The Eagles Fans Guide to the 2007 NFL Playoffs

The Eagles Fans Guide to the 2007 NFL Playoffs

For the second time in three years, there will be no hometown rooting interests for Philadelphians now that the playoffs have begun. But many if not most Eagles fans are NFL fans too, and we’ll watch pretty much any decent game. The problem is, with the Birds hitting golf balls or putting their houses on the market, which teams and players do we root for? Or more accurately, who we rootin’ against?

The bitter question in front of us is, would we rather see the rich get richer, or another never-been franchise pass us by on their way to join the ranks of the NFL’s Nouveau Riche? Would it be harder to watch the Colts and Patriots win more rings while we have only pre-Super Bowl National Championships, or see yet another team hoist the Lombardi Trophy before us. Is there no third option?

Let’s start with the teams playing this weekend.

Washington at Seattle
Obviously we go with the Seahawks here. I’d be hard pressed to conjure a scenario in which I’d root for an NFC East team, and Seattle’s just boring enough to not really hate. There may be some sentimental bandwagon jumping surrounding this game, as montages of Sean Taylor are bound to be part of the national coverage (and rightfully so—Taylor was a huge part of this team, and his murder was amazingly tragic).

Jacksonville at Pittsburgh
Boorrrrinnng. Don’tcha just hate how often we have to endure Steelers, Jets, Browns, and Ravens games in this market? We’ll take the Jags over our cross-state rivals, even though they’re bland as all get-out too. When it comes to sports, Philly natives have no PA pride. The Stillers? They went to the Promised Land with a rookie QB at the helm, while we’ve waited a nearly decade for our system to gel. The Jags are this year’s upstart team in the AFC, and they could make some noise, starting with this game. Jacksonville fans beware: this Eagles fan will be putting his cursed support behind your squad.

Tennessee at San Diego
After playing under Buddy Ryan in Chicago, Jeff Fisher became one of his coaching assistants. When Buddy brought the 46 to Philly, he brought Fisher with him as his D-backs coach. Fisher went on to become the Eagles defensive coordinator and achieve his career highlight, meeting me and playing Frisbee with us at a barbeque at Gootman’s house. So because of the Eagles/backyard connection, I’m backing the Titans and their possible PSU QB. Also, the Chargers deserve to get smoked for firing their coach after going 14-2 last season. What happens to the guy who took them to 11-5? Waterboarding?

New York Giants at Tampa Bay
 Hmm lemme think about it. Tom Coughlin, Eli Manning, and Jeremy Shockey, or our ’06 hero (Carmella DeCesare) and our former OC with his loveable Chuckie Face? As much pain as we’ve felt from the NFC Championship loss, the ominous start to the Linc Era, and the longest ever game-winning field goal, there’s no way we root for the Giants. The only consolation in a Giants win would be that they did it without Tiki Barber, my least favorite NFC East personality this side of Michael Irvin.

And the Bye-Weekers…

Green Bay
Yes, I flew out to Green Bay just to have the pleasure of seeing the Eagles dive into this season’s downward spiral firsthand. But I don’t hate the Packers, especially not compared to the NFC’s other team with a first week bye. The Favre story is so overdone that I barely notice the networks playing him up anymore, and Ryan Grant has quickly become the team’s most watchable player. The Pack is the NFC team I support the most, primarily because I hate most of the others so goddamn much.

Indianapolis
For many Patriots haters, the hardest thing about rooting against them is that it often means cheering for the Colts. Not me. Somewhere along the way, Dungy’s crew pulled me aboard. It started with Marvin Harrison, a Philly guy who is an elite receiver but comes with none of the regular baggage. Across the field, Reggie Wayne is cut from the same cloth, and he stepped up with Marvin missing much of the season. Peyton quieted the critics and Dungy handled unimaginable family tragedy when he finally won the big one last year, which has almost been forgotten since the Patriots began their tear. I’ll admit it. I actually like this team.

Dallas
I hope they lose their bye week. I hope they lose the turnover battle. I hope they lose their car keys. I hope they lose that swagger like this group has actually won anything. I hope they lose a game-winning field goal snap. Nothing would be worse than Dallas returning to the Super Bowl, except if they got there and beat…

New England
The psychological litmus test for NFL fans. Do you want to witness history so you can tell your kids and grandkids about it, or see the colossus toppled so you can point and laugh at its rubble (unless Dallas wins). Part of me wants to see another team win, but only because I’m an underdog guy. Despite the fact that the Eagles lost to the Pats in the Super Bowl, and again with me in attendance this year, and of course the dominance that is Boston sports in the modern era, I gotta admit, Belichick’s crew has made this NFL season far more interesting than it otherwise would have been. The Hoodie is easy to hate, but hard not to respect. Same with Brady. All he did was live all our dreams, becoming the best QB (maybe ever) and having a super model special lady friend. I have no advice on how to approach rooting for or against New England; this one’s just a visceral reaction.

So that’s my take. No love for any of the NFC teams, but I’ll root for Tampa Bay and Seattle in the Wild Card, with Green Bay as the team I’d like to see play in February. In the AFC we can’t really go wrong. I like the Titans because of Fisher, although they’re painful to watch, and I’d like to see Jacksonville be an upsetter, but there’s no show like the one New England and Indy can put on.

Who you rootin’ for?

Some impressive numbers for Joel Embiid's All-Star campaign

Some impressive numbers for Joel Embiid's All-Star campaign

Tonight, the All-Star starters will be announced on TNT. It is unlikely the East's starting five will include Joel Embiid -- he was only third among frontcourt fan voting at last check, and coaches and media will likely go with a safer choice (i.e. one that doesn't rank only eighth on his team in total minutes played) anyway. But I think we're officially at the point where it's absurd to think of JoJo possibly not getting considered at all, so before the reserves are announced a week from tonight, here's some numbers that tell the partial story of Embiid's dominance in his rookie season: 

107.1: The Sixers' overall defensive rating, tenth best in the NBA. 

99.3: The Sixers' defensive rating with Embiid on the court, first-best in the NBA. 

99.7: The Sixers' overall offensive rating, worst in the NBA. 

105.0: The Sixers' offensive rating with Embiid on the court, 15th best in the NBA. 

7.7: Embiid's block percentage, highest in the entire NBA. 

15.4: Embiid's assist percentage, third-highest on the Sixers (behind their two point guards).

10: Embiid's current streak of consecutive games with 20 points or more, longer than any Sixer since Iverson. 

7: Number of games where Embiid has shot more than ten free throws. 

4: Number of games last season where anyone on the Sixers shot more than ten more free throws. 

68: Embiid's (positive) plus-minus for the entire season. 

224: The Sixers' (negative) plus-minus for the entire season. 

42.5: Embiid's defensive FG% at the rim, highest for any center in the league. 

28.2: Embiid's scoring per 36 minutes, seventh best in the NBA. 

1: Number of other rookies who have ever scored at that rate before (Wilt Chamberlain). 

10: Number of wins the Sixers had all of last year. 

12: Number of wins, after last night's season-highlight win over the Raptors, that they have this year with Embiid in the lineup.

Eagles Stay or Go Part 4: Chase Daniel to Dillon Gordon

Eagles Stay or Go Part 4: Chase Daniel to Dillon Gordon

In the fourth of our 12-part offseason series examining the future of the Eagles, Reuben Frank and Dave Zangaro give their opinions on who will be and who won't be on the roster in 2017. We go alphabetically — Part 4 is Daniel to Gordon.

Chase Daniel
Cap hit: $8M

Roob: Carson Wentz’s backup had a heck of a year — completed all his passes, passer rating of 118.7, averaged 16 yards per attempt. Project that over a full season and Chase Daniel is going to Canton. OK, so he threw only one pass. But that’s two straight years Daniel has been perfect. Last year, he was 2 for 2 for the Chiefs. Most importantly, Daniel has a $7 million base salary in 2017, and that makes him the 25th-highest paid quarterback in the NFL in 2017, and the sixth-highest paid Eagle. The numbers are ridiculous, but Daniel is clearly a good influence on Wentz, a valuable mentor. He’s a solid backup, but that contract is just way too lucrative. 

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: I know fans don’t understand why Daniel is getting paid this much money to be a backup who doesn’t ever play, and at times I have trouble figuring it out myself.  But here’s the reason. When Wentz arrives to the facility during the season at 5:15 a.m. and starts watching film, he’s not watching with Doug Pederson or Frank Reich or John DeFilippo. He’s watching it with Daniel. So while it might not make sense to pay a backup quarterback this much money, don’t think of Daniel as a backup quarterback. Think of him as an asset to the franchise quarterback. Then it doesn’t sound quite as bad. 

Verdict: STAYS

Anthony Denham

Roob: The Eagles must like Denham because he had two stints on the practice squad this year and they re-signed him to a futures deal when the season was over. But barring an injury, there just isn’t room on the roster for another tight end.

Verdict: GOES

Dave: Denham is a tight end who was on the Eagles’ practice squad in 2016. Maybe he’d have a shot to make the roster if the Eagles aren’t able to bring back Trey Burton, but I don’t see that happening. They’ll bring him to camp and let him compete and maybe get another year on the practice squad. 

Verdict: GOES

Jon Dorenbos
Cap hit: $1.08M

Roob: Assuming he’s healthy, Dorenbos isn’t going anywhere. Rick Lovato did a nice job filling in at the end of the season, but until Dorenbos decides he wants to pursue magic full-time, there’s a spot for him on this roster.

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: During last year’s training camp, I watched Dorenbos walk along the sideline, shaking hands and kissing babies (not literally). Then I looked on the field and saw his “competition” snapping footballs repeatedly to a goal post. That’s when I realized Dorenbos wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon. And now he has a new contract. He’ll end up playing more games as an Eagle than anyone in the history of the franchise. 

Verdict: STAYS

Zach Ertz
Cap hit: $5.6M

Roob: Even though he had the second-most catches in the entire NFL over the last 10 weeks of the season, a large segment of Eagles fans have decided Ertz is to blame for everything that went wrong with the Eagles this year. Never mind that he got off to a good start on opening day, then suffered a very serious rib injury, then came back after missing just two games, then after getting healthy finished the season with 67 catches for 685 yards and four TDs in the last 10 games. Not the last one or two or three games. The last 10 games. With a full offseason and preseason with Wentz, I fully expect Ertz to finish 2017 well over 1,000 yards. 

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: I don’t understand the Zach Ertz hate. He isn’t Rob Gronkowski or Travis Kelce. So what? He’s a really good tight end. Now, I understood why some people questioned the non-block play. I was one of them. But look at the numbers. Here’s a list of tight ends who had more receiving yards than Ertz in 2016: Kelce, Greg Olsen, Jimmy Graham, Kyle Rudolph. Not bad company. And some look at his production and say, well, it all came in December. Maybe there will be a year in which his late-season production finally helps the Eagles with a playoff push. And he just signed a new contract, so he’s here for a while. 

Verdict: STAYS

Najee Goode
Unrestricted free agent

Roob: Goode, an unrestricted free agent, is a capable special teamer and emergency backup linebacker, but he would earn $775,000 even on a minimum-wage deal in 2017, and considering the Eagles’ salary cap crunch, they may elect to replace him with a rookie late-round pick or undrafted guy who would earn about $300,000 less. Based on ability, he would stay. But those mid-career veterans with high minimum salaries who don’t play much on offense or defense can be tough to keep around.

Verdict: GOES

Dave: In each of the last two seasons, Goode has managed to be on the team after missing out on the original 53-man roster. Maybe that’s a possibility for this season, but first the Eagles need to re-sign him. It might be time to move on from Goode and find a younger linebacker/special teamer. 

Verdict: GOES

Dillon Gordon
Cap hit: $543M

Roob: Gordon is an intriguing prospect. Like Jason Peters, he was a college tight end who moved to offensive tackle soon after arriving in the NFL. He’s big and strong and athletic, he’s just very new at offensive tackle. The Eagles liked him enough to keep him on the active roster all last year, and I’m guessing they see him as enough of a prospect that they’ll keep him around for at least another year. Especially with so many question marks at offensive tackle.

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: Gordon was on the Eagles’ roster for the entire season and was inactive in all but one week. He was a college tight end who came to Philly and is learning how to play offensive tackle. (Peters once made the same transition.) Gordon is crazy athletic for his size and the Eagles thought enough of him to put him on the active roster instead of risking losing him by placing him on the practice squad. He’s a project, but one worth keeping. 

Verdict: STAYS