Tuesday, July 27, 2010

T.O. Signs with Bengals

So he's finally found a home. Terrell Owens has signed a one-year deal with the Cincinnati Bengals. I think it would be an understatement to say that this makes next season all the more interesting.
Can Owens repeat the success he's had with his former teams in Cincinnati?

He will be joining Antonio Bryant and his bff Chad Ochocinco and stated that he will be reporting to Bengals training camp.

What does this mean for the Bengals? It means a great deal. With Owens, the Bengals have arguably one of the most talented group of receivers in the league. Remember everything I was saying about Carson Palmer needing to step his game up? Owens will make that much easier, that is, if he doesn't drive Palmer crazy in the process.

I know what many of you are thinking. T.O. is 36 years old, and is coming off his worst statistical season since his rookie campaign, catching 55 passes for 829 yards and 5 touchdowns. However, we have to think about the context of this data. While these are extremely modest numbers for this future hall of famer, we just realize that Owens was in a horrid QB situation in Buffalo. The passing situation with the Bills was a mess. However, he still managed to lead the Bills in receptions.

I will not dispute that T.O. has lost a step. However, it is my belief that he is still a very effective receiver to say the least. He's clearly still in phenomenal physical condition and still has plenty of speed left. I believe that the once premier receiver has plenty left in the tank to contribute, especially with Carson Palmer throwing to him instead of Ryan Fitzpatrick. If you ask me, I say the Bengals have now gotten an excellent weapon that may help them to compete for the division title with Baltimore. While I believe the Ravens will likely still take that division, it is no longer as set in stone as I once thought. And I will say now that I now consider the Bengals to be a playoff lock for next season.
Will T.O. and Ocho mean big progress? Or big trouble?

Of course, there are factors that could sway these statements. We can't forget about the baggage T.O. brings with him. Will he be able to get along with Ochocinco? Will he tear apart that locker room? Or has he finally turned a new leaf and become a model citizen? After all, Carson Palmer would not lobby for him without a reason, right?
Owens was arguably the most dominant receiver in the league during his tenure in Philly

History tells us Owens will bring big trouble to western Ohio. Yet, if he can still produce, if I were a Bengals fan I would applaud this move.

What does this mean for the Eagles? Well, to be frank, not much. The Bengals are not scheduled to play the Eagles next season. Yet, it's always interesting when this Philly Hero-turned Villain is mentioned. I'm sure none of us forgot about his phenomenal impact during his tenure here, catching 77 passes for 1200 yards and 14 touchdowns in one of his best seasons. If he's anything like he was in Philly, the Bengals are in great shape. However, one thing is for certain, we are in for a very intriguing 2010 season.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Players to Watch in Training Camp

So, as promised, with training camp finally before us, I have compiled a list of players that we should keep an eye on throughout camp. Please let me know if I have left anyone out, but here’s who’s on my mind.
How will Kevin Kolb handle this offense differently than Donovan McNabb did?
Stacy Andrews
(G): We all know what a bust Andrews was last season, after the Eagles made a “splash” in free agency signing him. However his potential is still very high and if he can bounce back he can play a significant role on this team, as he is massive, weighing 342 lbs and standing 6 feet and 7 inches tall. Let’s see how he does in training camp and then the pre-season. However, if he fails to contribute this year, don’t expect to see him around Philadelphia much longer.

Kevin Kolb (QB): Duh, right? Kolb has as much to prove as anyone in camp. He has some big shoes to fill at the quarterback position and training camp and the pre-season are his first chances to show Philly he is ready to lead us. It should be exciting to see how he handles the offense.

Michael Vick (QB): Another QB with a great deal to prove. While many were disgusted with his signing last summer, others, such as me, were excited about what he could bring to the table. Yet, we were all disappointed in his lack of significant impact last season, save that touchdown he scored in the playoff disaster against Dallas. Word on the street though is that he has taken advantage of the off-season to get back in shape and regain much of his original speed. (Some are saying he is back to full strength, but I will see that before I believe it) If Vick has indeed regained his explosiveness, and Marty Morhinweg and Reid figure out an effective wild-cat strategy to make use of his talents, then the sky is the limit.

Can Michael Vick become the threat we envisioned him to be last season?
LeSean McCoy (HB): Last year, McCoy impressed us in his rookie season. He filled in nicely in Westbrook’s absence. We’ll see if he has what it takes to truly be a franchise halfback. Especially in often overlooked areas that Westbrook had shined, such as pass-protection. Similar to Kolb, he’s got huge shoes to fill, replacing one of the greatest Eagles in franchise history.

Nate Allen (FS): Whenever this man gets signed, the Eagles gave up a great deal to get him. His performance will perhaps be monitored the most, as he will always be regarded as the player we drafted with the “McNabb pick.” Not only that, but it looks like he'll be called upon as a rookie to be the starter at Free Safety, as Marlin Jackson went down and neither Quintin Demps nor Macho Harris appear to be the answer. The kid’s got enormous pressure on his shoulders, and not to add any more to them, but we’ll see if he’s all he’s cracked up to be.

Brandon Graham (DE): As the 1st round pick of the Eagles, he made this list almost automatically. On top of that, the Eagles traded up to grab him, neglecting to pick up Pierre Paul or another similarly ranked talent. Andy Reid and Sean McDermott must have seen something special in this kid. Given the overall success Reid has had in the draft (key word “overall.” I know the busts) I am trusting that he made the right choice. I am excited to see his talents at work.

Can Brandon Graham make an immediate impact this season?

DeSean Jackson (WR): Already one of the most exciting players in the league after only his 2nd season, DeSean just came off a record breaking season. On top of that, while many would dispute what I am about to say, Jackson has shown a decent amount of maturity, putting aside issues with his contract for the sake of the team. They say he wants to be the best receiver in the world. I don’t know if his ceiling is that high, but I will say that Jackson has the potential to be even better than he was last year. Let’s see if he’s got any new tricks up his sleeve to show off.
Are Jackson and Maclin a star wideout tandem in the making?
Jeremy Maclin
(WR): Jackson may be Batman, but Maclin certainly is Robin to say the least. In my mind, Maclin has the potential to be an ideal fit opposite of DJax. He’s got what I see as Jackson’s primary weakness: more bulk and the ability to make catches in traffic. I have said all along that Jackson and Maclin will become the new Ochocinco and Houshmandzadeh. Maclin has just come off a rookie season of compiling 55 catches, and factor in that he did not start the first few games. And the rookie season is supposed to be the worst year for a wide receiver. Similar to Jackson, the future is looking very bright for Jeremy Maclin.

Ernie Sims (LB): This a move that I believe has slipped under the radar of many Eagles fans. Sims is a good linebacker with a great deal of speed. That being said, Sean McDermott has an interesting new toy to play with. They can utilize him in some blitzing schemes. They can have him drop back into coverage. His versatility is a great asset to this team. Keep an eye on him.

Stewart Bradley (LB): We all know how much it hurt to lose Bradley before the 2009 season even started. I still hold to this day, that had we had Bradley, the Eagles may have beaten the Cowboys at least once last season, and therefore secured that first round bye. But what’s the use crying over spilled milk? Either way, having had a full year to rest his ACL-torn knee, let’s see if Bradley will be 100% during camp. If he is, then this defense will have received a huge boost, as not only will we have a solid answer at MLB again, but I believe Bradley has the potential to be a pro-bowl caliber player.

Cornelius Ingram (TE): Ah, remember the excitement we felt when the Eagles drafted this talented young tight end? All those teams passed on his just because they were worried about his knee. Well, I guess we know now why they were so worried. McNabb never got that extra red-zone threat, as Ingram also went down with a torn ACL, which really hurt because he showed so much promise in training camp up until then. Like Bradley though, if Ingram has bounced back he will be a great offensive weapon and help Kolb greatly in his first season. Keep an eye on him to see if he shows any signs of rust.

Macho Harris (FS): Another versatile player on this team. I believe he is innately a cornerback, but with Marlin Jackson going down, it would appear that he will prepare for the free safety position again. However, you never know how things will turn out in training camp. Perhaps the Eagles will see the need to add more depth at cornerback (especially with Sheldon Brown’s departure) and convert him. Or perhaps they will try to improve his returning duties? (I personally hope Hobbs stays healthy, so we will not need Harris to do that job…)

So, to all those who are heading off to training camp, keep an eye out for these players. And again, you never know. Someone you and I never thought of may come out of nowhere and surprise us all.

Friday, July 23, 2010

2010 Season Prediction (continued)

Hey everyone!

So I hope you all enjoyed my thoughts on the NFC. Again, I realize this is all premature, but there’s nothing wrong with a little bit of speculation eh?

And boy oh boy, only 3 days until training camp! Where has all the time went? I’ll be sure to have something up before the Eagles head off to Lehigh in terms of players we should keep an eye on throughout camp and throughout the pre-season.

Will LeSean McCoy take the next step in becoming a franchise halfback?

In fact, that was the article I was going to write, but of course, I have to finish off my NFL prediction right? So let’s hear it for the AFC.


AFC North: Ravens. The AFC North is a very interesting story heading into 2010. Ben Roethlisberger is suspended for 6 games, which could be reduced to 4, and could be extended to 8, leaving Byron Leftwich to man the ship in his absence. The Cleveland Browns, despite the optimism from acquiring Mike Holmgren and Colt McCoy, are, alas, still the Cleveland Browns, for at least a few seasons. Holmgren’s got a lot of work to do if he is to right the ship. They won their last 4 games last season to finish 5-11, but don’t expect much from them in 2010. The Bengals are a good team, but their franchise quarterback, Carson Palmer, seems to have lost a step last year. Only the Ravens seem to be truly looking up next season. Joe Flacco is a very talented young QB who will do wonders for his team if he takes his game to the next level, which is a certain possibility, as the addition of Anquan Boldin will ease the process tremendously. They also have one of the best and emerging star runningbacks in the league in Ray Rice. Add in one of the league’s best defenses and we’re looking at a team that I believe will not only secure this division, but have a legitimate shot at the Vince Lombardi trophy next season.

Is Anquan Boldin the final piece of the puzzle for Baltimore?

AFC South: Colts. Two words: Peyton Manning. Need I say more? The man is not just a quarterback, he’s a machine. In my eyes, the best player in the NFL, and arguably the best in all sports today. With the ability to carry a whole team with his play, the Colts will be all but guaranteed another post-season run, as Manning has showed no sign of slowing down, having just come off his 4th MVP award last season, and done without Marvin Harrison. This team will go as far as Peyton Manning will take it. With that being said, things are looking up for Indianapolis.

AFC East: Jets. You know what they say, defense wins championships. And the Jets had the best defense in the league last season. Similar to the situation with the Ravens, if Mark Sanchez can live up to his potential, then this team may exhibit a more balanced offense. Santonio Holmes should also help to solve the void left at wide receiver by the departure of Laveranues Coles. They are also led by a great coach in Rex Ryan. It is my belief that the Giants are no longer the best team in NYC and that the Jets have all the potential to edge out the Patriots for AFC East supremacy.

AFC West: Chargers. The Chargers are a good team, with a great quarterback in Philip Rivers. What helps even more is that they are in a very weak division. The Chiefs and the Raiders are a mess. The Broncos lack an answer at quarterback for the time being, as Kyle Orton is likely not the answer and Brady Quinn has had an inconsistent career so far. Tim Tebow may have a fine career but he is also a question mark, as it remains to be seen if he can equal his success in college at a professional level. He will likely need at least a year or two to develop either way. Therefore, San Diego rules this division for yet another season.

Wildcards: Bengals, Patriots

Bengals. I know I’ve been stressing the QB position very much this article, but in the AFC that simply appears to be the case, as the playoff hopes of the Bengals will also rest solely on the play of Carson Palmer. Last season, Palmer was a decent quarterback, but simply did not look himself. He did not have a single game where he threw 300 yards and looked simply abysmal in that playoff loss to the Jets. He will get some help this season, as Antonio Bryant will be an adequate replacement for Chris Henry, and Chad Ochocinco is still a dangerous offensive weapon. However, while I am a fan of Carson Palmer, it is my belief that his best years are behind him. Still, the addition of Bryant, the quagmire that the AFC North is in, and the team becoming a much stronger defensive team than in the past, should be enough to secure a wild-card spot for Cincinatti. Also, the team had a 6-0 record within the division last year, so the Bengals are certainly still in the game for the time being.

Patriots. Yes, I am calling it right now, the Patriots will lose control of the AFC East. It is my belief that the team’s dynasty era is over. Losing key veterans on defense, such as Richard Seymour, Tedy Bruschi, Asante Samuel, and Ellis Hobbs, is taking an enormous toll on the Patriots defense, which was a shell of its former self in 2009. And let’s face it, future first ballot Hall of Famer Tom Brady was certainly a shell of his former self last season. He certainly looked it in the playoff loss to Baltimore. Don’t get me wrong, Brady’s career is far from over. He threw 28 TDs last season, and threw for 4,398 yards. He is clearly still one of the best quarterbacks in this league. However, his inconsistency last season really struck me by surprise. And losing Wes Welker will prove costly to this team. Randy Moss has shown indication that this will likely be his last season with New England and, if history repeats itself, whenever Randy Moss is unhappy, his production drops drastically.

Of course, I know what many of you are thinking. They are still being led by Bill Belichick, one of the greatest coaches the league has ever seen. If anyone can prove me wrong, it’s him. But the way I look at things now, the Patriots are in a bit of trouble. He’s got a lot of work to do to right this ship.

In fact, I was originally going to list Tennessee as securing the 6th seed, however I am not yet sold on Vince Young. Therefore, I believe that the Patriots will take a step back, but still have enough juice to get into the postseason.

Well that’s what I have down for the state of the AFC. Again, anything could change. Who thought the Bengals would emerge as a contender last season? Or that the Broncos would stumble from 5-0 to finish 3-8 and miss the postseason? Let’s see how the season unfolds and see things go in the AFC.

And training camp is getting here faster and faster. Be sure to look at my article for who to keep an eye on, which should be up within a few days.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

2010 Season Prediction

Hey everyone, So unable to contain my excitement for the upcoming 2010 season, and with my friends and family growing tired of it, I thought I would create a blog to serve as an outlet for my thoughts on the Philadelphia Eagles and the National Football League. My hopes are that people will stumble across it and my ideas will not go to waste. Either way, I am excited to pick up this new hobby of mine, so let's get started!

With the first ever post, I thought I’d do some analysis to try to ease our way into Eagles training camp. I decided to come up with my prediction for how the 2010 season is likely to unfold in terms of the final standings going into the postseason.

Training camp almost here!

I realize that not even so-called "experts" can predict an NFL season. But based on how the league currently looks, this is how I would expect the NFC to shape up.


NFC North: Vikings. This is assuming Brett Favre returns of course. With Favre in the picture, the Vikings have enough talent on both sides of the ball to again beat out the Packers for this division. Of couse, there is always the possibility that Favre’s body will begin to show some age during the season, or that he will play through an injury and not play to maximum capacity. But granted this team avoids any misfortune, the ol’ gunslinger is in a good position to make one more shot (at least) at the Lombardi Trophy.

NFC South: Saints. I am a superstitious person, and the Madden curse is telling me Drew Brees will tear his ACL or something and end his season, which would change everything. But on paper, if he stays healthy, the Saints will be poised to once again win this division. However, if the Madden curse holds true, look for Atlanta to have a comeback season.

NFC West: 49ers. The short-lived reign of the Cardinals is over. Without Kurt Warner, Anquan Boldin, and Antrelle Rolle, the team will be hard-pressed to win even 8 games this season. And this is without factoring in the question mark that is Matt Leinart. On top of that, I like the 49ers. They have a good coach in Mike Singletary, a talented QB waiting to take his game to the next level in Alex Smith, and a strong running game led by Frank Gore. If Michael Crabtree also ends up being everything he’s cracked up to be, then the 49ers will snatch this division easily.

A breakout season for Crabtree would do wonders for the 49ers franchise

NFC East: Cowboys. As much as it pains me to say this as an Eagles fan, Dallas is poised to repeat as NFC East champions. Tony Romo has shown more maturity and he has a plethora of young playmakers to work with, particularly Miles Austin, who has done a spectacular job filling in for Terrell Owens. On paper, Dallas is as talented as any team in the league. Of course, there is always the chance that they will choke, especially in December. No one would be surprised if history repeated itself next season. But if not, it looks like Dallas will take this division again, much to my dismay.


Packers. While Favre may lead the Vikings on top in the NFC North, the Packers are definitely in a great position to take the 5th seed again with 11 wins. In only his 2nd season as a starter, Aaron Rodgers is a top 5 quarterback in this league. He is only going to get better too and still has plenty of weapons to work with. As the defense adjusts to a second year in the 3-4 system, the team will grow as Rodgers grows. While they are listed as the wild-card here, it will be more due to the great deal of talent on Minnesota, as opposed to the lack of it in Green Bay. And if anything were to happen, such as costly injuries, particularly to a 40 year old Favre, Green Bay will have an even greater chance of coming out on top in their division.

Eagles/Redskins. I have this listed as a tie, as we do not know enough about Kevin Kolb to factor in his impact. I personally believe he will be great, and with help from perhaps the most talented collection of receivers the Andy Reid era has ever seen and one of the most successful coaching staffs of the decade, don’t be surprised if he manages to throw for 4,000 yards next season. We should also keep in mind that, similar to Aaron Rodgers, he’s had 3 seasons to learn from the greatest quarterback in Eagles history and a potential Hall of Famer. If I am correct in this assumption, the Eagles will take the 6th seed again, and have the potential to turn some heads in the postseason.

However, if I am wrong and Kolb struggles, then the Redskins are my pick to secure this final playoff spot. While the Skins have many question marks on their team, particularly their O-line, we must remember that they had one of the league’s best defenses last season. Donovan McNabb also changes the whole mentality of that team. His weapons are not phenomenal, but they are adequate. Three aging veteran runningbacks in decline will be interesting, but Mike Shanahan is a great coach and an offensive mastermind. Therefore, if Kolb fails to deliver, the Redskins may be ready to finally become contenders once again.

So again, this is all my opinion, but based on my knowledge of the NFC, I would not be surprised to see the postseason standings look like this come January.

Although, what makes the National Football League so great is that any team can beat any team on any given Sunday, so we shall have to wait and see.

AFC postseason seeding will follow on this blog in the near future.