Tuesday, May 23, 2006

A look foward to the 06 NFL Season

It's 6:30pm right now, Tuesday night. The Oilers are about to take on the Ducks in game 3 of the Conference Finals. The talk of the town right now is the flu bug that has hit the Oiler locker room. I'm a bit nervous at this point, but confident in my boys nonetheless. Check back tomorrow for my thoughts on the game. Now, onto some NFL thoughts...

Last year, we saw one of the better teams in the NFL for the last few years literally fall from grace. A team that was hurt by injuries and torn apart by turmoil, the Philadelphia Eagles took an unexpected tumble down the NFC East, going from first to worst in only one year. Obviously, the big storyline of the year was Terrell Owens, but not to be forgotten were the locker-room fight involving Hugh Douglass, the story about Donovan McNabb allegedly “losing” the team, and of course the several injuries (McNabb, Brian Westbrook among others) that erased all hope that the team had of saving its season.

As we look forward to the 2006 NFL season, one of the biggest questions will be whether the Eagles can reclaim their throne as the kings of the NFC. My first thought on the subject was that there was no doubt that the Eagles would be back as a Super Bowl contender next year. But when you look at the NFC East, one of the reasons for the Eagles’ dominance of it during the last few years (leading up to last year) was how weak all the other teams were. In 2004, the Eagles finished 6-0 in the division. In 2005, they didn’t win a game. While a lot of that is due to the Eagles’ own problems, the other teams in the division also got a whole lot better. So, with that in mind, can Philly really return to its old dominant self?

Well, I don’t know if they can go back to being as dominant, but I still feel they will be back as one of the best teams in the NFC. Last year, while all the headlines were focused on the McNabb-T.O. drama, the underlying story was the departure of DT Corey Simon and all the injuries that their defensive line suffered. The Eagles have long had a defensive line by committee approach, with a regular rotation to keep everyone fresh. But last year, the d-line, one of the smallest in the league, was constantly outmatched by the opposition because of their lack of bodies. That, in turn, led to a secondary that got burned more than it had been in years. This year, Philly added standout DE Darren Howard through free agency and well-regarded DT Brodrick Bunkley through the draft. These two should fit right in on a line that already includes DE Javon Kearse and 2nd year DT Mike Patterson. And for so unlike last year, the Eagles can look forward to their season with a lot of depth on the defensive line.

In my mind, that is where everything happens. The defensive line play of the Eagles will decide how well the team will perform. I don’t think there is any doubt that Donovan McNabb is the leader of this team. Under the guidance of McNabb, the offense won’t miss T.O. too much. Brian Westbrook (the real MVP of this offense) will continue to create mismatch problems for defenses, and he will get his scores. Somehow, the receiving corps will be fine. No one will catch 90 balls, but McNabb will spread the ball around enough to keep defenses honest. But in the end, it is the defense that will dictate this season for the birds. If the defense can go back to its dominating ways, with its corners shutting down the opposition’s receivers, with Brian Dawkins playing head-hunter in the middle of the field, with Jeremiah Trotter patrolling the line of scrimmage, the team will be more than fine. But in order to do that, the defensive line must start to get some pressure on the passer, to get upfield on running plays, to create havoc once more. Without that, the defense is forced to blitz too much, and that’s when they get burned.

Howard, Kearse, Patterson, Bunkley, Rayburn… Remember these names. The Philadelphia Eagles’ season will hinge on them. The NFC East is not a division that is ripe for the picking anymore. And in what promises to be tough division battles all year long, the Eagles will need to be able to win the battles in the trenches.


At 7:13 PM, Blogger Veillotron said...

I think that the Eagles are going to have an average season, they will not be one of the best team in the NFC, for 2 reasons:

A) Defense is not what it used to be.
I think too much is made of T.O. and the whole circus of last year - fine, it's a distraction, but it shouldn't kill a season. Over the years, the Eagles have let quite a few good veterans leave the team, and for a while it seems a lot of the youngers guys were able to step in - but last year this cost them dearly.

B) Donovan McNabb is overrated. He's a good and gritty quarterback, but he's not a magician. Before TO, he didn't set the world on fire with his stats, and after To left it was back to usual... TO made Donovan. The Eagles need to get their ass in gear and go get another big time receiver - it's not by passing to a running back that you are gonna get to the Superbowl.

The other solution would be to temp the Indiana Jones of all quarterbacks, Dave Krieg, out of retirement. Then the Eagles would have a real shot at the Lombardi...

At 9:55 PM, Anonymous Sweet LP said...

Bring back Dave Krieg to do what? The ironing? I guess it's another worthless comment by the virus. Though I must admit I agree with the rest of his analysis of the Eagles: the philly cheese steak won't be a popular item again this year.

Huy, about the ps3, I have no idea if you will need to buy an extra hardrive. But for the 360, if you buy the "deluxe edition" it comes with everything you need (hardrive, headset, wireless remote). And it is still cheaper than the ps3 will be (rumor has it starting around 500-600 US$)

Finally, I would like to know if the Dwarf ever follows on our comments. If he wants a growing audience, he needs to mix in with his readers.

P.. If one of you know how to reach Dave Krieg, please let me know: I'm looking for a new cleaning lady.

At 12:38 AM, Blogger The Dwarf said...

As requested by Sweet LP, here is my response to the comments:

Offensively, if we take a look at the numbers (pts scored, total yards), T.O. was never what made the offense go. The real key guy in the offense, with or without T.O., is Brian Westbrook. Before T.O was there, the offense posted great numbers with Westbrook in the lineup, and average ones without him. He is the X-factor for that offense.

And defense is not what is used to be, I agree, except when you talk about defenses as good as that of the Eagles (or Pittsburgh for that matter). If Westbrook stays healthy, the offense will be fine. To me, the real question is whether the defense can get back to being its dominant self.

I think, if it does, the Eagles can be back to being a 11-5 or 12-4 team. Otherwise, the Philly Cheesesteak won't be too popular again, to use Sweet LP's words.

At 7:49 AM, Anonymous Huy said...

I have one thing to say, anyone who can milk out a 11-5 record with James Thrash and Todd Pinkston as their WR and Duce Staley as their RB must be recognized as a magician. Although i agree the birds won't be as dominant as the previous years, i do think the offence will be fine and that kid Reggie Brown is capable of mustering the 1000 yds mark. Finally, if the league complained that the number of sacks allowed were down the last few years, well, Dave Krieg would be just what the doctor ordered

man oh man, what a 3rd period last night, the oil almost turned the momentum of the serie around had they commited the blunder of losing a 4-0 lead.

I have a question though, should JS Giguere be allowed to sport a playoff beard even though he's on the bench???

At 9:03 AM, Blogger Veillotron said...

Guys, it's just not cool to trash Dave Krieg. Have some respect for the greatest quarterback to ever play the game. Below are a few website giving propz to my Main Man...




At 9:19 AM, Anonymous Huy said...

it's true, Dave Krieg is one good bloke how played his career with little fanfare and class. He was underappreciated everywhere he went. Although, there is one guy who always appreciated Dave, a guy named Derrick Thomas....he appreciated him alright, 8 times in the same game.

At 2:39 PM, Blogger Veillotron said...

True, Huy, very true, Derrick Thomas did like Krieg...
But the thing that people seem to forget about this game is that, although DT sacked Krieg a record 8-times, on the last play of the game, DT missed a ninth sack and Dave trew a TD pass that won the game 17-16 for the Seahawks...

And the fact that he got sacked so many times in his career tells a lot about the quality of his offensive line (Dave wasn't a Randall or Young, but he was relatively mobile...), and so to be able to put such numbers with such an awful line tells millions about his talent.
Just think back to his year with the Lions - 20 TD passes, 3 INTs in 8 games? This is hard to beat. And in the playoffs, against the Packers "on the frozen thundra of Lambeauuu field", when Barry Sanders wasn't able to muster more than 5 yards in the whole game, Krieg lead to the Lions to an almost victory - Herman Moore did catch a TD pass in the last seconds of the game that would have won it, but the ref was blind and he called HM out of bounds (and even the CBS guys said it was a wrong call...).

So there is this, Dave Krieg, always triumphing through adversity...


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