It's a short week for us, and by us I mean the writers and fans. Who cares that it's a short week for the players and coaches to prepare for the game. These teams stopped preparing after their losses last week anyway.
America was apparently naughty and not nice so far this year, so the punishment they get is the 4-7 Eagles at the 4-7 Seahawks. Sure, before the season you could have argued that this was going to be a dominant "dream team" against the NFC West leaders, but that's not the way it has turned out to be. So this is what America gets on the NFL Network.
I saw an interesting statistic that showed just how popular the NFL is: 10.7 million people tuned in for San Francisco and Baltimore last week, and only 57 million homes have the NFL Network as it is. That's more than some World Series games, and those are broadcast on FOX.
The 10.7 was a record for the NFL Network, as well as a record for cable television on Thanksgiving. The Eagles and Hawks will try and break a new record for biggest drop in ratings week over week when you go from a possible Super Bowl preview on a holiday to a game that features the Eagles without Michael Vick and the Seahawks with Tarvaris Jackson.
The only thing I can guarantee on Thursday is this: If you don't see Mike Mayock catch a fish at Pike's Place Market, you're either not watching the right station (you're potentially watching Friday Night Lights or Designing Women or something) or you need to call your cable provider.
This could get ugly, sloppy, and either side could get dominated.... That also happens to be the warning I give girls on our third date or so.
Neither of these teams is very good at protecting the football, both have been dealing with injuries to key players over the last few weeks, and now they have been given about one full day of practice to prepare. If this game is going to be entertaining, there is a very good chance it's going to be entertaining in the kind of way where you expect Bennie Hill music to be playing in the background.
The teams have a short time to prepare and so do I. Still, we must go on, so to prepare you as well as I can to get to know the birds on the other side of the football, here are eight things you may or may not know about the Philadelphia Eagles and more.
Eagles Got Younger Instead of Kafkaesque
Knowing that I had been spending a lot of time preparing an "Eight Simple Things" on Michael Vick that would destroy the psyche of the star quarterback to the point where he'd never step on a football field or abandoned warehouse again, Andy Reid faked an injury report and Vick will not be playing.
Instead, the Eagles will start their other dual threat quarterback (Vick is a dual threat that can turn the ball over with both his hands and his feet), Vince Young.
Young was a Texas high school star that became a Texas college legend that became the original version of the current Tim Tebow in that he "just wins." During a 10-game stretch of his rookie season, the Titans went 8-2 with a high percentage of the wins involving fourth quarter comebacks and game-winning drives. Of course, he had no choice but to "just win" because he didn't do much else.
During his first four years and 39 starts in the league, Young completed 57.6% of his passes for 152.1 yards per game, 32 touchdowns against 39 interceptions, and 6.6 yards per attempt for a 72.3 QB rating. And his record as starter was 26-13. Of course, Young is a threat to run and scored 12 touchdowns on the ground with a career average of 5.2 yards per carry.
The funny thing is that last year in Tennessee Young completed 59.6% of his passes, 10 touchdowns against 3 interceptions, 8.0 yards per attempt, a 98.6 QB rating... and the team went 4-4 in his starts. His first non-winning season for the Titans. I guess we can only hope that Young plays well tomorrow night.
He has already thrown 5 interceptions in only 85 attempts and he no longer has the speed and agility on the ground as he once had. Young ran the ball 176 times in his first 30 games. He has run it 101 times in his last 28. (30 games, 28 starts in the first sample. 28 games, 21 starts in the second sample. Still, few carries per game and fewer yards per carry.) All of those numbers are way down from his rookie season.
With Vick being intercepted 11 times in 300 attempts and Mike Kafka being picked off twice in only 16 attempts, the Eagles total number of interceptions is tied for worst in the NFL with Washington.
Kafka, a second year pro out of Northwestern, was once thought to be the next Kevin Kolb or one of the Detmer brothers, but he currently sits third on the depth chart when Vick and Young are healthy. Of course, he is still young and has time to improve and really hasn't played much in the regular season.
The Seahawks Could Get Andy Reid Fired
Patience is a virtue in real life. It's damn near non-existent in the NFL.
For only the fourth time in his 13 years with Philadelphia, Andy Reid will miss the playoffs. It will probably be the third time he finishes with a losing record, one of which cam during his first season as head coach. Between 2000 and 2004, the Eagles won 11 or more games every season. They made the NFC Championship game four straight years and survived key injuries pretty much near the end of every season.
Reid could go through all of that and lose his job because Michael Vick went from a career year to being the Michael Vick we are all used to. The one who is not a great passer, but also one that scored nine touchdowns on the ground a year ago in eleven starts to no touchdowns on the ground in nine starts this year.
The coach will be called out for things like the team "not being disciplined" this season because they look at DeSean Jackson and think "that kid is too cocky and brash and it's Reids fault!" during a 4-7 season. Yet here we sit in Jacksons fourth year in the NFL and this is the same kid that's been making news since high school for his cockiness and disrespect for other teams... this is just the first time the Eagles are losing.
Is the team not disciplined because they turn the ball over too much? Well, LeSean McCoy is the NFL's leading rusher, gets over 20 touches a game, and hasn't fumbled once. I guess the Eagles should just make the running backs coach the new head coach.
Fans in Philadelphia don't exactly have a reputation for being silent about their harsh feelings towards certain players and coaches, and now they start speaking up when they're only three years old.
There are websites, t-shirts, and home crowd chants asking for Andy Reid to go. I have no personal investment into the matter, it just seems like a quick reaction to a big decision, but if the Eagles go as far as losing to the bloody SEAHAWKS on Thursday then it's going to be the final straw for a lot of fans I imagine.
The Hawks Biggest Problem Will Be LeSean McCoy
Seattle has not usually had a problem stopping the run this season, but their two worst games against opposing running backs came against speedy rookies DeMarco Murray and Roy Helu. LeSean McCoy is of similar size and speed to Ray Rice, a player that only ran for 27 yards against Seattle, but on only five carries.
It's doubtful that McCoy will be relegated to only five carries and with Michael Vick and Jeremy Maclin out, even more of the responsibility will be on his little shoulers.
He leads the NFL in rushing yards (1,050) and touchdowns (11) and is averaging 5.3 yards per carry with 38 receptions for 228 yards and two more touchdowns. Though he only ran a 4.5 40-yard dash at his Pittsburgh Pro Day (he missed the combine with a flu) McCoy is quick and ran a 4.25 40 when he was in high school.
During his sophomore and junior seasons in high school, McCoy averaged 234 yards per game and scored 59 touchdowns in 23 games. He committed to the University of Miami at first, as perhaps the nations best prospect, but changed his mind after a coaching change at the U and a broken ankle during his senior season put off his college plans for a bit. He ended up at the University of Pittsburgh instead.
The Eagles drafted him in the 2nd round in 2009, falling a bit because of his somewhat lackluster pro day, not going to the combine and putting on a show, and being a small running back. He was the fourth running back taken, after Knowshon Moreno, Donald Brown, and Beanie Wells.
Fun Fact: McCoy went to the same high school as former Eagles and Seahawks running back Ricky Watters
Eagle and Seahawks Top Pass Rushers Are Former Seahawks and Eagles
Both Chris Clemons and Jason Babin made their NFL debuts in 2004 and both took very different paths to get there.
Clemons was an undrafted free agent in 2003 that was signed by the Washington Redskins and then spent the year on IR with an ACL injury.
Jason Babin was a first round pick in 2004 that the Houston Texans wanted so badly that they traded their 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th round picks to the Titans for Babin (27th overall) and a 5th.
Between 2004 and 2009, with the Redskins, Raiders, and Eagles, Clemons played in 68 games, made 3 starts, and recorded 20 sacks.
Between 2004 and 2009, with the Texans, Seahawks, Chiefs, and Eagles, Babin played in 66 games, made 26 starts, and recorded 17.5 sacks.
Clemons flashed potential with the Eagles, and per his Wikipedia page:
"He is well known for his stiff-arming of Tashard Choice on a fumble TD return in a playoff-clinching game vs. Cowboys on 12/28/2008 and his body slamming Tavaris Jackson in the subsequent first-round playoff game."
He was traded to the Seahawks with a 4th round pick in exchange for Darryl Tapp. Clemons has recorded 19 sacks and 4 forced fumbles in 27 games with Seattle.
Babin went to the Titans in 2010 and then returned to the Eagles this season. He has recorded 22.5 sacks and 4 fourced fumbles in 27 games with the Titans (Pro Bowl last season) and Eagles.
They both took very different paths to get where they are, but damn their journeys are similar.
DeSean Jackson is One of the Most Talented Players in the NFL, Which Gives Him More to Waste
One year before the Eagles drafted McCoy, they drafted another highly-talented, highly-explosive skill position player that fell to the second round because of being a bit "too small."
DeSean Jackson ran a 4.35 40 at the combine and was one of college footballs most exciting players, receivers, and kick returners during his time at Cal. He was even once considered a Heisman trophy candidate.
Jackson came onto the professional spotlight quickly with 6 catches for 106 yards, and 8 punt returns for 97 yards in his NFL debut against the Rams. He followed that up with 6 catches for 110 yards against the Cowboys.
Jackson has gone to the Pro Bowl in each of the last two seasons and led the league in yards per catch last season with an impressive mark of 22.5 yards per. He caught 15 touchdowns and returned another three over the last two seasons, and last season against the Giants he had maybe the most incredible punt return ever, returning a punt 65 yards at the end of regulation to give the Eagles a 38-31 win that killed the Giants playoff hopes.
This came one week after his first 200 yard receiving game, which included a 91 yard touchdown catch against Dallas in the fourth quarter for the go-ahead score. Yes, Jackson is one of the best players in the NFL and one of the most exciting to watch. Not just because of how good he is, but because you're waiting to see if he will screw it all up.
Jackson is as brash and cocky a player as you'll ever find. Which is totally uncalled for... unless you know, you're winning and putting up numbers.
He's putting up his worst numbers since his rookie season, averaging "only" 17 yards per catch on 39 catches, 664 yarrds, two touchdowns, and less action in the return game. Over his last five games, he has caught 18 passes for 254 yards and 0 scores.
Still, he's as likely as anyone in the NFL to go 90 yards for a touchdown on a single play, and will be one of the toughest tests that the Seahawks secondary will face this season because of his unique abilities. We just have to hope that if he does get behind the defense, he starts celebrating at the one-yard-line again.
Nom-Nom-Nnamdi, Why Isn't This Working?
The Eagles felt they were on the cusp of being a Super Bowl champion after last season, but wanted to improve a pass defense that gave up 31 touchdowns and ranked 14th overall. The Eagles were good in the area (11th in DVOA) but how could they be great?
In steps Nnamdi Asomugha, the number one free agent, considered to be one of the top two or three cover corners in the NFL. They also added Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie in trade to help out Pro Bowl cornerback Asante Samuel.
How is that working out so far?
The Eagles are now 16th in the NFL against the pass and have given up 21 passing touchdowns in 11 games.. Oh f... shit.
Per Football Outsiders, the Eagles are 17th against the pass. If you break it up by position, they are 23rd against number one wide receivers, 21st against number twos, 17th against all other receivers, 28th against the running back catching the ball, but rank first against the tight end. It's a good thing we forgot Zach Miller existed anyway.
Sidney Rice will miss this one, which pushes up everybody else into a position to potentially have good games against Philadelphia, with the exception of Miller.
This article from Doug Farrar explains some of what's going on Philly, but it is six weeks old. Just to warn you.
The Eagles Fans Get a Bad Rap. Probably Because It Was Written by Will Smith
Now this is the story all about how
The Eagles got flipped, turned upside-down
I'd like to take a minute, just sit right there
I'll tell you how they wasted money on all these millionaires
In south Philadelphia, born and raised
On Lincoln Financial is where they spend most of their days
Chillin out east and relaxin all bold
Philly said "Our dream team is goin' to the 'Bowl"
When a couple teams, they were up to no good
Started beatin' Philly in their neighborhood
They wound up 4-7 and the fans got scared
They said "Fire Andy Reid and trade Vick to the Bears"
Philly pulled up to Seattle 'round seven or eight
Yelled to the fans, "Yo home, smell ya later!"
Looked at the Clink
They were finally there
Two losing teams playing on national air
2011 Eagles and 2011 Seahawks Are Similarly Disappointing and Something Has to Give
I imagine that both fanbases look at this game and go "Well, we're going to lose. We're just blowing it this year."
They've played a lot of similar opponents and come away with some similar results and some different ones.
The Eagles beat the Redskins, and we did not. The Eagles beat the Cowboys and we did not. The Eagles lost to the Cardinals and we did not.
The quarterback play has been inconsistent and more bad than good on both sides. The running backs and receivers keep the offense alive.
They get to the quarterback more often than we do (30 sacks compared to 20 for Seattle) and we stop the running game better than they do (3.5 yards per carry against for us, 4.3 for them.)
This is a pretty even matchup. The Eagles have more proven stars, but the Seahawks are seeing stars grow with players like Kam Chancellor and Richard Sherman and Doug Baldwin. These guys could be "name guys" in a couple of years, like Jackson, Nnamdi, and Jeremy Maclin are now.
The advantage might be CLink. The advantage might be McCoy. One of these teams has to win right? Oh shit, we're gonna see a tie aren't we? It's the only way to piss off both sides.
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