In Philadelphia: “We talkin’ about practice”

This NFL season has been an exciting one for the City of Brotherly Love. Philadelphia’s 3-0 Eagles are the talk of the sports-town after a near miss with the Flyers and a disappointing season for the Phillies. It’s only September and the season is still young, but the Birds are off to a great start.

They remain a second half team, much like there were the last few years. However, now the way the team has been conditioning is being touted as a reason why they are able to run their opponents off the scoreboard by the end of the fourth quarter. One lonely Bird felt like it was a bit too much of a workout and did a lot of chirping about it to the press.

Instead of the big story being about the Eagles leading the NFC East or being undefeated or making NFL history as the only team to win its first three games despite being down by at least ten points; thanks to CB Cary Williams, “We talkin’ about practice.” That quote was made famous by another Philadelphia athlete, Allen Iverson, when he wore a 76ers uniform. Williams has since then apologized for his comments and Coach Kelly blew off the notion that it was an issue or anything worth talking about. He chalked it up to Williams being “frustrated.” I could think of a few less kind adjectives.

Practice is not for the faint of heart. It’s not for those who strive for mediocrity. The greats view practice as a part of their recipe for success. Michael Jordan and LeBron James, for instance, are known for their relentless habits when it comes to just that--practice. Practice may well be the one thing that sets the Philadelphia Eagles apart from their opponents: including how much they practice; what goes into their practice; and how prepared they are as of a result of their practice. It makes me wonder--when practice became a dirty word?

As the Eagles head into week four and take the cross country trip to San Francisco, they are headed into a tough game against a highly formidable opponent. There definitely needs to be more focus on putting points up in the first half. It’s a realistic concern that the second half explosion could misfire. The 49ers, 0-1 at home, are having a challenging year on and off the field with a suspended player grabbing the headlines and talk about dissatisfaction with the coach rumoured to come from the front office. They’ve had some disappointing losses at 1-2 that have most likely put a fire under their pants. It will by no means be an easy game for the Eagles. But the difference could come down to what Coach Kelly has them doing guessed it...practice.

Helen “Love My Eagles” Little

W is the New Ugly: Eagles Start the 2012 Season 2-0

A win is a win. But when a win is as ugly as the first two games of the Philadelphia Eagles’ season, it gives cause for concern. In two gut wrenching games, they almost lost to the Cleveland Browns in week one and just squeezed out a win against the Baltimore Ravens this past week. As the 2012 season got underway, sports pundits spewed that grand expectations were in the cards for the Birds. But that’s every year for the most part from the Philadelphia fan base. We still long for our first Superbowl win. Prior to the first game there was a lot of talk that the Eagles just might make it there this year. That was before they took one regular season snap. Now that we’ve seen a couple of games, the thought process is a tad bit different. 

I still believe the Eagles are good team. However, they’ve clearly shown at this point that they aren’t playing like a great team. Many have likened both wins to luck as they pulled out fourth quarter victories by the pigskin of their teeth in their first two games. I attribute it more to a late game focus, with them taking three and a half quarters to get it together on offense. QB Michael Vick has been like a one man turnover machine plagued with interceptionitis. With four picks in the first game against Cleveland and another two against Baltimore, it’s bred a cause for concern. But that’s not where it ends. His ability to stay healthy throughout the entire season is a genuine concern as well. It may help to run the ball more which was a mystery in the Cleveland game. We’ve got one of the premier running backs in the league with RB LeSean McCoy, yet he barely touched the ball in the Browns game. There was a bit more balance in the Raven’s game but their defense did a better job of containing the run.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not all doom and gloom so far this season. The Eagles defense is definitely much more improved. The addition of LB DeMeco Ryans has helped considerably. He netted the only interception in week two against the Ravens. Overall the defense looks, more cohesive, fiercer and more determined than they did most of last season. DE Kurt Coleman was one of the heroes in the Cleveland game with two interceptions against a shaken rookie quarterback. CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie also picked two in the Browns game. And despite turning the ball over, Mike Vick has a few pretty impressive tackles on defense, taking down big Ray Rice in the Baltimore game after he threw a pick.

Despite the way the Eagles have gotten to 2-0, they are coming off an undefeated preseason with four wins in a row. Plus they ended the 2011 season winning their last four games in a row. So it could be noted that they are on a ten game win streak. But there is no way that I believe they can continue to win with such sloppy play and poor game planning. Before they head across country to Phoenix, lots of corrections need to be made. Simple corrections, like protecting the football and having a solid balance between the run and pass plays. They also need to find ways to use all of their weapons on offense. For example, it was good to see TE Brent Celek back in the mix. Right now he’s their leading receiver and proved that he can be another one of the go-to-guys on this team.
The Arizona Cardinals are next on the schedule for the Philadelphia Eagles. They are fresh off a win in Boston against the Patriots who haven’t lost a home opener since 2001. They smell blood in the water after that feat. And with Kevin Kolb starting at quarterback after their starter John Skelton got injured before the end of the first game of the season, there is surely an Eagles ax to grind. The Cards defense looks like an elite unit and would love to exploit our turnover prone weakness. That habit has to be eliminated immediately if the Eagles plan on being 3-0. It will be challenging enough to travel out west and play a tough team with a former team member who probably doesn’t have the fondest of memories of being an Eagle, leading your opponent. This will surely be a show and prove match up, one I can’t wait for.
I will see you on the sidelines!
Helen “Love my Eagles” Little