Urgent, Creative Eagles Need to Keep it Going by Jeff Lyons
The Eagles might have found an identity in Sunday night’s loss to the Patriots. They played with urgency and creativity, something that has been missing for most of the season. They were fun to watch.
They need to carry over this passion to their remaining games if they want any chance at all of making the playoffs. I’m not sure what it will take to keep them playing at such a level. Maybe they can all wear those eye shields and rig up some kind of special effects/Photoshop deal that makes opposing players look like they’re wearing Patriots uniforms.
There was a flea flicker, a successful onsides kick and an option pass. The Eagles were creative and actually looked like they were having fun. Too often, this team is predictable and boring. And predictable and boring won’t win you too many football games, unless you’re the New England Patriots. And let’s just stop all this quarterback controversy nonsense right now. A.J. Feeley is what he is – a capable NFL backup. Feeley had his moments on Sunday night, but he was picked off three times, all of which led to the Eagles loss. If the Eagles have any chance at all of making the playoffs, it will be up to a HEALTHY Donovan McNabb. Let’s remember that McNabb is coming off of a major knee injury and was finally getting close to being completely healthy before thumb and ankle injuries forced him to miss the last 1 1/2 games.
A healthy Donovan McNabb (circa 2004) combined with creativity on both sides of the ball makes the Eagles a formidable foe.
Remember the scene in Animal House where pledge Kevin Bacon is paddled by a fraternity brother and keeps repeating “thank you sir, may I have another?” That’s got to be the way the Flyers feel after Scott Hartnell was thrown out of Monday’s game for a hit on Andrew Alberts of the Bruins. He’ll probably get suspended, just like Steve Downie, Randy Jones and Jessie Boulerice before him. Except the guy with paddle isn’t Niedermeyer, it’s the NHL’s lord of discipline, Colin Campbell.
For those of you that missed the second-period hit, Alberts went to his knees near the boards to play a puck that was up around his thighs. Hartnell finished his check and laid Alberts out. It looked scary for a time, but Alberts was up and skating off the ice in a couple of minutes. Click here for video of the play. Hartnell was penalized for finishing his check. Unbelievable. Alberts, for some inexplicable reason, dropped to his knees to play the puck. I’ve only seen goalies do that. He made himself vulnerable with a stupid decision and Hartnell hit him. It looks to me like Hartnell slowed down before hitting Alberts. The game was the first between the Flyers and Bruins since the Oct. 27 matchup when Jones hit Boston’s Patrice Bergeron, leaving Bergeron with a concussion. Bergeron, who hasn’t played since, put himself in a vulnerable position by bending over near the boards when Jones hit him. The Flyers have been penalized twice for the poor decisions and positioning of their opponents.
I can’t really say anything about the Sixers because a) I don’t watch them and b) they’re not very good. The Phillies should offer Aaron Rowand arbitration and hope he accepts, keeping the centerfielder with the team for another year. I think that’s the safest bet the money being thrown at free agents this year ($90 million over five years for Torii Freaking Hunter!). I like Rowand – he did a nice job for the Phils this year. But to offer more than a two- or three-year contract to a guy like Rowand is just nuts. He had a career year and will cash in. But I don’t think he’ll be able to keep playing like that for a sustained period. If the Phils offer arbitration and Rowand declines and signs elsewhere, the Phils will get a top draft pick from Rowand’s new team. If he agrees, he’ll get a big raise (I’m thinking around $8 million to play in 2008) and the Phils will have their same outfield from the 2007 division-winning team. Don’t break the bank on Aaron Rowand. He’s just not worth it.
Remember last January when Jimmy Rollins said the Phils were the team to beat in the National League East? That worked out OK. But on Monday night, Rollins said the 2008 Phils would win 100 games. Yikes.
Jeff Lyons, senior managing editor of the Philadelphia Bar Reporter and Bar Reporter Online, is a fanatical Philadelphia sports fan who is already counting down the days to when pitchers and catchers report for spring training.