Middle of the Road

Posted: November 17th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 172 Comments »

The Eagles are 4-5.

So are:


That’s pretty crazy.

I’m not trying to make you feel better about the Eagles mediocre season. I just find it wild that 1/3 of the league has the same mediocre record.

If’ I’m ranking those teams based on what I’ve seen…


The Skins and Bears are the most interesting teams on that list to me. Chicago is playing well recently and Jay Cutler seems to be doing well under the new coaching staff. The Skins confuse me. I can’t decide if they are close to being a good team or just have been good/lucky enough to go 4-5.

Football Outsiders has their newest DVOA rankings out. They have SEA, KC and PHI at the top of their 4-5 teams, with the Eagles being 11th in the league. Right now my eyes tell me the Eagles are a middle of the pack team. I can’t get mad when I see a power rankings listing them at 15 or lower. Right now this is a mediocre team.

The next few weeks will give us some interesting perspective on the 4-5 teams. Some will get hot. Others cold. Most will be up and down.

I have complete faith that the Eagles will at least be good enough to string me along another month.


Mike is a fantasy football guru and knows the league well.

Are we selling the Giants short? Maybe…


The OL did not play well on Sunday. Instability may have hurt their performance. Per this piece by Tim McManus, Lane Johnson didn’t know for sure whether he would play LT or RT a couple of hours before the game.

“I think he tried to go and I think he was going to go but I don’t think Chip allowed him to go is what it was,” said Johnson. “When I got there I thought he was warming up so I was expecting to go right. In the locker room, I was kind of, ‘What the f— am I playing?’ and ended up knowing I was going left. It was kind of messed up.”

Dennis Kelly and Johnson played very well the week before. It was more certain earlier in the week they’d play. You wonder if trying to get Jason Peters back actually hurt the OL because the players weren’t sure where they would be playing, if at all.

The line must play better this week. Let’s hope Jason Peters is back so the guys can return to their best spots.


Jason Kelce shared some thoughts on his struggles.

Kelce was whistled for three penalties and he flung a shotgun snap over Bradford’s head.

“I think (setting the tone is) my job . . . It’s not like I’ve got to get with ’em each individually and coach ’em up or anything like that, I’ve just got to not make mistakes,” Kelce said. “Right now, I think I have 11 penalties through the season. The next closest center with penalties has seven, so I’ve got almost twice as many as the next guy down.

“That’s really what’s got to happen. I’ve got to eliminate those mental mistakes, the false starts, bad snaps. If we eliminate those things, I firmly believe we’ll get everything fixed.”

It would help the whole team if Kelce could clean up his issues and play better. The offense could move the ball better. That gives the offense more time to rest. When the offense has some success, that generally means they are winning the field position battle. And often the scoreboard.


Old friend Nick Foles got benched in STL. Sam Bradford hasn’t been Johnny Unitas, but Foles has struggled to even play like Donnie Unitas this year. He is 29th in passer rating this year, looking up at rookie Jameis Winston. Ugh.

Foles, always the team guy, took the news well. He is a heckuva person. Never takes credit and always takes the blame. If only he were a better QB.

Jeff Fisher said Foles will get the job back eventually. He’s just out for now.


Keep Grinding

Posted: November 16th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 218 Comments »

Sunday was not much fun, to put it mildly. Losing to a mediocre Dolphins team really hurt. The Eagles were up 16-3 and were in position to add more. Caleb Sturgis missed a chip shot FG and the whole team fell apart after that.

Needless to say, the frustration level with this team is pretty high right now.

The two most common complaints are that the team is either poorly coached or doesn’t have enough talent. The problem with those complaints is that they are generic and fit plenty of NFL teams. Heck, all kinds of sports teams. Generic complaints are good for venting, but don’t always mean anything.

The Eagles STs were a mess yesterday. There was the missed FG. There was a blocked punt. There were multiple bad snaps. There was a penalty that negated a good return. And so on. So was this bad coaching or bad talent?

The Eagles had the best STs unit in the league last year.  They were pretty good in 2013. There are plenty of talented STers, from cover guys to blockers to returners. Dave Fipp didn’t suddenly forget how to coach.

There are going to be bad days. A defense with Reggie, Clyde, Jerome, Seth, Byron, Wes, Andre and Eric once let Gerald Riggs run for 221 yards. An offense with Donovan, TO and Westy once won a game 12-7.

I understand the complaints about talent and coaching extend to the whole team. My point is just to show that playing the blame game doesn’t always solve anything. There are times when it is completely clear that change is needed. Rob Ryan did an awful job with the Saints defense last year. They are on pace  to be one of the worst defenses in NFL history this season. That is an extreme and obvious example where the coaching wasn’t anywhere close to being good enough. And that has cost Rob Ryan his job.

There are plenty of people who don’t like Chip Kelly as coach. Some hate him as the GM. Some dislike him in both roles. That’s fine. I’m still a believer in Chip and his ideas. Does that mean I agree with everything he does? Heck no. Does that mean he can’t have bad days? Of course not.

Would you rather have John Harbaugh or Pete Carroll as the coach right now? Both have Super Bowl wins on their resume. Harbaugh’s team is 2-7 right now and lost yesterday in incredibly embarrassing fashion. They are having a nightmare season. Injuries are a big reason, but that team is also making a lot of dumb mistakes. The Seahawks have the same record as the Eagles, 4-5. They have blown leads in all 5 losses. You can’t say that team lacks emotion or intensity. They’re making critical mistakes and it is killing them.

What about talent? Imagine having Aaron Rodgers and Randall Cobb on this team. Those two guys have lost 3 games in a row and yesterday scored 16 points against the #31 scoring defense in the league. Drew Brees only put up 14 points on the Skins and their questionable secondary. Dallas has a trio of talented WRs, a Hall of Fame TE, a solid RB and a strong OL. They put up 6 points on Tampa. 6!!!

The NFL is the ultimate grind, from year to year, from week to week and sometimes from quarter to quarter. You are only as good as your last play or your last game. The challenge is to play well on a regular basis and fight through those tough times that come around.

Look at the Dolphins. They had lost 2 games in a row and were down 16-3. That team didn’t mail it in. They kept grinding and suddenly things started to go their way. Next thing you know they’ve got a hard-fought win and there is life in their playoff hopes.

That’s life in the NFL.

This Eagles team has shown that it can battler. They were down big to the Falcons and Skins and then took late leads in those games, only to give them up and lose. The Eagles make a lot of mistakes during the course of a game. That puts them in a situation where they are playing from behind or have a smaller lead than they should.

And then when it comes to winning time, something goes wrong. The only close win was the one in Dallas. The Eagles might have won that game simply due to winning the coin toss.

Think about the tight losses. There are missed FGs in all 3 of them. There are crucial penalties, on offense and defense. There were dropped passes. Missed blocks. Missed tackles. Poor coverage. You name it, it was seemingly a problem.

The Eagles are talented enough to be in position to win these games.

But they don’t.

The mistakes happen and the team loses.

Is there something the coaching staff could do differently? That’s a tougher question. Look at Jason Kelce for example. He’s having a wildly inconsistent year. Some people talk about him being awful. No, not even close. Kelce is making mistakes, and crucial ones at that, but he is still above average most of the time. I’ve been an Eagles fan for more than 20 years. Awful OL get benched because they aren’t functional.

We’ve never seen Kelce have these kind of issues beyond the odd game here or there. Jeff Stoutland has coached him for 3 years now. He’s gotten Kelce to play at a very high level. Some have the theory that the new OGs have hurt Kelce since he’s trying to do too much. I don’t think that is the case because Kelce has some games where he looks just fine. His issues seem to come and go. This is some kind of a mental thing.

What should Stoutland and Chip do with Kelce? You don’t want to tell him not to have bad snaps. Then you’re just planting the idea in his head. The logical thing to do is stress fundamentals and hope the issues go away. I’m sure Stout and Chip have done that. Kelce was coming off a pair of good games before yesterday’s sloppiness.

This team has shown it can play well here and there. The next step is to play well consistently. That hasn’t happened yet. It can, but there are no guarantees.

The 2008 Eagles were 5-5-1. They went 4-1 down the stretch and then almost made the Super Bowl. The 1999 Eagles started 3-11 before winning their final 2 games, which helped set the tone for the next season. There are also teams that never put it together.

Obviously you would love a repeat of 2008. At the least, you’d like something like 1999 where a bad season had a silver lining to it. This team is impossible for me to figure out right now so I have no idea what to expect. The only thing that would shock me is for the team to fall apart and finish 5-11 or 6-10. Beyond that, just about everything else is on the table.

I know some people would rather the team fall apart to help them get a better draft pick. If you can’t win big this year, then lose, benefit and be better next year. I understand the thinking, but disagree. There are no guarantees in the draft. I’d rather have the team win games, even if they end up with a mediocre record. I’m a believer that young players can learn from those wins.

Carolina won their division last year with a record of 7-8-1. This year that team is 9-0.

The Eagles shouldn’t give up on this season. The NFC East is a mess and the Eagles are only a half-game out of first place. Keep grinding. Keep working on eliminating mistakes. Maybe the issues go away. Maybe they don’t. The future is unwritten. I’m still hoping for a happy ending. With this team, we could be looking at Requiem for a Dream or The Deer Hunter.

Remember the trees?


Bad Day

Posted: November 15th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 740 Comments »

Brutal loss.

The Eagles had everything going right. And then they missed a FG. The rest of the game was a slopfest.


This drops the team back to 4-5, in a tie with the Skins. Sam Bradford is hurt, but we don’t know how badly. Ryan Mathews has a concussion. And Mark Sanchez still likes to throw killer INTs.

Great 1st quarter, but terrible after that.

Crappy, crappy, crappy day. So much at stake and the Eagles blew it. They’re right back to scrambling for their playoff lives for the next month, if not the rest of the season.


This is going to be a long week. Please keep things civil in the comments section. We’re all a bit on edge. No reason to be over the top.


2nd Half – PHI 16, MIA 13

Posted: November 15th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 372 Comments »

This game was headed to blowout city. The Eagles led 16-3 and drove down into scoring territory. Bradford took a sack and the drive stalled. Caleb Sturgis missed the FG. Miami than put together a long drive to score. Then they got great field position after a blocked punt. That led to another score and the game is now 16-13.


The Eagles have been a 2nd half team all year, but that 2nd Qtr was some seriously ugly football. And it could have been worse if the Dolphins weren’t such a mess themselves.

The Eagles are winning and I’m as frustrated as if they were losing.

Good news is that the Eagles get the ball to open the 2nd half. Go get some points and let’s take care of this thing.


Gameday – Looking For Answers

Posted: November 15th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 337 Comments »

It seems like forever since the Eagles had a 1pm kickoff. I know I’m tired of waiting around all day for the game to start. Let’s get this thing going.

Here are the inactives for today.

QB Thad Lewis
RB Kenjon Barner
OL Jason Peters
OL Josh Andrews
DL Brandon Bair
LB Emmanuel Acho
S Jerome Couplin

No Jason Peters again. That’s okay, based on the way the OL played last week. This will be a run-heavy game today and that should help the re-shuffled OL to play well.

This is game #9, the start of the 2nd half of the season. We need to start getting some answers, for this year and the future.

How good are the Eagles? This is a game the team should win and need to win. Think about it. The Eagles could be atop the division if they win this. The Giants play NE this afternoon. The Skins and Boys could lose today, pushing them even further down. We all want the Eagles to play better down the stretch and win the division. This is the kind of game the team needs to win.

What do we make of Sam Bradford? He played well last week. Can he do that on a regular basis? We won’t have an answer until we’ve seen him for 10 or 12 weeks, but each game provides some clues as to whether he’s improving or just having random good games.

Is Lane Johnson the LT of the future? He’ll start again today. The more he plays there, the better a feel we’ll have for the future.

Is Dennis Kelly better than we thought? He was good last week. The more tape teams get to study, the more they can find weaknesses. If Dennis has another good game, could he be part of the OL’s future? Maybe. He’s still young.

Kiko Alonso? We just need to see him play more to get a better feel for him as part of this scheme.

Is Matt Tobin part of the future? He is playing better each week. Are the Eagles finding future parts of the OL? Tobin didn’t play well in the spring/summer and lost the RG job to Andrew Gardner. Tobin is playing well now and might be in the mix for a future gig.

How good is Byron Maxwell? He played his best game of the year last week. No one is talking about Maxwell Island or anything like that, but it is good to see him improving each week.