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A 'Dirty Bird' that has Nothing to Do with Dan Reeves

This week we’ll take a look at Phillies clinching their fifth-straight NL East title, and a strange loss by the Eagles which included cheap shots, botched replays, a go-go-gadget offense and a concussion for Vick.

A Dirty Bird

Last year, Falcons defensive back Dunta Robinson — who shall henceforth be referred to as Mr. Cheapshot — nearly decapitated Desean Jackson on a crossing route as he illegally launched himself into the defenseless receiver while also leading with the crown of his helmet.  Both players were diagnosed with concussions, with Jackson missing time and Robinson initially being fined $50,000.

After Mr. Cheapshot leveled a nearly identical blow on Jeremy Maclin during Sunday night’s loss, the NFL should seriously consider a suspension for the repeat offender.  Fortunately, Maclin returned to the game, and finished with double digit catches, 172 yards receiving, and a pair of touchdowns, but with the NFL taking a hard stance on unnecessary collisions, an example needs to be made, a la the Roy Williams Horse Collar tackle.

Question:  What punishment would be suitable for Mr. Cheapshot?

NBC Drops the Ball

During today’s press conference, Eagles coach Andy Reid stated that he had received an email from NBC apologizing for the lack of replay footage on the Kelvin Hayden interception, which swung momentum back to Atlanta, and lead to a touchdown.

On the play in question, replays showed the ball clearly hitting the playing surface, but because the replay was not aired in time, the staff in the booth was unable to signal to Reid that the play should have been challenged.

With replay now being ingrained into football, a clear and concise set of rules which guides the use of replay is sorely needed.  All camera angles should immediately be available to teams so their replay crews can look for themselves instead of waiting for the network to make its presentation.

It wasn’t the reason the Eagles lost, but it was clearly a game-changing play that affected the outcome of the game, and an apology letter does nothing to rectify that.

Question:  What are your thoughts on NBC’s apology?

Help Wanted

There are three main ways to exploit weak linebackers, and the Falcons employed the trifecta. First, they ran the ball straight at the linebackers.  With the Eagles employing a wide nine front four, they’re already susceptible to the running game.  The defensive scheme requires that linebackers be disciplined in their gap control, and that tackles need to be made at the point of contact.  That’s too much responsibility to place on a group of undersized, first- and second-year players.

Second, they utilized their tight end.  The Eagles Pro Bowl corners effectively shut down the receivers, and the front four generated an incredible pass rush.  In theory, that should only leave outlet passes to the tight end — which falls squarely on the shoulders of the strong-side linebacker. 

Third, red-zone opportunities lead to easy touchdowns.  The Falcons turned four red-zone opportunities into four touchdowns as they repeatedly exposed the mid-level of the Eagles defense.

Someone in the front office needs to make a serious play for linebacking help and soon.

Question:  What do you make of the LB play through two games?

Gimmicks Galore

When you have one of the best groups of receivers in the game — an amazing running back, a versatile quarterback, and a mediocre offensive line — it’s odd to see Reid calling so many slow-to-develop gadget plays behind the line of scrimmage.

The whole purpose of having better players is so they can beat their counterparts and not have to entirely rely on scheme.  Jackson can beat his man and get open deep without laterals and end-arounds.  Shady is just as effective between the tackles, so there’s no need for a double-reverse.

It may be time to thin out the playbook a bit and start focusing on the base offense.  Let the stars earn their money.

Question:  Do you expect a “surprise” onside kick by the Eagles this season?

NL East Champs … Now what?

The Phillies clinched their fifth-consecutive division title on Saturday night, and they’re close to locking up home-field advantage with plenty of time to spare.

As their soon-to-be historically great regular season begins to wind down, it’s time to give the walking wounded a break and let them heal up for the playoff run.  Halladay and Lee are legitimate Cy Young candidates, so there’s no issue with allowing them to pad their stats, but maybe giving Hamels a couple starts off may help him regain his first-half form.

The lineup hasn’t performed well as of late, and nearly every starter has spent time on the disabled list this season.  The Phillies need to let their backups and call-ups see more playing time, as guys like Rollins and Utley could use more time off.

Question:  Who would you like to see in the first round of the playoffs?

Quote of the Week

"Let me make it very clear, particularly in regard to repeat offenders, that egregious acts will be subject to suspension. We will not feel the need to hesitate in this regard," – Ray Anderson, NFL Executive Vice President of Football Operations, in speaking to the Associate Press in August.

Video of the Week

This never gets old.  I wonder what Scott Rolen thinks.

Looking Ahead

The Phillies lost three of four to the Cardinals and will now host a four-game-set against the Nationals. Then they’ll head to New York to wrap up their season series against the Mets.

The Eagles look to bounce back with their home opener against the Giants, and the Union will hit the road for a Friday night matchup against Sporting Kansas City.

Here’s your schedule for the upcoming week in Philadelphia sports:

Tuesday

  • Phillies versus Nationals, 1:05 p.m. on CSN
  • Phillies versus Nationals, 7:05 p.m. on CSN

Wednesday

  • Phillies versus Nationals, 7:05 p.m. on CSN

Thursday

  • Phillies versus Nationals, 7:05 p.m. on CSN

Friday

  • Phillies at Mets, 7:10 p.m. on PHL17
  • Union at Kansas City 8:30 p.m. on FSC

Saturday

  • Phillies at Mets, 1:10 p.m. on CSN

Sunday

  • Phillies at Mets, 1:10 p.m. on PHL17
  • Eagles versus Giants, 1:05 p.m. on FOX

If you have questions you would like to see answered in next week's Phour for Phour column, email them to slavetologic@gmail.com.

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