This is not going to be an easy road game by any means... but ain't it grand to be playing pro football in September?
Our beloved GK Brizer has won the PS8 contest, correctly predicting 5 of the final practice squad members of the Eagles... yet Bri has pronounced grave warnings for expectations of an easy victory in St. Louis this Sunday... Attention must be paid...
No one is more under the gun in the Philly fan base's expectations of this opener against the Rams than the hard-working, over-achieving persona of Juan Castillo...
New Eagles defensive coordinator Juan Castillo already feels the pressure. He's excited about Sunday's regular-season opener at St. Louis, when he will try to contain Rams running back Steven Jackson and quarterback Sam Bradford.
"Really, my goal, and I've said it before, is to bring a championship to Philadelphia. It's not bragging or anything, it's just that's what this city wants and what it's geared to. This is the first step."
David Weinberg of the Atlantic City Press gave me a first-hand account of what kind of intensity Castillo is bringing and feeling right now...
"Castillo took his first significant step with the defense during training camp. The Eagles' offensive linemen were well aware of his fiery coaching style - he spent the previous 13 seasons as the team's offensive line coach - but the defensive players weren't quite sure what to expect when they gathered on the practice fields at Lehigh University in late July. Most of the veteran defenders such as defensive end Trent Cole and cornerback Asante Samuel were used to the quiet intensity of the late Jim Johnson and Sean McDermott, who was fired after last season and is now Carolina's defensive coordinator."
"They got a taste of Castillo's in-your-face approach when he actually got in their face during a training camp practice. He ventured over to where the linebackers were practicing tackling and noticed that some players were leading with the tops of their helmets. 'I was just waiting my turn and coach Castillo came up to me,' second-year linebacker Keenan Clayton said. "He started yelling, 'Do I need to use my face to show you it doesn't hurt?' Then he head-butted me on my helmet.'"
" 'I had seen him head-butt people before, but he always hit them in the shoulder pads. I never expected him to do it against my facemask. When he pulled back, he had a cut over his nose and was bleeding from a cut on his forehead. Everybody was shocked.' "
"I've always been a defensive guy," said Castillo, who played linebacker for the San Antonio Gunslingers of the now-defunct United States Football League. "And now that I'm back on defense, I think the thing for me is I just want to be myself. I want our guys to play hard and know that it is our job as coaches to make them better." He already has changed the Eagles' defensive philosophy to fit his personality. Eagles defenses in recent years were known as patient, read-and-react units. This season's version will be much more aggressive, which the players have enthusiastically embraced.
"The scheme is much different," defensive end Darryl Tapp said. "So many times, coaches talk about letting the defensive ends get after it, but it never really happened. That's different this year. Juan and Jim (Washburn, the new defensive line coach) are really cutting us loose. "It's a lot of fun playing for Juan. He's always so excited, and it rubs off on everyone else. It energizes the entire defense."
Castillo's main challenge has been getting the veterans to blend with newcomers. Free-agent cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha is among six key defensive players who were not on the team a year ago. That group includes defensive end Jason Babin, defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins, rookie middle linebacker Casey Matthews, strong safety Jarrad Page and cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.
"Juan has done a good job of trying to take advantage of our skills both as individuals and as a team," Asomugha said. "More importantly, the synergy is very good on the defense. Everybody gets along off the field and that really helps on the field. I think we're a pretty good defense now and as each game goes on, we'll get even better..."
J.R. Rickert, courtesy of Bleed Green.com, gives us a nice insight into the matchup challenges Castillo, Marty, Andy and the Eagles will face on Sunday...
"There are many intriguing matchups to watch come Sunday. The one that really has my attention is the likely showdown between Pro-Bowl defensive end Chris Long and the recently anointed starter at right tackle, Todd Herremans. This will be a stiff test for the veteran Herremans, who will be facing one of the best defensive ends in football. Long has a quick first step, a powerful burst, and could give Herremans trouble. Herremans will absolutely need to keep Long off of Vick if the Eagles intend to maintain their dangerous passing attack on Sunday, but I believe that he’ll at least be able to have some success in run blocking against Long."
"The next set of matchups worth paying attention to involve the Rams’ cornerback trio of Ron Bartell, Bradley Fletcher, and Al Harris, who will face off with what I like to call the newly instituted greatest show on turf: DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, Jason Avant, and Riley Cooper. The Rams are clearly overmatched here and will need to disguise coverages and bring blitz packages to confuse Vick. If Vick has time, this group of receivers will dominate the Rams’ corners."
"If we flip this around and look at the Rams’ receiving corps of Mike Sims-Walker, Brandon Gibson, and Danny Amendola against the all-worldly secondary of Nnamdi Asomugha, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, and Asante Samuel, once again the Rams are clearly overmatched. Quarterback Sam Bradford has come a long way for St. Louis after just one season and is a very good quarterback, but he will need to be patient with his receivers. He can’t force the ball and he definitely can’t let Samuel bait him into getting routes jumped. Asante may be the best of the best in terms of his technique, and with two other Pro-Bowl corners out there, he will be free to take chances in the defensive backfield–perhaps more so than ever before in his career."
"On offense, the Rams also like to run the football. They have two battering rams (no pun intended) in the backfield with Steven Jackson and Jerious Norwood. The Eagles have historically struggled at stopping the run and I fully expect the Rams to try to attack Philadelphia’s defense in this fashion. There will be a good battle in the trenches to watch between Jason Brown and Adam Goldberg of the Rams vs. Mike Patterson of the Eagles. Patterson is incredibly strong and very difficult to move. He will draw double-teams in order while the Rams try to run the ball. The question will then become whether the Eagles’ linebackers will be able to fill the gaps and keep Jackson and Norwood from breaking loose."
"Other intriguing storylines in this game include Quintin Mikell of the Rams facing his former team and Jason Kelce, a rookie sixth-rounder, starting for the Eagles at center. Overall, the talent edge clearly goes to the Eagles. However, the Rams will be at home and they are much improved from previous years."
Ah yes, the home field advantage... let's not discount that little factor...
Let's give our old buddy Dave Stoessel a shout-out at Eagles Addict, who talks about the "Dome" effect of playing in St. Louis...
"The Eagles also can’t discount the difficulty of playing in a dome atmosphere. St. Louis fans will be fired up for the first game of the year with a young, promising team to get excited about. The Edward Jones Dome will be a rockin-and-a-rollin come Sunday afternoon. This means that the Eagles offensive line, who have no experience together as a unit, will have to master their silent signals for this week. Be prepared for some false-start penalties for the Eagles offense this Sunday."
Dave also brings us more sobering truth:
"Rams head coach Steve Spagnuolo was with the Eagles when they drafted Donovan McNabb so he may have some of Andy Reid’s influence in him. Right now, I can’t help but see some similarities between this year’s Rams and the 2000 version of the Eagles. Mainly, the Rams are not giving their young, up-and-coming star in Sam Bradford much help by way of wide receiver talent. Back in 2000, Andy Reid gave McNabb WRs Charles Johnson and Torrance Small, then drafted Todd Pinkston. Not exactly stellar players in which to work with..."
"However, the Rams did bring in WR Mike Sims-Walker who should help in the passing game. In this year’s draft, they took promising tight end Lance Kendricks in the second round and also added a pair of WRs in the third and fourth-rounds....But just like the Eagles did with McNabb, the Rams are putting the onus on Bradford. And, just like McNabb, I think he will handle it. Bradford is a rising star in this league and we will see him take a huge step forward in 2011."
"We also can’t forget about RB Steven Jackson. He is the consummate pro and a prototypical workhorse running back. The Eagles can’t afford to let him get on a roll and allow the Rams to control the game...The Rams also improved their young defense by drafting DE Robert Quinn in the first round. He will team with fellow DEs Chris Long and James Hall, who combined for 19 sacks last year, to form a nice trio of pass rushers..."
Yep, the Eagles have their work cut out for them in St. Louis...
And if anyone knows how to create a pressure package on defense, it’s Spagnuolo.
The Rams will aim to victimize an Eagles offensive line that appears questionable at best. "You can bet your bottom dollar that Spags is devising all kinds of blitz packages designed to confuse an Eagles OL who have not yet played a single snap together in 2011", says Stoessel.
But here's a prediction from our own Leo Pizzini that is very reassuring... Leo sees a 27-17 win for the Eagles coming out of St. Louis...
Leo Pizzini, former collegiate safety and punter with 2 years of eligibility still left, sees the big picture as well as any so-called expert on the national media scene... and calls it for the Eagles...
LEO's LINE...Leo's NFL picks for the weekend of September 11-12, 2011...
Steelers - 27 - Ravens - 20
Falcons - 26 - Bears - 20
Bengals - 13 - Browns - 20
Colts - 13 - Texans - 28
Titans - 27 - Jaguars - 17
Bills - 16 - Chiefs - 24
Eagles - 27 -Rams - 17
Lions - 26 - Bucs - 24
Panthers - 17 - Cardinals - 24
Vikings - 20 - Chargers - 31
Seahawks - 9 - 49ers - 17
Redskins - 17 - Giants -16
Cowboys - 17 - Jets 23
Patriots 37 - Dolphins - 17
Raiders - 21 - Broncos - 10
"Don't bogart that joint, my friend... pass it over to me..." Was dat the Fraternity of Man Band? Could be our house band tonight....
I'm already starting to get the butterflies. Chief flying-jerked-eagle need to smoke many many toke to calm nerve...
Don't think I have seen a finish like that. Come to think of it, there were a bunch of tight ones today......Auburn, Ohio ST, USC, Texas, Georgia, Cal, even Purdue. Good college ball day
It's a good thing that Michigan and ND gave me something good to watch tonight. I'm usually like a kid on Christmas Eve the night before the first game of the season. Maybe I'll put on a good movie now and try to keep my mind occupied until I pass out.
I went to Jamaica once. We were served Red Stripe beer. I'm like "Cool! Get it from the source!" but then I opened it and it was warm and skunked...
The best thing I saw on channel flipping was a few minutes ago when CBS did a slow mo of Serena Williams serve......can't describe it, but when the skirt came up, you could see that big butt roll in layers and I mean layers......even Brozer's Sara would have been proud
I have been flipping channels all day. Had to restock on beer as they don't sell them here on Sundays. Gone thru some Heineken and that trusty Jamaican brew.....red stripe. For food, wifey took the daughter for a wedding some 2 hrs away and was kind enough to leave some tasty steak and some rice veggie combo for the two boys and yours. I think we also made a mess of the house
JB, you think the PE.com site having only 40 or so posts is bad... go to the ghost town for the Rams... I posted over there 5 times and won an award for most prolific wrinter in Rams fan history...
No worries then, friends...I shall drink enough for all of youse....now I gotta set my alarm a little earlier....
I've pretty much fucked off the last 2 weeks of my accounting homework so I brought my laptop home so I can work on it while I watch the game? Yeah right... But I won't be drinking tomorrow.