Hornswaggler | The culture, the humor, a bit of the sports, not so much the politics, and the workplace distraction

Hornswaggle is an alternate spelling of hornswoggle, an archaic word that means to bamboozle or hoodwink. I take my pronunciation from the late Harvey Korman in "Blazing Saddles" --

"I want rustlers, cutthroats, murderers, bounty hunters, desperados, mugs, pugs, thugs, nitwits, halfwits, dimwits, vipers, snipers, conmen, Indian agents, Mexican bandits, muggers, buggerers, bushwhackers, hornswagglers, horse thieves, bull dykes, train robbers, bank robbers, ass kickers, shit kickers and Methodists!"

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Friday, February 18, 2005

Da Birds (Updated)

This main part of the post below wasn't as clear as I wanted it to be. Here's the thrust though: The Eagles' quarterback and head coach are both mental patients.

The Super Bowl aftershocks have died down, now that Andy Reid and his staff have gone on vacation and the players have gone home, but the questions haven't been answered. The questions will resurface though once the next season begins.

Now it appears that Donovan McNabb lied about dry-heaving in the huddle during the Eagles' penultimate drive. Hank Fraley and Freddie Mitchell say he was. Mitchell is prone to hyperbole, but with Fraley corroborating his story, and given what's emerged about McNabb's experience with vomiting in big games over the years, I believe the wide receiver and the center, not the quarterback.

Two classmates from Philly witnessed McNabb hurl all over the field from end zone seats during a game against the Colts at the Vet a few years back. Phil Sheridan for the Inquirer wrote that McNabb had a history of puking at Syracuse too, then he oddly suggested we forget about the controversy, that it was a non-issue. But Vomit-gate is an issue when a quarterback who, like his coach, seems to engage in self-delusion quite regularly, lies about it.

The question is whether McNabb's pukies are caused by exhaustion or nerves, or a combination of the two. Since he wasn't running around at all in the Super Bowl, I tend to think there was no reason he would have been exhausted during that second-to-last drive. What Philly reporters need to do is talk to other members of the offense off-the-record (because by now I'm sure they realize they'll feel the wrath of Reid if they pipe up on the subject), or perhaps better yet talk to members of the offense who have moved on over the past few years, like John Welborn, Doug Bryzinski (sp), James Thrash and Brian Mitchell. That's how you get to the bottom of this. So what if McNabb gets sick a lot? His getting sick wasn't the reason we lost the Super Bowl. But he should be honest about it.

Far worse was Andy Reid's public reaction to his failure to get the team in the hurry-up offense. He was quoted saying just two things in the immediate aftermath of the game and then refused to talk about it anymore, according to Bob Ford of the Inquirer:

"We did try to get it going, and I can't tell you in detail the circumstances of why it didn't work as well as it should have."


"I'm trying to remember back on that. I've put that away a little bit."

Regarding the first one, is it that Reid can't tell us in detail what happened or doesn't want to? Does he really not remember?

The second quote is almost frightening. He's "put that away a little bit"? What the FUCK does that mean? It sounds like he's saying, "I've already begun to repress that." He put it away? In a mental drawer? Marked "I did a doodie in here -- don't open"?

Then, after those illuminating answers, he said he's not going to answer any more questions about the issue. That's not accountability. That's childish.

Reid does a lot of things well: He's a good evaluator of talent and handles his duties as general manager excellently; he runs a tight ship and teaches the team how to play; he's tough but likeable (or respectable), which is a difficult but necessary balance for a coach to strike. But as a game-time coach, it remains to be seen whether he is capable of recognizing what his weaknesses are and correcting them. And one of his major weaknesses is something I've been harping on for a couple years now: despite regular acts of play-call daring, he remains strangely conservative as a coach and seems not to possess or instill in his players a killer instinct.

Corey Simon

This is further evidence of how smartly Andy Reid, Tom Heckert and Joe Banner run their front office. By placing the franchise tag on Corey Simon, they'll get two first-round draft picks in return if another team makes Simon an offer the Eagles decline to match.

If we keep him, we would still be wise to spend an early-round draft pick on a defense tackle. I think we can do without Simon, in my amateur wisdom, but it's very smart, given the value Simon might have on the free agency market, to make sure we get something for him if he leaves.

It's bad news for Simon if he stays, though he'll make a bundle this coming year, because at 27 or 28 he's looking for a multi-year deal. Next year he'll be that much older and he might not be able to get as many guaranteed years on a contract.

Marshall Faulk

Rumor has it Faulk will be released by the Rams. No sooner had I heard it than the rusty wheels in my head started to turn: Marshall Faulk spelling Brian Westbrook, getting perhaps 10 touches a game, saving his legs so that he's fresh and froggy as the season ends and the playoffs begin, at which time he'd be as a perfect a back-up as you could imagine in the West Coast offense.

But there's a problem with that daydream. Even if the Eagles were to pick up Faulk, they'd still need to draft a running back for the future, a young guy to serve as a complement to Westbrook. Since this draft is incredibly deep at running back, signing Faulk wouldn't really make much sense. The Eagles would have to pay Faulk a considerable amount more than they would a third- or fourth-round pick who could step right in and contribute, provided he could handle the Eagles' playbook and blocking schemes.

Muhsin Muhammad and Derrick Mason

One may be cut and the other probably will be. How sweet it would be to sign one of those guys and then, provided most of his money isn't guaranteed, simply cut Todd Pinkston and trade Freddie Mitchell for a fourth-round pick.

However, the Eagles have emerged as one of the two best franchises in the league by making it a policy not to pay a lot of money for players over 30 years of age unless they really, really need to, which was the case with Terrell Owens. Now the need at wide receiver isn't so urgent, so if they brought in a free-agent stud at wide-out, he'd have to be willing to sign a deal that makes sense for both teams.

But can you imagine Muhammad and Owens together? As soon as the contract emerged from the fax machine, the Eagles would have the most physically dominant wide-out tandem in the league. With Mason, the Eagles would have an orgasmic combination of swiftness and size.

I'd say it's unlikely either of these things are going to happen, but it all depends on how things shake out with Pinkston and Mitchell. If the Eagles are willing and able to cut ties with one or both of these guys, then their options multiply.

Shaun Alexander

There's also a rumor that McNabb and Owens were courting Seattle Seahawks unrestricted-free-agent running back Shaun Alexander at the Pro Bowl, in addition to Muhammad. I mean, I'm all for it, if the Eagles could afford it, but that would spell the end of the Brian Westbrook era in Philadelphia, because there's not room for the two of them, financially. It depends what you want: a) a feature back like Alexander or b) a lightning bolt multi-tasker like Westbrook, complemented by a sturdier, between-the-tackles back.

As much as I love Westbrook, I'd probably rather have Alexander, a guy who can pound it inside and also break it to the outside, a guy who's like Corey Dillon but younger and a little faster. But I'd say signing him would be a major long shot.

.: posted by hornswaggler 10:32 AM

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