2011 Philadelphia Eagles Notebook: December 14th Practice

Taking It to the House Lead Writer Matt Lombardo stopped by the Eagles Nova Care Complex on Wednesday December 14th as the Birds (5-8) prepare to face NY Jets (8-5) in another must-win game for both teams. 

To the Eagles credit, though some fans have been rooting half-hearted for them — some in hopes of head coach Andy Reid leaving — the Birds were able to produce a solid win over the Dolphins in Week 14.  However in this week, head coach Rex Ryan will lead his charismatic NY Jets into the Linc and they should be a much tougher test than their lower AFC East rival.

Of course all eyes will be on the NY Jets’ stars QB Mark Sanchez, WR’s Santonio Holmes and Plaxico Burress, and All-world CB Darrelle Revis. Continue reading

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Taking it to the House’s NFL Week 7 Power Rankings

 
Even though the NY Jets (4-3) are on their bye week, HC Rex Ryan’s squad after a two-game winning streak has re-entered the playoff hunt.  The NY Jets come-in at No. 9 in Taking It to the House’s Week 8 Power Rankings
 
1.      Green Bay Packers (7-0) – The Pack struggled early against Minnesota but still came away with the win.  There are already rumblings about an undefeated season.  Week 8: Bye
 
2.      New England Patriots (5-1) – Can Chad Ochocinco start contributing to the Patriots offense?  Will the defense be better in the second half of the season?  A few questions that need to be answered in New England .  Week 8: 10/30 @ Pittsburgh Continue reading

Terrell Suggs: “We Are Going To See What Happens With #57 in The Hole” by Barry Barnes

Baltimore Ravens standout OLB Terrell Suggs “Can’t Wait” for his team’s Sunday Night Football match-up with his former teammate Bart Scott and the rest of Rex Ryan’s New York Jets

Owings Mills, MD – It’s not uncommon to witness a defender carrying the rock from the backfield in the NFL.  In the mid-80s, William “The Refrigerator” Perry helped made it popular for defensive players to carry the ball on occasion. 

Baltimore Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs want to carry the ball, not because he believes he can be famous for being a ball carrier or the offense need his help.  The sole position for Suggs (who leads the team in sacks with four) to tote the rock is to have a date in the middle with number 57 – New York Jets linebacker Bart Scott. Continue reading

AFC East and AFC North Preview by Jason King

The AFC North and East have sent six of the last eight conference representatives to the Super Bowl. This year figures to be no different as the Patriots, Jets, Steelers and Ravens are all emergent favorites to play for the Lombardi Trophy.  

AFC East

 The AFC East has been dominated by the Patriots over the last 10 years.  Are the Jets ready to win their first AFC East crown since 2002? Will the Bills or Dolphins be competitive or just easy outs?  All of these questions and more will be answered in the next 5 months.

Continue reading

A Glimpse into the 2011 Season According to a So-Called Expert: Jason King


The Sunday before Labor Day is a great day for football junkies and a horrible day for our wives, mothers, and children.  It is the last Sunday without football for 5 months. For the next six months, Sundays will be dedicated to football.  Fans will live and die with the ups and downs there teams experience through the season.

On the field the quest for the Lombardi Trophy officially begins this Thursday.  I am of the school of thought that predictions are worthless.  Experts all over the country make their prognostications on who will play in Super Bowl 46.  99.9 percent of us have no idea what we are talking about.  Well, for whatever it’s worth, here are my worthless predictions for the 2011 season. Continue reading

A Glimpse At The 2011 NFL Season According To A So-Called Expert: Matt Lombardo

The temperatures have plummeted suddenly into the sixties, leaves are beginning to turn and there’s a certain crispness in the air that can only be broken by the perfect spiral of soaring pigskin. That’s right, the greatest time of the year, football season, is upon us again. Despite a 136-day lockout, the excitement around the NFL is at perhaps its highest levels ever.

As the opener draws closer by the minute, the time for me to sit idly by in hopes of avoiding making a Super Bowl prediction is rapidly drawing to a close. Preseason predictions are rarely worth the paper they’re printed on, but in this upside down world of teams sprinting through a nonexistent offseason, the Lombardi Trophy is truly anyone’s game this season.

Some teams have positioned themselves better than others with free agent acquisitions to finish their journey with confetti falling for Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. Meanwhile, some teams stood pat in an effort to draw on existing team chemistry to propel them to glory once again. All of these stories, subplots and themes for the upcoming season make for a wild ride for the next six months. Continue reading

Eagles Finish Preseason With Win Over Jets By Matt Lombardo

The dress rehearsal is over, and now the Eagles look ahead to final roster cut downs and the season opener against the Rams on September 11th.

Just as the calendar has turned to September and the temperatures have given a glimpse of the coming autumn, the Philadelphia Eagles preseason has mercifully come to an end. Following Thursday night’s 24-14 Eagles win over the Jets at Met Life Stadium, the Birds now turn their focus to the season opener on September 11th in St. Louis against the Rams. Philadelphia finished the pre-season with a 3-1 record, but also with enough questions to ponder as the regular season approaches.

Before game plans can be devised though, rosters need to be finalized and the Eagles must now get their roster down to 53 players from its current 80 by Saturday afternoon.

Those final roster spots are what fourth and final preseason games are all about. Evaluations are finished by and large. Position battles nearly decided, which makes for an easy night for first teamers who don baseball caps and visors rather than pads and helmets. However, for backups and fringe roster players, the fourth preseason game may as well be a Super Bowl.

It’s difficult to offer any true evaluations from a game in which the opponents played a game just three days prior. Yet there were some standouts.

Vince Young drove the Eagles down the field moving the offense well all through the first half. Young finished with 15 of 23 for 193 yards and a touchdown. Young strained his hamstring on his final drive in the second quarter, and although the Eagles are optimistic that the injury is nothing serious, he will undergo an MRI today.

The only starter to see any action in the preseason finale was rookie right guard Danny Watkins, after the first round choice went to Head Coach Andy Reid and Offensive Line Coach Howard Mudd to request some extra reps. Watkins looked improved from his dreadful performance against the Browns last week, but the obvious caveat here is that Watkins looked stronger in both run and pass protection against third string Jets fighting for a roster spot.

“It was another game, just more experience getting ready for the regular season,” Watkins said. “It was good. I was looking forward to it and the more playing time I can get, the better.”

One beneficiary to the patchwork offensive line’s performance was rookie running back Dion Lewis. Lewis, likely to be the team’s third running back and kick returner, impressed with 15 carries for 62 yards and a touchdown while adding three catches for 38 yards. The 5-8 195 pound shifty back had the look of a playmaker and adds another versatile piece of the Eagles backfield puzzle who can be utilized in the Eagles screen game as well as, as a runner.

Defensively the Eagles dominated the line of scrimmage and did a nice job of getting in the Jets backfield which was highlighted by Chris Wilson’s fourth quarter sack of Jets backup Greg McElroy when the free agent linebacker stormed into the backfield, made solid contract with McElroy and forced a fumble.

It was just that kind of night for the Eagles defense. Philadelphia allowed just 117 total yards.

However, there are still nagging questions surrounding a crucial component of this football team: The kicking game. Alex Henery finished the night 1-2 on field goals, missing a first quarter 43 yarder that wasn’t even close. The Eagles placed a lot of faith in the rookie out of Nebraska when they allowed veteran David Akers to walk following last year’s playoff meltdown against the Packers. Henery’s foot after all has the ability to prolong the Eagles season, or as Akers contributed to a year ago, end it prematurely. That’s a lot of pressure on a rookie.

The Eagles roster will be finalized on Saturday at 6pm, and then with the monotony of the preseason dress rehearsal in the rearview, attention can be turned to the season opener against the Rams on September 11th.

Matt Lombardo is the Philadelphia Eagles beat reporter and host for 97.3 ESPN in Atlantic City, NJ. Matt can be reached on Twitter @MattLombardoPHL