The very sight of the preseason schedule is exciting. Real games! Real opponents! A pool of water in the desert! I haven't made a big deal about the preseason schedule since, well, forever. It has never really been a big story. Now it is.
The highlight here is the nationally-televised game against Pittsburgh, a Thursday night game on FOX. The Eagles are likely to be featured a bunch on national television in 2011. This team is a major, major draw, and you will see them often in the spotlight.
Just the thought of preseason football provides hope for me. The NFL is expected to release the regular-season schedule within the next two weeks. That is one of the most exciting days of the year for any fan, and this year will be no different.
Of course, it would help everybody a lot if there is substantial progress in the mediation between the Owners and players. Talks have started in Minneapolis, and we will watch the proceedings closely.
Keep your fingers crossed. There may be some good news coming ...
- More from the Howard Mudd interview, which I enjoyed immensely. One of the questions I asked, which did not make the story, was this: What happens if an offensive lineman who has had success, even made the Pro Bowl, thinks he can come in to Mudd's system and do it the way he has always been doing it on the field? Mudd says it is his way all the way, no exceptions.
"We're going to do it the way I want it done, because I know how it fits together. We have a little team within the team – that's the offensive line thing – and we have to work together and cooperate. I think of Sesame Street. Cooperation. It has to work that way," said Mudd. "I don't want to hear about a player going to the Pro Bowl. If you don't have a sense of team, we're not going to go very far.
"Robert Jackson is the best story I've got. I went to Cleveland and they had been successful with Brian Sipe at quarterback and the offensive line was made up of older guys. Robert Jackson played left guard with a right-handed stance. Well, the best thing to do is to have a left-handed stance at left guard. It's more efficient that way. Before we played a single down, I went to Robert and said, 'Robert, I want you in a left-handed stance.' He goes, 'Aww …'
"He's a smart guy, a Duke guy, so he knows what is going on. I said, here's the deal: 'I want you in a left-handed stance from now until we play our first exhibition game. After that game, if you want to go back to a right-handed stance, you let me know.' He still hasn't let me know. That was 1983, nearly 30 years ago. We laugh about that now."
- There are nine people in the Eagles' organization, non current players, who have been drafted in the NFL. Who are they? Answer at the bottom of the column ...
- I am a superstitious sort, I admit. And so it is with mixed feelings that I urge you to vote for to grace the cover of EA Sports Madden '12. I'm aware of the "curse" of the Madden Cover. I think there is some legitimacy to the supposed curse. But I think Vick deserves the cover, and I think I'm going to forget about the past here. I voted for Vick. Please do.
- Any draft nuggets? The Eagles are dotting the I's and crossing their T's and finalizing their draft information. I don't have much for you, admittedly. I sat down with Howie Roseman on Monday and he expressed a great deal of confidence that the Eagles have their draft board in good shape and that they are prepared for all scenarios. Who is their target in the first round? No clue. Given the history of moving up or moving out -- the Eagles have traded in each of the most recent four years -- I think the key word is flexibility for this team.
- Trivia answer, in order of what round they were drafted: Eugene Chung … round 1 (13th overall) by New England in 1992; Mike Caldwell … round 2 by Cleveland in 1993; Duce Staley … round 3 by Philadelphia in 1997; Johnnie Lynn … round 4 by NY Jets in 1979; Ryan Grigson … round 6 by Cincinnati in 1995; Harold Carmichael … round 7 by Philadelphia in 1971; Michael Zordich … round 9 by San Diego in 1986; Howard Mudd … round 9 by San Francisco in 1964; Louis Riddick … round 9 by San Francisco in 1991.