Sat. Jan 22, 2005
Bird Bowl Preview
During this week, I’ve collected a few links to articles about this Sunday’s Bird Bowl (also know as the Falcons-Eagles NFC Championship game). They range from detailed straightforward journalism, to wild eyed columnists, to the tales of impending doom. Plus, one odd gut reaction I had.
Start with an interesting but straight story from AP, “Vick vs. McNabb, Part II, for NFC championship”: “They are quarterbacks for a new age, transcending racial stereotypes and tossing aside the accepted notions of how the job should be done once the ball is snapped. Donovan McNabb never viewed the pocket as some protective cocoon, to be defended at all costs. The Philadelphia Eagles’ star demonstrated that a 20-yard run sure beats a 10-yard sack. Imagine that. Then along came Michael Vick, who took the door that McNabb nudged open and ripped it from its hinges.”
And a very entertaining column from Bill Simmons at ESPN/Page 2, “Basking in the NFL drama”: “The Falcons haven’t made the Super Bowl since the ‘Dirty Bird’ season; and looking back, I’m not even sure that actually happened. All I remember is Eugene Robinson getting caught with a hooker. Does anyone remember the actual game that year? Plus, between the always-intense Jim ‘Don’t Call Me Junior’ Mora and that lunatic special teams coach they have, there’s a decent chance that somebody’s head could explode on the Atlanta sidelines this weekend.”
Then we begin to hear about How Bad It Could Be, but they’re not talking about the Falcons. For the Eagles, it’s “Fourth and long”: “If they lose, they will become the first team in NFL history to lose four straight conference championship games [...] They will become the first team to win 59 games in five years and not win at least one Super Bowl during that span. They will make history. Not the kind they hope to make. This is the burden this team carries.”
Oh, it’s not just the team. Because “NFL football [is] more than a game to Philly sports fans: “What you will see this Sunday is a city full of people desperate to learn the hard way. People who, after years and years of disappointment and heartbreak, still cling to that shred of hope that maybe, yes- maybe this really could be our year. If that doesn’t speak to the character of our city- my city- than I don’t know what will. God forbid they actually do win, for only the good Lord knows what sort of reaction there will be.”
Or what kind of reaction there will be if they lose. Either way, “Philly Fans Fail to Faze Mora Jr.”: “I said, ‘You know what, it’s going to be awesome. They might be throwing batteries at us. They might be dumping dog [excrement] on us. They might be throwing snowballs at us. They’ll be spitting on us, throwing beers at us,’” Mora said during a conference call. “I said, ‘Man, guys, you’ve got to love it. It’s exactly what you want. It’s the perfect environment to go into because you can’t recreate it in any other walk of life.’”
There might be a reason for that, Coach. A good reason.
And, of course, there’s a hundred spotlights on the Falcons’ quarterback, saying things like “Amazing Vick one who could ground Eagles”: “The general consensus is the Falcons will be shot down like buzzards in a blizzard by Donovan McNabb and crew. If the Falcons were a migrating species, they would be way under the radar. And that in itself could spell danger for the top-perching Eagles. For what the Falcons have, besides an odd lack of respect, is a quarterback the likes of which has not been seen before in the NFL.”
We also have the hideous growth of a horrid new sports catch phrase, “DVD”. It stands for Dunn-Vick-Duckett, the three pronged Falcons run threat. Its rise is almost enough to hope the Falcons progress no further, as we’ll be sledgehammered with this mundane moniker for two long weeks if they do. Because I personally find precious little threatening about a “catch phrase” that brings to mind a small shiny piece of plastic that’s easily scratched or cracked.
Nonetheless, reading the article “‘DVD’ is A-OK for Falcons” (sheesh, see what I mean?), my nose twitched: “‘For us, it starts with the run, so that’s something that we’ll obviously try to establish early,’ Falcons coach Jim Mora said this week. ‘We know Philadelphia has a great defense, so it’s going to be a real test for us to be able to play our style of offense.’”
What’s that smell? Misdirection? Facing one of the NFL’s best defensive secondaries, and having the best running offense in the league, it smells to me like Mora is hard selling the obvious. “This is what we do, and it’s all we’re gonna do. Uh huh. Yup. Sure is. Gonna be snowin’, too. Gotta run.”
Watch the Falcons come out pushing the pass, to get the secondary back on their heels instead of forward on their toes, and thus really set up the running game.
And watch Jevon Kearse on the Philly defense. He’ll likely be switched to the right end, where he’ll be waiting for Vick’s rollouts. That’s the matchup that may determine the game.