Saturday, July 30, 2016

Eagles Flying Way Under the Radar

All 32 NFL training camps opened this week and the big headlines around the league at continue to revolve around teams such as New England, Pittsburgh, Seattle and Green Bay as the top four favorites to win a Super Bowl this season. There is also quite a bit of press on Denver's chances to win the AFC West for the sixth-straight season in the absence of Peyton Manning. Ironically enough, former Eagles' quarterback Mark Sanchez is still penciled in as the Broncos' starter. The stories go on and on with one common thread; nothing and I mean nothing is being written about our beloved birds.

Since Chip Kelly departed town, Philly is not even back page news with the majority of the national sites covering the NFL. I recently scrolled through the NFL section at and the one Eagles-related headline that was near the very bottom of the homepage read "Jason Peters Embracing the Post-Chip Kelly Era". Even with Kelly way out on the West Coast he still commands most of the attention when it comes to this team.

I often time refer to the term "flying under the radar" as it pertains to certain team or player that is out of the public eye, but I am not even sure I can put Philly into this category heading into the 2016 season. Maybe I should go with "out of sight, out of mind" as the tagline for this year's team.

There was an interesting poll on this week. It asked the question "Who is the Most Intriguing Team to Watch in Training Camp?". The choices were the Rams, Eagles, Dolphins, Broncos and Other. With a tally of over 65,000 votes, Denver led the way with 21 percent of the vote followed by Los Angeles (13 percent), Philly (10 percent) and Miami (8 percent). The "other" category garnered 48 percent of the votes. I guess this means that the Dolphins are another team that nobody really cares about.

With a rookie head coach like Doug Pederson trying to defy the odds that he can be a success in this league, it is probably a good thing that most NFL fans have turned their attention elsewhere. This guy could be the next "Andy Reid" or he could simply hang around for a couple of seasons while the Eagles plunge to the basement of the NFC East. Right now this is a 50/50 proposition that is going to have to be played out on the field. The only good news is that if Philly does crash and burn under his watch, it will probably go unnoticed by the majority of the national press.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

The New-Look Eagles Open Training Camp

Change in the NFL is constant even with an established head coach at the helm so it should not come as any big surprise that the Eagles under first-year head coach Doug Pederson head to training camp this week with as many as 35 new faces in the fold. While many of these players will not be around when the final 53-man roster is finalized before the start of the 2016 regular season, the group of players that do make up this team will be radically different from the one that former head coach Chip Kelly led onto the field on opening day in 2015.

Sam Bradford remains the Eagles' starting quarterback, but all eyes will be on the development of the team's franchise quarterback of the future Carson Wentz. He was the second overall pick in this year's draft and he did not come cheap with Philly having to move up six spots to get him. Another draft pick that should capture some attention in training camp is running back Wendell Smallwood. There are definite question marks in the Eagles' running game and many NFL experts have gone on record that Smallwood does have what it takes to become a featured running back at this level.

New defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz will have his hands full trying to turn around a unit that was ranked near the bottom of the league in both points and yards allowed in 2015. The Eagles' run defense was the worst in the NFL; giving up an average of 134.6 yards a game. Defending the pass was not all that much better with a yards-allowed average of 267.1. Some of the new players to watch on this side of the ball include Rodney McLeod (safety), Leodis McKelvin (cornerback) and Ron Brooks (cornerback). Schwartz is counting on these three players to tighten up a very loose secondary that earned a dubious reputation for giving up quite a few big pass plays over the past few seasons.

Both Jordan Matthews and Nelson Agholor need to step up their game as the Birds' top two wide receivers and they could be looking over their shoulders a bit this season with the addition of free agents Rueben Randle and Chris Givens as additional targets for Bradford and possibly Wentz later in the season. All-in-all, the changes in personnel are a step in the right direction in what is shaping up to be a rebuilding process for the new coaching regime in town.

Optimism is always high this time of the year and with Cleveland coming to the Linc on opening day, Philly has a great shot at getting a fast start out of the gate. The true test for this new collection of Birds comes in Week 3 when the Pittsburgh Steelers make the cross-state trec to the City of Brotherly Love.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

You Cannot Spell Overrated Without Tony Romo

In my last post for Eagles Lincs, I raised the question as to the validity of Donovan McNabb's viability of some day being named a "Hall of Fame" quarterback. The jury is still out on that query, so this time around I decided to make a complete factual case as to why Dallas Cowboy quarterback Tony Romo is with out a doubt one of the most overrated quarterbacks in the history of the NFL.

Let's start with the glaring fact concerning his team's overall record during his tenure with the team as the starting quarterback. Citing as my source, the Cowboys have a grand total of five winning seasons in his ten years at the helm. Any way you decide to break that down it is still mediocre at best. In his team's five winning seasons, Dallas has gone 1-5 in six playoff games. Once again, any way you try and spin that one it still comes up well short of spectacular.

Many Cowboys' fans will point to the gaudy stats that Romo has posted as the starting quarterback of America's Team. Let's start with the 2014 season which was probably his best as a pro. Dallas won the NFC East at 12-4 and it went on to beat Detroit 24-20 in the Wildcard Round of the playoffs. The run ended there with a 26-21 loss the Green Bay Packers in the next round, but Romo did get the monkey off his back after coming up short in four previous postseason performances. He threw for 3,705 yards that season, which was ranked 14th in the league. He ended that year with 34 touchdown throws, which was fourth on the list and his overall quarterback rating of 113.2 was the best in the NFL among all starting quarterbacks. That's it folks!That's the highlight reel that is supposed to pave Romo's way to Canton!

Anyone reading this post already knows how I feel about the Dallas Cowboys and their grandiose owner Jerry Jones. As one of the most self-indulging, pompous human beings to ever walk this earth, the only accurate way that I can describe Jones is that he will go down as the ultimate 'legend in his own mind'. He has gone to great lengths to promote his starting quarterback as one of the best to ever play the game and while I have no problem with an owner backing his quarterback one hundred percent (Robert Craft and Tom Brady) I still think there should be at least one Super Bowl ring involved behind Jones's ridiculous admiration for Romo.

Tony is not a bad guy and if he actually played for a different team I would probably look at his overall career in a different light. He has had a very successful run in the NFL given his humble beginnings as a free agent out of Eastern Illinois way back in 2003. In his first 13 NFL seasons, he has thrown for over 34,000 yards and close to 250 touchdowns. His overall QB rating is 97.1 and he has a solid completion percentage of 65.3. I would never try and argue against the fact that Romo is a very good starting NFL quarterback, but he is not a future "Hall of Famer" by any stretch of imagination.

Romo's playing days are not over and, if somehow the Cowboys manage to win a Super Bowl with him at the helm, this status could change. Maybe it could be as early as this season with Dallas listed as the clear favorite to win the NFC East and a "Top 5" team to win the conference, but if you truly buy into all that hype you probably also believe that pigs can actually fly.

I know that I am the ultimate homer fan when it comes to the Eagles and a big part of playing that role is hating Dallas with every essence of my being. However, facts are facts and it would still be extremely hard for anyone to dispute my stance that Romo has been, still is and destined to be one of the most overrated NFL quarterbacks to ever play the game!

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Is Donovan McNabb a Hall of Fame Quarterback?

Former Eagles' quarterback Donovan McNabb becomes eligible for the Pro Football Hall of Fame next year so let the debate begin as to whether or not the entire body of his NFL career warrants such a prestigious honor. His career in Philadelphia spanned 11 seasons after becoming the second overall pick of the 1999 NFL Draft. He also played for Washington and Minnesota to round out a 13-year career in the NFL.

Some of McNabb's highlights include helping his team reach the NFC Championship Game five times, but weighing heavily against this accomplishment is just one trip to the Super Bowl which resulted to a loss to New England in 2004. On the field, McNabb threw for over 37,000 yards and 234 touchdowns while adding another 3459 yards and 29 touchdowns on the ground. This makes him the Eagles all-time leader in passing yardage and touchdown throws. Some of the other stats in his favor include a 98-62-1 record over the course of 161 NFL starts.

In my opinion, McNabb had a very good career in Philadelphia that led to quite a few exciting wins, but that glaring hole in his resume of never winning a Super Bowl continues to be a major roadblock to his path to Canton. There are a number of former NFL quarterbacks in the Hall of Fame that never won a Super Bowl, most notably Dan Marino and Jim Kelly, but their accomplishments on the field clearly merited entry into the NFL's most elite club. I will be rooting for No. 5 when next year's class is announced, but I would not get my hopes all that high.

If McNabb does get elected into the Hall (and that remains a huge IF), it is going to take some time. The process could drag on for years only helping to further fuel this debate. In the meantime, we can all start rooting for Carson Wentz in what everyone in Philly is hoping will be the start of another 11-year run by a potential Hall of Famer.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Doug Pederson has Nowhere to Go but Up just released its rankings for all 32 NFL head coaches and at the very bottom of the list is Eagles head coach Doug Pederson. The poor guy has not even lost his first game and he is already being dragged through the mud. I guess somebody had to be last on this list so why not someone that is still waiting for his first chorus of boos from the Philly faithful at the Linc.

The jury is going to be out on Pederson for quite some time with the bar set pretty low for the Eagles this season. Andy Reid never had any head coaching experience when he took over the helm as the team's top guy in 1999 and he went on to have a pretty good run in Philadelphia. Pederson is a protege of Reid as part of Andy's staff in Kansas City and he even started a few games for the Eagles at quarterback to help set the stage for then rookie Donovan McNabb to eventually fill the starting role.

Pederson has not done anything wrong to deserve such a low ranking, but he has not done anything right to instill a high level of confidence that he can has his own long run in Philly as head coach. Time will tell what his ultimate fate will be, but for right now he has nowhere to go but up!