Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Fed Up

It's one thing to not hear the knocking of opportunity at your door. It's entirely another to hear it, ignore it repeatedly, finally open up and smile at it, only to slam the door in its overly patient face.

And yet, it seems that no organization is as efficient at doing so than the Philadelphia Eagles.

Unable to watch the game live, I was up until 2:00 early Monday morning watching the Birds find a new way to lose a football game. I will never get those hours--or the energy spent punching my couch--back. So someone owes me an explanation.

Maybe it's Donovan, whose perfomances are so puzzling I think I'm going to start calling him McNygma. The commentators were talking about his streakiness, his tendency for late starts, how different coaches know whether he's in a rhythm or whatever by looking at his footwork, blah blah blah. These are things that get said about rookies and second- and third-year players. Donovan, however, has been an NFL quarterback for ten seasons. Ten. Seems like more than enough time to me to figure out how to set your feet, show up for the game at kickoff, condition your body so as not to burn 20 seconds during a drive to try and win the game to catch your breath, or to learn that your primary job when holding the ball in your own end late in the first half is NOT TO THROW AN INTERCEPTION, for the love of God.

Maybe it's Andy Reid, who seems to have forgotten that he coaches a professional team. What is with these "wildcat" formations, these reverses and fake reverses, the hook-and-ladder against the Cowboys? (Yes, I'm still mad about that one.) What ever happened to play calls where the quarterback just drops back and throws to (rather than behind, over, or at the ground somewhere near) his receivers? What ever happened to...that guy...I can't remember his name...really talented....runs and catches....oh yeah, BRIAN WESTBROOK??? Remember screen passes and dump-offs? You know, Andy's BREAD AND BUTTER??? Like they would have been able to drive for a touchdown even if Westbrook got that first down? "You're killin' me, Smalls!"

Maybe it's the special teams, who need a refresher on some basic rules. "When they kick it off to me, should I catch it or drop it? Dammit, I never remember this one!" "When the guy signals for a faircatch, I can't hit him? This league really is soft!"

And what I realized as the final seconds of another opportunity ticked away is that this game was a perfect representation of what these last ten years have been for us. The expression "woulda, shoulda, coulda," was invented for the Reid-McNabb era of Eagles football. Missed opportunities, atrocious playcalling, turnovers at the worst possible time, failure to convert third downs. How bout the interception runback against Tampa Bay in '03? The interception on the New England 2 in the Super Bowl? The penalty to negate the first-down catch against the Saints in '06? And those were just the playoff games! All four losses this year, and five of eight last year, by less than a touchdown. The difference between their 5-4 record and 8-1 or even 9-0 is less than a handful of plays. And yet, that is the story of a decade of Eagles football. As writer Kevin Noonan said, we've "learned to live with a team that falls short when it matters most, a team that still wins lots of games but never seems to win a big game." This team seems to rest forever on the line between good and great. And the difference is not drinkability.

Someone at the bar last week said, "If they don't do it this year, Reid, McNabb, or both of them have to go."

I know I'm breaking my own rules about having phaith. I know that just a few weeks ago I was hailing McNabb's performance as, literally, the Second Coming. I know that at 5-4 the season isn't yet over. But sadly, in last place of a division we haven't won in and a tough schedule ahead of us, I'm starting to agree with the guy in the bar. Here's hoping I'm wrong.

And by the way? The Phillies are still World Champions.

Other Musings: What's with offensive linemen and all this pointing? You have to wonder what they're saying. "Look, the clock is over there!" "Watch out guys, the uprights are yellow!" "I think that guy wants to hit you, Eli!" They're trying to look like they're making adjustments. But really they just look like oafs.

I think I would seriously consider paying someone to rip out Chris Berman's vocal chords so that he never speaks again.

And in case you were wondering what makes the Triple Steak Burrito triple, it's "steak, steak, and more grilled, marinated steak." Now it all makes sense.