As my man Tony Reali says on Around the Horn: "So, that happened." A pretty fantastic game last night in Irving, Texas. Never a dull moment. If you saw the game, you know that there is much to discuss. So I hereby dispense with a snappy introduction, and I give you:
1) Donovan McNabb is back. Last week and, arguably, the last few games of 2007, we saw that Donovan's arm strength is every bit as good as it's ever been. What we hadn't seen in a good long while was his ability to scramble. Two plays stand out in my mind: the one where he wriggled free from a surefire sack to get the first down, and the other where it took five Cowboys to bring him down as he correctly switched the ball to the sideline hand twice. And how bout the Favre-esque flip to Westbrook for 18 yards at the end of the third? As many of us have said for years, all it takes is a couple of lemons-to-lemonade plays per game to get the defense thinking about it, and everything else opens up even more. I confess I got a little emotional, saying things like, "There's the Donovan McNabb I remember!"
2) The offensive line is a wall. Simply put, all of the above is true, because this is true.
3) Asante Samuel is worth every penny. A lot of us seem to have forgotten that the defense was actually decent last year. The difference between last season and the years before was the lack of turnovers forced. And that's what they paid Samuel the big bucks for. What Donovan's scrambling does for the offense is what Samuel's presence does for the defense. It allows everybody else to be that much more aggressive.
4) Brian Westbrook is a man possessed. There is an argument to be made--at least for the moment--that Westbrook is the most valuable, if not the best, running back in the league. The leaping touchdown that bailed out DeSean Jackson's unparalleled stupidity in the second quarter (oh, don't worry, we'll get there) and the twisting, third-effort touchdown in the fourth have me convinced.
5) DeSean Jackson is the real deal....... Amazing stat I saw last night: Jackson is the first rookie to start his career with two 100+ yard receiving games since 1940, when Don Looney, another Eagle, accomplished the feat. He is incredibly exciting, but....(can you tell I'm chomping at the bit on this one?)
Overall, we should be very encouraged. Birds played a great game on the road against a ridiculously talented team, and established themselves, for all to see, as a serious championship contender.
1) Donovan McNabb still makes the occasional poor choice with the football. Note to Donovan: If you have no one to throw to, nowhere to run, and are about to get hit, for the love of God, throw the ball away. Yes, it is that simple. I appreciate trying to make something from nothing, but a sack is less than nothing. Personally, I prefer nothing to less than nothing. But maybe that's just me.
2) Handoffs. Another note to Donovan: faking out a defender = good. Faking out your own running back = bad.
3) The hook and ladder. The hook and ladder?!? Are you kidding??? What are we, in high school?!? Nevermind that the execution was terrible, leaving Westbrook with literally nowhere to go. Whether he meant to or not, the message Andy Reid sends with that play call is that he doesn't have the confidence in McNabb to throw a 20-yard pass and get another first down. I just don't understand resorting to a play reserved for the utmost desperation, when your quarterback has been able to move the ball almost at will. I usually trust Reid, but every so often his playcalling is nothing short of bewildering.
1) The single stupidest play in the history of football. Congratulations, DeSean Jackson. Your mom must be proud. If you didn't see it, you need to. As Emmitt Smith correctly said, the problem is that Jackson was so focused on what he was planning to do to celebrate the touchdown that he forgot to score it first. And the worst part of it is it's not the first time he's done something like that! In his area high school all-star game, running in for an easy score, Jackson went to do a flip into the end zone. Except that he landed on the one. Oops. (Watch it here.) He is so lucky that it wasn't a turnover and that Westbrook bailed him out. If that had been the difference in the game....nah, I don't want to think about it.
2) I hate you, I hate you, I hate you, Terrell Owens. Love how he still doesn't think he did anything wrong as an Eagle. Is anything TO does TO's fault? One thing I realized last night is that, as strong as my dislike for players like Jose Reyes and Martin Brodeur, it's in the world of athletics and not terribly personal. But I think if I ever actually met TO in person, I would punch him in the face.
Other Musings: Can someone tell me just what in the hell the More Taste League is? How can a food or drink have more taste than any other? How does that make any sense? (Thanks Mark.) Nevermind that the imbecile "cool" guy recognizes him as "the Commish," he still feels the need to say, "of the More Taste League, that's right." When reporters address the presidential candidates as "Senator," do they say, "of the United States Congress, that's right"? I don't think so.
And, oh yeah, the Phils are only a half-game out of first.
Keep the phaith. Now and forever.