Monday, November 21, 2005

Sheppard's Recovery Key to Eagles Future

No surprises came out of Monday's press conference by Eagles coach Andy Reid. Lito Sheppard has a severe high ankle sprain and Donovan McNabb has a sports hernia that both need surgery. Neither will see the field again this season, although Reid, never says never.
Even though this hasn't been the most consistent season for Sheppard, he was playing a great game before being injured in the first defensive series of the third quarter.
Like McNabb, he has enjoyed good moment,s this season that have been overshadowed by some not so good ones.
The Eagles haven't gotten the same type of pass rush as they did a year ago, leaving the cornerbacks out on more of an island. Sheppard has had one-on-one coverage more and opposing offenses have benefited from it.
There are very few corners who can cover great receivers and blanket them consistently with one-on-one coverage.
Sheppard is no exception. Last season he made the Pro Bowl and this year, he hasn't approached his play of a year ago. That doesn't mean he's not a solid NFL player, it's just that he wasn't close to Pro Bowl quality.
What is ironic is that Sheppard was having arguably the his best game of the year, limiting Plaxico Burress to one reception for four yards. After that, Burress cleaned up and finished with six receptions for 113 yards and a 61-yard TD.
While people may have been complaining about some of Sheppard's coverages, most notably in two games against Dallas' Terry Glenn, this team has little depth in the secondary. It's likely that Sheppard's value will be demonstrated as much in his absence as it was when he was on the field.
If one goes down the line, Sheppard is just one of many Eagles who haven't played up to last year's standards.
It doesn't make him or the others bad players, it just doesn't make the Eagles a very good team.
At 24 and with four NFL seasons now behind him, Sheppard's recovery will be a key to the Eagles chances to re-emerge as a factor next season in the NFC.
A quality cover corner is hard to come by. Even though Sheldon Brown was burned by Burress for the TD on Sunday, he has been playing at a Pro Bowl level this season. If Sheppard comes back to form, then at least the Eagles will have a good start in their rebuilding process.


At 11:11 PM, Blogger Pigskin Prophet said...

To Any One Who WIll Listen

I know the world is exhausted over the "T.O.Show" but after my own investigative research through all the available information, radio, print and TV. Let's all agree that T.O. honestly has issues, however where I come from it takes two to tangle. So, I've come up with a solid scenario respectively defending T.O. A two - part series


First, the courtship: Donovan courted T.O. Two Superstars hanging out at Pro-Bowls, both of them are Stars but when you bring a media made Mega Star, Rock Star like T.O. into your locker room his mere presence is a distraction even if he is a model citizen. Now Donovan is the man, the leader, the captain and the hundred million dollar pampered prima dona who is use to all the attention in the locker room. Here comes T.O. and the attention diminishes some which hurts Donovan's ego a bit. Donovan tires of all the question "Can you and T.O. get along", "What's it like playing with T.O." Then there seemed to be one sideline incident where Donovan and T.O. were at odds and the media world was at the ready, "We knew it wouldn't last" however T.O. continued to present a decent demeanor and his behavior did not seem to be ruffling anyone at the time. Basically he went the entire season without any Major Drama. Fast Forward ...

The Gasp, The Diss: T.O. goes down with injury. Nobody gives the guy or the Eagles a chance. Donovan is now bombarded with all the media attention that he use to readily enjoy. The whole slew of reporters are now upon him, but instead of praises and faith in his game, he only hears from the media "How are you gonna win without T.O.", "What are you guys gonna do now" Donovan, probably frustrated or his ego lashed out stated basically several times leading up to the superbowl that the "Eagles DID NOT NEED T.O. to beat New England." I know and you know, that is the ultimate diss to a teammate even if the intentions was to present a confident and unified front to the team. It was wrong, worded wrong, not once but several times and backed by Coach Reid. Nobody took this stance when Donovan went down in week ten a few years back. Ty Detmer and A. J. Feely led the Eagles to the Conference Championship without Mr. Chunky Soup. Fast Forward

The Choke: T.O.'s ego, determination and competitive nature drove him to work as hard as Clubber Lane to play in the Superbowl to show the world he truly is among the best, prove critics wrong that he is indeed a team player. He put his career on the line, Plays valiantly almost single handedly keeping the Eagles in the game. When Donovan, with the game on the line CHOKES. Hank Fraley tells the media Donovan was sick, Jeff Thomason, Freddie Mitchell and others concur Donovan was throwing up, sick, etc. Donovan tried to dispel all the talk by saying he wasn't sick maybe just a little tired but nothing was wrong with him. After which T.O. makes a statement that he wasn't the one the one that got tired and again the media in waiting was hot on the case and in Donovan's face with the news. Donovan lashing out says "keep my name out your mouth," but doesn't chastise Fraley, Thomason or Mitchell? (Even though Freddie was released for some odd reason)

Why has the fans, the local Philadelphia media, the league and the national media, especially (ESPN) given Donovan a free pass? His career QB rating was only 77.6 prior to T.O.'s arrival and his best QB rating of 86.0 was his shortened season in 2002 when he went down to injury. Nobody was allowed to say they DIDN'T NEED HIM to win and they did win without him, going to the Championship and of course losing. I think the guys at ESPN mainly the NFL countdown/primetime crew is scared to criticize him after the Rush Limbaugh debacle. Let's make this perfectly clear, as a Black Male I agreed with Rush's position. Nobody rants that he can't win the big one. No body slams him for three interceptions in a loss or just an overall bad game. He Choked against the Redskins to possibly tie the game. He Choked Monday against Dallas then came up hobbling. His injuries were not evident when they were winning and he was moon walking into the endzone, hmmmm. Nobody on the team can call him on his poor play? Well, that sounds like he is as sensitive and insecure as T.O. is reported to be. Why, why, why? If Donovan wasn't sick in the Superbowl as he states then he CHOKED, no other explanation. Getting tired is not an excuse, everybody on the field is tired and some guys just dug deep, some put their faith and trust in Donovan's hands and HE LET THEM ALL DOWN and has a poor excuse of being a little tired as a defense .......

Part 2 - To T.O.'s defense

Again we are all in agreement that Terrell Owens has issues but are they harmful as the private fuming ego of Donovan's.

So far we have discussed T.O.'s first year in Philadelphia and basically no problem until after the superbowl there is obvious sniping between T.O. and Donovan.

Donovan on the other hand doesn't seem as comfortable and jovial as he once was. He is taking more jabs at T.O. and making snide comments which we all know are directed at T.O. It's what the media is looking for.

Organization Betrayal: T.O. feels that the Eagles changed the rules and decides that since the Eagles felt they didn't NEED him to win and since they made him sign a waiver so they wouldn't be liable to have to pay him if he got hurt in the Superbowl that he wanted his deal restructured. He wanted the money upfront instead of back loaded in what was essentially a two year deal with a 5 year option. Many believe they would have cut him before the money option came to pass but that would be mere speculation. They said "WE DO NOT NEGOTIATE WITH PLAYERS UNDER CONTRACT" The media was waiting on the hold out. The Eagles were waiting on the hold out and threatened $9,000 a day fine. T.O. reports to camp and the circus begins. Bryant Westbrook holds out and during the bickering Donovan states that "Bryant Westbrook is the Best Player on the Eagles team" OOOOUUCH!!!! He's not even at camp. Again the team and media gives Donovan a pass. Donovan says pay Westbrook and the media says what about T.O.? when Donovan justifies I don't get in peoples business. Well, stay out of Westbrooks negotiation talks. However, this throws T.O. into a fit and he's not speaking to a number of folks around the camp. Him and Andy Reid gets into it. Coach Reid Tells him to "Shut up" he responds "You Shut up, my last name is not Reid" and T.O. is sent home for a week and the Paparazzi media follow him.

On top of giving Donovan a pass the Eagles organization namely Mr. Lurie spoke out against the negotiations publicly and the Honorable Mr. Banner called T.O. and Drew Rosenhaus "IDIOTS" in the national media. I just wanna know where are the APOLOGIES to T.O.? What's fair is fair.

The Interview: In between the mean time ... T.O. & Donovan develop an unholy alliance AKA working relationship. All seems pretty good for about 8 weeks when T.O. can't take it anymore. This guy just caught his 100 Touchdown reception and NOTHING. Not a WOW, not a pat on the back, butt or rub on the head. Not a Jumbo-TRON display. Not a story on ESPN. Nothing. You reporters and commentator guys at least talked about Marvin Harrison's catch for two weeks. T.O. puts it out there, couldn't help himself from wearing his emotions on his sleeve and then the Ultimate happened ... T.O. AGREED with another person about if Bret Farve played on the team where they would possibly be, a hypothetical and the media went CRAZY printing T.O. prefers Bret, T.O. disses Donovan, T.O. says .. When he didn't say any of those things but agreed with a hypothetical opinion and was persecuted. Really no different than taking part on ESPN's HOT SEAT

Now I have searched for about 10 days now and I cant find one Eagle who has achieved a milestone before, so when the Eagles Organization say they didn't know T.O. was at 99 TD receptions or that the Eagles organization does not celebrate individual accomplishments, It's because they have never had one to celebrate. What will they do when Donovan reaches a milestone? I guess they will go against their own policies as they did with Bryant Westbrook and most notably giving the kicker, David Akers who got a contract extension while still under contract. They deserve a pass on that one too, I guess. So in the city of Brotherly Love, Donovan has not been so lovely. Matter of fact he hasn't been that good in the big games either.

Troy Vincent, Bobby Taylor, Hugh Douglas, Jeremiah Trotter, Corey Simon, Freddie Mitchell just to name a few all had money problems or spoke out invoking freedom of speech and look at them now. Donovan may be no different than what T.O. is reported to be, sensitive, pampered, spoiled and clearly untouchable by the media or teammates when it comes to negative criticism

Folks, just give it to them from the other side, It'll sale too. Run Donovan and The Eagles through the ringer for their part in this madness and by the way, I agree with Mr. Keith Olberman and Jerry Jones (Dallas Cowboys owner), that they made a series of calculating errors so they can say we tried to get rid of T.O. but the League or NFLPA says we can't. Will be looking for the article after the Eagles loss to the NY Giants on Sunday even though they DON'T NEED DONOVAN to win. Oh Yeah, funny how Donovan looked liked he wasn't even injured thruogh most of the game, rushing for 22 yards, 1 TD on 5 carries plus numerous other scramble plays, then and only after his CHOKE THROWING INTERCEPTION for the second consecutive week was commentators and the media allowed to bring up he was playing hurt ... Great Performance by a CHOKE Artist


View from another perspective

At 6:37 PM, Blogger BrianS said...

This is silly.

What was McNabb suppossed to say when TO got hurt for the playoffs? "There's no way we can without TO, we mights as throw in the towel?"

I don't recall any Eagle saying in 2002, "We can't win without McNabb." And if McNabb hadn't been able to play in the playoffs, they would have claimed that they believed they could get to the Superbowl w/AJ Feeley or Koy.

And McNabb stuck up for Westbrook's contract negotiations and not TO's is surprising to you? Westbrook never ripped McNabb (justifiably or not) in the media. Westbrook criticized the organization, but he didn't get into an argument with the offensive coordinator. Westbrook didn't tell the coach to "shut up."

I'm a McNabb fan, but I won't deny that he struggled in the Superbowl (don't forget how human the great Peyton Manning looked against the Patriots, too, though) and has not had a good season at all. But, even if you agree with what Owens said, he was not being a team player to say it.

No one made TO sign that contract, he has no one to blame but himself.

At 4:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Teamwork is hard. The moment TO signed with the Eagles team he is accountable to the rules of that organization.

When Reid say, "Jump" the most TO can answer back with is, "How high?" No amount of whining about the mistakes made by the Eagle's organization is going to help TO or the team.

Time for everyone in Philly to learn the difference between constructive dialogue and destructive criticism. Time to move on.

Thanks for the good memories, TO. Good luck on your new team.

At 9:30 AM, Anonymous Robert Kantor said...

Certainly Sheppard has looked like a "goat" after his first game against Dallas.

With a professional athlete, the general public will never know if his physical condition was in anyway hampered by some type of "nagging ailment" which may have happened the game for practice before.

This is a "gamer" who has only had 2-3 bad "coverages" in 4 years.

I think your article was a little doubting and questioned this previous "pro-bowl" corner.

Lito is a "pro-bowl" player, not only with his athletic abiltiy, but with his leadership and focus.

It is a shame, you haven't spent as much time with him as others.

At 9:50 PM, Blogger Pigskin Prophet said...

Hey Brians,

I not really defending T.O. and if there was a poster board for athletes with issues "He'd Be On It" but I know it more to it and that the signs all point to McNabb being a creep. If you can post one superstar in any sport that stated they didn't need the other star of his team to win the big game I will forever hold my peace ... You won't, so what your supposed to say or the politically correct thing to do is state the obvious .. Others guys just gotta step it up or we have to do what we gotta without the nice slant or slander. Donovan was nice about saying we're gonna miss this guys ability but we gotta move on is the kinds of things he was supposed to say last year. He snubbed the guy 4 times. Dononvan's at fault just as much as T.O. cause leaders make it work. The Eagles just did a good job of hiding it until T.O. showed up. Next, Westbrook did speak out, several times and in several nationally televised interviews .. In addition he held out (that's supposed to be selfish and classless) C,mon, If T.O. stinks what's that smell still coming outta the Eagles Org. Smell like Chunky Clam Chowder. Also if you read the editorial you will find several players call themselves defending Mcnabbs play, Fraley, Thamason, Mitchell and others by saying he was sick. NO admonishment from McNabb or the Eagles. Then McNabb openly admitted he got tired ... In the Superbowl. We would have any other guys head in the sports world for a comment like that. Taking him out for the rest of the season was a good move but it wont change his choke artist status next season and NEVER EVER COMPARE MCNABB WITH A MANNING. Contract issues aside T.O. probably should have got better advice but what Donovan has done is reprehensible Eagles are doomed for the next several years and the Truth will reveal itself.

Anonymous is right to some degree ... These guys don't have regular Blue Collor Jobs. The play a game for millions. The Sports and Entertainment world does not respond to the Real World Rules of ethics. THey get millions for being arrogant, talented and controversial. They make us watch, suck us in we LOve it so saying he signed the contract dosent wash cause at the end of the day if you lost your job, got laid off in the real world you go apply somewhere else but if they told everyone in the nation dont hire this guy cause I said so ... Jeeeesh

At 1:07 AM, Blogger CHONORS said...

Sheppard is over rated. He got those interceptions mostly from being out of position. I think he should be the nickle back not the starting corner. The big thing the Eagles need is a DT that can get the job done.

I want to suggest something that may sound far-out or even stupid at first, but think about it before you discard it.

Here's goes:

Shawn Andrews is about 23 years old. He is 378 lbs and can run amazingly fast. He very likely will weigh even more in two or three years. That's really way too big for a guard and may for a tackle too.

One of the Eagles big needs is a defensive tackle that can (1) stop the run and (2) push the pocket. I think Shane Andrews would make a phenomenal defensive tackle. Now I can't be sure if there is something a DT must do that an offensive guard/tackle can't learn to do, but I doubt it. This kid to me seems like a natural. I think he would be worth his weight in gold in the middle of the defensive line and we can always find a 330 lb. guard.

what do you think about that? If you agree, could you maybe suggest it somewhere where it might get to the Eagles ear? That move alone would make us a much better defensive team next year, in my opinion.


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