Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Dull and Duller

No one has ever claimed that Andy Reid and Donovan McNabb are quote machines. But today's press conferences from the two at the NovaCare Complex were about as interesting as raking leaves.

It's true McNabb's responses usually lack substance, but he does enjoy the occasional sarcastic quip. A sampling:

On whether he wants to see the Eagles run the ball more to keep the pressure off him (said with straight face):
"I wish we could throw the ball 75, 80 times a game." McNabb then made an I'm-obviously-joking face.

On whether there are things he can't do because of the injury:
"Well, I'm not able to do pilates. My tae-bo tapes have been put away. I can't really work on my six-pack, but at least I wear a shirt everyday so people don't know what's going on under here."

On what he did during the bye week:
"I got a chance to walk by the pool with my six-pack. I got some good sun, tanned a little bit, kicked my feet up in the water."

On what kind of six-pack:
"The six-pack right here. No beer. I'm talking about abdominal muscles here."

Westbrook's Woes

Brian Westbrook is a team player and even though he is unhappy with the $1.43 million contract, he hasn't let it affect his play. The team's play calling is another matter.
Since discussing his unhappiness with the Eagles contract negotiations during one press conference, Westbrook has not talked about money.
Westbrook does feel could be among the elite running backs in the league, but there is a feeling he isn't being utilized in the best way.
It's the feeling of fans, reporters and most of all Westbrook himself. While not bashing his coaches, he made it clear in talking on Wednesday that he wouldn't mind a heavier offensive load. Make that a much heavier load.
When asked if he could be the best back in the league, Westbrook replied: "If I was used properly, yes."
This season Westbrook has 55 carries in five games, only 11 per contest. He has gained 231 yards rushing for a decent 4.2 average per game and has scored once on the ground. Westbrook also has 25 receptions for 292 yards and three TDs.
Still, he has been underused and Eagles coach Andy Reid said on Wednesday that Westbrook is working on returning punts in practice.
It would be advisable to have him do it in the actual games. Remember in 2003 when Westbrook averaged a healthy 15.3 yards per punt return and scored two touchdowns. Since then he has returned just two punts.
Westbrook says he is ready for anything the team throws at him. He just wouldn't mind a few more rushing attempts.
During the last two games against Kansas City and Dallas, he has rushed for just 27 yards on 15 measley carries. Against Dallas, he was outgained on the ground by Cowboys quarterback Drew Bledsoe, 14 yards to 12. Bledsoe will never be compared to the Roadrunner.
"You can’t do magic with five carries, or less than 10 carries against goood defensies," Westbrook said. "When you get so few touches, it’s hard to get the rhythm. If I am able to get in the rhythm of the game, touch the ball early, then I will have a little bit more success."
No question, which is why the Eagles will likely get him the ball early and often in Sunday's game against the San Diego Chargers.

First: Admit there is a problem

Today, Eagles head coach Andy Reid admitted that it is time to fix some of the problems on special teams. He wants to improve kickoff and punt returns.

And it is about time, if you have an ailing quarterback like Donovan McNabb, how about giving him the best starting position possible?

In kickoff returns, the Eagles are 27th in the NFL with an average starting position around the 24-yard line (23.9). Rod Hood has an average of 22.2 yards per return on 10 attempts and Dexter Wynn has an 18.8 average on eight tries.

Certainly to be near the bottom in any category is not acceptable for any team with Super Bowl aspirations.