THE EAGLES have kept the zebras pretty busy in their first four games, drawing 29 penalties. That's 7.25 yellow hankies per game, seventh in the NFL.
The only teams averaging more per game are the Bills (8.8), Rams (7.8), Ravens (7.8), Cardinals (7.75), Packers (7.5) and Cowboys (7.4). Of those six clubs, only the Ravens and Cowboys have winning records (both are 3-2).
The biggest problem area in that regard for the Eagles has been special teams, which have been responsible for 10 of the 29 penalties, including five in the Week 2 loss to the Saints. Twenty-one players have drawn the 29 flags. There have been few repeat offenders. Just five have been flagged more than once, and just two - wide receiver DeSean Jackson and right guard Stacy Andrews - have been penalized more than two times (both have three).
While coach Andy Reid made it clear this week that cutting down on penalties - they were flagged a season-high 10 times for 111 yards Sunday against the Bucs - is high on his to-do list this week, the truth is the Eagles frequently have been among the most penalized teams in the league during the Reid era.
And it really hasn't mattered.
In 2004, their 124 penalties were the fourth in the league and the second most by the team since Reid has been the coach. Yet they finished 13-3 and made it all the way to the Super Bowl.
Last year, they committed just 74 penalties, fourth fewest in the league and the fewest ever under Reid, and were lucky to squeak into the playoffs. A year earlier, they committed just 83 penalties and finished only 8-8.
They committed 113 penalties in 2000, the eighth most in the league, and won 11 games; they had 111 in '02, the 10th most, and won 12 games.
The three teams averaging the fewest penalties per game are the Seahawks (4.2), Texans (4.8) and Vikings (4.8). The Vikings are the only one of those three with a winning record.
Of the last 15 Super Bowl winners, just four - the 2006 Colts, the 2005 Steelers, the 2004 Patriots and the 1995 Cowboys - finished in the top 10 in fewest penalties.
AROUND THE LEAGUE
* Many people think Dolphins coach Tony Sparano started using the Wildcat last season because he didn't have a very good quarterback (Chad Pennington). But many people would be wrong. "It had nothing to do with our quarterbacks," said Sparano, whose team ran the Wildcat 16 times for 110 yards in their come-from-behind win over the Jets on Monday night. "It started with making space for our offensive line. Giving our offensive line blocking angles and creating space. That is how the thing started. And now it has taken on a little bit more than that. These guys have their arms around it. They do it well." Since taking it out of the box last September in a 38-13 win over the Patriots, the Dolphins have used the Wildcat 120 times in 19 games and have gained 791 yards out of the formation. That's an impressive 6.6 yards per play.
* Brian Dawkins celebrated his 36th birthday Tuesday. His team is 5-0. His defense has given up the fewest points in the league. He's playing every down and is second on the team in tackles. He knows he doesn't have that much time left in the game, but he has enough. "My time in this game will come and I will have to hang it up, but it is not that time [yet]," he said this week. "I don't even think about it right now. I am still able to do too many things on the football field for my team. [I am] very comfortable in my role. [Defensive coordinator] Mike [Nolan] is allowing me to do a lot of things. I am excited every Wednesday to see the game plan, to see what we are going to be able to do. All those things being said, I still love it too much, can do it at a high level. He still continues to bless me. I am not even thinking about [retiring]."
* There's been a lot of talk about the 1-4 Bills possibly trading Terrell Owens before next Tuesday's trading deadline. But to this point, no one in the Bills organization is doing any of the talking. According to a club source, they are not looking to move the 35-year-old Owens, who has just 12 catches in the Bills' first five games. Owens said he hasn't spent much time thinking about the possibility of a trade. "No, not at all," he said. "Whether it happens or not, I don't know. I'm committed right here until it does happen. I'm not saying that it will, but other than that, I'm committed." Asked whether he wants to be traded, Owens said, "I just said I'm committed. I'm committed right here."
* The Redskins' offensive-line problems have forced them to use their most productive receiver, tight end Chris Cooley, more than they would like for pass protection. The result: He didn't catch a pass in Sunday's loss to Carolina. It was the first time in 77 games he was held without a reception. Cooley didn't even have a pass thrown in his direction. "We had several opportunities to give [Cooley] the ball and we couldn't because of coverage or because of protection," coach Jim Zorn said. "He's always fresh on my mind to try to get the ball."
From the lip:
* "You guys make us seem like we're just the worst team in America, like we're 0-5. We're not 0-5. We're 2-3, OK? There are a lot of teams out there that are 0-5. We're not one of those teams." - Redskins kick returner Rock Cartwright, on the media criticism his team has received.
* "There is no greater dilemma I would have than if Rush Limbaugh was the owner of the [Rams] team and walked up and wanted a handshake. That is a very difficult situation." - Warren Sapp on Showtime's "Inside the NFL," before Limbaugh was dropped from a group interested in buying the Rams.
* "We are playing with a lot of effort. We are playing with a lot of heart and enthusiasm, and a desire for everybody to do their job on every play is there. Accountability is what I'm talking about. That's what we did in Philadelphia. We made sure we were accountable. We knew what we were supposed to do, and we didn't take things for granted." - Brian Dawkins, on the Broncos' defense.
* "We're 1-4. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to say that it's not what I expected. We're going with the cards that are dealt, as far as the situation we're in right now." - Terrell Owens, on the Bills' struggles.
* "He's a different guy. There's no doubt about it. He has that edge about him that the special ones have. Warren Sapp had that edge. Everybody didn't always understand Warren. Still don't. But somehow they get it done." - Bucs coach Raheem Morris, on tight end Kellen Winslow.
* "We have a motto. The motto is, 'It works for us!' " - Dolphins running back Ronnie Brown on the Wildcat, which they ran 16 times for 110 yards in Monday's win over the Jets.
By the numbers:'
* How bad is the Redskins' offense? This bad: It has failed to score more than 20 points in 12 of its last 13 games.
* How bad is the Raiders' offense? This bad: They're the first team since at least 1960 to fail to get 200 yards in four straight games.
* There still are five undefeated teams going into Week 6. That's the most ever at this point in the season.
* The Eagles, who visit Oakland Sunday, have won six straight games on the West Coast. They haven't lost out there since 2001.
* There are eight quarterbacks with a passer rating of 100 or better. The record for most 100-rated passers in a season is four (1998, 2004).
* The Patriots are one of just four teams that doesn't have a 40-yard pass play this season. The other three are Jacksonville, Carolina and Cleveland. The Pats have just 11 pass plays of 20 yards or more. Just nine teams have fewer.
THUMB THINGS TO PONDER
Thumbs down: To Titans defensive end Jevon Kearse, who bolted the stadium Sunday before his team's loss to the Colts after being told he was going to be deactivated for the game. Kearse, 33, who was released by the Eagles after the 2007 season, had started 20 straight games for the Titans, but has been largely ineffective this season (one sack, nine tackles) and was replaced at left end by rookie William Hayes. Asked why he didn't stay for the game, Kearse told reporters: "First off, I wanted to hang out with my family and friends that I had in town. And second of all, I didn't think one person not on the sideline was going to make a difference in this game. I used that time to hang out with my family and not get stuck in traffic leaving the game. Once I got the official word, I jumped back in the Benz and went home." Nice.
Thumbs down: To Rush Limbaugh, who just had to find an African-American to blame for being dumped from the group attempting to buy the Rams. Limbaugh claims the man behind his ouster was NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith. Claims Smith put the fear of God into commissioner Roger Goodell and the league's owners over what would happen if they let Limbaugh into the league, prompting Goodell to tell the group headed by St. Louis Blues owner Dave Checketts that it had to get rid of Limbaugh. Seriously, does this pompous pill-popper really believe Goodell and the owners needed Smith to tell them it would be a real bad idea to allow him to own even a tiny piece of an NFL team? And if Smith really did have the fear-of-God power over the owners that Limbaugh thinks he does, why isn't there a new labor agreement?
1. Giants 5-0
2. Vikings 5-0
3. Colts 5-0
4. Saints 4-0
5. Eagles 3-1
6. Falcons 3-1
7. Broncos 5-0
8. Patriots 3-2
9. Steelers 3-2
10. Bengals 4-1
11. Ravens 3-2
12. Packers 2-2
13. Bears 3-1
14. Chargers 2-2
15. Jets 3-2
16. Dolphins 2-3
17. Niners 3-2
18. Cowboys 3-2
19. Seahawks 2-3
20. Cardinals 2-2
21. Texans 2-3
22. Jaguars 2-3
23. Panthers 1-3
24. Titans 0-5
25. Lions 1-4
26. Redskins 2-3
27. Browns 1-4
28. Bills 1-4
29. Raiders 1-4
30. Chiefs 0-5
31. Bucs 0-5
32. Rams 0-5