The pads are on at Lehigh, which means we’re that much closer to the Real Thing. My excitement is mixed with rattled nerves, though, dreading the first article about [fill in the blank] out because of a season-ending injury to his [fill in the blank].
L.J. Smith (who, come to think of it, I’ve personally met) is wearing a Red Jersey, at least for now, according to philly.com. He had a sports hernia operation in May, but looks like he’ll be ready to go. Less certain is his contract status. Perhaps the Eagles are playing wait and see? He’s in the last year of his deal, and I’d expect – if they do want him – they’ll get a deal done before the season is out.
Other than L.J. and Donovan’s recoveries, it seems everyone is relatively good health. I’m very glad to see Jevon is back. The defensive line figures to be immensely improved.
Elsewhere in the NFL…
Daunte Culpepper has signed with the Raiders, according to FoxSports.com.
“When I became a free agent I created and ranked eight criteria that I used to evaluate potential teams that were interested in my services,” Culpepper said. “Based on my criteria, the Oakland Raiders are the best fit.”
Hmm. Eight you say. OK, I’ll step in here and hazard a guess.
- Has a Computer.
- Has Microsoft Word.
- Can type the words “Daunte Culpepper” into the appropriate blanks.
- Has a laser printer.
- Has paper in the printer.
- Can press the “Print” Button.
- Has a pen.
- With ink in it.
Done Deal! OK, enough of the pot shots at Daunte. I wish him well, though that organization – one I loved in the 70s – is in shambles. If that offensive line is anything like it was last year, that poor man could get himself killed. I don’t know what the Raiders are doing. The basic plan – assuming there is a plan, which according to all available evidence, there isn’t - seems to be: “whatever.” The Raiders am become the New Cardinals.
And from Tampa…
Jon Gruden might be losing it. I’ve been reading a Pasquarelli item at ESPN about Garcia’s (apparent) emergence as the starter in Tampa Bay. It doesn’t seem like Gruden does anything except play musical quarterbacks in his quest to win 6 or 7 games per year. Is there nothing else on that team that needs improvement? And does he seriously expect Garcia to take them to the promised land – of 8 wins?
Garcia did an admirable job with the Eagles last year, but remember he only started 8 games total. That 5-1 record Pasquarelli cites is misleading, as it includes the season finale in which Garcia was 1 for 3 for 29 yards before Reid – in comically fast fashion – pulled the starters as soon as the Cowboys score came in. (The Cowboy loss ensured the Eagles a home game and the division title.)
In that first playoff game, at home against the Giants, Garcia was 17 for 31 (54.8%), QB rating of 79.1. He hadn’t had anywhere near that low a rating in any of the regular season games he started (again, I’m throwing out the Atlanta non-game). The next lowest rating he’d had was a 90.9 in a victory at New York a few weeks earlier. In that game, he completed 67.9% of his passes.
In the loss at New Orleans, he was rated at 88.2. Decent. However, he was 15 of 30 (50%) for 240 yards. 75 of those on one long TD play.
The loss in New Orleans wasn’t Garcia’s fault, it was much more about the failure of the defense to provide the slightest of speed bumps against the New Orleans rushing attack.
Jeff Garcia was given the keys to a high powered, productive offense. His job was to not lose games. I do not think that, at this stage of his career, he is able to shoulder the load as a starter for 16 games and be anything better than a .500 quarterback.