Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Upon Official Review Podcast - Episode 40 (pt 1)

Happy Holidays from the two most trusted voices in Philadelphia sports! (Really!)

The Nick Foles era has begun and it looks like Andy Reid is finally done for. We give you our opinion on everything Eagles and the rest of the NFL through week 14.

We also give you our take on the Sixers and of course tell you What's Making Murdock Mad.

The play button, press it.


Sunday, November 11, 2012

The End For Michael Vick

The days of seeing Mike Vick in an Eagles uniform may well be numbered.

It isn't a coincidence that rookie Nick Foles faced less pressure in his 2 and a half quarters as the Eagles QB than Vick has faced in any single one of his drives all season long. The offensive line is terrible, and there’s no question about it. That said, it is fairly obvious at this point that Vick has no clue how to read an NFL defense. He routinely has no idea where a blitz is coming from.  This point was something we just couldn't know for sure until we saw someone else behind this putrid offensive line. Now that we have seen what the line looks like with a ROOKIE WHO HAS NEVER PLAYED OR EVEN PRACTICED WITH THE FIRST TEAM OFFENSE DURING A SEASON, there can be absolutely no question that the majority of the fault lies squarely on Michael Vick’s shoulders.

The fact that a rookie who, again, hasn't practiced with the first team since the preseason, and who has never played a real NFL game, is significantly better at recognizing a blitz and getting the ball out quickly says A LOT about the lack of awareness that Vick has showed throughout his entire NFL career. Most of his career he was able to rely on his superior athleticism to make plays and avoid sacks, but age has caught up to him and he finally lost a step (evidenced by 300 pound defensive linemen catching him from behind multiple times this year, something that would have been completely unthinkable as recently as last year).
The offensive line did not look good in yesterday’s Eagles – Cowboys game, but it looked a thousand times better under Nick Foles than it ever did in front of Michael Vick. His days of being an elite NFL quarterback are over.

You are now seeing why NFL QBs need to be extremely smart people in order to consistently have success in this league. Just having the average person's intelligence isn't anywhere near enough to be worth your salt as an NFL quarterback in 2012. You need to be MUCH smarter than the average person (not to mention you must be able to think extremely quickly on your feet and make snap decisions), and Vick is simply not capable of thinking through the game the way he needs to in order to make up for being 32 years old and having taken the beating he has taken over his NFL career. And if you are going to tell me how smart Michael Vick is, I would refer you to the fact that he risked a $100 million dollar contract to run an illegal dogfighting ring with his high school buddies. That is something that an intelligent person would never even think of doing with a $100 million contract in their hands. I would go so far as to say that that is something that even a person with average intelligence would never think about doing. So spare me all the talk about what a genius Mike Vick is, because I am simply not going to buy that.

Nick Foles may never be great (or even good), but Vick certainly has no chance to even be better than average for the rest of his career. All you will see from any team with Mike Vick is turnovers, sacks, and bad decisions. Eagles scored fewer points with Vick as their quarterback this season than every single NFL team except for Jacksonville (and this is with superior offensive talent at the skill positions).

Let none of this excuse Andy Reid (even remotely) because the blame for this abomination of a season lies squarely with him. I am just comparing the offensive line with Foles and Vick, and I don't see a comparison. That just shouldn't be the case with a rookie seeing his first action while being completely unprepared to play.   The fact that Vick isn't a million times better at reading a blitz than Foles is really says it all.

The time for Mike Vick is in the past while Nick Foles' time is just beginning. Let's hope it doesn't run out as fast for him as it did for Vick.

- Al Redrup

Friday, November 9, 2012

The Upon Official Review Podcast, Episode 39 - NFL Power Rankings

Hey, I heard you look football - so we put extra football in your podcast this week.

Join the dynamic Philly sports duo as we hit you with our first ever NFL Power Rankings episode. Yup, we ranked all 32 teams individually and talk about why we ranked each one where we did.

Whether you're a football junkie or a noob, we promise you'll love this episode. If you don't, we promise you 5x your money back!

Click play, get powerful.

Download here!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Upon Official Review - Episode 38 (NBA Preview)

It's November vote for the #1 Philly Sports Podcast!

This week your boys Magnum and Murdock give you a breakdown of the 2012-2013 NBA season, talking Sixers, Lakers, Harden-gate, and the rest. 

We also cover the flailing Eagles and hit you with a thunderous edition of What's Making Murdock Mad. 

Do the most American thing you can do and PRESS PLAY.


Click to download!

Evaluating The Eagles

Vick hasn't been great, but is far from the biggest reason why this team is losing.

I just want to point out that early in this football season, when the Eagles were 3-1, I took a LOT of flack for "being negative," or "not supporting the team," or "not being a real fan."

Hey, they were 3-1, and in first place, so what could there have been to complain about, right? Wrong.

The way they won those games was COMPLETELY unsustainable. The difference between myself and the average football fan is that I understand how the game works, and I can look past the win-loss record and actually see what is happening. More importantly, I can see what is likely to happen next (likely being the key word because nothing is guaranteed, of course).

When you can't score TDs in the red zone, and when you have a consistent barrage of turnovers (even if you're winning games), it is just a mirage.... or fool's gold to borrow a line from Lurie at the end of last year.

A lot of people look at how a player, coach, or team is performing based solely on winning and losing. However, I think that is a bad way to judge performance, and this Eagles team has proven me right in the last 4 games.

Outcome based performance evaluation is a very flawed way to judge what is actually happening. I'll give you an example: people give pitchers too much credit for wins, and too much blame for losses.

If you read an Associated Press recap of 2 different games, each with the starting pitcher going 7 innings and giving up 3 runs, but the team won 1 and lost 1, the recaps will treat each starting pitching performance in an entirely different way, even though they are exactly the same performance (down to hits allowed, strikeouts, walks, and literally EVERYTHING, even all of the hits and walks happening in the exact same sequence and everything being 100% identical in both of the pitcher's performances).

The first recap will talk about how the pitcher really gutted a win out and pitched very well. This is because the offense scored 5 runs, and the team won 5-3.

The other recap will talk about how the pitcher was just a little off, and he didn't "have what it took to win," because the offense only scored 1 run, and the team lost 3-1.

The pitcher pitched exactly the same both times. The only difference was the offense, yet the last word about the pitching performance will vary wildly, depending on whether the game was won or lost. This is a stupid way to evaluate a player's performance. Both games the pitcher pitched fairly well, but not spectacularly. That should be the takeaway both times, but it isn't.

You simply cannot win NFL games when you squander scoring opportunities, and this team has done that for 2 solid years now. When you have four different 1st and goals, and OPPOSITION OUTSCORES YOU ON THOSE 4 OPPORTUNITIES, your team is in big trouble, regardless of the final score. Sooner or later this kind of horrible football WILL catch up to you.

If you were wondering why I was complaining then, it is because I am not the average sports fan, I can look past the win-loss record and see how good the team actually is. I do not wear rose colored glasses when I look at my teams, I see them for what they truly are.

To those who told me I wasn't a "real fan," I would simply ask if being a "real fan" requires burying my head in the sand and pretending that everything is fine when it is, in fact, anything but. Being realistic about a team is not the same thing as not being a fan of said team.

I know the game, I know what it takes to win, and I will call it as I see it. If you want to  evaluate teams, coaches, and players based solely on wins and losses... fine. That's your right to do so. Just know that I won't be doing that, and my opinions as to what will happen in the future will be correct more often than someone who evaluates things in a different way.

That said, the biggest problem with this Eagles team is not Michael Vick (though he hasn't helped), not even the epic and horrendous collapse of the offensive line (which is by far the biggest problem, player-wise). The problem is very simple. Andy Reid thinks that his system is so good, and that he is so smart, that any random body will succeed as either a coach or a player. The main problem can be defined in one word: arrogance.

After Jim Johnson died, Reid thought he could take any random coach, unqualified or not, and have him run a Super Bowl winning defense, so he hired Sean McDermott. That was an unmitigated disaster, so instead of LEARNING FROM HIS MISTAKE, Reid hires a laughably unqualified man as his next defensive coordinator (an offensive line coach who had last coached defense at the high school level in the 1980s. You can't even make this stuff up.

He refused to admit his mistake after last year's completely disastrous outcome, and then had to fire the guy midseason this year. Andy Reid has put on a clinic on how to make a quality football program and literally turn it into a laughingstock.

The management of this team consistently makes terrible draft picks, which is the next biggest problem. LAst year's 2nd round pick DIDN'T LAST EVEN ONE YEAR IN THE NFL. Last year's first round pick got injured this year, and the play at right guard actually IMPROVED when a 5th round draft pick rookie was inserted into the lineup.

Jeff Lurie enables Reid, and thinks he has the Gold Standard of the NFL, when he actually has a total laughingstock of a franchise. The Eagles are the butt of jokes all across the league, and they're the only ones who don't know it.

Until Lurie completely cleans house (this includes wonder boy, Howie Roseman), this will NEVER change for the better. The fact that Roseman got a FIVE YEAR EXTENSION a couple of months ago just proves my point. This news just came out today. Think about this for a second. If completely wasting first and second round picks to an insane degree gets you a FIVE YEAR EXTENSION, what else do I need to say about the way this franchise is run? There's nothing to say, except please let this 15 year nightmare finally come to an end, and a complete end, without Reid or anyone else in management.

It's time to blow it up and start over completely. I wouldn't be upset if they got rid of every player on the roster at this point. Jason Peters can stay, but I wouldn't even care if they traded Shady McCoy. He has way too many runs that lose yardage, because he, like Vick will never accept a 3 yard gain when that would help his team the most. He tries to make every play a TD so he can get on Sportscenter. Selfish and stupid, just like the rest of the team. He will completely stop his momentum in the backfield on almost every play, even on a 3rd and 2, trying to get 50 yards when the team only needs 3. That's why it's time to blow it up.

Al Redrup

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Upon Official Review Podcast, episode 37

It's time for another earth-shaking episode of Philadelphia's Mightiest Sports Heroes.

Join us as we talk the 3-2 Eagles and their struggles, the MLB playoffs, and go around the NFL.

Of something is making Murdock Mad, and this week it is the NFL's ugliest secret.

Press play and make life more awesome.


Click here to download!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Upon Official Review Podcast, Episode 36

Join us for another power-packed episode of the Upon Official Review podcast! This week your favorite Philly Sports duo talks the Eagles week 2 win over the Ravens, the Phillies playoff hopes, and covers the rest of the NFL.

Plus, you know we gotta tell you what's Making Murdock mad.

Press play and improve your life!
Click here to download!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Eagles Come From Behind Again

This Eagles team is frustrating to watch, that much we know for sure through 2 weeks of action. That they are supremely talented is not debatable. Though they have a lot of firepower on offense, they seem hellbent on using it to shoot themselves in the foot as much as possible, as evidence by their 9 turnovers in the first 2 games.

That their lamentable mistakes aren't the biggest story today is a testament to their clutch play on the final drive of each of the first 2 games. Both times, with a touchdown as the only way to avoid certain defeat with less than 5 minutes remaining in each game, the Birds went out and punched it in the end zone.

Mike Vick, while looking much better in week 2 than week 1, still made a couple of throws that he would like to have back today. When push came to shove on the final drive, he executed the offense flawlessly and with supreme confidence and conviction. There was none of the foolish "throwing across his body" decision making that has been the Eagles' Achilles heel thus far in 2012 (and, to be fair, in 2011 as well).

I'll be honest, after week 1 I was very concerned that Vick would simply never be able to exhibit the kind of decision making that is necessary to win in the NFL. While he isn't all the way there yet, I feel much better about his chances to get there after week 2. Obviously, part of his poor effort in the first week was a result of only having 12 snaps in the preseason. That was what Eagles' fans hoped was the case, but you couldn't really say it for sure until he went out and played better. To his credit, he did just that in week 2. While Vick did have a couple of passes he would like back, he still completed 72% of his passes on the day, as well as throwing and running for touchdowns.

One thing I haven't even mentioned yet is the Eagles' defense, and it has been very, very good through 2 games. Baltimore had a pretty good first half, and they did have a couple of big plays in the running game, but let's not forget that Baltimore is a damn good football team. They put up 44 points in their first game, and they really should have won the AFC Championship game last year against New England.

The Eagles gave up 17 points in the first half, but really shut the door in the second half on Baltimore. With all of the offseason questions about Juan Castillo's future as a defensive coordinator, so far he has really shown the ability to make the necessary adjustments to win games in the NFL. I would much rather see his team have an ok first half and great second half than vice-versa. That shows he knows what he is doing at halftime, and really fills you with confidence that this defense has what it takes to succeed, unlike last year's defense.

Add it all up, and this year's team is really worlds different than last year's squad. As much as I love the Eagles (and always will), last year's version of the Eagles was severely unlikeable. Much is made of the tough love that Philadelphia can have for its athletes, but really, it isn't that complicated. If you are not as good as your talent says you should be, we aren't impressed. If you are exactly as good as your talent says you should be, then we will like you just fine. If, however, you are better than your talent says you should be, we will love you forever. It's really that simple. Work hard, and you'll never have a problem. Underachieve, and you won't fit in here.

I would love to see the 2012 Eagles team play a game with no turnovers. If they can put up almost 500 yards of total offense against both a bad team (Cleveland) and a very good, maybe great team (Baltimore), then how many yards would be gained and points scored if we didn't have 9 turnovers? That's the question. If (and it's a HUGE "if") we can correct these mistakes, the sky really is the limit for this team.

It's a really long season, and playing perfect football in September doesn't mean a thing (see last year's Packers and the 2007 Patriots for 2 prime examples). Winning games in September is what you need to do, and you need to peak at the right time (see the Giants of 2007 and 2011 for perfect examples). If the Eagles can win games while they are far from their best, against really good teams, imagine what they can do when they are firing on all cylinders?

This team has a chance to be really special. Of course, they also have a chance to continue to turn the ball over and end up 6-10 for the year. At the very least, these two game winning drives will benefit this team in the future, as they have these experiences to draw on if they need another drive to win a game. It certainly can't hurt to win when you don't play well. We just need to see them get better every week, and peak at the end. That's a long way off, so for now, let's just enjoy the Birds being 2-0 for the first time since 2004, and hope for a similar season, if a slightly better ending.

- Al Redrup

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Phillies Are Making It Count

St. Louis is on pace for 86 wins. The Phillies have 21 games left and 70 victories. If they go 16-5 over their remaining 21 games, they would have a great shot to get into the playoffs considering:

1) They have won 13 out of their last 17 ballgames, which is a 76.47% winning percentage. If they continue to win at that percentage over their final 21 games, they would end up with 86 wins.

2) While St. Louis has won 53.2% of their games for the season, they are 4-9 over their previous 13 games. So it isn't at all unreasonable to suggest that they may not continue to win games at their seasonal percentage over their final 21 games. As losses mount, so will the pressure on them to win, thus making winning even harder - though, to be fair, they faced a fair amount of pressure in game 6 of the World Series last year and came through, not to mention game 5 of our first round series against them. Still, pressure is a funny thing and just because they performed well under it last year certainly doesn't guarantee they will again this year. They had a guy named Pujols hitting 3rd in their lineup last year, as well as a guy named Carpenter as their staff ace. Neither of those guys is available to them this year.

3) While the Dodgers are 4 games ahead of us and the Pirates are 2.5 games ahead, they have also both been losing the majority of their games lately (the Dodgers are 7-12 over their previous 1 games, good for less than a 37% winning percentage, while the Pirates are an even worse 9-21 over their previous 30 games, good for only a 30% winning percentage). All three of these teams may not even make it to 86 victories, nor even get within a couple of wins of that mark.

4) The Dodgers and Cardinals are about to start a 4 game series against each other, while the Phillies are about to have a 4 game series against the team (Houston), who is by far the worst in the game. While we SHOULD be getting easy wins, they will be beating each other, ensuring we gain on at least one of them. Best case scenario would be that they both lose the next 2 games, while we win our next 6, then the Dodgers win 3 of 4 vs. the Cardinals. That would create a 3 way tie on Sunday between all 3 teams. It wouldn't necessarily be a 3 way tie with a better record than Pittsburgh, but it likely would be. Obviously, we are tied with Milwaukee as well. This is best case scenario, but it is still insane to think that in 5 days we could be tied for the final playoff spot. This scenario rally tells you how far they have come.

5) Finally, and most importantly, the Phillies have better players than any of the teams they're chasing. None of those teams have guys by the name of Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Ryan Howard, Carlos Ruiz, Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Jonathon Papelbon, and Antonio Bastardo. Mix those veterans in with all the young, hungry players who are stepping up and playing well, and even role players like Kyle Kendrick (!!!) who is out of his mind right now.

Maybe they have gotten our hopes up only to cruelly dash them against the rocks on the final week of the season, but I would sure rather that be the case than total apathy with which I was watching their games only a few short weeks ago. A job very well done by the Phillies to even force me to make a case as to why they have a legit shot at this thing.

If they do somehow make it in, there is NO CHANCE that any team will want to play us in the playoffs. We would be the Cardinals of last year on steroids (I say this because of the superior talent level this team possesses to even that team). Let the stretch run begin. What are your predictions for the Phillies final record?

- Al Redrup