Counter-Poking

Posted: July 12th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 42 Comments »

Earlier today I put a negative spin on the state of the Eagles. I don’t fully agree with everything I wrote in that post, but that was a legitimate way to see the flaws in this team and this situation.

The big difference for me is Chip Kelly. In that post, I described him as a question mark. I happen to believe in Kelly. I love his ideas and think he will be a good coach for the Eagles. Great? We’ll see about that. I want to keep my expectations realistic for now. I do think he has the potential to be a great coach.

A new coach changes everything. We talk about how Mike Vick isn’t a good decision maker. Yes and no. He’s never played for Chip Kelly. Just look at how Andy Reid helped him. Vick’s lowest QB rating in Philly is 78.1. That would have been his 2nd highest as a Falcon. He improved quite a bit as a passer since Reid started coaching him. Now we’ll see what Kelly can do for him.

Jeremy Maclin was an awful run blocker last year. One of the big reasons why…Reid let him get away with that. Kelly won’t. Either Mac starts blocking or he’s going to be watching a lot of Riley Cooper and Arrelious Benn on the field.

Having a new coach is like getting a new boss and a new teacher rolled into one. We’re all on our best behavior for the new boss. We get nervous about our job status. The new teacher comes in and tries new methods to fixing our issues. We’ve all had that one teacher that brought out the best in us. Things just clicked. Suddenly advanced algebra or Latin or pottery class made sense.

I expect Bryce Brown’s fumbling to be less of an issue. I think Nate Allen will play with more confidence. I think Mychal Kendricks will miss fewer tackles. I’m not saying Kelly can get blood from a turnip. He’s not going to turn Cedric Thornton into JJ Watt or Phillip Hunt into DeMarcus Ware. Kelly can’t make players more talented. He can work on their mistakes and he can motivate them to play harder/better.

I also think when we talk about the problems of 2012 that much of it snowballed due to the O-line injuries. The RBs had to create more on their own. The QBs were under constant pressure. Receivers were frustrated when the ball didn’t come their way. TEs had to stay in and block more than they’d have liked. The Red Zone offense was a huge problem. The Eagles were 28th in scoring TDs. In the previous 2 years, the Eagles were 14th and 16th in the RZ.

And turnovers. The Eagles were awful last year when it came to protecting the ball. Just take away a handful of turnovers and the team might win a couple of extra games. Many of the turnovers were caused by a porous OL.

There are plenty of issues heading into 2013, but I feel good about this team. The Eagles are headed in the right direction. QB play will be the key for whether this group is 6-10, 8-8 or better. We’ll pick apart the QB in a month…when we actually know who that is going to be.

* * * * *

I wrote about national football writers Mike Freeman and Dan Graziano yesterday. Dan responded on Twitter and wasn’t very happy with me. I won’t post all the tweets since the discussions involved several people and were awkward to follow.  He felt I was “out of line” in being critical of him, especially my comment that he had an “odd dislike” for Kelly.

I will never write anything on here that I wouldn’t be comfortable saying to someone’s face. Okay, I might not make fun of Domo’s leisure suit to his face, but that’s it. You just don’t make fun of a man’s leisure suit and expect him to take it. That’s like family.

Both Freeman and Graziano are good writers. These aren’t former jocks that were given columns. These guys aren’t sensationalists like Skip Bayless. They are good, solid writers.

I learned a long time ago that if you put something out there for public consumption, it is fair game for criticism. I spent years writing on the Eagles Message Board. That audience was mostly great, but there were a few people who ripped anything I put out. It wasn’t real fun at first, but over time I learned that some people are just going to rip you. If it was idiots, you left them alone. Talking to them accomplished nothing. If it was someone smart or that I respected, I engaged them to discuss their criticisms. Sometimes that worked, sometimes I just wasted my time.

I know I’m not going to be right all the time. I know I’m occasionally going to have a bad day and write a column that doesn’t work well or is poorly written. You guys will let me know when that happens (or someone will). I’ll own up to it.

Or blame it on Jimmy Bama. Or Domo’s leisure suit.

_


  • JEinOKC

    Sounds to me that Mr Graziano has an “odd dislike” for mild, valid critiques of his work

    • TommyLawlor

      Who knows…maybe he was having a bad ay.

      • GEagle

        much respect for how you addressed it on twitter. You were straight up, and you have to respect that

        • miked718

          Lets start a petition. Kempski for ESPN NFCE blogger!

  • http://www.hazepiffbudweedcheeba/blazeituppleasepeacetocheeba.com micksick

    oh snap domo looking like he was really REALLY into disco.. to bad his name isnt stu.. darn!! oh well..

    • Tony

      Disco Domo doesn’t have a bad ring to it…

      • http://www.hazepiffbudweedcheeba/blazeituppleasepeacetocheeba.com micksick

        ahahahaha very true.

  • Neil

    I believe I was the second person in on that conversation. Graziano wasn’t wrong really to react to the original tweet the way he did. It was phrased like a personal attack, mainly centered on the Spurrier comments. It would have been better of Graziano to ignore it, but I want to be clear it takes two people for any fight to happen.

    I came in with my own fighting words, but, reflecting for a few minutes on what I knew they were going to accomplish, I googled a post by Tommy from December where the Spurrier thing was totally debunked, linked it in a second tweet basically saying, “here’s the logic of our position, might be a good post for you if you can debunk it”. He replied combatively at first, but then read my link and replied again basically acknowledging that his opinion was wrong. I don’t think he’ll be making any Spurrier comparisons in the future.

    The lesson from this is that if you come at somebody trying to tear them down, you’re just gonna get a fight. Tommy’s post didn’t do this, but the person who brought the post up to Graziano did. Once I let go of my emotions and focused on what I could do to build him up, my words weren’t charged with the negative emotions anybody will instantly recognise and respond to with like emotions. Instead, he responded positively and was convinced. You have to treat people like reasonable people for them to respond like reasonable people.

    • TommyLawlor

      Lots of truth here. If you do go at someone hard, they will often respond back the very same way.

    • Tony

      Awesome. I love seeing civility and logical discussions in football (Graz probably isn’t used to it in the ESPN forums).

    • CampDracula

      My least favorite aspect of football and hockey is the behavior of many fans and commentators. It’s like so many people think they have to be as tough as the players. Smart people who are comfortable in their own skin know WHEN to be tough and aggressive. Leisurely talking about a sport isn’t it.

      This blog is actually an oasis. Smart. Passionate. And civil? So cool!! But unfortunately, so rare. And I’m not surprised someone would respond to Tommy in the same way most football fans are holding football discussions out there. If you asked for my sense, I’d say most Internet discussions about football are conducted by bros drinking their energy drinks and listening to Nu Metal while flexing their emuscles (That was mean. But I think fair…). I’m not surprised when unknowing people project the same tough guy stance on strangers talking football because they’re often right.

      I guess what I’m saying is this place is different and special. Thank you, Tommy.

    • Tumtum

      Ok so I have Twitter but follow it not at all unless its actually nfl season. Any chance on a transcript?

      • Neil

        Tricky because multiple replies to one tweet don’t show up in threads except apparently through my profile’s view. Here’s my tweets which you can click on to see everyone else’s replies.

        https://twitter.com/JamesLovebirch

        The second from most recent captures all Dan’s tweets, I believe.

        • Tumtum

          Tyty

  • planetx1971

    Speaking for myself Tommy, I thought that article was spot on for what it’s worth. I had read both articles prior to yours & they both had me grinding my teeth for hours. Your article helped to calm me down. I work 12 to 14 hours a day on my Vt. Dairy farm but ALWAYS make time to read your posts 1st & if I don’t have time, it’s the ONLY one I read. Since moving from Lancaster Pa to run my uncles farm that I now own after my 2 tours in Afghanistan the sheer quantity of your quality work while all these “big time” national writers are just phoning in rubbish during this lull that has us all jonesing. I know this is going nowhere, I just want you to know how appreciated your work is up here in god forsaken Patriot country UGH…as well as some of your commentors like AC Viking & many others. Keep up the incredible work man & treat yourself probly a PBR & pudding. Lastly, on the Bryce Brown topic, I was very encouraged to read recently that Barry Sanders Thurman Thomas & Gale Sayers amongst other greats had higher fumble ratios than Brown in their rookie seasons. With his serious lack of college experience, I really have chuffed the kool aide on him & expect him to REALLY improve. Ok, sorry for the long post bud. Keep up the ass kicking my man!

    • TommyLawlor

      No problem with the long comment. Vent. It can help.

      Good luck on the farm. Glad to hear that’s another demographic I’m getting to.

    • morenthemiddle

      hey just a little off topic, thanks for your service and a question for you. Where is your farm? I’m from the Lancaster area too and also have deep family ties to VT.

      Yeah I agree, I stopped reading the national stuff, they don’t have a clue, they seem to just brush aside the local beat writers who actual have seen the practices and can say from 1st hand experience what the players looked like. i’ll go back to them once the season starts.

      • planetx1971

        Thank you & it was an honor to serve you & with my brothers in the 101st Airborne :) what a coincidence in our ties to Lancaster AND Vermont. I am just outside Cabot Vt. (You may have heard of the great cheese they make) most the farms anywhere near them supply their milk. I also now have many members of my family all over the state now. They come to visit as we did & don’t end up wanting to leave. My grandfather was the Mayor of Newfield nj. & retired to Woodstock Vt.(he also is a life lo I’m interested, what a

        • morenthemiddle

          My aunt and uncle live in waterberry center, he was the principle for Harwood union. My grandmother lived in Randolph where my mother was born and raised so I’m familiar with both places pretty well. Did you graduate hs in Lancaster? My father is from mass. But jumpednon the eagles bandwagon in 60 and has been a fan since, helps they moved to PA.

          • morenthemiddle

            I forgot, yeah I was a tanker in the army myself for 12 yrs, 1st gulf War and cold war vet.

          • planetx1971

            Thats cool! A good buddy of mine was also a tanker in the Gulf War. He’s always telling me he had a blast so to speak lol, drivin around destroying Iraqi equipment abandoned by the fleeing and surrendering soldiers! :)

  • SteveH

    My favorite part about the whole exchange: the insinuation that Tommy thinks he’s a tough guy. I think Dan wants to take this thing outside!

    • TommyLawlor

      That actually came as part of the confusion. Another guy on Twitter used that phrase to Dan. He then used it and I’m not exactly sure how he meant it. Weird overall situation.

      I’m not mad at Dan. I doubt he’s at home now thinking about me or the discussion.

      • MediaMike

        There is a reason that “3rd man in” is a major penalty in hockey!

  • MediaMike

    ESPN and Dan Graziano are 100% yesterday’s news because of their privacy invading decision to force all commenters on their web site to have a Facebook account.
    Horrid.
    And for the record, Graziano NEVER logs in to ESPN to exchange comments with people on his blog. At least Matt Mosley used to do that.

    • BlindChow

      I haven’t looked at the ESPN comments lately (not too impressed with the intellectual level of the average commenter there…), but I know Graziano has delved into the comments before. He even responded to me once.

      But I wouldn’t be surprised if he avoids it now for the same reason I do.

  • GEagle

    A few days ago, I watched the 2012 compilation video of all JJ Watt 20 sacks…go back and watch that video, but instead of focusing on Watt, watch Barwin the entire time…..It will give you a different perspective of his “Down” year

    • MediaMike

      Barwin is a solid football player. If he winds up lined up next to Cox, that side of the field will be on lockdown. I look forward to seeing Cox and Barwin busting up the Giants right side of the line while Kendricks blitzes through that side to destroy Eli Manning!

      • GEagle

        I don’t disagree, but I’m honestly just as excited to Graham line up next to Cox. graham flashed a nice little spin move last year, and when your go to move is a Bull rush, Switching to a standing up OLB with more of a head start til you engage the lineman is a positive!! with room next to Cox to execute the spin move out of the bullrush is exciting and what I view as an advantage. unless Graham surprises us and is exceptionally good at dropping back in coverage, then I expect him to be a down hill OLB in a Predator Role with Barwin dropping into coverage with TE’s..
        ..
        The Addition of Barwin allows us the Flexability to not ask Cole or Graham to do anything that they can’t do. Like I said if one happens to be exceptionally good at it, then we won’t have to switch sides…but my guess is it’s goings to be a strong side/weak side situation where we see The Predator(Graham) lining up on the weak side next to the 3Tec(ox)…I am sure Cox will get moved around so there would still be plenty of opportunity for Barwin to still rush on his side

    • TommyLawlor

      I’ll check that out.

  • Tumtum

    My problem with the national media when it is concerened to the Eagles is that it seems they do very little to make an attempt at good knowledge. Perhaps it is national coverage in general that is catered to the casual ignorant fan. Perhaps it is the public’s demand for more coverage that dictates sloppy, wing it type of journalism. Heck I see it from local guys too.

    Though this problem does not necessarily follow other teams. PFT is never a good example of a source attempting more than gossib. Their preseason power rankings would be something you expect them to take some pride in. Go read the one on the Eagles. Typical PFT you say? Well yeah, but now go read the one on the Panthers. If you are left with any response other than WTF? Please let me know!

  • Philip Soloninka

    This could easily be MY Eagles bias showing, but after reading just about all of the Dan G posts on the NFCE blog, I really get the sense that he does have an agenda or angle against Philly. His Eagle posts seem to always be lacking whereas any other post regarding the other 3 teams just always seem to get more of his attention. And his attitude on twitter was just a little out of control.

  • bsuperfi

    All media (including sports media) is clearly in a state of flux.

    There’s a disjuncture between national and local reporting. Sometimes the locals are right because they’re closer to the action and are immersed in local details. But there’s also something to be said for the power that large, centralized media institutions can leverage.

    There are problems that arise from the 24 hour news cycle. There’s not enough real news to fill the airwaves, especially in a sports off season. Opinion pieces are far more common than (as close to neutral as you can get) factual reporting. There’s constant pressure to produce content. On the other hand, great blogs without money flowing through them don’t stick around forever. And there are plenty of blogs that stink too.

    I love this site. I was a big fan of the EMB back in the day, and this is much better than sifting through all the garbage posts even on TATE. But I’d love to see some model that supports quality reporting AND analysis on a consistent basis.

  • A Roy

    I, for one, am glad to see constructive criticism of ESPN. They put themselves on a pedestal and think we need to genuflect to whomever is speaking, regardless of what they say. They put forth Warren Sapp as some sort of football genius. I’ve started to see advertisements featuring Ray Lewis. Graziano should be embarrassed to be associated with them. He also should become a man and admit it when he’s wrong.

  • tommy_the_k

    Mr Lawlor, I appreciate your posts because you are a loyal and enthusiastic Eagles fan who provides fair and well-thought perspecitves regarding the team that I am addicted to(love the grammar?). The fractured logic that is spewn by the national media and some “negadelphians” is hard to stomach.

    Keep up the great work, believe in what you are doing, and keep the glass 51% full. Just don’t join the national media and have to cover the rest of the stinkin’ teams in the league(though that would be a heck of a promotion-I’ll put a word in for you with Florio)

  • atb124

    I don’t understand how a man predicts Kelly will last less than 3 years in Philly and says that Chip cheated then skipped town (not exactly a neutral description of the facts) takes exception when someone characterizes his comments as having an odd dislike for Chip.

    I just don’t get it.

  • #10for6

    Gaz has been having a bad day for awhile now, does not seem to enjoy his work.

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  • eagleyankfan

    Dan gives back handed comments and than backs off saying he didn’t mean anything by it(like the mook on PFT). Dan doesn’t get that NOBODY — NOBODY — can know EVERYTHING about every team in the country. You just can’t and it’s ok. Just don’t pretend you do know and state in your article what you think are facts.

    re: Mac — are you saying Ben and Cooper ARE making this team? Second – Do you think Mac(or some other veteran) would be benched like that? That could lead to Mac leaving(either his or Chips choice). Just hypothetical. I do like Mac. I’m not a fan of MeSean(Diva’s are just not team players). I don’t think the duo, as a starting tandem, have what it takes to help this team get over the hump. Of course, that’s using performances from last year. The toughness factor is also low. I’m hoping to have my opinion changed on these two this year.
    I don’t agree with the Nate Allen comment. I’m not sure he’d start on any other team to be honest. That brings up a curious question. Which starters(or even roster players) from last year, do you think are going to have a hard time making the 53 man roster?

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