Thursday, December 31, 2009
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
The deal gives the Phillies an unbelievable Right-Left, 1-2 combination at the top of their rotation. It is important to realize that a performance like Lee's playoff run in '09 will most-likely not happen again....ask Cole Hamels. His playoff pitching will be studied down to every possible second by the next time that he is on the big stage. Therefore, I think that swapping Halladay for Lee is a great deal. You get a cheaper ace, who is right handed, to compliment Hamels, and a pitcher who has been salivating for 6 months to join this team. The confusing side for many fans is that the Phillies lost basically what the Jays wanted in the summer for Halladay. The deal maker for Ruben Amaro Jr. was that they were able to bring the Mariner's into the deal and take three of their top prospects along with Halladay.
The Phillies were not prepared to go past 3 years with Cliff Lee's contract where they would have had to pay him over $100M. They orchestrated a deal that gave them an equal or better ace, saved $40M+, and received three very promising youngsters. While the Phillies traded top pitching, outfield and catching prospects they received the Mariner's top 2 pitching prospects and an outfield prospect that many scouts say will be as good if not better than Michael Taylor. On top of it all, the Phillies still kept their #1 overall prospect in Dominic Brown who may not be MLB ready like Taylor, but will be by the time we actually need MLB outfield help! (Ibanez, Victorino & Werth are all staying put for at least 3 years)
In the end, I think that this deal was a lot of work for potentially a very big return. The Phillies have saved money while getting arguably the best pitcher in baseball. Our farm system did not take such a hit that we are left with gaps and we were able to keep Joe Blanton and J.A Happ. I never would have seen a deal like this happening, but this new style of GM that Ruben Amaro has brought to the organization is something to be happy about - he goes out and makes things happen any way possible. In a week and a half he has brought Placido Polanco and Roy Halladay to Philly. That is pretty impressive. The reason that I do not absolutely love the trade is simple because I have so much respect for players that carry a team on their back, and that is exactly what Cliff Lee did for us in the '09 playoffs. It is hard to just get rid of such a valuable member of a team, but this is professional sports - it is a business.
The Phillies obviously still need to pick up some bullpen help, and I'm sure that they will do this before spring training (looking at Fernando Rodney and John Smoltz heavily). The best part of this offseason is realizing that Ruben and the Phillies owners are making the moves that we have dreamed of the last 15 years. The Phillies are slowly becoming the Yankees of the NL and leaving every other team feeling that they're not doing enough.
Honestly, how painful must it be to root for the Mets???
IN THE FOREGROUND - Essentially, the Phillies traded Carlos Carrasco (#2 prospect), Lou Marson (#3 prospect), Jason Donald (#4 prospect), Kyle Drabek (#5 prospect), Michael Taylor (#6 prospect), Travis d'Arnaud (#7 prospect) and Jason Knapp (#10 prospect) for Roy Halladay and the '09 NL pennant. The Phillies traded all but three of their top ten prospects leaving the #1, #8 & #9 prospects in Dominic Brown, Zach Collier and J.A. Happ. (rankings from BaseballAmerica.com prior to the Lee deal last summer)
Monday, December 14, 2009
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Thursday, December 3, 2009
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
RP - Brad Lidge - $11.5MM
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Monday, November 23, 2009
Yesss...LeSean McCoy is my player of the week. One because he won the Eagles game last night after a late 4th quarter TD, and more importantly because he was a West Virginia KILLER in college and this is the week of the WVU game...I hate WVU.
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Monday, October 19, 2009
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
- To be honest, I am feeling very confident about these match ups. While Wolf and Padilla certainly are not the pitchers they were in the red pinstripes, they will never seem any different to me because of how terrible they were on our rosters.
- Cole Hamels is an interesting player...he has struggled this year and in Game 2 of the NLDS. The one team Cole did not struggle against was LA where he pitched his best game of the season against them on June 4th pitching a complete game shut out.
- Like I said earlier, I feel Happ's struggles were mostly because of the weather and should have no problem in LA if he gets the call in Game 2. While the Dodgers hit lefties much better than the Rockies, the fact that Happ has actually started recently makes me think he is a better choice then using Blanton or finally bringing Pedro into a game.
- Lee, I am comfortable against anyone - Vicente Padilla, Roger Clemens, Babe Ruth, Cy Young...I don't care at this point. What Cliff has done for us this year/post season has blown me away.
- Chad Billingsley could be slipped in somewhere in the first three games since he did not pitch in the NLDS and was very successful earlier this year against the Phils.
James Loney - Against the Phils this year Loney has hit .393 BA, 11H, 2HR, 6RBI. These numbers are certainly up from his averages and up comparable to other teams this season.
Andre Ethier - Ethier's numbers have been ridiculous so far this post season.... .500BA, 5R, 2 2B, 2HR, 1.333 SLG, 1.905 OBP. Along with the NLDS series that Either had, he has performed very well against the Phillies this year including the June 6th game when he had 2 home runs, 1 being a walk-off in the 12th inning.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Thursday, October 8, 2009
- We can steal all day on Torrealba - as we did (tried..RH) all game yesterday. When your starting pitcher steals bags you know there is a weak link. First post-season steal for a Phillies pitcher in the history of the team. Chris Iannetta will have to get time if we continue to steal as successfully as yesterday.
- Each of the 9 batters had at least 1 hit. This is incredibly encouraging especially with who was pitching yesterday and how our offense has been performing lately. As I wrote in the NLDS preview, if our offense is on, as it was yesterday, there is no stopping this team. I don't know if the rest the last few days helped or what, but all of the players were hitting the ball in good spots and hard.
- I watched the game on the MLB Corner feature online - this thing is cool! I had four views going - behind home plate with an awesome view of the strike zone, in center field, in the Phillies dugout which is hilarious to watch and along the 3rd baseline. I thought this thing would be stupid, but it was actually pretty cool if you're really into baseball....or at work, like I was!
- If the wind was not at 25mph there would have been at least 2 home runs in the game. Werth's would have been more left center and definitely way out and Howard's most likely would have been a bomb to left. Instead, we ended up with an RBI scoring triple and double off the wall - not complaining!
- We did not have to use the bullpen at all (thanks Cliff) which allowed the group another day of rest. We did see Happ up in the bullpen in the 9th which makes you think that Martinez will be starting game 4 and that Happ may have become the late reliever/closer - I don't know how I feel about this.
- Do Not Doubt Cholly! He decided to use Cliff Lee in Game 1, despite his recent struggles, and wow was he right! Now Hamels is coming into today's game with a nice 1-0 lead in the series and the chance to just about end the series. We can only hope he pitches like last post-season...
- Cliff Lee.
- Clifford Lee.
- C. L. - Whatever you want to call him, the man pitched amazing yesterday. He retired 16 in a row at one point. Allowed just 6 hits and 1 earned run in a complete game. Sounds awfully familiar (cough cough..last post!) to his first home start vs. the Rockies. Lee was one strike away from a complete game shutout but allowed an RBI double. No big deal. I have to say for this being his first playoff game, for a team and city he has been with for a few months, this outing was very very impressive. Yesterday's pitching by Lee is exactly what we hoped for the day that Ruben traded for him. I cannot wait to see him pitch again!
Cole Hamels (10-11, 4.32 era) will take the mound this afternoon versus Aaron Cook (11-6, 4.16). We all know what Cole is capable of doing in the post-season. Last year, Hamels was 4-0 with a 1.80 era in the playoffs - he shoud have been 5-0 but that 2 day delay messed it all up. Aaron Cook, on the other hand, has pitched his last 13 innings while allowing only 1 run. He was on the DL in August with shoulder problems. The last time the Phillies faced Cook was August 6th - Cook pitched 5.0 innings, allowed 7 hits and 3 earned runs. Cook left the game with a hyper-extended big toe. Cook was an All-Star in '08.
The weather forecast for today's game is 67 degrees, sunny, 9mph wind. Today's game will not be changed by anything other than the will of the players. It will be a beautiful October afternoon to kick the Rockies' ass.
Hamels was quoted yesterday as saying that he truly believes the playoffs are a time to "start over". I am so excited to hear him say that. If Hamels can pitch anything like last year, or Lee yesterday, then this game will be another breeze. The Rockies will be swinging today - their team is too good to have two silent days offensively. Today's game should be closer than yesterday's simply because the Rockies know they have there backs against the wall...already. If they lose today they have an incredibly small chance of pulling this series out. They will be swinging and aggressive on the base paths when they have the opportunities. With this in mind, Carlos Ruiz can be a huge part of today's success. He needs to be able to keep the ball in front and call pitches in running counts where he knows he will have a good angle to still throw down to 2nd or 3rd.
I think the crowd will be even crazier today then it was yesterday. I was really mad when I heard that the Phils had the two early games, but after seeing yesterday's record setting crowd it is truly obvious that this town does not quit on their teams...even when they're supposed to be working...I mean seriously, what recession?
I don't like doing this for playoff games, but I'm really excited about this one. Hamels should go about 7 strong, 7 hits, 2 earned runs, 6 left on base. The Phils will win the way they know best and get two big home runs, 1 from the Big Guy Ryan Howard and 1 from Chase Utley. Phillies win 5-3.
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Monday, October 5, 2009
Phillies - 93-69
Rockies - 92-70
Probable Pitcher Matchups: (Based on Phillies.com)
Hamels (10-11, 4.32 era) vs. Jimenez (15-12, 3.47 era)
Lee (14-13, 3.22 era) vs. Cook (11-6, 4.16 era)
Blanton (12-8, 4.05 era) vs. Hammel (10-8, 4.33 era)
Martinez (5-1, 3.62 era)/Happ (12-4, 2.93 era) vs. De La Rosa (16-9, 4.38 era)
-Obviously, these are complete season totals in both records and ERA. I would say that the most important pitching stats for playoff predictions are numbers in the second half of the season and the last 7-8 games. Therefore, I compiled the stats for these pitchers over their last 7 games to be a better judge of how they may pitch in this series.
Last 7 Games:
Hamels (3-3, 3.78 era) vs. Jimenez (3-3, 3.95 era)
Lee (2-4, 6.20 era) vs. Cook (2-3, 4.86 era)
Blanton (4-2, 4.92 era) vs. Hammel (2-1, 3.67 era)
Martinez (4-1, 3.48 era) /Happ (3-2, 3.88 era) vs. De La Rosa (4-0, 2.99 era)
Observations - With the exception of De La Rosa (much better numbers the last 7), the Rockies pitching has been consistent throughout the season. I would think that this will benefit the Phillies because you would rather know exactly what you are getting, instead of trying to plan for a streaky or hot pitching staff. The Phillies will most likely get what they saw from the Rockies during the season, where the Phillies won 4/6 games. For the Phillies, the numbers over the past 7 games for each pitcher are close to the same for the season except for Cliff Lee. His numbers have been much worse over the last 7 games. This is a concern because Lee is struggling, especially with leaving the ball up in the zone, and is unfamiliar to pitching in the postseason. The home field advantage may play a huge part in the success of the Phillies in the NLDS because the pitching match ups, especially lately, are surprisingly similar.
Offensive Comparisons: (top 3, Total Team)
Hits: Phillies - Victorino (182), Howard (172), Rollins (168), Total -1439
Colorado - Helton (177), Tulowitzki (161), Hawpe (143), Total - 1408
RBI: Phillies - Howard (141), Werth (99), Utley/Ibanez (93), Total - 788
Colorado - Tulowitzki (92), Helton/Hawpe (86), Barmes (76), Total - 760
HR: Phillies - Howard (45), Werth (36), Ibanez (34), Total - 224
Colorado - Tulowitzki (32), Stewart (25), Hawpe (23), Total - 190
R: Phillies - Utley (112), Howard (105), Victorino (102), Total - 820
Colorado - Tulowitzki (102), Hawpe (82), Helton (79), Total - 804
2B: Phillies - Rollins (43), Victorino (39), Howard (37), Total - 312
Colorado - Hawpe (42), Helton (38), Barnes (32), Total - 300
3B: Phillies - Victorino (13), Rollins (50, Utley/Howard (4), Total - 35
Colorado - Fowler (10), Tulowitzki (9), Gonzalez (7), Total - 50
Hmm...this is encouraging! As shown above, the Phillies lead offensive categories over the Rockies in everything except triples. This may come as no surprise - anyone who watches baseball knows the potent offense that the Phillies have. With the make up of both fields (Coors & CBP) the offense has the potential to become a huge advantage (look back 2 years when the Phillies offense disappeared in the NLDS vs. Colorado). Worth noting is that the Phillies offense has been struggling over the last few weeks - we'll see if this rest helps them come out of their funk.
Bullpen: Listed All Pitchers
Bastardo (2-3, 6.46 era)
Condrey (6-2, 3.00 era)
Durbin (2-2, 4.39)
Escalona (1-0, 4.61 era)
Eyre (2-1, 1.50 era)
Kendrick (3-1, 3.42 era)
Lidge (0-8, 7.21 era)
Madson (5-5, 3.26 era)
Myers (4-3, 4.84 era)
Park (3-3, 4.43 era)
Romero (0-0, 2.70 era)
Taschner (1-1, 4.91 era)
Walker (2-1, 3.06 era)
Total - (30-30, 4.14 era)
Beimel (1-6, 3.58 era)
Belisle (3-1, 5.52 era)
Betancourt (4-3, 2.73 era)
Chacin (0-1, 4.91 era)
Daley (1-1, 4.24 era)
Flores (0-1, 5.25 era)
Flogg (0-2, 3.74 era)
Herges (3-1, 3.38 era)
Morales (3-2, 4.50 era)
Peralta (0-3, 6.20 era)
Rincon (4-2, 6.87 era)
Street (4-1, 3.06 era)
Total - (23-24, 4.50 era)
Statistically both teams have about the same numbers representing their bullpen - they win just about as many games as they lose and have around a 4.25 era. With this in mind, I have to say that the Rockies have a considerably higher advantage in their bullpen simply because the Phillies do not have a true closer. The Rockies have Huston Street who has only blown 2 saves all year. This makes me incredibly scared and shows how important our offense will become.
The Phillies are a better team than the Rockies and have a lot to live up to from last year. This is an interesting match up because statistically, aside from offensive stats, the teams match up very well. Additionally, these two teams have been the NL representative in the World Series the last two years - experience is not a factor for either team. I see this series really hinging on the offense that is produced....as I have said over and over again above. If the Phils play to their offensive potential this could be a quick sweep...if they are not firing on offense we will have to rely on our bullpen and the "closer" which is something that will not favor the Phillies. The offense must produce.
Prediction: Phillies win in 4.
Friday, October 2, 2009
Thursday, October 1, 2009
Monday, September 28, 2009
Thursday, September 24, 2009
The regular season is down to the magic 5 (combo of Phils wins, Braves losses). Should have only been 4 after last night's game, but once again Brad Lidge blew the game in the ninth inning allowing two runs. Phils lose 6-5. Lidge's blowing of games has been an ongoing problem that has been well documented nationally throughout the year. I'm about as comfortable with Brad Lidge pitching as Rhianna is about going toe-to-toe with Chris Brown. Lidge started hurt, then he said he was healthy, then started blowing games and said he was hurt again...now he says he's healthy! Give me a break.
Lidge is 0-8 with a 7.48 era and 11 blown saves. These numbers are alarming and something that cannot be overlooked, which I believe Charlie Manuel has, but his numbers in the past 7 games are down right scary. In these 7 games (1 HOU, 3 WAS, 1 NYM, 1 FLM, 1 ATL), Lidge is 0-2 with a 13.85 era and has allowed 8 runs. Out of these 7 games, Lidge only threw a shutout inning twice -he allowed at least one hit in every one of these games. Lidge has not pitched a 1-2-3 inning since August 30th - nearly a month back (9 games ago). Last night, I could have thrown my beer through the television screen, honestly. Holding me back were 3 things: 1) it was a Yuengling 2) It was my parents new TV, they'd be super pissed 3) I once threw a small glass table out of my college living room window during a ND/Michigan game (long story)...and have since realized throwing things over sports gets you nowhere but in your friends jokes for years to come.
But on a serious note, the Phils took the Brad Lidge train two stops past town on this one. We've gone too deep into the season to make any change at the closer position that would allow that player the amount of confidence he would need to pitch successfully in the playoffs. Myers is not healthy and has not pitched enough to be in the role, Madson has the arm to be a closer but has struggled with the closer role (confidence killer again), and any other option (CHP, Durbin, Eyre, Walker, etc.) leaves a player unfamiliar to such a critical pitching style and mindset. We have no other option than to stick it out with Brad. Therefore, pull out your Koran, Bible, Torah or whatever you swear on and start praying - otherwise, this next month (hopefully!) with Lidge could quickly remind us all of Mitch's struggles in '93, and then some.
Another reason we need to wrap up this division quickly is to get Carlos Ruiz as much rest as possible. News came out yesterday that his sprained wrist was aggrivated and he will be missing some games. The last thing we want to do is use the Panama Prince (I like that!) simply because we absolutely have to, no matter what his health is. We saw how amazing and important Carlos was last October - I mean honestly, I was asking for the nice Chevy and an MVP trophy for him! If we can win these 5 games quickly and let Carlos rest until game one of the NLDS we will be giving him a much easier run at the October he had last year. This could turn out to be incredibly important in the series to come. We cannot afford Bako everyday - not that he is bad, I like Bako - but he certainly is not as good defensively or at calling a game as Ruiz, and we do not need another lefty bat in the lineup consistently.
Pedro vs. Happ:
Now on to a topic I have been giving a lot of thought - Pedro vs. Happ for the 4th spot. And by the way, did John Kruk really ask if Blanton or Pedro gets the ball in game three? Johnny Boy, you played here! You know about our loyalty..Blanton is the answer. Sorry for the deviation...Pedro has been awesome since we signed him. I have really enjoyed watching him and believe the chip on his shoulder, no pun intended, has brought him a long way so far (thanks Omar Minaya). Happ, on the other hand, has been sensational and is in the running for NL Rookie of the Year. Who do we choose for our 4th starter come playoffs? Luckily (I guess..), I had the chance to speak with Tom McCarthy about this the other day as a guest for dinner with him in the Phillies Executive Diningroom (no big deal). McCarthy said he would go with Pedro because of the experience factor and would probably use Happ in spot rotation depending on the match ups in the playoffs. I would put Happ in the bullpen, where we really need help right now, and throw Pedro game four. If Pedro runs into any trouble we have Happ right there to come in for a long relief appearance. Happ has never been a starter in the playoffs and who knows how he will react to the big stage. Additionally, he has shown that he can pitch well out of the bullpen, something that Pedro has not done for a long time outside of the WBC.
A lot of questions with a little amount of time remaining!
Next Series Predictions - Milwaukee for 4 games starting tonight.
J.A. Happ (10-4, 2.77 era) vs. Jeff Suppan (7-10, 4.76) - W, Happ
Cliff Lee (14-11, 2.99 era) vs. Manny Para (10-10, 6.42 era) - W, Lee
Pedro Martinez (5-1, 3.32 era) vs. Brad Looper (13-7, 5.12 era) - L, Martinez
Joe Blanton (11-7, 3.82 era) vs. Dave Bush (5-8, 6.22era) - W, Blanton
Wishful thinking - win 3/4, hope the Braves lose some and clinch the division!
Sunday, September 20, 2009
Notre Dame Football - 33-30 Win over Michigan State
Pitt Football- 27-14 Win over Navy
Eagles - 48-22 Loss to New Orleans
Phillies - 2/3 Wins over Atlanta
Notre Dame - Well, Notre Dame finally beat MSU in South Bend...since 1993. I was seven years old then, so this is basically the first time I remember seeing ND beat the Spartans at home. No matter how happy the Fightin' Irish fans may be about this win, the game came with a huge cost - Michael Floyd is out for the rest of the season after needing surgery on a broken collar bone.
-Jimmy Clausen is quickly showing why he was the #1 recruit in all of America. He is about 300 yards short of his freshman season total for passing yards after three games (remember how bad they were in 2007!?). He has thrown 9 TD"s and 0 INTs. Kyle McCarthy has three INTs this season, 1 in each game, and saved the game for the Irish this weekend with a redzone INT preventing back-to-back devastating losses for the Blue & Gold faithful. Armando Allen must have worked hard this off-season...thank God. So far, Allen has rushed for 326 yards and 3 TD's and is actually breaking tackles! Allen seems to have put in some work in the weight room - he is finishing his runs and getting past the first defender, something he has struggled with in the past.
-Golden Tate had a great game, 127 yards and a TD, but dropped another wipe-open TD..the ball hit his hands, giving him three dropped TD's on the season.
-The Domers take on Purdue next weekend who has the nation's leading rusher in Ralph Bolden. As always, Purdue should put up a great inner-state fight versus ND, but I really see a huge mismatch here, favoring the Domers. After this past weekend's devastating loss to NIU, Purdue will be hungry for a huge win...sorry, they won't get it. The Irish should be able to rush Armando Allen all day and destroy the Purdue secondary. Jimmy Clausen has another huge game.
Prediction - Notre Dame 41, Purdue 17.
Pitt - Looks like Dion Lewis is the replacement for the Panthers that they desperately needed after losing LeSean McCoy to the NFL draft. The Freshman ran for 79 yards and a TD - he has just under 500 yards rushing and 5 TD's in 3 weeks in the NCAA, very impressive. Bill Stull had a respectable game, throwing for 245 yards and a TD. Stull now has 6 TD's and only 1 INT so far this season - a great start to the season for a player who struggled down the finish last year. Another great showing by Jonathan Baldwin solidifies the Panther's offense as one of the best in the Big East - Baldwin had 6 catches for 111 yards.
-Next week the Panthers play at NC State who is 2-1. This will be the toughest competition that Pitt has seen so far, but the Panthers should be able to handle the pressure on both sides of the field.
Prediction - Pitt 27, NC State 17
Eagles - Ahhh..the worst 4 hours of my weekend - well, I guess I should say 2 hours. At the end of the first half, I really believed that the Eagles could pull out a win. But...about 5 minutes into the second half I was certain this "win" was not happening. While Kevin Kolb played significantly better than I thought he would, he still made some terrible decisions. He really seems to struggle throwing quick balls to wideouts near the sideline - two INTs on throws like this, one returned 97 yards for a TD...a great reminder of the Baltimore INT to Ed Reed last year. Essentially, the defense, special teams, and penalties killed the Eagles. Asante Samuel was abused by Marques Colston, (who would have thought? -sike) and Drew Brees picked apart the Eagles defense for 311 yards, 3 TD's and 1 INT. Every special teams play seemed like it was raining yellow flags - just giving the Saints yardage at every chance.
- I'd rather just forget about this game and hope that Donny is back next weekend. The defense better take a long look at themselves and hope Matt Cassel doesn't look anything like Drew Brees next week. I don't want to write about the Saints game anymore...too much to say at this point. Devastating.
Phillies - 14 games remaining/ Magic # at 6 - The Phils took 2 games out of 3 from the Braves and moved 8 games ahead of the Marlins for the division lead. Starting tomorrow night the Phils have a three game series in Miami with the Marlins. The Phils are 6-0 in LandShark Stadium this season and would love to extend that record with a series win. If the Phillies can win 2/3 or sweep the division is all wrapped up! We'll see how the bullpen can handle the next few games..
-More to come on Phillies in next post..
Weekend Rating - 3 1/2 out of 5 stars - only one loss overall, but a devastating loss! Otherwise, a great weekend in my sports world.
Friday, September 18, 2009
1. Starting QB - word from the Eagles is that Donovan is doing all that he can this week to play on Sunday - certainly not a surprise - Donny is as tough as they come. So..would Donovan playing on Sunday be a good thing? It could go a few ways here...
-As a wanna-be smart fan, I want to say "No" - Donovan needs to rest his ribs this week and let the defense try to win this game (bc we know Kolb won't win it)..then..hope that our team wins a "should win" versus the Chiefs without Donny which allows him an additional week during the BYE to rest and return for the Bucs game - healthy and ready to fire away. Depending on this weekend's performance by Kolb, next weekend could allow time for Garcia to know/remember the offense and Michael Vick to be fully up to speed for his anticipated return Week 3. I hate saying this....but..we cannot leave out the long stretch that Kevin Kolb actually plays half decent this week. Long Stretch.
-As an idiot want-to-win-now fan, I want to say allowing Donny to return is OK.. almost in the same respect that I wrote about why we should sit him. If we can get Donny through this game without making his injury worse, we can then rest/or not rest him the next two weeks depending on how he's feeling. We may be able to squeeze just enough out of him to get a win over the Saints. Obviously, This theory really depends on how our offensive line looks this week during practice (OL - to be discussed later). P.S. this theory is for argument sake!
-One way or another, Kolb is penciled in to be the starter and debating what will or will not happen is irrelevant. Fingers crossed...I'm praying - seriously.
2. Pressure from the Linebackers & D-line - Drew Brees...dude is an animal. 6-feet tall with spikes and a helmet on, and he still threw for 5,069 yards and 34 TD's last year - he led the league by over 500 yards passing last year. Ohh and by the way... last week he threw for 358 yards and 6 TD's with a passer rating of 137! Plainly stated, Brees is top 3, if not the best, QB in the game and we need to hit him, sack him, intercept him, but most importantly, put pressure on him ALL game. This is why my concern surrounds our defensive pressure on Brees..
-I will start by saying, last week's defense looked great - 5 int's, 5 sacks, 2 FF, 1 fumble return for a TD. Victor Abiamiri finally looked healthy/strong and I was really excited about this, but news came out today that he did not practice because of a pulled groin and is listed as questionable. Trent Cole and Mike Patterson looked dominant as always and Darren Howard played exceptionally well - 2 sacks and 1 forced fumble. The linebackers are a question, simply because of their inexperience and constant change throughout spring training. Last week, they played better than I had anticipated, but Jake Delhomme is certainly not Drew Brees and Delhomme looked the worst of all starting QB's last week.
-If the D-line can effectively open the lanes for the linebackers to fire then we stand a great chance at dramatically disrupting the Saint's flow of distribution to their many offensive weapons (Devery Henderson, Marques Colston, Reggie Bush, Mike Bell, Jeremy Shockey). As always, this pressure changes Brees' timing and speeds up all decisions and throws - exactly what we need with arguably the best DB's in the game. I would imagine that the Eagle's blitz will be turned up a notch this week from the linebackers, while keeping a constant eye on Jeremy Shockey for the short dump off (he played well last week with 2 TD's - I hate Shockey). Asante Samuel and Sheldon Brown have struggled against tall receivers in the past (Plaxico!) and Colston's frame is fitting the mold - should be an interesting match-up for them.
3. Eagles Running Attack - So apparently Donny broke a rib and Kevin Kolb is probably going to start? Ohh Ok..that's fine, he can pass. HAHA SIKE. Dude is terrible! I wouldn't trust Kevin Kolb throwing a baseball into the Delaware River from a Penn's Landing pier, let alone throwing a real football in a real NFL game! Because of this, our running game must be on point this weekend. We will need to run the ball from all different sets and with as many different players as we can. Obviously, the Saints are looking for this and will be keeping their linebackers up on the line more than usual. I don't really care - we need to run BWest, Shady, DeSean and Weaver as much as possible. If we can mix them up with the occasional short pass we may be able to keep the Saint's defense off balance. Kolb better not throw the deep ball - especially if Darren Sharper is in coverage (2 int's last week).
4. Offensive Line - Since all sources seem to be saying Kolb will be the starter, this offensive line play is incredibly important. Winston Justice must play as well as he did last weekend because the test did not end with Julius Peppers. Stacy Andrews is in a three man rotation with Nick Cole and Max Gean-Gilles - understandable with the injury history that Andrews has had in the past year. Regardless, a three man rotation will not help the continuity of a line which has barely practiced together. I am concerned to a high degree about this offensive line. The Birds really need great protection for Kolb and also really need to open the gaps for Westbrook and McCoy to create an effective running game.
Conclusion: I am nervous about this game, which says a lot. I am almost never nervous about the Eagles, but this game will be a tough game for the Birds to win. I think that McDermott will have a prepared defense, much like last week. The offense on the other hand is a tough call. If we can get a run game going then we stand a chance. If we have to pass a lot then we will not win this game. I trust Andy and Marty to figure this out. The game will be closer than people think (although the line is only -1 Eagles). I really feel that the Eagles should lose this game, but I am going to say that the Birds somehow pull this one out 30-27...maybe a game winner by Akers??