T Lane Johnson Hunter Martin/Philadelphia Eagles

Balls II

Ladies and Gentlemen:

A Covid outbreak caused the NFL to shuffle the schedule and forced the Eagles to take a couple of extra days for the Washington game and then endure a short week of preparation for the Giants. I thought if they don’t win these two games then there will be a lot of anger among the Eagles players and their fans. 

The unusual set of circumstances certainly showed as the offense looked unorganized and sloppy in the first half of both games. But they won. So, now that road bump can be used as a testament to their resiliency. They can build on that.

They can also build on something else. This team consistently gets better as the game goes on. This team makes the right adjustments. This team wins the second half. 

That is a strong endorsement for Nick Sirianni and his coaching staff. His young coaching staff. His youngest coaching staff in the NFL. Remember this from the RT posting, “Stubborn?”

This is from Jeff McClane of the Philadelphia Inquirer back in April:

The Eagles have the youngest coaching staff in the NFL — Gannon is 37, Steichen 35, and special teams coordinator Michael Clay 29 — with an average age of 35 years. The NFL average is 47.6 years. And of the four only Steichen has logged any time in his current position. And of the four only Steichen has logged any time in his current position. He was the Chargers’ offensive coordinator last season and his one year gives the Eagles the least amount of collective experience in the league and is well below the average of 21.4 years.

I guess youth isn’t always wasted on the young…

And since we are pulling up stuff from the past, how about this posting from the Week 3 RT, “Patience?”

Nick Sirianni is a first year head coach. Two weeks ago he looked like Bill Walsh. This week he looked like Rich Kotite. Jalen Hurts is essentially a rookie having started only seven games. Two weeks ago he looked like Russell Wilson. This week he looked like Geno Smith. It’s a long season. Two weeks ago I was saying that we should not get too excited. This week I’m saying that we should not pull the plug on the 2021 Eagles after three games.

Okay, enough self promotion.

But I think that Sirianni and his staff have demonstrated that they may actually be the real thing.

I also think that maybe, just maybe, the discussion regarding Jalen Hurts being the answer as the Eagles franchise quarterback should be laid to rest for this season. He has certainly earned himself a shot at leading this team for the foreseeable future. 

Last Tuesday night on the FOX Pregame show Jimmy Johnson started talking about the Eagles quarterback situation. He said that the Eagles should dump both Hurts and Minshew and draft a quarterback out of college. 

On the FOX Postgame show after Sunday’s victory over the Giants, Michael Strahan answered:

He’s not 6’ 5” and 235 pounds but they win and that’s what matters. You have a quarterback that guys follow and guys will do anything for in order to win. That’s what you need. You cannot teach heart, you cannot draft heart, you just gotta know when a guy has it and he definitely has it.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers won a championship with Trent Dilfer as their quarterback. The Ravens with Joe Flacco. You don’t always need Peyton Manning, Tom Brady or Drew Brees. Yes, we all know it’s the most important position on the field but you also need 10 other guys to do their job. Just ask Peyton’s dad, Archie.

Speaking of the other ten guys. Here are some stats regarding the Philadelphia Eagles that the other 10 or should I say 21 other guys have contributed to:

The Eagles are the number one rushing team in the NFL with a 162.3 yard average.

They lead the NFC with 149 explosive plays.

6-2 in the last eight games (tied for the most in the NFC).

11-5 (.686 winning percentage in last 16 December/January games. 

The last stat blew my mind. 

I’ll admit right now that this essay is a little bit all over the place. Quotes, stats, and no real body to it. It’s because I have something on my mind. 


I’ve got balls on the brain. In my thoughts I mean, not across the nose. 

What, you don’t know about “Balls?”

Well maybe you need a refresher course:

Yes, it is in fact all ball bearings nowadays.

The history of “Balls” (adapted, cut and pasted):

Back in the late 80’s during the heyday of the Buddy Ryan era, long time blog reader and NAWS pool player extraordinaire, Harry “Whitey Big Guns” Straub, started to refer to Eagles defensive lineman Mike Golic as Mike “Balls” Golic. He said that a friend of his called him that and that he didn’t really know why but he thought it was kind of funny. This is the second shout out to Strauby this season. If you recall he was the guy who played golf with Giants tight end Kyle Rudolph. I am sure that he can elaborate on the whole “Balls” story as well. 

Well, we ran with this and decided that every year we would pick a player and designate him as the honorary “balls” player for that season.

Three rules:

1. He could not be a full time starter

2. He plays above expectations  (or did something cool)

3. He had to be a white guy

So, through the years, we have had great “Balls” players like: Mike “Balls” Golic, Terry “Balls” Hoage, Britt “Balls” Hager (another Balls player with a mullet), Tim “Balls” Hauck, Mike “Balls” Bartrum, Sean “Balls” Considine and Colt “Balls” Anderson. Just having the name Colt pretty much guarantees that you will be a “Balls” player. Trey “Balls” Burton is technically multi-racial but I think that he could easily pass for a “paisan” in South Philly. 

Retroactively, we have designated some epic “Balls” players like Greg “Balls” Garrity, who had the greatest catch that I have ever seen, Mike “Balls” Reichenbach, who Buddy Ryan used to call “Rock-him-back” and if that does not merit a “Balls” designation than I don’t know what does. John “Balls” Teltschik gets an honorable mention from this era. Even though he was a punter and typically special teams players would not be considered, he played safety in college and used to lay some devastating hits on punt returners if they got past the initial line of tacklers. 

Going further back we have John ”Balls” Sciarra who played safety, quarterback, punt returner and held for place kickers. Versatility will get you a “Balls” designation every time. 

Then, there is my favorite “Balls” player of all time, “Little” Louie “Balls” Giammona. Think of Darren Sproles as a small Italian guy who also just happened to be the nephew of head coach Dick Vermeil. 

And, of course, Vince “Balls” Papale but when they made a movie about his life it all became a little too “Hollywood” for the “Balls” roster.

There have been two players who did not wear an Eagles uniform but nonetheless earned the “Balls” designation. 

The first is New York Jets wide receiver Wayne Chrebet who epitomizes everything that “Balls” players are all about. Mainly, he’s a short white guy who was un-drafted and managed to make it on to the Jets roster as a walk-on. There is a famous story about a security guard who stopped and detained Chrebet on the first day of training camp because he thought that he was too small to be a real player. To this day, the only other jersey that I have worn that has not been Eagles colors is the Wayne Chrebet jersey that I wore when I went to a Jets game with my good friend Adam “Goodnight Irene” Kaback and cheered, in earnest, for the other team in green.

The other player is the one and only T.J. McConnell in 2018. The former Sixers guard fits the description magnificently. A white guy who doesn’t start but plays with every ounce of his energy and always leaves his heart on the field (or court). Yes, we can do that.

Another great moment in “Balls” history was when the “Balls” designation was re-christened the “Doug Pederson Honorary ‘Balls’ Player Designation.”

So there you have it. The “Balls” story in a nutshell. 

No pun intended.


That joke was a total callback…

A couple of weeks ago I asked you guys to make some suggestions to determine who the next “Balls” player should be. The previous Balls player was Alex “Balls” Singleton. But now that he is starting he no longer qualifies to be a “Balls” Player. 

I said that it was slim pickings and it was. 

Rick Lovato? No. Jack Stoll? No. Arrin Siposs? No.

The Doug Pederson Honorary “Balls” Player for the 2021 season is Gardner Minshew.

It’s unusual that we would choose a back-up quarterback but this guy is classic. A true original. The ’stache, the sleaves, the press conferences. 

And, since we’re talking about balls might as well talk about…

All right, I’m done.

The Birds are a 3.5 favorite over the Football Team this Sunday in Washington. The Football Team is a train wreck right now. Last Sunday night a couple their defensive linemen got into a fistfight on the sidelines. They have dropped three in a row and are like some sort of wounded animal. But, like a wounded animal they are still dangerous. The Eagles are not facing Gilbert Grape this week as Taylor Heinicke is back. Their defense is almost at full strength.

The Eagles can’t have another slow start. Both offensively and defensively. It’s a normal week of preparation so there should be no rust or fatigue like the last two games. Be professional and methodical. Take what the defense gives you. Keep running the ball. 

Miles Sander is out and Jordan Howard is questionable. Both Boston Scott and Kenny Gainwell have proved to be capable runners. I hope that they have been coached to hold onto the ball as each has had some fumble issues this season. I did not pick up Lane Johnson for my FFL team after his glorious touchdown reception but I did pick up Boston “The Little Engine that Could” Scott. 

Sirianni is right to dismiss any talk about this but if they win and a couple of other things happens they will clinch a play berth. How cool would that be? That has got to be in their heads. 

I like to Eagles to win and cover. But barely.

Hope everyone had a nice New Year’s celebration. For my family it was a quiet evening at home switching back and forth between Ryan Seacrest’s Rockin’ New Year and the Nashville Big Bash New Year’s celebration. Switching back and forth because we were confused as to which was was culturally appropriate for us. 

All right, now I’m really done. 

Go Birds! 

Eric Written by:


    January 2, 2022

    Really impressed with the Eagles running game this season and their in-game adjustments on both sides of the ball. Those are solid building blocks for the future.

    To advance deep into the playoffs next season and beyond, the Eagles need 2 things: (1) impact players on defense like Parsons and Chase Young, and (2) a QB that can throw the ball into tight windows and deep down the field.

    Impact players on D can and should be added through the upcoming draft.

    Hurts has all the intangibles you want from a QB. He’s smart, resilient, athletic, a leader, and someone who takes accountability for his mistakes. Those are awesome qualities. Ultimately though, to win the division the Eagles will have to outscore a potent Cowboys offense, and to advance in the playoffs they’ll have to outscore Brady and Rogers and Allen and Mahomes. 250 yards of rushing is awesome, but that alone won’t win division titles or championships. It will require a QB who can do the most important thing of all at the position: throw the ball with accuracy into tight windows and deep down the field. Here’s hoping Hurts develops those capabilities. Those are must-haves, not nice-to-haves, as a starting QB of a playoff team.

  2. Brendan Rees
    January 3, 2022

    You’re welcome Birds.

    Yours truly, the #1 seed and best team in football (who will likely lose at home and embarass me yet again)

  3. Michael Kleiman
    January 4, 2022

    I think it’s time to update the criteria of a “Balls” player. To truly define whatever characteristic “has to be a white guy” is really just shorthand for and use that instead. I know it’s origins are tongue in cheek from back in the day, but as I read it today, it’s 100% cringeworthy.

    I consider Boston Scott a “Balls” player.

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