cavs to close out on 3-pointers last night - especially Rashard Lewis's go-ahead shot before LeBron's gift free throws that sent the game to overtime. (I don't know what was worse, that call or not giving Howard two free throws after he was undercut by Anderson Varajeo with 0.5 seconds left in regulation.)

From the embarrassing Finals sweep at the hands of the Spurs to an inability to win Game 7 against Boston last year and now a slow start in the second-biggest series of James' career, the clues have been there. And don't forgot the one team that won in Cleveland during the regular season when its starters played - the Los Angeles Lakers, also won the season series 2-0 by a combined 27 points.

Losing to an experienced and heavily favored Spurs team in 2007 as well as a destined and talented Boston team last season is completely understandable. But after starting the season 43-1 at home with its starters (including the playoffs) the last thing anyone expected was for the Cavs to be in a 3-1 hole to a team that lost its starting point guard - Jameer Nelson - halfway through the season, with that single win because of the greatest shot in the young career of one of the top two players in the league.

(Much credit due to acquired-from-Houston-guard Rafer "Skip to My Lou" Alston for keeping the Magic among the East's elite.)

For all the criticism Magic head coach Stan Van Gundy gets for making bad decisions under pressure, he's gotten his team pretty far despite being written off after losing Nelson.

Partially to credit for that 3-1 advantage is Dwight Howard, despite being the most overrated player in the league. He has one move, no touch around the basket and a poor attitude, as evidenced by his postseason-leading six technical fouls - one shy of a suspension.

He is an athletic freak (who should've won the dunk contest for the third time) and the best shot blocker in the game, even if he makes no effort to control where those blocked shots end up. The only exception would be when he eats them for jump balls like he did to James at the end of overtime tonight.

But too often Howard takes himself out of the game mentally because he's disappointed in the refs, his teammates, his coach, or maybe even the Magic dance team. It never seems, however, that he is genuinely upset with himself.

And in case you haven't noticed, Dwight Howard disappears offensively in the fourth quarter of big games. Fourth quarter points this series in Game 1: four; Game 2: zero; Game 3: eight (all eight on free throws on his home court); Game 4: one.

That's 13 points total in four games, nine of them on free throws. He is averaging 0.5 field goals per fourth quarter. I said, the starting center for the Eastern Conference All-Star team is averaging one fourth quarter field goal for every two games this series.

(Kobe Bryant's fourth quarter totals for each Western Conference Finals game, in order: 18, eight, 12 and 14.)

And if you didn't notice how Howard scored all his points in overtime tonight, it was straight bullying. Not that there's anything wrong with that, get your points how you can, but that's going to catch up to him more often than not, especially when a team plays better defense so that he's not left wide open with no chance to take a charge.

Regardless of who wins this series, the Cavaliers as a whole and Howard as a player will look like impostors against Los Angeles or Denver. The Cavs probably need a solid veteran to compliment James, Mo Williams, a hard-nosed but streaky Delonte West, the volatile Anderson Varejao and the rest of the cast to be true title contenders.

Howard on the other hand needs an attitude adjustment and probably an improvement in work ethic as well.

If the Lakers can get past the Nuggets, the door will be wide open for Bryant to win his fourth NBA title and send the Cavs or Howard back to the drawing board.


(For the record I think Howard is more overrated simply because James is a great player who gets better every day and makes the Cavs a contender, albeit an overrated one.)

Sidenote: Michael Jordan wouldn't have lost the NBA Finals last year the way Kobe's Lakers did, and he wouldn't perform the way LeBron has this series against the Magic*. Just further proof that there may never be an heir to his throne.
*Turnover prone at the end of games and unable to make free throws. In other words, MJ would have found a way to be up 3-1 or at least tied 2-2 in this series, no matter what the supporting cast.

Another new Post-Up Blog the a.m. at

Monday, May 25, 2009

Shane Eyler named NEC Player of the Year

This is a little late but sophomore Shane Eyler was selected as the Northeast Conference Baseball Player of the Year last week.

The Taneytown, Md., native - 10 minutes from campus in Emmitsburg - is the first Mount player in history to receive the honor.

He may supplant Eric Smith and Josh Vittek as the two best players in school history.

New Post-Up blog coming on in the morning.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Let Dawkins fly

I'm not alarmed by the departure of Brian Dawkins.

There were complaints similar to the ones circulating now when the team released Jeremiah Trotter in 2007. Trotter was a step slower and the team knew it before all the fans and media it surprised by letting him go. Trotter left a significant leadership void for the Eagles, which allowed Dawkins to step into that role more fully. Who will fill Dawkins' shoes, though, may be the biggest question.

Dawkins, who can still lay the big hit, definitely wasn't the same coverage safety this season as he had been in the past. With the signing of Joselio Hansen, the team was also free to trade Lito Sheppard for some picks, which is exciting considering the way this organization finds franchise players on draft day.

Just as Stewart Bradley and Co. have filled in well for Trotter, so will Quintin Demps* for Dawkins.

*Joining free safety Demps is strong safety Quintin Demps. Has any team in the history of the NFL had two players with the same oddly-spelled first name playing together at safety?

If Demps retains the top spot on the depth chart at FS, someone else will be getting more return opportunities. If DeSean Jackson is expected to play a bigger role at receiver, he should probably be weened off the return game as well except for big situations.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Daily Links 1/7/09

Bill Conlin, Philadelphia Daily News
Standing up to the J.C. Romero decision instead of falling for his story of innocence.

Dan Shaughnessy, Boston Globe
I'm not really a Shaughnessy fan but I like the approach he took to the Jeff Jagodzinski firing as BC's football coach. We're too used to coaches and players bailing out of or renegotiating contracts to realize that that is exactly what they are - contracts.

Ben Tysiac, Charlotte Observer
This story was all right, but it could have been great if it had a quotation from Stephen Curry, since he is the subject of the story. Plus it cited Billy Packer as some sort of college basketball expert, which is like saying Strom Thurmond is an expert on equality.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Today's Top Links

By John Henderson, The Denver Post
How Colorado coach Dan Hawkins is holding his players to a higher off-the-field standard.

By Bob Ford, Philadelphia Inquirer
Another exploration of McNabb's successes and shortcomings (notably a Super Bowl loss) in Philly.

By Jason Whitlock, Kansas City Star
Why the vacant Kansas City Chiefs GM position is the best in the NFL.

By TJ Simers, Los Angeles Times
Responses to the questioning of Pete Carroll's recruiting tactics.