I discovered a new blog called “The Monday Night Spotter”… it promises to review every MNF game this season through the eyes and mind of a former professional “Spotter” for ESPN.
Who and what is a “Spotter” ?
Well…in the world of television, it basically amounts to an extra set of eyes and ears that serve to fill in the blanks of a broadcast. This blogger claims his job over the last decade has been to serve as the Talent Spotter for ESPN’s Monday Night Football show, working alongside the likes of Jon Gruden and Mike Tirico in the broadcast booth filling in the blanks as they come.
Sometimes it involves tracking specialty stats – like a QBs ability to pass vs. the blitz. Other times it might be alerting the guys when a certain defensive formation has been used. Basically, he’s the guy you never actually see but occasionally you’ll hear a random stat while watching Monday Night Football and think to yourself….”How do they know that?”
If true, then this guy has enjoyed a unique experience that has allowed him to travel the country and get paid watching the NFL.
Myself, I value JB the Sage’s “Game Weeview” a lot higher than the Spotter’s review… But let’s look at the Spotter’s impressions of the Eagles-Pats preseason game…
The Spotter was extremely impressed by Nick Foles and how he fits into the Eagles offensive system..and projects Foles as the Eagles starting QB for much of the coming season..Stay tuned!
- For the second straight week Eagles QB Michael Vick left the field due to injury. He banged his thumb on a helmet in the first pre-season game against the Steelers and tonight he was sidelined with a rib injury. The x-rays were negative, so that’s the good news. The bad news is that for all the talk about Vick understanding the need for him to stay healthy this season, he clearly hasn’t changed his ways. During the play in question, Vick faked a handoff and started to roll right – in the face of pressure – he reversed field and then heaved the ball across his body while taking a shot to the midsection. On these sorts of plays, given Vick’s importance to the team and his inability to stay healthy, he should give himself up. The Eagles have enough talent to challenge in the NFC this year but not without Vick. It needs to change.
- The silver lining to the Vick injury (if there even can be one) was the play of rookie QB Nick Foles who was excellent tonight. Foles played with great poise handling an array of offensive sets without missing a beat. He made some big-time throws – the TD to Clay Harbor in the corner of the end zone among them. I particularly liked his resolve after a vicious hit on a roughing the passer penalty in which he stood tall in the pocket and delivered an accurate strike down the middle of the field for a drive-extending completion. A+ for the youngster tonight.
- The Patriots didn’t play many of their starters due to a brutal pre-season schedule (aren’t they all brutal?) in which they play 3 games in 10 days.
- QB Ryan Mallett made the start in place of Tom Brady and by all accounts Mallett was up to the task. Impressive performance for the former Razorback. Huge arm, big frame and good decision making were all on display.
- Before the game tonight I posted about the Eagles pass-rush, its’ versatility and depth were the focus. I mentioned a young man from the CFL named Philip Hunt who the Eagles signed last season as an undrafted FA. Well….Hunt, for the second week in a row proved to be a formidable threat off the edge forcing a strip-sack and causing problems all night. He’s an interesting guy who provides the Eagles with another fastball DE. Could be in line for a breakout year.
- Another player buried on the Eagles depth chart that flashed tonight was RB Bryce Brown. Couple of really nice runs in this game and from what I saw, he has that next gear. The one that allows RBs to pull away in the open-field.
- I’m thinking about last week’s game between the Cowboys and Raiders and how sloppy it was. Guess what? This one was worse. 23 penalties.
- It’s tough to really write much about the Patriots tonight given the number of starters who didn’t play. That said, I’ll try to go “big picture”. Brady is a known entity. Great leader, accurate passer, tough and insanely clutch. Anyone who watches football understands the type of player he is. What they might not see or hear about is how hard he works, day-in and day-out. Interesting story from Gruden about Brady’s work-ethic in practice when in a down period for the QBs, Brady pulled his cast of WRs, TEs and RBs to the side and worked on routes in game speed. For a multiple Super Bowl MVP to continue to show that type of desire…I mean, it’s just not normal. People in all walks of life get comfortable. They rest on their past accomplishments. They get lazy. Brady has not. He’s a special player with a unique ability to stay interested. Gotta love that….
- Did you see Andy Reid and DT Cullen Jenkins get into on the sideline tonight? Those two guys were heated but I think Reid was right to confront one of his defensive leaders. The Eagles defense – twice on one drive – committed fouls on possession ending plays that allowed the Patriots to keep the ball. Reid flipped his lid (something you never see from Big Red) and I – for one – am glad he did. The two of them later patched things up on the sideline but there wasn’t enough time coming back from commercial break to get that to air. Guess what will get blown out of proportion tomorrow?
- From what I’ve learned about Josh McDaniels over the years, I expect New England to employ a very fast-paced (sometimes no-huddle) offense this season. McDaniels loves pace – setting it, dictating it – forcing you to react to it. And in Brady he has the point guard he needs to make is fast break attack truly lethal.
- Did you know the Patriots cut 11 players last year who wound up on other teams’ opening day rosters? No wonder there were 10 other NFL scouting departments in the house tonight.
- Not a big game from WR Damaris Johnson tonight but the Eagles like this kid and so do I. Very explosive and remarkable quickness. Not sure if he makes the final roster with Jackson, Maclin, Avant, Cooper and (McNutt?) but he might. Random fact that I learned tonight: Johnson is the NCAA all-time leader in total yards and he did that in just 3 seasons at Toledo. How is that possible???
- Patriots LOT Nate Solder played pretty well. Saw him get out in front of a couple screens and he didn’t make many mistakes in pass pro. Not bad for the youngster going against one of the more difficult pass-rushing teams in the league.
- Conversely, the Eagles LOT position is still in flux. King Dunlap got the start tonight over Demetress Bell but I didn’t see anything great from either player. If I had to give an edge to one of them, I would say Dunlap played a cleaner game. Bell got a couple flags thrown on him, gave up a few pressures and was seen sitting by himself on the end of the bench, head down. I know this – if the Eagles are to challenge this season they’ll need Dunlap or Bell to step up. So far, it hasn’t happened.
- Eagles OLB Mychal Kendricks is someone I’m really high on. Great speed, athletic, good in the open field and has a nose for the ball. He’s going to benefit from playing alongside a veteran like DeMeco Ryans who will help sharpen the learning curve. Kendricks was all over the field tonight though he did get beat on a short five-yard speed out for a TD early in the game. That’s gonna happen…
- Didn’t see too much from Patriots first-round pick Dont’a Hightower but New England’s defense should be much improved this season with this play-maker roaming the second-level. In fact, New England has 8, yes – EIGHT – former first and second round picks starting on their defense. This group has massive potential and could be the most improved in football if their secondary can avoid giving up the big play – something they struggled with terribly a year ago.
- Nice moment of silence before the game for Andy Reid and his departed son Garrett. Classy organization up here in New England. My heart goes out to Andy.
- Another nice moment when the Patriots introduced their ball boy this evening – a five year old who is battling Leukemia. The little guy was smiling ear to ear and it made me more than a little emotional to see his face up on the big screen.
- Random Travel Note: The Providence airport really needs to reconfigure its’ layout. Obviously that’s never going to happen but the 25 minute walk to the rental car facility is not awesome.
- Random Travel Note 2: If you haven’t been to a game up at Gillette Stadium, go. Great atmosphere and very cool surrounding shops/restaurants at Patriots Place.
- Random Travel Note 3: Last year when I was here, I spent $220 on winter gear at the Bass Pro Shops located roughly 300 yards from my hotel. It was freezing and I was unprepared. Thank you Robert Kraft for putting a Bass Pro Shops so close to my hotel.
- Random Travel Note 4: Losing your styrofoam earbud from your headphones can be very annoying but it can be made less annoying from a friendly airport vendor who gave me a replacement for free. Thanks random guy…
- Lastly, I met Mike Quick and Merrill Reese tonight just outside of the broadcast booth and they both seem like very nice people. Merrill was predictably excited about every little thing (or at least it seems that way due to his vocal tone and intonation) and Mike was just awesome. Enjoy listening to those guys and it was a pleasure to have met them.
That’s the Spotter’s Review…interesting outside perspective on the Eagles as a work in progress. I just wish the Spotter would reveal his real name, and wonder why he won’t…
UPDATE: My original contact with “The Monday Night Spotter” was an aggregate version of the blog which did not provide the author’s name. After digging deeper into the actual blogsite, I discovered the author’s real name. He is Tony Granieri…and he is one of us, an Eagles fan from Linwood, New Jersey! Plus, Tony is still an active member of the ESPN Monday Night Football production team! Turns out his new blog is an extension of his private creative side and is an independent project of his very own. I wish Tony Granieri the best of success with his new venture…and now appreciate more than ever his unseen presence in the ESPN MNF booth.
Eagles 27, Patriots 17
NE_FG Gostkowski 51, 6:15.
NE_Silvestro 7 pass from Mallett (Vereen run), 13:44.
Phi_McCoy 1 run (Henery kick), 10:07.
Phi_Harbor 1 pass from Foles (Henery kick), 9:06.
NE_FG Gostkowski 35, 3:09.
Phi_Harbor 3 pass from Foles (Henery kick), 11:02.
NE_FG Gostkowski 55, 4:12.
Phi_FG Henery 42, :33.
Phi_FG Henery 21, 2:00.
|Total Net Yards||425||204|
|Time of Possession||31:51||28:09|
RUSHING_Philadelphia, B.Brown 9-51, McCoy 7-30, Foles 2-24, Havili 1-14, Polk 4-11, Lewis 3-9, Vick 1-5. New England, Ridley 10-25, Vereen 10-20, Bolden 7-14, Woodhead 1-2, Hoyer 1-(minus 1).
PASSING_Philadelphia, Foles 18-28-1-217, Edwards 6-11-0-59, Vick 1-3-0-5. New England, Mallett 10-20-0-105, Hoyer 5-17-0-55.
RECEIVING_Philadelphia, Harbor 6-30, Jackson 4-82, Hall 3-26, Gilyard 2-28, B.Brown 2-16, McCoy 2-12, D.Johnson 1-23, Avant 1-22, Maclin 1-15, Celek 1-13, Boykin 1-9, Polk 1-5. New England, Vereen 4-29, Branch 3-51, Ebert 3-18, Edelman 2-24, Silvestro 2-18, Stallworth 1-20.
MISSED FIELD GOALS_Philadelphia, Henery 55 (SH).