The Eagles have seven players scheduled to play in the Pro Bowl in Miami, with quarterback Donovan McNabb yet to be officially added. That seems like a lot for a team that was eliminated in the wild-card round, and it is the most since they had 10 in the year in which they went to the Super Bowl.
And there could be more. The next candidate on the list is cornerback Sheldon Brown, whose initial omission from the NFC roster was met with criticism.
Brown was the second alternate, but has been bumped up to first alternate because first alternate Terence Newman, from the Cowboys, was added yesterday to replace the injured Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, of Arizona.
The starters at corner are the Eagles' Asante Samuel and Green Bay's Charles Woodson, with Newman as the lone backup. Presumably, one of the starters would have to pull out for Brown to get his chance.
The other alternates from the Eagles are: tight end Brent Celek is a second alternate, safety Quintin Mikell is a third alternate, and defensive tackle Brodrick Bunkley and guard Todd Herremans are fourth alternates.
Obviously, the new Pro Bowl setup has resulted in a sort of "Pro Bowl inflation," in much the same way that rules changes over the past several years have inflated some offensive stats. Good take on that situation today from the National Football Post's Matt Bowen. That would be the former NFL safety, not the college-student son of your Eagletarian with the same name, who spends every minute he's not in class lounging around playing video games, eating us out of house and home, and still hasn't found a &%$*** job. But I digress.
Thoughtful exploration of the Donovan McNabb-Kevin Kolb dilemma from The Scouts Notebook and analyst Tommy Lawlor. Lawlor's conclusion is that it's time to move on, and he marshals a compelling argument. I don't agree with every bit of it, particularly the inference in the "quality of wins" section that if the defense played well in a game, that somehow makes moot the fact that McNabb might have played well (an impressive performance can only take place when your defense struggles?) But again, there is a lot here worth pondering.
He's particularly right about how it's easy to be misled by stats that say 2009 was Donovan's second-best full (or nearly full) season.
"On the surface those numbers look pretty impressive," Lawlor writes, referring to a chart you'll see if you click the above link. "What you have to factor in is that the game of football has changed. The rules constantly are being shifted to aid the offense. Receivers are more advanced. Coaches are more aggressive with the passing game. There are quite a few really good QBs. Donovan just had the 3rd highest rating of his career this season. It wasn't good enough to crack the Top 10 in the league, though.
"The old benchmarks are gone. You wanna be special now you need to have a rating of 100. Or throw for 4,000 yards. Or 30 TDs. Or complete 65 percent of your passes. 8 yards per pass attempt used to be really good. This year that was only 7th best in the league."
One of Lawlor's conclusions is that McNabb ranked just outside the NFL's Top 10 QBs this season. I would put him in that group, just barely. Given the o-line and the running game Tony Romo benefited from, I would rank Romo and McNabb pretty evenly. But the real question is, in 2010, will Kevin Kolb be as good or better?
New Eagles running back Martell Mallett would have been fine playing out the final year of his 2-year contract with the British Columbia Lions in the Canadian Football League, but then the NFL came calling. Mallett was named the Most Outstanding Rookie in the CFL and put up strong numbers as both a runner and receiver.
Mallett said he was weighing offers from six teams after several workouts when he decided to accept a contract with the Eagles earlier this week. Mallett worked out for the Birds on Jan. 13.
“It’s a great feeling. I’m just happy to be in the NFL,” he told his hometown newspaper, the Pine Bluff Commercial in Arkansas. “It’s a dream come true. I always wanted to be in the NFL, now I am.
“I just wanted to play football. I knew if I played hard and continued to play well like I should that I would get a shot in the NFL. I didn’t know if it would be this year, or next year, it was kind of a surprise.”
As to why he picked the Eagles, Mallett said, “(The Eagles) have a great foundation. And [Brian] Westbrook, he’s had concussions and he doesn’t know if he’s going to retire. There’s really no solid third guy. I think that (could) be a good fit for me.”
Another player who hopes to get a chance with the Eagles is center A.Q. Shipley, a Penn State product. Shipley, named the coutry's best center as a senior, spent his rookie season with his hometown Steelers on their practice squad after being selected in the seventh round.
Now, he moves across the state to join the Eagles, with whom he recently signed a 3-year contract.
"It looks like a better opportunity for me to go in there and compete," Shipley told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "I made a decision, and I'm really looking forward to it. Now I just have to take advantage of an opportunity if it presents itself."
Shipley was in town earlier this week doing some apartment hunting after living at home with his parents during his rookie season.
"My parents, I'm sure, enjoy it, and it's been good this first year living at home, being able to save some money and being comfortable with everything around here," Shipley said.