Other Game Reviews

Posted: November 6th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 33 Comments »

Eagles fans might not have the best team right now, but they have the best coverage of any NFL team. This week is even better. Not only do we have the usual suspects, but Mark Saltveit was able to go cover the game in person and offers his take on an interesting Sunday.

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By Mark Saltveit

At Oakland, I finally got a chance to watch an Eagles game from the press box — which is rare, since I live in Oregon and don’t have a travel budget — so I planned to focus on what you can’t see on TV. In particular, I was looking for details of pass coverage. It’s always hard to tell which receivers were open but not thrown to, or when a defense blankets every available target.

Happily though, there isn’t much to say. As everyone knows, Nick Foles hit just about every open receiver right on his hands, and the Eagles secondary did a great job of shutting down the Raiders. The great novelist Leo Tolstoy wrote that “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” Football teams are the same way. A successful passing attack is not that interesting; Chip Kelly’s play calling got receivers open and Nick Foles put the ball on their palms. Duh.

Given the spotty reputations of Terrelle Pryor’s passing arm and the Eagle’s secondary, it might be less obvious how effectively the Eagles smothered Oakland’s air game. Pryor missed a few throws, but the Eagles gave him very little to work with. So I’m not going to go on at length about the passing opportunities. If you want all the aerial details, I live tweeted the coverage starting about here. I’ll give you one paragraph each of coverage and passing highlights, then I’ll describe the infamous Raider fan and tailgate craziness for the rest of this column.

On defense, the game started badly. On the third play from scrimmage, 3rd and 4 from the Oakland 14, Pryor dodged two near-sacks in his end zone and hit a completely undefended Denarious Moore (not Criner as I tweeted) for a 27 yard gain. The Eagles must lead the league in near-sacks; two potential safeties turned into a big catch-and-run. They also gave up a big gain on the second drive, to a short crossing route for Streator that picked up 66 yards streaking down the sideline. Crossing passes (especially on third down) have been a weak spot for the Eagles all year. But even that early, Eagles’ backs gave Raider receivers very little breathing room. Pryor was scrambling, forcing throws and getting pressured all game. I’m surprised he didn’t toss more than two interceptions — Cary Williams should have hauled in one he dropped just before halftime.

With the ball in his hands, Foles was uncanny in his ability to find the open man, and the right open man if more than one. On Cooper’s first touchdown, the fade in the left corner, Ertz was free in the middle of the end zone, too. On third and 16 in the second quarter, Foles had James Casey wide open in the flat with room to run but he found DeSean for 17 and the first down. I could count Foles’ unbrilliant dropbacks on a couple fingers — an overthrow to Ertz in the flat on the first drive (Nick mentioned it in a press conference later), one long duck in the second that could have been intercepted, an end zone pass to Ertz that was safely overthrown. My favorite move was a 360-degree spin that Foles uncorked before throwing, midway through the third. No one bit, and a pump fake would have been more effective, but who can blame Nick Foles for feeling flashy on a career day?

Enough of that. Here’s the scene report. It was three and a half hours before kickoff when I arrived at Oakland Coliseum (now called O.co), and there was already a lot of excitement. This was a rare sellout — many games are not available on local TV — and scalpers were definitely looking for extra tickets to buy. None were for sale.

There were lots of tailgaters here before 10, on the morning of a time zone change, but the scene as a whole was not as crazy as I hoped and feared. Given Raider fans’ notoriety, I expected to see policemen roasting on the spit and literal pirates, skinny Somali immigrants on speedboats all hopped up on khat who raided the Alameda ferry and hid out in lawless coves around San Pablo.

In reality, there were children and even guys in Eagles jerseys hanging with Raider-fan friends. (You can see them in the gallery of my photos from the game, on Bleeding Green Nation.) True, all of the men were big and round, and the white guys looked like members of biker gangs, but how different is that from an Eagles crowd? There was lots of pirate decoration, ranging from hokey to impressive (e.g. the full size skeleton in ratty Eagles jersey with a real sword through its ribs hanging from a 20 foot noose) but the crowd was subdued. Perhaps they realized before the rest of us that Nick Foles is best against nautical outlaws, like Buccanneers and Raiders. I’m looking forward to the game against the Vikings; their longboat raids will not spare them the wrath of St. Nick. Land-based opponents like Cowboys and Chiefs seem to be more of a problem. I’m glad there are no teams named the Huns, or Wrath of (Genghis) Khan.

Inside O.co, the pregame show built up to a volley of cannon shots, capping the hokey pirate theme. Despite this “sold out” game, the entire upper deck opposite the press box, and two sections on either side, are closed off and covered in a slightly kinky black vinyl sheath. I’m told that’s for safety given the cannon fire, but that’s a mighty expensive special effect, if it costs them thousands of tickets to a sold-out NFL game.

During the game, they run announcements with very detailed warnings of things not to do — no throwing things, hitting people, fighting, weapons or artillery, poison gas attacks, cannibalism, running with scissors or littering. Violators may — may! — be ejected from the game, sent to law enforcement, or — now it gets serious — have their future ticket privileges revoked. This is more like the swashbuckling Raiders I was hoping to see.

Then they tell fans to graciously welcome everyone, even people from other countries, even people rooting for other teams, as the classic Funkadelic song “One Nation Under a Groove” plays half-heartedly in the background.

The field was strikingly threadbare, though as a friend pointed out, this was because the Oakland A’s made it into the postseason and played until October 10th. The crowd was only briefly loud, but who can blame them? On an historic night, where the Eagles were strong in all three phases from the start, they didn’t have much to say to anybody. There wasn’t much booing; the crowd’s reaction was more like a long, soft sigh of resignation.

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Good stuff from Mark. Here are some great All-22 links for the Raiders game from the usual band of deviant football bloggers.

There is a new site called The Chip Wagon. They do great film reviews and this week is no different. Definitely check this out.

Those of you on Twitter absolutely need to follow them. Those not on Twitter need to join. You’re missing some great football info.

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Fran Duffy does great work for PE.com. Here is his look at the Oakland game.

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Some guy named Derek Sarley does some reviews for the Daily News. Here is his take on the Raider game. Derek covered offense and defense. Great stuff, as you would expect.

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Sheil Kapadia, who has become widely respected despite his pretzel shortcomings, posted his review of the win over Oakland.

It truly is amazing how much brilliant coverage there is of the Eagles. 20 years ago I was wearing out VCRs while studying Rich Kotite’s use of the Ace formation and scribbling diagrams on scrap paper. Crazy.


33 Comments on “Other Game Reviews”

  1. 1 Kevin said at 10:53 PM on November 6th, 2013:

    The local coverage of the Eagles is fantastic by all of you guys. The All-22’s are some of my favorite articles to read. Great job of explaining football concepts and showing what goes on that you don’t see on tv. I have to say though that all of this great coverage is making some analysts and talking heads look bad, especially nationally. I hear some if their “textbook” or “no time to research and learn” comments and think, that is just wrong and incorrect (as well as a few other things not fit to write). So, again, thank you Tommy and all the local blogging guys who take the time to write informed articles. It is appreciated. If it was easy Mike Freeman could do it.

  2. 2 mksp said at 12:17 AM on November 7th, 2013:

    Worth mentioning, because I feel like it hasn’t really been discussed enough, but Nick Foles is, by a pretty fair margin, the youngest, and least-experienced NFL quarterback to throw 7 TDs in a game.

    And did in 3 quarters.

    By pretty much any measure, his performance was unprecedented.

  3. 3 Jack Waggoner said at 2:39 AM on November 7th, 2013:

    I know there are probably a hundred ways to measure a quarterback’s effectiveness but ultimately if you score lots of TDs and don’t cough up the ball you are getting the job done. The only thing I think we’re still looking for from Foles is for him to show some consistency over time.

  4. 4 bdbd20 said at 7:21 AM on November 7th, 2013:

    That’s really it. If he had been just pedestrian in the Dallas game (20-34, 240, 2-2), we wouldn’t even be having this discussion. The fact that he looked so bad without any (reported) injury is the big concern.

  5. 5 Dominik said at 8:55 AM on November 7th, 2013:

    “The fact that he looked so bad without any (reported) injury is the big concern.”


  6. 6 Jack Waggoner said at 10:09 AM on November 7th, 2013:

    And when you look at Foles’ last 4 weeks, the word “bipolar” comes to mind. Great game, horrible game, missed game, great game. Who does that? And what exactly do we have here?

  7. 7 anon said at 11:16 AM on November 7th, 2013:

    Consistency has been the problem with the whole team — especially playing at home. I almost wasn’t surprised we played so badly during the two home games and great away.

  8. 8 ICDogg said at 12:39 AM on November 7th, 2013:

    I don’t know how good other teams’ coverage is but the coverage of the Eagles is getting more incredible all the time.

  9. 9 Philip Soloninka said at 1:18 AM on November 7th, 2013:

    Perhaps they realized before the rest of us that Nick Foles is best against nautical outlaws, like Buccanneers and Raiders

  10. 10 Jack Waggoner said at 2:41 AM on November 7th, 2013:

    Or teams that Warren Sapp once played for.

  11. 11 Philip Soloninka said at 1:21 AM on November 7th, 2013:

    I know its dumb, but I get unreasonably angry at the national media and talking heads for their short sightedness and complete lack of research or preparation in regards to the Eagles whatsoever.
    Tommy and the rest of the crew (basically anyone he ever mentions, or has those great links to on the side) put those guys to shame with every single piece they contribute.

    PBRs and Funyons for all!

  12. 12 Jack Waggoner said at 2:49 AM on November 7th, 2013:

    Yeah, it’s kind of crazy to expect the national media guys to really be able to stay on top of what 32 teams are doing without making some snap judgments.

  13. 13 Mark Saltveit said at 3:12 AM on November 7th, 2013:

    I dunno, they get paid good money to follow a sport that millions follow closely for free. It doesn’t seem like asking that much for them to know what they’re talking about.

  14. 14 Jack Waggoner said at 4:05 AM on November 7th, 2013:

    Somehow I don’t think knowing what they’re talking about is their top priority.

  15. 15 Philip Soloninka said at 7:31 AM on November 7th, 2013:

    That’s the exact problem, they are paid to do a job and they do it half assed at best. And you KNOW they don’t study all 32 teams…. they get to Jacksonville and skip it.

  16. 16 Jack Waggoner said at 10:01 AM on November 7th, 2013:

    They might study all the teams but they sure don’t do it every week, and it may be months since they paid more than scant attention to some of these teams. In some cases they don’t even try.

  17. 17 anon said at 11:14 AM on November 7th, 2013:

    Yeah i was just going to make this point. I feel like they could do a little more than take shots in the dark — wonder if every fan base feels this way.

  18. 18 GermanEagle said at 7:10 AM on November 7th, 2013:

    If Foles beats the Packers we will have two QBs on our team with wins at Lambeau…

  19. 19 Homer Frizzell said at 7:48 AM on November 7th, 2013:

    Great stuff. Thank you, Mark.

  20. 20 A_T_G said at 8:09 AM on November 7th, 2013:

    Quick, someone explain to Foles that Packers were a ruthless band of marauders. Being located in the Midwest, they would pack up their ships, carry the pieces to their intended victims’ village where they would reconstruct them in the woods before “sailing” into the village on the tops of a sea of tortoises.

    History teaches us that their fatal flaw was a weakness across the top of the bow of their ships which, when damaged, caused a chain reaction which disabled most of their long-range weapons, tore their sails to tatters, and made them unable to penetrate most town defensive measures. Once exposed, these once feared ruffians were nothing more than lacy battering rams with an unsustainable need for wall-less victims.

    As an interesting aside, these pirates went on to become transient corn-on-the-cob peddlers. The price they charged for their corn became synonymous with their former profession of piracy and lends its name to the team from Tampa Bay.

  21. 21 Andy124 said at 8:49 AM on November 7th, 2013:

    While you’re at it, better let him know that due to the politically incorrect nature of the DC football team’s name and their owner’s refusal to change said name, they’ve instead changed what it refers to.

    The Redskins are now a tribute to fair skinned Europeans who spent so much time looting and pillaging at sea that their skin was burnt red.

    He would be seeing this for himself but had to stop reading the blog because T-Law is so anti-Foles. /s

  22. 22 Jack Waggoner said at 9:48 AM on November 7th, 2013:

    Did you know that when the Packers were originally named, one of the other names under consideration was the Indians? The company that bought them their uniforms and whom they were named was called the Indian Packing Company. That name might have been short-lived though since the Indian Packing Company was bought by the Acme Packing Company within a year.

  23. 23 Andy124 said at 10:43 AM on November 7th, 2013:

    Did not know that. If my daughter ever needs help on a history report, I’m sending her here.

  24. 24 Dominik said at 8:59 AM on November 7th, 2013:

    And their currency? Cheese. How pathetic.

  25. 25 eagleyankfan said at 9:52 AM on November 7th, 2013:

    Thanks Chipwagon. “Personal aside: Vick would never make that play.”

  26. 26 Neil said at 11:36 AM on November 7th, 2013:

    They didn’t press, no.

  27. 27 Andy124 said at 2:04 PM on November 7th, 2013:

    If you click on ICDogg’s link to BGN above, it talks all about how the Eagles beat Oakland’s press coverage.

  28. 28 Neil said at 8:50 PM on November 7th, 2013:

    Yeah, I really should have said they didn’t press all the time.

  29. 29 Jack Waggoner said at 10:25 AM on November 7th, 2013:

    Eagles Rewind (which has been very pro-Foles all along) has their latest on Foles: http://eaglesrewind.com/2013/11/07/notes-on-nick-foles/

  30. 30 BobSmith77 said at 11:49 AM on November 7th, 2013:

    As someone who lived in the SF Bay area for several years and went to both Eagles games vs Raiders & 49ers in their respective stadiums, the more sketchy crowd is at 49ers game especially in the upper levels and certain areas of the parking lot.

    The idea that the 49ers’ crowd is mostly a ‘Wine and Cheese’ crowd is as dated as hair metal bands of the late 80s/early 90s.

    I am willing to bet that the projected price increases and the new stadium though in Santa Clara are going to greatly change the dynamics of who goes to 49ers’ games much as the Linc did vs Vet.

  31. 31 ICDogg said at 12:23 PM on November 7th, 2013:

    It’s been a very rich week for Eagles analysis. Here’s one on BGN from “Chip Wagoneer”… http://www.bleedinggreennation.com/2013/11/7/5076458/philadelphia-eagles-how-do-you-stop-chip-kelly-offense

  32. 32 ICDogg said at 12:26 PM on November 7th, 2013:

    I would theorize that Foles’ deep ball success has been because opposing D coordinators have not respected his arm at all, and he has made them pay for that lack of respect.

  33. 33 ACViking said at 12:56 PM on November 7th, 2013:

    Deleted (moved to final DGR post by TL)