Steve Van Buren, who many say is the greatest Eagles’ running back of all time, died Thursday night at the age of 91. The running back, from Honduras, was a five time All-Pro who was named to the NFL 75th anniversary team in 1994. He finished with 5,860 yards rushing, which is 2nd all time in Eagles history. Steve was a part of the Eagles teams that won back to back NFL Championships in 1948 and 1949 . In 1948 NFL Championship, in a snow storm that almost caused him to miss the game, he scored the only touchdown against the Chicago Cardinals. The following year, he ran for 196 yards in a 14-0 win over the Los Angeles Ram. Steve was the first Philadelphia Eagle inducted in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1965.
Obviously never saw Van Buren play, but when guys Ray Didinger say he’s the best ever, I tend to believe them. Hopefully, in a few years, a certain running back named Shady can take the mantle from the great Van Buren.
RIP Steve Van Buren
In the second round of the 1996 draft, the Philadelphia Eagles selected Brian Dawkins, a safety from Clemson. He quickly found his way into the starting lineup as a rookie and never looked back upon his great career.
With the start of the Andy Reid regime in 1999, Jim Johnson was hired as the teams defensive coordinator. No one in the city knew much about Johnson, but that year he helped Dawkins evolve into a Pro Bowl player. The team wasn’t very good at 5-11, but improvements were noticeable. In 2000, Dawkins and his defense finished 4th in points allowed and 1oth in yards. The Eagles made the playoffs and won their first playoff game since 1996. In what seemed a yearly occurrence, the season ended in a disappointing loss, losing to the Giants 20-10.
Dawkins made the Pro Bowl for the second time in 2001. His bone-jarring hits quickly made him a fan favorite along with his leadership abilities. The defense finished 2nd in points allowed and the team went to their first of many NFC Championship games. Aeneas Williams had other ideas for the Eagles as his interception ended the Eagles’ season one game short of their goal. Weapon X, Dawkins’ alter ego, made his second straight Pro Bowl in 2002. In a game vs. the Houston Texans that year, he became the first player in NFL history to have a sack, forced fumble, interception and touchdown reception in a game. After a first round bye, Brian laid what many say is his greatest hit. With Mike Vick running towards the end zone, Dawkins flew out of nowhere and laid out Vick with a shoulder. The play was called back because of a penalty, but Vick had to come out for a play. The Falcons drive would eventually end with a missed field goal and the Eagles went on to win 20-6. No reason to discuss what happened against the Bucs the following week.
So Andy Reid took time from his busy schedule attending Sixers game to actually speak to the media (Apologies to Matt Chord). He announced that Todd Bowles would become the secondary coach replacing Johnny Lynn who was fired. Bowles went 2-1 as the interim head coach for the Miami Dolphins this year. Bowles went to Temple and played for three teams in his NFL career. He’s been a coach since 1995 mostly as a secondary coach.
Andy said he took all this time to speak to the media because he had to reflect on how the season went (poorly), what he needed to do (get better on game days) and how the team was going to go about free agency and the draft (linebacker please). He also stated that Steve Spagnolo was offered a job, but apparently didn’t get into specifics about a job title. Even though he did that, Reid said he never was serious about replacing Castillo and that Spags and Castillo would be dynamite together. Andy also stated that he’s looking forward to quarterback Mike Vick’s first full off-season as the starter.
My thoughts: There’s no way that Andy Reid actually believe that by not offering Spags the defensive coordinator job that Spags would come here. The fact of the matter is that if Reid really wanted Spags here, he would be the defensive coordinator for the Eagles. If Andy really believes that Castillo is the guy for the job, that’s fine, I knew that was going to happen the second after the Eagles defeated the Redskins for the 4th straight win. Jeff Lurie made the Castillo move a certainty when he basically said Reid has one more chance. Why would Reid change coordinators and schemes when his job is on the line? Don’t get me wrong, was the defense great? No. Was it awful as some of Philadelphia thinks it was? Consider this..the Eagles defense was second in the NFC in total yards given up, second in passing yards given up and third in points per game. People forget that the offense turn the ball over 35 times which was #1 in the league. The offense, for all the gaudy numbers, scored 3 points in the five blown fourth quarter leads. If this team expects to ever win a Super Bowl, it begins and ultimately ends with the quarterback.
This is going to make me sound like a whiner….And I’m okay with that because I need to get this off my chest. This couldn’t have been a worse Super Bowl matchup for myself being an Eagles fan. In the AFC, you have the New England Patriots who demolished the Eagles earlier this season (38-20 doesn’t do the Patriots a justice). Let us not forget the Jacksonville debacle in 2005. You have Bill Belichick, the hoodie and the insufferable arrogance. You have Tom Brady who almost seems to have it all. You can’t forget the lovely fans of New England who always seem to come out of the woodwork. (Mike O being the exception)
Then there’s the New York Giants. The first team in the NFL history to be outscored in the regular season. The team that was dead last in running the ball and the defense that was 29th stopping the pass. A team that lost to the Washington Redskins twice and a team that lost 5 out of 6 from week 10-15. A team that lost to Vince Young. However, unlike the team 90 miles south, they won the games they had to and actually got in the playoffs. Using a great pass rush led by Jason Pierre Paul (drafted after Brandon Graham) and the ELIte play of Eli Manning (see what I did there?) the Giants have been on a wonderful run that has led them to another shot against Brady and the Patriots. That last sentence makes almost every Eagles fan’s stomach turn. (Mine included).
Unless this game is ends in a tie (Insert a Donovan doesn’t know the OT rules joke here) and obviously the game won’t, no outcome will sit well with Eagles fans. Just when it seemed the Patriots’ lust seemed to have worn off (No playoff wins since 2007), they go on a run. If the Patriots win, Brady and Belichick get their 4th Super Bowl already solidifying their great Hall of Fame careers. If the Giants win, it adds another ring to Eli and Coughlin (who seems to be on the chopping block every year). And of course, all the Giants fans come out the woodwork as well.
Imagine if the Giants win what that does for the Eagles. I can already see this happening….
Andy with his insufferable arrogance (even though he’s won nothing) comes out a week after the Super Bowl and uses the Giants as an example as how close the Eagles are. “We only finished one game back and they got hot just like we did”. It will come out of his mouth like it was scripted. The only problem with that logic is the only person to believe that would be Andy Reid. Sure, the Eagles beat the Giants with Vince Young and had a 4th quarter lead against them at home. Sure, the Eagles have a great pass rush similar to the Giants. There’s one difference though…..Eli Manning is their quarterback and Mike Vick is ours.
Maybe, Vick wakes up one day and decides that he doesn’t need to do everything with the football. Perhaps he’ll decide to slide. Maybe he’ll stop turning the ball over. Unfortunately until this all happens, Eagles fans will have to patiently wait for their FIRST Super Bowl.
PS: Go Patriots. Simply because I don’t want to hear how close the Eagles are if the Giants win because you know and I know, that’s what Andy would say.
I didn't even bring this guy up once.
Right before the NFL trade deadline, the Eagles traded Ronnie Brown to the Detroit Lions for Jerome Harrison and a 7th round draft pick in 2013. Yesterday, the trade was cancelled because Jerome Harrison failed his physical after Eagles doctors discovered he had a brain tumor. Imagine what would have happened if Harrison never got traded? Who knows when he would have eventually found out. Harrison won’t play the rest of the season, but the prognosis is good and he is expected to recover. We at the Sports with Balls Show wish Harrison a speedy recovery.
The Philadelphia Eagles and Detroit Lions made a huge splash before the trading deadline. The Eagles received Jerome Harrison (yes the same guy from last year) and a 7th round draft pick in 2013 while the Detroit Lions received Mr. Halfback Option, Ronnie Brown. Ronnie Brown really fell out of favor with the Eagles after the disastrous halfback option pass in the San Francisco game. Brown only had two carries since the Redskins game and finished his fabulous Eagles career with 13 carries for 38 yards. Harrison, a backup in Detroit behind Jahvid Best, only had 14 carries for 41 yards this season. As a backup to LeSean McCoy last year, Harrison was fairly successful, averaging 6.0 yards a carry on 40 carries.
Forever remembered for his halfback option.....
According to Andrew Brandt of the National Football Post, the Philadelphia Eagles and Michael Vick have agreed to a six-year 100 million dollar contract with 40 million guaranteed. Vick signed a two-year, 5.5 million dollar deal in August of 2009, so he gets quite the pay raise. In a little over two years, Michael has gone from a sideshow, wildcat player to the franchise leader. Last season he threw for just over 3,000 yards with 21 touchdown passes. Vick also rushed for 676 yards and nine touchdowns. There are high expectations for Vick and the Eagles this season and the contract will hopefully not be an added pressure for the quarterback. For Eagles’ fans, it has to be one of the better off-seasons in history. Perhaps the only thing left now before the season starts is making a certain wide receiver from Cal happy.
A lot has changed in the last two years for Vick.