Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A Rolling Freak Show in Philly?

The Philadelphia Eagles are looking to shake things up in the NFC East. After picking up Michael Vick, and indicating that the team may use both players at the same time on offense, there's an indication that they may be looking to add another element to the mix:

Donovan McNabb lobbied for the Eagles to sign Michael Vick. Could Plaxico Burress be next? It's highly unlikely, but McNabb joked yesterday about urging the team to sign [Plaxico] Burress the same way he did with Vick.

Given that the Eagles held it pretty close to the vest with Vick, signing Burress would be a good thing. Oh, sure--you have your scolds out there who claim that there is a thing called "team chemistry."

In the NFL, there is no such thing as "team chemistry." The special teams, offense and defense are all separate squads within the organization. Those squads are broken down into units, like offensive and defensive lines, the backfield, etc. Because of substitutions, injuries, the practice squad, and picking people up off waivers or in trades, these units are a revolving door of personnel. Either the quarterback has his timing down with his receivers or he does not. Good coaches know how to fix that quickly--bad coaches let the players look like clowns on the field. There is no chemistry involved--there is practice and coaching involved. Lazy sportswriters intone, with as much phony outrage as they can muster, "is the chemistry so bad on the home team that they may end up dwelling in the cellar for the next five years?!?"

With such disparity between the groups, and with natural frictions and animosities over who gets credit for wins and blame for losses, there is always this phony veneer of "chemistry" that is cited when discussing who is a "cancer" and who is a "leader" on a football team. This is fodder for the lazy sports press when things go south for a team. This is used to cover up the fact that the offensive coordinator is lost and cannot connect with his players and give them winning formations and plays. Lazy sportswriters don't bother trying to find out if the coaches are competent. They don't bother going down to watch the practices, which are either tightly run affairs or screaming matches between guys who know they're going to be out of a job in January and guys who figure that if the coach doesn't start coaching, they're going to be playing alongside T.O. up in Buffalo and there's no way I'm leaving Miami or Atlanta to go up to no dag-gone Buffalo. Lazy sportswriters write about superfluous things, such as, "can Coach Joe Blow overcome the devastating loss of his pet parakeet and find a way to beat Dallas on the road?!?"

Suddenly, when a team turns it around, chemistry is forgotten. Players still hate one another, but they're now being coached in a way that more than adequately allows them to overcome timing and mental issues. The difference between winning and losing can come down to a split second of timing, which is translated into being able to hit a receiver with a pass he can catch in a part of the field where he already knows he must be in and is willing to do anything to be there. Lazy sports writers then decide to tackle the issue of chemistry as a negative--is there so much good chemistry on this team that one injury or one loss to free agency could doom the home team to oblivion?!?

Signing Plaxico Burress creates a headache for any team that has to play the Eagles. You have an untested, but likely still explosively fast, Michael Vick, and you have Donovan McNabb ready to win at all costs. Lazy sportswriters have two pieces ready--the collapse piece and the bandwagon piece. If there's a collapse, they'll put it down to signing a "cancer." If the team is rolling to victory, the bandwagon piece will intone, "it sure was smart to ignore a little thing called team chemistry and sign that fellow who was such a cancer on his old team, wasn't it, and aren't I as smart as Mike Lupica for pointing it out to you slackjawed cretins?!?"

No one asks the question--what about AJ Feely? What do the Eagles do with him now?

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