Niner Talk

Posted: December 1st, 2023 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | No Comments »

Forget analysis for now, let’s talk about the game and what it means. This is a critical game for both teams. A win really puts the Eagles in the driver’s seat for the top seed in the NFC playoffs. If the Niners win, they move closer to the top seed and gain the head-to-head advantage over the Eagles. That would put pressure on Philly.

This game means more to SF. They lost the NFC title game last year in brutal fashion. As soon as Brock Purdy’s arm got hurt, the game was over. The Niners put in Josh Johnson, but he wasn’t a good QB. When he got hurt, it was just a matter of running out the clock. Imagine working your whole season to get to the playoffs and then making the NFC Championship only to lose because you don’t have a healthy QB. That is pure torture.

Niners players spent the offseason telling themselves and anyone else who would listen that they would have won if Purdy was healthy. I get where they are coming from, but he got hurt in the game. The Eagles knocked him out of there. If Purdy came down with the flu or something weird and couldn’t play because of outside circumstances, I would buy in to the “if he was healthy” angle more. When the other team knocks your guy (and his backup) out, give credit to that team. It wasn’t a fluke. They earned the right to play against one-armed QBs.

If SF beats the Eagles on Sunday, that will make them believe even stronger that they would have prevailed in January with a healthy QB. That will eat at them, knowing bad blocking cost them a trip to the Super Bowl. If SF loses to the Eagles, they could start to really doubt themselves.

“Do the Eagles have our number? Are they to us what we are to Dallas?”

A win for the Eagles would make them 11-1, but wouldn’t change their mentality. They wouldn’t get a sense of validation or anything like that. The Eagles won in January and don’t see that as a fluke. They believe in themselves and that Jalen Hurts guy, you know, the dude who almost never loses.

A loss for the Eagles would drop them to 10-2, but wouldn’t really change anything. Nick Sirianni is masterful at getting his team to live in the moment. They don’t get too high, they don’t get too low. That is part of the secret sauce that keeps them winning. The Eagles don’t go into berserk mode when they’re up 24-10 and they don’t panic when they’re down 17-7. They play the next play and just keep grinding.

This game means so much more to SF. It will make it that much sweeter if the Eagles are able to win and can continue to live in the heads of Niners players for the foreseeable future.


Should the Eagles have interest? Sure. They could use depth at TE. Dallas Goedert is the starter and key player. Jack Stoll is probably ideal as a #3. Ertz would be a good backup. He’s become an effective blocker and remains a good receiver. Ertz isn’t the playmaker he was in his prime, but he could still be good in 2-TE sets or if needed to start here or there.

I do wonder if Ertz will be tempted by Baltimore. They lost Mark Andrews and have a big hole in their passing game. If Ertz wants to play for a contender and be a key part of the passing game, Baltimore makes the most sense.

He loved being an Eagle and might prefer coming to a known commodity. He might prefer coming home.


VanSumeren has done solid work on STs. Now he’ll become a backup LB with Zach Cunningham out. He has NFL talent. We just don’t know if he is mentally ready to play defense in the NFL. That’s no insult to him, but rather an acknowledgement of how hard it is to be a LB today. RPOs and motion and things like that have made defense really challenging in the modern NFL.

The coaches must trust VanSumeren so let’s hope they’re right. And hope the starting LBs stay healthy.


DeSean Jackson retired as an Eagle today.


The fastest Eagles of them all.

NBA legend Dominique Wilkins was nicknamed the Human Highlight Film. Watching DeSean as an Eagle, that felt like the nickname he should have had. His speed was electric and he was a big time playmaker. His highlight moments are stuck in our heads forever.

DeSean could drive me crazy at times. He treated the middle of the field like I do the produce isle at the grocery store. That’s a place you just don’t go. I prefer tough, physical receivers so watching an undersized speed demon wasn’t my preference. But DeSean was so special you couldn’t help but love watching him make plays.


Game Review – PHI 37, BUF 34 OT

Posted: December 1st, 2023 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 4 Comments »

The game of the year. Or was that PHI-KC? Or maybe DAL-PHI? The Eagles have played in some great games, but this was the best to me. The uniforms, the weather, the star QBs, the importance. This game had everything. It was so good it had to go to overtime.

Both teams played well. There were a ton of big plays. It felt like the Eagles were finally in control when up 28-24 and they sacked Josh Allen. Nope. Buffalo got the ball back and went for the go-ahead TD to lead 31-28. The Eagles cross midfield and then stall out. No way Jake Elliott hits a 59-yard FG on a cold, rainy, windy day.



That might be the greatest FG in Eagles history, when you factor in distance, conditions and the fact the game was on the line. Buffalo could have hung their heads in overtime, but drove down and kicked a FG to take the lead. Then Jalen Hurts and the offense went to work on a masterful drive. When Hurts ran into the end zone for the winning TD, that was an epic moment. A true walk-off win for him and the Birds.

This video is long, but brilliantly done. I can’t recommend it enough.


Nick Sirianni didn’t have a lot of strategic descisons to make. No fourth down attempts. No challenges.

Brian Johnson’s offense got off to a painfully slow start on offense. I think a lot of that was Jalen struggling. Johnson called some terrific plays in the second half and the players executed them very well. The Eagles used one or two looks to get Buffalo off balance and then did different things. Nothing looked all that new, but Johnson called the right plays at the right time.

Desai threw the kitchen sink at Josh Allen. Unfortunately Allen threw it right back at him, but harder. Much harder. The Bills had 505 yards and 34 points. They converted several third & long plays. It felt like the Eagles did some good things, but Allen made big play after big play. He is a special, special QB. After Mahomes, Allen is the best in the league.


Jalen Hurts stunk in the first half. I thought he struggled when I watched it live, but it was so much worse when watching the all-22. He failed to see open receivers. He made poor throws. He struggled with pressure. He ran out of bounds for a sack. He was picked off. He was involved in a fumbled hand-off. But other than that…

I assume Hurts ran into the locker room, ate a bag of Funyuns, chugged a PBR and said “Let’s go kick some ass.” He was a different player in the second half. Hurts finished the game 18-31-200 with 3 TDs. He was 14-65-2 on the ground. That’s 5 total TDs and the Eagles needed every one of them.

The highlight moment was this pass.

What a friggin’ play. Great vision. Great touch throw that gave Oz a chance to make a play.

Hurts was money late in the game and in overtime. He made smart decisions and good throws. Hurts made plays with his legs. Clutch showing from a big time QB.

D’Andre Swift was 14-80 and had some key runs. He woke up the offense in the third quarter. His 36-yard run jump started a TD drive and got the team going. He had a great cutback run for 16 yards in OT that set up the winning TD. Kenny Gainwell had a 23-yard run that set up a short TD. He also caught 2 passes. Boston Scott was 2-14 on the ground.

DeVonta Smith had a terrific game, going 7-106-1. He did most of his damage on crossing routes. He also had some key catches. His third down catch and run kept the OT drive alive. AJ Brown was 5-37-1. He had a couple of passes knocked out of his hands. One in OT was almost a fumble. That would have been a bad way to lose. Oz only had the one catch, but what a great catch it was.

Jack Stoll started in place of Dallas Goedert and had the best game of his young career. He was 1-14 as a receiver.

Stoll blocked well in the game and was key on several runs. He had one play where he blocked at the LOS and then got up to a LB. Don’t put him in Canton just yet, but it was encouraging to see him play well in a big game. Albert O got some playing time. He actually had a key push on the Brotherly Shove TD.

The OL had a weird game. They played really well at times, but they fell apart on the final drive in regulation. Mailata missed a block that almost turned into a strip sack. Jurgens failed to block a DT on a QB draw. Kelce had multiple false starts. Very weird.

Jack Driscoll got the start at RT. He only had a little time to prepare, but actually played well. He gave up a pressure on the first play, but settled down after that. The pressure came on an inside move. Smart by the DE. He had to know Driscoll would sell out to cover the edge. Driscoll showed quick feet in the game and looked more confident and comfortable than earlier in the season.

Jordan Mailata mainly played well. The Eagles had a lot of success running left and that wasn’t an accident. Landon Dickerson also was good in the run game. Boy was it good to have Cam Jurgens back. He was very good at times. His ability to get to the second level was missing from the run game. Jason Kelce had a great kickout block on the winning TD. That play was executed perfectly.


When the defense gives up 505 yards and 34 points, it feels like there should be a lot of criticism. Some of those plays were just Josh Allen doing special things. He’s like a cheat code. He probably should have been sacked by 5 or 6 different guys, but the Eagles only got him once. He threw to receivers that were well-covered. With his arm, anybody can be open.

Josh Sweat seemed to get the most pressure of the DL. He played both sides and got into the backfield all over. He was credited with 2 tackles and a QB hit. Haason Reddick moved around as well. He also spied Allen at times. Reddick just missed a sack when he got to Allen on a bootleg. Reddick slung him to the ground. Bills fans wanted a horse collar tackle, but he got Allen by the front so no flag. Reddick had a chance to get Allen in space, but Josh put a juke move on him and got the first down. Ugh. That dude…

Brandon Graham had 2 tackles and a sack. Due to injuries he rushed from DT a lot in the second half. Nolan Smith got into the backfield on a couple of passes. His rush affected Allen on the INT play.

Fletcher Cox played 22 snaps before he suffered a groin injury. Milton Williams was out with a concussion so that left Jordan Davis, Jalen Carter and Marlon Tuipulotu to play the bulk of the game. Davis and Carter played the most snaps of their career. Buffalo RBs were 31-92 on the ground and 47 of those yards came on the final drive of regulation. The defense was exhausted at that point. Carter was disruptive as a pass rusher. Davis had one impressive play when he chased Allen out of bounds. That was great effort from a big man. Tui did a solid job against the run.

Zach Cunningham played well before getting hurt. He finished with 10 tackles. Nick Morrow had 12 tackles, a TFL and a PD. He got beat in coverage at times. Christian Elliss had to play with Cunningham out. Elliss was up and down. He had 6 tackles and a TFL. That came on a run when he timed a run blitz perfectly. Elliss struggled with getting off blocks. The Bills run game had their best luck with him in the game.

Reed Blankenship played 116 snaps (95 on defense, 21 on STs). That is nuts. He was fiery and emotional from the start. He played hard and was physical. Blankenship didn’t make any plays, but had 10 tackles. He had chances to tackle Allen in space a couple of times and missed both. One of them turned into a TD. Blankenship pounded the ground after that. He was ticked at himself for missing the tackle.

Kevin Byard led the team with 13 tackles. He was used vs TEs again and did some good things. He was solid against the run when playing in the box. Byard still doesn’t have much speed when he’s playing deep.

It seemed like some of the success Allen had came with the Eagles in zone. Receivers found open spots and he got them the ball.

I thought James Bradberry played his best game of the year. He had 3 tackles, picked off a pass and was credited with 5 PDs. The INT came when Bradberry used trap coverage to fool Allen. He thought Bradberry was dropping and instead he jumped a short route and made the pick. Huge, huge play.

Darius Slay had a solid game. He was credited with 2 PDs. Bradley Roby played in the slot and was pretty good in coverage.


Jake Elliott hit a 59-yard FG and all his extra points. Clutch kicker.

Braden Mann averaged 53.8 yards per punt. One was downed inside the 20. Mann also had the hold on the FG.

Britain Covey had an 18-yard PR.

Josh Jobe, Sydney Brown and Patrick Johnson were all good in punt coverage.