The TE Shuffle

Posted: November 15th, 2018 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | No Comments »

The Joshua Perkins era is over.

We saw the report on Rodgers on Tuesday and it didn’t make much sense. Why bring back a #3 TE? Now we know.

Perkins has a knee injury and will be out for a while. It isn’t essential to have 3 TEs for every game, but you can’t go with just a pair of TEs for an extended period.

That wasn’t all.

Brown is a developmental prospect. Tye has played in 32 games and has 94 career catches. He could contribute if needed. The Eagles added him to the practice squad so he could learn the offense and be ready to play if needed. Should Rodgers have any kind of setback, they needed a backup plan. That’s Tye.

I’m sure some of you will see this as basically rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. I get that, but the organization has to continue to approach this season like they would if the team was 6-3. If/when the Eagles get mathematically eliminated, then you can talk about focusing on the future.

For now, you do everything you can to help the team win.

*****

Great piece here from Fran and Ike.

They showed one play that worked and two that didn’t. Rather than act as if the team is flawless, they are explaining what went wrong. That helps fans to understand what some of the problems are. I think that is a smart approach.

You can see one of the reasons that Jalen Mills plays over Rasul Douglas. Mills is a good tackler. Douglas failed to tackle Zeke Elliott on a simple play and turned that into a huge gain. Douglas also had another terrible play in the game.

Douglas mistake on that play kept the Dallas drive alive at the end of the half. That ended in a TD. If Douglas stays outside on this play, the receiver has to go inside. Malcolm Jenkins is there to make the play. Dallas then punts. The Eagles go score a TD and win the game 51-6.

Okay, maybe there is a bit of over-optimism in there, but you get the point. That mistake was a huge moment in the game.

*****

I wasn’t too keen on Doug Pederson’s press conference on Wednesday.

Jeff McLane asked a reasonable question about the offense and Pederson acted confused. Rather than acknowledge that scoring is up this year around the league and other teams are doing some amazing things, Pederson got defensive and awkward.

This may not seem like a big deal, but Pederson sets the tone for the team. Bill Belichick is Mr. Business. He’s cold and awkward. That works for him and his team.

The Eagles need Big Balls Doug. They need a loose, aggressive coach. They don’t need him being super-secretive about injuries and bickering with writers who ask legitimate questions.

I hope I’m making too much of this. We’ll see how the team comes out on Sunday.

*****

The Eagles did catch a break. Saints LT Terron Armstead is having a great year, but got hurt on Sunday and will miss the game.

If the Eagles can get a bit more pressure on Drew Brees because of this, it will help them out.

It sounds like Sidney Jones and Tim Jernigan could play for the Eagles. That would certainly help.

And the Eagles are going to need all the help they can get if they’re going to win this game.

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Enough

Posted: November 14th, 2018 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | No Comments »

The Eagles got booed on Sunday night heading into halftime. A couple of people in the national media got on the fans for that. I have no problem with booing a team that had performed that poorly in the most important game of the year.

I’m not much of a booer. Athletes tend to know when they’re playing like crap. Booing just doesn’t do much for me, but I’m okay with fans booing when they see that bad of a performance. You’re in the moment. Your’e ticked off. You boo.

But this type of nonsense…

  • Mike Groh has to go. Let’s get a real OC.
  • Get rid of Jim Schwartz and his awful defense.
  • Howie Roseman can’t draft.
  • Doug Pederson was a one-year wonder

Enough!!!

I understand the need to vent after a tough loss, but at a certain point, let it go. Stop your bitching.

This group of players, coaches and front office people brought us the friggin’ Super Bowl just nine months ago.

That doesn’t mean they are immune to criticism. The group hasn’t gotten the job done this year. You know that. I know that. They know that. They deserve to be criticized. But this notion that all these guys need to be fired or they are somehow now idiots is just ridiculous.

I wrote a piece for PE.com and one of the points I made in there is that both SF and NE struggled after winning their first Super Bowls. You can have a Hall of Fame coach and QB and still have a disappointing season.

Part of the magic of football is that things don’t always make sense. The most talented team rarely wins the Super Bowl. We have seen teams just dominate the regular season and then lose in the playoffs. We have seen wildcard teams sneak into the playoffs and win the Super Bowl.

In hockey, a red hot goalie can carry a team. In baseball, a red hot pitcher can carry a team. Basketball is all about the stars. In football, it is all about the team. An all time great QB like Dan Marino never won the Super Bowl. An all time great RB like Barry Sanders never won the Super Bowl.

Football is the ultimate team game.

The Eagles were the best team a year ago. The front office acquired the right players. The coaches got the most out of their guys. The players made clutch play after clutch play all year long. That made for an amazing season.

On Sunday night, Kamu Grugier-Hill dropped an easy pick-six. Carson Wentz and Alshon Jeffery failed to connect for an easy TD. Michael Bennett was inches away from knocking a ball out of Dak Prescott’s hand. Two Eagles O-linemen weren’t able to block one Dallas LB on a screen.

That handful of moments is the difference between winning and losing.

Frank Reich did a great job with the Eagles last year and has been terrific with Indy this season. He is a good coach. Losing him hurt. At the same time, the biggest difference in the 2017 and 2018 Eagles offense is the performance of the OL. Reich got the benefit of arguably the best OL in football. This year those same players are wildly inconsistent. That has nothing to do with Groh and Reich.

Jeff Stoutland is the OL coach. He got them to play brilliantly a year ago and has to be going nuts with this year’s performance.

Do the Eagles offensive coaches need to do a better job? Yes. Do they need to bring in some new guys? I don’t think so. These ideas and concepts worked a year ago. Something just isn’t clicking this season.

Jim Schwartz has caught a ton of flak. People hate him and the Eagles defense.

6th in the league in points allowed
5th in the league in 3rd down defense
4th in the league in Red Zone defense

Who exactly do you want running the defense? How many coaches can deliver a performance like that?

The defense blew leads against TEN and CAR. That drove us all nuts. The Eagles dominated for much of the game and then fell apart late. Why? Those teams were forced to throw the ball and be aggressive. The Eagles are vulnerable to the pass. When teams get desperate and just throw the ball, they have some success. The Eagles gave up some 4th down conversions in those games.

One of the reasons the Eagles won the Super Bowl last year is they converted a couple of huge 4th downs in that game. Defensive mastermind Bill Belichick couldn’t stop the Eagles on 4th downs with the Super Bowl on the line. You’re going to give up some of those.

The 4th and 15 against the Titans is the killer play. Corey Graham, a proven vet, just blew his assignment. Do you fire Schwartz for that? I sure don’t.

People are upset at the “sticks defense” or the “picket fence”, whatever you want to call it.

It works.

You may not like giving up yards, but it works. Go back and watch the 2013 defense. They struggled to stop teams on 3rd and long, especially early in the season. Teams would convert 3rd and 15 with ease. It was infuriating. Schwartz gives up some yards, but not 1st downs.

Vent. Be mad. Get it out of your system.

But we’ve got seven games left. We’re going to be talking about the Eagles for months. Not every discussion can be a total bitchfest about how half the coaches should be fired and half the players should be cut.

There will be changes in the offseason. There will be a lot of players going (age and money are going to be huge factors). Pederson may decide to shake up his staff. But I certainly don’t expect anything major.

The Eagles are having a down year, but this isn’t a dysfunctional group that needs to be ripped apart.

Jeffrey Lurie, Howie Roseman and Doug Pederson will have some long talks in the offseason about where things went wrong and what changes need to be made. They’ll study the situation and try to come up with the right solutions.

There are definite issues to be addressed and they involve every area of the team. Still, I believe the Eagles have a strong organization and the right pieces in place at the key spots (GM, coach, QB, coordinators).

Washington might be 6-3, but would you rather have Bruce Allen, Jay Gruden and Alex Smith?

Football is a crazy game and that’s why we love it.

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The Hits Keep Coming

Posted: November 13th, 2018 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | No Comments »

The Eagles lost a heartbreaking, torturous game to Dallas on Sunday night. The optimist in me wanted to forget Dallas and look ahead. If Sidney Jones and Tim Jernigan came back, maybe the Eagles could pull off a big upset.

And then…

Really? When is this going to end?

The secondary for the opener was:

CB Ronald Darby
CB Jalen Mills
NB Sidney Jones
SS Malcolm Jenkins
FS Rodney McLeod

There is a chance the secondary this week could be:

CB Rasul Douglas
CB Chandon Sullivan
NB Avonte Maddox
SS Malcolm Jenkins
FS Corey Graham

Does that group stand a chance against Drew Brees and the #1 scoring offense in the NFL? Don’t bet your rent check on it.

The high hopes of September are vanishing at an alarming rate.

Doug Pederson didn’t exactly have a lot of answers at Monday’s press conference. Then again, Pederson hasn’t exactly had many answers this year. The coach who was so brilliant a season ago, calling the right plays and knowing exactly how to lead his team, has not called the right plays or pushed the right buttons this year.

The players who made so many big plays last year can’t seem to make any of them this year.

The personnel department made key move after key move a year ago, haven’t come close to those results this season.

There seems to be a competition…Team Blame Pederson vs Team Blame the Players vs Team Blame Howie. The truth is that everyone owns a share of this disappointment. Just like they all deserve credit for winning the Super Bowl a year ago.

Pederson isn’t suddenly dumb. Howie didn’t forget how to find talent. Carson Wentz, Fletcher Cox and the other key players didn’t lose their ability. You just see this some years in sports. On paper, everything makes sense. But reality proves to be very different.

The players and coaches will still try to salvage this season. That’s going to be a major challenge, but what else can they do? They have to keep grinding away and hope that whatever has been missing finally clicks.

The coaches and the front office people need to study the 2018 season carefully. They must learn lessons. This season will be a complete waste if they can’t come away understanding some of what went wrong. They won’t know everything. Sports doesn’t work like that. They do need to figure some key things out.

Think about the position of LB. Dallas was missing their star, Sean Lee. Young guys Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch flew around the field, making key plays all night long. The Eagles had Nigel Bradham, who played at a Pro Bowl level a year ago, and Jordan Hicks, who we thought was a star on the rise. Hicks and Bradham couldn’t deliver one key play all night. They couldn’t get off blocks. They didn’t show up in coverage.

Did anyone have doubts about Hicks and Bradham in April or August? I sure don’t recall them. We thought the Eagles might have their best set of LBs in years. Instead, both guys have been disappointing.

Same coaches. Same scheme. Both guys are healthy. But something isn’t clicking. Did Bradham turn into a “fat cat” after getting paid? Is Hicks worried about getting a contract this offseason? Those of us on the outside can only guess.

If the Eagles can figure out the answer this year, that would be great. They need to definitely come up with an answer by the offseason.

The Eagles need to come away with answers from this mess of a season.

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We Know

Posted: November 11th, 2018 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 1 Comment »

The Eagles started the year 1-1 and didn’t look that good. We thought the return of Carson Wentz would change things.

Then it was the return of Alshon Jeffery that was going to change things.

Then we thought October would be different, with the Eagles having some time to come together as a team.

Then we thought getting to the bye week would help, with the team getting rest and a chance to get healthier.

Then we thought the addition of Golden Tate would make a difference.

Now we know.

This team just isn’t that good. They’re 4-5. They look like a 4-5 team. They make critical mistakes. They don’t make plays. They’re good enough to win some weeks and lose competitively in others. The season has been very disappointing so far.

And the future isn’t exactly rosy. They play the Saints next week. New Orleans won today 51-14 and hasn’t lost since the opener. There is a good chance the Eagles are going to be 4-6 a week from now.

Is the season over? I will never say a season is over until it is in fact mathematically over. Life in the NFL is weird. We’ve seen teams with a 7-9 record win a division and host a playoff game.

This team had much higher aspirations than trying to win a crappy division and sneak into the playoffs. At this point, the Eagles would be lucky to pull that off.

The Eagles had a chance to bury the Cowboys. Instead, they saved their season.

*****

Have they ever. And it’s painful.

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Game Preview – DAL at PHI

Posted: November 11th, 2018 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | No Comments »

There is a lot on the line tonight. The Eagles can get to 5-4 and bury Dallas. Or the Cowboys can put both teams at 4-5 with a win.

One thing that won’t be on the line is first place in the NFC East.

WAS 16, TB 3

Ugh.

Oh well, the real key is for the Eagles to win their game. First place would have been nice, but the Eagles need to play well and beat Dallas. That’s the focus tonight.

I wrote my preview of tonight’s game for PE.com.

Last year the Eagles used traps and quick hitters to take advantage of the Cowboys aggressive defense. Dallas knows this and will adjust accordingly. So will the Eagles. That could mean more outside runs. Or the Eagles could continue to attack the middle until Dallas proves they can stop it.

Josh Adams speed could lead to a big run if the Eagles get the right look and block it correctly.

https://twitter.com/phillybldgreen/status/1005806920559661056

The Eagles need to have an effective run game. Big plays would be great, but they can live with a methodical 20-85 kind of night from Adams, Wendell Smallwood and Corey Clement.

***

A lot of eyes will be on Golden Tate. I don’t expect a big night from him. The Eagles will have plays designed for him, but he’s still new to the team so I don’t expect a ton of throws to come his way.

***

With the Cowboys down a starting LB, the Eagles might use 2-TE sets more often. That means Dallas has a backup player on the field.

***

The Eagles need to have a strong play for blocking DeMarcus Lawrence. Lane Johnson has a bad ankle and a bad knee. You don’t want to count on him to win that battle all by himself tonight. Chip blocks and double-teams are going to be needed.

***

What happens with the secondary?

My guess is LeBlanc plays the slot. Darby and Douglas are the outside corners. The Eagles will double Amari Cooper at times.

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