Starts Up Front

Posted: September 19th, 2019 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | No Comments »

You win games by winning the line of scrimmage. The Eagles lost both on Sunday night in Atlanta.

The O-line had a rough night, partially due to a very fired up Falcons defense. The Falcons were embarrassed by their performance in the opener so they played with a real edge against the Eagles.

It also hurt that LG Isaac Seumalo had an awful showing, which Jimmy Bama broke down here.

Yikes.

You don’t mind a player getting overwhelmed by someone that is better than him. Seumalo was beaten by multiple players and just struggled all night. Some of those plays showed questionable effort and that’s not good. No matter what, play your butt off. Battle every snap. Win your share of the battles.

You can bet Jeff Stoutland will be in his ear in a big way this week. Seumalo won’t keep his job if he repeats that performance.

The good news is that he gets a chance to redeem himself. The Eagles believe in giving players a chance to bounce back and that has generally worked well for them. We’ll have to wait and see what happens on Sunday. A lot of eyes will be on Seumalo.

Beyond Seumalo, the whole OL must play better. Carson Wentz won’t make it through the season unless he gets better protection. And the RBs need some room to show what they can do.

*****

The Jalen Ramsey watch continues.

I have mixed feelings.

Cover corners can be hugely important and it would great for the Eagles to have a stud CB. I just worry about the price. I’m not writing a blank check for Ramsey.

Howie Roseman tends to be a smart shopper so I trust that he’ll make this move if the price is right and the coaches like the fit.

Ramsey is having a solid game on Thursday night. That does say something for his character. He could pout since he hasn’t been traded yet, but instead he’s out there helping his team to win a game. Ramsey is covering well and doing a good job of tackling. There is no question that he is a really good player.

*****

Not ideal.

Doug Pederson and his staff have been at their best when dealing with injuries and trying to get the most out of the guys who can play.

Pederson wisely dialed back practice on Wednesday. This is another case of his background as a player helping him out. His players need rest more than they need to be pushed. Let’s the banged up guys have extra time to heal. Let the healthy guys save their legs for Sunday. Due to injuries, some players were on the field for a ton of snaps in Atlanta.

*****

Fantastic.

Supposedly Nick expects to be back for Week 11. Will his job be available? Gardner Minshew is playing well in Foles absence.

_


Opportunities

Posted: September 18th, 2019 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | No Comments »

Tim Jernigan is out for at least a month. DeSean Jackson is out for a couple of weeks. We’ll have to see how things go with Alshon Jeffery and Dallas Goedert. Losing key guys like this is a problem.

It is also an opportunity.

Mack Hollins and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside are here for a reason. Hollins is coming off the best game of his young career. He caught 5 passes for 50 yards. That’s hardly anything to alert Canton about, but Hollins stepped up and made some key plays. JJAW has one catch through two weeks. He must pick his game up and contribute. He showed in the preseason that he can play at this level. Now he’s got to do it in a real game and with serious pressure on him.

The Eagles traded for Hassan Ridgeway on draft weekend because they liked him. Now he will get a chance to play a good amount of snaps. He needs to show what he can do.

Alex Ellis was just added to the roster on Tuesday. He has a chance to see snaps on STs and offense. This is a huge opportunity for him.

These players weren’t key figures a couple of weeks ago, but this is life in the NFL. Starters go down and that means opportunities for young guys. They can help the Eagles and their careers.

Not all of the young guys will pan out as hoped. That’s just reality.

But some will. Corey Clement got on the field in 2017 due to injuries and became a key role player. Big V took over at LT. A variety of players helped to fill in for Ronald Darby when he got hurt in the 2017 season opener. Beau Allen started three games at DT when Fletcher Cox was hurt.

We are just two weeks into the season. We have to see how the role players will handle this chance. Two games doesn’t give us enough information. There are people ripping on Miles Sanders for his slow start. Ugh. Be patient. Give the guy a chance to show what he can do.

I think one of the strengths of this coaching staff is how they develop young guys and role players. Some teams fall apart when starters get hurt. The Eagles under Doug Pederson have been able to stay competitive and win their share of games. The personnel department finds the right guys. The coaching staff develops the talent and does a good job of putting players in position to succeed.

The Eagles still have plenty of firepower. They should win this Sunday.

Just as important, the Eagles should continue to improve. The team has looked fantastic for stretches, but completely inept for other parts of games. I think the Eagles will smooth things out as the season moves along. Some key players missed the summer and still haven’t played their best football yet.

Too often fans and the media make strong judgments based on a couple of weeks of football. There is a ton of time left and things will change, good and bad. The Colts started slow last year, but got red hot late in the season. Washington, amazingly, was 5-2 last year before falling apart. How many people remember that?

Pederson and his staff will get the most out of these players.

Howie and his staff will keep looking to see if there are players to be brought in. Don’t think so much about big names like Minkah Fitzpatrick and Jalen Ramsey. Focus on solid players who will have a reasonable price tag.

I still think the Eagles are a really good team and will have a terrific season.

_


Game of Attrition

Posted: September 16th, 2019 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 1 Comment »

The final score says Falcons 24, Eagles 20, but this game was so much more than just those numbers. This was like the modern version of the Body Bag game. Eagles were falling like flies, a few Falcons as well.

DeSean Jackson, Alshon Jeffery and Dallas Goedert all got hurt early. Carson Wentz went out and came back in. Nelson Agholor as well. Tim Jernigan left in a walking boot. Corey Clement was in a sling. Did I miss anyone?

Carson Wentz struggled early, possibly due to taking too many big hits. The offense couldn’t do anything and the Eagles found themselves down 17-6. Things did not look good.

Jim Schwartz decided to turn the defense loose. He started blitzing and things changed. Ronald Darby picked off a pass and the offense turned that into a TD. The Eagles were down 17-12 and the team suddenly had some life.

Wentz played well in the fourth quarter and put the Eagles ahead 20-17 with just three minutes left in the game.

Atlanta then faced 4th and 3 near midfield. The game was right there for the taking. Schwartz dialed up a blitz and the Falcons countered with a perfect call, a quick screen to Julio Jones. That resulted in a 54-yard TD and Atlanta led 24-20.

The Eagles got the ball after the kickoff and moved near midfield. Wentz threw a perfect pass to a streaking Nelson Agholor, for what would have been the go-ahead TD. The ball went right through Agholor’s hands.

Ugh.

Agholor tried to make up for it with a 43-yard catch on 4th and 14 later in the drive, but that didn’t result in a TD. The drop was going to be a sure TD, barring an alien attack. That was a soul-crushing moment.

This was a game the Eagles shouldn’t have been in position to win. They were missing key players. Nothing was going right. The Falcons couldn’t pull away and the Eagles proved to be very resilient. They clawed their way back into the game and should have had the lead with less than two minutes to go.

The Eagles did get inside the Red Zone, but a fourth down pass to Zach Ertz came up a foot short. Wentz will hear about how he failed to lead the Eagles on a last minute comeback. But his throw to Agholor should have been the go-ahead points.

Wentz had some really good moments in the game. This was the most incredible.

That is absolutely amazing. Even on an off night, Wentz showed how special he can be. The long throw to Agholor on fourth down was also really impressive.

There is no shame in losing this game. The Eagles overcame some really tough circumstances and were right there at the end. The big concern now is the status of all the injured guys. You have to cross your fingers and hope those are short term issues.

It was good to see Mack Hollins step up, but this offense needs DeSean and Alshon for it to be able to make big plays.

The player who suffered the most in the game was Ronald Darby. Atlanta attacked him all game long and he got lit up. Give him some credit for never falling apart. He kept battling. You can bet other teams will be studying this tape. Darby is going to be challenged until he shows he can stop some receivers.

Rough night, but it was fun to see the Eagles fight their way back into this game. That shows you the character of this team.

That will serve them well over the course of the season.

_


Gameday Thoughts – at ATL

Posted: September 15th, 2019 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | No Comments »

The Eagles have played the Falcons each of the past three seasons so these teams have a good feel for each other. But this game will be a bit of a mystery for a couple of reasons.

First, the Wentz Factor. Carson Wentz led the Eagles to a win over Atlanta in his rookie season of 2016. Wentz was injured for the 2017 and 2018 meetings. This is the first time the Falcons will be facing Wentz the established star.

2016 – 24-15 W
2017 – 15 – 10 W
2018 – 18 – 12 W

The Eagles struggled to move the ball the past couple of years. They really struggled to score points. A healthy Wentz can change that in a big way. There were a variety of reasons that Nick Foles struggled vs Atlanta. Wentz could as well, but he is  a more dynamic talent. He create in ways Foles couldn’t. Just think back to the TD pass to Alshon Jeffery from last week. That’s not a play Foles is likely to make.

We also have to talk about the DeSean Jackson effect. It isn’t likely that he’ll deliver another couple of 50+ TDs, but Jackson will impact the game in a way that Torrey Smith and Mike Wallace didn’t in the past two games. They were the Eagles deep threats, but they didn’t exactly scare anyone. Jackson will. That should open up the middle of the field and allow Wentz to work underneath more effectively.

Location. The previous three meetings were all at The Linc. While homefield advantage isn’t as big a deal in the NFL as it is in college or high school, it does make a difference. The Eagles have been much better at home than on the road under Doug Pederson. We’ll have to see if this makes a difference tonight, but it certainly could.

I’m interested to see how the Eagles run game works. Last week the Vikings threw 10 passes and ran for 172 yards in their win over the Vikings. Pederson isn’t a stubborn guy. He sees what works and is willing to steal good ideas. Will the Eagles come  out running? If they do, I hope they are feeding Jordan Howard and Miles Sanders. Make the Falcons stop you on the ground.

The Eagles DL will be facing a revamped OL for the second week in a row. Washington handled the Eagles early on last week, but the guys in green came alive as the game went along. They only sacked Case Keenum once, but they shut down the run and drew 5 holding calls.

The DL will need a big showing tonight. The Eagles secondary looked shaky last week and they’ve got a much tougher matchup this time out. Julio Jones is as good as it gets in the NFL. Mohamed Sanu, Calvin Ridley and Justin Hardy round out the receiving corps and are good players. If the Eagles don’t pressure Matt Ryan, it will be a long night.

Jim Schwartz has had the right answers for Matty Ice and the Atlanta offense over the past three years, but that doesn’t guarantee success this time out. Still, it is encouraging.

This is only a Week 2 game, but…

The Falcons may be feeling some real pressure tonight. That could bring out the best in them or it could lead to a sloppy performance.

The Eagles started slow last week, just like all of 2018. This is a major point of emphasis for Pederson and his staff. I’m curious to see if they can get this fixed.

_


Alive!

Posted: September 14th, 2019 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | No Comments »

You might be wondering where the heck I’ve been. I moved this past week and it did not go smoothly. Making matters worse, I could not find my modem.

I know you would point out I could go to any number of places and use the WiFi to post. Instead I spent every free minute going through boxes looking for the modem. It was in one of the final 3 boxes I had to go through. Ugh.

The good news is that I’m now up and running. I’ve still got a lot of unpacking to do and cleaning up at the old place, but I’ll get back into a normal routine in the coming days.

As for the Eagles-Falcons, I have all kinds of great insights. I think the real key is which dynamic passing duo can dominate. Steve Bartkowski and Alfred Jenkins are pretty good, but I’m going with Ron Jaworski and Harold Carmichael.

_