Saints Talk

Posted: January 3rd, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 136 Comments »

The Eagles play their first playoff game since 2010 this week. The Saints come to town on Saturday night, for what should be an interesting game. They are 11-5 and a veteran team. They missed the playoffs last year, but made it the previous 3 seasons and won the Super Bowl in 2009.

The Eagles have a new coach, new systems and new players. The organization missed the playoffs the previous 2 years, which is what led to all the change. The Eagles made the playoffs in 2009 and 2010, but failed to win a game. The 2013 team doesn’t have a lot of playoff experience individually and they obviously have none collectively.

I’m not sure the experience factor gives the Saints much of an advantage. All in all, you’d rather have experience, but that shouldn’t be the difference in winning and losing.

A lot of people are focused on weather and the Saints being a poor road team. Those are valid points, but only to a certain extent. The Saints don’t lose because it is cold or they’re on the road. They lose when the opponent plays better in cold weather or when the opponent plays well at home. If the Eagles don’t do their part, the Saints will win and the conditions will mean nothing.

Bill Barnwell wrote a good piece for Grantland and went inside the numbers to explain how the Saints aren’t as bad a road team as many think.

Consider that the Saints were probably lucky to win their game against the 49ers at home after that phantom penalty on Ahmad Brooks and likewise lost in the last moments of key road games against the Panthers and Patriots, two of the best teams in football. Those were all games where the outcome, win or loss, massively overstates the difference in play between the two teams. So flip the wins and losses in those games for a second. If the Saints are 7-1 at home (having credited them with a loss for the 49ers game) and 5-3 on the road (having now won the Patriots and Panthers games), are we even having this discussion about their performance on the road? Probably not. And if the discussion comes down to what happened in three or four plays across a number of weeks, it’s probably not as meaningful as it suggests itself to be.

Bill also shared one crazy stat.

I don’t see that the numbers suggest anything specific about Brees and his team that would make me think they can’t play well on the road in cold weather. Well, except for one. Chase Stuart, as he often does, came up with the best stat of all: In the playoffs, dome-dwelling teams playing in temperatures below 35 degrees on the road are 3-22. The last time a team like that won was in 2004, when the Vikings beat the Packers in Green Bay. That was the year Chip Kelly turned things around for his employer after years of misery and losing records. He was in his sixth year as offensive coordinator for the University of New Hampshire. 2004 was a long time ago, man.

Wow.

Evan Silva wrote his preview for Rotoworld. Evan is more of a numbers guy, but is a good analyst. I always enjoy his take.

Unless New Orleans builds a big scoreboard lead, I’d look for Nick Foles to operate primarily as a game manager Saturday night, seeking to avoid turnovers and taking only manufactured vertical shots while Shady pounds on the ground. The potentially high-scoring nature of this affair may ultimately require Foles to do more, but I don’t think that’s what Kelly wants as long as the game is in control. … Foles’ target distribution from Week 13 on: DeSean Jackson 37; Riley Cooper 28; McCoy and Zach Ertz 22; Brent Celek 19; Jason Avant 17.

I’m sure Kelly would love to run Shady all game long, but Rob Ryan will focus on stopping the run. You wonder if Kelly will be proactive and plan a passing attack to see if he can take advantage of man coverage by the Saints.

Here is Silva’s pick for the game:  Score Prediction: Eagles 28, Saints 27

He did pick the Eagles to blow out the Vikings, so keep that in mind.

* * * * *

The Saints are a good team, but I don’t fear them. That may prove to be a dumb thing, but I think the Eagles will be able to score some points on them. Can the Eagles stop Drew Brees?  That’s the key question.

The most important thing to remember is that the Eagles don’t need to shut him down. They need to turn a TD into a FG. They need to get a 3rd down stop here and there. They need a takeaway. A handful of plays might be enough from the Eagles defense.

I’ll get into a lot more specifics on Friday.

* * * * *

Questions/comments from the previous post…

* Why not blame Kelce/Mathis more on the 4th/1 play? I watched that over and over and over. I think LB Bruce Carter made the key play by going over the top. That’s not on Mathis or Kelce. Peters was the guy who should be there, but blocking a diving LB isn’t easy at all and Jason didn’t have a clear shot at him.

* Why do the QB sneak? When you have one foot to go and you’re at the goal line, the defense is very compacted. They are selling out to stop the run. They are daring you to throw the ball. With 9, 10 or 11 guys focused on the run, it is hard to make a hole for a RB. 3rd/1 and 4th/1 are very different situations. The defense has to honor the pass on 3rd down. They ignore it on 4th, knowing the offense is going to run it. The smart play is the QB sneak. The ball never goes back. It is a quicker play.

The Eagles didn’t use the QB sneak with McNabb for a few years late in his career and it drove me nuts. I think it is a smart play, even if it didn’t work. The blockers do need to do a better job and Foles needs to work on executing the play a bit better.

* Why do I like the Brad Smith stuff in the Red Zone? The Eagles have been a good RZ team with Foles at QB. Why take the ball away from him? The Eagles have a lot of success with very basic plays in the Red Zone. I think mixing in the exotic stuff is good because it can work and it can also impact the defense even if it fails. The D is mostly expecting base stuff, but they also know to be on the lookout for oddball plays. If that creates half a second of hesitation or it causes one defender to screw up on a later play, that can be valuable.

Scoring TDs in the Red Zone is crucial to winning in the NFL. Anything you can do to give yourself an advantage is worth trying. And I think there are a couple of key follow-up points. First, this is an isolated play, not a whole series or a bunch of plays. If Smith was getting 5 RZ touches in a game, that would be dumb. One isn’t that big of a deal. Secondly, Smith isn’t a typical skill player. He threw for 8,644 yards and 56 TDs while a QB in college. That doesn’t make him an NFL QB, but this isn’t anything like handing the ball to Ronnie Brown. Smith can throw the ball. The pass he threw vs Dallas was as good as anything Koy Detmer threw in his final few years as an Eagle.

If Shady starts getting RZ hand-offs and then lobbing the ball into traffic, I’ll be as angry as you guys. Having a player like Smith with a run-pass option is worlds different and I’m fine with it. I understand the counter-argument. Would you take the ball away from Brady or Peyton? The Pats did have 2 skill players attempt passes in Brady’s first year as a starter so doing something like this to help out a young QB isn’t new.

* I’ll write about Mychal Kendricks in another post.

_


  • Patrick

    I remember watching the Saints play the Jets earlier in the year and we need to match that defensive performance. We need a big game from Ced Thornton and Cox in order to stop Brees. Richardson and especially Wilkerson did a tremendous job of collapsing the pocket and flushing Brees out. The Saints doesn’t have good OTs, as we saw against the Panthers, so Cole and the gang should have a pretty good time against their match ups, but it will stunt the Saints offense if Brees can’t step up in the pocket and has to roll out of the pocket. Win the battle of the line like the Panthers did against the Saints and we’ll have a chance, if not Brees will tear us apart.
    I truly believe thats how to beat their offense. A lot of their offense is letting the receivers and Graham run some pretty vertical or long routes and allowing Brees to find the open man. I don’t really see any other Saints WR than Colston excelling in short areas and on quick routes, but then again Donnie Avery lid us up. And to be honest, Colston isn’t the same player anymore. He is still very good, but he isn’t unstoppable near the sidelines and end zones anymore. Jimmy Graham is however and we need to sort that out in some intelligent way. Graham will abuse Kendricks lack of height, ‘Mecos lack of speed and Chungs lack of talent, brains, tackling skills etc.

    • ACViking

      The Ryan Clan believe in collapsing the pocket from the inside out.

      That includes Rob

      • A_T_G

        Well, except Jack. He prefers to maintain things from the inside against overwhelming outside attacks.

        Patrick also seems to prefer working from the outside, using a lot of disguised looks.

        • Mac

          What about Meg?

  • Sean

    If you go back and look at some of the things Silva wrote about Chip, I suspect your opinion of him may change.

    • TommyLawlor

      Evan was critical, but has changed his tune. I follow him on Twitter. We don’t always agree, but I respect his opinion.

      • Sean

        There’s a difference between critical and dismissive. There’s a difference between making predictions that turn out incorrect (everyone does that) and making ones that were specious at the time and based on lazy reasoning.

        • TommyLawlor

          I read just about everything he puts on Twitter. Nothing offended me enough to write about it or to rip on him.

          • Sean

            He’s certainly not the most egregious Chip doubter, but some of his points were just ridiculous and he stated them so definitively. According to him, Eagles would have the 5th pick in the draft and a shotgun read-option offense didn’t work with Carolina, so therefore it wouldn’t with the Eagles (despite the fact that the Panther offense has actually been worse this year employing a more traditional approach). There was no real thinking going into these prognostications or support for them.

      • Mac

        You should prove your superiority by changing your name to Tommy Golda.

    • mtn_green

      Sal pal, in new eagles video, said his doubts of chip were wrong. Many mea culpa coming.

  • jackpotsdad

    > In the playoffs, dome-dwelling teams playing in temperatures below 35 degrees on the road are 3-22.

    That’s a ridiculous stat, but it almost makes it worse. I don’t want the Birds to be the team that increments that to 4-22.

    I think the key to the game will be defensive stops. Good quarterbacks, especially those who are accurate with short dump off passes have given the Eagles a really hard time this season. Brees is a superior version of Phillip Rivers and Rivers ate up the defense alive.

    • Tumtum

      Hope the wind is freaking swirling up there tomorrow. It sure is down here. If it turns in to a rushing battle I think the Eagles win handily. If not all bets are off of course.

    • dave H

      great point ..yes I have always wondered that about these type of statistics .. are the odds thus telling us the 4 is more certain and overdue than 23 ?!

  • Mitchell

    My prediction for this game: Landshark lays Brees out on an unblocked blitz and knocks him out of the game.

    • A_T_G

      We resigned Ernie Sims?

      • Mitchell

        Is that where I heard that before?!?! I thought I had a cool name for Kendicks….. Definitely not

        • Jernst

          McDermott (sp?) referred to Sims as “theres a shark in the water out there right now, and that’s Ernie Sims” — Landshark is a cool nickname although it does bring back bad memories of Ernie Sims who had about as much football intelligence as a wet fart.

          • Sokhar20

            That’s unfair. A wet fart can actually cover a tight end. :-P

          • SteveH

            Underrated comment.

        • Cliff

          Yeah, you were really pushing this one. LOL.

          • Mitchell

            I fail again. Sorry eagles nation

        • SteveH

          Special K is in the lead right now IMO.

  • Bob Brewer

    I really have no idea how this is going to go. The Eagles seems like Washington last year, getting hot at the end of the year against some mediocre to decent teams. The Eagles didn’t beat a legitiimte playoff team in this stretch (I’m not counting the Wallace/Tolzien Packers).

    That being said I really do think the Saints are a different team outdoors despite the listings that Barnwell states above. I think the DL has played better at home than on the road so there’s certainly a decent chance to win.

    Hopefully this is a Bears-like game since my pulse can’t take this anymore.

    • Mitchell

      I hope we dnt turn out like Washington this year…

    • BlindChow

      The Eagles didn’t beat a legitiimte playoff team in this stretch.

      I have to disagree. The Eagles didn’t beat a team that ended up in the playoffs, but that’s only because the Eagles knocked them out when they won. If the Bears had beaten us, they were in. Also, the Cardinals ended up 10-6; if they were 11-5, would they be in over the Saints?

      The wins Washington had weren’t anywhere near the same caliber.

      • Tumtum

        If we lose to Detroit they were in, yeah? We actually beat the Packers… Rodgers or not.

    • Tumtum

      Well as far as being like the Redskins last year you are probably right. The thing is that if RG3 had not been injured and played terrible before he was really injured that game could of looked completely different.

      Thinking about it a little more its pretty eerie how similar this team is to DC last year. Young QB, Solid front 7 with suspect 2ndary, leads the league in rushing, extraordinary turn over ratio, lacking in overall talent but meshing well as a team. The primary difference I think would be that the O-line for this team is capable of pass protecting better than that line, and far more talented in general. That line can really run block it up with the scheme though. Not to mention if Foles continues to play consistently which he has done against all types of defenses, I think that will be a defining difference.

    • Buge Halls

      Have you heard of that little team from Dallas that we beat last week? If the won, they were in. So, yes we beat playoff “contenders”

    • theycallmerob

      ARI, DET, CHI, DAL. 4 legitimate playoff teams at the time we played them. Next.

  • RobNE

    Who do we root for in the other game? Who can beat Seattle? I assume if we get there we prefer fb or sf at home rather than go to Seattle?

    • A_T_G

      GB would get us another home game, right?

      • RobNE

        Either would if the winner beats Seattle

        • A_T_G

          Ah, I see. I misread what you were saying. I think I would rather have SF than GB. Rodgers is scary.

  • RobNE

    And is Wolff going to play?

    • iceberg584

      He practiced yesterday, but supposedly is having issues going at top speed. If I had to guess, I’d say he’s inactive…and even if he is active, I think Chung will be out there far more.

      In related news, I shoveled Earl Wolff’s sidewalk and driveway this morning just to minimize any risk of him further aggravating his knee injury…

      • Neil

        Can you imagine living next to someone who studies your career and is personally invested in it? I can’t.

      • Rambler

        Hey man, I think the shoveling of his driveway is great and all, but that should be just the first step. You should be carrying that guy out of his house in your arms, and driving him to work in a snow plow. I want absolutely zero chance that he does not play. Step up your game.

      • jshort

        Hope you sprinkled ice melt, don’t want him slipping.

  • Mike Roman

    Hey Tommy,

    How much zone blitzing does Billy Davis do? I’m day dreaming of ways to disrupt Brees and get in his throwing lanes. In my head, I have Kendricks shooting the A-Gap and Cole coming off the edge while Logan and Barwin mush rush of sorts and just try to get their hands up and get some batted balls.

    Also, do you see Williams or Fletcher matched up on Jimmy Graham at all in this game?They both have the size to be physical with Graham and the ability to run with him.

    • mtn_green

      3 Wr-fletcher, Williams, Boykin
      1te- who? Charmichael? Chung? Allen? Kendricks?

      • Tumtum

        Williams, Charmichael, Boykin,
        Fletcher

        For me anyway.

        Heck I would have Boykin follow Allen, Williams follow Colston, and Fletch follow Graham. Of course the extent of my game planning knowledge is derived in Madden. Now you can point and laugh.

  • eagleyankfan

    It’s great thing — this type of websites — to give our opinions and dispute yours :).
    I’m not with you on the QB play. Foles is not the type of QB for that play.
    Also, that trickery stuff. Garbage. Did it work? No. Will it work? No. Does Eli/Brady/P. Manning(you know, successful QB’s who’ve won SB’s) run that play when they are in a win or go home situation? No they don’t. Why? Because it doesn’t work. And you use a guy who’s been here for like 2 weeks? That play had no chance whatsoever to work.
    As far as stats for playoff games/out doors/weather blah blah — throw that all out of the window. Means nothing. If the Eagles do their job and do it well — they’ll win. If they don’t, we’ll be reading about draft pics….

    • Tumtum

      What about Foles makes him a bad candidate for a QB sneak. Never mind that he has had at least 1 successful attempt this year, he is a big kid. If he does a good job of picking the hole he probably doesn’t get stopped there.

      Also as far as “trickery” goes, not sure how you can fault that. Gadget plays have been shown to have pretty good success in the NFL. Before the Ronnie Brown disaster here check out how many passes/TDs he had. How many TDs did LT throw? I would think your argument at the time he was throwing TDs what seemed like weekly would have been that you don’t ask possibly the best RB ever at getting rushing TDs to throw the ball. Well Norv did, and it worked pretty well.

      I do agree with you on the weather however. Its all about execution in the cold. If they let it affect them more than the other guy it will prove out negatively.

      • eagleyankfan

        Foles is not the big/push the pile or the dive over the file QB. That’s where’s it’s a bad idea. He doesn’t have the weight or the strength to drive in and get it. (as we saw – he failed). I get there were a few missed blocking assignments but — Rothlis/Superman make it in. Those type of guys have better odds.
        If you want to do that stuff during the season with a lead or no impact on the game fine — but during a win or go home game — you have to play the odds. The odds of that play being successful — low.
        And I can fault the gadget play using someone who is new to the Eagles and their offensive structure. I don’t mind trickery but you can’t throw someone new to the offense into the mix and expect good results.
        Almost doesn’t get you 6 points. Both plays were “almost”.

        It’s just my opinion. If something works — I stick with it. The Eagles didn’t break all sorts of Eagle records by running those plays during the regular season….

        • BlindChow

          Foles doesn’t have the weight? He’s listed as 2 pounds heavier than Rothlisberger and 2 pounds lighter than Newton. And guess what, both of those two have missed on sneaks before as well.

          This is the perfect example of hindsight quarterbacking. Since a play doesn’t work, it must have been the worst call ever. Please.

          And Smith has been on the team for nearly 2 months. I’m not sure how being there an extra month would make his familiarity with the “offensive structure” more legitimate. That sweep play that got the RB’s all those yards on that long drive? It was installed the same week. It worked, so of course it’s brilliant. Teams introduce new stuff all the time. The personnel is irrelevant, as long as they execute.

          • ACViking

            All I’m interested in is *understanding* the breakdown on Foles’ sneak play. And the 4th-and-short plays the prior two games that failed.

            Otherwise, the calls are fine. Kelly’s certainly right: a good team should be able to get 12-inches, even when the defense knows exactly what you’re going to do

          • Michael Winter Cho

            There didn’t seem to be a hole and Foles looked to be a bit slow in getting to the not-hole.

          • Tumtum

            How much do you think the composition of light athletic types on the line factors in. More specifically Kelce and Mathis (who I think are great don’t get me wrong). Are the smaller athletic types less apt to make a play like that happen?

          • ACViking

            T . . .

            That’s what I’m wondering, too.

          • BlindChow

            The Eagles did a good job on a QB sneak a few weeks ago (can’t remember which game). I don’t think there was a timeout called before that one, though.

            I’d like to see a 4WR QB sneak to help spread the defense. Even better if they’re in the shotgun at first, with Foles walking up like he’s adjusting the protections, only to then take the snap from center and sneak it in.

          • ACViking

            Very Belichick-esque.

            Question: What’s the underlying premise behind going “jumbo” on a QB keeper, versus spreading the offense — as you suggest? [Play-action to a TE more open in a “jumbo” set? Anything else?]

          • Tumtum

            I didn’t really want to pile on, BUT as far as Smith goes, I am pretty sure he has been working on specific plays as opposed to the whole play book. He will have been as familiar with those plays as anyone else on the team. So to your point the time he has been here is irrelevant in that regard….imho.

        • Tumtum

          Guess we will have to agree to disagree on both points.

      • Sean Stott

        Brady runs the sneak all the time, and I definitely remember it in some playoff games as well.

        • Tumtum

          He executes it great. He takes that instant to pick where to attack. Nick sort of just “bull in a china shops it”.

  • Joseph Dubyk

    That was a great playoff game… That was when Randy Moss torched Al Harris and mooned the fans and Joe buck went ballistic… then we beat the Vikings with ease next week (thanks freddie’s hands lol)

    • Michael Winter Cho

      That is DISGUSTING!!

      • Joseph Dubyk

        Lol yup!! That was his reaction as if he actually pulled his pants down and whipped out his tally whacker.

  • iceberg584

    Trivia question: Name the only two NFC teams that the Eagles have not faced in the playoffs during the Lurie era.

    • Dragon_Eagle

      I can think of 3, so one is likely incorrect: Detroit, Seattle, and Washington.

      • Dragon_Eagle

        OK. Scratch Detriot – remember playing them way back now in the playoffs. Rodney Peete’s finest hour.

        • iceberg584

          Got it. Detroit was the first playoff opponent of the Rhodes/Lurie era.

          We last played Washington in 1990 under Buddy Ryan/Norman Braman regime. We never played Seattle.

          So, yeah, the answers are WAS, SEA.

    • Stephen Stempo

      Panthers, Saints?

      • iceberg584

        We played the Panthers in the 2003 NFC Championship, and the Saints in the 2006 Divisional Playoffs….And if all goes well, we will play each in the next two weeks.

        • Stephen Stempo

          lol i was just thinking it was a trick question i forgot about 2006

        • Stephen Stempo

          been drinking.. I’ve always wiped the panthers game from my memory… it hurt too much that teams wins the superbowl.

          • iceberg584

            Yeah, I was at that 2003-04 Panthers game. Pretty miserable experience.

          • Mike Roman

            Hey, James Thrash and Todd Pinkston were good enough receivers. We should have won that game. Pffft. I hate Andy Reid.

    • bdbd20

      Redskins, Seahawks

  • bdbd20

    Tommy,

    What’s your opinion about the unbalanced line?

    It seems to work quite well for us. I would have to think defenses see Peters next to Johnson and realize we’re running there, but they still can’t stop it.

    I really hope we see more of it.

  • Stephen Stempo

    I am so sick of hearing about Rob Ryan and the Saints 4th ranked defense. There’s more to defense than just yards.

    • GEAGLE

      Yeah it’s over rated….they blitz a lot, and they don’t do it better then the cardinals! and Kelce and FOles were masterful at handing lung the cardinal blitz…

      We have to be better in the trenches then we were last week

  • bentheimmigrant

    I’m curious to see Chip’s playoff philosophy… Has he held back some formations/packages/plays to surprise the opponents, or does he prefer to stick with things he established during the season?

    • mtn_green

      Yes to both.
      Examine fishduck.com and you’ll find he makes small incremental changes generally to great effect. Sometimes they play on what defense expects offense to do based upon past tendencies.

  • ACViking

    Re: Undercover Saints

    I’m curious what the masses who visit T-Lawlor’s site think about the Philly Cops putting some of their best around the Linc Saturday night dressed in Saints regalia.

    Here’s the story — which is getting a lot of national play.
    http://www.nbcphiladelphia.com/news/local/Philly-Officers-Going-Undercover-as-Saints-Fans-at-Eagles-Playoff-Game-238547081.html

    • mtn_green

      It’s playoffs in the city of brotherly love. There is enough love to go around. Not like its a division rival.

      Leave the angst to make noise so Bree’s wasted time outs and line false starts.

    • http://www.aceandson.com/blog Richard O’Connor

      Home fans should make it uncomfortable for visiting players, but visiting fans is another story. Everybody expects some good-natured trash talk at a game. That’s the nature of fandom. People who cross the line deserve negative repercussions.

    • ICDogg

      This has been done in other cities before, at least I’m pretty sure I’ve read about it in the past. Anyway, I think it makes sense. I don’t think having a ticket to an Eagles game in Philadelphia gives people the right to think that they can physically abuse opposing fans, or throw things at them.

      • ACViking

        ICD:

        Right about that. Been to NFL games in 16 other cities — always in the cheap seats up high. No place as abusive of other fans as the Vet.

    • Mac

      As long as they don’t actually cheer for the Saints, I’m good with it.

      • ACViking

        That’s a very compassionate view.

    • Iskar36

      I certainly understand the idea and hope it is successful in preventing anything from getting out of hand. The one thing I feel bad for is the cops who are likely Eagles fans who have to dress in enemies clothing. First off, they probably would have preferred to have the day off and watch the game rather than work, but now they also have to pretend to cheer for the Saints… that’s rough.

      • ACViking

        Bitter-sweet, indeed.

      • Cafone

        Oh yeah, must suck for them to get paid overtime to see an NFL playoff game. I’m sure it was extremely difficult to find volunteers for that duty. /sarcasm

    • Dragon_Eagle

      Fully support the move and its important that word gets out to deter idiocy. As riled up and as passionate as we get, there are clear lines about what is and isn’t acceptable behavior. A football game is no excuse for breaking the law. Period. Trash-talking OK. Physical violence – go to jail.

      I do hope someone is making a fortune selling “F**k da Saints” t-shirts, though.

      • ACViking

        I haven’t been to the Linc since it opened. Travel and Eagles games haven’t intersected.

        My impressions from friends who attend is the problems that were nearly rampant in the Vet’s upper reaches substantially decreased in the early Linc years — but have now begun to creep into the higher seats of (not-so) new stadium.

        Is that accurate?

        PS – great point on the T-shirts. could be a nice 1-week deal.

        • Dragon_Eagle

          Unfortunately, I’m only able to get to about 1 game per year. I have rarely noticed things getting out of hand, but I can’t really judge whether its gotten any worse since the Linc opened. Overall, by far, the Eagles fans are good – actually fairly respectful and polite to opposing fans. Its when the rare mix of stupid and beer and testosterone come together, there are issues.

        • BobSmith77

          Not really from my experience except in the upper end zone sections at the Linc and even then it is more civilized generally.

        • BobSmith77

          Always though the Vet was at it absolute worst in the mid-80s/late-80s although the Mets-Phillies games during that time would tend to get really bad too.

          • ACViking

            I’d heard that about the Phillies from a friend’s wife who went to the 1993 Braves-Phils playoff series. She wore a Bravos cap and sat really close to the field — behind the Phils dugout. And still the fans poured beer on her and some female friends. Spit on them. Cussed them.

            Pretty embarrassing.

          • BobSmith77

            There used to be large-scale brawls on Opening Day every year especially in the upper levels.

            Went to a game (maybe 86 or 87) that was Mets-Phils and my father and uncle made us leave the game after a huge fight broke out in the section in front of us.

            Pretty young at the time but still remember all of the guys with the yellow ponchos with the ‘Security’ emboldened in black letters getting tossed about. Finally broke down to Philly PD officers coming in and just billy clubbing people and using mace while they slapped handcuffs on people.

            Phils’ games at the Vet were also bad because there often wasn’t a bunch of people in the upper levels especially in the OF. If trouble started up there, there often wasn’t anybody around to break it right away.

    • BobSmith77

      Always found that the a-holes that target fans wearing opposing jerseys are the same a-holes who are just as ready to fight someone wearing an Eagles’ jersey too.

      Perfect example of the ‘Skins game I went to this year was this fat slob who constantly was standing up in a knockoff Herremans’ jersey, a hoodie sweatshirt underneath the jersey, black track suit pants, and had a pink Eagles hat on with the price tag still on it slightly off center with the straight brim. Texting the entire game and on his phone. Perfect white trash ensemble.

      Guy who was sitting 3 seats over from us asked this guy to sit down so his younger kid (maybe 12 or 13) could see. Guy turned out around and told him ‘go f@ck himself.’ Didn’t escalate into fists thankfully but it was only resolved after security came up and made Herremans take a walk out of the stands.

      • ACViking

        BS77 wrote:

        “Always found that the a-holes that target fans wearing opposing jerseys
        are the same a-holes who are just as ready to fight someone wearing an
        Eagles’ jersey too.”
        ____________

        Great, great point. That’s how it was back in the early ’70s. It was more rare that opposing fans were bothered than was Eagle Fan-on-Eagle Fan violence. Stupid.

    • SteveH

      Thanks Viking, I was planning on mugging some Saints fans tomorrow but its too risky now.

    • RobNE

      Seems like not a big deal and something they have done before, but another item the media can jump on to portray Philly as the ultimate throw snowballs at Santa bad fans. So in that sense, I don’t like the “getting lots of national play” angle.

  • robspassky

    I’ve read that the Saints have the 4th ranked defense, but after hearing that their defense also faced the fewest number of plays, I was motivated to find out what their stats look like “per play”.

    I went to nfl.com’s sortable stats and here’s what I found:

    DEFENSE

    Overall: #10 Saints 5.2, #20 Eagles 5.5
    Pass: #9 Saints 11.2, #19 Eagles 12.0
    Rush: #27 (tie) Saints 4.6, #4 (tie) Eagles 3.8

    OFFENSE

    Overall:#6 Saints 5.9, #1 Eagles 6.3 (fyi – #2 Broncos 6.3, #3 Bears 6.0)
    Pass: #6 Saints 7.9, #1 Eagles 8.7 (fyi – #2 Seattle 8.4, #3 Denver 8.2)
    Rush: #25 Saints 3.8, #1 Eagles 5.1 (fyi – #2 Vikings 4.9, #3 Redskins 4.8)

    (N.B. Passing numbers are per-attempt, according to my math.)

    As we can see by our defense’s dismantling of the Bears’s #3 overall offense, there’s a lot of variance here. It does seems pretty clear that our Run D vs. their Run O is a huge mismatch.

    However, the game plans will not be based on these season long numbers but on film evaluation. I think we might see the Saints shorten up their drops and try to hit Graham on quick routes over the middle or up the seam, and keep the defense honest with an occasional screen and a mix of runs. I don’t think we’ll see Drew hold on to the ball for very long with their OT’s vs our rushers, like what happened with Orton.

    Hopefully our D can figure out some ways to counter the quick drop.

    • GEAGLE

      There defense also has NOT been playing anywhere near as well as they were before they lost Vaccarro…Eagles are HOT, and NO ONE will dare say that the saints played their best football down the stretch..

      Everyone cries about Jimmy Graham, but watch Ertz and Celek pick on Harper and Lofton, and combine for bigger numbers then Graham this week.

      Don’t turn the ball over, heavy volume of shady and we will get the win.
      ..
      Saints average 18 points a game on the road, we don’t give up more then 22…I expect them to score 17-24 and I ALWAYS like our offense to score over 24 against a team that’s facing Chip Kelly for the first time

    • Tumtum

      So the Saints are going to try and duplicate the SD chargers game plan. Worked well for them…

      Dallas tried to as well though (offensively).

  • T_S_O_P

    There are some echoes with this game to when Reid’s Eagles visited the Saints in the Scott Young game of ’06. Bree’s wasn’t fully entrenched as a HOF player back then, whereas Reid’s playoff record was as close as damn, second to none. An established Eagles team playing a young team with offensive guru coach and a QB whose arrow was clearly pointing up in their home.

    So how about 27-24 Eagles by way of payback?

    • Tumtum

      I miss fiery Jeff Garcia.

  • ACViking

    Re: the Birds’ WRs

    I’m hoping T-Law will address what, since the MN game, the opposition’s been doing to shut down D-Jax. And even those long passes to Cooper have seemed to disappear since the game-changing (?) long pass in the 3rd-Q against the Lions.

  • ACViking

    Re: Brees In the Elements

    Much talk this year about how Brees’ completion rate is 11 percentage points lower on the road outdoors in ’13 — against, among others, the Pats, Jets, Seahawks and Panthers.

    Interestingly, in 2012, Brees actually did BETTER on the road outdoors than at home. The opposition included the Broncos, Giants, KC, GB, Dallas (roof open).

    Brees will show up tomorrow night. If the Eagles get in his face, history — and Buddy Ryan — suggests they’ll have success defending him. If they don’t . . . .

    • Andy124

      I’m assuming they’ve been saving the fly swatters for the playoffs. I fully expect the DL to be wearing them when they take the field Saturday night. So even if they don’t get in his face, they’re still kind of in his face.

      • ACViking

        A124:

        A brilliant secret weapon. And with barely any wind, the D-line will not trouble keeping the swatters up high

        • Andy124

          On a more serious note, I agree that pressure up the middle is the best kind of pressure. That works for us as we’ll probably be in a lot of nickle with Vinny (who we haven’t heard much out of lately) hopefully providing a good interior pass rush. Unfortunately, I’m given to understand the Saints have a terrific pair of guards. Winning that battle would be pretty huge.

          • ACViking

            A124:

            You hit one of my favorite draft laments . . . the Saints’ Jahri Evans. A 4th Rd pick in 2006 from Bloomsburg State.

            That draft, the Saints had the second pick in Round 4 — which, before a couple years ago, was the first round of “Day 2.”

            The Eagles traded up from the 11th spot in Rd 4 with the Saints. The Birds selected UGA guard Max Jean-Gilles.

            The Saints used the Eagles’ 11th slot to draft Jahri Evans.

            The rest is bitter history.

          • Andy124

            Well, that sucks.

            And I still prefer the 2-day draft format.

          • ACViking

            Saturday and Sunday. Best weekend of non-football football all year.

            NFL doesn’t care enough about the fans. Just the TV money.

            Ex. 1 – the draft.

            Ex. 2 – the 2014 SB in the Meadowlands.

          • Andy124

            I alway said, playoffs excepted, the 3 biggest weekends of the year were 1) Dallas at Philly. 2) Philly at Dallas. 3) The Draft.

          • ACViking

            Most satisfying for sure. Well done.

    • Tumtum

      “the Pats, Jets, Seahawks and Panthers.”

      I think the answer to the conundrum of a lower passer rating on the road is answered right there. Those are all formidable defense, in hostile environments.

      • ACViking

        T —

        Exactly.

      • BlindChow

        The Patriots aren’t a formidable defense. Their power lies in Tom Brady.

        Also, the Saints had trouble scoring on the road against the Rams, Falcons and Buccaneers. Obviously, they beat the Bucs and Falcons, but those teams’ offenses weren’t clicking enough to outscore them.

        As for the Panthers: the Saints killed them at home. The fact they struggled against the exact same defense outside and on the road two weeks later isn’t something you can simply dismiss.

        • RobNE

          I think the Pats put Talib on Graham all over the field. They may not be formidable, but Belicheck has schemed his way past offenses for years. Or rather, schemed his way just enough to overcome his deficient defensive talent in order to give the offense a chance to win the game.

    • BlindChow

      The Panthers are a very interesting and relevant benchmark:

      Brees vs. Panthers in Carolina:
      30 of 44 (68.2%), 281 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT, 74.1 rating

      Against that same Panthers defense at home:

      30 of 42 (71.4%), 313 yards, 4 TD, 0 INT, 124.4 rating

      There was definitely a difference, though it would take a lot more analysis to pinpoint the weather or open sky as the reason for it.

      • shah8

        Saw some of that game. Panthers were extremely vanilla. Tried to win on fundamentals.

    • shah8

      Brees is much less athletic than he used to be, and he’s now something of a liability if you can get to him, like the other old but good QBs.

  • Dragon_Eagle

    I find it hard to form expectations for this game. The two teams seem fairly evenly matched all things considered. Could go lots of ways and none would surprise me. OK – Eagles blowing out the Saints would surprise (and delight) me, but other than that – Saints blowing us out, nail biter like Sunday, Eagles building a huge lead and then sweating through Brees mounting a comeback, Eagles pulling away in the 2nd half (Lions), back & forth with Saints making the play at the end to seal it – all seem reasonable.

    The fact that the Saints have FG issues gives me more hope than the whole Saints road record / dome team in cold weather – that’s just being overblown. But, I do think special teams, especially early in the game, will be critical in determining the direction & outcome. Field position, missed figgies, turnovers on punts, etc, will set the tone for the day. Hoping Fipp’s got the boys ready to go.

  • Tumtum

    Peters, McCoy, and MATHIS named first team All-Pro. I love it. That just shows you how much of a sham the ProBowl is.

    • BlindChow

      Letting the fans have a vote really diminishes a Pro Bowl nod’s value. But even with AP sports writers, a lot of them only cover one team, so it’s difficult to know how much they really know about other teams’ players beyond national reputation.

      • ACViking

        BC:

        Spot on. Shades of the Heisman — preESPN

      • Iskar36

        I don’t know how the current pro bowl works with the new format, but in the past, the fans vote was a small portion of what determined who went to the pro bowl. It was not a determining factor.

        That’s not to say the Pro Bowl gets it right by any stretch of the imagination, but I do think fans input should be a factor in the Pro Bowl to some degree. And the fact that we also have All-Pro as separate from the Pro Bowl, I think the way it is done makes sense. There is something to be said about earning fans even if that player isn’t truly the best at his position, and as I said, as long as guys get recognized through being named “All-Pro” then I think it works out in the end.

  • Buge Halls

    I don’t see Foles missing the wide open bubble screen to Jackson like he did at least twice last week. The Dallas D had him extra flustered for some reason and he was missing some open plays. Maybe the shakes form the first Dallas game. Those are perfect outlet plays when McCoy is coerved. On one play Jackson was on the left with four guys in front of him already blocking (with no other Cowboys around) but Foles was running to his right and missed it. I’m sure these player were highlighted in film review. Although, I’m sure the Saints also looked at them.

    • D-von

      Foles missed some plays but most of the time WRs couldn’t get open b/c of the holding Dallas dbs committed

  • BobSmith77

    Eagles pass rush

    2 of the last 3 weeks it has been nonexistent and their DL has gotten little/no pass rush.

    Expect Davis to bring his share of blitzes this game again too where he rushes 5 guys (seldom 6 and much less so than last week) but if the DL doesn’t generate pressure the Saints will win this game.

    Need more out of Cox and Curry especially this week.

    If the Eagles can keep the Saints to 23-24 pts, I really like their chances this week.

  • BobSmith77

    Is Davis going to actually try that 3 safety alignment and foolishly put both Chung and Coleman on the field at the same time?

    Is Wolff going to be healthy enough to sit Chung (worst starter on this defense and by a wide margin)?

    • ACViking

      The 3-across alignment seems so counter-intuitive.

      Hard enough to find 1 good safety now.

    • Neil

      Wouldn’t Boykin have to come out for the safety, or is it more like a dime package?

  • RobNE

    My problem with the Brad Smith play is that as Chip Wagon showed, the pass was there and Brad threw it waaay late. Brad doesn’t get enough reps to effectively make those plays. If we need to do a trick play in order to get just the opportunity of the open receiver so that Brad can maybe make the play, well I don’t like those odds. Plus, like in the Dallas game we had FINALLY shifted and run the ball down their throats. Then we get down to about the 5 and get super cute. It undercuts all whole theme of domination we had up to that point on that drive. Dallas DL was tired, we were taking over, etc. And here we are going way off course just to get an open look. I don’t like it. We saw on 4th down how the DL fell over exhausted. We get down to the 5, run up (no substitutions) run another play. That is how NE uses the no huddle, they are especially effective after big plays.

    • CrackSammich

      While I haven’t done any research to know if he was out there or not, if Brad Smith was already one of the receivers on the field, it doesn’t take a substitution to switch him to QB and get the snap off in the same amount of time.

      Good point about reps, though.

      • RobNE

        maybe he was on the field. that point was ancillary to my main one, which is that he isn’t skilled enough or practiced enough. Maybe he was good in college. Plus, it isn’t like we are bad with Foles in the red zone.

  • jshort

    Interesting to see how Saints play filled up on mac&cheese and green gatorade.

  • CrackSammich

    Jerry Jones wants them to add 4 teams to the playoffs. This joke writes itself.
    http://espn.go.com/dallas/nfl/story/_/id/10237964/jerry-jones-dallas-cowboys-favor-expanding-nfl-playoffs

    • mtn_green

      Hahahahahahahaha!!

  • RobNE

    I saw an article the other day about who might be forced to be on Hard Knocks next. I believe we are now exempt for 2 years by making the playoffs. I would not want the Eagles to be on it, unless it could only be viewed by IB members. Doesn’t the NFL have enough money without forcing teams to be on Hard Knocks?

    Also, the exemption for teams that made the playoffs the past two years. What is the reasoning behind that? Competitive teams get exempt – but there is so much parity, one year’s playoff contender doesn’t mean much the next year.