Stop that train, I want to get off

Stop the bandwagon, I want to get off. That’s right. After three meaningless preseason games, I’m ready to stop talking about the Eagles finally winning a Super Bowl and start talking about why they won’t.

Please understand that I want everything that follows to be dead wrong. I want a championship for the Eagles more than any other team, because the fans have waited long enough. Heck, most of them weren’t born the last time the Birds won it all in 1960. It’s time.

But now that the joy of the front-office assault on free agency is over and coach Andy Reid is back prowling the sidelines, reality is setting in. And the truth about the 2011 Eagles is that they have the same problems they have had throughout Reid’s 13-year run.

There are two areas that clearly are not championship caliber: offensive line and linebacker. The line is young on the left side and terrible on the right — so terrible that Reid moved veteran guard Todd Herremans to right tackle over the weekend. How smart was it to ignore the blind side of Michael Vick while overindulging on cornerbacks?

Because of Reid’s flawed philosophies, the Birds keep making the same mistakes. Even when they had big anchors on the offensive line like Jon Runyan and Tra Thomas, Reid filled the other positions with retreads and hacks. Artis Hicks, Max Jean-Gilles and King Dunlap? That’s the best Reid could do?

Meanwhile, his devaluing of the linebacker position remains absurd. The only time his Eagles made it to the Super Bowl, Jeremiah Trotter was a menacing presence at middle linebacker. Now Reid thinks he can fill that with Casey Matthews, a rookie so raw he couldn’t believe it himself when he was listed on the first team. Welcome to our world, Casey.

When it comes to football, Andy Reid must be clinically insane. Why else would he keep repeating the same mistakes and expecting a different result? Was anyone still paying attention last week, when the coach elected to challenge Cleveland’s first TD? Reid earned a 15-yard penalty for the challenge because those plays are now automatically reviewed.

Reid spent 135 days in virtual isolation during the lockout. Is it too much to ask that he study the new rules? And while he was at it, why didn’t he spend a day or two reviewing his horrific record on challenges, perhaps even making a tweak to his ineffective system?

Forget it. Andy Reid is doomed to keep making the same ridiculous blunders week after week, year after year. And we fans are doomed to relive the same nightmares every season. That’s why I’m jumping now, before the rush. Stop the bandwagon, I want to get off.

Vick: A saint for all seasons

Michael Vick is revolutionizing the position of quarterback. He is the most popular player in the history of ESPN. He is generous to friends and relatives, an inspiration to young people.

Uh, hold on a minute. Could the man win something before we petition the Vatican to make him our first living saint?

ESPN the Magazine is dedicating an entire issue to Vick because our beloved hero is the most important person in the sports world today. The magazine arrived at this conclusion after polling 44 current NFL players and learning that all 44 like him, an ESPN first.

The magazine also has concluded that fans either love him or hate him; there’s no middle ground. Wrong. Many of us have never been more conflicted about a player in our lives. What he does on a football field can be magical, but what he did off it will never be forgotten.

Ultimately, the only thing that matters is whether he can take this talented Eagles team and make them champions. Others have purged from their memories the fatal, underthrown pass that ended last season. I have not and will not.

All of the praise being heaped on Vick these days is nothing more than meaningless blabber until he proves he is worthy of it. If Michael Vick really wants to be an inspiration, he’ll win us a championship. Then we can all petition the Vatican together.

Keep foot on the gas

The Phillies are on automatic pilot, cruising to another NL East title and their fifth straight trip to the playoffs. So what’s the problem? Apathy.

What the Phils are doing never works. Taking the foot off the pedal with five weeks left is not just a bad idea, it is often a fatal one. The Phils will deny they’re trying less hard to win these days, despite their 4-4 mark vs. the Nationals, Mets and Marlins over the past 10 days. But we know better, don’t we?

Cole Hamels said he felt terrific last week, while on the DL for a forced vacation. Ryan Howard was rested for a game with a foot problem that he said was actually no problem. Howard and Chase Utley were yanked from games in progress, to rest a little more. Check the box scores. Kyle Kendrick, Michael Schwimer, David Herndon and Michael Stutes are getting more and more work on the best pitching staff in the big leagues.

Manager Charlie Manuel thinks he’s planning ahead for the big games in October. What he is doing is sending exactly the wrong message. Just ask the Yankees, who conceded a close division race last year to set up their pitching rotation. They got crushed by Texas.

The Phillies should fulfill the destiny of this fantastic team and shatter their all-time win total of 101. And then they should roar into the playoffs and finish the job.

– Angelo Cataldi is host of 610 WIP’s Morning Show, which airs weekdays 5:30 a.m. to 10 a.m.

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