SPORTO: The Agony Of Defeat


[Photo by ALEX TORBAN]

sportsguycroppedthumbnail.thumbnail.jpgBY MIKE WOLVERTON SPORTS GUY It was interesting to see that the Eagles listed no one on their injury report prior to Week 1. One source called them “the healthiest team in the league”. And…that lasted about one quarter. Leonard Weaver: gone. Jamal Jackson: done. Stuart Bradley: shaken. Kevin Kolb: concussed. Often the best team in the NFL is the healthiest. The Eagles aren’t nearly so good that they can survive injuries to major players. If Week 1 is any indication, it’s going to be a long year.So, how did Kolb look before Clay Matthews sent him to the sidelines late in the second quarter? In a word: shitful. It didn’t help that every time he turned around, Michael Vick was coming in the game. Then there were an assortment of runs, and that left 15 passing plays for Kolb in his two quarters. I broke down the film (this is a way to sound like an expert when what you mean is, “I watched a few plays over again”), and the 15 called passes resulted in 10 Kolb throws (there were also three sacks and two pass plays negated by penalty). Five of the passes were complete, although one of those was caught by center Mike McGlynn after it bounced off LeSean McCoy’s knee. Two passes were decent throws that didn’t connect, one off Celek’s hands and a slant that was broken up. And the other three throws all could have/should have been intercepted. There was also a risky backfoot heave down the middle into coverage, on which the Birds were penalized. I’d like to take the optimist’s stance and say that it’s only three or four bad passes. You could also look at it and say that Kolbs final line could have been 5-10, 24 yards and three interceptions.

So, should there be a quarterback controversy? Uh, no. Michael Vick looked pretty good, and the Eagles’ offense looked much better in the second half, but lets admit that Vick looked good as a running improviser, not a West Coast-style ringleader. And with the Packers ahead 27-10, they were inclined to allow Vick a few running yards while denying big plays downfield. When Kolb was in the game it was close, and lets remember the Packers finished 2nd in the NFL in defense last year. Yes, Kolb was bad, but he is the Eagles’ future, let’s not gas him or ruin his confidence by turning to a quick fix that can run around well.

Let me also say that was good coaching by Andy Reid using all the Eagles’ timeouts to stop the clock with more than five minutes left. One day soon, some dumb coach is going to use his timeouts early and save just enough time for the other team to beat him. The Eagles stopped the Packers on that drive and got the ball back with 4:13 to play. Who’s to say the Eagles needed four minutes to score and not three or two? The time they saved at the five-minute mark could have been the time Aaron Rodgers needed to beat them. How can Andy Reid be sure that he’ll need all those seconds he’s saving at that point? Seems possible, but football is a funny game. Coaches, save your timeouts until you are sure you need to use them. When someone loses a game this way, remember I’ve been banging that drum all along.

Speaking of timeouts, how did Donovan look for the Skins on Sunday night? Passable. The Skins offense only put up three first half points before Dallas graciously gifted them a TD at the halftime gun. Less than four minutes into the 2nd half, McNabb had already used two of Washington’s timeouts. Not going to miss that. On that drive Washington made the Red Zone, and a penalty saved McNabb an interception on what was an awful throw. He then laid two fade passes nicely into the hands of Anthony Armstrong, only to see them juggled and then broken up. The Skins botched that field goal but got one later, leaving them with an offensive output of six points. Donovan threw for 171 yards with no TDs or picks. But, his team won the game. Score after Week 1: Donovan 1, Kolb/Eagles 0.

While you’re feeling sorry for yourself, you can at least be thankful you are not a Lions fan. First, there’s the years of miserable teams, the 0-16 season and the fact that they’ve never even been to the Super Bowl. Second, they lost their starting quarterback yesterday, 2009’s overall number one draft pick Matthew Stafford. Yes, the Eagles lost their quarterback yesterday as well, but the Birds have a semi-capable backup, and Kolb shouldn’t be out as long as Stafford. The real kick in the ass for Detroit on top of losing the Franchise QB is that they were totally robbed of a victory in Chicago. If you missed it, the Lions’ Calvin Johnson grabbed what appeared to be the winning touchdown against the Bears with 25 seconds left. Johnson caught the pass with two hands, got two feet in bounds in the end zone, took one hand off the ball to prepare to cushion his fall, then fell to the turf on his butt, still holding the ball. For as long as I’ve been watching football, when you’re sitting on your ass with the ball in the end zone, the play is over. Next Johnson touched down with his empty hand. That makes two feet, one ass and one hand down, all in bounds in the end zone with possession of the ball. Finally, Johnson touched the ball down on the ground and it either came loose or he let it go intentionally, having clearly thought he had scored. After review, the referees denied the catch, correctly interpreting a ridiculous rule about “maintaining control” all the way to the ground. HE WAS ON THE GROUND, SITTING ON HIS ASS! How long does he have to hold on to the fucking thing? I love football, but I’m not sure I want to invest myself emotionally in a sport where that isn’t a touchdown (this feeling guaranteed to last all the way until 1 PM next Sunday). Whatever benefit the NFL thinks it derives from this rule, none of it is worth it if you are going to steal that game from the Lions. At least the Eagles know that they deserved to lose.

I will say the Eagles looked very good in one department Sunday: attire. The 1960 Kelly green uniforms looked fantastic. I’m sure the merchandise shop was humming. The Birds better sell them while they can because wallets will start to shut real fast if they are on their way to a 5-11 season.

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